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Vishnu appeared in ten different incarnations three of whom are more well-known than others. They are:


Mohini, Muchh (fish), Kuchh (turtle), Varah (pig), Baaman (midget) – in Satyug

Rama and Paras Ram  -  in Traita Yug

Krishan – in Duapar

Budha and Kalki  -  in Kalyug


Let us discuss each of them briefly.


Kuchh (turtle): The gods and the demons were constantly at war with each other for domination.  At one time, both parties joined forces to churn the Milk Ocean to retrieve 14 precious gems. To do so, they used Mount Sumer (or Manderanchal)  as the churner and Sheshnaag (a multi-headed snake which serves as Vishnu’s bed) as the rope to power the churner. As the ocean floor was soft, the churner kept digging deeper and deeper. To act as a strong base for the churner, Vishnu incarnated as a huge turtle.

Mohini: When the fourteen gems came to the surface, there was again a struggle between the two parties to take possession of the 14 gems which were: Ambrosia (the liquid of immortality), Poison, Moon, Physician Dhanvantri, Kamdhen Cow (a cow which is supposed to fulfil all your wishes), Paarjaat Tree (which is also supposed to grant all your wishes), A seven-headed horse, Elephant Airavat, Luxmi (Maya) who married Vishnu, Nymph Dancers Rambha  and Menuka, Liquor, and finally, a Conch.

To have peace, Vishnu incarnated as a beautiful and attractive goddess and distributed the gems among the two parties one-by-one.

NOTE: Nobody knows where the Milk Ocean and how deep it is.  Obviously, Mount Sumer (or Manderanchal) must be taller than the depth of the ocean to be used as churner. With that kind of short depth, one wonders how the 3500 km wide moon could be sinking in the ocean; never mind what the Goddess Luxmi and other gems were doing there.

Muchh (fish): Once the demons stole all the four Vedas and hid them in the ocean.  It was always up to Vishnu to come to the rescue. So, this time he incarnated as a fish and retrieved the Vedas from the ocean.

Varah (pig): The demons were always problematic for the gods. Once they stole the Earth and again hid it in the ocean.  Vishnu incarnated as a pig and dived into the ocean and caught the earth in his teeth to bring it out of the ocean. Once out of the ocean, Vishnu had sex with her.

Baaman (midget): A demon ruler, Bal, performed one hundred yags to show off his strength and his spiritual nature. If he could perform one more yag, he could have driven god Indra from paradise, and would have become the ruler of the paradise himself.  With such a big fear looming over his head, Indra desperately wanted to stop Bal from performing another yag. He rushed to seek Vishnu’s help. Vishnu assured Indra that he could come up with some plan stop Bal’s evil fantasies. Vishnu incarnated as a midget Brahman and went to Bal asking him for five steps of land to build a shack. Bal was in a mode of philanthropy and could not say no to a small Brahman.  Vishnu began to measure land with his “small” steps. He covered the entire earth in 4 steps and demanded one more step of land as promised by Bal.  Bal lay down to fulfil his promise. With the blow of his knee, Vishnu dug Bal in the underworld thereby stopping him from dethroning Indra.

NOTE: Again two questions come to mind. (1) Did Bal rule the whole earth? (2) When the whole earth had already been measured, where did Bal lie down?

Lord Rama: Lord Rama who was the son of king Dashratha of Ayudhiya and was born sometime in the Treta Yug, is considered to be the incarnation of Vishnu. On the insistence of his step mother, Lord Rama was banished from the kingdom by his father for fourteen years. During the last year, Rama’s wife, Sita was abducted by Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka. Ravana did so to avenge the grave insult of his sister inflicted by Luxman (Lakshman), the younger brother of Lord Rama. Luxman had severed the nose of Ravana’s sister because she asked Luxman to marry her.  With the help of Hanuman, Lord Rama attacked Lanka to free his wife. Ravana was killed and Sita was brought back unharmed. However, Sita had to prove her chastity by walking through fire, which she successfully did.  But, unfortunately she was still driven out of the royal palace by Lord Rama when a washer-man taunted him.

Parasram: was a devotee of Shiva and was a contemporary of Lord Rama. He carried a huge axe on his shoulder. He became highly agitated and came to attack Rama when the latter broke the bow which was supposed to be a belonging of Shiva. However, Rama calmed him down by touching his feet.

NOTE: Another unexplainable myth, because how can Vishnu be incarnated as two different persons at the same time?

Lord Krishna: Born in the Duapar Yug is another incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna’s maternal uncle, Kans, the ruler of Mathura, had imprisoned Krishna’s parents because according to a fortune teller, Kans was to be killed by the eighth child of his sister. Kans had already killed six of Krishna’s elder siblings while one child, Balram, managed to survive somehow.  Krishna was the eighth child of his parents, and he too escaped unhurt.  Later, Krishna did kill Kans at the appropriate time and gave the kingdom to his grandfather before Krishna became the king himself.

Gautama Buddha: Gautama Buddha was the son of small ruler who renounced all luxuries of life and left his home to seek enlightenment. He was born in in 6th century B.C. At a much later date, Hindus claimed that he was an incarnation of Vishnu.

Kalki: is not born yet. He is supposed to be a future incarnation of Vishnu sometime in this era of Kalyug.

(1) Inder (Indra): He is the ruler of Paradise and is the king of all the gods. He is also the god of rain. He was defeated by Megh Nath, a son of Ravana (the so called evil king of Lanka) in a war. He is highly immoral and could so anything and everything to stay in power.  With the help of the Moon, he once managed to have sex with Ahilliya, the wife of a sage, Gautam. Ahilliya was supposed to be the most beautiful woman of her time. The sage used to take an early dip in the Ganges before starting his morning prayers. To trick the sage and to get him out of his hut, the Moon took the form of a rooster and crowed much earlier than the actual time at which the sage would wake up and go to the river for the dip.  Soon after the sage had left, Indra took the form of the sage and had sex with Ahilliya. When the sage came to know of the evil deed of Indra, he cursed him as a result of which Indra got thousands of woman’s private parts on his body. The sage also cursed his wife who turned into a rock and had to wait a full yuga before Lord Rama turned the rock back into Ahilliya by touching the rock with his foot in the Treta Yug.  Hidus also used to believe that the rainbow was the bow of Indra.

(2) Ganesha: He is the god with the elephant head. Before starting the day’s business all Hindus worship Ganesh. There are different versions about his birth. The most popular among them is that once Parbati was taking a bath when Shiva was gone on a long trip. She removed enough dirt from her body so as to construct the body of a boy who was brought to life by her.  She asked him to guard the entrance to the house and not allow anyone to enter as she was bathing in the open. Unexpectedly, Shiva came back from his business and was confronted by the boy at the entrance who would not let Shiva in.  When Shiva demanded to know why he was being denied entry, the boy (Ganesha) told him that the former’s mother, Parbati was taking a bath and nobody was allowed to enter. Shiva could not have any imagined that Ganesha might be his son, so he got really mad at the boys resistance and cut his head.  When Parbati came to know about the whole incidence, she made a big fuss and insisted that Shiva put Ganesha’s head back, and bring him back to life. Shiva had to yield, but he could not find the severed head of Ganesha. So, he went to the jungle to find some head. He found a female elephant who was lying with her back toward her baby. Shiva used this opportunity and severed the head of the baby elephant and put it on Ganesha’s body and brought him back to life. This is why Ganesha has the head of an elephant. Ganesha rides a mouse to move around.

(3) Hanuman: He has the face of a monkey and a tail, but has the body of a man. He was extraordinarily strong and could fly in air.  When he was young, he flew to the sun and swallowed it thinking that it was some kind of a fruit!  Hindus believe that he was born only to help Lord Rama in the war against Ravana, the king of Lanka.  Rama’s younger brother Luxman, had slashed the nose of Saroop Nakha, the younger sister of Ravana because Saroop Nakha repeatedly asked Luxman to marry her while Luxman did not want to do so. Annoyed at the insistence of Saroop Nakha, Luxman slashed her nose. To avenge the insult inflicted on his sister, Ravana kidnapped Sita, the wife of Rama, who was in exile for fourteen years.

Hanuman offered the help of his monkey army to Lord Rama to fight Ravana.  During the battle, Luxman got seriously wounded and was on the brink of death, when a local physician claimed that Luxman’s life could be saved if someone could fetch the life-sustaining plant from the Himalayas about 3000 km away before the sun rise. Hanuman volunteered to undertake this venture but he could not recognise the plant. So, he flew back with the part of the mountain on which the plant grew.  With the help of Hanuman, Lord Rama defeated the army of Ravana and freed Sita from his incarceration.

(4) Seetla Devi: She is the goddess of the deadly disease of small pox. She rides a donkey.  When a person gets small pox, Seetla Devi is worshiped so that she may remove the curse of the disease and the patient may recover.