Many Paths to One God
Ten Avataras of Vishnu
According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu has incarnated or became an avatara ten times to save the world from destruction. The ten avataras
are described below.
1. Matsya (The Fish)
Vishnu is said to have taken this form in order to save a sage, Vaivaswata or Manu, from a great flood. The Bhagavata Purana adds to the story of the flood an incident in which a demon carried off the Veda which had come from the mouth of the sleeping god, Brahma. Matsya instructed Manu and the Rishis in the doctrines of the Veda, then slew the demon and restored the Veda to Brahma.
2, Kurma (The Tortoise)
During another flood objects indispensable to the continuing work of creation were lost. Vishnu descended in the form of Kurma, a tortoise, and lent his back for a pivot on which Mount Mandara could be turned as a stick for churning the ocean. In the churning of the seas the lost objects were recovered.
3. Varaha(The Boar)
Vishnu took the form of a boar in order to raise up the earth from the bottom of the sea, to which it had been consigned by a demon.
4. Narasimha (The Man-Lion)
The story of Narasimha tells of a demon king who had become invulnerable to any harm from gods, men, or animals. When the wicked king's actions became intolerable, Vishnu took the form of a man-lion (neither man nor beast) in order to destroy the king.
5. Vamana(The Dwarf)
In this incarnation Vishnu reclaimed for the gods their kingdom from which they had been driven by the demon king Bali.
6. Parasurama (The Rama With The Axe)
When the warriors became so powerful that they even persecuted the Brahmins, Vishnu took human form and destroyed the warrior race.
Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama to save the world from the tyrannous Ravana, the ten-headed demon king. The story is told in the Ramayana.
In this incarnation Vishnu came to earth to destroy the evil king, Kamsa. This and many other stories of Krishna are told in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata
9. Lord Buddha
As the Buddha, Vishnu brought teachings to reclaim the people who had gone astray.
It is believed that in this present age Vishnu will incarnate as Kalki, and that he will be waving a sword of destruction since the world will be so degenerate that salvation can only be through total destruction and the rebuilding of a new world.