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    1 Matsya2 Koorma3 Varaha4 Narasimha5 Vamana6 Parasurama7 Rama8 Balarama9 Krishna10 Kalki (Avathar yet to come)

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    Matsya avathar

    God's first incarnation was Matsya meaning: Fish.This goes well with the concepts of evolution when theearliest multi-cell living beings were aquatic.

    Once upon a time a demon called Hayagriva with the faceof a horse stole all the Vedas and sasthras from Brahma

    - the creator when there was the deluge.He took all those and hidthem deep in the sea. When Vishnu learnt about this he took theMatsya avathar - incarnation as a fish which in time grew in size.When the deluge ended Vishnu in the form of a huge fish like awhale killed Hayagriva and retrieved the scriptures and returnedthem to Brahma.

    The end of deluge also marked the end of night for Brahma andthe beginning of the day. Millions of years of our reckoning form aday and night for brahma and the Gods.

    When the Vedas were returned and with the beginning of the dayBrahma resumed his task of creation.Another reason given to explain why God incarnated in forms otherthan human. All creatures were created by the same compassionateGod. His descent into the earth should be the same for humansand sub-humans - other wise God becomes biased and parttial - anidea that is not accepted. This why God is shown as havingincarnated as aquatic creatures and animals as also humans. Thus itwas that Vishnu took the first avathar as 'Matsya' ie fish. This isthe reason why god is shown as half-fish and half-god in theillustrations of the 'dhasa-avathara'.

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    Koorma avathar

    God's second incarnation was Koormakoorma means turtle.

    God wished to create another creature one that could live inthe water and on the land.The turtle can live in the waterand land.So the turtle was his second creation in this world.

    This is the reason why god is shown as half-turtle and half-god.It iscalled koorma Avatharam(means his second incarnation was as turtle)

    Many years ago there was a war between the devas (gods) and thedaityas (demons) and the gods lost this war. They prayed to Vishnuto rescue them from the oppression of the demons. Vishnu toldBrahma and the other gods that they should have a temporary trucewith the demons. The two sides should get together to churn theocean.

    Vishnu would ensure that the devas benefited more from this

    churning of the ocean than the daityas did. The truce was agreedupon and the two sides got ready to churn the ocean. The mountainMandara was used as a churning rod and great sake Vasuki as therope for churning. The devas grasped Vasukis tail and the daityasgrasped Vasukis head. But as the churning began, the mountainMandara which had no base, started to get immersed in the ocean.What was to be done? Lord Vishnu came to the rescue. He adoptedthe form of a turtle and the peak was balanced on the turtles back.

    As the churning continued, terrible poison named kalkuta emergedfrom the depths of the ocean and was swallowed by Shiva. Shivasthroat became blue from this poison and he is therefore known asNilakantha, blue of throat. The goddess Varuni, the goddess of wine(sura), came out next. The gods readily accepted her and thus they

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    Varaha Avathar

    Vishnus next incarnation was in the form of a boar.

    GOD decided to create a creature that could live on theland alone. The boar lives on land only. This means in theorder of evolution land based animals evolved. It is calledVaraha Avatharam

    The mythological story behind this avathar is as follows:The sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha.became the king of the asuras. Hiranyakshas meditation pleasedBrahma and Brahma granted him the boon that he would beinvincible in battle. Thus armed. Hiranyaksha went out to fightwith the devas. He comprehensively defeated the gods andconquered heaven. He also defeated Varuna, the god of the ocean.Thus, Hiranyaksha became the king of the heaven, the earth andthe underworld. But the asura was not particularly fond of theearth. He himself had begun to live in Varunas palace under theocean. So he hurled the earth into the depths of the ocean. Thegods went to Vishnu and prayed that something might be doneabout Hiranyaksha. They wished to be restored to heaven and theywished that the earth might be brought back from the depths ofthe ocean. In response to these prayers, Vishnu adopted the formof a boar and entered the ocean. Who should he meet there but

    Hiranyaksha himself? Hiranyaksha of course did not know that thisboar was none other than Vishnu. He thought that it was anordinary boar and attacked it. The two fought for many years.But finally, Hiranyaksha was gored to death by the boars tusks.The boar raised the earth up once again with its tusks. Vishnuthus saved the gods and the principles of righteousness or dharma.

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    Narasimha Avathar

    The Lords fourth incarnation was Nara-simham

    This incarnation was demi-human- Half human and Halfanimal(lion). Nara means human simham means lion.There is an interesting story to explain how and why Godtook this incarnation.

    Once sage Doorwasa went to vishnu-lokha to worship Lord Vishnu.But the guards at the gate - Jayan and Vijayan didn't allow thesaint inside to see the lord. The sage got very angry and cast acurse that the two should leave the heavens and be born in theearth as rakshasa- cruel and violent human beings and went away.The two guards were very sad and worried. After thinking for along time they went inside and saw Lord Vishnu. They told himabout the curse cast by the sage Doorvasa. However even LordVishnu could not reverse the curse. The guards should not havestopped sage Doorvasa at the gate. Vishnu said You both shouldnot have stoped that sage and I can do nothing about the sage'scurse but I can give a new boon that is: you both can come backto me as my enemy after 3 births or you can come back to me asmy devotee after 30 births. Take your choice. They said 'O lordwe don't want 30 births. Please we want to come back to you soonin 3 births even though the three births would be as yourenemies'. Lord Vishnu agreed to this. So in that order their firstbirth was as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasibu brothers. Thesebrothers were very cruel. Hiranyakasibu was the worst of the two.Once he rolled the earth like a mat and went with it under thesea. God got angry and incarnated as a boar. He dived into thesea killed the devil and raised the world above the sea on hissnoot.

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    After his brothers death Hiranyaksibu became afraid for his life.He wanted long life and power. One day he got the idea to go tothe forest and do penance to get more life and also ward off anytrouble with any animal or the Gods. So Hiranyaksha went to theforest to do penance. After a severe and devoted penance for along time God appeared before him. He asked God for immortality.But God said no. He said all men when born have to die some tim eor the other and cannot live for ever. God said "ask somethingelse" Then Hiranyakasibu asked that he should not die either atthe hands of any human or killed by any animal - in the day or atnight. God gave him the boon asked for and disappeared.

    Even though his wife was pregnant Hiranya-kasibu went to theforest to do penance.In the meantime Indra thought "IfHiranyakasibu gets the boon that he wants then we will all be indeep trouble. Hence I should kidnap his wife and keep her in jail".So when he returned after kidnaping Hiranyakasibu's wife Naradhathe sage came and stoped him. Naradha told Indra "you should notdo this kind of coward acts. Hiranya-kasibu is definitely going to

    get the boon and nobody can stop him. leave the lady with me andgo to your 'lokha'. Indra left that lady with Sage Naradha andwent off. Naradha took that lady to his abode and told her goodmoral stories.She would listen to him but sleep off. At that timethe Sage would start to tell the stories of God Vishnu and alsoPrayers to God Narayana. The child in the womb of the ladylistened to all the stories about Narayana and also the prayers.These got embedded firmly in the mind of the child-to-be born.

    The child when born was named Prahalada and he grew up as anardent devotee of Lord narayana.

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    Hiranya-kasibu had ordered all his subjects and all around him topray to himself and not to any god.Hence was much annoyed bythe devotion of his son to lord Narayana whom to God Narayanawhom he considered as his enemy.

    Prahalada was ill-treated and tortured to forget god Narayana butcould not get him to forget the Lord. Rakshasa Hiranya- kasibulost all his patience and one day in irritation asked prahalatha "Okmy boy where is that god Narayana ? Can you show me"? "yes"said Prahalada.He is everywhere and anywhere. The Rakshasaasked his son " pointing to a pillar "is he in this pillar ?" "yes he isin this pillar" said the son. Immediately the rakshasa took his hugeclub and hit the pillar. The pillar broke in to two pieces and fromit appeared Narasimha neither a human nor an animal ie (half manand half lion) and took the Rakshasa on his lap and killed him withhis claws. Thus came to end the evil called Hiranya-kasibu. Godtook Narasimha avathar only to kill evil.

    This was Lord's fifth incarnation to show people they should bedevoted to the God.

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    Vamana was his fifth incarnation

    Vamana means a DwarfThere is an interesting story behind this avatharam.Emperor Mahaballi ruled over the Pathala-loka. Instead ofbeing confined to his-loka he captured the other lokas andwas ruling over them. The Gods and others from other

    lokas Implored to God to put Mahabali in his place.

    Once Mahabali was performaing a big "yaga"( offering things in thesacrificial fire) and at the end of the yaga was giving away goldand other things in charity. Whoever went to the palace on thatday could ask whatever they wished and the king would certainlyoblige them.

    God seized this opportunity and came to Mahabali's palace as adwarf-mendicant. The dwarf asked the King for just 3 foot-measure of land for himself. The king was perplexed and wondering

    why the dwarf was asking for only a 3 foot-measure of land whenhe could ask for acres and acres of land.

    However the king agred and asked the dwarf the measure the landwith his feet. ho! God assumed gigantic proportions his headreaching up to the sky - the highest world above and his feetdown at Pathala-loka the lowest of the worlds below the earth.God took one step and that covered all the worlds above the

    second step covered all the worlds below and there was no placeleft for his third foot measure. God asked king " Mahabali , Ihave taken two steps and have covered all the lokas tell me whereto keep my foot for the third foot-measure."

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    Mahabali realising that the dwarf was no other than God himselfBowed before the dwarf and said " Please my lord you may keepyour foot over my head as the third measure." Accordingly God puthis foot on Mahabali's head and pressed hard to push the King to'Pathala'loka' and told him "O king! this is where you belong andyou should confine your self to this loka only." Mahabali realisedhis folly and ruled long over Pathala-loka.

    This is to show the people that they should live in their own placesand should not be so greedy to occupy the other lands.

    This was the Lord's fourth incarnation - as a dwarf.


    Parasurama was the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu

    Parasurama was the fourth son of sage Jamadhagni andVasugi. The sage was a highly learned person and used toteach vedas and sasthras to a number of desciples. Thosedays young princes and children of humble parents used tostay together without any distinction with the master.

    Parasurama was one of the disciples and was extremely obedient tohis father besides being a very diligent student. He learnt all thesasthras taught by his father in earnestness.

    Vasugi sage jamadhagni's wife was very devoted to her husband andher children and looked after all the students with kindness andgreat care. Everday she used to go to the river closed by veryearly in the morning to bathe. After taking bath she would make an

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    earthern pot and fetch water for the family.

    One day as she was making the pot a 'gandharva' ( celestial beings)passed over-head in the sky. She saw the reflection of thegandharva in the river water and was struck by the handsomefeatures just for a moment. That wavering of the mind wasconsidered being untrue to her husband. As a result that dayhowever much she tried she could not make the pot. It broke everytime she shaped it. Vasugi was unnerved by this and was afraid togo home. Sage Jamadhagni sensed this through his mental powersand became incensed that his wife admired the beauty of some oneother than her husband. Wanting to punish her he orderedParasurama to behead his mother. Being an obedient son heimmediately carried out his father's order.

    However Parasurama was overcome with great grief and also feltvery angry towards his father. He developed a cruel nature thoughhe remained a sage all his life.

    Sri Rama Avathar

    Rama avathar is called Dharma Avathar.He not onlyovercame 'adharma' (evil forces) but also taught mankindhow to lead a perfect life of truthfulness, kindness,

    obeisance to parents etc.

    Now we will go to the story.In the north of the Ganga was the great kingdom called Kosala. Itscapital was Ayodhya. King Dasartha ruled over the Kingdom. The

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    along with sita in the field that person would be chosen to marrySita.

    Viswamithra took Rama and Lakshmana to the 'swayamvara' wherethey were received with the respect due to the princes.A number of princes tried their and in bending the bow but theycould not even lift it. However Rama effortlessly lifted the bow andbroke into two to the amazement of all present and the delight ofsita who was watching the proceedings from a balcony above the hall.Rama married sita with great pomp and pageantry and went back toAyodhya with his bride and Lakshman and Viswamithra.

    When it was time king Dasaratha wanted to crown Rama as the kingand retire to the forest to devote his time to penance renouncing allpleasures of life. Called 'vana-prastha-asram this is considered thelast stage in a man's life.

    Kaikeyi the third wife of dasaratha and a step-mother to Ramahowever wanted her son Bharatha to be crowned the king

    Long time earlier Kaikeyi saved the life of King dasaratha when hischariot over turned. Pleased King Dasaratha Promised kaikeyi twofavours she would ask for. She however did not ask for anything atthat time but said that she would make her wish known at theappropriate time later.

    Now she invoked the promise that King dasaratha had made andasked that Bharatha be crowned the King instead of Rama. Her

    second wish was that Rama should be banished to the forest and livethere for 14 years as an ascetic before returning to the kingdom.King dasaratha was distressed in the extreme as he had a softcorner for Rama as his eldest son. But he was cornered.

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    When Rama heard about his step mother's wishes he voluntarilysteped down in favour of Bharatha and also agreed to go to theforest for 14 years.King dasaratha was saved the unhappy task oftelling Rama to do these. But he was very sad at the thought ofRama going to the forest and died broken hearted.

    Rama was not shown the remains of his father but was hustled intogoing to the forest. Lakshmana his brother and sita his wife insistedon going with him and reluctantly Rama agreed. So the trio set forthon their 'vana-vasam' (residence in the forest).

    Bharatha the son of kaikeyi was however not happy to reign over thekingdom as his mother wanted him to but went into the forest insearch of Rama to persuade him to return to ayodhya take thecrown.When Bharata did meet his brother Rama would not agree toreturn to the kingdom but insisted that his step-mother's wishesshould be fulfilled. So Bharata took the pair of Rama's woodenslippers with him to Ayodhya, kept those on the throne and ruled asthe Vice-roy of Rama.

    Rama set up an 'ashram' in the forest and settled down there withhis brother and wife.One day Rama went for a hunt and leftLakshmana behind as a guard for Sita.

    The present day Srilanka was then ruled by the ten-headed demonking Ravana. He was an ardent devotee of lord Shiva and had thedistinction of having sung the whole of 'Rig veda' in songs. Heattained great prowess doing penance to Lord shiva became power-

    drunk and mis-ruled over his kingdom leading a life of laxity.

    Once Ravana's sister Soorpanagai was wandering around in the forestand ran into Rama and Lakshmana and was struck by the handsomefeatures of the princes. She went up to Rama and spoke to him coylyto entice him but Rama was so much devoted to Sita that he would

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    not countanence any other women in his life. He chasticed her anddrove her away. She next went to Lakshmana with similar intentions.But Lakshmana did not like her obsene manners and to spite her hecut off her nose with his sword. Soorpanaga vowed to take revengeon both the brothers She ran to her brother Ravana and mis-represented her encounter with Rama and Lakshmana. She also toldhim about the rare beauty of Sita and kindled his desire to possessSita.

    So he took the form of a deer and went near the ashram. Sita wasso struck by the beauty of the animal and wanted to keep it in theashram. She asked Rama to bring the deer to her. Rama went afterthe animal which was running fast taking Rama away from theashram. At one point the deer gave out a cry "hey Lakshmana"mimicrying the voice of Rama.

    Sita was panic stricken and thought Rama was in deep trouble andasked Lakshmana to immediately go and see what was wrong.Lakshmana protested that his job was to guard Sita and nothingwould have happened to valorous Rama. On Sita's insistenceLakshmana left the ashram to look for Rama. All the while Ravanawas watching and when Lakshmana was out of sight pounced upon Sitaand carried her away in his sky-chariot to Lanka as his kingdom wascalled.

    Rama was disconsolate when he returned and found sita missing. Heupbraided Lakshmana for leaving sita un-guarded. On regainingcomposure they both set forth in search of sita. On their way theysaw the wounded jatayu the eagle who told them that he saw Ravanathe King of Lanka carrying away Sita south-ward. Jatayu waswounded by Ravana when he tried to rescue sita.

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    Balram Avathar

    While all avathars are incarnations of Lord Vishnu it is

    Adisesha the five hooded of snake on which Mahavishnureclines in his 'yoganidhra' that incarnates as Balarama.

    Balarama was born to Vasudeva and his first wife Rohini. Thus hebecomes the elder brother of Lord Krishna.

    There is not much significance in this avathar. From theevolutionary angle this avathar marks the period when humansstarted a settled way of life taking to agriculture- Balarama ispictured as carrying a plough on his shoulders.

    Being a contemporary of Krishna the spot light is more on Krishnathan on Balarama.

    Sri Krishna Avathar

    Sri Krishna avathar is compleately Divine.In this avathar Lord Krishna gave Bhagavat Gita to mankind- a compilation that is a religious classic with profoundphylosophical thoughts. Gita has taught many things tomankind - to lead a life of love, affection,devotion,duty toparents,duty to country etc.

    God Sri Krishna says he liberates mankind from their sins when theycompletely surrender to him and helps them attain perfection. Healso says in Gita "abandoning all rites and duties take refuge in mealone. Do not grieve for I shall librate you from all sins.

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    Kamsa the king of Madhurapuri was a cruel ruler.Heimprisoned his father and took over the reign.

    He got his sister Devaki whom he loved very muchmarried to Vasudeva and was bringing them home when

    Yogamaya appeared in the sky and warned Kamsa thatthe eighth child of Devaki born with the astrologoical star "Rohini"would kill him.

    Immediately kamsa was very restless and consulted his friendJarasanda and according to his advice imrpisoned both Devaki and

    Vasudeva. When ever devaki gave birth to a child he wouldimmediately kill the baby. Devaki and Vasudeva were very sad andprayed to God Vishnu. The God appeared before them and said "Iwill be born as your 8th child and I will kill Kamsa Do not worry andhave peace of mind." So saying God disappeared.

    Aside to the story of Krishna avathar: In the mean time Sri vishnuordered Aadhi-sesha his five-hooded snake to go into Devaki's

    womb to be the seveth child. But He said this child would in time betransfered to the womb of Rohini the first wife of Vasudeva and

    would be born as Balarama - another avathar of theGod.God again ordained that Yokamaya Shakthi would be bornas a girl child to Yasoda a lady in the yadava clan inGokulam at the same time when Sri vishnu would be bornas Lord Krishna to Devaki. When Devaki gave birth to

    Lord Krishna God ordered Vasudeva to take the baby toGokulam leave it with Yasoda and bring the female child born to

    Yasoda to the prison to be with Devaki.

    By Gods will the jail gates unlocked by themselves, the guards fell

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    asleep to facilitate Vasudeva to take the child to Gakulam asdivinely ordained. Further the river Yamuna which was in spateparted to open a path for vasudeva to pass with the child on hishead. It was raining also. By Gods instruction a five-hooded snakeopened its hood like an umbralla over the child to protect it fromthe rain. He reached to gokulam and exchanged the children and hecame back to the jail with Yogamaya born as a female child. Thedoors closed and locked itself automatically. All the gaurds woke upfrom deep slumber.

    As soon as he left the child with devaki Immediatly the child began

    to cry. The guards immediately informed to Kamsa that a child wasborn to Devaki. Kamsa immediately went to the jail and wassurprised and confused to find that the eighth child was a baby girl.However he snached the baby and dashed it head against the jailwall. The baby rose up and appeared as Devi Yokamaya and said "Homerciless king why are you trying to kill me ? The one to kill you isalready born and is growing up somewere. You cannot escape fromdeath." saying this Yogamaya disappeared.Kamsa was stunned and

    went to his palace a worried person. He felt very restless.

    In the mean time grand celebrations were going on in Gokulam overthe birth of Sri Krishna.

    Kamsa heard about this and sent his men to Gokulam to find out howmany children were born with Rohini as their zodiac star. They wentto Gokulam and found that 25 such children were born and informedKamsa accordingly.They also told him that grand celebrations weregoing on in one Nandan's house

    Kamsa somehow felt very uncomfortable about the birth of Krishnato Nandan and Yasoda and tried various means to kill the child but

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    did not succeed. In time Lord Krishna killed the cruel king.

    Nandan sent young Krishna to a hermit for 'gurukula-vasam' for hisformal education. Krishna learnt all the sasthras and all the arts.On finishing his education he shifted to Dwaraka from Madhura. Hedistroyed all the evil forces and and established Dharma.

    Krishna helped the 'Pancha-pandavas' the five brothers among whomArjuna was Krishna's very close friend.He helped them win the warwith 'Kowrawas' - the evil 100.During the war between the'Kowravas" and the 'Pandavas' Lord Krishna gave the message of SriBhagvat Gita to Arjuna and to the world.

    The essance of Gita:The Bhagavad-Gita describes to us how the aspirant to the heavensavoids bodily excesses and indulgence and practices abstinence. Hegoes to a quiet place, regulates his breathing focuses his mind onone point and becomes harmonized with God and detaced from all

    desire for the fruit of action. When one attains this unity of mindhe arrives at a perfect understanding with his fellow beings through

    sympathy and love.

    He is the supreme lord of spiritual experience who conveysthose moments of celestial glory when man gets beyond theveil of the flesh and also indicates their true relation tothe problems of daily existence.

    As a rule these qualities should be associated with Bhakti,love, dovotion, mercy and tenderness,

    Krishna's exhortation in Gita is enshrined in millions of hearts asthe words of God. It is acknowledged by all as one of the supremetreasures of human literature. Its gospel of devotion to duty

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    without attachment or desire for reward, has shown the way of lifefor all human rich or poor learned or ignorant - those who seek lightin the darkness of the problems of life.

    Kalki bhagavan

    (Avathar yet to come)

    paritranaya saadunaam vinashayasa dushkrudham dharma samsthaba narthaya sambavami yuge yuge

    (meaning)Whenever evil over-takes the good and the world is sinking withsins at that time I will come to annihilate the evil and establishrighteousness.

    quote byLord Sri Krishna from Bhagavat Geeta