What is the first visual image we have in our mind when we come across the word ‘avatar?’

James Cameron’s “Avatar” 2009

James Cameron’s popular blue-skinned humanoids Na’avi, or the image we choose for our virtual user representations?

The Process of Virtual Avatar-making

Be it either of the Western adaptations, the original concept of the avatar comes from Hinduism. There we go, Oriental kick-in, as always!


Avatar (‘descent’) in the Hindu culture is a concept referring to an embodiment of a certain deity on Earth from the cosmic realm. The main carrier of this super-magical power comes to be Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu on Garuda Wallpaper.jpg
Vishnu on his Vahana (vehicle) Garuda

Vishnu is known as the Hindu god of preservation, responsible for the world’s intelligent design. He puts everything together to create a harmonious narrative.
The tradition of the blue-skin comes from one of Vishnu’s most famous avatar – Krishna.

Vasudeva (Krishna’s father) carrying the baby Krishna to Nand’s (Krishna’s foster-father) house across the river Yamuna

His manifestations in an earthly form revolve around short stories empowering good virtues. They have a sententious role and come into being whenever the cosmic binaries created by Brahma become imbalanced.

1504 Maha Vishnu holding the Earth.jpg
Vishnu, the intelligent designer, holding the planet Earth

In the Ramayana, Vishnu is usually known to have ten avatars: partial– fish-man, turtle, boar, lion-man, dwarf, sage; and full – Rama (yes, the famous one, whose name you often hear in that Indian movie!), Krishna (the blue-skinned one), Buddha (yes, the Buddhist Buddha, an unexpected twist, eh?) and Kalki (heard about the Armageddon, the flying horseman? There he is!).


If you follow the list thoroughly, you might notice the evolutionary chain, from the simple life-forms of vertebrates to most advanced and destructive humans.

Further Reading:
1. https://www.ananda.org/yogapedia/avatar/
2. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2013/07/the-ten-avatars-of-vishnu-a-guide/


2 thoughts on “The Origins of the Avatar

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