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Hindu god Vishnu surrounded by his ten major avatars, namely Matsya; Kurma; Varaha; Narasimha; Vamana; Parashurama; Rama; Krishna; Buddha, and Kalki (Art by Raja Ravi Varma)

An avatar is an earthly incarnation of a divine being. They aren't simply their children or creations, but rather the avatar is the god, albeit on different level of existence. Think of it as Jesus Christ to God, or Krishna and Rama to Vishnu.
Carl Black.

An Avatar, also known as an Incarnation, is the material appearance or incarnation of a deity or similar being on the mortal world.

Overview

The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being. The avatar concept was further developed and refined in later Hindu texts. One approach was to identify full avatar and partial avatars. Some were full avatars (purna avatars), while others were partial avatars (ansha avatars). Some declared that every living creature is an avatar of Vishnu. The Pancharatra text of Vaishnavism declares that avatars include those that are direct and complete (sakshad), indirect and endowed (avesha), cosmic and salvific (vyuha), inner and inspirational (antaryamin), consecrated and in the form of image (archa).

Avatars can be created in three different ways; the first is through the power of the being itself, which removes a shard from its body and uses it as an avatar (ex: Jesus Christ). The second is through parental gametes, where the deity creates a physical avatar that is born as a "average person", but still exists as the alternate persona of their true self (ex: Norea and Krishna). And the third is when an entity can transform another being into an avatar, linking the two through their essence (ex: Grim Reaper).

The manifest embodiment is sometimes referred to as an incarnation. The translation of avatar as "incarnation" has been questioned by Christian theologians, who state that an incarnation is in flesh and imperfect, while avatar is mythical and perfect. The theological concept of Christ as an incarnation, as found in Christology, presents the Christian concept of incarnation. However, it is notable that there is a misconception regarding the idea of ​​Jesus being an avatar of God the Father, as this idea ignores the concept of the Holy Trinity, where God exists in three persons united in essence, with Jesus being the incarnation of God the Son and not from God the Father. The incarnation of Christ is seen as literally God becoming a human, not creating a physical form on Earth, but taking his own unfathomable, spiritual body and making it a material body of flesh and blood, with Jesus being both fully God and fully human simultaneously, having two natures.

According to Oduyoye and Vroom, this is different from the Hindu concept of avatar because avatars in Hinduism are unreal and is similar to Docetism. Sheth disagrees and states that this claim is an incorrect understanding of the Hindu concept of avatar. Avatars are true embodiments of spiritual perfection, one driven by noble goals, in Hindu traditions such as Vaishnavism. The concept of the avatar in Hinduism is not incompatible with natural conception through a sexual act, which is again different from the Christian concept of the Virgin Birth.

Description

Theologically, the term is most often associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.

The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi in different appearances such as Tripura Sundari, Durga and Kali are commonly found. While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional. The incarnation doctrine is one of the important differences between Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions of Hinduism.

Normally, to create Avatar Beings, deities usually take a shard of their own body. However, other beings such as angels or demons when going to use physical forms (image avatars) they do not use their own body, since being spiritual, taking a shard of equal essence would not allow the interaction of the physical world. To create their physical avatars, angels and demons use ectoplasm to create their vessels.

However, although there are two types of avatars, God seems to have created a system of avatars specifically for Him, which are Name Avatars. These avatars are different faces that God uses in Creation, each being the embodiment of one of His thousands of names. These avatars include, but are not limited to, Yahweh, Jehovah, YHVH, Shekhinah, Allah (in Islam), Elohim, El Shaddai, the Ancient of Days, Sabaoth, and Yaldabaoth (in Gnosticism). These specific avatars are incarnations of divine attributes (with the exception of Yaldabaoth) of the Almighty. These avatars can be created by God in any universe, multiverse or megaverse, in Heaven and Hell, at any time, whether in the past, present and future.

Myths and Legends

The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature; however, it appears in developed forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE. Despite that, the concept of an avatar is compatible with the content of the Vedic literature like the Upanishads as it is symbolic imagery of the Saguna Brahman concept in the philosophy of Hinduism. The Rigveda describes Indra as endowed with a mysterious power of assuming any form at will. The Bhagavad Gita expounds the doctrine of Avatara but with terms other than avatar.

Avatar derives from a Sanskrit word meaning "descent," and when it first appeared in English in the late 18th century, it referred to the descent of a deity to the earth—typically. It later came to refer to any incarnation in human form, and then to any embodiment (such as that of a concept or philosophy), whether or not in the form of a person.

In the age of technology, avatar has developed another sense—it can now be used for the image that a person chooses as his or her "embodiment" in an electronic medium.

In Informatics, avatar is an entirely digital cyberbody, a graphic figure of varying complexity that lends their simulated life to the identifiable transport of cybernauts into the parallel worlds of cyberspace. In short, the avatar in Informatics is a representation of yourself, usually in virtual environments, with the aim of personifying yourself, to demonstrate a self-image in virtual environments. The word avatar derives from the French avatar, with the same meaning.

Types of avatars

Image Avatars

Image avatars are beings whose only purpose is to allow people to interact with the powerful being without being in their presence, they aren't separate from the deity in any form, they have now will of their own, they are essentially living breathing messages, some examples are: Chuck Shurley (God), Amara (The Darkness), etc.

Beings Avatars

Being avatars are separate beings in their own right given a destiny from the deity they are connected to, however after they're finished with their quest they can lead perfectly normal lives without the intervention of the deity, some examples are: Krishna, Grim Reaper, Khepri, etc.

Notable Avatars

God

Khaos

Azathoth

Death

Vishnu's Dashavatara

  • Matsya
  • Kurma
  • Varaha
  • Narasimha
  • Vamana
  • Parashurama
  • Rama
  • Krishna
  • Buddha/Vithoba/Jagannatha (it depends)
  • Kalki
  • Among many others

Nun

Ra

Sophia

Plague

Conflict

Nyarlathotep

  • Black Man
  • Nephren-Ka
  • The Black Whore
  • Black Buddha
  • Faceless God
  • God of the Bloody Tongue
  • Aku-Shin Kage
  • The Beast
  • Haunter of the Dark
  • Lam
  • Among many others (possibly tens or hundreds of thousands)

Angra Mainyu

Barbelo

Satan

Yog-Sothoth

  • 'Umr At-Tawil
  • Aforgomon
  • Fractal Yog-Sothoth
  • Randolph Carter

Quotes

The most beautiful thing that ever happened, and that ever existed, and that will never have another like it is this: God taking human form. If you think about it, this is the most beautiful act that has ever been performed by God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. The world was made by Him. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
John.
God is ineffable, invisible, unspeakable, unknowable. He is the author of the world, not an entity in it. But sometimes it’s useful for an author to have a self-insert character, so to speak. Like Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, etc.
John Constantine.
Avatars are a bit of a complicated concept. I mean, God is an all-encompassing entity of pure being. God is Keter, and He is also Malkuth. God is Heaven, and Hell, Sheol and the Nothing from Absolute Zero that is the Ein Sof. And beyond. He exists as the author of the world, which paradoxically means that God exists outside the universe, while being one with it. There is no way for God to enter into God. If God put his little finger into the universe, it would crack like a rotten egg. An avatar is, as if God took and created another him, a self-inserting character, and placed it inside his body. Yeah, weird, but it's the best example I can give. Why do you think Azathoth's avatars usually speak in the third person? It is because they speak of the other Azathoth, who exists outside the universe and everything exists within his ineffable dream.
Virgo explaining the nature of an Avatar.
A human
How can a deity as powerful as God exist as the same person as Jesus Christ, but as a separate person at the same time?
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Carl Black
Look at your left and right hand. They are themselves, but they are also you. At the same time, your hands are not part of your "self". Same thing with avatars in regards to their true selves.
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A Human
Oh! I understood. In the Bible it is mentioned that Jesus is the Right Hand of God. He is God and, at the same time, He is distinct from God.
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Carl Black
Exactly.
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Gallery

Trivia

  • The term avatar can be used to refer to the physical form created by a deity or any incorporeal entity in order to interact with the material world. Although similar, it is not the same thing as a true avatar, which is the physical form of a deity that has their own will, desire and consciousness. For example, the physical form assumed by God called Chuck Shurley is not the same thing as El Shaddai or Elohim.
  • Avatars can be born from a shard of the entity itself, or it can be born through transforming some being into an avatar, as was the case with Yaldabaoth who became an avatar of God, or Enuma who became an avatar of Azathoth.
  • Human beings with a high level of magic are also capable of creating avatars. However, these avatars are usually not physically stable so don't really last long. Many don't even have minds of their own, simply being vessels for their creator.
    • These avatars will usually assume the opposite gender to their progenitor.
  • Despite the similarities, Avatars should not be confused with Fragments, Vessels, or Emanations.
  • ʻAbdu'l-Bahá writes in the Tablet of the Universe ("Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih") that there are infinite Avatars of God in the infinite worlds of God.
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