The Avatar

The Avatar is a term that originated from Hinduism. The term was taken from the Sanskrit word, "avatara" which means "descent". Avatar technically implies a descent of a certain portion of the essence of a Supreme Being into earth. This essence may then assume the form of an animal, monster or man.

Hinduism Concept

In the religion of Hinduism, an avatar is an incarnation of a god or immortal being. They are primarily used to refer to the descents of the god Vishnu, whom one of the largest branches of Hinduism called Vaishavinism considers as the Supreme God. Other branches of Hinduism also have avatars of their own primary gods such as Shiva and Ganesha.

Ten Avatars Of Vishnu

In the ancient religious text called Garuda Purana, there is said to be ten avatars of the god Vishnu on earth. Known as the Dasavatara ("dasa" means "ten"), these ten avatars represent different incarnations and are prominent according to their influence in the society.

The ten avatars are said to appear in different ages, or "yugas", in the time cycle for man as described in Hinduism. In the first age called Satya Yuga, Vishnu is said to appear as Matsya the fish, Kurma the tortoise, Varaha the boar and Narasimha in the half man-half lion incarnation.

During the second age called Treta Yuga, Vishnu descended to earth as Vamana the dwarf. Parashurama was the sixth incarnation of Vishnu followed by Rama during the Treta Yuga. Balarama became the eighth incarnation of Vishnu that came during the Dwapara Yuga period along with his brother Krishna. The tenth incarnation called Kalki is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the current time period under Hinduism.

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