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

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James Cameron’s “Avatar” 2009

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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/

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