From the very beginning of human civilization on mother earth, evil forces have come to disrupt the cosmic order of the world in some frequent movements. Thus the gods like Buddha, Rama, and Krishna came down to earth to eradicate those evil forces and restore Dharma. But did you know these gods are only different manifestations of the same god?
In Hindu religious practice, lord Vishnu is one of the most influential gods and an asset of the holy trinity, along with lord Brahma and lord Shiva. On different occasions in different yugas, whenever humankind has fallen into darkness or threatened by chaos, lord Vishnu incarnates has come in different forms to establish righteousness.
Lord Vishnu is the holiest god according to Hinduism. Many deities like lord Brahma, goddess Parvati, and others, lord Vishnu have also taken 24 incarnations in total that are mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam. Though the scripture indicates the number of embodiments can be innumerable. Ten manifestations are the most popular, influential, and significant.
Per Hindu mythology, avatars of lord Vishnu have come in 4 different yugas.
According to Vishnu Purana, the first avatar of Vishnu came in the Satya-yuga, followed by three other avatars. In the Treta yuga and Dwapara yuga, 3 and 1 avatars of lord Vishnu have come, respectively. And last of all, in the recent yuga called Kali-yuga, the tenth avatar of Vishnu will arrive.
Dashavatars of lord Vishnu
In Sanskrit, ‘Dasha’ means ‘ten,’ and ‘Avatara’ stands for ‘incarnations.’ Thus the phrase ‘Dashavatara of lord Vishnu’ refers to his ten avatars or incarnations.
According to Garuda Purana, the ten incarnations of lord Vishnu have taken different forms in different eras to rescue humanity.
He has come down to earth as an incarnation in some of them. These avatars of lord Vishnu appeared as Sakshaty avatara, and the Avesa avatars got empowered by the lord Vishnu himself. Did you know about the ten avatars of lord Vishnu? Let’s talk about them.
The very first avatar of Vishnu is a Matsya avatar which appeared in the Satya yuga. In this form, he has come as a part-fish and part-human embodiment.
According to Matsya Purana, on the verge of extinction, the fish that was a Vishnu avatar told Manu about the great flood and helped him save the Vedas and animals and plant seeds as much as he could.
This avatar of Vishnu also appeared in the Satya yuga in a half-tortoise and half-human avatar. It is the avatar that holds the weight of the universe.
As per Kurma Purana, when the Asuras and Devas were churning the Ocean of milk to extract Amrita, the nectar of immortality, they used mount Mandara as the churning appliance. But all of a sudden, the mountain started to sink, and then, as Kurma avatar lord Vishnu took the mountain’s weight on his back to help them.
Varaha, a half-man and a half-boar avatar of Vishnu, appeared in the Satya yuga to save the goddess Bhudevi, the personification of mother earth, from the all-mighty king Hiranyaksha.
According to Kalika Purana, by receiving great penance from the god Brahma himself, asura Hiranyaksha became all-powerful. Being corrupted by power, the demon Hiranyaksha stole the goddess Bhudevi and hid under the Ocean.
At that time of disruption, Varaha, the lord Vishnu incarnate, came to save the goddess, lifted the earth on his tusks, and put it in its place in the universe.
The Narasimha avatar of lord Vishnu is a part lion and part human avatar and was the last embodiment of the Hindu god Vishnu in the Satya era. It was even the last anthropomorphic incarnation of the god Vishnu, which was descended to end the tyranny of the evil king Hiranyakshipu.
Hiranyakshipu, the younger brother of Hiranyaksha, was causing disturbances on earth with his immense, invincible powers. To stop this commotion, the god Vishnu appears in a lion-headed and clawed half-man to exterminate him.
Vamana avatar was the first human embodiment of Vishnu. This diminutive Brahmin avatar of Vishnu descended from the Treta yuga.
At the request of other deities, the got Vishnu took the form of a dwarf and visited the great demon king Mahabali in the ceremony of Yajna. The Brahmin dwarf avatar was supposed to examine the pride of king Bali. Through this assessment, king Bali learned a great lesson in his life god Brahma granted Bali immortality.
An axe-holding mighty warrior sage was descended to stop the tyranny of evil Kshatriyas on earth. He was the first Brahmin-Kshatriya in the Hindu religion.
In the beginning, Parshurama was a pious Brahmin sage. After losing his parents at the hands of evil Kshatriya kings, he trained to become a warrior, killed every Kshatriya over the earth, and saved people from the torture of the Kshatriyas who had forgotten their Dharma.
Parshurama, the warrior, is one of the immortal sages on earth, and it is believed that Parshurama has been alive since the Treta Yuga!
The protagonist of Ramayana, the avatar of Vishnu, was the last incarnation of the Treta era.
Known to be the perfect heroic man in Hinduism, the Rama avatar is one of the significant Hindu gods commonly worshipped by the Hindus.
When the evil king of Lanka, Ravan, abducted his wife Sita and imprisoned her in Lanka, lord Rama, his brother Lakshman, and the god Hanumana attacked the land of Lanka to kill the demon king Ravana and save Sita.
The only lord Vishnu incarnation from the Dwapara yuga, Krishna appears to be the most worshipped deity of the Hindu religion.
According to Mahabharata, lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu, was known for his action to terminate his tyrant maternal uncle Kansa. He also played an important role in the war of Mahabharata by advising Arjun.
In his lifetime, lord Krishna’s uttered philosophies were written by Arjun in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, and it is one of the most recited books among all Hindu scriptures.
Ninth Avatar-Gautama Buddha
The earliest avatar of lord Vishnu from the Kali-yuga is lord Buddha, who sought the way of peace in the world.
The ninth incarnation of the god Vishnu, the Buddha avatar, formally known as Gautam Buddha, was a prince named Siddhartha Gautama. At an early age, he left his family in search of peace. With his immense devotion and wisdom, he found the Eightfold paths to attain peace and remove people’s suffering.
The final incarnation of Kali-yuga, the Kalki avatar Parshurama will train, is yet to come to earth. He is the warrior who will bring down the demon Kali and initiate the next yuga cycle.
According to Bhabishya Purana, when the world becomes full of the unrighteousness and misery of the demon king Kali, lord Kalki will appear on a white horse with a blazing sword.
By demolishing the asura Kali, he will establish righteousness in this world and be regarded as the golden age or Krita yuga.
Unlike Christian or other religious avatars, lord Vishnu’s avatars teach us valuable lessons.
Over time, the world has gone to states of despair; if it is compared to hell, we wouldn’t have been mistaken. But on every occasion, the lord Vishnu has appeared to save humanity, Devas, and even demons by himself or by sending his embodiment.
Maybe that’s why he’s called the protector who protects the devoted. What do you think about Lord Vishnu? Do you feel the same?