I have heard this from many people and to be frank the Christian incarnation and the Hindu avatar do sound very similar. What do you think?
I think you need to read the book of John and get your religious facts straight.
I think its misleading and wrong, all sorts of groups want to claim Jesus and hindus aren’t unique in this. It all comes from basic anachronism forcing their world view onto Christ who was not a hindu. He lived in first century palestine not first century india.
From what I Gather, “Vishnu is a main Vedic God (including His different avataras and/or expansions), venerated as the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism” and in Hinduism, an avatar is “a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being, mostly translated into English as incarnation”.
Perhaps then from the standpoint of a Hindu, Jesus, seen as an incarnation of God, can be seen as “an avatar of the Supreme Being”. In fact, from other posts on CAF we read that he would be perhaps considered a “mahavatar” (great avatar).
As a Christian in the Catholic Church, I can understand why a Hindu would see Christ in such way, but I know that such doctrine is not truthful - only logical from the standpoint of their own beliefs.
This document from the Holy See mentions the figure of the Lord in the context of Hinduism:
Hindus, who have heard about Jesus Christ from Christian missionaries, have reacted in various ways. Some have come to admire Jesus, but without any feeling of commitment to him. Others have come to know and love Jesus and have committed themselves to him, but within the context of Hinduism. Still others have responded to the person of Christ by seeking baptism and incorporation into the Church.
Mahatma Gandhi is an example of one who greatly admired the teaching of Jesus but who, as he himself said, was not interested in the historical person of the teacher. He was particularly struck by the Sermon on the Mount. For him Jesus, through his message, became an ethical symbol.
Many Hindus have no difficulty in accepting Jesus as divine. What they find difficult is the Christian understanding that the Incarnation of God in Jesus is unique. Jesus is often seen as the supreme example of self-realization, the goal of the Hindi dharma. He is taken to be a symbol of human progress. For some he becomes more of an ideal than a historical person. According to Hindu traditions, history always provides an imperfect knowledge of reality. In such a context, to identify the mystery of Jesus Christ with historical fact is seen as reducing God to imperfection.
The view is inconsistent with the Holy Scriptures as Christ is the Incarnation of the God of the Old Testament and a fulfillment of its prophesies and psalms, which also declare that “all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens.” (Ps. 95:5) St. Paul the Apostle of Christ says in his turn that “the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.” (1. Cor. 10:20) St. Francis Xavier who worked as a missionary in India wrote in a letter to St. Ignatius of Loyola that “[a]ll the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils.”
Anyone Hindus admire but cannot commit to they add to the pantheon of gods. Supposedly Buddha is also an avatar of Vishnu.
I am certain there are many similarities, but there are likewise differences (there are no ten avatars of Jesus, for example). They are likewise incompatible in theology, and so any attempt to mix the two is done either in ignorance or in inclusivist blunder.
NO!!! Jesus is not an avtar - there are many avtrars in hinduism -
Jesus is the Sone of God Himself.
Hinduism, by its very nature, tends to have rather “porous” borders with other religious faiths.
You shouldn’t interpret it as a desire to steal Jesus or any sort of thing in that vein, rather they see conceive of the existence of someone like Jesus or Lao-Tzu or some other divine figure emanating from outside of their cultural sphere as further evidence of the validity of their own beliefs.
Because “Hindus”(really a misnomer, Brahmanism might be a better term) interpret history in terms of interventions by divine beings essentially “wearing masks” if you will to bring Dharma to the people of a particular culture in their own idiosyncratic manner, it makes a lot of sense why they would interpret Jesus as being an avatar of Vishnu.
However, if you were to accept that proposition as true, you’d probably be less a Christian and more a Hindu.
It’s generally Krishna ( who is an avatar of Vishnu) that is seen as similar to Jesus.
I read somewhere once that every heresy has a particle of truth in it, yet they exaggerate it to the exclusion of other truths. I’m sure something similar could be said of the Hindus and their concept of Vishnu returning time and time again to establish justice and to fight evil. As Christians we believe that the Fullness of Truth was made manifest in the Incarnation, and that the Lord gave keys to all of the apostles (Matt. 18:18) to guide the faithful.
What I’m saying is that where other faiths may have something in common with the teachings of the Church, those were particles of truth which were already present. I have heard a rumor before that even Cardinal John Henry Newman saw paganism as a foreshadowing of Christ. Many of the pagans had mythologies which were very similar to Christ, and it would almost have been as if God had scattered clues far and wide pointing back to Jesus. Eventually everyone will find something in common with what the Church has taught.
I think that according to Hindu thought Jesus would have been an incarnation/avatar of Vishnu…and expression the Supreme Deity…but since I do not embrace Hindu belief and practice…I would not call him an avatar…but I understand why a Hindu would.
This is an easy one.
Jesus, from a Catholic viewpoint: The Son of God. He is not an aspect of the Father. He can speak to God the Father because He has a mind of His own.
Krishna, from a Hindu viewpoint: An aspect of Vishnu. Krishna can’t speak to Vishnu, since he IS Vishnu.
We, as Christians, can’t just add Hindu scripture to our theology, but surprisingly many Hindus “steal” Jesus, completely ignore all his teachings, and don’t even think about it (I lived in India for most of my life, and it wasn’t too rare).
I don’t know if I really see that as the best example of the differences between the two. I mean Jesus is not just the son of God he is also God himself. Just as the Holy Spirit is God also. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not subordinate to God the Father but one being in 3 forms from eternity.
And in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna basically claims to be “God” IE the source of all in the universe, yet is also in human form ( IIRC) when talking with Arjuna so I can see how a Vaishnava could see a similarity between Krishna being God incarnate and Jesus being God incarnate. Krishna’s mythology also includes stories of prophecies of his birth, attempts to kill him before birth and other things that are similar to Jesus’s life.
I’m not saying that Krishna is Jesus or an avatar of Vishnu I’m just saying how I can see how a Vaishnava might see a similarity there.
Similarity isn’t really the perfect word here, but at the moment I can’t think of a more appropriate one.
Can you pls explain what is the sililarity you find between Krishna and Jesus Christ??
The difference between the Incarnation in the Christian context, and Avatara in the Vaisnavite context is comparable to the early Christian heresy of docetism. Visnu/Krisna only “appears” to be a human being. In reality, he is the manifestation of the Brahman or Unmanifest (comparable to Spinoza’s “Substance” or Plotinos’ “One”). Avatara, as a word, is connected to theater, so Krisna/Visnu is only “playing” on the world stage this character in order to right the imbalance of dharma in the world and to lead us into realization that our individuality does not truly exist, that we are all ultimately God but deceived by our own ego.
Christianity on the other hand, starts from a radical ontological gulf between the Uncreated Divine and creation. This gap is bridged by the Logos in order to save us from sin and death brought on by our first parents. Christ became fully man, while remaining fully God. In Hinduism, there is no “fully human” for Visnu/Krisna to become.
As for Christ being an Avatara, from a Vaisnavite perspective, any “enlightened” being is in a sense an Avatara of Visnu/Krisna, but there are ten specific Avataras, of which Krisna is 8th and Buddha the 9th. The last will be Kalki and he will prepare the world for its return back into the “One/Brahman.”
I hope this helped.
If you find yourself academically inclined, I may suggest “Hindu God, Christian God” by Francis Clooney S.J.