We all know that the Avatar state is considered a power-up for Avatars as they gain immeasurable power. You definitely do not want to be close to Aang when he slips into the Avatar state in his early days. Well, there was a time that no one had access to such powers.
The giant turtles were the protectors of the world, so they allowed people to build cities on their backs. When people ventured into the spirit world, the giant turtles would bestow them with powers to navigate through the spirit wilds and protect themselves. Dependent on the kind of turtle they encountered, they were bestowed with the power to bend certain elements. These powers were collected when they get back into the physical realm.
However, something drastic occurred that caused them to turn to sieve their interaction with the human populace; the emergence of the Avatar. Once they turned their backs on the human world, the people scattered and formed the four nations.
Wan, the first Avatar, fixed up the rift between the physical and the spiritual realm after Wan permanently bonded with Raava, the Spirit of Light and Peace. Thence, the giant turtles stopped their interaction with the human world, leaving the responsibility of maintaining balance in the world to the Avatar.
Understanding the Avatar State
In order to understand a few things about the Avatar state, we have to go to the 2nd book in the Last Airbender series. In the first episode, after the team defeated Prince Zuko, they all venture to the Earth kingdom so Aang could begin to learn earth bending.
However, the meet up with General Fong, who was all too happy to meet with the team. He talked to Aang and offered a solution to end the 100-year war induced by the Fire Nation. His plan was for Aang to get into the Avatar state and face the Firelord. Aang informs Fong that he could only go into the Avatar state at will. The few times he had gone into the Avatar state were triggered by certain emotions. Fong would not be deterred as he promised that he would help Aang find the key to triggering the Avatar State. Sokka was cool with it, but not Katara.
After series of trials and a nightmare, Aang decides that it was wrong to toy with the Avatar state. He told this to Fong, who in turn sends a series of earth bending attacks towards Aang to induce him into the Avatar State. However, Katara gets in the crossfire as Fong captures her and uses the earth bending technique to make her sink into the ground. Aang begs for her life, but Fong is adamant, telling Aang to go into the Avatar State. Katara ends up fully immersed, and Aang goes into the Avatar state, thinking Katara had been killed.
The Misuse of Power
Fong is initially delighted until he experiences the devastating power of the Avatar State. He brings out Katara. Telling Aang that it was just a ploy and Katara was safe. But Aang is far gone and could no longer listen to anyone, leaving destruction in his wake.
During this devastation, Aang is transported into the Spirit realm, where he sees Avatar Roku. Roku tells Aang that the Avatar State is simply a defense mechanism that gives the current Avatar the skills and knowledge of all the previous Avatars. He warns Aang, however, that as powerful as the Avatar state was, it had a weakness. If the Avatar is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar will cease to exist. He later comes to and regains control of himself.
As the series went on, even spilling over to the Legend of Korra, we began to discover a few other things about the Avatar state. Some of which are:
If An Avatar dies In The Avatar State, The Avatar Cycle ends, But Raava will remain alive.
As earlier stated, Roku revealed that the Avatar cycle would cease to exist in the current incarnation is killed in the Avatar State. However, that does not mean that the spirit responsible for the Avatar’s powers would cease to exist.
Viewers assumed that the Avatar spirit would end up dying as well. But that is not the case. In the Legend of Korra, Raava was forcibly removed from Korra’s body by Unalaq, who was possessed by Vaatu, the dark spirit of Chaos. She was killed soon afterward, but we find that she was immediately reborn from a residual light found in Vaatu.
This means that the Avatar Spirit would not have died when Azula shot Aang down in Ba Sing Se. The Avatar Cycle would have just simply ended, and Raava would have ended up being reborn with the then trapped Vaatu in the Tree of Time.
Aang Stayed In The Avatar State For Hundred Years
Being told you are the Avatar can be a daunting thing to face, especially if you are just a kid. The pressure got to Aang when he got to know that he was the Avatar, causing him to run away with Appa. When he encountered a storm that could possibly take his life, the Avatar state kicked in.
He ended up freezing Appa and himself in a block of giant spherical ice for a hundred years. Most would remember this scene but would definitely have forgotten that his tattoos were still glowing while in the ice. Being in this state for so long was perhaps what caused him to die at the age of 66, which is quite early for any Avatar as it would have taken a toll on his body.
Avatars access the skills of previous incarnations they haven’t learned before in the Avatar state.
As we all know, the Avatar state enables the Avatar to access the powers and knowledge of the past Avatars, causing them to have immense strength and technique they do not possess ordinarily.
An obvious example was when Aang used water bending on Zuko in the Avatar state when he had not even had not learned any water bending yet.
Avatars have the ability to Channel A Specific Past Life via the Avatar State.
It is possible to use the avatar state to channel a specific past life, becoming that person for a specific period. This was obvious in the “Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku” episode, as he accessed Roku and gave him control so as to get Aang and his friends out of a bind with his fire-bending prowess. The enemies, who were of the priests of the Fire nation Avatar temple, recognized Avatar Roku as he rampaged on them.
Only the Avatar State Can Trump Psychic Bloodbending
This technique is up there as one of the darkest and strongest techniques in Avatar. Amon and Yakone were even able Bloodbend with their minds surpassing Katara and Hama, the progenitor of the technique.
Korra saw how Aang dispelled the technique in a flashback by using a short burst of the Avatar state. Even its users did not have a defense mechanism against it when the tables are turned, as Katara used it on Hama.