Dashavatara – Ten forms of God

Note – These stories are in the context of Hindu Religion and Mythology stories from there.

Lord Vishnu is the caretaker of the entire world. Occasionally he takes a mortal form and lives amongst his followers (and occasional foes). Basically, whenever there comes a big danger for the people of the world, Lord Vishnu takes a form that is best suited to handle the situation. Now he doesn’t come for each and every problem. Basic problems are sorted by humans themselves – be it by brave Kings or Warriors or someone with a more humble background. When humans are not able to handle the situation, they pray to the relevant gods. Like in case of a famine, we pray to the rain god (Indra Dev). There are dedicated gods for every natural phenomenon. However, sometimes the threats are much greater and stronger powers are required. In such cases, the matters are escalated to the higher authority. Most of these requests go to Lord Vishnu (although some are taken up by Lord Shiva as well).

Over the course of time, Lord Vishnu has saved the world several times. Dashavatar stories are about ten avatars of Lord Vishnu during different periods of time. I love these stories and I love connecting them to human evolution as described by Darwin. In both systems, life starts from the water. Over time aquatic life forms give way to amphibian (who live on both land and water). Then comes land animals followed by biped animals. Then comes the early man with a lot of physical strength. This is followed by rule following man. Strategy forming men came next and then spiritual awakening. Humans are still evolving and Dashavatar has an avatar for future as well.

As life form evolved so did the struggles. Initially, the struggles came in the form of natural calamities like floods. Then the fight was with other species inhabiting our world. As civilization formed the fights were with other tribes and rulers. With intelligence came vices like ego and that became our next foe. After fighting from external enemies, the fight then turns to one’s family. Then came fight from within us – our own beliefs. Lord Vishnu took an avatar and helped us in each of these fights. At every stage of evolution and every enemy we had to fight, and the avatar was there to guide us.

Each avatar has a beautiful story. Below is a quick summary of all the avatars.

AvatarEvolutionEnemy
MatsyaAquatic life formNatural forces
KurmaAmphbianNatural forces
VarahaAnimalNatural forces
NarasimbhaHuman-animalKing/Ruler
VamanEarly humanKing/Ruler
ParshuramaEarly humanKing/Ruler
RamRule following ideal manKing/Ruler
KrishnaStrategic thinkingFamily
BuddhaSpiritual enlightenmentInternal values
KalkiFuture avatarFuture avatar

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