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Importance Of Avatar - Incarnation in Hinduism

Avatar, or Incarnation, is an important aspect of Hinduism. Lord Krishna explains about Avatar in the Bhagavad Gita – When righteousness declines and unrighteousness increases in the world, God takes birth in an avatar or incarnation to save and protect the honest and destroy the sinners. Avatar in Hindu religion is popularly associated with Lord Vishnu and nine Avatars of Lord Vishnu has already appeared and the 10th Kalki will appear in future. Hindu Puranas also mentions about several Avatars of Lord Shiva. There are also several minor incarnations of Lord Vishnu.


Symbolically, an avatar happens when a human being (or any living being) realizes that all animate and inanimate is that Supreme Being and performs his/her Dharma. An avatar happens when the veil is removed and the individual starts to see the Supreme Being in everything - there is no two.

The ten important incarnations of Lord Vishnu are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna and Kalki. Please note that a major section of scholars and Hindus believe that Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Such studies and belief avoid Balaram and include Lord Buddha in the list of ten incarnations.

In Hinduism, there are four different types of Avatar.

Nitya Avatar – These are people who have realized that all animate and inanimate in the world is that Supreme Being. These self realized souls are in a constant state of bliss.

Ansha Avatar – These avatars are mentioned in the Puranas and Epics. Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva takes a particular form to fulfill a particular goal or to solve a particular issue. Examples of such avatars are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu and Sharabha of Lord Shiva.

Avesha Avatar – This type of Avatar happens when God answers the prayers of a devotee. The best example is that Lord Narasimha appearing to save Prahlada and answer his prayers.

Poorna Avatar – This type of Avatar is when Lord Vishnu takes birth with all his attributes. Lord Krishna is a Poorna Avatar of Lord Vishnu.

There is also a fifth avatar mentioned by some spiritual scholars and this is the Vishesha Avatar.

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