Dasavtar  The 10 Incarnations of Lord Vishnu                   


The Avatar concept is a corner stone in Hindu philosophy. Avatar is a descent or a direct incarnation of God to ascent the mankind. Periodically the Supreme Lord Vishnu descents upon the earth, in animal or human forms and the  mission is to preserve the world from the increasing evil. There are 10 avatars of Vishnu.

Narrates Krishna to Arjuna : Whenever Dharma, or the situation of law and order, is endangered on this world, I incarnate onto this world to re establish Dharma, law and  order, and to protect the Sadhus or saints and to destroy the evil elements of the society.  - Bhagavat Gita

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Some believe that Balrama
is an avatar and not Buddha
Buddha or Balrama?



Matsya the fish

In the earliest yuga (era) of Sata-yuga, a king named Manu was performing severe penance for thousands of years. One day as he was performing ablutions with river water, a small fish came into his hands and just as he was about to throw the fish back into the river, the fish requested the king to save its life. Heeding its request, the king put the fish into a jar of water but the fish started growing and the jar was not big enough for it. Then the king threw it into the river, but it soon it outgrew the river and the king then threw it into Ganges and then into the ocean. The king realised that it was Lord Vishnu himself and then the lord made an appearance and made a special request to the king. It predicted that the world would come to an end by a huge flood in seven days and requested the king to build a huge boat and take the seven sages(hermits), seeds of all plants, one animal of each type and told him that he would appear as a fish to propel the boat to Mount Himavan for surviving the flood to the next yuga(eon). True to his word, after seven days the Lord appeared and the king tied the boat to the fish by using the royal serpent Vasuki and the fish took all of them to Mt Himavan and kept them there till the flood was over and in the new era, the king started procreation a for the new era.



Kurma  the Tortoise

Further to Pralaya- deluge at the beginning of the present Kalpa the Gods (devas) lost their immortality due to a curse by the short-tempered sage Durvasa.The sage had once presented a garland of flowers to Indra,king of gods, who carelessly gave it away to his elephant which trampled it.  The Devas approached Vishnu for help. Vishnu then asked them to churn the ocean of milk after adding medicines into the ocean. Mt Mandara could be used a the churning stick he said. He requested them to ask them help of Asuras in lifting the mountain in exchange for offer of the share of nectar of immortality that would ensue from the churning. Both the devas and the asuras churned the ocean using the serpent Vasuki as the rope. At the start, playing a Machiavellian trick, Indra, king of the gods asked the asuras for the head end of vasuki. But asuras suspecting foul play, took the head end, only to be deceived as the poison from Vasuki was slowly weakening them. But as churning was proceeding the mountain was sinking and then Lord Vishnu took the form of the tortoise KURMA and kept the mountain afloat. As soon as the bowl of amrita, the nectar of immortality was out, the asuras grabbed it. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of an apsara, a beautiful maiden, and seduced the asuras into letting her distribute the nectar and also to abide by her order of distribution. As soon as the devas were served the maiden disappeared thus totally deceiving the asuras and making them totally weak.



Varaha  the Boar

A demon Hiranyaksha, had prayed for Lord Brahma and got awarded a boon that no beast nor man nor god could kill him. But somehow from the list of beasts the name of boar was missing. This proved to be his lacunae. He then started a campaign of plunder across the worlds. He pushed the world to the Pataal loka, or the under of the sea. He stole the Vedas, the holy scriptures from the Lord Brahma, while he was asleep and performed huge atrocities.To retrieve the Vedas and to save the world the Lord Vishnu assumed the role of a boar and brought out the earth from the under of the ocean, using its two tusks. It then killed Hiranyaksha and retrieved the Vedas from the asura and brought it back to the safe custody of the Lord Brahma.



Narashima  giant lion-man

In NARASIMHA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a semi-man,semi-lion in this world. The king of demons(asuras), Hiranyakasyapu, wanted to become immortal and wanted to remain young forever. To this end, he meditated for Lord Brahma and because of his severe penance, the gods were frightened and asked Brahma to pacify the king. Brahma was impressed by his austerity and granted him a wish. Hiranyakasyapu wished that he be  killed neither by a man or beast, nor in daylight or at night and neither inside or outside a building. Having obtained the wish he considered himself the supreme God and forbade all worship of gods by anyone. But his son Prahlada, was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. This enraged Hiranyakasyapu very much. He ordered numerous ways to kill Prahlada including asking his sister Holika to sit with Prahlada in the fire. But every time Prahlada escaped unhurt. Enraged, once he asked Prahlad to show him the Lord Vishnu. Prahlad said, "He is everywhere". Further enraged, Hiranyakasyapu knocked down a pillar, and asked if Lord was present there. Lord Vishnu then emerged as a half lion, half man from the pillar, and carried him under the arch of the doorway (neither indoors nor outdoors), and the time was evening (in the twilight), neither night nor day. He then killed Hiranyakasyapu with his  claws by keeping him on his thighs (neither on earth nor in the sky) thus saving the life of his devotee Prahlada.



Vamana  the dwarf

BALI, the grandson of Prahlada was a very valorous and mighty asura. By his penance and might, he conquered the whole world. Indra and other gods fearing that he and the asuras would conquer all the three worlds, went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu was then born as a dwarf Vamana in the household of a brahman priest. He went to Bali on growing up and asked for alms. Bali was delighted to offer him anything he requested even though his royal guru warned him that it was Lord Vishnu. Vamana then requested for the amount of land that could come under his three feet. Bali gracefully agreed. Lord Vishnu then grew in size and covered the earth and heaven in two stride. And due to lack of space, he put his third leg on Bali himself and crushed Bali to the nether or the Patala loka (underground world), thus helping the Gods out.



Parasurama Rama with the axe

In PARASURAMA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a brahman priest in this world. He was brought in this world to avenge all kshatriyas who had become arrogant and were suppressing the brahmans in the world. He was born with unusual physical power, and became better fighter than any Kshatriya.He was born to Jamadagni and Renuka, and belonged to the Brighu clan. Parashurama was always carrying an axe presented to him by Lord Shiva of whom he was an ardent devotee. Kartavirya a powerful king, once went to Jamadagni's home when he was out, and after a meal, stole the Kamadhenu cow, which was supposed to give endless quantity of milk. Jamadgni was enraged and he went and killed the king and brought Kamadhenu back. On hearing this the son of the king came back and killed Jamdagni. Parasurama was enraged at this and went and avenged the death of his father by killing all kshatriyas in 21 battles. His life is story of the supremacy of brahmans over the kshatriyas.



Sri Rama 

It is the most important Avatar of Vishnu. Rama represents the peak of the historic incarnations, and by him it is defined the ideal character of Indian people.He is Vishnu descended upon earth to conquer all the Indian peninsula, included Sri Lanka, under the Bharata rule. Lord Rama is one of the most adored gods in India. He is always holding a bow and arrow indicating his readiness to destroy evils.His story forms the epic Ramayana. He is perfect in every aspect; the perfect man, the perfect husband, the perfect brother, the perfect king, etc. and the obedient son. Commonly he is pictured in a family style, with his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman.



Sri Krishna

In KRISHNA Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as KRISHNA , the central character in the epic MAHABHARATA. In this biggest epic of Indian mythology a myriad of topics are covered, including war, love, brotherhood, politics etc. It is essentially the story of two warring groups of cousin brothers, the PANDAVAs and the KAURAVAs. As a part of the Mahabahrata, during the war KRISHNA, gives a long discourse to his disciple ARJUNA, collectively termed as Bhagvad-Gita. Krishna, during his child-hood was responsible for the killing of Kansa. Krishna is also considered to be an ultimate playboy who was resonsible for charming all gopikas (cowherdesses) around him. Unlike Ramayana, Mahabharata deals with more down to earth issues like politics, human nature, human weaknesses, and does not attempt to idealise the characters as in RAMAYANA. His death marks the beginning of Kali yuga.





With the departure of Lord Krishna (Krishna Avatar), the Kali yuga set in. In this age, the true devotion to Vedas was replaced by empty rituals.  To enlighten the world, Lord Vishnu descended the earth as Buddha, the enlightened one.

He was born as the crown prince of the Kapilavastu to King  Suddhodana and Maya. He was named Siddhartha, meaning "All thing fulfilled". But his mother died soon after his birth and was broughtup 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 a hermit's life in the forest and became the enlightened one.

His preachings spawned off the religion of Buddhism now popular across the whole world. Buddha advocated the Middle Path, in which he 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 and overcome and

  • Eradication of desires can lead to removal of suffering.

To prevent suffering one has to conquer craving and desire and this conquest leads to the attainment of nirvana or complete enlightenment.




Kalki is believed as the next Avatar of Vishnu.

It is believed that He will appear, riding his white horse and drawing a flaming sword, at the end of the Kali Yuga, the dark age through which we are now passing. His task will be to exterminate the evil and restore the Dharma. Thus will begin a new cycle, starting with the new Satya Yuga.





Balrama The elder brother of Sri Krishna

Balrama was the elder brother of Shri Krishna. He was so powerful that he, single handedly, at a very tender age, killed the great demon, Asuradhenuka, who had the form of a ass. Another demon tried to carry off Balrama on his shoulders, but the young boy beat out the demon's brain with his fist.

When Shri Krishna went to Mathura, Balrama accompanied him and supported him till Kamsa was killed by Shri Krishna. He also taught Duryodhan and Bheem, the use of the mace. His chief weapon is ploughshare (hal) and therefore called Haldhar.

Balrama is believed as the  incarnation of the great serpent Sesha Naga on whom Lord Vishnu reclines.

But according to some school of thought Balrama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.



Balrama or Buddha  who is the Avatar ?

  • It can be observed that no two Avatars are in action simultaneously, with the exception of Parasurama who is considered as a Chiramjeevi. Even Parasuram has withdrawn from from action when he realised that Sri Rama is an Avatar of the Lord Vishnu. So Balrama cannot be an avatar when Sri Krishna is one.

  • In Ramayana, brother Lakshman (incarnation of the Serpent King Adishesha) desires  to be born as elder to the Lord and Sri Rama assures him the same in future. So in the next Avatar as Sri Krishna, Lord has taken birth as the younger brother of  Balrama, who is thus considered as the incarnation of Adisesha (rebirth of Lakshman).

The above points suggest that Balrama is not one of the Dasavtar

Vedas predict Buddha's incarnation?

In the Srimad Bhagavatam there is a list of the avataras, and there is mention of Lord Buddha's name. This Srimad Bhagavatam was written five thousand years ago, and it mentions different names for future times. It says that in the future the Lord would appear as Lord Buddha, his mother's name would be Anjana, and he would appear in Gaya. So Buddha appeared twenty six hundred years ago, and the Srimad Bhagavatam, which was written five thousand years ago, mentioned that in the future he would appear.


Relevance of Dasavatar

Dasavtar concept and the theory of evolution

The Hindu myth of Dasavatar (10 incarnations) describes how Vishnu, the central figure in the triad of Indian gods, incarnated from time to time to save mankind and the sacred scriptures of India's ancient civilisation from the evil designs of demons. As in other myths which make up the vast body of Hindu scriptures, the victory of good over evil is a persistent theme of all mythologies in the world and Hindu mythology is no exception.

The 9 incarnations of Vishnu, which have taken place so far according to the myth, are (1) Matsya - fish, (2) Koorma - tortoise, (3) Varaha - boar, (4) Narasimha - half man-half lion, (5) Vaman - dwarf man, (6) Parashuram - man with an axe, (7) Rama - moral man, (8) Krishna - philosophical man and (9) Buddha - spiritual man. The 10th incarnation is Kalki or holocaust, which will come when evil overtakes the whole world in the milennia to come.

 The Avatar  Evolution stage
Matsya - fish Acquatic form
Koorma - tortoise Amphibian
Varaha - boar Land animals
Narasimha - half man-half lion Transition to human
Vaman - dwarf man Homo sapiens
Parashuram - man with an axe Savages
Rama - moral man Family and social life
Krishna - philosophical man Philosophy and teaching
Buddha - teacher Spiritual life

The scientific theory of evolution states that life on earth began as single-celled organisms and later developed into multi-celled beings. Moreover, the theory further states that aquatic creatures came into existence first. Then came amphibians that could exist in water as well as on land. Land-dependent animals and airborne birds followed the amphibians. Finally, human beings completed the cosmic drama of creation.

As if to explain this theory of evolution, Indian mythology says that first there was only primeval water which covered the earth like a flood. Vishnu's first incarnation as a fish (Matsya) indicated the first appearance of life in the aquatic form. His second incarnation as a tortoise (Koorma) represented the amphibian stage. The boar (Varaha) manifestation in his third incarnation stood for the stage of animal life on land.

The transition from animals to humans was beautifully advanced by a concept of half-man-half-lion (Narasimha) in the fourth incarnation. Vishnu’s fifth incarnation showed the further march of evolution – the appearance of early homo sapiens, symbolised by the dwarf Vamana. Then, tall but violent savages wielding weapons walked the earth. Parashuram was that violent axe-bearing sixth incarnation. Evolution had by now definitely entered the human stage, and the human form and mind were getting more and more refined, first in the moral sense and then in the spiritual.

Rama, the seventh incarnation in the human form was an example of rectitude, courage and morality. Krishna, the eighth incarnation in the human form who originated the Bhagvad Gita, was the philosopher, the teacher of the world. Gautama, the Buddha, the ninth incarnation, was closest to nirvana,, moksha or salvation. And Kalki, the tenth incarnation, yet to manifest itself, would be the ultimate terminator who would finish the evolutionary process in one mighty holocaust.

KALKI and the Prophecies of NOSTRADAMUS

Nostradamus had predicted the future of human history in a total of 942 quatrains which he organized into Centuries - groups of 100 quatrains (one Century only had 42 quatrains). A quatrain is simply a poem with 4 lines. The rhymed quatrains of Nostradamus were written mainly in French with a bit of Italian, Greek, and Latin thrown in. He intentionally obscured the quatrains through the use of symbolism and metaphor, as well as by making changes to proper names by swapping, adding or removing letters. There are hundreds of intrepretations and transalations of his original work.

He has predicted the end of the World as 3927 AD and this will occur as:

In the words of Nostradamus "The Lord will come back for the final judgement as the the Just Judge, the damned shall be tossed into the hellfire and the chosen ones will follow him to heaven". The act of the Lord at the final judgement (as predicted by Nostradamus) is similar to that of Kalki in the Hindu Mythology and hence the concept of Kalki is that of the Final Judge.

In CHAPTER  VI  Part V of the book The Prophecies of Nostradamus the end of the world is described as   

VIII. 28    The Final Judgment .

The images loaded with gold and silver
Who after the rapture ( or enticement ) shall be tossed in the lake of burning fire
Shall be discovered as totally stained and troubled
Script written in marble, interiorly predetermined

COMMENT: At the Final Judgment, the damned shall be tossed into the hellfire and emerge from it as a beastly figure. On the other hand, the names of the saints are engraved by the Fingers of God into the Marble Book of Life

V.79   The Second Advent of the Lord as the Judge. 

    Cherubims and Seraphims shall bow down their wings
    Upon the descendance of the Great Judge
    He shall raise up the lowly, and humble the proud
    No more shall be born any deceiver on earth

COMMENT: The Glorious Second Advent of our Lord at the End of the World is described here in all its Glory. He shall come back as the Just Judge.

VI.18    Lord shall reign in Heaven with His Chosen Ones.

    In the materialistic realm, the great King shall be forsaken
    For life eternal, one shall not find either idols or Judaism
    With Him, His chosen people shall reign on high
    Grace bestowed upon the ones who desire the Lord





(from Gita govinda) by Jayadeva Goswami

pralaya-payodhijale dhrtavanasi vedam
vihitavahitra- caritra- makhedam
kesava dhrta minasarira
jaya jagadisa hare

O God, in the form of a fish! In the flood of dissolution you have held up the revealed knwoledge of the Vedas, like a boat, without effort.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

ksitirati-vioulatare tava tishati prsthe
kesava dhrta kacchaparupa
jaya jagadisa hare

O God, in the form of Tortoise! On the ample expanse of your back, calloused by the burden of the earth that it bears, securely stands the world.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

vasati dasanasikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalankakaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta sukararupa
jaya jagadisa hare

O God, in the form of the Boar! The world restsin peace on the tip of your tusk, like the dark marking ont he disc of the moon.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

tava kara kamalavare
dalita hiranyakasipu varabrngam
kesava dhrta naraharirupa
jaya jagadisa hare

O God, in the form of Man-Lion! In your hand of lotus like beauty, are the finger nails with their wonderful tips which have torn as under the most powerful demon Hiranyakasipu, as if he was a huge insect.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

Chalayasi vikramane balim adbhutavamana
kesave dhrta vamanarupa
jaya jagadisa hare

O God, in the form of dwarf! By planting your feet you have cheated Bali, the mighty .  Ganga, the river which sanctifies the world, has come out of you rtoe-nails.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

ksatriyarudhiramaye jagadapagata papam
snapayasi payasi samitabhavatapam
kesave dhrta bhrgupatirupa
jaya jagadisa hare.

O God, in the form of the Lord of the Bhrigus, you have bathed the world in the blood of the tyrannous rulers, thus cleansing it of sin and destroying the misery of its relative existence.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

vitarasi diksu rane dikpatikamantyam
dasamukha-mauli-balim ramaniyam
kesava dhrta ramasarira
Jaya jagadisa hare

O God in the body of Sri Rama! You have a made a beautiful offering of the ten heads of the demon Ravana in battle to the  guardians of the cardinal directions.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

Vahasi vapusi visade vasaanam jaladabhanam
keshava dharta-haladharrupa
jaya jagadisha hare.

O God , in the form of Balarama,the bearer of the plough! You wear on your immaculate body a garment of  the colour of the clouds, blue like the Yamuna, darkened by the fear of being dragged by your plough.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

Nindasi yajnavidhe-rahaha srutijatam
sadaya - hrdya darshitapasughatam
kesava dharta buddhasarira
jaya jagadisha hare.

O God, in the body of Buddha, the enlightened! Out of compssion of your heart you have condemned the ritualistic portion of the vedas ordaining the killing of the animals .
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

maleccha-nivaha-nidhane kalayasi karavalam
dhumaketumiva kimapi karalam
kesava dharta kalsisarira
jaya jagadish hare.

O God, in the form of Kalki! For the destruction of wicked , you carry a meteor-like sword in your hand, trailing a train of disaster to them.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!

srnu subhadam sukhadam bahvasaram
kesave dharta dasavidhiraupa
jaya jagadish hare.

O God, who took ten forms! Please listen to the song of Jayadeva.It bestows goodness, and joy; it is the essence of life.
Hail! Hari, God of the world, Victory to Thee!