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avatara(ăv'ətârə) [Skt.,=descent], incarnations of Hindu gods, especially VishnuVishnu
, one of the greatest gods of Hinduism, also called Narayana. First mentioned in the Veda as a minor deity, his theistic cults, known as Vaishnavism, or Vishnuism, grew steadily from the first millennium B.C., absorbing numerous different traditions and minor deities.
..... Click the link for more information. . The doctrine of avatara first occurs in the Bhagavad-GitaBhagavad-Gita
[Skt.,=song of the Lord], Sanskrit poem incorporated into the Mahabharata, one of the greatest religious classics of Hinduism. The Gita (as it is often called) consists of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna on the eve of the great battle of
..... Click the link for more information. , where KrishnaKrishna
[Sanskrit,=black], one of the most popular deities in Hinduism, the eighth avatar, or incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna appears in the Mahabharata epic as a prince of the Yadava tribe and the friend and counselor of the Pandava princes.
..... Click the link for more information. declares: "For the preservation of the righteous, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of dharma [virtue], I come into being from age to age." Vishnu is believed to have taken nine avatara, in both animal and human form, with a tenth yet to come. The avatara of ShivaShiva
, one of the greatest gods of Hinduism, also called Mahadeva. The "horned god" and phallic worship of the Indus valley civilization may have been a prototype of Shiva worship or Shaivism.
..... Click the link for more information. are imitations of those of Vishnu.