Dashavatharam - Ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu

In Baghavad Gita, one of the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism, the 8th Avathar Lord Krishna reveals himself to his disciple, Arjuna and discloses about his Avathars as:

  • "Whenever the world declineth in virtue and righteousness; and vice and injustice mount the throne, then cometh I, the Lord and revisit my world in visible form, and mingleth as a man with men, and by my influence and teachings do I destroy the evil and injustice and re-establish virtue and righteousness; many times have I thus appeared, and many times hereafter shall I come again?"

According to Bhagavatha Puranam there are twenty-two avatars of Lord Vishnu. But Garuda Puranam lists the following ten Avathars, known as Dashavatharam (in Sanskrit Dash means ten), which are most prominent in terms of their influence on human society:

  1. Matsya Avatar: Lord takes the form of a fish, to retrieve the stolen Vedas from the demon Hayagreeva.
  2. Koorma Avatar: Lord becomes a tortoise, to help Devas to churn the milky ocean for the nectar of immortality.
  3. Varaha Avathar: The boar form, which brings back the Bhoomadevi from the deep ocean and also killed the Asura, Hiranyaksha.
  4. Narasimha Avathar: Lord takes this half-man/half-lion form to protect his devotee Prahalad and to slay the demon Hiranyakashipu.
  5. Vamana Avathar: Lord took this form of a dwarf to send Bali to the nether lands and to relinquish the control of the universe from him.
  6. Parashurama Avathar: Parasurama with the axe appeared to slay down twenty-one generations of impious kings.
  7. Rama Avathar: In this Avathar Lord Rama exterminated the evil in the form of the demon Ravana.
  8. Krishna Avathar: Lord took this Krishna Avathar to slay down the demon Kamsan.
  9. Balarama Avathar: Balarama Avathar is said to have appeared along with Krishna, to help Krishna to defeat the evils. Even though some say that Balarama is an incarnation of Aadhi Shesha (the five headed snake on which Lord Vishnu rests), it is counted as an avatar of Vishnu himself.
  10. Kalki Avathar: "The Destroyer of foulness", who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga.

It should be noted that the avathars span to different time periods, known as "Yuga". The first four avathars appeared in Satya Yuga, the next three appeared in Dredha Yuga, the next two in Dwapara Yuga and the tenth "Kalki Avathar" is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist, which is expected to end in the year 428899 CE.

Back to Articles