In the following article, I’ll be writing about the ten avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu. Of course, Lord Vishnu has more than ten avatars, but these ten are considered to be the most important: Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Krishna, Parashurama, Buddha, and Kalki.
If we have a closer look at these avatars, we can notice that they have a striking similarity to Darwin’s theory of evolution; the first creatures were created in water. Then came the amphibians, mammals and then the first human emerged, that is the short human. As the ages went by, humans have also evolved, and this clearly shows in these avatars.
Lord Vishnu takes an avatar whenever Dharma (righteousness) is threatened by evil forces to protect the good and vanquish Adharma in every age. In the Bhagwat Gita, Lord Vishnu himself says this shloka:
“Paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya chatushkritam,
dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ll”
Lord Brahma’s day was coming to an end. He stretched and yawned sleepily. As he opened his mouth, the Vedas that were necessary for the next kalpa slipped out. Hayagriva, an asura with a head of a horse thought to himself: “I must absorb the Vedas and become immortal”. However, he was caught by Lord Vishnu in the act.
To prevent the Vedas from getting lost, Lord Vishnu went to pay a visit to one of his devotees in the form of a fish (Matsya). This devotee was offering his morning ablutions. As he cupped his hands to take water, he saw a tiny fish in his hands which cried: “Oh king, I am a helpless fish. The other animals will eat me up if you put me back into the river!”. Taking pity of the fish, the kind sage decided to help in and put it in his kamandal. The next day, the fish had grown twice its size. The sage then transferred the fish into a bigger vessel. The fish grew again. This time the sage released the fish into a pond, then into a lake and finally into the ocean but each time the fish kept growing. The sage realized that this fish was no ordinary fish, but actually Lord Vishnu himself. He asked for forgiveness for not recognizing the Lord.
Lord Vishnu told the sage that a pralaya was going to occur in the next seven days and the world would be destroyed. He instructed the sage to bring all the necessary plants, animals and objects that were necessary for the next kalpa in a boat.
Seven days later, the tides were high, gigantic waves crashed everywhere, flooding the earth in full force. The sage and the creatures eagerly awaited the Lord’s arrival. A few moments later, Lord Vishnu appeared with a ship in the Matsya form, this time with a horn on its head. He asked the sage to bind Vasuki onto his horn. He then safely transported all the beings to land and on the journey, Brahma taught them the highest form of truth.
Durvasa, the short-tempered rishi, once gifted a flower necklace to Lord Indra who in turn put the garland on his vehicle, Airavat, the white elephant. Airavat couldn’t stand the scent of the flowers and instantly threw it on the ground and trampled on it which made the rishi angry. He cursed the Devas that they would lose their strength and immortality. The Devas became powerless against their battles with the Asuras and went to seek Lord Vishnu’s help who advised them to make a pact with the asuras and churn the Ocean of Milk using Mount Mandara as a churning tool and Vasuki as a rope to obtain the nectar of immortality. Lord Vishnu also warned the Devas not to covet any of the treasures that come from the ocean even if the Asuras take it by force. The Devas then went to the Asuras and convinced them in seeking their help to churn the Ocean of Milk.
The work began. The Devas and Asuras carried the Mount Mandar on their shoulders into the ocean. Vasuki, the king of the Nagas, was wound around the giant mountain. The Devas and Asuras churned and churned. Suddenly, the mountain fell into the ocean, unable to maintain balance. The Devas prayed to Lord Vishnu to come to their aid. The Lord dived into the ocean as Kurma, a huge tortoise and supported the weight of the Mandara on his shell.
As both parties continued to churn, many different items came out, one of which was the dark poison Halahala, that contained the toxic waste from the ocean and poisoned both the Devas and the Asuras, Shiva came to the rescue by drinking the poison himself. Finally, a divine being emerged holding a golden pot in his arms. It was none other than Dhanvantri, the God of medicine, holding the pot that contained the nectar of immortality. Seeing the deity, the Asuras immediately rushed and snatched the pot, leaving the Devas in despair. The Devas prayed to Lord Vishnu again to come to their aid. Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini, the most beautiful woman in the entire universe. The Asuras were enchanted and blindly entrusted the pot of nectar to her. Mohini asked the Devas and Asuras to line up. Mohini poured out the nectar to the Devas and made sure that not a single drop remained for the Asuras. Thus having regained their strength and splendour, the Devas were able to vanquish the Asuras and peace was restored.
Lord Brahma was in the process of creating a new universe filled with beings for the new era. One of his creations, was a man and woman, whom he ordered to live on Earth. Bhoomidevi, however, sunk to the ground and there was no place for the humans to live. Lord Brahma prayed to Lord Vishnu, who emerged from his nostril in form of a wild boar. Varaha dived into the depths of the ocean and searched for Mother Earth.
Meanwhile, Hiranyaksha, an Asura whose ego and pride was filled to the brim, was seeking battle with someone whose power matched his. After hearing from Narada about Lord Vishnu’s whereabouts, he immediately took off.
Lord Vishnu, having found Bhoomidevi, lifted her with his horns and swam to the surface. On the way up, Hiranyaksha challenged the Lord to a battle, but Lord Vishnu pretended not to hear the Asura and safely placed Bhoomidevi on the surface of the ocean. Once the task was complete, Lord Vishnu and Hiranyaksha fought each other and the Lord defeated the demon with ease.
To be continued……
Sources: Dashavatar, Amar Chitra Katha
Picture: Image by wewake from Pixabay
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1 thought on “Dashavatar Part I”
That’s an interesting article, very nice presented. Thankyou