The incarnations of Lord Vishnu
According to Hindu theology, three Gods rule the world. Brahma: the creator; Vishnu: the preserver and Shiva: the destroyer. Lord Vishnu does his job of preserving the world by incarnating himself in different forms at times of crisis.
In his first incarnation he appeared as a fish, Matsya, to convinced a human being, Manu, to collect all kinds of seeds and pairs of all birds and animals and to get with them on a boat. After this a flood drowned the earth and destroyed everything and the good hearted Manu started a new human race.
In his second incarnation as Kurma, the turtle, he helped the Gods and non-Gods to churn the ocean of milk, which held in its divine treasures.
In his third incarnation as Varaha, the boar, he used his tusks to raise the earth, which had sunk in the sea.
In his fourth incarnation he appeared as Narsimha, which was neither a man nor animal but a strange being, half-man and half-animal. He appeared in this form to kill a demon who was blessed that no animal or human could kill him.
In his fifth incarnation he was a dwarf, Vamana. As a little person he asked the demon, who ruled the three worlds, to give him land three times his foot. The demon agreed and Vamana turned into a huge giant and his feet covered the three worlds.
In his sixth incarnation he was a priest, Parsuram. Parsuram as a non-violent priest took an axe to kill warriors who threatened the human race.
In his seventh incarnation, he was Rama, the main character in the Ramayana, who killed the demon Ravan.
In his eighth incarnation he was Krishna who helped the right-minded Pandavas to defeat the villain Kauravas. Krishna is also the philosopher of the Bhagwad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu texts.
About the ninth incarnation. Two different personalities are identified as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. One is Balaram, the elder brother of Krishna, who like Krishna helped the right-minded persons to defeat the villians.
The other personality identified as his ninth incarnation is Buddha, the establisher of Buddhism. Here too, there are two different beliefs for the purpose of this incarnation. According to one belief Vishnu incarnated as Buddha to preach non-violence and against animal sacrificing in religious ceremony. According to other belief, Vishnu incarnated as Buddha to start a new religion with a specific intention to convince some demons to give up worshipping Lord Shiva. For, Lord Shiva protected his worshippers and these demons used this protection to do whatever they wanted. Buddha convinced them with his new religion and they stopped worshipping Lord Shiva, which in turn allowed Shiva to punish them.
The tenth incarnation of Vishnu, Kalki, is suppose to arrive when the world will be at a brink of complete chaos. He will rise from the sea on a white horse and destroy all evil.
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