Here and there, I heard that Jesus is an avatar of Lord Vishnu (or even a reincarnation of Krishna).
Is this true?
According to Bhavishya Purana, Jesus is reincarnation of one of the greatest Bhaktas of lord Vishnu known as Dhruva Rishi. That's why he was born out of kumari garbha (virgin's womb) under Pole star (Dhruva Tara in Hindi). There is a addressing to reincarnation of Dhruva Rishi (Jesus) in Bhavishya Purana as
Here is some of the excerpt from above source:
Note: Bhavishya Purana is no longer in yathaswaroop (as it was) but there are similar prophecies in Bhagwat Purana also about Jesus. And Bhavishya Purana is a controversial subject and is not considered geniune (as it was written), this talks more about the subject.
I don't mean any Offence on (towards) any Religion or anyone's religious believes. I am just expressing what I came to know when I searched for Jesus in Sanatan Dharma Scriptures.
So as a concluding statement, it is up to your buddhi/viveka (intellect) to decide what is correct or incorrect, and seeing the proofs I say JESUS WAS/MIGHT-BE A BHAKTA NOT AVATAR OF LORD VISHNU.
Jesus is not an avatar of Vishnu. Avatar is not same as prophet. An avatar is significantly different from a prophet in that every human can attain the consciousness of an avatar while a prophet is a "chosen" special person whose consciousness cannot be attained by humans.
One cannot consider Jesus to be an avatar because he solves a different problem than Vishnu. He 'redeems' humans from their originally sinful nature which Vishnu doesn't. See my answer here for the details.
Coming to scriptural 'proofs', quoting from this weblog:
Yes and No.
"Christians believe Jesus alone shares complete bodily and spiritual identity with God. Attempts are often made to describe Jesus as an avatar, a Hindu term. The word 'avatar' in Sanskrit means 'descent into visible form' and refers to God descending on the earth in a human (or even non-human) form to lead us to a higher stage of perfection.
There are cognate meanings here. In both contexts, though God is omnipotent and can do and undo everything, yet he descends in a visible form in order to operate within human laws which are his own creations. By achieving an inner victory or a new realization, especially in human form, the avatar creates the capacity in consciousness for every human to achieve a similar victory or realization. In this sense, an avatar is a kind of incarnation in the same way that Jesus is in Christianity. He role-plays with deliberate and voluntary self-limitation. The avatar has infinite knowledge which he can choose to access, though ordinarily he does not, or else does so selectively. All this would apply to Jesus during his earthly life.
But the differences are insurmountable given the importance of original sin and the role of Jesus as Saviour. Antonio de Nicolas has given one of the finest explanations of the key distinction between Jesus the Saviour and the avatar of Hinduism. He explains Jesus as follows:
But the avatar is different:
Christianity's exclusivist claim that Jesus was the only incarnation is unacceptable to the dharmic religions. In the dharmic tradition, each avatar comes to establish the eternal truth anew in response to the need of the time. To accept Jesus as avatar on terms established by Christianity would entail granting him exclusive status; this, in turn, would invalidate all other avatars, such as Krishna, etc.
As Sri Aurobindo explains:
This God-as-Cosmos is what we call 'the world', and its divine play evolves into the immense diversity of forms; hence, the human is in fact God-as-human and no less. Cosmic evolution is the self-unveiling of Di“vine Consciousness. This manifestation has a purpose, and its truths are expressed in the form of multiple lines or trajectories, such as: peace, harmony, power, battle-and-conquest, knowledge-and-illumination, beauty, joy, and so on. Sri Aurobindo explains that when God-as-human 'knows itself and acts within the frame of the mental being and the appearance of birth, that is the height of the conditioned manifestation; it is the full and conscious descent of the Godhead, it is the Avatara'.
For the purpose of creation, the Divine Being assumes several presiding personalities; each oversees the manifestation of particular truths. A given personality may choose to manifest as a full incarnation – in which case it is called an avatar – or as an embodiment of its particular truth – in which case it is called a vibhuti. Thus, avatar is God in visible form, and vibhuti is the manifestation of one or more of his infinite qualities. In other words, an avatar is a vibhuti, but a vibhuti is not necessarily an avatar. For example, Krishna is an avatar as well as a vibhuti, but Arjuna is a vibhuti only. Ushana, the brave king, likewise is a vibhuti.
Unlike prophets, avatars do not serve as intermediaries chosen by God, nor are they absolutely necessary in order for humans to understand God's will in shaping history.”
-Excerpt from the book Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra
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