Vishnu is the protector of the cosmos he preserves life and makes sure that all living creatures enjoy a meaningful existence. He is viewed by Vedic seers as a powerful life-bestowing Sun God who helped Indra and the devas become masters of the universe. He is respected by all the God, feared by Demons and also adored and revered by humans. He sits in Vaikuntha and institutes and maintains the moral, sacred and ethical order of Dharma to insure harmony and peace in all the Three Worlds.
It is said that whenever evil and chaos threaten the universe, Vishnu takes the form of man or beast to fight the forces and to reestablish Dharma. His presence as an all powerful & encompassing divinity could overwhelm man, this is why he chose to present himself in forms that man could comprehend and identify with.
Through these incarnations or avatars he maintains the integrity of the cosmic fabric.
He is popularly known by his 10 avatars or ten incarnations.
THE DASHA AVATARS
- Matsya - the one horned fish.
- Kurma- the mighty turtle
- Varaha- the fierce boar
- Narasimah- the man lion
- Vamana- the clever dwarf
- Parashurama- the vengeful priest
- Rama- the dutiful prince
- Krishna- the righteous cowherd
- Buddha- the compassionate sage
- Kalki- the messiah
The Evolution of these 10 Avataras
The sequence of the evolution of the 10 Avatars reflects the biological evolution of man from marine life (the fish Matsya) to finally the perfect man.
Many holy texts mention many other incarnations of Vishnu
- Balaji- the cosmic child
- Vishvarupa- the cosmic being
- Yagna- the embodiment of sacrifice
Dharma- the bull of righteousness
- Dhanvantri- the celestial physician
Mohini- the enchantress
- Hayagriva- the horse headed warrior
- Hamsa- the wise swan
- Sanat-KumarsNara- the four child sages
- Narada- the champion of Bhakti
- Dattatreya- teacher of Tantra & Yoga
- Vyasa- the compiler of Vedas
- Rishabha-the Tirthankara
- Kapila-the propounder of Samkhya philosophy
- Balarama- the lord of farmers
- Prithu- the domesticator of the earth
- Mandhata- the founder of the
- varna-ashrama dharma
- Nara-Narayana- the twin practitioners of Tapas
Closely behind the avatars is the concept of Vibhuti. While everyone possesses a spark or tejas. Only those who fully express this divine potential come to be identified with the lord and become worthy of worship.
These are known as Vishnu's Vibhutis. Named below are some important vibhuti's -
- 'AUM' the most sacred and resonant sound
- 'SWASTIK' the most sacred symbol
- 'GAYATRI' the most sacred hymn
- 'INDRA' the bravest God
- 'PRAHLADA' the noblest demon
- 'NARADA' the wisest sage
- 'DAKSHA' The greatest patriarch
- 'SAURABHI' the finest cow
- SHALAGRAMA' the strongest stone
- 'MERU-MANDARA' the highest mountain
- 'GARUDA' the greatest bird
- 'UCCHAISHRAVA' the fastest horse
- 'VASUKI-SESHA' the venomous serpent
- 'SUN' the most luminous body
- 'FIRE' the prime element
- 'SPRING' the prime season
Thus Vishnu resides in all that is Perfect, Wise, Beautiful and Good.