An avatar is an appearance or an incarnation of a god or goddess on Earth. Hindus believe that a god or goddess takes the form of a human or animal in times of great need, to save humanity from danger or evil. For example:
Hindu stories tell of many different avatars. In Vaishnavite Hindu communities, the ten appearances of the great god Vishnu are especially important examples of avatars.
Vishnu is one of the three gods of the trimurti. As the god of preservation, he keeps life going. To do this, he has appeared nine times on Earth across the ages (and a tenth avatar is still to come in the future). The most famous avatars of Vishnu are the seventh (Rama) and the eighth (Krishna). The tenth and final avatar is called Kalki. The stories say he will ride in on a white horse to destroy all the evil in the world.
|1||Matsya – The Fish|
|2||Kurma – The Tortoise|
|3||Varaha – The Boar|
|4||Narasimha – The Man-Lion|
|5||Vamana – The Dwarf|
|6||Parasurama – The Angry Man|
|7||Lord Rama – The Perfect Man|
|8||Lord Krishna – The Divine Statesman|
|9||Balarama – Krishna’s Elder Brother|
|10||Kalki – The Mighty Warrior (still to come)|
In Hindu worship, what is an avatar?
Avatars are appearances of the gods and goddesses on Earth. Examples include the ten avatars of Vishnu.