Taking Theosophical ideas

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Theosophy & Avatara

Posted 9/11/06

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Avatara is a Sanskrit word which means “descent” and in the Hindu tradition is used to describe the reincarnation of Divine Consciousness or God Principle in human form.

The word has come into English as Avatar (plural Avatars) but as I carry the flag for Sanskrit, I will use Avatara (both singular & plural).

Theosophy accepts the principle of Avatara and has taken the concept beyond its Hindu roots. In the Hindu tradition it was applied primarily to Rama and Krishna as incarnations of Vishnu but through the ages, Hinduism has produced numerous teachers and leaders that have been assigned Avatara status.

H P Blavatsky’s teachers, Master Morya and Koot Hoomi (Kuthumi) were in the Avatara tradition but are rarely referred to as such.

3 Requirements

According to Theosophical writer, Gottfried de Purucker, to qualify as an Avatara, a candidate must have a combination these three essential requirements:

1) An inspiring divinity

2) A highly evolved intermediate nature or soul which is loaned and is the channel for the inspiring divinity

3) A pure clean body


To a Theosophist, an Avatara can show up anywhere at any time irrespective of geographical location or cultural and religious tradition.

Annie Besant and C W Leadbeater postulated that Gautama Siddhartha (The Buddha) had previously incarnated as other great religious figures.

These were:-

Hermes, Founder of the Egyptian Mysteries

Zoroaster, Founder of Zoroastrianism. (Freddy Mercury of Queen was a Zoroastrian)

Orpheus, Founder of the Greek Mysteries

In addition

Jesus was claimed to have reincarnated as Apollonius of Tyana in the eleventh century. An the Ascended Master Djwhal Khul who lived in Tibet and was a mentor to Alice Bailey had previously incarnated as Pythagoras.

The best known and most controversial example in the Theosophical movement is the proclamation by Annie Besant and C W Leadbeater of Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 -1986) as an Avatara and future “World Teacher”. This divided the Theosophical movement during the early 1920s and Krishnamurti himself renounced his messianic role in 1929 at the age of 24. He continued as a religious teacher.

Avatara in the Western Tradition

Although Theosophy can take much of the credit for being the first, in the modern era, to introduce the concept of Avatara to the West and repackage it as a worldwide phenomenon, it can be found in the Western Tradition.

The concept of Avatara can be found in Roman mythology. In the Metamorphoses of Ovid, Romulus, the founder of Rome was a divine entity on Earth who ascended into heaven to sit with the gods at the end of his life.

Virgil, the official and compulsory poet of the Roman Empire under Augustus, prophesied the coming of a divinely inspired World Teacher in his Fourth (Messianic) Eclogue.

The Ancient Greeks were often on speaking terms with their Gods and Greek Mythology abounds with the heroic exploits of Gods on Earth. Dionysus is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Semele


Looking Forward

Sadly, the term Avatara has now become devalued with some very controversial and dodgy figures either being proclaimed or proclaiming themselves Avatara or a comparable term. I bet you can think of one or two.

This may of course always have been the case with modern communications now making the trend more obvious. Spotting the jokers may be a challenge of the future.


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