Baba gave following discourse on circle.
Absolute Oneness prevails in Reality. Space and time are but illusory. They are merely the effect of the reflection of God's Infinitude. When man realizes Reality, the reflection which has estranged him from Reality vanishes, and he experiences the absoluteness of the Absolute Oneness of God. And when such a man continues to live his life in illusion, he leads the life of the Man-God or Perfect Master on earth. With his abiding experience of the Absolute Reality, he serves as the pivot around which rotates the entire cosmic universe. Every point in the cosmos is equidistant from the Perfect Master, who abides in illusion as the nucleus of the cosmos.
Although the Perfect Master remains in illusion as the center of the cosmic periphery and radiates his influence uniformly over the entire universe, in his lifetime he gathers around him twelve men who directly have their center of interest in his individuality. These men, through their constant and close association with him in the past, right from the evolutionary stages of consciousness, reap the greatest benefit now, when their past close associate has become a Perfect Master.
Such a group of twelve men is called the "circle" of a Perfect Master. However, besides this group of twelve men, there is an appendage of two women to complete the circle of a Perfect Master in all its aspects. These two women also owe their position, in regard to the circle, to their past connection with the Perfect Master.
One or more of these fourteen close ones associated with the Perfect Master realizes the God-state during or after the lifetime of the Perfect Master; and, in some instances, after one or a few more incarnations. However, the Perfect Master fulfills his obligations by establishing his circle during his lifetime; and the greatest good he bestows is God-Realization, with all its Perfection, to at least one from among his circle of twelve men.
In the case of the Avatar, it is different. He has ten circles in all. The first or inner circle of the Avatar consists of twelve men with an appendage of two women; and each of the following nine outer circles consists of twelve persons, both men and women. In all there are one hundred and twenty persons in the ten circles of the Avatar, plus the two women of the inner circle, who are but the appendage to that particular circle – one hundred and twenty-two in all.
Either one or more of the one hundred and eight members of the nine outer circles realize the God-state during or after the life span of the Avatar, and some in the next incarnation, or after a few more incarnations.
As in the case of the Perfect Master's circle, the inner circle of the Avatar consists of only twelve men, with an appendage of two women. The difference between the circle of the Perfect Master and the inner circle of the Avatar is that the Perfect Master establishes his circle from among those who were closely connected with him right from the evolutionary stages of their consciousness; but the Avatar who, in his recurrent advents, neither passes through the process of evolution, reincarnation, nor involution, does not therefore have the same links of association to establish anew his inner circle with every advent. In short, whereas the Perfect Master establishes his circle, the Avatar is directly allied with his inner circle, which is always the same [parts or positions] in all his advents. With his descent on earth, the Avatar, as it were, brings along with him the association [or position of roles] of his inner circle.
The connection of the inner circle in relation to the Avatar may be compared to that of a man who directly associates himself with the fourteen parts of his own body – two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, two hands, two legs, and the trunk of the body itself; plus the external genitals and anus that act as the appendage to the body as a whole. As soon as a man is born, he directly makes use of these fourteen parts of his body, and these parts, in turn, respond to his dictates individually and collectively.
Similarly, with the advent of the Avatar on earth, his inner circle of the same twelve individuals and the appendage of the same two individualities directly begins to function, individually and collectively, according to the dictates of the Avatar himself.
With every advent of the Avatar on earth, the twelve men of the inner circle and its appendage of two women gather round the personality of the Avatar, as the self-same fourteen types of individualities, who in the shape of different personalities, always occupy their respective offices when the Avatar manifests on earth. And, during and after the life span of the Avatar, they individually and collectively function in the same way as their predecessors, who had held and functioned in the same offices of the inner circle during the past advents of the Avatar.
Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that with Christ's coming again come Peter, Judas, and all his apostles. But, this can never mean that the very same Peter, or the self-same Judas, reincarnates again and again. These can never incarnate, because all of the twelve individual personalities of the Avatar's inner circle attain God-Realization in every Avataric period, either during or soon after the life span of the Avatar.
Once God-Realization is attained, reincarnation is impossible. The only exception to this rule is the Avatar himself, who comes again and again to redeem humanity.
It is not the same individualized personalities of the inner circle that reincarnate; it is the individualities of their particular offices that come with every advent of the Avatar. It is because, in all the Avatar's advents, each of the twelve men and two women of the inner circle hold exactly the same office and function in exactly the same manner; that is why it is said that the Avatar always brings with him the same circle.
As soon as the veil [Vidnyani] with which the Avatar descends on earth is rent by the then-living Perfect Master or Masters, and the Avatar realizes his Avatarhood, the twelve men and two women automatically group round the personality of the Avatar to occupy their respective position in the inner circle, and to function as usual according to the dictates of the Avatar of the age.
The position of the Avatar in regard to the inner circle and its function may be compared to a man asleep. As soon as the man is made to wake up through some external agency, and no sooner he is awake, than he spontaneously finds that all the fourteen parts of his body, as mentioned before, are already there in their individual roles, ready to function at the slightest wish of the man. Similarly, as soon as the Avatar is made to realize his Avatarhood through one or more of the five Perfect Masters of the time, he also realizes that the fourteen personalities in their characteristic roles of the inner circle are ready at hand to discharge their duties.
To explain in detail why only these fourteen particular personalities hold such positions in every advent of the Avatar would take a volume of explanations. Who can become the fourteen members, and how do they become attached to the inner circle of the Avatar? These questions would require more volumes of explanations.
Suffice it to say that each of these fourteen particular personalities, when occupying the office and function of the inner circle, not only must resemble the characteristic individuality of his or her predecessor in the previous advents of the Avatar, but must be exactly similar in all respects. For example, one of the offices of the inner circle of Jesus Christ was held by Peter. At the second advent of Christ, this particular office must be held by another Peter, who may be named "A," but having the same quality of mind and heart and other characteristics as of the Peter. (1) The same applies to the office held by Judas, John, James, et cetera, of the inner circle in the time of Christ.
(1) During the advent of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakhr represented the role of Peter. Abu Bakhr (family name, Abdu 'llah Ibn Abi Quhafah) was the father of one of Muhammad's wives, Ayishah. He is known as the first successor of the Prophet, though he reigned only two years before his death in 634 A.D.]
All the fourteen members of the Avatar's inner circle realize God by the grace of the Avatar during the same Avataric period, which is of one hundred years' duration after the manifestation of the Avatar on earth. Regarding the outer circles of the Avatar, none of the one hundred and eight persons in the nine circles holds any office similar to that held by those of the inner circle; and all of these one hundred and eight persons attain God-Realization by the grace of the Avatar, but not necessarily during the Avataric period.
These one hundred and eight persons of the outer circles have their respective places in the nine circles in accordance with their past connections with the members of the circle ahead of them. For example, the members of the second circle of the twelve persons, next to the inner circle, are grouped round the Avatar in accordance with their past connection with the members of the inner circle. Similarly, the twelve persons of the third circle, next to the second circle, are grouped round the Avatar in accordance with their past connections with the members of the second circle, and so on with all the remaining seven circles.
The number of men and women in each circle is as follows:
First Inner Circle — consists of twelve men and two women
Second Outer Circle — consists of eight men and four women
Third Outer Circle — consists of four men and eight women
Fourth Outer Circle — consists of eight men and four women
Fifth Outer Circle — consists of four men and eight women
Sixth Outer Circle — consists of eight men and four women
Seventh Outer Circle — consists of six men and six women
Eighth Outer Circle — consists of eight men and four women
Ninth Outer Circle — consists of eight men and four women
Tenth Outer Circle — consists of ten men and two women