Vishnu - Avatars


Main article: Avatar See also: Dashavatara

Ten avatars (dashavatara) of Vishnu are the most prominent:

  1. Matsya, the fish that kills Damanaka to save the vedas and saves mankind.
  2. Kurma, the turtle that helps the Devas and Asuras churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality.
  3. Varaha, the boar that rescues the Earth and kills Hiranyaksha
  4. Narasimha, the half-lion half human, who defeats the demon Hiranyakashapu -nara(man), simha (lion).
  5. Vamana, the dwarf that grows into a giant to save the world from King Bali.
  6. Parashurama, "Rama of the battle axe", a sage who appeared in the Treta Yuga. He killed Kartavirya Arjuna's army and clan and then killed all the ksatriyas 21 times.
  7. Rama, Sri Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya who killed Demon King Raavana.
  8. Balarama, The elder brother of Krishna and considered the eighth avatar of Vishnu in puranic texts (also depicted in most ancient paintings / murals as shown on the painting on the right from the Victoria and Albert Museum. In some modern interpretations however Krishna is considered the eight avatar and the Buddha the ninth.
  9. Krishna, the ninth Avatar of Vishnu and associated with the Dwapara Yuga.
  10. Kalki, the tenth avatar of Vishnu and said to be the harbinger of the end of Kali Yuga. This is the only avatar of Vishnu that is yet to manifest itself.

Some versions of the above list include Hayagriva among the Dashavataras. Another 22 avatars are given in Chapter 3, Canto 1 of the Bhagavata Purana, although it states that "the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water".

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