There are different avatars of God. Each of the God’s avatar has some similarities and differences. But before we proceed to that, let’s understand what the word “avatara or avatar” means. The Sanskrit term Avatarana means ‘coming down’ and denotes the manifestation of the Supreme in any form. Lord Krishna says in Srimad Bhagavad-gita
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata,
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānam sṛjāmyaham.
paritrāṇāya sādhūnām vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām,
dharma saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge
‘Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness increases, I manifest Myself. I am born from age to age for the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil and evildoers, and the revival of dharma in the world.’ This, the avatara, God, incarnates or takes different forms to save humanity from spiritual degradation and restore dharma in society. It asserts the ultimate victory and power of Dharma.
Similarities and Differences of Avatara.
Now let’s understand how different avatars of God manifest. The Lord is ever complete but his avataras are all different in manifestations. Therefore, not all avataras are the same. The incarnation form depends on the purpose of the same, the requirements of time, and the intensity of the circumstances. Thus, based on the characteristics, avatara are categorized as follows: –
- Nitya avatara: Firstly, the Lord is ever-present in the world in the form of saints and sages. Santa Rāmdāsa said, “Those who work for the establishment of dharma are none other than Īśvara Himself.”
- Amsa avatara: The Lord appears with only a part of His force to accomplish a particular goal. For example, the Matsya, Varsha(boar), Vamana(dwarf), etc., all took different forms to realize their goals.
- Avesha avatara : Likewise, the Lord suddenly manifests in a situation where a devotee is in need. For example, Lord Vishnu took the form of Narasimha for his devotee Prahlada.
- Purna avatara: Finally, He Lord manifests in His full potency and splendor (with all His 16 kalās or attributes). Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a pūrṇa avatara.