The Vishnu’s Dashaavataar

by · February 6, 2013

God Vishnu | Image: Vimanika Comics

God Vishnu | Image: Vimanika Comics

For destruction of evil and towards restoration of good in the world, Lord Vishnu eternally manifests himself in various avatars (incarnations) from time to time. Even though Bhagavat Puran depicts over twenty two incarnations of Vishnu, for reasons unknown, only ten avatars have gained significant popularity as Dashaavataar (ten-incarnations). Out of ten incarnations nine have already been manifested. The first four of ten avatars have appeared in the Krita (also known as Satya) Yuga, next three in Treta Yuga, eighth in Dwapara Yuga and the ninth in Kali Yuga. Forthcoming, Tenth avatar is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga.

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Matsyaavatar | Image: Vimanika Comics

Matsyaavatar | Image: Vimanika Comics

Matsya

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of a fish
And gave protection like a boat to Vedas,
Which were immersed in the turbulent sea of deluge

In his first avatar, Vishnu’s manifests the form of a Matsya (fish). According to folk legends Matsya commanded Rishi (sage) Satyavrata to gather samples of all species and wait in a boat before Pralaya (end of worlds). At the beginning of Pralaya, when waters began to sweep the world Matsya dragged the boat through the deluge and then enabled Brahma to start the act of creation all over again.

According to Bhagavat Puran Matsya slays demon Hayagriva, who had stolen Vedas from Brahma – the Creator of universe – while asleep. Before the latest creation of the present universe the four Vedas happened to be drowned in the water and Matsya retrieved it and returned it to Brahma for the work of creation.

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Kurma Avatar Vimanika Comics Op 1

Kurma Avatar | Image: Vimanika Comics

 

Koorma

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of a tortoise,
And made the great mountain rest on his back,
And allowed it to churn the ocean like a wheel.

Legend has it that Gods & Demons once united in their efforts to churn the celestial ocean of milk in the quest for Amrit – the nectar of life and immortality. This mammoth task was carried out with the Mandara Mountainas the churning stick and the legendary snake Vasuki as the rope. In order to support Mandara, which started sinking during the churning of ocean, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Kurma (tortoise) and sat on the bottom of the ocean with Mandara on his back, gods & demons churned the sea to retrieve scores of ancient treasures beneath the mighty ocean including Amrit.

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Varaha Avataar | Image: Vimanika Comics

Varaha Avataar | Image: Vimanika Comics

Varaha

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of a boar,
On whose tusks rested the earth,
Which was drowned and appeared.
Like the shadow on the moon.

Third avatar of VishnuVaraha – was manifested to slay the demon Hiranyaksha. Varaha, in art form, is depicted either purely as a boar or as a boar’s head on a human body. In latter form he has four arms, two of which holds the Chakra (wheel formed weapon) and a Shankh (conch-shell) while the other hold mace and sword, respectively. The earth is held between the boar’s tusks.

Since Hiranyaksha had taken the Bhoomi (earth) and abducted her to the bottom of the cosmic ocean, Vishnu in boar form – killed the demon and lifted her out of the flood waters in which she was submerged. Varaha lifted earth, between his tusks, and restored to her place in the universe. Later, Vishnu is said to have married Bhoomi (earth) in this avatar.

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Narasimha

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of a man lion,
Whose nails of his lotus like hand,
Were made wonderful weapons,
And Crushed Hiranyakasipu like a wasp.

Owing to a lion’s head & claws and human torso, fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu is called Narasimha [Nara (Man) and Simha (Lion)].

According to Bhagavat Purana after Vishnu killed Hiranyaksha as Varaha his brother Hiranyakashipu swore revenge on Vishnu as well as hisfollowers. He undertook many years of austere penance to please Brahma – the creator of the universe – for boon of immortality. Though Brahma declined to offer him immortality he agreed to bind death of Hiranyakashipu on, his own, conditions:

“… let me not meet my death from any living entities created by you… let me never die inside or outside of any residence…  let me die neither during day or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death happen neither by any weapon nor by any human being or animal… I should not be killed by any demigod, demon or by any great snake from the lower planets… I should not be killed in the battlefield and must have no competitors… I should have no rivals…”

Hiranyakashipu, a sworn rival of Vishnu, was furious at the devotion of his son to his enemy. After failing repeatedly to dither his son from Vishnu’s worship and get him to accept himself as Supreme Lord he decided to commit filicide. But every time he attempted to kill his own son, Prahlad is protected by Vishnu’s mystical power. Prahlad refuses to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe and claims that Vishnu is all – pervading and omnipresent. One day Hiranyakashipu points to a nearby pillar and asks if ‘his Vishnu’ is in it. Prahlad then answers, “He was, He is and He will be”. After he smashes the pillar with his mace Narasimha appears.

In defense of Prahlad as well as to kill Hiranyakashipu and – importantly – not to upset the boon ordained by Brahma, the form of Narasimha was chosen. Hiranyakashipu could not be killed by human, demigod, demon or animal. Narasimha is neither one of these as he is a form of Vishnu incarnate as a part-human and part-animal. He comes upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight, when it is neither day nor night, on the threshold of a courtyard, neither indoors nor out, and puts the demon on his thighs, neither earth nor space. Using his sharp claw nails, neither animates nor inanimate, as weapons, he disembowels and kills the evil demon.

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Vamana

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of a dwarf Brahmin,
Who by his massive steps deceived Mahabali,
And the water* emanating from the nail of whose feet,
Made all living beings holy and divine.

Vamana – is the fifth incarnation of Vishnu. In Sanskrit the word Vamana literally means Dwarf. There’s a pretty engaging story behind Vishnu’s manifestation of this avatar:

Emperor Mahabali, who ruled over the Patala, instead of confining himself to his realm, he captured other’s realm including that of demigods. With their plight demigods sought Vishnu’s intervention to restrain Mahabali to his place.

Once Mahabali was performing a big Yaga, since it was a prerequisite, he start giving away gold and other things in charity. Whoever, went to the place on that day could you ask whatever they wished and the king would certainly obliged them. Vishnu, in the guise of Vamana, seized this opportunity and came to Mahabali’s palace. The dwarf asked the king for just 3 foot measure of land for himself. The king was perplexed and wondering why the dwarf was asking for only a 3 foot measure of land when he could ask for acres and acres of land. However, the king agreed and asked the dwarf the measure the land with his feet.

Vamana assumed gigantic proportions his head reaching up to the sky – the highest world above and his feet down at Patala loka the lowest of the worlds below the earth. Vamana took one step and that covered all the worlds above the second step covered all the worlds below and there was no place left for his third foot measure. Vamana asked “Mahabali, I have taken two steps and have covered all the lokas tell me where to keep my foot for the third foot-measure.”

Mahabali realizing that the dwarf was no other than Vishnu himself bowed before him and said “My lord you may keep your foot over my head as the third measure.” Accordingly Vamana placed his foot on Mahabali’s head and pushed in to the Patala loka and declared “O King! This is where you belong and you should confine yourself to this loka only.” Mahabali realized his folly and ruled long over Patala loka.

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Parshuram | Image: Vimanika Comics

Parshuram | Image: Vimanika Comics

Parashuram

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of Parasuram,
Who bathed the earth with blood of Kshatriyas,
Who washed away the sins of the world,
And who calmed down the pains of existence.

Vishnu’s sixth avatar – Parashuramwas born as the eldest son of Rishi Jamadagni and Renuka. As Parashurama he was to quell the arrogance of the Kshatriya rulers who persistently mocked and harmed at Brahmans (intellectual class), sages and ordinary mortal through their physical prowess. He exterminated the tyrannical among the Kshatriyas starting with Arjuna Kartavirya.

Parashuram’s birth name was Rama. Since childhood he was a devout seeker of Vedic wisdom. Owing to his enlightened parent’s upbringing he did not suppress or deny his Kshatriya side but kept it under check through training obtained from austere and disciplined gurus possible – the mighty Lord Shiva, himself –Destroyer of the worlds!

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Ram

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of Lord Rama,
Who presented the lords of ten pretty directions,
The delightful offering of ten heads of Ravana.

Ram is considered to be amongst the most significant manifestation of Vishnu. Ram represents peak of all historic incarnations and through him Vishnu defines the idea character of Maryada Purushottam revered even to this by people across the world. Lord Ram is one of the most adored gods in India. He is idolized holding a bow and arrow indicating his readiness to destroy evils. His story is found in the first Indian epic written by Valmiki Ramayana. He is perfect in every aspect; the perfect man, perfect husband, the perfect brother, the perfect king and, nevertheless an obedient son.

Ram’s purpose was to ensure that justice and peace. He’s honorifically referred as Sri Ram. Ram heroic achievement including establishing a perfectly administered kingdom – often referred as Ram Rajya – and slaying of demon king Ravana and liberate Lanka.

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Krishna | Image: Vimanika Comics

Krishna | Image: Vimanika Comics

Krishna

Salutations to Lord Krishna, who assumed ten different forms,
And saved the Vedas, bore a mountain, lifted the earth,
Killed Asuras, tricked Mahabali, exterminated Kshatriyas,
Won over Rakshasas, drew Yamuna towards him and showered mercy,
And would benumb the barbarians, in his ten different incarnations.

Krishna, often referred to as Sri Krishna, is the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the most popular of all incarnations. Krishna is a deity worshipped across many traditions in Hinduism. He is usually depicted as a young cowherd boy playing a flute or a youthful prince giving philosophical direction. He was charioteer of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata war.

He is the greatest expounder of the ‘song celestial’, the Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna and the stories associated with him appear across a broad spectrum of Hindu philosophical and theological traditions. Though they sometimes differ in details reflecting the concerns of a particular tradition, all share some core features. These include a divine incarnation, a pastoral childhood and youth, and life as a heroic warrior and teacher.

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Buddha

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who assumed the form of Buddha,
Who found fault with fire sacrifices,
In which poor animals were sacrificed,
As prescribed in the Vedas due to his compassionate heart.

After departing of Krishna the Kali Yuga crept in. In this age, the true devotion to Vedas was replaced by empty rituals. To enlighten the world, Vishnu descended upon the earth as Buddha – meaning the enlightened one.

Buddha was born as the crown prince of Kapilavastu to king Suddhodana and Maya. His birth name was Siddhartha. But his mother died soon after his birth and was brought up by Prajapati, the sister of Maya. Buddha was saddened by death of living creatures, and vices like poverty. 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 hermit’s life in the forest and became the enlightened one.

His preaching spawned off the religion of Buddhism now popular across the whole world. Buddha advocated the middle path which offered a balanced, harmonious way of life, steering between two extremes of self-indulgence and total abstinence. Buddhism rests upon four noble truths:

  • Suffering is universal
  • It is caused by desire and yearning
  • Suffering can be prevented as well as overcome
  • Eradication of desires can lead to removal of suffering

 

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Kalki | Image Vimanika Comics

Kalki | Image Vimanika Comics

Kalki

Victory to Keshava, the lord of Universe,
Who would assume the form of Lord Kalki,
Who would appear like a blazing comet,
Holding a terrifying sword and kill,
All barbarians at the end of Kali age.

It is believed that he will appear, riding his white horse and drawing a flaming sword at the end of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age through which we are now passing. His task will be to exterminate the evil and restore the Dharma. Kalki would start a new cycle of Satya Yuga (as Krita Yuga is also known). The name Kalki is today a metaphor.

Author of this article, U. Mahesh Prabhu, is distinguished fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London (UK).

Title12 Comments

  1. hemant says:

    Hi,

    Good information but as far as i know there are 24 incarnations of Vishnu instead of 22 and Matsaya & Haigariv were two seperate incarnations of Vishnu.

  2. falgoo says:

    keep it up friends. i wish to see your next step

  3. Sachin says:

    Very good initiative….would eagerly wait for your next step..

  4. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thank you

  5. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good effort.

  6. Very intriguing comments!

  7. Sandip Nag says:

    A very very responsible job you’ve done. Keep it up friend, all mighty Vishnu may help you….
    Om Shree Hari Vishnu
    Om Namah Shivay

  8. nitin says:

    All image is simlpy AWESOME im waiting leo image

  9. vishnuprasath says:

    awesome page but some images are none

  10. dhanesh says:

    outstanding images

  11. Ashok dheevar says:

    “Om Shri Hari Vishnu” is very simplest mantra of bhagwan vishnu.

  12. Ashok kashyap says:

    Vishnu pervading in all animate & inanmate things
    God vishnu is supreme power of this universe.
    “Om shri hari vishnu”

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