“Om Namoh Bhagwate Vasudevaya”
Lord Vishnu, as the name suggests, is the one who is everything and inside everything, is the “preserver” in the Hindu Triad known as the Trimurti. It will be more significant for the readers’ if the physical appearance of the lord is described first.
Meaning: Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths and unlimited eyes. It was all wondrous. The form was decorated with divine, dazzling ornaments and arrayed in many garbs. He was garlanded gloriously, and there were many scents smeared over His body. All was magnificent, all-expanding, unlimited. This was seen by Arjuna.
The above slokas tell us that it is impossible to define the physical appearance of the Lord’s dimensionless structure. But there is beautiful Chaturbhuji Roop of Him described in the scriptures.
According to the Vishnu Puran, the creator Brahma also emerged from the naval of Lord Vishnu when He decided to create life. Lord Shiva is also a form of Him according to the scriptures. It is also said that every atom of the creation is a part of him. As Krishna says in Bhagwat Geeta in Chapter 9, Verse 17:
pitaham asya jagato
mata dhata pitamahah
vedyam pavitram omkara
rik sama yajur eva cha.
Meaning: Krishna says,”I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rig, the Sama, and the Yajur (Vedas)”.
Whenever, there is a discussion of Lord Vishnu, there must be the discussion of His leela avatars on the Earth. As we know, Lord Vishnu is the “preserver” of the ‘Order of Duty (Righteousness)’ or ‘Dharma’. He descends on the Earth time to time for the sake of preserving dharma. Lord Krishna in Chapter 4, Verse 7, of the Bhagwat Geeta, says:
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
Meaning: Whenever there is a growth of evilness and erosion of righteousness in the society, Lord Vishnu descends on the earth time and again.
Now, it is questionable that why does He even needs to descend Himself. This question is also answered in the next sloka of Chapter 4 (Verse 8) of the Bhagwat Geeta. It reads:
vinasaya cha duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
Meaning: Lord Krishna in this sloka tells, he has mainly 3 jobs to do for every time he descends:
- paritranaya sadhunam: to save the righteous;
- vinasaya cha duskrtam: destroy the unrighteous;
- dharma-samsthapanarthaya: establish righteousness again.
Every time Lord Vishnu descended on the Earth, his avatar has done something impactful. The Bhagwat Mahapuran says that the Lord descended 23 times as of now, with 1 being left the Kalki Avatar. Therefore he has a total of 24 avatars. Out of the 24 avatars, 10 are significant. These are collectively known as the Dashavtaras.
The Dashavataras of Lord Vishnu also depicts how life evolved. In the list of the Dashavataras, first comes the Matsya avatar, the fish. It shows how life started in water. The Kurma avatar, the tortoise, showed how life started moving to the land. Next, the Varaha avatar, the wild boar showed how life started completely on land, the Narsimha avatar the lion, showed how life strengthened itself in course of time. Next the Vamana avatar, the dwarf man, showed the evolution of humans, the Parashuram avatar symbolises how people lived in the jungles. The Rama avatar, showed how men civilised and started living in groups and order. The Krishna avatar, is the loving form of humanity, the Buddha avatar, is symbolism of wisdom of man. The Kalki avatar shows the highest achievement by the humanity.
The 24 Avatar Katha
Lord Vishnu’s 24 avatar katha is one of the most beautiful contexts of Him. Scriptures says chanting of his avatar leela leads to salvation from this life. Since it is not possible to describe His avatar katha elaborately in a single article, I decided to brief about them. This avatar katha is also mentioned in Skandh-2, Chapter 7 of the Bhagwat Mahapuran, where Lord Brahma describes the avatar katha of the Lord to Narad ji, the celestial sage.
- First incarnation was four sages named Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanatkumar.
- Second was the Varaha avatar, the wild boar, to save Mother Earth from the demon Hiranyaksha, who hid her in the deep sea.
- Third incarnation was Narada avatar. He is one of the Manas sons of Lord Brahma who has attained the rank of of Devarshi by hard penance.
- Fourth incarnation was of Nar and Narayan, the twin sages. He took this incarnation for establishing the elements of religion.
- Fifth incarnation was Maharishi Kapil, born to Maharishi Kardam and Mata Devahuti. He propounded the Sankhya philosophy.
- Sixth incarnation was Dattatreya, who led a life of an ideal sadhu, establishing an ideology for the sages.
- Yagya was the seventh avatar who introduced the yagya system in the worshipping procedure.
- Eighth incarnation was Rishabhdev, born to king Nabhi. He is also considered as the first Tirthankara in Jainism.
- Next, Lord Vishnu came as Ardiraj Prithu, who made the Earth more habitable for living.
- Matsya avatar, was the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu. He incarnated in this form to save the seeds of life during the Maha Pralaya (heavy destruction).
- The eleventh incarnation of the Lord took place when the Mandarachal Mountain started to drown during the Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean by the Gods and the demons). He took the form of a Kurma, a large tortoise, and supported the mountain.
- Twelfth incarnation was Dhanvantari, who came out from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan with the vessel of Amrit (nectar).
- Lord Vishnu took the thirteenth incarnation when the demons snatched the vessel of He took the form of Mohini, a beautiful lady to lure the demons and take back the nectar from them.
- Fourteenth incarnation was the Narsimha avatar, the half lion man. He took this form to relieve Mother Earth and his great devotee Prahlaad from the torture of the demon king Hiranyakashipu.
- Fifteenth incarnation was Vamana avatar, the dwarf man, who saved the Gods from the demon king Bali, who with his sacrificial deeds has captured the other two lokas of the creation. Lord took away all his property and saved Indra from being captured by demon king Bali.
- Sixteenth incarnation was Hayagreeva avatar, who brought back the Vedas to Lord Brahma, which were stolen by 2 powerful demons, Madhu and Kaitabh.
- Seventeenth incarnation was Shri Hari, who saved Gajendra from the grip of the crocodile by killing it with his Sudharshan Chakra.
- Eighteenth incarnation was Parashurama avatar, who relieved the earth from the sins of the Kshatriyas by making the Earth free from them for 21 times.
- Nineteenth incarnation of Maharishi Ved Vyas who became the author of the Hindu scriptures.
- Twentieth incarnation of the Lord was Hans. He appeared in this form to remove the doubts of Sanakadi munis of attaining salvation.
- Twenty first incarnation was the Shri Rama avatar born to emperor Dasharath. In this life, he established the ideology of Maryada (modesty). He also killed many demons along with the demon king Ravana.
- Twenty second incarnation was Shri Krishna. In Dwaparyug, Lord Vishnu took the Shri Krishna avatar killed Kansa. In the war of Mahabharata, became the charioteer of Arjuna and gave the knowledge of Gita to the world.
- Twenty third incarnation was Lord Buddha He established Buddhism.
- Twenty fourth incarnation would be According to religious texts, Lord Vishnu will incarnate as Kalki in Kali Yuga when he will destroy sinners of the religion and re-establish religion.
Although I keep on writing pages about the Lord, it will fall short. His glory is infinite. Every one of us is a part of him and so as responsible children we should devote ourselves to the Lord. This devotion will make us free from all the ignorance, purify our soul and bring us to light. In the Chapter 18 (Verse 66) of the Bhagwat Geeta, Shri Krishna says:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Meaning: Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.
I would like to end the discussion here. I hope you have liked the blog. Feel free to let me know your questions on the topic in the comments section. Please put your feedback in the Comments.