Lord Vishnu's preserving, protecting powers have
been manifested to the world in a variety of forms, called Avatars, in which one or more
of his divine attributes were embodied in the shape of a human being or an animal or a
human-animal combined form, possessing great and sometimes supernatural powers. All these
Avatars of Vishnu appeared in the world either to correct some great evil or to effect
some great good on earth. These avatars are ten in number, however, the Bhag wad Purana
increases them to twenty two and adds further that are innumerable.
Of the ten universally recognized avatars, nine have already manifested whereas the tenth
is yet to appear.
It is important to note that the all the Avatars are earthly form of Lord Vishnu , who
himself is eternal, unchangeable and immutable.
Parashurama shows the man of power, Rama the Divine warrior and protector, Krishna the
Divine lover, Buddha the Divine sage, and Kalki the completer and saviour . In this scheme
we see the idea of the evolution of the soul from the animal re alms to perfect spiritual
The idea of the messiah came to the western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
from the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia. Zoroastrianism has similar incarnations
of Vrithragna (Indra). Hence it is related to the avatar idea of the Hindus.
Note : In some versions Buddha is replaced by Balarama. We have given a description of
Pictures in this section are courtsey Hindu
Students Council of the University of Virginia
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