Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Avataar
|Introduction to Avataar-2|
Who is an Avataar
Types of Avataar
The 7 phases that follow are the characteristics of Poorn Avataar -
Vishnu's Avataar :
Avataar means incarnation of God. Raam, Krishn, Mohinee all were Avataar. There are three types of bodies (see also Types of Body) - Empirical Body - that is our physical body which we can touch; Another Body which we see in dreams - we can see it, we can feel by that body but we cannot touch it; thus although it is a body but still it is not a body; and the third body is Avataar's body - they come for some purpose and go away after fulfilling that purpose. These bodies have no mind. Because we need mind to get knowledge. Since Avataar don't need any kind of knowledge, because they already have it, that is why they don't need this mind, so they don't have it. Otherwise they are like human beings but certainly with special powers of God. Avataar possesses all characteristics of God.An Avataar represents the direct descent of God himself to the human level in order to help the human beings to ascend to the divine level, of which the liberated soul is a perfect example. A Jeev is forced to take a body due to his past actions whereas the Avataar incarnates of his free will for having mankind. Consequently, he is always conscious of his mission and power. It is only he who can see both the Absolute (Brahm) and the manifested world simultaneously and can teach the world about the Absolute. Vedaant admits the God's manifestation as the world, his omniscience as also omnipotence and grace. Hence there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that he can also assume a special and unique form as Avataar. God incarnates himself in response to the needs of the times. So, there are no restrictions regarding either the number of incarnations or the place. Bhaagavat Puraan gives three lists of 22 names (1.3.6-22), 23 names (2.7.1) and 16 names (11.4.3.) and goes to the extent of declaring that the Avataar are innumerable (1.3.26). But generally ten incarnations (Dashaavataar) are accepted by the majority. These Avataar are for Vishnu. There is a belief that Shiv took 100 Avataar among Shaivites.
This is also in
consonance with the Darwinian theory of evolution also!!
Avataar are classified into three types.- Poornavataar, Anshavataar, and Aaveshaavataar. Great sage Ved Vyaas may be considered as Anshaavataar. When there is a temporary entry of the divine as in the case of Narasinh manifesting through Padmapaad (a disciple of Shankar) it is called Aaveshaavataar.
The fact that Shankar did not forbid us from worshipping God through the various names and shapes - in fact he was responsible to construct and restore several temples including the famous Badaree Naaraayan Temple and the Shree Shail Mallikaarjun Temple etc. His compositions of beautiful poems for prayer offered to almost all deities of Sanaatan Dharm shows that there was a balance in his teachings. He did not advocate A-Dwait for everyone and without preparations. In fact his concept was, "Prahamaa Pratimaa Poojaa, Jap Stotraani Madhyam, Uttamaa Maanasee Poojaa, Soham Poojottamottam.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 11/27/12