It is said that whenever there is a crisis on earth, God takes an avatar and removes that crisis. Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu have incarnated on earth many times. It is said about the 24th incarnation of Lord Vishnu that he is sure to come in the form of ‘Kalki Avatar’.
His 23 incarnations have so far incarnated on earth. Out of these 24 incarnations, 10 incarnations are considered to be the main incarnations of Vishnu. These are Matsya Avatar, Kurma Avatar, Varaha Avatar, Narasimha Avatar, Vamana Avatar, Parashurama Avatar, Rama Avatar, Krishna Avatar, Buddha Avatar, Kalki Avatar. Let us know more about it.
Sri Sanakadi Muni
At the beginning of the creation, Lord Brahma performed severe penance with the desire to create many worlds. Pleased with his austerity, Lord Vishnu incarnated in the form of four sages named Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanatkumar, with the name Sun meaning penance. These four were devoted to the path of salvation, engrossed in meditation, eternally siddha and eternally detached from the time immemorial. He is considered to be the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
According to religious texts, Lord Vishnu took the second incarnation in the form of Varaha. The story related to Varaha Avatar is as follows-
In ancient times, when the demon Hiranyaksha took the earth and hid it in the sea, Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of a Varaha from the nose of Brahma. Seeing this form of Lord Vishnu, all the gods and sages praised him. On everyone’s request, Lord Varaha started searching for the earth. With the help of his snout, he detected the earth and by going inside the sea, he brought the earth out by placing it on his teeth.
When the demon Hiranyaksha saw this, he challenged the Varaha form of Lord Vishnu to fight. A fierce battle ensued between the two. In the end Lord Varaha killed Hiranyaksha. After this Lord Varaha pillared the water with his hooves and established the earth on it.
According to religious texts, Devarshi Narad is also an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to the scriptures, Narada Muni is one of the seven Manas sons of Brahma. He attained the position of Devarshi by hard penance. He is considered one of the exclusive devotees of Lord Vishnu. Devarshi Narada is always striving for the promotion of religion and for the welfare of the people. In the scriptures, Devarshi Narada is also called the mind of God. In the 26th verse of the tenth chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, Lord Shri Krishna himself, accepting their importance, has said- Devarshinamchanarad:. That is, among the gods, I am Narada.
At the beginning of creation, Lord Vishnu incarnated in two forms to establish religion. In this incarnation, he was wearing a Jata on his head. He had a swan in his hands, a wheel in his feet and a symbol of Srivatsa in his chest. His entire disguise was like that of ascetics. According to religious texts, Lord Vishnu took this incarnation in the form of Nar-Narayan.
Lord Vishnu took the fifth incarnation as Kapil Muni. His father’s name was Maharishi Kardam and mother’s name was Devhuti. At the time of leaving the body of Bhishma Pitamah lying on the bed, Bhagwa Kapil was also present there along with the sages like Vedgya Vyas etc. Sixty thousand sons of King Sagar were consumed by the anger of Lord Kapila. Lord Kapila is the originator of the Sankhya philosophy. Kapil Muni is one of the main twelve Acharyas of Bhagwat Dharma.
According to religious texts, Dattatreya is also an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The story of their origin is as follows-
Once Mata Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati became very proud of their sacredness. God created a Leela to destroy their ego.
According to him, one day Naradji reached Devlok while roaming around and told the three goddesses in turn that your chastity is nothing in front of Anusuiya, the wife of sage Atri. The three goddesses told this to their masters and asked them to test the chastity of Anusuiya.
Then Lord Shankar, Vishnu and Brahma came to the ashram of Atri Muni disguised as a sadhu. Maharishi Atri was not in the ashram at that time. All three asked for alms from Goddess Anusuiya but also said that you will have to give alms to us naked.
Anusuiya was shocked to hear this at first, but then fearing that the sadhus should not be insulted, she remembered her husband and said that if my holy religion is true, then these three sadhus should become children of six months. On saying this, Tridev started crying as an infant. Then Anusuiya took her as a mother and breastfed her and started swinging in the cradle.
When the three gods did not return to their places, the goddesses became distraught. Then Narada came there and told everything. The three ladies came to Anusuiya and asked for forgiveness. Then Goddess Anusuiya made Tridev in his former form. Being pleased, Tridev granted him a boon that all three of us would be born as sons from your womb with our share. Then Moon was born from the part of Brahma, Durvasa from the part of Shankar and Dattatreya from the part of Vishnu.
Yagya is the name of the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to religious texts, Lord Yagya was born in Swayambhuva Manvantara. Akuti was born from the womb of Shatrupa, the wife of Swayambhuva Manu. She became the wife of Ruchi Prajapati. Lord Vishnu incarnated here by the name of Yagya. Twelve sons were born from his wife Dakshina of Lord Yagya. In the Swayambhuva Manvantara, they were called the 12 deities named Yama.
Lord Vishnu took the eighth incarnation as Rishabhdev. According to religious texts, Maharaj Nabhi had no children. For this reason, he along with his wife Merudevi performed a yajna with the desire of a son. Pleased with the sacrifice, Lord Vishnu himself appeared and granted a boon to Maharaj Nabhi that I would take birth here as a son.
After some time Lord Vishnu Maharaj was born in the form of a son to the navel as a boon. Seeing the son’s very beautiful well-formed body, fame, oil, strength, opulence, fame, might and valor etc., Maharaj Nabhi named him Rishabh (superior).
The name of an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is Adiraj Prithu. According to religious texts, in the lineage of Swayambhuva Manu, Prajapati named Anga was married to Sunitha, the psychic daughter of death. They had a son named Wayne. He refused to believe in God and asked to worship himself. Then the Maharishis killed him with the Mantra Poot Kushas. Then the Maharishis churned the arms of the sonless King Ven, from which a son named Prithu was born. Seeing the chakra in the right hand of Prithu and the lotus sign in the feet, the sages told that the part of Shri Hari himself had incarnated in the guise of Prithu.
According to the Puranas, Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Matsya to save the universe from the cataclysm. Its story is as follows- King Satyavrat became king in the beginning of Krityug. One day King Satyavrat was bathing in the river and giving water. Suddenly a small fish came in his Anjali. When he saw it, he thought I should put it back in the ocean, but that fish said – don’t put me in the ocean, otherwise big fish will eat me. Then King Satyavrat kept the fish in his kamandal. When the fish became bigger, the king kept it in his lake, then on seeing the fish became bigger. The king understood that this was no ordinary creature. The king requested the fish to come back in its original form. Hearing the prayer of the king, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of the four arms and he said that this is my Matsya avatar.
God said to Satyavrat – Listen, King Satyavrat! There will be a holocaust after seven days from today. Then a huge boat will come to you by my inspiration. You take the subtle bodies of the seven sages, medicines, seeds and beings and sit in it, when your boat starts to wobble, then I will come to you in the form of a fish. At that time, you should tie that boat to my horn with the help of Vasuki Nag. When you ask a question at that time, I will answer you, so that my glory, which is known as Parabrahma, will be revealed in your heart. Then when the time came, Lord Vishnu, who is in the form of Matsya, preached Tatvgyan to King Satyavrat, which is famous by the name Matsyapuran.
Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Kurma (turtle) and helped in churning the ocean. Kurma Avatar of Lord Vishnu is also called Kachhap Avatar. Its story is as follows- Once Maharishi Durvasa cursed Indra, the king of the gods, to make him Shrine. When Indra went to Lord Vishnu, he asked him to churn the ocean. Then Indra agreed to churn the ocean along with the demons and deities as instructed by Lord Vishnu.
For churning the ocean, Mandarachal mountain was made Mathani and Nagraj Vasuki was made the leader. The gods and the demons, forgetting their differences, uprooted Mandarachal and carried it towards the sea, but they could not take it far. Then Lord Vishnu placed Mandarachal on the beach. The gods and demons put Mandarachal in the sea and made Nagraj Vasuki the leader. But due to no base under Mandarachal, he started drowning in the sea.
Seeing this, Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a huge Kurma (turtle) and became the base of Mandarachal in the sea. Mandarachal started moving fast on the huge back of Lord Kurma and thus the churning of the ocean was completed.
According to religious texts, when the gods and demons together churned the ocean, the first terrible poison came out of it, which Lord Shiva drank. After this, from the churning of the ocean, the Uchchaishrava horse, Goddess Lakshmi, Airavat elephant, Kalpa tree, Apsaras and many more gems came out. At last, Lord Dhanvantari appeared with the nectar urn. This Dhanvantari is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is also considered the lord of medicines.
According to religious texts, at the end of the churning of the ocean, Dhanvantari came out with the nectar urn. As soon as the nectar was found, the discipline was broken. The gods said we should take it, the demons said we should take it. In this tussle, Indra’s son Jayant fled with Amrit Kumbh. All the demons and gods also ran after him. There was a fierce fight between the Asuras and the Gods.
The gods got upset and went to Lord Vishnu. Then Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Mohini. The Lord enchanted everyone in the form of Mohini. Mohini listened to the deities and the demons and said that give me this nectar urn, then I will give nectar drink to the deity and the demon in turn. Both agreed. The deities sat on one side and the demons on the other.
Lord Vishnu in the form of Mohini started drinking nectar to the deities and demons while singing and dancing melodious songs. In reality, Mohini was giving nectar paan only to the deities, while the asuras understood that they were also drinking nectar. Thus Lord Vishnu did good to the deities by taking the incarnation of Mohini.
Lord Vishnu incarnated as Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons. The story of this incarnation is as follows- According to religious texts, Hiranyakashipu, the king of the demons, considered himself stronger than God. He had the boon of dying neither by man, nor by gods, nor by birds, nor by weapons, neither in the day nor in the night, nor on earth, nor in the sky, nor by weapons. Under his rule, whoever worshiped Lord Vishnu was punished. His son’s name was Prahlad. Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu since childhood. When Hiranyakashipu came to know about this, he became very angry and tried to convince Prahlad, but still when Prahlad did not agree, Hiranyakashipu gave him the death penalty.
But every time he was saved by the miracle of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika, who had the boon of not burning with fire, sat in the blazing fire with Prahlad. Even then, by the grace of Lord Vishnu, Prahlad was saved and Holika was burnt. When Hiranyakashipu was about to kill Prahlad himself, Lord Vishnu appeared from the pillar in the form of Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu with his nails.
In Satyuga, Prahlad’s grandson Daityaraj Bali took control of heaven. All the gods went to Lord Vishnu to avoid this calamity. Then Lord Vishnu said that I myself will give you the kingdom of heaven after being born from the womb of Devmata Aditi. After some time Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vamana.
Once when Bali was performing a great sacrifice, Lord Vamana went to Bali’s yagyasala and asked King Bali to donate three steps of land. King Bali’s guru Shukracharya understood God’s Leela and refused to donate to Bali. But Bali still resolved to donate three steps of earth to Lord Vamana. Lord Vaman assumed a huge form and measured the earth in one step and the heavenly world in the other step. When there was no place left to take the third step, Bali asked Lord Vamana to keep the step on his head. By keeping a step on Bali’s head, he reached Suttalok. Seeing the valor of Bali, God also made him the lord of Suttalok. In this way Lord Vamana helped the deities and returned them to heaven.
According to religious texts, once two powerful demons named Madhu and Kaitabh abducted the Vedas from Brahma and reached the abyss. Due to the loss of Vedas, Brahma ji was very sad and reached Lord Vishnu. Then the Lord took the Hayagriva avatar. In this avatar, the neck and face of Lord Vishnu were like that of a horse. Then Lord Hayagriva reached the abyss and after killing Madhu-Kaitabha gave the Vedas again to Lord Brahma.
According to religious texts, in ancient times a mighty Gajendra lived with his elephants in the foothills of a mountain named Trikuta.
Once he went to bathe in the pond with his elephants. There a crocodile grabbed his leg and started dragging him under the water. The conflict between Gajendra and the crocodile continued for a thousand years. At last Gajendra relaxed and meditated on Lord Shrihari. Hearing the praise of Gajendra, Lord Shri Hari appeared and killed the crocodile with his wheel. Lord Shrihari saved Gajendra and made him his councillor.
According to Hindu scriptures, Parashurama was one of the major incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Two stories are prevalent regarding the birth of Lord Parashurama. According to the Harivansh Purana, one of those stories is as follows-
In ancient times, the city of Mahishmati was ruled by the mighty Haiyavanshi Kshatriya Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahastrabahu). He was very arrogant and also tyrannical.
Once Agnidev requested him to have food. Then Sahastrabahu came in pride and said that you can get food from wherever you want, my rule is everywhere. Then Agnidev started burning the forests. Sage Aapav was doing penance in a forest. The fire also burnt his ashram. Enraged by this, the sage cursed Sahastrabahu that Lord Vishnu would take birth as Parashurama and would annihilate not only Sahastrabahu but all the Kshatriyas. Thus Lord Vishnu took birth as the fifth son of Maharishi Jamadagri in the Bhargava clan.
Maharishi Ved Vyas
In the Puranas, Maharishi Ved Vyas has also been considered as a part of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vyas was an incarnation of Narayan. He appeared in the form of the son of the great scholar Maharishi Parashara. He was born on the island of Yamuna from the womb of Satyavati, the daughter of Kaivartaraj. His body color was black. Hence one of his names was also Krishna Dwaipayana. Considering the age and power of human beings, he did the divisions of the Vedas. That is why he is also called Vedavyasa. He also composed the Mahabharata book.
Once Lord Brahma was sitting in his meeting. Then his Manas son Sanakadi reached there and started discussing with Lord Brahma regarding the salvation of human beings. Then Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Mahahansa there and he cleared the doubts of Sanakadi sages. After this everyone worshiped Lord Hans. After this, the great swan-formed Shri Bhagwan disappeared and went to his holy abode.
Shri Ram Avatar
In Treta Yuga, there was a lot of terror of the demon king Ravana. Even the gods were afraid of him. To kill him, Lord Vishnu took birth in the form of a son from the womb of Mother Kaushalya to King Dasharatha. In this incarnation, Lord Vishnu killed many demons and lived his life following the dignity. He went to exile at the behest of his father.
While undergoing exile, the demon king Ravana kidnapped his wife Sita. Lord Rama reached Lanka in search of Sita, where Lord Rama and Ravana fought fiercely in which Ravana was killed. Thus Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Rama and freed the gods from fear.
Shri Krishna Avatar
In Dwapar Yuga, Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Shri Krishna and destroyed the unrighteous. Lord Krishna was born in the prison. His father’s name was Vasudev and mother’s name was Devaki. Lord Krishna performed many miracles in this incarnation and destroyed the wicked. Lord Krishna also killed Kansa. In the war of Mahabharata, he became the charioteer of Arjuna and gave the knowledge of Gita to the world. Established religion by making Dharmaraja Yudhishthira the king. This incarnation of Lord Vishnu is considered to be the best among all incarnations.
According to religious texts, Gautam Buddha, the originator of Buddhism, was also an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but in the Puranas, Lord Buddhadev is said to have been born in Kikat near Gaya. His father’s name is given as Ajan. This incident is of Buddhavatara mentioned in Purana.
At one time the power of the demons increased a lot. The gods also started running away from their fear. With the desire of the kingdom, the demons asked Devraj Indra that our empire should remain stable, what is its solution. Then Indra told in a pure sense that for a stable governance, Yagya and Veda-prescribed conduct are necessary. Then the demons started performing Vedic conduct and Mahayagya, due to which their power started increasing. Then all the gods went to Lord Vishnu. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of Buddha for the benefit of the gods. He had a marjani in his hand and he used to walk sweeping the road. Thus Lord Buddha reached out to the demons and preached to them that performing a yajna is a sin. Yagya leads to violence. So many beings are consumed by the fire of Yagya. The demons were impressed by the teachings of Lord Buddha. He gave up performing Yagya and Vedic practice. Due to this his power diminished and the gods attacked him and regained his kingdom.
According to religious texts, Lord Vishnu will incarnate in the form of Kalki in Kali Yuga. Kalki Avatar will be in the period of Kaliyug and Satyuga. This incarnation will consist of 64 arts. According to the Puranas, at a place called Sambhal in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh, Lord Kalki will be born in the form of a son of an ascetic Brahmin named Vishnuyasha. Kalki, riding on a horse named Devadatta, will destroy the sinners from the world and restore religion.