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Avatar (or Avatara) is an Indian concept meaning the descent to earth of a deity. In particular, Vishnu, the aspect of the Hindu Trinity who is devoted to preservation of the creation, is believed to have incarnated on earth many times. Whenever negative energies are rampant and the world is in great peril, in danger of imminent destruction or chaos, Vishnu is said to return. He comes to guide humanity back to righteous living (dharma) in order to preserve the harmonious order of the universe.
Psychologically, we must compare this idea of Divine Incarnation with other traditions. It is well known that Christian belief in Jesus as Incarnate God impacts the whole belief system and worldview of the individual. In contrast, there is a somewhat more muted impact in Jewish and Moslem reverence for the prophets and in Buddhist reverence for the Buddha. For Hindus, like for Christians, the belief that God has incarnated on earth has profound psychological implications....