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In every aspect of life there are always opposing forces that battle each other. It is just a hope that the good forces vanquish the evil and restore peace. But that peace does not last for long, other evil surfaces. In times of much desperation and trouble do we look up to a mightier power.
“Yada yada hi dharmasya, glaanir bhavati Bharata
Abhyuddhanam adharmasya, tadaatmaanam srujamyaham”
In bhagavad gita, lord Krishna states this line which means that whenever there is a decline in dharma on the earth I descend upon there to restore the righteousness.
The dashavatar of lord Vishnu all came to earth with one single goal to defeat darkness and bring upon the light of prosperity and goodness on the people.
There are sections of people who claim that the dashavtar of Vishnu talk about the origin of species given by the great scientist Darwin. It is proven that the first life on earth were marine organisms such as fish. Hence Vishnu ‘s first avatar is also known as macha avatharam in which he is depicted as a fish.
|The first 6 Incarnations of Vishnu||Darwin’s Theory of Evolution|
|Matsya/ Macha (Fish)||Life starts in water (600 million-400 million years ago)|
|Kurma (Turtle)||The first amphibians emerge (100 million years ago)|
|Varaha (Boar)||The first mammals evolve (60 million years ago)|
|Narasimha (half man-half lion)||Half man-half animal appear (30 million years ago)|
|Vamana (short man)||Homo Erectus, Upright, yet short and weaponless (5 million – 2 million years ago)|
|Parashurama (parashu=axe, Rama=name of God)||Bronze age; the coming of Ramapithecus; development of first weapons such as axe. Homo Sapiens (350,000-100,000 years ago)|
There is a very interesting correlation made with the legend of the macha avatharam. It is said that king Manu who was the most powerful ruler on earth went near the ocean and took a handful of water , in that a small goldfish requested Manu to rescue him. All of a sudden the fish began to grow exponentially and that is when Manu realized it was lord Vishnu and he bowed in front of the fish. Vishnu advised him to take all the species on a boat before the destruction began and as a fish lord Vishnu propelled the boat to mount himavat( present day Himalayas). This story is highly similar to the biblical story of Noah’s ark. The amount of common grounds between those two religions that are poles apart today is really astonishing.
The second avatar, Kurma was taken during the satyuga which is the first Yuga in the cycle. During this Yuga there was a conflict between the devas and asuras to obtain the immortal nectar from the ocean which was sorted out by lord Vishnu in the form of a turtle.
Lord Vishnu in the form of Boar appeared at the end of the last flood in the Satyuga, when mother earth sank to the bottom of the ocean and varaha dived deep in to the mighty ocean and pulled her back to the surface with his horns
Narasimha descended upon earth to kill the tyrant king Hiranya Kashyap, a Shiva baktha who had obtained very tricky boons from lord Shiva. The half human half lion narasimha devoured the king and put an end to the misery of the people
The fifth avatar, Vamana, appeared in the Tretayuga in order to destroy Bali, the king of demons. He came during a huge ceremony conducted by the king and cleverly asked for just three feet of land, measured by his own small feet. Vamana covered whole of the earth and the heaven, subduing Bali into his feet.
The sixth avatar, Parshurama, appeared in the Tretayuga to destroy the warrior caste. The king clans began to disturb and harm the lives of innocent people in the jungles and saints and lord parashurama was sent to put an end to it.
Ramavatar – Lord Vishnu in the form of the King, The seventh avatar, Rama, the prince and king of Ajodhya, appeared in the Tretayuga, to rescue Sita with his loyal servant Hanuman and his brother, Lakshmana, and killed the demon Ravana. Lord
Krishna Avatar – Lord Vishnu in the form of a Cowherd’s Boy The eighth avatar, Krishna, along with his brother Balarama, appeared in the Dwaparyuga to kill the demon king, Kansa.
The ninth avatar, Mahavira Buddha, appeared in the Kalyuga, to teach the lesson of following a middle path in life. He preaches that desire is the root cause for all sorrow and it is better to live a happy life devoid of attachments,
The tenth Avatar, Kalki in the form of a horse is yet to appear on the earth. And it is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist, which will end in the year 428899 CE.
Every time the peace of this earth is disturbed a avatar of lord Vishnu flies down to earth from vaikuntha on his mighty vehicle garuda which is an eagle.
All the Dashavatar have been depicted in the Vishnu purana. Of the ten avatars both Rama and Krishna are held with such great reverence and respect probably because of the ideals they portrayed. Of these avatars the Buddha avatar was added much later after the concept of dashavatar had become quite popular during the Gupta age. There were some observed similarities between the life of Buddha and the incarnations of Vishnu.
“paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya cha dushkrritam.
dharmasansthapanarthaya sanbhavami yuge yuge..”
Sadhus are always engaged in making progress towards the discovery of truth. It is my duty to protect them (paritrANAya) and destroy (vinAshAya) those who are engaged in the pursuit of wickedness and evil (duShkRRitAm.). I will repeatedly return in each and everyyuga or age (yuge yuge), whenever necessary and feasible (sanbhavAmi), to re-establish (sansthApanA) the rule of Dharma for future generations. The Bhagavata talks about millions of avatars of Lord Vishnu. Other than those already mentioned, it talks about King Prithu (who came about at a time when people were starved, and helped come up with the idea of agriculture – the earth was like a daughter to him thanks to this, and hence she came to be known as Prithvi), Sage Kapila (who Buddhists claim was a previous incarnation of the Buddha as well, which effectively makes Buddha an avatar)
“tatah kalau sampravrtte
Translation: “Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.” These lines in the bhagavad gita stand as proof for the fact that Buddha is also an incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu. Rishabhadeva (who was also the first Jain thirthankara) , is also considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Some books also mention Balarama, Krishna’s brother as an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Balarama is an incarnation of Ananta who in turn is a manifestation of lord Vishnu. The Dashavatar symbolizes only the most famous of those avatars. there were so many other avatars of Lord Vishnu than the 10 that form the Dashavtar. Any mortal or immortal that strives to bring peace upon earth in times of distress is an avatar. We constantly look for external sources to help us out but the potential to save our race and to fight against evil resides within us. Stories of Dashavatar were preached to the masses to bring about a sense of patriotism and belonging to the community. There is no power greater than the will power of a man.