10 Avtars Skand Puran’s – Vasudev Mahatmya Adhyay 18

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Skand Puran’s – Vasudev Mahatmya Adhyay 18:
My incarnation takes place whenever the voice of Dharma

is ruined by the Asuras, to protect Dharma. (Slokh 46)

Matsya

When your day ends and night comes, I will bear the earth full

of herbs, Manus and others throughout the night like a ship, in

the form of a great fish. (Slokh 18)

Once a demon named Hayagriva stole the Vedas from Brahma and hid deep down in the ocean. Lord Vishnu saw this and was wondering what to do when he noticed King Satyavrata who was by a river offering water to God. Vishnu immediately assumed the form of a Fish. As Satyavrata scooped water from the flowing river, he spied a tiny fish in the water he had scooped. When he tried to put it back into the river, the Fish asked the king not to do so as it would be eaten up by the big fish in the river. Satyavrata took the Fish into his water urn and went back to his hermitage (home). Overnight, the Fish grew too big to be in the urn.

The next morning when the king looked it up, the Fish requested to be removed to a larger vessel. Satyavrata did so but soon the Fish became too big for the larger vessel as well. Addressing the king, the Fish said that he should find a suitable living space for it. Satyavrata then emptied the vessel into a large pond along with the Fish. But, in no time the Fish grew as large as the pond and filled it. Then the Fish told the king to take it to a large and deep lake. Although Satyavrata took it to several lakes, one larger than the other, the Fish kept growing and bigger and bigger. It went on asking for larger and larger living space.

Satyavrata got annoyed and decided to put it into the ocean. When he reached the ocean, the Fish addressed him thus: "O! King, do not put me into the ocean, I am sure to be swallowed by the gigantic creature there." Satyavrata became suspicious now. In a flash, he realised that it was Lord Vishnu in the form of Fish. Satyavrata immediately did darshan before the Fish and prayed to be told why God had appeared in the form of Fish. The Lord told his devotee, "Just a week from now, the ocean will rise and flood the entire Universe. At that time you will see a spacious boat approaching you. Do collect all the seeds, plants and animals required for the next spell of creation and get into the boat and wait for me. Take Vasuki, the kind of Serpents, with you. The seven Sages will also be with you".

The Fish left to fulfill its mission. Hayagriva saw the gigantic fish approaching him and was overtaken by fear. He held the Vedas tightly, but soon the Divine Fish slew him and recovered the Vedas and restored them to Brahma.

As foretold by the Divine Fish, a severe flood followed and on the turbulent waters, a boat appeared. Satyavrata, the seven Sages and all the living creatures found refuge in the boat. The Fish came by and ordered that the boat be tied to its horn using Vasuki as a rope so that He could pull them to safety.



Kurma

When the sons of Kashyapa churn the ocean with the Mandara

Mountain as the churning rod, which has no base to rest on, I

will carry that Mandara on my back, assuming the form of a

great tortoise. (Slokh 19)

In the ongoing saga of battle between the Devtas and asuras, on one occasion the Devtas suddenly lost all their strength due to a curse by the short-tempered sage Durvasa. The sage had once presented a garland of flowers to Indra who carelessly gave it away to his elephant which trampled on it.

The Devtas approached Vishnu for help. Vishnu then asked them to churn the ocean of milk after adding medicines into the ocean to obtain amrita (nectar of immortality). Mount Mandara could be used as the churning stick he said. He requested them to ask for the help of Asuras in lifting the mountain in exchange for the offer of a share of the amrita. Both the Devtas and the asuras churned the ocean using the serpent Vasuki as the rope.

Whilst churning the ocean many unusual items appeared, one of which included a deadly poison. As soon as they touched the poison, it exploded into poisonous fumes and threatened the entire universe. The frightened Devs ran to Brahma and Vishnu for assistance, but neither was able to help and sent them to Shiva. Due to Shiva's nature he agreed to help. He raised his Trident to condense the fumes and drank the poison but only to hold it in His throat.

They continued churning but soon realised the mountain was sinking and then Lord Vishnu took the form of Kurma (tortoise), went into the ocean and kept the mountain afloat on His back. As soon as the bowl of amrita, the nectar of immortality was out, the asuras grabbed it. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of an apsara (apsara are beautiful women who are skilled in dancing and entertain the devtas in heaven) named Mohini, a beautiful maiden, and seduced the asuras into letting her distribute the nectar and also to abide by her order of distribution. She went to the Devtas first and as soon as the Devtas were served the maiden disappeared leaving the bowl of amrita empty, thus totally deceiving the asuras and making them weak.


Varah

When you are creating, I will take the form of Varaha (the

divine Boar), kill the Daitya (demon) Hiranyaksha, possessed

by the vanity of strength and save the earth submerged in the

great ocean and place it in its former position. (Slokh 17)

An asura by name Hiranyaksha had become mighty and powerful after a rigorous penance to Brahma from whom he had obtained boons. He went about challenging, threatening and conquering the Devs. Unable to face him, the Devs had to go into hiding. He pushed the world under the sea.

Lord Vishnu decided to take the avatar of Varah (boar). He descended to the bottom of the ocean to rescue the Earth. Searching tirelessly, He found Mother Earth and digging his tusk into the ocean-bed; the Boar lifted the Earth on to it and proceeded to rise to the surface.

Hiranyaksha became angry at this and challenged Varah to a fight. A dreadful fight followed them, it lasted from morning until evening and all the Devtas came to watch. Brahma was anxious to see the fight finished before darkness fell as when darkness approaches the strength of asuras grows. Reading Brahma’s thoughts, Varah delivered a final blow to Hiranyaksha and killed him. Lord Vishnu in the form of Varah had destroyed Hiranyaksha and saved the Earth.



Nrusinh

Oh, Brahma! For the benefit of the Devatas (demigods), I

will assume the form of the man-lion ‘Narasimha’ and kill the

destroyer of sacrifices, the demon Hiranya-Kasipu. (Slokh 20)

When the Varah avatar incarnated, vanquishing the demon Hiranyaksh, his infuriated brother Hiranyakashipu vowed revenge. He performed harsh penances. This pleased Brahma. Therefore Hiranyakashipu requested a boon, "O Supreme Almighty! Let my death not occur by the hands of man, animal, dev or demon. Let me never die, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither during the day nor night, neither by weapons nor mantra, neither on earth nor sky. Let me become the eternal emperor supreme of the whole earth...."

Brahma granted the boon. Hiranyakashipu then embarked on a reign of terror. But his son Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. This enraged Hiranyakashipu very much. He ordered his servants to kill his son.

First they jabbed him with spikes. Engrossed in Parmatma's (God) meditation, Prahlad remained unhurt! This bewildered Hiranyakashipu, who then ordered other means of killing. However Paramatma delivered him from all of them.

First the demons used weapons, which broke. When thrown under a wild elephant, the animal lifted Prahlad with his trunk and gently placed him on his back! Poisonous snakes turned as meek as a tortoise and raised their hoods over his head as if to shield him! A wild lion became as tame as a dog. Deadly poison mixed in his food became amrut. When dropped over a mountain cliff, invisible hands caught him. When tied to huge rocks to be sunk in the sea, the rocks floated like flowers!

Finally Hiranyakashipu ordered his sister Holika to sit in a fire with Prahlad in her lap. She possessed a miraculous fire-proof garment. However the garment was blown off Holika by the wind and protected Prahlad instead. (Reason we celebrate Holi)

Seeing Prahlad's unflinching devotion to Vishnu, the angry demon king questioned him,

"Where is this Vishnu?"
"Where is He not? He is in me, in you, in the sword, everything!"
"Is he in this pillar as well?"
"Yes, indeed."

Eyes burning with hatred, Hiranyakashipu stood up. Brandishing his sword he struck the pillar. Instantly, the pillar split and out came the Lord in the form of Nrusinh, whose upper half was a lion and lower half, man. It was the evening of Vaishakh sud 14. Nrusinh, who was neither man nor beast, grabbed the demon like a toy and flung him on his lap. Nrusinh Bhagwan sat at the doorway - neither fully inside nor outside. Hiranyakashipu was not wholly on earth or in the air. It was neither day nor night but twilight. With his claws, which were not weapons as such, he ripped the demon apart.

Prahlad then humbly bowed at Nrusinh's feet and received blessings. The prince then offered a unique prayer in which he requested moksha for his father.

Nrusinh Bhagwan consented and coronated the child as king. After some time Prahlad handed over his reign to his son Virochan, engrossing himself in bhakti.



Vaman

The demon Virochana will beget Bali, a powerful Asura as his

son. He will bring the downfall of Indra from his kingdom.

When he snatches the kingdom of three words from Indra,

the husband of Sachi, Indra will be turned away. Then, I

will be born as Vamana, the eleventh son of Aditi and

Kasyapa. (Slokh 22)

O Brahma! Then I will gift back the kingdom of heaven again

to Indra; I will establish the Devatas in their places, I will

make even Bali to dwell (thereafter) in Patala (the Nether

world). (Slokh 23)

The fourth descendant of Hiranyakashipu was named Bali. He performed many yagnas and through his devotion and penance he defeated Indra and crowned himself the ruler.

All the Devtas appealed to Lord Vishnu for protection and He took the form Vaman (Dwarf Avatar) for the purpose of restraining Bali.

When Bali was making a great religious offering, Lord Vishnu in the form of Vaman appeared before him in the company of other brahmins. Bali was extremely pleased to see a holy man with such a small form and promised to give Him whatever He should ask for. Vaman asked only for as much land as He could measure by three steps. Bali laughingly agreed to grant the boon of three steps.

As soon as Bali had granted this boon he took a step back in astonishment as Vaman Bhagwan suddenly grew in size. He assumed such an enormous form that with His one foot He covered the whole Earth, with His next step Vaman Bhagwan covered heaven. “Where should I put my third step?” asked Vaman Bhagwan. Bali knew he was defeated and offered his head. Vaman Bhagwan put his third step on Bali’s head and pushed him into Patal (underworld).

Parshuram

In the Tretayuga, I will be born as Parasu-Rama in clan of

Bhrigu. Then, I will destroy the dynasties of Kshatriya that

are given to evil acts. (Slokh 27)

When the Kshatriya kings became ruthless and started exploiting their subjects, Parshuram incarnated and destroyed the Kshatriyas kings and therefore donated the earth to the Brahmins. Parshuram avatar also descended to pass on to the world, that one must always respect one's parent’s words.

He was the son of Jamadagni Rishi and Renuka Devi. Pleased with His severe tapas, Lord Shiva gave Him a weapon called Parshu (axe), thus He came to be called Parshuram. Shiva also taught Him war skills.

Parshuram's mother had deep respect and devotion for her husband and worshipped him as her Lord. So pure was her devotion that each day she would go to the river bed and pick up a handful of sand and this would form into a pot. She would be able to fill water in this unfired pot and take it to her husband for his daily pooja.  

One such day, as she took up a handful of river sand, she saw the reflection of a handsome gandharva (gandharva are beautiful men who are skilled in music and entertain the devtas in heaven) in the water and she looked up in admiration. This was a step down in her sincerity and she lost the ability to create a pot of the river sand. 

Sage Jamadagni realised what had happened and ordered his son to kill her. Parshuram immediately chopped off His mother's head to do His duty to His father. Rishi Jamadagni was overjoyed by His obedience and was willing to grant Him any boon. Parshuram asked for the life of His mother and Jamadagni rishi granted Him His wishes.   

A vain king once cunningly stole Jamadagni rishi's holy cow Kamdhenu. Kamdhenu could grant any wish. An angry Parshuram fought with the king, killed him and brought back Kamdhenu to the ashram.

The king’s sons wanted revenge. One day, when sage Jamadagni was alone in the ashram with his wife, they killed him. Parshuram then decided that such bad blood should not be allowed to run in the ruling class and completely destroyed the kshatriya clan. 


Ram

During the conjunction of Treta and Dvapara Yugas, I will be

born as Sri Rama, the son of Dasaratha and Kausalya. (Slokh 28)

Lakshmi will also be born as Seeta, the daughter of Janaka.

By breaking the great bow of Siva, I will marry her. (Slokh 29)

Then, I will destroy the fearful demon Ravana, along with his

brother, who abducts Seeta and is dangerous to the Devatas

and sages. (Slokh 30)

The great sage Valmiki and other sages will sing my historical

stories in different ways. By listening to that story, all sins will

be destroyed. (Slokh 31)

Ram showed the world the characteristics of an ideal person, including ideal son, ideal husband, and ideal king. Ram was incarnated to get rid of the asura, Ravana, who had been granted a boon by Brahma of immunity from gods, and other celestial beings. Ravana was too arrogant to be thinking of being vanquished by a man. Hence Ram was born.

Ram was born in Ayodhya to King Dashrath and Queen Kaushalya. He had three brothers by Dashrath’s two other wives, Bharat was the son of Kaikeyi, Lakshman and Shatrughna were the sons of Sumitra. He was married to Sita.

Dashrath planned to pass his kingdom to Ram but this made Kaikeyi jealous as she wanted her son Bharat to be king. She remembered that the king had promised her two wishes and so asked for Ram to be banished to the forest for 14 years and for Bharat to be made king. The king was very upset and did not know what to do but when Ram heard of this He immediately accepted His banishment so that His father’s word would not be broken. Sita, being a devoted wife, went with Ram along with Lakshman who would not be separated from his brother.

Bharat was furious with his mother and refused to take the crown when King Dashrath died from the grief of being separated from his son. He went to the forest to bring Ram back but Ram refused saying that He must still keep His father’s word. Bharat agreed to run the kingdom for Ram but placed Ram’s sandals on the throne to represent that He was the king.

During their time at the forest Sita was kidnapped by the evil demon Ravan who took her to his palace across the ocean in Lanka. With the help of Hanuman, Sugriva, and his army of monkeys Ram and Lakshman built a bridge to Lanka. They fought a terrible war, killed Ravan and rescued Sita.

Ram, Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after 14 years exile and Ram took His place as the king. On hearing of Ram’s arrival the people of Ayodhya were overjoyed and lit the streets and houses with divas. To mark this event divas are lit on Diwali.


Krishna

When the transition period of Dwapara and Kaliyugas is about

to end, I will be born as Sri Krishna, the son of Devaki and

Vasudeva in the City of Mathura, to destroy the Asuras that

are a burden to the earth and to protect Dharma and its followers. (Slokh 32)

I, Devaki’s son will be famous as ‘Vaasudeva’ and ‘Sri Krishna’.

Similarly Sankarshana will be born as Balabhadra. Pradyumna

and Aniruddha too will be born in that community. (Slokh 33)

Radha will be born as the daughter of Gopa Vrishabhanu;

with her, I will be sporting in Brindavan. (Slokh 34)

Lakshmi also will be born as Rukmini, the daughter of Bhisma-

Raja. Defeating the king’s followers, I will marry her. (Slokh 35)

By destroying the Asuras, the enemies of Dharma and those kings

possessed by them and establishing Dharma, I will rid

the earth of her burden. (Slokh 36)

Lord Krishna was born at midnight to Devaki and Vasudev, in the dungeons of the Evil King Kans's palace in Mathura. Kans imprisoned both his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudev after a sage foretold Kans that Devaki's eighth child will be responsible for his death. Kans killed the first six children on their birth; the seventh child was transferred to the womb of Rohini, Vasudev's other wife. Lord Krishna, the eighth child was born on a dark rainy night. During the birth by the wish of Lord Krishna the guards had fallen asleep. A voice commanded Vasudev to take the baby to Gokul and exchange with the newborn baby girl of Nandaraj and Yashoda. The shackles and the prison gates opened miraculously and Vasudev carried the child in a small basket, through the waters of Yamuna. As it was a dark stormy night, the waters of Yamuna were raging but parted to let the carrier of the divine Krishna pass. A huge snake glided behind them, its hoods formed a protective canopy over the child. When Vasudev returned back with Nanda's child the shackles fastened and the doors closed and the guards awakened. Kans came and picked up the child to hurl it to the wall and kill him but somehow the baby slipped from his grasp and in her divine form she laughed at Kans, she vanished after telling him that the one who would kill him had already taken birth and was elsewhere.

He was raised by Yashoda in the town of Gokul and performed many Leelas. As a little boy Krishna was a mischievous prankster who was favoured amongst the gopis. He used to steal curd and butter from the houses of gopis.

When He was a little older Kans challenged Him to a wrestle. Krishna accepted and killed Kans, freeing His parents.

Later He played a big role in the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, siding with the Pandavas who represented truth and dharma.
He ruled the Kingdom of Dwarika where the golden palace floated on the sea.

Buddha

Then, I will incarnate as Buddha and I will mesmerize those

prominent Asuras who frequent the three worlds. (Slokh 41)

Buddha was born as the crown prince of the Kapilavastu to King Suddhodana and Maya. He was named Siddhartha Gautam. His mother died soon after his birth and He was brought up by Prajapati, the sister of Maya. His horoscope said that He would either be a great king or an ascetic (a person who gives up material comforts). Suddhodana did not want his son to be an ascetic so he kept Siddhartha away from all the world’s problems and raised Him in luxury.

He grew up without any misery or sorrow and was married to Princess Yashodhara. One day the Prince desired to see the city and although Suddhodana ordered the city to be grand he could not shield Siddhartha from the suffering, disease and death in the world. Siddhartha left His home of luxury and went to the forest to search for answers to the problems of the world.

It was after many years of roaming the jungle and enduring severe penances that the ‘light dawned on Him’ while He was sat under a tree (Bodhi tree). His mind became clear and a great peace came over Him and He became Buddha, the enlightened one. He is known as Gautam Buddha.

Buddha preached the practise of non-violence to all who would listen and His preaching created the religion of Buddhism now popular across the whole world.


Kalki

At the end of the Kali age, as Kalki, riding everywhere

on a horse, I will destroy the great sinners, the Mlechas

(pariahs). (Slokh 45)

Kalki avatar has not yet taken place. It is said that He will take birth in the village Shambhala in the home of a Brahmin called Vishnuyasha.

By the end of Kali Yuga*, the population of the whole world will be so ignorant that there will be no more power to understand who God is. So at that time, when there are no more religious principles, there will be no other alternative than to kill them all.

At that time the Kalki avatar will come. His guru will be Parshuram avatar who will guide Him to do tapa to attain divine weapons from Shiva. He will ride on a white horse and with a sword as His weapon He'll simply kill all these non-believers, and lead in another Satya Yuga, the golden age of righteousness and truth.


* A Yuga is a period of time which lasts thousands of years. There are four Yugas: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. We are currently in the Kali Yuga which is said to last 432,000 years and started approximately 5000 years ago. The avatars that took place in:

Satya Yuga – Matsya, Kurma, Varah and Nrusinh



Treta Yuga – Vaman, Parshuram and Ram

Dwapar Yuga – Buddha and Krishna


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