Adi Purush Avatar
The Eternal Youths
Varaha Avatar
Narada Avatar
Nara-Narayana Avatar
Kapila Avatar
Dattatraya Avatar
Matsya Avatar
Dhanvantari Avatar
Mohini Avatar
Narsimha Avatar
Hayagreeva Avatar
Vaman Avatar
Parshuram Avatar
Vyas Avatar
Ram Avatar
Balaram Avatar
Krishna Avatar
Buddha Avatar
Kalki Avatar


Introduction of Avatar

In Hinduism, an avatar or avatara , is the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of an Immortal Being, or of the Ultimate Supreme Being. It derives from the Sanskrit word avatara which means "descent" and usually implies a deliberate descent into mortal realms for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of Vishnu the Preserver, whom many Hindus worship as God.

Unlike Christianity, and Shaivism, Vaishnavism believes that God takes a special (including human) form whenever there is a decline of righteousness (dharma) and rise of evil. Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, according to Vaishnavism that is espoused by Ramanuja and Madhva, and God in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, said in the Gita: “For the protection of the good, for destruction of evil, and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being from age to age.” (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, verse 8.) In any event, all Hindus believe that there is no difference between worship of Vishnu and His avatars as it all leads to Him.

An Avatara is a personal form of the Supreme Being and innumerable such divine forms reside in an eternal spiritual realm. When a personal form of God descends from that higher dimensional realm to the material world, He (or She) is known as an incarnation, or Avatara.

By referring to the form of God as an "incarnation," one invokes a Western conception describing a physical symbol which represents or embodies an abstraction. In fact, the Latin root carnis means "flesh." However, in this context, this may be somewhat misleading, since the divine forms of God do not "become flesh" or "take on a material body." An ordinary soul may take on a gross material body, but in the case of God, His 'soul' and His 'body' refer to the same spiritual essence.

In fact, the Avataras exhibit God's essential features: They are eternally existent and free from the laws of the matter, time and space. Although They have no obligation to come into contact with the material energy, the Avataras descend into this world for our own protection, instruction and redemption. Although They may potray human weaknesses such as grief and anger, They are never to be considered ordinary people. Human beings act out of earthly desire, fear and anger. The Avatar, however, acts out of His own blissfully divine nature performing exhuberant pastimes for the pleasure of His pure devotees.

God is one, yet He manifests Himself in innumerable forms within this world. There is the Darling Krishna Avatar whose beauty enchants the hearts of all; and the awesome Narasimha (the Man- Lion Avatar) who outwitted an ingenious demonic tyrant; and the regal form of Lord Rama Avatar whose example of truth and virtue is emulated even today. Each and every one of those forms has a particular mission; each Avatar being a unique revelation of the Absolute Truth.

Although the Avatars appear in different forms at different times, places and circumstances, They are the Selfsame Supreme Lord and Their purpose is one: to reveal the Absolute Truth in this world and remind its inhabitants of their eternal lives of blissful service to God in their original homeland, the spiritual world. This divine purpose is eloquently expressed by Lord Krsna in the world-famous Bhagavad-gita

Teachings and Significance

The philosophy reflected in the Hindu epics is the doctrine of the avatar (incarnation of Vishnu as an animal or a human form). The two main avatars of Vishnu that appear in the epics are Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, and Krishna, the advisor of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Unlike the superhuman devas (gods) of the Vedic Samhitas and the abstract Upanishadic concept of the all-pervading Brahman, the avatars in these epics are intermediaries between the Supreme Being represented as either Saguna Brahman or Nirguna Brahman and mere mortals.

This doctrine has had a great impact on Hindu religious life, for to many it means that God has manifested Himself in a form that could be appreciated even by the least sophisticated. Rama and Krishna have remained prominent as beloved and adored manifestations of the Divine for thousands of years among Hindus. The Upanishadic concept of the underlying unity of Brahman is revered by many to be the pinnacle of Hindu thought, and the concept of the avatars has purveyed this concept to the ordinary Hindu as an expression of the manifestation of the Hindu's highest single divinity as an aid to humanity in difficult times. The Hindu cycle of creation, evolution, and destruction contains the essence of the idea of "avatars" and indeed relies on a final avatar of Vishnu, that of Kalki, as the final evolutionary avatar before destruction at the end of the world.

Aside from Rama and Krishna there are many other human or animal forms which appeared on earth or elsewhere in the universe. Scriptures do not describe any appearance as an avatar by Brahma or Shiva (they are themselves listed as guna avatars) of nirguna Brahman, but emanations of Vishnu have appeared a number of times. Some Hindus, based on the Ramayana, aver that Shiva incarnated once as the monkey-god Hanuman. Hanuman is more well-known as the son of Vayu, the deva of wind or his emanation. (Hanuman lived in a jungle in Treta Yuga and is called vanara, which means people having characteristics of monkey, and was one of the greatest devotees of Vishnu).