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An avatar (Sanskritm., अवतार avatāra, literally: "descent", from ava- "down" and tṝ "to cross over") is a superhuman spiritual being, which for the benefit of humanity completely selflessly incorporates itself one or more times in a human body without drawing any fruits from it for its own development. Individual or several members of man that are animated by an avatar can be multiplied after the avatar's death and transferred to later people - in pre-Christian times, however, as a rule only to people related by blood. Thus Shem, a son of Noah, was imbued with an avatar in his etheric body. This enabled the descendants of Shem, the Semites, to be imbued with duplicated images of this etheric body. The etheric body of Shem was preserved and transferred to Melchisedek, the great Solar Initiate of Atlantis, so that he could fulfil his mission, the initiation of Abraham.

Christ is the greatest avatar, the only one who could penetrate all the members of a human being, the Jesus, down to the physical body, so that one can speak here of a complete incarnation, but otherwise only of an incorporation.The multiplied images of the members of the being of Jesus, who was permeated by Christ, played a great role in the development of Christianity. The blood relationship no longer had any significance for the transmission of these christened members to later human beings.

„As long as the human I, which has its physical expression in the blood, was not seized by an impulse on earth, the religions could not teach what is called the power of self-redemption of the human I. Thus we are told how the great spiritual beings, the great avatars, descend and embody themselves from time to time in human bodies when people need help. They are beings who do not need to descend into a human body for their own evolution, for they had completed their human evolution in an earlier world cycle. They descend because they want to help human beings. Thus, from time to time, when humanity needs help, the great god Vishnu descends into earthly existence. One of the embodiments of Vishnu, Krishna, speaks of himself, clearly stating what an avatar's being is. He himself speaks of what he is in the divine song, the Bhagavad Gita. In it we have the glorious words that Krishna, in whom Vishnu lives as Avatar, pronounces of himself: "I am the spirit of creation, its beginning, its middle, its end; I am the sun among the stars, the fire among the elements, the sea among the waters, the eternal serpent among the serpents. I am the foundation of the world."

One cannot proclaim the all-powerful divinity more beautifully, more gloriously, than it has been done in these words. The divinity which Moses sees in the element of fire, which not only weaves and surges through the world as a macrocosmic divinity, is also to be found within man. That is why the Krishna being lives in everything that wears a human face, as a great ideal towards which the human germ develops from within. And if, as the wisdom of antiquity aspired, the breath of man can be spiritualised by the impulse we take up within us from the Mystery of Golgotha, we have the principle of salvation through that which lives within ourselves. All the Avatars have redeemed humanity through power from above, through that which they have beamed down to Earth from spiritual heights. The Avatar Christ, however, has redeemed humanity through that which he has taken from the forces of humanity itself, and he has shown us how the forces of redemption, the forces for the conquest of matter by the spirit can be found in ourselves.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 100f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.