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Lord Vishnu’s tenth Incarnations : Dashavtaar

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 11:31 PM
According to Hindu theology, three Gods rule the world; they are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the creator; Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the destroyer. Lord Vishnu is the preserver and protector of creation and he is considered the embodiment of mercy and goodness. He is often represented resting on the coiled serpent Shesha, with his consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Lord Vishnu does his job of protecting the world by incarnating himself in different forms at times of crisis. In the Bhagvad Geeta, he says to Arjuna, “Whenever the situation of Dharma and law is endangered on this world, I incarnate myself to reestablish Dharma and law and protect the sages and destroy the evil forces of the society.

Lord Vishnu is famous for his ten incarnations. His incarnations are various forms he assumed while engaged in the task of preserving the universe and destroying the evil forces. His ten incarnations are very famous, they are as following-

1. Matsya (Fish) Incarnation: Vishnu's first, incarnation, as a fish, is one borrowed from the mythology of Brahma. The object of this incarnation was to save Manu and seven sages. Vishnu took the form of a small golden fish with one horn, but grew until he was forty million long. Vishnu predicted that the world would destroy in seven days and told Manu to build a boat and take the seven sages, seeds of all plants, one animal of each type and told him that he would appear as a fish to propel the boat. After seven days, the earth submerged into the water then the Lord Vishnu appeared as a big fish and the king tied the boat to the fish by using the Vasuki and the fish took all of them through the deluge, and enabled Brahma to start the act of creation all over again.
 One version of this story gives a further purpose for the incarnation. During one of the periods of universal chaos, while Brahma was sleeping the Veda, was stolen by Hayagriva, the demon. Vishnu killed Hayagriva and restored the Veda.


2. Kurma (Tortoise) Incarnation: This is the second incarnation, in which Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise. Gods lost their immortality due to a curse by sage Durvasa. They requested Vishnu for help. Vishnu then told them to churn the ocean of milk and Mount Mandara would be used as the churning stick. He also told them to take help of demons. Both the gods and the asuras (demons) churned the ocean using the serpent Vasuki as the rope. But as churning was proceeding the mountain was sinking then Lord Vishnu took the form of the tortoise and supported the mountain. The ocean gave forth not only the nectar (amrita), but also Dhanvantri, Lakshmi; the goddess of wealth and fortune, Chandra; the moon, Rambha; the nymph, Airavata; the white elephant, Kaustubha; a jewel, which went to Vishnu, Parijata; the celestial wishing tree, Kamdhenu; the cow of plenty, Shankha; a conch shell of victory, Dhanus; a mighty bow and poison; which was swallowed by lord Shiva.


3. Varaha (Boar) Incarnation: Varaha (Boar) is the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu. When demon Hiranyaksha dragged Bhoodevi (Mother Earth) along with all the Vedas and sacred texts to his infernal kingdom under the sea and sought to make her his queen. To rescue her, Vishnu himself turned into Varaha, a gigantic boar. Lord Vishnu appeared as boar from Brahma’s nostril. He descended to the bottom of the sea to rescue mother earth. Tail raised, hairs erect, he plunged into the sea and ripped through the waters until he reached the ocean floor where he found the earth-goddess in the clutches of the demon king. A fierce battle took place between the boar and Hiranyaksha. Finally Hiranyaksha was killed, then with a triumphant snort; Vishnu placed Bhoodevi on his mighty tusks and carried her back to the surface of the sea. Bhoodevi accepted Vishnu as her consort: trees and plants were their children, thus lord Vishnu became the guardian of the earth (Bhoodevi).

4. Narasinha (Giant lion-man) Incarnation: Narasinha is the fourth incarnation of lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu took this incarnation to free the world from the depredations of demon king Hiranyakasipu, who like his brother Hiranyaksha, had obtained from Brahma the boon of immunity from attacks by human, beast and god; he had Brahma's assurance that he could be killed neither in day nor in night by any god, human, animal, neither inside nor outside his house. Protected by this immunity, Hiranyakasipu overreached himself. He forbade worship of all the gods and substituted worship of himself. He was therefore particularly incensed to discover that his own son Prahlada remained an ardent devotee of Vishnu. Hiranyakasipu began to torture Prahlada, but he refused to give up his worship of Vishnu. Hiranyakasipu tried his dangerous efforts to kill Prahlada, but he never succeeded in his aim.

Finally, one evening, the demon king, in exasperation at his son’s repeated assertion of Vishnu’s omnipresence, pointed out a pillar in the doorway of his palace and demanded to know if Vishnu was there inside it. Prahlada declared that he certainly was where upon Hiranyakasipu said that he would kill him and kicked the pillar. At this lord Vishnu appeared from the pillar as Narasinha, half man and half animal, and killed the demon king, Hiranyakasipu.


5. Vaman (Dwarf) Incarnation: Vishnu’s fifth incarnation, Vaman, took place in the second age, Tretayuga. During this time, Bali, the grandson of Prahlada, was a very valorous and mighty demon. By his penance, he conquered the whole world. He ruled well and loved by his people. He was righteous and truthful, and ruled his kingdom so well that there was peace, prosperity and happiness all around. Indra and other gods fearing that Bali would conquer all the three worlds, therefore they all went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu then incarnated himself as a dwarf in the household of Kashyapa and Aditi. Vishnu grew soon, but had the form of a dwarf, and came to be known as ‘Vamana’. Sage Kashyapa was thrilled at his good fortune.

After hearing Bali’s reputation for generosity, Vaman went to him and asked for alms. Shukracharya, the wise and visionary teacher of the demons, could identify Vamana as Vishnu. He advised Bali not to accept of Vamana`s wish. Vamana 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 strides. 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). He educated Bali about the demerits of pride and arrogance, which forbids man from optimum progress.


6. Parasurama Incarnation: Parasurama is the sixth incarnation of lord Vishnu, took place in the second age, Tretayuga at a time when the kshatriya caste was exercising tyranny over all others, including the Brahmins. Parasu means axe, so he is known as Parasurama. This axe was given to him by lord Shiva, from whom he learned the proficiency of warfare and other skills. He was born to Jamadagni and Renuka. Parasurama was an ardent devotee of lord Shiva. Images of Parasurama usually depict him as a large man carrying an axe and other weapons.

One day, a kshatriya powerful king, Kartavirya, stole Kamdhenu, a wonderful cow which could grant all the desires, from Jamadagni’s hermitage. When Parasurama came to the hermitage, he heard about what had happened, he attacked on Kartavirya and killed him and rescued the cow. When Kartavirya’s son heard about his father’s death, he marched towards Jamadagni’s hermitage. He found aged Jamadagni alone in the hermitage and killed him. When Parasurama returned, he found his mother is crying. She explained how her husband had been brutally murdered and beat her chest 21 times in anguish. Seeking revenge, Parasurama swore that he would kill all Kshatriyas from the earth. In twenty one battles, he thereafter fulfilled his vow and destroyed all the Kshatriyas on earth.


7. Rama Incarnation: Rama is the seventh incarnation of lord Vishnu. He is considered an ideal king, son and ideal husband. The main purpose of Rama incarnation was to quell the most dangerous and powerful demon king, Ravana, ten-headed demon king of Lanka (Ceylon), whose strength was overcome only after the epic struggles related in the Ramayana. Like Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu, Ravana had practiced austerities in order to propitiate Brahma, who had granted hint immunity from being killed by gods, Gandharvas or demons. Under the cover of this immunity and the benevolence of Shiva, whom he carefully propitiated, Ravana persecuted gods and mortals. The gods consulted on how they could be rid of Ravana, and decided that the only way was for a god to take human form, for Ravana had been too proud to ask for immunity from humans. Vishnu agreed to be that god, and all the others said they would lend their powers to humans and animals. Vishnu was accordingly born on earth to king Dashratha. Four sons were born to his three wives namely Kausalaya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra; they were Rama, Lakshamana, Bharata and Shatrughana.

Rama and Lakshamana were particularly close and killed many demons in their childhood. Rama was banished in the forest for fourteen years. Rama went in the forest with his brother Lakshamana and wife Sita. In the forest, Sita was abducted by Ravana. With the help of Sugriva, they found information about Sita. In order to rescue Sita, Rama fought with Ravana. Finally Ravana was killed. Thus lord Rama freed the earth from the terror of Ravana. After the completion of banishment, Rama became the king of Ayodhya.


8. Krishna Incarnation: Lord Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. He was born in Dwapara yuga to Devaki and Vasudeva. He appeared over five thousand years ago in Mathura in Kansa’s jail. King Kansa was the cruel demon king, who arrested Devaki and Vasudeva, after a prediction that the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva would kill him. Krishna was born in the midnight and was transferred to Vrindavana, where he was reared in a cowherd’s family by Yashoda and Nand Baba. Krishna spent his childhood in Vrindavana. Krishna grew up with a fondness for butter and no attempt to keep it out of his reach was ever successful. He stole butter with his friends and distributed stolen butter amongst other children. His childhood revealed his dual character, at times he seemed just an exceptionally lovable boy, in other episodes he began to show his strength and was recognized as a god.

Krishna's life falls into four main parts: childhood, when he performed great feats of strength; youth, when he dallied with the cowgirls; manhood, when he per-formed the task for winch he had been born; and middle age, when he became the great ruler of Dwarka and took part in the Bharata war, acting as Arjuna's charioteer and pronouncing his great teaching on the subjects of dharma and bhakti. He killed many powerful demons, who were sent to kill him by Kansa. Krishna killed Kansa and several other demons. In the great war of the Mahabharata, Krishna helped the Pandavas in destroying the Kauravas and reestablished dharma on the earth. Krishna is the philosopher of the Bhagwad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu texts.

9. Buddha Incarnation: Buddha is considered the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Darkness of ignorance blinded earth after the departure of Lord Krishna. Empty rituals like animal sacrifices, harmful superstitions such as caste-creed discriminations and distortions of Dharma, introduced by the demonic and orthodox Brahman, became the order of the day. Seeing earth degrading into hollow nothingness, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Buddha. Various forms of Buddha are worshipped in Buddhism in ways that are very similar to the worship of Hindu gods.

Buddha was the founder of Buddhism. He was born to Mayadevi and the virtuous king Shuddhodhana, of the Shakya (Shaka) clan around 3000 years ago. Buddha's original name was Siddhartha. Gautama was Siddhartha's family name. Siddhartha was known all over the world as Buddha. He did not claim to be a god or a prophet. He was a human being who became enlightened, understanding life in the deepest possible way. Siddhartha attained enlightenment and assumed the title Lord Buddha. He spent his boyhood at Kapilavastu and its vicinity. He was married to Yashodhara at the age of sixteen. Siddhartha had a son whose name was Rahula. Siddhartha began his search with philosophical learning, asceticism and travels to religious places attained enlightenment sitting under a pipal tree.
Buddhism highlights Dharma not as a philosophy, but as a law of the universe. Buddhism grew very popular in India. Buddhism currently has about 376 million followers and considered as the world's fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.


10. Kalki Incarnation: According to the Puranas, whenever there is decline of the noble values and dharma and evils powers increase, Lord Vishnu will incarnate himself in different forms. The Kalki incarnation will take place towards the end of Kaliyuga (present age). It is believed that at the end of the Kali Yuga, there will be a deluge when Kalki the tenth and the last incarnation of Vishnu, will ride forth on a white horse named Devaduta, to redeem humankind and re-establish righteousness. He will punish all evil doers from his blazing sword, in this world and recreate a golden age again. All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.
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