Daśāvatāra refers to the ten principal avatars. In Vaishnava philosophy, an avatar ( _sa. अवतार, IAST|avatāra), most commonly refers to the 'descent' and IAST|daśa refers to 'ten' in number. The ten most famous incarnations of Vishnu or sometimes Krishna are collectively known as the Dashavatara. This list is included in the Garuda Purana (1.86.10-11) and denotes those avatars most prominent in terms of their influence on human society.

The majority of avatars in this list of ten are categorised as 'lila-avatars'.The first four are said to have appeared in the Satya Yuga (the first of the four Yugas or ages in the time cycle described within Hinduism). The next three avatars appeared in the Treta Yuga, the eighth incarnation in the Dwapara Yuga and the ninth in the Kali Yuga. The tenth is predicted to appear at the end of the Kali Yuga in some 427,000 years time. [ [http://www.vedabase.net/bg/8/17/en1 B-Gita 8.17] "And finally in Kal-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara" ] Also according to the Vishnu Purana the Kali-yuga will end with the apparition of Kalki-avatara, who will defeat the wicked, liberate the virtuous, and initiate a new Satya Yuga. [Klostermaier (2007) p. 495]

Historical perspective

Adoption of Buddha as one of the avatars of Vishnu under Bhagavatism believed to be a catalyzing factor in assimilation of relationships during Gupta period 330-550 C.E. Thus Mahayana Buddhism is sometimes called "Buddha-Bhagavatism".cite book |author=Hāṇḍā, Omacanda |title=Buddhist Art & Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh: Up to 8th Century A.D. |publisher=South Asia Books |location=Columbia, Mo |year=1994 |pages=p. 40 |isbn=81-85182-99-X] It is by this period that it is commonly accepted among academics that the concept of avatars of Vishnu was fully developed. [cite web
title=CIH - Read history make history
last= Faculty For Indian History(Prabha IAS-IPS Coaching Centre)Arumbakkam, Chennai
first=INDIAN HISTORY - 2003 exams test papers
quote = 19) The crystallization of the Avatara Concept and the worship of the incarnations of Vishnu were features of Bhagavatism during the answer (d) Gupta period


The evolution of historical Vishnuism produced what is now a complex system of Vaishnavism, which is often viewed as a synthesis of the worship of Vishnu, Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna which is archived by the time of Bhagavad Gita (c. 4 BCE to 3 century CE).cite book |author=Beck, Guy L. |title=Sonic theology: Hinduism and sacred sound |publisher=University of South Carolina Press |location=Columbia, S.C |year=1993 |pages=p. 170 |isbn=0-87249-855-7]

Twelve Alvars, saints who spread the sect to the common people with their devotional himns. Early alvars did not distinguish or listed the avataras of Vishnu, nor did they distinguished Krishna to be an avatara. Their poems in praise of Vishnu and Krishna in Tamil language are collectively known as "Naalayira" (Divya Prabandha).cite book
author = Annangaracariyar, P.B.
year = 1971
title = Nalayira tivviyap pirapantam
publisher = Kanci: VN Tevanatan
isbn =
] cite journal
author = Seth, K.P.
year = 1962
title = Bhakti in Alvar Saints
journal = The University Journal of Philosophy


# Matsya, the fish, appeared in the Satya Yuga.
# Kurma, the tortoise, appeared in the Satya Yuga.
# Varaha, the boar, appeared in the Satya Yuga.
# Narasimha, the half-man/half-lion appeared in the Satya Yuga.
# Vamana, the dwarf, appeared in the Treta Yuga.
# Parashurama, Rama with the axe, appeared in the Treta Yuga.
# Rama, Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya, appeared in the Treta Yuga.
# Krishna (meaning 'dark coloured' or 'all attractive') appeared in the Dwapara Yuga along with his brother Balarama. According to the Bhagavata Purana Balarama is said to have appeared in the Dwapara Yuga (along with Krishna) as an incarnation of Ananta Shesha. He is also counted as an avatar of Vishnu by the majority of Vaishnava movements and is included as the ninth Dasavatara in some versions of the list which contain no reference to Buddha.
# Gautama Buddha (See alternative lists below for Balarama at this position) "See also": Buddha as an Avatar of Vishnu.
# Kalki ("Eternity", or "time", or "The Destroyer of foulness"), who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist, which some believe will end in the year 428899 CE.

Alternative lists

Balarama is considered as one of the Dasavatar in South Indian traditions, and Buddha is not considered as part of the list. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=Kpd9lLY_0-IC&pg=PA152&dq=balarama&sig=hyqE5tkz6rdKLrSqo2931bwZSWE Britannica list of dashavatara] ] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=lJX0s2gkg_MC&pg=PT48&dq=balarama+ten+incarnations&sig=bIYK5jc65LzBjadjRQveF8kGaqs English-Tamil dictionary] ] Some sources omit Krishna from the list of avataras, [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ulz9mO9cK54C&pg=PA57&dq=balarama+ten+incarnations&lr=&as_brr=3&sig=lxv5w6dPK28A_5BQKGJ7-6ahjTw#PPA55,M1 The Religion of the Hindus By Kenneth W Morgan, D S Sarma p.55] ] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=5vd-lKzyFg0C&pg=PA25&dq=balarama+ten+incarnations&lr=&as_brr=3&sig=uRPW5CwfXnT8jBEZYLNcjvO0mOE Iconography of Balarama By N.P. Joshi p.25] ] In a number of medieval traditions Krishna is recognized to be "Svayam Bhagavan", or the source of avataras, in the belief of Gaudiya Vaishnavas,cite book
author = Kennedy, M.T.
year = 1925
title = The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of the Vaishnavism of Bengal
publisher = H. Milford, Oxford university press
isbn =

] the Vallabha Sampradaya,cite book
author = Flood, Gavin D.
authorlink = Gavin Flood
title = An introduction to Hinduism
publisher = Cambridge University Press
location = Cambridge, UK
year = 1996
pages = 341
isbn = 0-521-43878-0
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=KpIWhKnYmF0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=gavin+flood&sig=q_waAYpO_WokCivKS2OtlwsG2dw#PPA118,M1
accessdate = 2008-04-21
"Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."] and the Nimbarka Sampradaya, where Krishna is accepted to be not only the source of all other avatars, but also the source of Vishnu himself. This belief is drawn primarily "from the famous statement of the Bhagavatam" (1.3.28). "Essential Hinduism" S. Rosen, 2006, Greenwood Publishing Group [http://books.google.com/books?id=VlhX1h135DMC&pg=PA124&dq=Krishna+is+the+original+Personality+of+Godhead&client=firefox-a&sig=2Yojs3j3lTcocPQ7RaIqBnpLrq0 p.124] ISBN 0275990060]

In some lists Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna, takes the place of Gautama Buddha as the ninth avatar of Vishnu. According to the Bhagavata Purana Balarama is said to have appeared in the Dwapara Yuga (along with Krishna) as an incarnation of Ananta Shesha. He is also counted as an avatar of Vishnu by the majority of Vaishnava movements. Such lists contain no mention of Buddha.

Jayadevas Dasavatara Stotra

"Pralaya Payodhi Jale" (from "Gita Govinda") by Jayadeva concludes after listing the ten avataras each with a separate stanza:

IAST|vedān uddharate jaganti vahate bhū-golam udbibhrate daityaṁ dārayate baliṁ chalayate kṣatra-kṣayaṁ kurvate paulastyaṁ jayate halaṁ kalayate kāruṇyam ātanvate mlecchān mūrchayate daśakṛti-kṛte kṛṣṇāya tubhyaṁ namaḥ

IAST|O Lord Kṛṣṇa, I offer my obeisances unto You, who appear in the forms of these ten incarnations. In the form of Matsya You rescue the Vedas, and as Kūrma You bear the Mandara Mountain on Your back. As Varāha You lift the earth with Your tusk, and in the form of Narasiṁha You tear open the chest of the daitya Hiraṇyakaśipu. In the form of Vāmana You trick the daitya king Bali by asking him for only three steps of land, and then You take away the whole universe from him by expanding Your steps. As Paraśurāma You slay all of the wicked kṣatriyas, and as Rāmacandra You conquer the rākṣasa king Rāvaṇa. In the form of Balarāma You carry a plow with which You subdue the wicked and draw toward You the River Yamunā. As Lord Buddha You show compassion toward all the living beings suffering in this world, and at the end of the Kali-yuga You appear as Kalki to bewilder the mlecchas [degraded low-class men] .

In other religions

The founders of Bahai faith have accepted a number of prophets as manifestations of God in much of the same way.cite book |author=Phyllis Jestice |title=Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia (3 Volume Set) |publisher=ABC-CLIO |location=Santa Barbara, Calif |year=2004 |pages=p. 314 |isbn=1-57607-355-6 |oclc= |doi= |accessdate=]

ee also

* Buddha as an Avatar of Vishnu
* Svayam bhagavan



*cite book |author=Klostermaier, Klaus K. |title=A survey of Hinduism |publisher=Sate University of New York Press |location=Albany |year=2007 |pages= |isbn=0-7914-7081-4
*cite book | last=Sikand |first=Yoginder |title=Muslims in India since 1947: Islamic perspectives on inter-faith relations |publisher=RoutledgeCurzon |location=London |year=2004 |pages= |isbn=0-415-31486-0

External links

* [http://www.srivaishnavam.com/stotras/dasavatharam_meaning.htm#PARASURAMA Meaning of Parashurama, an Avesha avatar.]
* [http://www.srivaishnavan.com/ans_iswara.html#67 Types of Avatars; answers to questions #67-70.]
* "Bhakti Schools of Vedanta", pg. 94, by Swami Tapasyananda, available at Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. available at India web site: http://www.sriramakrishnamath.org and US site: http://www.vedanta.org.
*Sri Aurobindo, "Letters on Yoga and The Life Divine", [http://www.quantumyoga.org/Revolt%20Spirit%20vs%20Matter%20Life%20Divine.htm excerpts] pertaining to Krishna and Buddha and the evolution of consciousness and selections from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's "The Gnostic Circle and Vishaal Newsletter" regarding the contention that Sri Aurobindo is the 9th of the Hindu Line of Ten Avatars.


* [http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/encyclopedia/avatars.htm Avataras as categorized within Gaudiya Vaishnavism]
* [http://www.gaudiya.com/image/manifestations.gifDiagram showing the 'family tree' of different Avatars]
* [http://www.gaudiya.com/index.php?topic=theology Description of different Avatar types (Broken Link]
* [http://www.akumar.com/thesis Animation Project based on Vishnu's Ten Incarnations] (akumar.com)
* [http://www.salagram.net/Dasavatara-page.htm Dasavatara stotra and the ten avataras] (salagram.net)
* [http://srimadbhagavatam.org/music/text/dasavatara.html Śrî Das'āvatāra Stotra:] composed by Śrî Jayadeva Gosvāmî (inc. Audio file)
* [http://www.srivaishnavam.com/stotras/dasavatharam_meaning.htm Avatars with meanings] (srivaishnavam.com)
* [http://www.comparativereligion.com/avatars.html The divine incarnation in Hinduism and Christianity] article by Ernest Valea
* [http://www.avatara.org/ The Avatar site] (avatar.org)
* [http://encyclopediaofauthentichinduism.org/articles/66_the_philosophy.htm Philosophy of the descension (avatar) of God]
* [http://www.saidarbar.org/dattatreya/saidatta.htm Avatars of Lord Guru Datt]


* [http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Religions/Avatars/Vishnu.html Avatars (Incarnations or Descents) of Vishnu]
* [http://www.srivaishnavam.com/stotras/dasavatharam_meaning.htm Dasavatar discussion with meanings]
* [http://www.krishna.com/node/603 Krishna's avataras] (krishna.com)
* [http://www.virtuescience.com/i-am-the-one-and-only.html Explores the claims made by various possible Avatars]

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