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"O Bharata, whenever there is a decline of dharma or righteousness and spread of adharma or unrighteousness, I create myself."

Matsya (fish): In Hindu myth, the first incarnation of the god Vishnu. When the Deluge came, he saved the mortal Manu Vaivasvata( Biblical Noah) . This mortal found a small fish, which asked his protection. The fish grew rapidly, and Manu recognized it as Vishnu incarnate. At the fish's command, Manu embarked in a ship together with the Rishis and the seeds of all existing things, and the ship, bound to the fish's great horn, was preserved during the Flood. Finally it rested on a peak of the Himalayas. Matsya later destroyed an underwater demon who had stolen the Vedas.


Varaha (boar): Then came a pure mammal, the boar incarnation or avatar of Vishnu, assumed in order to deliver the world from the power of the demon Hiranyaksha. The latter had seized the earth and carried it to the depths of the ocean. After a battle which lasted for a thousand years, Varaha killed Hiranyaksha and returned the earth to the surface.
According to a different version of the myth, the earth was pressed down because of over-population. Varaha the boar lifted the earth on one of its tusks and made the world fit for habitation again. Earthquakes are believed to be caused whenever Varuna shifts his burden from one tusk to the other. In modern Hinduism Varaha is the third incarnation of Vishnu.


Vamana (dwarf): the first human incarnation of the lord, in the form of a dwarf, a short-statured man.He is said to have regained the three worlds and restored them to their rightful protector. Vamana is shown as a mendicant holding a kamandala in one hand and umbrella in the other. Bali, the grandson of Prahlada was a very valorous and mighty asura. By his penance and might, he conquered the whole world. Lord Vishnu was then born as a Vamana in the household of a brahmana (priest). He went to Bali and asked for alms. Bali was delighted to offer him anything he requested. 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 strides. And due to lack of space, he put his third leg on Bali himself and crushed Bali to the nether or the Patala loka.


Rama: The hero of the epic Ramayana, rescued his wife Sita and kills Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Lord Rama is depicted with a bow and arrow and he belongs to the Kshatrya (warrior) caste, showing that fighting was a way of life for him. In this big epic of Indian mythology is essentially the story of an ideal king, son, father and man, Rama. As an ideal son, he agrees to abide by wishes of his father King Dasaratha to spend 14 years in forest, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. During the course of his stay in forest, the demon Ravana abducts his wife Sita. Rama then sets out a search. During this he makes friends with king of monkeys Sugreeva, and his devotee Hanuman. In the end he wages a war with Ravana and rescues Sita to return to Ayodhya and rule it as an ideal king.


Buddha: Removed suffering from the world as he preached non-violence. The on who reached enlightenment. One who knows his true self. Hindus consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and accept his teachings, though many do not directly worship him. This was the Prince Siddhartha, better known as Buddha, he was born to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Sakya in present day Nepal. He sat down under a tree, later named the Bo-tree, or tree of wisdom, that night, he was enlightened. He immediately began to tell others of his experience. For the next forty-five years, he traveled, teaching throughout India. The area in which he taught was particularly receptive to the new religion because the former religion had become extremely corrupt. Buddha died between 486 and 480 at the age of eighty.



The whole evolution from the first avatara of aquatic life form to one with the compassionate nature and god-like mind, Buddha, is symbolically expressed here.



Kurma (tortoise): Next, the water level receded, the second avatara appeared, in the form of a tortoise. This marks the amphibian stage. At the churning of the ocean, kurma offered its back as a pivot on which to rest the mount Mandara, used as a churning stick by devas and asuras.


Narasimha (man-lion): The next avatara appeared in a form intermediate between an animal and human. kills the demon King Hiranyakashipu, who had gained the boon of immunity from attacks by 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 Hiranyakasyapa very much. He ordered numerous ways to kill Prahlada. But Prahlada always escaped unhurt. Enraged, once he asked Prahlad to show him the Lord Vishnu. Prahlad said, "He is everywhere". Further enraged, Hiranyakasyapa knocked down a pillar, and asked if Lord was present there. Lord Vishnu then emerged as a half lion, half man from the pillar which was neither inside the house nor outside, and the time was evening, neither night nor day. He then killed Hiranyakasyapa thus saving the life of his devotee Prahlada.


Parasurama (the warrior, Rama with an axe): In Parasurama Avatara, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a brahmana (priest) in this world.saves Brahmins from the tyranny of the arrogant Kshatriyas, kills king Kartavirya, who had stolen the holy cow Kamadhenu (which could grant all desires).Parasurama was enraged by his mother's death and went and avenged the death of his father and mother by killing all kshatriyas in 21 battles. His story is story of the supremacy of brahmans over the kshatriyas.  He is a fierce warrior-like character, fully human in form but not in nature yet. His warrying missions and the murdering of his own mother (Renukadevi), hint at the brutality of his nature.


Sri Krishna: the most popular incarnation; Krishna is the central character in the epic Mahabhartha. 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 cousins the Pandavas and the Kauravas. In the battle between the Kaurava's and the Pandava's, he was with the latter, because they followed the path of righteousness. As a part of the Mahabhahrata, during the battle of Kurukshetra Krishna, gives divine knowledge in the form of a long discourse to his disciple Arjuna. This discourse is collectively termed as Bhagvad-Gita. Krishna is also considered to be an ultimate playboy who was responsible for charming all gopikaas (cowherdesses) around him. He fought against the exploitation right from his childhood and killed many demons like Kalayavan and Kansa. He is a cowherd (As he grew up with his foster parents, herdsman Nanda and his wife Yasoda), signifying the setteled agricultural (Civilized-men) phase of society. As a deliverer of Bhagavad gita, he also signifies higher order of thinking and marks the evolution of man to be a "supermen".


Kalkin (a man on a white horse): Yet to come, at the end of Kaliyuga or the present age. The tenth and last incarnation of Vishnu, who will come from the sky upon a white horse and wreak final destruction upon the wicked, renew creation and restore righteousness.In Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. As the Kalki avatara, he vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again.

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