Here and there, I heard that Jesus is an avatar of Lord Vishnu (or even a reincarnation of Krishna).
Is this true?
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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). Bhavishya purana addresses Jesus reincarnation of Dhruva Rishi as
Kumarigarbhasambhavaam(born from a virgin Kumari).
Here is some of the excerpt from above source:
Dr. Vedavyas, a research scholar with a doctorate in Sanskrit, discusses some important prophecies from the Bhavishya Purana, which he says dates back to 3000 B.C. He states that one prophecy describes the future appearance of Isha putra, the son (putra) of God (Isha)(Jesus Christ), born of an unmarried woman named Kumari (Mary) Garbha Sambhava. He would visit India at the age of thirteen and go to the Himalayan Mountains and do tapas or penance to acquire spiritual maturity under the guidance of rishis and siddha-yogis before going back to Palestine to preach to his people. So, if Jesus was trained by the sages of India, this would explain why he was able to perform various miracles (siddhas). It also explains why there are so many philosophical similarities between early Christianity and Hinduism.
Note: Bhavishya Purana is no longer in yathaswaroop (as it was) nd Bhavishya Purana is a controversial subject and is not considered genuine (as it was written), More on this 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 Shriman Narayana.
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:
Evidence based on the Bhavishya Purana
The following verse appears to predict Jesus Christ. There are also many other verses predicting Jesus.
sivamkari ishamasihah iti ca
mama nama pratishthitam
“Having placed the eternally pure and auspicious form of the Supreme Lord in my heart, O protector of the earth planet, I preached these principles through the mlecchas’ own faith and thus my name became ‘isha-masiha’ (Jesus the Messiah).”
This may at first appear to be remarkable. The Wikipedia article shows that the same purana also remarkably predicts Queen Victoria. Other sources show that it even used words in English (‘Sunday’, ‘February’ and ‘Sixty’), a language that would not exist in any recognisable form for over a thousand years from the supposed date of this document. It also predicted the East India Company and Mugal Rule. This would appear to be a remarkably predictive document indeed!
Unfortunatley there are a number of things that make it look much more likely to be tempered with. Firstly, no editions of this purana dating from before British rule can be found. Secondly the predictions stop at 1900, so there are no predictions of events occurring after the first recorded edition of this document. Steven Knapp points out that there is documented evidence of Christians plotting to write such false documents:
In 1784, the famous Indologist Sir William Jones wrote the following letter to Sir Warren Hastings, Governor General of India, confirming our suspicions that this was indeed part of their program:
“As to the general extension [spreading] of our pure faith [Christianity] in Hindoostan [India] there are at present many sad obstacles to it… We may assure ourselves, that Hindoos will never be converted by any mission from the church of Rome, or from any other church; and the only human mode, perhaps, of causing so great a revolution, will be to translate into Sanscrit… such chapters of the Prophets, particularly of ISAIAH, as are indisputably evangelical, together with one of the gospels, and a plain prefatory discourse, containing full evidence of the very distant ages, in which the predictions themselves, and the history of the Divine Person (Jesus) is predicted, were severally made public and then quietly to disperse the work among the well-educated natives.” (Asiatic Researches Vol. 1. Published 1979, pages 234-235. First published 1788).
Over all I think we can assume that this is more likely to be a forgery than a genuine prediction, though there is evidence that the Bhavishya Purana did exist historically and it is likely that it is a genuine document that has been added to and altered rather than a complete forgery.
Just suppose however that the sages really could predict the life of Jesus, Muhammad and the rise of the British Empire (but not be able to see a few decades later to its decline). Would that mean that we should become Christians? More likely it would validate the mystical powers of the Rishis. If we are to believe this part of the Hindu Scriptures then surely we should believe all! In this unlikely event we should see Jesus as an incarnation of God, but also believe the other predictions such as Krishna, samsara and reincarnation. It seems to me that this was not only an attempt at forgery but a futile one at that.
Yes and No.
The concept of Avatar is very different from the concept of God in Christianity, which is based on exclusivity, history-centrism etc.
"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:
The Savior image [is the mediator] between God and the sinful race of humans. We know this image also as the scapegoat, and the Substitute King: someone chosen for the occasion to be the victim of the moment for the salvation of the rest of the community. He gains immortal divinity, saves other humans, brings his Father into the scene, his followers name a Church after him, and these same followers establish a narrative, a theology, and ethics based on principles of behavior… The room left for individuals to improve their spiritual knowledge in this scheme of Savior/sinner is not great, we are, after all, sinners, born in sin, and our individual salvation is only a gift, provided we follow the rules of ethics, and not the result of any superior knowledge of God or deviation from this scheme. Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the followers and founders of the model. God and the rules of ethics come from the outside and their mission in life is to bring all humans to surrender to this model, either through conversion or force. The individual, in this model, is an individual only in name, for after all, individual perfection consists in total surrender to the model, in letting the model become embodied in the subjects in such a way that the model, rather than the individuals, acts through each complying individual … Wherever there is violence, the Savior model is at work.
But the avatar is different:
The Avatar model, on the other hand, has a larger range of human development than the Savior's, from the Language of possibilities of the Asat (Chaos) where all geometries of possible human forms are waiting to be born as heroes, gods, humans etc., to the Language of Sacrifice and Images, where all forms are to be sacrificed … The “gods are this side of creation and they are interior embodiments of a multiplicity of brains at work. Inner acts, rather than names, are at work. These acts are so efficient that they may create new 'gods,' new centers of action, to guide humans to make wise decisions. There are no a priori norms of ethics to accommodate to.
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:
India has from ancient times held strongly a belief in the reality of the Avatara, the descent into form, the revelation of the Godhead in humanity. In the West this belief has never really stamped itself upon the mind because it has been presented through exoteric Christianity as a theological dogma without any roots in the reason and general consciousness and attitude towards life. But in India it has grown up and persisted as a logical outcome of the Vedantic view of life and taken firm root in the consciousness of the people. All existence is a manifestation of God because He is the only existence and nothing can be except as either a real figuring or else a figment of that one reality. Therefore every conscious being is in part or in some way a descent of the Infinite into the apparent finiteness of name and form. But it is a veiled manifestation and there is a gradation between the supreme being of the Divine and the consciousness shrouded partly or wholly by ignorance of self in the finite.
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
It's an emphatic NO that Jesus was not the incarnation of Vishnu. Vishnu is so called by Vedic followers but it is the god almighty which is being called in respective names according to their religions. He is god for everybody. Similarly when a realised soul descends on earth, it has to be in a religion and in a specific place. However the motto of that incarnation is for the benefit of mankind who are in need of it. If I don't want it, fair enough but I have no right to pass any comments on such incarnations.