Avancini, Nicola, chiefly known as an ascetical writer, b. in the TjtoI, 1612; d. 6 December, 1686. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1677. and for some years held the chair of rlietoric and philosopliy at Gratz, and subsequently that of theology at Vienna. He was rector of the Colleges of Passau, Vienna, and Gratz, Provincial of the Austrian Province, Visitor of Bohemia, and at his death Assistant for the German Provinces of the Society. In the midst of these onerous duties he found time to publish works on philosophy, theology, and sacred literature, none of which, liowever, have retained popularity except his "Meditations on the Life and Doctrines of Jesus Christ ". This work, originally in Latin, was trans- lated mto the principal European languages and went through many editions. The meditations are con- sidered dry by some, and the English version in use contains much additional matter drawn from the works of other authors. But these meditations, in their simple as well as their extended form, have assisted many most efficaciously in the difficult task of daily meditation. Avancini was also the author of sermons, or orations, and a large number of dramas, suitable for presentation by college students. For a complete list of liis works see Sommervogel, I. In English we have the "Meditations on the Life and Doctrines of Jesus Christ. Translated from the Ger- man edition of the Rev. John E. ZoUner, by T. E. Bazalgette, with a preface by the Rev. G. Porter, S.J." (London, 1875, 2 vols.). Another edition was issued in the Quarterly series by the Rev. H. J. Cole- ridge, S.J.. in 1883. Edw.\rd P. Spillane.
Avarice (from Lat. ai-arus. " greedy "; "to crave ") is the inordinate love for riches. Its special maUce, broadly speaking, lies in that it makes the getting and keeping of money, possessions, and the like, a purpose in itself to live for. It does not see that these things are valuable only as instruments for the conduct of a rational and harmonious life, due regard being paid of course to the special social condition in which one is placed. It is called a capital vice because it has as its object that for the gaining or holding of which many other sins are committed. It is more to be dreaded in that it often cloaks itself as a virtue, or insinuates itself imder the pretext of making a decent provision for the future. In so far as avarice is an incentive to in- justice in the acquiring and retaining of wealth, it is frequently a grievous sin. In itself, however, and in so far as it implies simply an excessive desire of, or pleasure in, riches, it is commonly not a mortal sin. Joseph F. Del.vnt.
Avatar, an Anglicized form of the Sanskrit, avatara, "descent", from the root tr, "pass" (cf. Latin in-trare). and the preposition ai'a, "down". The ■word is used, in a technical sense, in the Hindu religion to denote the descent upon earth of a por- tion of the essence of a god, which then assumes some coarser material form, be it animal, monster, or man. Such descents are ascribed in the mj'thologj' of Hmduism to various gods, but those ascribed to Mshnu are by far the most important. They are believed to have taken place at different ages of the world, and to have consisted of different proportions of the essence of Vishnu. Their number is variously stated, ranging from ten to twenty-eight, finally becoming indefinitely numerous. Any remarkable man is liable to be regarded as a more or less perfect avatar of Vishnu, and the consequence — one of the worst features of Hinduism — has been the offering of divine homage to men, especially the founders of religious sects and their successors.
The ten most famous avatars are: (1) The Fish, matst/a. The basis of this is the story told in the Satapatha Brahniana of how Manu was saved from the Deluge by a great fish, which foretold him of
the danger, commanded him to build a boat, and finally towed this boat to a mountain top. The Puranas afterwards declare that this fish was an avatar of Vishnu. (2) The Tortoise, A'wrma. \ ishnu in this form offers his back as the pivot on which rests Mt. Mandara, while the gods and demons churn with it various valuable objects from the ocean of milk. (3) The Boar, Varaha. Like the first, this avatar is concerned with the rescue of the earth from a flood, the boar raising it from the water in which it had been submerged. (4) The Man-lion, A'ara-sinha. Vishnu takes this form to deliver the world from a demon, who had obtained from Brahma the boon, that he should be slain neither by a god, a man, nor an animal. (5) The Dwarf, Vamana. The world having fallen imder the possession of another demon, Vishnu, in the form of a dwarf, begged for as much of it as he could cover in three steps. His request was granted, but, from the Rig- Veda on, the most prominent thing in connexion with Vishnu (originally a sun-god), was that in three strides he traverses the universe. Two strides now sufficing for the redemption of heaven and eartl compassion inspires him to leave the nether regions to the demon he has duped. (6) Rama ^^^tll the axe, Parafiu-rama. In the form of a hero, Rama, armed with an axe, Vishnu destroys the Ksatriyas, or warrior caste, in the interest of the priestly caste, the Brahmins. (7) Rama, the great hero of the Hindu Odyssey, the Rama, yana, who is made into an avatar of Vishnu. (8) Krsna, the Indian Hercules, as he is styled by Megasthenes, the most popular hero of India, is the most perfect avatar of Vishnu. (9) Buddha, a curious result of the tri- umph of Hinduism over Buddhism. In one version it is explained that Vishnu's purpose was to destroy the \\icked by leading them into a false religion. (10) Kalki. In this form Visluiu will descend when the world is wholly depraved, destroy utterly the wicked, and restore the happy conditions of the Age of Virtue.
The importance of this theory of avatars to Hinduism is the way in which it has contributed to the wonderful adaptability of that religion. In the Buddha avatar the fact is particularly patent, but, in the Rama and Krsna avatars also, we clearly have the adoption into Hinduism of the cults of these heroes. It is a mere guess that similar compromises with some totemistic forms of religion are to be seen in the Fish, Boar, and Tortoise avatars, and the same might be said of an attempt to see in the Man- lion and Dwarf avatars, traces of the aboriginal religions. The resemblance of these avatars to the doctrine of the Incarnation is most superficial, and, as the theory of the avatars h;is a sufficient basis in Hindu philosopliy, and several points of contact with the earlier mii-thologj'. it is unnecessarj- to suppose with Weber (Indische Studien, II, 169) that it is the result of an imitation of this dogma.
For bibliography see Hindvism.
George Melville Bolung. Avaugour, Pierre du Bois, B.\ron d', d. 1664, was sixth Governor General of Canada. Born of an ancient family in Brittany, he served in the French army forty years; travelled in Persia, Russia, Po- land, and Sweden, and took part in all the cam- paigns in Germany. This familiarity with camp life made his naturally eccentric character rough and unsociable as well. In 1661, he was chosen to succeed d'Argenson as Governor of New France, and arrived in Quebec on 31 August of that year. Utterly averse to pomp and ceremonj', he refused the honours which the people of Canada wished to show him, and set out at once for Montreal, in order to familiarize himself with the state of the country. The result was embodied in a report which he sent to Colbert and the great Cond6, wherein he advised