Dashavatar: 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu

Read the intriguing stories behind ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2016, 20:40 PM IST
Dashavatar: 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu
Thinkstock image, For representational purposes only

Mumbai: It is believed that whenever there is an evolution in the history of mankind, God incarnates on earth to restore the cosmic order. As mentioned in the holy Bhagavad Gita, "Whenever there is a decline in righteous and wherever there is a predominance of unrighteousness. I incarnate on earth"- Bhagavad Gita 4:7.

Hindu mythology has various fascinating stories to tell. One of them is that of Lord Vishnu and his 10 incarnations or swaroop. Collectively known as Dashavatara or ten incarnations, the Preserver of the Universe, takes one form, each time the mankind is in danger or when evil and tyranny overpowers righteousness.

It is said that Lord Vishnu has already completed 9 avatars and the last one is expected to appear in the Kali Yuga.

Following are the ten incarnations or avatars of Lord Vishnu

1)      Matsya

When Manu, who is believed to be the first human on earth, was stuck in the Great flood, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Matsya. Matsya, a huge fish saved the life of Manu at the beginning of Satya Yuga.

2)      Kurma

Appearing in the form of a giant tortoise, Lord Vishnu carried the huge mountain Mandrachala. Mandrachala was initially used to churn the ocean but as the ocean was too deep, it started to drown and hence Lord Vishnu descended on earth.

3)      Varaha

A demon named Hiranyaksha took the whole of earth to the bottom of the sea. Lord Vishnu came in the form of Varaha, a wild boar and kept the earth back to its original place.

4)      Narasimha

Hiranyakashipu, a demon had a boon that he could be killed neither by a human nor by an animal, neither inside the house nor outside, not at day nor at night, not on earth nor in the sky and not with any weapon. Hence Lord Vishnu took the form of half Lion and half human and killed the demon at dusk, with his nails, on the threshold of his house, keeping the demon on his thighs.

5)      Vamana

In Treta Yuga, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Brahmin to end the rule of the generous demon-king, Bali. The demon-king had forcefully captured three different worlds. When Lord Vishnu, a Brahmin asked for the land three feet of land. Bali agreed to give away his head after he realised that it was Lord Vishnu. He was granted moksha after Vamana stepped over Bali’s head.

6)      Parashurama

Lord Vishnu took the form of a Brahmin to end the tyrannical rule of unrighteous kings and unchaste women. Parashurama prayed to Lord Shiva and acquired an axe which is used to terminate the race.

7)      Lord Rama

The famous Hindu mythology, Ramayana where the good prevailed over the evil saw the seventh form of Lord Vishnu. Appearing as King Rama, he defeated demon-king Ravana after a fierce battle

8)      Lord Balarama

In the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu, he incarnated himself as Balarama, elder brother of Lord Krishna.

9)      Lord Krishna

Fundamental figure from another Hindu epic, Mahabharata, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Lord Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga for two significant events. In the first, Lord Krishna defeated his evil maternal uncle, Kansa. And in the second half, he was the mentor of the Pandavas during the battle of Kurukshetra.

10)   Kalki

It is believed that Lord Vishnu will appear on a white horse with a mighty sword in the present Yuga or the Kali Yuga and destroy the evil existing in mankind. Interestingly, it is also said that the entire cycle of four worlds will restart after Kali Yuga ends.