, (Clockwise, from Left upper corner) Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Krishna, Kalki, Buddha, Parshurama, Rama and Narasimha, (in centre) Krishna ]]In Hindu philosophy, an avatar (also spelled as avatara) (, ), most commonly refers to the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of a higher being (deva), or the Supreme Being (God) onto planet Earth. The Sanskrit word literally means "descent" (avatarati) and usually implies a deliberate descent into lower realms of existence for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of Vishnu whom many Hindus worship as God. Shiva and Ganesha are also described as descending in the form of avatars, with the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana detailing Ganesha's avatars specifically.The word has also been used by extension to refer to the incarnations of God or highly influential teachers in other religions, especially by adherents to dharmic traditions when explaining figures such as Jesus.
Types of avatars