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Off topic: The ten Incarnations (Avataars) of Lord Vishnu
Thread poster: Narasimhan Raghavan

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
English to Tamil
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Jan 9, 2004

As desired by Sylver and perhaps in answer to the unexpressed wish of other Proz colleagues, I, Raghavan, son of Narasimhan take courage in my hands and set out to relate the account of the ten Avataars of Lord Vishnu, belonging to the Holy Trinity in the Hindu mythology.
I am in the position of a dog standing before a mighty river lapping at the water. I cannot pretend to do full justice to the Glory that is incorporated by Lord Vishnu. If the account is found lacking the blame is entirely mine and if anything useful is perceived therefrom, it is by the Grace of Lord Vishnu.
The other Trinity Gods are Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. The former is entrusted with the job of creation and the latter with the destruction of things, whose time has come to be eliminated. Lord Vishnu is the saviour of all living things.

Now for the Avataars of Lord Vishnu, which He embarks on whenever evil is having its ascendance over the good.

Matsya-The Fish
In the fish incarnation,the primary purpose was the recovery of the vedas, the divine hymns, which had been stolen by a demon and hidden in the waters.This required the destruction of demon.This symbolizes the restoration of true knowledge ,subverted by egoism,which has to be destroyed in the process.

Kurma-The Tortoise
The second incarnation is the Tortoise.The gods and demons undertook the churning of milk ocean with mount Meru as the churn to obtain the nectar of immortality.They found the churn sinking in to the ocean and were unable to hold it up.Then god appeared as the great Tortoise on whose back the mountain could rest and allow the process of churning to proceed,bringing up differnt products,and ultimately the nectar of immortality.
When we proceed to churn the ocean of experience with churn of knowledge, in search of reality we find that knowledge itself requires a base to prove its validity.The attempt to find an ultimate base on which to erect our structure of reasoning can end in an infinite regress,unless it rests on the immovable,all-sufficient,all sustaining basis of self evident truth symbolized by the Tortoise form of God.

Varaha-The Boar
The third is the Boar, God incarnated this time to lift up the Earth which had been taken away into the regions of darkness, under the Water by Hiranyaksha, a Demon. This demon was destroyed when earth was retreived. In both Vishnu Puranam and Bhagavatha, the Boar form of God is identified with sacrifice And sacrifice, in its form is non different from God Himself.

NaraSimha - The Man-lion
The Man-Lion incarnation, the emphasis is on devotion. This guarded the child devotee Prahlada, he was put to endless torture by his father Hirayanakshapu, a Demon, for repeating God's name instead of his own. But Prahlada withstood all these tortures with steadfast devotion. Finally God appeared as Man-Lion of terrible form and killed the demon.
This incarnation indicates that God is incomprehensive ,ie., He is not limited by our knowledge. It also illustrates that the real devotee alone is truly fearless and the terrible form has no terror for him.

Vaamana-The Dwarf
The Dwarf incarnation shows us that valour finds its fulfilment only in complete surrender to God. King Bali, the mighty vanquished all gods including Indra, the Lord of Heaven. But he found his true fulfilment when he surrendered himself to God.

When the power conferred for protection, grown mighty by its proper exercise, had how ever degenerated into an oppressive tyranny, it had to be crushed ruthlessly. The terrible Parasurama was the appropriate form for this need.

This incarnation demonstrates how a man can rise to divinity by unswerving adherence to the law of his being, his Dharma in all its details. Sri Rama was perfect in his general
dharma as man and in his particular dharma as King.

Balaram is elder brother of Lord Krishna and is considered as another Avataar

Krishna , the ninth Avataar, or incarnation, of the Lord Vishnu. According to tradition, Vishnu appeared as Krishna to rid the world of a tyrannical king named Kamsa, the son of a demon.
He appears prominently in the epic poem Mahabharata, in which he sides with the Pandavas, one of two contending families, and acts as the charioteer of the hero Arjuna. Krishna delivers the celebrated discourse on duty and life known as the Bhagavad-Gita.

The tenth and last incarnation is yet to be as Kalki, the mighty warrior born in a pious family to rid the world of the oppression of its unrighteous rulers.

Opinions differ about the numbering of the Avataars after Rama. Some count Balaram as an Avataar and some say Buddha is the ninth Avataar coming after Krishna.

Having started the account of the Avataars, I realize that I have taken on a big job, that requires care, love, devotion and God's compassion on me to complete it satisfactorily. Hence I will take a small break and continue Avataar by Avataar, not necessarily in the chronological order. En attendant, I expect my fellow Indian colleagues to correct me whenever I stray from the right path.

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Local time: 18:10
Very interesting! Jan 10, 2004

Thank you so much, Narasimhan.

Best wishes,

Naty :^)

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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
English to French
Thanks. Jan 11, 2004

Quite interesting indeed, but I came to realize I am missing a lot of background data. It's a pretty large topic you have started here indeed. Sorry if I sound completely ignorant - but, well, I am - but what religion is mythology part of. What are the main principles? ... I know I am setting you up for a hell of a work, but maybe you would know some good web site to gather more information.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
English to Tamil
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Background to the incarnations Jan 11, 2004

These incarnations belong to the Hindu mythology. Hinduism is more a way of life than a mono-ethic religion. In the generally accepted sense there is the Holy Trinity, comprising of Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Saviour and Nurturer and Shiva, the Destroyer of things whose time has come.
The ten Incarnations pertain to Vishnu in His role as the Saviour. Whenever evil is on the ascendance, good and virtuous people get afflicted, Vishnu comes down to the earth as an Avataar from time to time.
This is the background for the 10 Avataars.

Of them, the Avataars of the fish, tortoise, boar and Vaamana deal with a specific purpose and are completed in relatively short time. As indicated by me, I will not deal with the Avataars in the chronological order. This leaves Parasurama, Rama, Balarama and Krishna. As for the last Avataar of Kalki, it is yet to take place and can be likened to the Messiah of the Jews.
Let me start with my most favourite, Raama. At the time of the Avataar, the earth was plagued by Raavan, a demon king, who had conquered the heaven, earth as well the nether regions, where more demons and other species live. In this Avataar, Lord Vishnu came down as Raama. Vishnu is said to lie on a bed of 1000-headed serpent, Aadhiseshan. He came down as Lakshman. Vishnu always carried with him a conch, who took on the role of Bharat and Vishnu's diskus (chakra) became Shadrugna. Vishnu's consort Lakshmi became Sita, whom Raama was to marry at the appropriate time.
In the kingdom of Ayodya there ruled a king Dasarath, who had three wives Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra. He had no issues. He conducts a yagna, a sort of penance, at the end of which he is presented a vessel containing a sort of porridge. This is consumed by the 3 queens. Raama is born to Kausalya, Bharat is the son of Kaikeyi and Sumitra has twins Lakshman and Shatrughna. Raam and Lakshman become good companions and Bharat pairs with Shadrugna. There is no rivalry between the two pairs of course. Raam is the undisputed leader of all the other three brothers.
Dasarath is fond of all the sons but Raama is his most favourite. He is loved by all the queens especially Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharat.
When Raama attains the age of 16, a sage by name Vishwamitra comes to the king's court and requests him to send Raama with him, so that Raama can guard his hut from the demons, who are bent upon destroying his penance. The king is afraid for Raama and refuses at first. The sage becomes very angry and seeing this the king's mentor and guide Vashishta persuades the king to accept the sage's request. As a compensation for his first refusal, the king sends Lakshman too along with Raama. The two princes accompany the sage, who teaches them all there is to know about the art of the warfare and helps them in getting at divine weapons, known as asthras. Raama successfully vanquishes the demons and the sage takes them to the kingdom of Mithila, where the philosopher king Janak rules. His daughter is Sita, who is of marriageable age. She is very beautiful and well wersed in all studies suitable for a princesse. King Janaka has under his care the big bow of Lord Shivaa. It is so heavy that it cannot be lifted by a single man. The king promises the hand of his daughter to any suitable bridegroom, who can string this bow. All kings try and fail. At this time the sage Vishwamitra accompanied by Raam and Lakshman enters the court. On being ordered by the sage and on getting the permission of the king, Raam approaches the bow, marks his respect to it and lifts it for stringing. As he bends the bow for this purpose, it breaks with a big crashing sound. All Gods including Shiva rejoice as this signals the getting together of the divine couple Vishnu and Lakshmi, who have taken the roles of Raama and Sita respectively in this Avataar.
I, Raghavan, a mere insignificant mortal would like to take a break now and let the divine couple enjoy their married bliss. They have more than enough tribulations awaiting them.

sylver wrote:
Quite interesting indeed, but I came to realize I am missing a lot of background data. It's a pretty large topic you have started here indeed. Sorry if I sound completely ignorant - but, well, I am - but what religion is mythology part of. What are the main principles? ... I know I am setting you up for a hell of a work, but maybe you would know some good web site to gather more information.

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Local time: 23:10
German to French
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A site (in french, sorry) Jan 11, 2004

that could help you, Sylvain.

It's a general one, but interesting for those - like me - who haven't a good knowledge of hindouism.

It's in french, because my english ... (sorry for the english speakers).


I think Narasimhan will rectify the possible errors in his site

[Edited at 2004-01-11 10:24]

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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:10
Partial member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
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Thank you Jan 11, 2004

Thank you so much for this.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Namaste, Narasimhan Jan 13, 2004

One gains grace by sharing the tradition.

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Question about the asthras Jun 22, 2004

I know this may seem a little out of place, but I was wondering if anyone had any information as to names of the different asthras and their uses.

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The ten Incarnations (Avataars) of Lord Vishnu

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