Avatars are a Hindu concept as far as I know, but I have noticed that many of these religions (from places like India) have similar things in common, whether they be symbols, names, beliefs, or whatever. My question is, does Buddhism have a concept of avatars? Or reworded, does Buddhism have a concept of avatars that is the same as or similar to the concept of avatars in Hinduism?

2 Answers 2


Because Buddhism denies the notion of "self" it does not have a concept of Avatar, as someone literally being a reincarnation of e.g. Ananda (Buddha's favorite student).

Tibetan Buddhism does have a notion of Tulku though, which is similar. Tulku is a new person that inherits the life stories and responsibilities of a previous person. This is done through teaching this person to deliberately identify with their predecessor, to learn predecessor's history, and to carry on his or her work.

Because the new person's life is so heavily influenced and inspired by the predecessor, we can say that the new person is an embodiment of the abstract energy of the previous one.


Some forms of Mahayana Buddhism teach that Buddhas and high level Bodhisattvas are able to send out multiple forms into the world to help people called emanations, and I would say that for all intents and purposes, is basically the same as in Hinduism, although there are major differences. Mostly it is only great teachers and such who are ascribed to have been emanations like that. For example, among Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama is regarded as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, whereas in Hinduism mythical heros are regarded as Avatars.

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