Christmas, Day 8: All the Way

LOOK: Avatharana by Solomon Raj

Raj, Solomon_Avatharana
Solomon Raj (Indian, 1921–2019), Avatharana (Incarnation), late 1980s, batik. Source: Living Flame and Springing Fountain (Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1993).

Avataraṇa (अवतरण), from which we get the word “avatar,” is a Sanskrit word that means stepping down from a higher position. It’s the word used in Hinduism to refer to the incarnation of a deity, to his or her descending to earth. The late Indian Lutheran pastor, artist, and theologian Solomon Raj, from Andhra Pradesh, used the word, with nuance, to refer to the incarnation of Christ.

In this batik—a type of dyed cloth artwork made using a wax-resist method—Raj shows Jesus diving through the ether, surrounded by angels. He hurtles headfirst from heaven to earth to be with humanity. Reproduced in the book Living Flame and Springing Fountain (1993), the image is accompanied by this verse-style reflection by Raj:

When God became man and came to us,
the heavens donned a new robe of light.
When the son of man came to this earth,
the whole creation became renewed.
The universe now is redeemed and kept
for a glory yet greater than the first
because the unknown and the unknowable One
became man to live with mankind.

For more on the concept of Jesus as avatar from Christian perspectives, see:

LISTEN: “All the Way from Heaven Down” by Thomas Whitfield | Performed by the Thomas Whitfield Company, on The Annual Christmas Services (1988)

All the way from heaven down
Just to save me
All the way from heaven down
Just to love me

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