Lord Vishnu, commonly called Vishnu Dev, the organiser, the palanhaar of this world, is a part of the supreme Trilogy, popularly called “Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh”. Vishnu Dev, the husband of Mata Laxmi, is the Swami of vaikuntha lok. He is bestowed with the task of organising and maintaining life on the earth. He is famous for many of his avatars which he has produced whenever the world is under threat and terror of the asuras. However, the most famous of his avatars is the set of 10 avatars, which are popularly known as the Dashavatara.
Vishnu Dev has reincarnated on earth from time to time, in the form of his various avatars, the most famous famous of them being these 10 avatars. It is believed that every avatar has a purpose and its own significance. Each avatar is worshipped and is associated with a special quality. Following are the Dashvatar of Vishnu Dev:-
Literally meaning ‘fish’, Matasya was the first of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. It is said that during Satyug, when life was beginning to sore on earth and humankind was based on saintly principles, a great flood emanated and was destroying everything. The flood is said to have literally covered everything. At that point, Vaivasvata Manu, who is considered to be the first of the humans on earth, along with seven other sages, prayed to Vishnu Dev while sitting on a boat. Vishnu Dev took the avatar of a giant fish, Matasya, and carried the sages’ boat on its back and carried them and every single one of the species that was drowned, to a new world, where they could live peacefully.
Literally meaning ‘tortoise’, Kurma was the second of the Dashavatara. During samudra-manthan, the devtas and asuras were in a great battle with each other to extract amrit (elixr) from the depths of the oceans, for which they have to churn the ocean or in other words, conduct the manthan. A mountain that stood in the middle of the ocean was used as a tool for manthan. When that mountain was about to sink deep into patala, Vishnu Dev, took the avatar of a giant tortoise and went beneath the giant mountain, acting as a base to let the continuation of manthan. Vishnu is always remembered for his contribution in that manthan as Kurma.
Literally meaning ‘boar’, Varaha is third of the Dashavatara. When asuraraj (demon king) Hrinyaksha, began misusing his powers and began taking control over the entire universe, he finally decided to capture Prithvi (earth). He kidnapped Prithvi and took her into the depths of what is called the cosmic ocean. In order to rescue Prithvi, Vishnu Dev took the avatar of a wild pig, Varaha, who went after Hrinyaksha to kill the beast and rescue the earth. It is said that the battle between Hrinyaksha and Vraha lasted for about a thousand year, culminating in the victory of the latter. After killing Hrinyaksha, Vraha lifted Prithvi in his giant tusks and placed her back onto her original place in the universe.
Literally meaning ‘half man - half lion’ or the ‘lion man’, Narasimha was the fourth avatar of Vishnu. Asuraraj Hrinyakashyapa hated vishnu and killed every devotee of vishnu in his kingdom; but his son Prahlad was a huge devotee of vishnu. When Hrinyakashyapa got to know about about this devotion of his son towards his enemy, he decided to kill his own son. He had a vardan that he can neither be killed by a human nor an animal,he cannot be killed in day nor at night, neither by an asura nor by a devta, neither inside, nor outside, neither on floor, nor in air, nor on the bed and cannot be killed by any weapon. So when Hrinyakashyapa did several attempts to kill his own son, seeing his devotee in danger, vishnu decided to teach the demon king a lesson. When Hrinyakashyapa decided to kill his son, little Prahlad gave him the warning to seek forgiveness from shri hari vishnu and devote himself in his bhakti as it is vishnu, who is present everywhere and in all forms and not his father. Listening to these words, Hrinyakashyapa raged with wrath and hit a pillar with his gada to see if vishnu was there or not. As soon as the pillar broke, vishnu’s Narsimha avatar pounded on Hrinyakashyapa and took him under a chaukhat and placed on him on his lap and tore his chest using his claws in the afternoon, fulfilling all the conditions for his death.
Literally meaning ‘dwarf’, Vamana was the fifth of the Dashavatara. In the Tretayuga, when demon king Mahabali, defeated Indra dev, he ascended his control and possession over the three worlds, namely, swarg (heaven), hell (narak) and patal (netherworld). This created an imbalance, thus, to restore this peace and balance, Vishnu, took the avatar of a gentle, kind dwarf, Vamana, who is also considered to be the first full human avatar of Vishnu. Once, on an auspicious festival, Vamana decided to seek present from Mahabali, which he cannot refuse. Upon reaching the court of the king, Vamana asked for land measuring his three steps. The king agreed to this demand, listening to which Vamana increased his size to that of a world and took his first step to place it over heaven, the second on hell. By this time, Mahabali realised that Vamana is not an ordinary dwarf, he is actually Vishnu in this avatar. So when he was about to take his third step for the netherworld, Mahabali offered his head on which Vamana placed his third step and gave moksha to Mahabali and made him the king of the netherworld.
Parshurama was the sixth of the Dashavatara. Parshurama was the son of rishi jamadagni and renuka. He is a ferocious warrior and a pandit. Thus he is the first one to carry forward the dharma of both a brahmana and a kshatriya. Once, when king Kartavirya Arjuna and his hunting party halted at the ashrama of Jamadagni, the father of Parashurama, and the sage was able to feed them all with the aid of the divine cow Kamadhenu. The king demanded the cow, but Jamadagni refused. Enraged, the king took it by force and destroyed the ashram. Parashurama then killed the king at his palace and destroyed his army. In revenge, the sons of Kartavirya killed Jamadagni. Parashurama took a vow to kill every Kshatriya on earth twenty-one times over, and filled five lakes with their blood. Ultimately, his grandfather, rishi Rucheeka, appeared before him and made him halt. He is a chiranjeevi (immortal), and believed to be alive today in penance at Mahendragiri. He also credited for creating Kerala by throwing his mighty axe as per Hindu mythology. The place the axe landed in sea got its water displaced and the land which emerged thus came to be known as Kerala.
Rama is the seventh of the 10 avatars of Vishnu. When Lankapati Ravana, began spreading his ruthless and cruel activities over the masses of the world, Vishnu took the avatar of Rama to kill Ravana because Ravana had this vardan that he could be killed only by a human and his death is only possible when that human will hit his belly button. Rama’s story is known worldwide. He was sent to exile with his wife Sita and his brother Laxmana, when one day Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her to his Sone ki Lanka. Rama eventually reached Lanka and in a fierce battle with Ravana, deafeated him with the help of Ravana’s brother Vibhishan, who disclosed the belly button secret to Rama. Rama is prayed greatly in Hinduism.
Krishna is the eighth of the dashavatara. He was the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, but was reared by Yashoda and Nandababa. He was born to kill his maternal uncle, Kansa, whose ill deeds were faced by people across the world. It was predicted earlier on the marriage of Devaki and Vasudeva that their eight son would kill Kansa. Petrified with this prediction, Kansa imprisoned his own sister Devaki with vasudeva and took a vow to kill of Devaki’s sons. One by one, as soon as Devaki gave birth to her sons, they were killed by Kansa. On the night, when Krishna was born, Vasudeva, took his son, put him into a basket and handed Krishna over to Nandababa of Gokul. Both Nandababa and Yashoda reared Krishna like their own son. Finally, Krishna got to know about his real parents and went to visit them to Mathura, where eventually Krishna killed Kansa.
Buddha is typically thought to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. Originally born an Indian prince with the name Siddhartha, he became world renowned as Gautama Buddha when he became a monk and attained enlightenment. Buddha (literally translating to enlightenment) is said to have incarnated in this form to bring about social change, setting a new standard for the life of a yogi. He is also said to have changed the tradition of animal sacrifice in India and taught new forms of prayer through mindfulness.
Kalki will be the tenth avatar of Vishnu, who is yet to incarnate on earth. Kalki will be the avatar of Kalyuga. Kalki will be seated on a white horse. It is said that when there will be too much imbalance in the Kalyuga, and when adharma will be at its peak, Vishnu will incarnate as Kalki, will destroy everything and will initiate the new cycle of the world by initiating Satayuga again.