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AVATĀRA(अवतार)

  • (Incarnation). The incarnations of Mahāviṣṇu:-
    - 1) General information.
    God takes three kinds of incarnations such as avatāra, āveśa and aṁśa. That which has full power is avatāra; that which has power only for the time being is āveśa and partial incarnation in aṁśāvatāra. The incarnations of Viṣṇu are countless. Hermits, Manus, Devas (gods) and sons of Manus are incarnations in part (aṁśāvatāras) of Viṣṇu. Complete avatāras are ten in numbers of which Balabhadra Rāma is not considered as an avatāra by some. Instead of him they place Buddha. b) Reason for the incarnations. Mahāviṣṇu has taken so many incarnations in the world. In the )Śrī Mahādevī Bhāgavata) a story occurs to the effect that Mahāviṣṇu was forced to take so large a number of incarnations due to the curse of the great hermit Bhṛgu. The story is as follows: Kaśyapa had a son named Kaśipu. He was daring and brave and ruled the country as an enemy of the Gods. There arose a severe battle between the gods and the Asuras. Kaśipu was killed in that battle. After Kaśipu his son Prahlāda became King. He too was an enemy of the Gods. So there was a battle between Indra and Prahlāda. The battle continued for a hundred years. At last Prahlāda was defeated. He felt very sorry at the defeat. So he anointed Bali, son of Virocana, as King and leaving the Kingdom he went to the Gandhamādana and began to do penance. The fight continued between Bali and Indra. In this fight Mahāviṣṇu helped Indra. The Asuras were completely destroyed. The defeated Asuras went to their teacher Śukra who promised to protect them by spells and incantations and herbs. The Gods knew that Śukra had undertaken to protect the asuras. Leaving the asuras behind, Śukra went to Kailāsa to get more power of spells and incantations from Śiva. Before going to Kailāsa Śukra had asked the Asuras to wait for him with faith. After this the Asuras sent Prahlāda to the Gods for a truce. Prahlāda, though an Asura was in good favour with the Gods. He reached the court of Indra and said, “Gods, we have no desire at all for war. We have decided to spend the remaining period in penance wearing barks of trees and tufts of hair. How wicked a deed is battle and how delightful it is to become a devotee of God! So hereafter you will not be troubled by us. Likewise I hope you will not do us innocent people any harm.” The gods believed Prahlāda. The Asuras, in the guise of hermits waited for Śukra in the hermitage of Kaśyapa. Śukra reached Kailāsa and bowed before Śiva and requested that he might be given the power of defeating the Gods by some means quite unknown to Bṛhaspati the teacher of the devas (Gods). Śiva was in trouble. He could refuse neither Śukra nor the Gods. At last he told hermit Śukra that to come by such a spell he had to stand head downwards, inhaling smoke for a thousand years. Śiva said so thinking that when the dreadful nature of the feat was considered, Śukra might desist from the attempt. But Śukra began that penance instantly. The Gods understood everything. The deceit of the Asuras, the crookedness of Śukra all were now clear to them. They trembled with fear and began to consult how to get over the difficult situation. Finally they decided to go to war with the Asuras. The gods did accordingly. The Asuras were in trouble. They were not strong enough to face the Gods. So they all went to Kāvyamātā, the mother of Śukra. The devas (gods) with Mahāviṣṇu at their head chased the Asuras. Kāvyamātā, by the merits of her devotional meditation petrified Mahāviṣṇu and Indra. Mahāviṣṇu thought of his Sudarśana (wheel-weapon of Viṣṇu) which instantly made its appearance and cut off the head of Kāvyamātā. The great hermit Bhṛgu got angry because Mahāviṣṇu committed woman-slaughter, and cursed him thus: “You are a crooked being, a viper, a deceit. The hermits who adore you as the seat of all that is good are mere fools; you are wicked, of a black character, and I curse you to take countless incarnations in the world, and painful confinement by and by because of your sins.” [Śrī Mahādevī Bhāgavata, 4th Skandha]. Thus having cursed Viṣṇu, the hermit Bhṛgu took some water from his water-pot and sprinkled it on the face of Kāvyamātā, who woke up as if from sleep. (For the remaining portion of the story see Śukra).
    2) Daśāvatāras. (The ten Incarnations).
    Owing to the curse of Bhṛgu, mentioned above, Mahāviṣṇu had to undertake so many incarnations, complete as well as partial. Complete incarnations are ten in number. They are called Daśāvatāras (The Ten Incarnations). Matsyaḥ Kūrmo Varāhaśca Narasiṁhaśca Vāmanaḥ / Rāmo Rāmaśca Rāmaśca Kṛṣṇaḥ Kalkir janārdanaḥ // Matsya (Fish), Kūrma (Turtle), Varāha (Pig), Narasiṁha (Lion-man), Vāmana (Dwarf), Rāma (Paraśurāma), Rāma (Śrī Rāma), Rāma (Balabhadrarāma), Kṛṣṇa (Śrī Kṛṣṇa), Kalki (Yet to come). These are the ten incarnations of Janārdana. The daśāvatāras. are described one by one below.
    1) Matsyāvatāra. (Fish Incarnation).
    To Kaśyapa, the son of Marīci, and the grandson of Brahmā a son was born, by his wife Aditi. He was called Vivasvān and the Manu who was the son of Vivasvān is known as Vaivasvata Manu or Satyavrata Manu. It was during the time of this Manu that Viṣṇu incarnated as a Matsya (fish). Once, while Brahmā was reciting the Vedas (the Scriptures) Hayagrīva, an asura, stole the Vedas from the side of Brahmā and with them he went under water to the bottom of the ocean and hid himself there. So Mahāviṣṇu decided to take the form of a fish to recover the stolen Vedas. Vaivasvata Manu, the first and foremost of the godfearing, was once doing penance in a place known as Badarī. He got down into the river Kṛtamālā to take a bath. Then a small fish said to the Manu: “Oh King, I am afraid of large fishes. So please don't forsake me”. Hear- ing this the Kind Manu took the fish in his hand and put it in an earthenware pot and brought it up. In a few days the fish began to grow. When the pot became insufficient the King put it in a larger pot. When that also became too small, the King put the fish in a pond. When the pond could not hold the fish any longer the King put it in the Ganges at its request. After a few days the Ganges also became too small for the fish. Finally the fish told the King: “Oh, King, within seven days there will be a great flood in the world. You should make a boat and take the seven hermit-sages with you in the boat and escape. I will help you.” Hearing this he got an immensely large boat ready and obeyed the instructions of the fish. Within seven days rain started in torrents. Everything in the world, the moving and the not moving, were under the flood. A horn began to sprout from the head of the fish. Manu tied his boat on that horn. The fish reached the summit of the Himālayas with the boat, which was tied to the highest peak. Since the peak came to be called ‘Naubandhana Śṛṅga’ (The peak to which boat is tied). The rain ceased to pour. It was seen that everything in the world had been destroyed except the Manu and the seven hermit-sages and some of the germs, saved in the boat. (This story occurs in the great Hindi work ‘Kāmāyanī’ of Jayaśaṅkar Prasād). [M.B., Araṇya Parva, Chapter 187];[ Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 2];[ Bhāgavata 8th Skandha, Chapter 24]. This story of the incarnation of Viṣṇu as fish is seen in the Bible figuratively. “In the order of the generations of Adam, the first creation of God, Śeth, Enos; Kainān, Mahalīl, Jāred, Enoch, Methūselah, Lamech and Noah were born. When Noah was five hundred years old he begot Shem, Ham and Japheth. There was a great flood during the time of Noah. God said to him: “The end of all flesh is come before one; for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark and shalt paint it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of. The length of the ark should be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark and in a cubit shall thou finish it above and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof, with lower, second and third stories shalt thou make it. And behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of water up on the earth. to destroy all flesh wherein is the breadth of life from under heaven and everything that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant, and thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons and thy wife and thy sons' wives with thee, and of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort, shalt thou bring into the ark to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after their kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten and thou shalt gather it to thee, and it shall be for food for thee and for them.” Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded him, so did he. And the Lord said unto Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee Have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens the male and his female and of beasts that are not clean by two the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens the male and the female to keep seed alive up on the face of all the earth. For yet seven days and I will cause it to rain up on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the earth.” And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was up on the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts and of beasts that are not clean and of fowls and of everything that creepeth upon the earth. There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark the male and the female as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life in the second month on the seventeenth day of the month the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened and the rain was up on the earth for forty days and forty nights. In the self-same day entered Noah and Shem, and Ham and japheth the sons of Noah and Noah's wife and the wives of the sons with them into the ark. They and every beast after his kind and all the cattle after their kind and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth and every fowl after his earth after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh wherein is the breadth of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh as God had commanded him and the Lord shut him in. And the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased and bore up the ark and it was lifted up above the earth. And the waters prevailed and were increased greatly upon the earth and the ark went up on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail and the mountains were covered. And all the flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle and of beast and of every creeping thing that creepeth up on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breadth of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was up on the face of the ground both man and cattle and the creeping things and the fowl of the heaven, and they were destroyed from the earth. And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth for hundred and fifty days. And God remembered Noah and every living thing and all the cattle that was with him in the ark and God made a wind to pass over the earth and the waters became calm. The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters returned from off the earth continually and after the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month upon the mountains of Arārat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month on the first day of the month were the tops of the mountains seen. And it came to pass at the end of forty days that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. And he sent forth a raven which went forth to and fro until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground. But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot and she returned unto him into the ark for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. Then Noah put forth his hand and took her and pulled her to the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days. And again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came in to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days and sent forth the dove, which returned not again unto him anymore. And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year in the first month, the first day of the month the waters were dried up from off the earth and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked and beheld the face of the ground was dry. And in the second month on the seven and twentieth day of the month was the earth dried. And God spake unto Noah saying: “Go forth of the ark, thou and thy wife, and thy sons and thy sons' wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh both of fowl and of cattle and of every creeping thing that creepeth up on the earth, that they may breed abundantly in the earth and be fruitful and multiply up on the earth. And Noah went forth and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing and every fowl and whatsoever creep up on the earth after their kinds went forth out of the ark. And Noah built an altar unto the Lord and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelt a sweet savour and the Lord said in his heart: “I will not again curse the ground anymore for man's sake. For the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I again smite anymore every thing as I have done. While the earth remaineth seed time and harvest and cold and heat and summer and winter and day and night shall not cease. (Holy Bible, Genesis, Chapters 6, 7 and 8).
    2) Kūrmāvatāra. (Incarnation as a tortoise).
    Long ago when Durvāsas visited the realm of Gods he presented Devendra with a garland made of flowers of exquisite fragrance. Indra tied it on to the tusk of Airāvata (the elephant of Indra). When the beetles which gathered on the garland for honey became a nuisance, Airāvata destroyed that garland. Durvāsas who got angry at this cursed the gods as a whole that they would get wrinkles and grey hair. The gods were advised by Mahāviṣṇu that if they got Ambrosia (Amṛta--celestial honey) from the sea of Milk by churning it they could escape from this. Accordingly the Gods called the asuras for help, and they approached the sea of Milk. They made use of the Mountain of Mandara as churndrill and the huge snake Vāsuki as churning rope, and the churning commenced. The gods took hold of the tail of the snake and as the churning was proceeding the churn-drill, the mountain of Mandara, having no fixation at the bottom sank down. Then Mahāviṣṇu took the form of a turtle, and got under the Mandara mountain and lifted it up on his back. By the force of lifting it went higher and higher up. Then Mahāviṣṇu took the form of an eagle and sat on the top of the mountain and it came down a little and placed itself in the right position. [Bhāgavata, Skandha 8, Chapter 7];[ Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 3];[ Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa, Sarga 45].
    3) Varāhāvatāra. (Incarnation as a Pig).
    Jaya and Vijaya were the two watchers who stood at the gate of Mahāviṣṇu. Once the great hermit-sages Sanaka and others reached Vaikuṇṭha to visit Mahāviṣṇu. Then Jaya and Vijaya treated the hermits without respect. The hermits cursed them that they would become Dānavas (Asuras or giants). They also said that when they were slain thrice by Mahāviṣṇu they would reach heaven. At that period when hermit Kaśyapa was carrying on his evening prayer and devotional rites, his wife Diti approached him with lustful desire. Kaśyapa told her that as he was engaged in prayer and meditation it was not proper on her part to select that particular moment for her lustful desire. But she persisted and the sage yielded and out of that union two sons were born. They are the two asuras Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu. Of these Hiraṇyākṣa was the incarnation of Jaya and Hiraṇyakaśipu that of Vijaya. With the birth of these two the whole world began to tremble. These two asura brothers began to terrorize the world. They wandered about causing destruction and devastation wherever they went. Once Hiraṇyākṣa got down into the ocean and began to beat the waves in the ocean with his cudgel. The ocean began to sway and surge. Varuṇa (the Lord of water) was terrified and he ran to Mahāviṣṇu and sought protection. Mahāviṣṇu took the form of a Pig and came to the ocean. When Hiraṇyākṣa saw Mahāviṣṇu he took the earth in his hand and ran to Pātāla (the nether world). Mahāviṣṇu followed him and killed him and recovered the earth. [Bhāgavata, Skandha 3, Chapter 18];[ Bhāgavata, Skandha 2, Chapter 7 ];[ Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 4].
    4) Narasiṁhāvatāra. (Incarnation as lion-man).
    With the death of Hiraṇyākṣa, his brother Hiraṇyakaśipu became furious more than ever. He wanted to avenge the death of his brother. His fury was turned towards Mahāviṣṇu. So he got on the top of the Mountain of Mandara and did penance before Brahmā and Brahmā appeared and granted him boons, one of which was that nobody but Viṣṇu should be able to kill him. He returned with gladness and began to roam about torturing devotees of Viṣṇu everywhere. A son named Prahlāda was born to him. He was a godfearing child and from birth an ardent believer in Viṣṇu. Hiraṇyakaśipu tried his utmost to change his son to a hater of Viṣṇu. He got a special teacher for the purpose and Prahlāda was taken to the house of the teacher to live with him until he changed his mind. The result was that the teacher and all others who advised him ultimately became believers in Viṣṇu. Anger overpowered Hiraṇyakaśipu. Prahlāda was thrown before mad elephants. But the tusks of the elephant missed the aim and were driven into the earth and broken. Venomous snakes were employed and those which bit him had their fangs broken. Finally the child was put in blazing fire. But the child felt the fire to be cool and soothing. From that fire a ghost arose and tried to kill Prahlāda. Instantly the Sudarśana, the wheel-weapon of Viṣṇu came down and cut off the head of the ghost. Hiraṇyakaśipu jumped with anger and called out. “Where is your Viṣṇu?” His son replied that his Viṣṇu dwelt in every movable and immovable thing. Hiraṇyakaśipu kicked at a stone pillar close by and asked him, “Is your Viṣṇu in this pillar?” Prahlāda replied, “My Viṣṇu is in Pillar and in fibre”. Before he had finished, the Pillar broke open and a monster as horrible as the Destroyer Śiva, in the shape of a lion-man made its appearance. “Mīmāṁsamānasya samuthito 'grato Nṛsiṁharūpastadalaṁ bhayānakaṁ Prataptacāmīkaracaṇḍalocanaṁ Sphuratsaṭākesarajṛmbhitānanaṁ Karāladaṁṣṭraṁ Karavālacañcala- Kṣurāntajihvaṁ bhrukuṭimukholbaṇaṁ Stabdhordhvakarṇam girikandarādbhutavyāttāsyanāsaṁhanubhedabhīṣaṇaṁ Divispṛśatkāyamadīrghapīvara- Grīvoruvakṣaḥsthalamalpamadhyamaṁ Candrāṁśugauraiśchuritaṁ tanūruhaiṛviṣvagbhujānīkaśataṁ nakhāyudham.” “Before him who was waiting with curiosity to see what would happen, with eyes blazing as molten gold, mouth wide open in the middle of long bushy mane, tusks long and curved and protruding fearfully, tongue swaying like a sword, eyebrows fierce looking, ears standing erect and still, two nostrils as wide and deep as mountain canyons, jaws prominent and thick and broad and set with fierceness, colossal body reaching the sky, neck very thick and fat and short, breast excessively broad and strong, waist very small and narrow, body thickly covered with bushy hair exuberantly grown and as yellow as the light of the moon, a number of claws very sharp and pointed, the horrid monster Narasiṁha (Lion with human head) suddenly appeared. [Bhāgavata, Skandha 7, Chapter 8, Stanzas 20-22]. This was the figure of Narasiṁha. Mr. S. Paramesvara Iyer, Ulloor, has described this figure in his “Bhaktidīpikā” as follows: “Glaring eyes burning as blazing cinder, tongue as a dagger just used in piercing to death, neck with folds, eyebrows looking mad, tusks like young moon, fierce face with bushy mane grown to it, hair long and sharp like pointed wire, claws looking like having drunk blood, body shining as if countless suns had risen together, all combined as if the fire of anger burning inside had incarnated, in the shape of a lion up to neck and human shape beyond the neck.” (Bhaktidīpikā) The horrid monster caught hold of Hiraṇyakaśipu the King of the Asuras, pushed him to the ground and opened his heart with its fierce claws. Blood sprouted like a spring. With great ferocity he pulled out the intestines of Hiraṇyakaśipu and wore them round his neck as a garland and roared loudly. Prahlāda, with songs of praise and chanting of hymns of adoration pacified the stormy Narasiṁha and bowed low down before him. The Narasiṁha was pleased with the devotion of Prahlāda. He blessed the child and then disappeared. [Bhāgavata, Skandha 7, Chapter 8].
    5) Vāmanāvatāra. (Incarnation as a Dwarf).
    It was to expel the Emperor Mahābali, that Mahāviṣṇu incarnated as a dwarf. To Kaśyapa, the son of Marīci and the grandson of Brahmā, was born of Diti, Hiraṇyakaśipu. And from Prahlāda the son of Hiraṇyakaśipu was born Virocana and Bali was the son of Virocana. Bali got the name Mahābali because of his prowess. He was the emperor of the Asuras. A fierce battle began over the Ambrosia got from churning the sea of Milk, between the Asuras and the gods. In the battle Indra cut Mahābali down with his Vajrāyudha. The Asuras took the body of Mahābali to Pātāla (the nether world) where their teacher Śukra brought him to life again. Then Mahābali worshipped the Bhārgavas and became more powerful than before and went to heaven again and renewed the battle. This time he defeated the Gods altogether and subjugated the realm of the Gods who were scattered to all sides. The devas or gods are the sons of Kaśyapa born by his wife, Aditi. She felt very sorry at the defeat of the gods. Seeing that she was silent and sad Kaśyapa asked her the reason. She replied that she was thinking of ways to enable the gods to recover their lost power and position. Kaśyapa advised her to please Mahāviṣṇu by observing Dvādaśī vrata (fast of the twelfth lunar night). Aditi did so and Viṣṇu appeared before her and asked her what she desired. Her request was that Viṣṇu should take birth in her womb and recover Indra to his lost power and position. Thus Viṣṇu took birth as the younger brother of Indra in the shape of Vāmana (dwarf.) At this time Emperor Mahābali was celebrating a sacrifice on the bank of the River Narmadā after having subjugated the whole of the world. A large number of hermits gathered there. Vāmana also was among them. He requested Mahābali to grant him three feet of ground as alms. The teacher Śukra warned Mahābali against granting the request. But the emperor granted the request and asked Vāmana to measure the ground. Vāmana immediately enlarged his body and measured the heaven, the earth and the Pātāla (the upper realm, the earth and the lower realm) in two steps and asked for place for the third step. The honest Mahābali showed his head and requested to complete the three steps. Vāmana put his step on the head of Mahābali and pushed him down to Pātāla. Thus the gods regained their lost places. [Bhāgavata, Skandha 8, Chapter 19]. A description that by the toe of Vāmanas' raised foot (raised for measuring the third step) the testicle of Brahmā was cut open where from the Ganges originated, is seen in the [Bhāgavata, Skandha 5]. When Viśvāmitra took Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa to the forest they entered a holy hermitage and Viśvāmitra told the boys that it was the hermitage where Aditi, long ago had observed dvādaśī fast. It was in that same place that Vāmana incarnated and placed his step on the head of Mahābali. “The bright Mādhava took birth in Aditi as Vāmana and went to Mahābali, requested for three feet of ground and brought under control the three worlds for the good of all. By binding Bali by might, he gave to Indra the three worlds and this hermitage is the place where He once placed his steps. I am a devotee of that Vāmana.” [Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Sarga 29].
    6) Paraśurāmāvatāra. (Incarnation as Paraśurāma).
    Once Kārttavīryārjuna pleased the hermit-sage Dattātreya the son of Atri, by doing penance and got the boon of one thousand hands. One day he went to the forest for hunting and entered the bank of Narmadā. The hermit Jamadagni had been living there with his wife Reṇukā and sons Paraśurāma and others. The King being tired of hunting got into the hermitage. Paraśurāma was not there. The hermit called his divine cow Kāmadhenu, which provided the King and his followers with a very good supper. When the King departed he asked for the wonderful cow. The hermit did not consent. The King caught hold of the cow by force and went to his city. Paraśurāma went to Māhiṣmatīnagar the capital of Kārttavīryārjuna, killed the King and took Kāmadhenu back. From that day onwards the sons of Kārttavīrya were waiting for an opportunity to take revenge. Once Reṇukā went to the river to bring water. A gandharva (semi god) named Citraratha was bathing in the river. She happened to look at him for a little while. When she returned the hermit was very angry and asked each of his sons to cut off the head of their mother. They all refused. But Paraśurāma immediately obeyed his father and cut off her head. His father was pleased and said that he might ask any boon. He requested his father to bring his mother back to life. Accordingly Reṇukā was brought back to life. Once the sons of Kārttavīrya got into the hermitage, at a time when Paraśurāma was away and cut off the head of the hermit Jamadagni and took it off. When he returned his mother told him how his father was killed. She cried and beat her breast twentyone times. Paraśurāma became an incarnation of revenge, and travelled over the world twentyone times and killed every Kṣatriya King. The blood of all those Kings flowed into one channel and gathered in a holy Bath called Syamantapañcakaṁ. Thus Mahāviṣṇu took his sixth incarnation as Paraśurāma and fulfilled his duty of destroying the wicked Kṣatriya Kings (For details about Paraśurāma see under Paraśurāma and Kārttavīryārjuna). [Bhāgavata, Skandha 9, Chapter 16].
    7) Śrī Rāmāvatāra.
    Mahāviṣṇu took the incarnation of Śrī Rāma to kill Rāvaṇa. (For further information see the words Śrī Rāma and Rāvaṇa).
    8) Balabhadrarāmāvatāra.
    (The incarnation of Balabhadrarāma) (See the word Balabhadrarāma).
    9) Śrī Kṛṣṇāvatāra.
    (The incarnation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa) (See the word Kṛṣṇa).
    10) Kalkyavatāra (The incarnation as Kalki).
    At the end of Kaliyuga (the Age of Kali) all the people would become atheists and sceptics. Rewards will be received from the depraved. The classes will be mixed. People would become degenerate having no good qualities. A religion called ‘Vājasaneyam’ with its fifteen doctrines only will be acceptable. People would become irresponsible wearing the garment of duty. Lawless people would take the form of Kings and will begin to eat men. In those days Lord Viṣṇu will incarnate as Kalki, the son of Viṣṇuyaśas and the priest of Yājñavalkya and learn the arts of wielding weapon and handling missiles and destroy all lawless ones. The subjects will be brought back to the four classes and the four āśramas or stages of life and the doctrines and directions of the long-established religion and peace and order will be restored. Then the Lord will cast away the form of Kalki and go to heaven. After that, as of old, Kṛtayuga (the first age) will begin class distinctions and the four stages of life and such other establishments will once more prevail. [Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 16].
    3) The Incarnations of Mahāviṣṇu.
    It is mentioned in [Śrī Mahādevī Bhāgavata, Skandha 1, Chapter 3] that Mahāviṣṇu had taken the twentysix incarnations given below: 1) Sanaka 2) Sananda 3) Sanātana 4) Sanatkumāra 5) Varāha (pig) 6) Nārada 7) Nara Nārāyaṇas 8) Kapila 9) Dattātreya 10) Yajña 11) Ṛṣabha 12) Pṛthu 13) Matsya (fish) 14) Mohinī 15) Kūrma (turtle) 16) Garuḍa (eagle) 17) Dhanvantari 18) Narasiṃha (Lion-man) 19) Vāmana (dwarf) 20) Paraśurāma 21) Vyāsa 22) Śrī Rāma 23) Balabhadrarāma 24) Śrī Kṛṣṇa 25) Buddha 26) Kalki. (Information about Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Narasiṁha, Vāmana and Paraśurāma, are given under the word Avatāra and for the rest see the same words). In the first Skandha of “Bhāgavata Kilippattu” the incarnations are exhaustively dealt with as follows: “And after that to make it possible for the Lord with four faces to rule his subjects justly and well. He took various incarnations with his portions, the first four of which are four persons, Sanaka, Sananda, Sanātana and Sanatkumāra, in the order given, four or five-year old children, well-versed in the four Vedas, the four always inseparable wandered everywhere come to the world to show the merits of Brahmacarya (the vow of celibacy). To kill Hiraṇyākṣa and to lift up the earth He took the form of Sūkara (Pig). To show the world the tattva (essence) of Sat (good) and tama (darkness) He took the form of hermit Nārada. To show the merits of penance He became Nara and Nārāyaṇa. To impart to the world the meaning of Sāṁkhya Yoga (Indian Philosophy dealing with evolution and union with the Supreme Spirit) He came as Kapila the learned. To teach the world the laws of chastisement He was born as Datta of the wife of Atri. Then He came as Yajña to become Indra. The next incarnation He took was Ṛṣabha, the noble King. To shorten and flatten the earth He came as Pṛthu. To recover the Vedas he took the form of Matsya (fish). To remove wrinkles and grey hair the gods had churned the sea of Milk and then to lift the mount Mandara He went under it and as a bird He got up on it. To give the world Āyurveda (the scripture of medicine) He came as Dhanvantari. To entice Asuras and to recover Ambrosia from them He took the form of Mohinī. To save the devoted Prahlāda and to slay his father He came in the form of Narasiṁha. Then as Vāmana the younger brother of Indra to deceive Mahābali and to recover the lost worlds for the gods he came. To destroy the Kings who were haters of Brahmins He came as the son of Jamadagni. Then he took the incarnation of Veda Vyāsa. And to slay the giant Rāvaṇa He became Śrī Rāma. Next we see Him as Balabhadrarāma. Then He came as Devakīsuta [son of Devakī (Kṛṣṇa)]. Next He came in the Kaliyuga as Śrī Buddha and at the end of Kaliyuga He will come as Kalki. And there are many incarnations still to speak of.”
    Note: *) See Aṁśāvatāra.]

    Note: *) During their next birth they made their appearance as Rāvnca and Kumbhakarṇa and during the third birth they were Śiśupāla and Daṇḍavaktra.]
     
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