AVATAR, a Sanskrit word meaning "descent," specially used in
Hindu mythology (and so in English) to express the incarnation of a deity
visiting the earth for any purpose. The ten Avatars of Vishnu are the
most famous. The Hindus believe he has appeared (1) as a fish, (2) as a
tortoise, (3) as a hog, (4) as a monster, half man half lion, to destroy
the giant Iranian, (5) as a dwarf, (6) as Rāma, (7) again as
Rāma for the purpose of killing the thousand-armed giant
Cartasuciriargunan, (8) as Krishna, (9) as Buddha. They allege that the
tenth Avatar has yet to occur and will be in the form of a white-winged
horse (Kalki) who will destroy the earth.
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