Incarnation which literally means "embodied in flesh", refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature (generally a human) who is the material manifestation of an entity or force whose original nature is immaterial.

In its religious context the word is used to mean the descent of a divine being or the Supreme Being (God) in human form on Earth. While Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism are perhaps the most widely-known traditions to employ this concept within the context of their respective belief systems, they are by no means the only ones to do so.

Ancient Egypt

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were sometimes said to be incarnations of the gods Horus and Ra.


In the Bahá'í Faith, God is described as a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. The connection between God and the world is that of the creator to his creation.cite encyclopedia |last= Smith |first= Peter |encyclopedia= A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith |title= God |year= 2000 |publisher=Oneworld Publications |location= Oxford |id= ISBN 1-85168-184-1 |pages= p. 116] God is understood to be independent of his creation, and that creation is dependant and contingent on God. God, however, is not seen to be incarnated into this world and is not seen to be part of creation as he cannot be divided and does not descend to the condition of his creatures. Instead, in the Bahá'í understanding, the world of creation from God, in that all things have been realized by him and have attained to existence.cite book |author = `Abdu'l-Bahá |authorlink = `Abdu'l-Bahá |origdate = 1904-06 |year = 1981 |title = Some Answered Questions |publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Trust |location = Wilmette, Illinois, USA |id = ISBN 0877431906 |url = | pages = p. 202-203 ] The Bahá'í concept of the intermediary between God and humanity is expressed in the term Manifestation of God, which are a series of personages, such as Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh, who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization.cite journal | first = Juan | last = Cole | title = The Concept of Manifestation in the Bahá'í Writings| year = 1982 | journal = Bahá'í Studies | volume = monograph 9 | pages = pp. 1–38 | url =] In expressing God's intent, these Manifestations are seen to establish religion in the world. The Manifestations of God are also not seen as an incarnation of God, but are instead understood to be like a perfect mirror reflecting the attributes of God onto this material world.cite book |author = Hatcher, W.S. |coauthors = & Martin, J.D. |year = 1998 |title = The Bahá'í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion |publisher = Harper & Row |location = San Francisco |id = ISBN 0877432643 | pages = p. 118}]


In the Buddhist tradition, an incarnation is a person believed to be the next rebirth of someone deceased, in most cases a lama or other important master/teacher. This concept differs from reincarnation in Hinduism, however, since the Buddhist teaching of anatta (non-self) implies that there is no fixed soul that could move from one life to another.


The doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ is central to the traditional Christian faith as held by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and most Protestants. Briefly, it is the belief that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, also known as the Son or the "Logos" (Word), "became flesh" when he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In the Incarnation, the divine nature of the Son of God was perfectly united with human nature in one divine Person. This person, Jesus, some churches believe was both truly God and truly man. This doctrine is specifically referenced in the Bible in John 1:14 and Colossians 2:9. It is known as the hypostatic union.


The term avatara literally means "descent" and usually implies a deliberate descent into lower realms of existence for special purposes. It is not a synonym of incarnation, as the incarnation presumes taking a material body, but the word avatara also assumes descent in the original form. Matchett, Freda, "Krsna, Lord or Avatara? the relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana", Routledge, 2000] ClarifymeMany denominations of Hinduism, such as Vaishnavism and Saivism, teach that occasionally God comes to Earth as a human being to help humans in their struggle toward enlightenment and salvation (moksha). Such an incarnation or discent of God is called an avatar. In some respects, the Hindu concept of avatar is similar to the belief found in Christianity that God came to the earth in the form of Jesus. However, whereas most Christians believe that God has assumed a human body only once, Hinduism teaches that there have been "multiple" avatars throughout history and that there will be more and does not assume material body, thus some disagree with this assumption.Clarifyme Thus Krishna, who is not only viewed as an incarnation but also source of all incarnations, "svayam bhagavan", says:

Whenever righteousness declines And unrighteousness increases, I make myself a body; In every age I come back To deliver the holy, To destroy the sin of the sinner, To establish righteousness. [Bhagavad Gita, IV 7-8]

The most famous of the divine incarnations are Rama, whose life is depicted in the Ramayana, and Krishna, whose life is depicted in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana. The Bhagavad Gita, which contains the spiritual teachings of Krishna, is one of the most widely-read scriptures in Hinduism.


Sikhism supports the concept of incarnation.According to sikhism there are 84 million forms of life. And one goes through these forms with human being as the supreme form of life. According to Sikhism, it is the one's deeds which decide how many time he will be incarnated. Meditation is the only form to liberate a soul from the process of incarnation.


Islam completely rejects the doctrine of the incarnation of God in any form. In Islam God is one and neither begets nor is begotten. [Qur'an, (112:1-4).] Islam specifically rejects the Christian idea of Jesus as a divine incarnation, but rather sees Jesus as a prophet ("nabī") and messenger ("rasūl") of God.


Rabbinic Judaism rejects this doctrine. [L. Jacobs 1973 "A Jewish Theology" p. 24. N.Y.: Berman House]


The Rastafari movement views Haile Selassie as God incarnate.


External links

* [ Detailed information on Incarnation in Christianity]
* [ Article on Incarnation in Rastafari]

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  • incarnation — [ ɛ̃karnasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1113; lat. incarnatio 1 ♦ Action par laquelle une divinité s incarne dans le corps d un homme ou d un animal. Les incarnations de Jupiter (⇒ métamorphose ) , de Vishnu (⇒ avatar) . ♢ Dans la religion chrétienne, Union… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Incarnation — (christianisme) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Incarnation (homonymie). Nativité de Georges de La Tour (1644) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Incarnation — In car*na tion, n. [F. incarnation, LL. incarnatio.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act of clothing with flesh, or the state of being so clothed; the act of taking, or being manifested in, a human body and nature. [1913 Webster] 2. (Theol.) The union of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • incarnation — [in΄kär nā′shən] n. [ME incarnacion < OFr incarnatiun < LL(Ec) incarnatio < pp. of incarnari: see INCARNATE] 1. endowment with a human body; appearance in human form 2. any person or animal serving as the embodiment of a god or spirit 3 …   English World dictionary

  • incarnation — Incarnation. s. f. v. Mystere par lequel le Fils de Dieu, le Verbe eternel s est fait homme. Le mystere de l Incarnation …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • incarnation — ► NOUN 1) a living embodiment of a deity, spirit, or abstract quality. 2) (the Incarnation) (in Christian theology) the embodiment of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ. 3) (with reference to reincarnation) each of a series of earthly… …   English terms dictionary

  • incarnation — index embodiment Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • incarnation — (n.) c.1300, embodiment of God in the person of Christ, from O.Fr. incarnacion (12c.), from L.L. incarnationem (nom. incarnatio), act of being made flesh (used by Church writers especially of God in Christ), noun of action from pp. stem of L.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • incarnation — (in kar na sion ; en vers, de cinq syllabes) s. f. 1°   Acte par lequel ce qui n était pas chair devient chair, ou ce qui était pur esprit prend un corps.    Par excellence, action de la Divinité qui s incarne ; résultat de cette action. •   L… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • incarnation — incarnational, adj. /in kahr nay sheuhn/, n. 1. an incarnate being or form. 2. a living being embodying a deity or spirit. 3. assumption of human form or nature. 4. the Incarnation, (sometimes l.c.) Theol. the doctrine that the second person of… …   Universalium

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