The Many Forms Of Vishnu

The Many Forms of Vishnu

- October 6, 2020


Vishnu, the owner of the divine Kaumodaki, is the preserver of the universe. Whenever the balance between good and evil seemed to be weighing on the wrong side, Vishnu would descend on earth to restore cosmic order. As per the Puranas, Vishnu was to appear in ten different forms known as the fabled dashavatar across the four dharmic ages of man also known as yugas. Till date, he has appeared in nine of these forms. IN THE SATYA YUGA Matsya – The Fish Illustration: Pratap Mulick Depicted as a giant fish or as a half-human torso connected to the rear half of a fish, this was the first of Vishnu’s dashavatar. In this avatar, Vishnu had warned the first man, Vaivasvata Manu, of a great flood which would end the three worlds. He asked Vaivasvata to bring one of every plant and animal species to the shore, and on the day of the great flood, he safely took all of them to a new world in a boat and saved them. Kurma – The Tortoise Illustration: Pratap Mulick Depicted as a giant tortoise or a mixed form of human and tortoise, the Kurma avatar of Vishnu, took form during the Samudra Manthan incident in the Bhagavata Purana, where the devas and asuras started churning the ocean of milk in a bid to obtain the nectar of immortality or amrit. During the churning, Mount Mandara, which was being used as the churning rod, started to sink. Vishnu appeared in the form of the giant tortoise, taking the weight of the mountain on his back.  Varaha – The Boar Illustration: Pratap Mulick When the demon, Hiranyaksha, kidnapped the earth goddess, Bhudevi, and hid her in the cosmic ocean, signifying the end of a yuga, it was Vishnu who rescued her, taking the form of a boar. It wasn’t an easy battle; Varaha battled Hiranyaksha for a thousand years before the demon was slain. Afterwards, Vishnu went deep into the primordial waters and raised the hidden earth back to the surface with his tusks. Varaha is either depicted as a full boar or a human with a boar head. Narasimha – The Man Lion Illustration: Pratap Mulick Hiraṇyakashipu wanted to take revenge for his elder brother Hiranyaksha’s death. After severe penance, Brahma appeared before him. He asked Brahma for a curious boon that rendered him near-invincible. “Let not death come to me either by man or beast, by day or by night, with a weapon either living or inanimate, indoors or outdoors, on earth or in the sky.”  Brahma granted his wish, and soon, Hiranyakashipu started creating havoc in heaven and on...

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