Was Jesus An Avatar?

Question

Hello. Was Jesus an avatar?

—Joanna, lebanon

Answer

DearJoanna,
According to Yogananda, yes, Jesus was an avatar. He writes in his Autobiography of a Yogi: “Great prophets like Christ and Krishna come to earth for a specific and spectacular purpose; they depart as soon as it is accomplished. Other avatars, like Babaji, undertake work which is concerned more with the slow evolutionary progress of man during the centuries than with any one outstanding event of history.”

Yogananda’s explanation of the term “avatar” is different from what one usually hears in India: it’s a soul which, like us, has gone through the entire school of evolution, and has finally found complete illumination, and freedom in God. From that free state he decided to incarnate again on earth, not to learn, but to bless.

Yogananda explains it like this in his Autobiography: “The Upanishads have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A siddha (“perfected being”) has progressed from the state of a jivanmukta (“freed while living”) to that of a paramukta (“supremely free”–full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational round. The paramukta therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.”

That’s of course a different vie of Jesus than the one Christians hold. There are many avatars, Yogananda explains: “Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali were among the ancient Indian avatars. A considerable poetic literature in Tamil has grown up around Agastya, a South Indian avatar.”

All the best, Jayadev