Dashavatar-Ten Avatars Of Lord Vishnu
Vishnu is one of the three-headed honchos of Indian mythology. He’s also known as Narayana and Hari along with many other names. This story is about the Preserver of the Universe, Lord Vishnu. It is believed that whenever injustice and negative forces prevail on Earth, Lord Vishnu comes in various forms to uproot them. So, Lord Vishnu incarnates from time to time to eradicate the evil forces which seem to threaten the existence of mankind. Lord Vishnu is believed to have taken on nine incarnations or avatars till now and the tenth avatar will descend on Earth at the end of the Kali Yuga. Hence, these ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is collectively known as the Dashavatar.
The first three avatars which descended on Earth was during the Sat Yuga, the next three in the Treta Yuga, seventh, eight and ninth incarnations appeared in the Dwapara Yuga. The tenth avatar is said to appear in the Kali Yuga. Let us have a close look at each avatar of Lord Vishnu.
THE FIRST SIX INCARNATIONS OF VISHNU-DARWIN’S THEORY OF EVOLUTION
Matsya (Fish) -Life starts in water
Kurma (Turtle) -The first amphibians emerge
Varaha (Boar) -The first mammals evolve
Narasimha (half man-half lion) -Half man-half animal appear
Vamana (short man) -Homo Erectus, Upright, yet short and weaponless
Parashurama (parashu=axe, Rama=name of God)-Bronze age; the coming of Ramapithecus; development of first weapons such as axe. Homo Sapiens
1. Matsya (Fish)
One day, when Brahma was sleeping, Hayagriva, a horse-headed demon, stole the holy Vedas from under Brahma’s head. He then ran away and hid in the depths of the ocean. Brahma had to read the holy books to create the universe. Since he was unable to do so now, he was very disturbed and approached Vishnu for help.Vishnu took the form of a fish and dived into the ocean to get back the Vedas from the terrible demon. There was a fierce fight between Vishnu and Hayagriva, which went on and on. Finally, Vishnu killed the demon and brought the holy books back to Brahma. Brahma was very thankful and was able to resume reading the Vedas.
In KURMA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a turtle. It is an interesting story involving both the gods (devtas) and asuras (demons). In the ongoing saga of battle between the gods and asuras, on one occasion the gods suddenly lost all their strength due to a curse by the short-tempered sage Durvasa. The sage had once presented a garland of flowers to Indra, king of gods, who carelessly gave it away to his elephant which trampled it.
The Devtas approached Vishnu for help. Vishnu then asked them to churn the ocean of milk after adding medicines into the ocean. Mt Mandara could be used a the churning stick he said. He requested them to ask them help of Asuras in lifting the mountain in exchange for offer of the share of nectar of immortality that would ensue from the churning. Both the devatas and the asuras churned the ocean using the serpent Vasuki as the rope. At the start, playing a Machiavellian trick, Indra, king of the gods asked the asuras for the head end of vasuki. But asuras suspecting foul play, took the head end, only to be deceived as the poison from Vasuki was slowly weakening them. But as churning was proceeding the mountain was sinking and then Lord Vishnu took the form of the turtle KURMA and kept the mountain afloat. As soon as the bowl of amrita, the nectar of immortality was out, the asuras grabbed it. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of an apsara, a beautiful maiden, and seduced the asuras into letting her distribute the nectar and also to abide by her order of distribution. As soon as the devatas were served the maiden disappeared thus totally deceiving the asuras and making them totally weak.
The story states that as Lord Vishnu was one day was resting at his palace. Lord Brahma’s four sons came to meet Vishnu. The palace of Lord Vishnu was guarded by two guards known as Jaya and Vijaya. Seeing Children, Jaya and Vijaya both denied them to enter the palace. Getting very annoyed with the gatekeeper’s , Lord Brahma’s sons cursed the doorkeeper’s to be born as human’s and be away from the godly status. A little later hearing to the noise Lord Vishnu came out. Seeing the children, Lord Vishnu arrived at the spot and apologized stating that the doorkeepers were just doing their duty. So as compensation for their insult they said that the curse will be only lifted when Jaya and Vijaya in human forms would meet their death at Lord Vishnu’s hands. So Jaya and Vijaya were born as on earth, they were known as Hiranyakashyap and Hiranyaksh. When the two were born the earth shook violently. Worrying Indra went to Vishnu saying that if at the time of birth the situation is this, what will happen once they become big. Vishnu assured Indra that they will be killed by him. Many years when later Hiranyakashyap became a big devotee of Lord Brahma. Pleased with his devotion, Brahma blessed him with a boon that no God, human, Daitya or Asura would be able to kill him. Blessed with immortality, he started to display his strength. With his strength he started to turn his waist side by side and began to churn the sea. Due to churning the sea, the waves started to go high. Seeing the situation Varun Dev got very scared of seeing such a scene and looked for a place to hide. But Hiryanksh challenged him. At his Challenge Varun Dev accepted his defeat. Hiranyaksh was filled with pride, he went deep into the sea to churn water. Reaching in deep waters, he met Narad Muni. Hiranyaksh asked him,”Is there anyone as strong as or stronger than me?” Narad Muni said, “Yes, Lord Vishnu is the strongest.” Hiranyaksha started searching for Lord Vishnu, he couldn’t find it. The world was made into a round ball and went underwater in Pataal Lok. All the gods became worried, they rushed to Lord Vishnu for getting worried. They said, “Lord please save us. Hiranyaksh has taken Earth and disappeared.” Don’t worry. I know he has taken Earth to Pataal Lok. I’ll soon get Earth back at its position.” Lord Vishnu took the form of Varaha, which is wild boar with two tusks. He went to Paatal lok to have a fight with Hiranyaksha. He used a number of weapons on Varaha, but he had no effect on it. He wounded his strong arms around the boar’s neck to strangle his neck. At that very moment, he appeared in his true form.. Lord Vishnu directed his Chakra at Hiranyaksha. The Chakra separated his head from body. Hiranyaka died there and then. Vishnu again took the form of Varaha. He picked up the earth, shaped like a ball on his two tusks. He left Pataal Lok through the sea. He placed the earth in the original position. Lord Vishnu was praised by everyone in heaven.
4.Narasimha (half man-half lion)
In NARASIMHA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a semi-man, semi-lion in this world. The king of demons (asuras), Hiranyakasyapa, wanted to become immortal and wanted to remain young forever. To this end, he meditated for Lord Brahma and because of his severe penance, the gods were frightened and asked Brahma to pacify the king. Brahma was impressed by his austerity and granted him a wish. HiranyaKasyapa wished that he be neither killed by a man or beast, nor in daylight or at night and neither inside or outside a building. Having obtained the wish he considered himself the supreme God and frobade all worship of gods by anyone.
But his son Prahlada, was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. This enraged Hiranyakasyapa very much. He ordered numerous ways to kill Prahlada including asking his sister Holika to sit with Prahlada in the fire. But everytime Prahlada escaped unhurt. Enraged, once he asked Prahlad to show him the Lord Vishnu. Prahlad said, “He is everywhere”. Further enraged, Hiranyakasyapa knocked down a pillar, and asked if Lord was present there. Lord Vishnu then emerged as a half lion, half man from the pillar which was neither inside the house nor outside, and the time was evening, neither night nor day. He then killed Hiranyakasyapa thus saving the life of his devotee Prahlada.
5.Vamana (short man)
In VAMANA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a dwarf priest in this world. Bali, the grandson of Prahlada was a very valorous and mighty asura. By his penance and might, he conquered the whole world. Indra and other gods fearing that he and asuras would conquer all the three worlds, went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu was then born as a dwarf Vamana in the household of a brahmana (priest). He went to Bali on growing up and asked for alms. Bali was delighted to offer him anything he requested even though his priest warned him that it was Lord Vishnu.
Vamana then requested for the amount of land that could come under his three feet. Bali gracefully agreed. Lord Vishnu then grew in size and covered the earth and heaven in two stride. And due to lack of space, he put his third leg on Bali himself and crushed Bali to the nether or the Patala loka(underground world), thus helping the Gods out.
6.Parashurama (parashu=axe, Rama=name of God)
In PARASHURAMA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a brahmana (priest) in this world. He was brought in this world to avenge all kshatriyas who had become arrogant and were suppressing the brahmans in the world. He was born to Jamadagni and Renuka, and belonged to the Brighu clan. Parashurama was always carrying an axe presented to him by Lord Shiva of whom he was an ardent devotee. Kartavirya a powerful king, once went to Jamadagni’s home when he was out, and after a meal, stole the Kamadhenu cow, which was supposed to give endless quantity of milk. Jamadagni was enraged and he went and killed the king and brought Kamadhenu back. On hearing this, the son of the king came back and killed Jamadagni. Parashurama was enraged at this and went and avenged the death of his father by killing all kshatriyas in 21 battles.
In RAMA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as RAMA, the central character in the epic Ramayan. In the epic, the character RAMA is expected to show the world the characteristics of an ideal person, including ideal son, ideal husband, ideal king and an ideal person. RAMA was incarnated upon this planet to get rid of the asura with ten heads, Ravana, who had been granted a boon by Brahma of immunity from gods, and other celestial beings. Ravana was too vainglorious to be thinking of being vanquished by a man. Hence RAMA was born and Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu was born as Sita, his wife to be in this life. The story of Ramayan, is an exciting nail-biting story of the war raged by Rama against various evil elements of the world and in the end against Ravana. Ramayan epitomises the ideal behaviour of man, with special focus on man-wife relationship, son-father relationship and the rules for ideal governance by a king.
In KRISHNA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as KRISHNA , the central character in the epic MAHABHARATA. In the biggest epic of Indian mythology a myriad of topics are covered, including war, love, brotherhood, politics etc. It is essentially the story of two warring groups of cousin brothers, the PANDAVAs and the KAURAVAs. As a part of the Mahabahrata, during the war KRISHNA, gives a long discourse to his disciple ARJUNA, collectively termed as Bhagvad-Gita. Krishna, during his child-hood was responsible for the killing of Kamsa. Krishna is also considered to be an ultimate playboy who was responsible for charming all gopikaas around him. Unlike Ramayan, Mahabharata deals with more down to earth issues like politics, human nature, human weaknesses, and does not attempt to idealise the characters as in Ramayan.
While some people regard Gautama Buddha as the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu, other say Balarama who was the elder brother of Krishna was the ninth avatar. There is a controversy regarding the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
It is said that Lord Vishnu emerged as Balarama, to kill the demon Kansa (Kamsa), as requested by Lord Indra and other gods. Mahavishnu, on showing, a black and a white hair from his head, promised the gods that these two would fight against the demons. Thus, first Balarama (the white hair) and then Krishna (the black hair) appeared in the womb of Devaki. Vasudeva’s first wife was Rohini and second wife was Devaki. Devaki got conceived for the seventh time and the Lord made the fetus transferred from the womb of Devaki to that of Rohini. This child was Balarama who grew up in a cowherd’s family, together with Krishna.
In BUDDHA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as BUDDHA, the ascetic prince who renounced the throne to lead the world on the path of peace. He is the founder of the BUDDHIST religion prominent across the world. In certain sects of Hinduism, he is considered to be a divine incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born the crown prince of the Kapilavastu to Suddhodana and Maya. He was named Siddhartha, meaning “All thing fulfilled” by the king. But his mother died soon after his birth but Prajapati, the sister of Maya, brought Siddhartha up. Buddha was saddened by death of living creatures, since his childhood days and used to question: “Alas! Do all living creatures kill each other?” He wasn’t happy with any answers that were provided to him and he decided to find out the meaning and the absolute truth and he left his wife and child to a hermit’s life in the forest and one day, became the enlightened one. His preaching spawned off the religion of Buddhism now popular across the whole world.
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