Ten avatars of Vishnu are :
1. Matsya – The fish
2. Kurma – The Tortoise
3. Varaha – The Boar
4. Narasimha – Half lion and half man
5. Vamana – The dwarf
6. Parashurama – The warrior
7. Sri Rama – The king
8. Sri Krishna – The cowherd
9. Buddha – The Teacher
10. Kalki – The Slayer
1. Matsya avatar The fish incarnation is the first incarnation of Vishnu. One day Brahma was sleeping, Hayagriva stole the holy vedas from under Brahma’s head. He then ran and hide in the depth of ocean. Brahma had to read the holy books to create universe. Since he was unable to do so he approached Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu took the form of a fish and dived into the ocean to get back the vedas. After a fierce battle with the demon Vishnu was successful in bringing back vedas.
2. Kurma avatar Once during samudra manthan or great churning of sea by the Gods and the demons. This churning was to bring out the ‘amrita’ from the depth of ocean to help regain power and immortality. The huge mountain Mandara was used as a pole for churning of water, but as churning continued mountain began to descend into the sea. Then Vishnu incarnated himself into a huge tortoise and placed the mountain on his back then churning began and this time it continued smoothly.
3. Varaha avatar There was a demon named Hiranyaksha He was granted a boon by Brahma that no God or demon or man or beast would ever kill him. One day he snatched the earth and took it with him under the ocean. All Gods rushed to Vishnu for help. Vishnu remembered that Brahma has forgotten to grant Hiranyaksha immortality against varaha – the two tusked wild boar. Vishnu changed himself into a varaha and dived into ocean, after a fierce battle he killed Hiranyaksha ans brought back earth from the depth of ocean.
4. Narasimha avatar In satya yuga there was a wicked king named Hiranyakashyap. He prayed to Lord Brahma for immortality. He requested that neither at day nor at night could any God, demon man or beast could ever kill him. He also prayed that no instrument or weapon could ever destroy him. Impressed by his devotion Brahma granted him the boon. Hiranyakshyap then banned worship of God. But his son Prahlad was a devotee of Vishnu. This enraged Hiranyakashyapand he decided to kill Prahlad. After many unsuccessful attempts one evening he ordered his men to tie Prahlad to a pillar and behead him. However Vishnu took the form of Narasimha a creature that was half lion and half human, he came out of the pillar. He comes upon Hiranyakashyap at twilight (neither day nor night), on the threshold of courtyard (neither indoor nor outdoor), he put the demon on his thioghs (neither earth nor space) using his sharp nails (neither weapon nor instrument) he tore Hiranyakashyap’s chest apart and killed him.
5. Vamana avatar In Treta yuga Vishnu incarnated into a dwarf or vamana. Bali, grandson of Prahlad was a famous demon. By leading a austere life he had acquired the powers to rule the earth. Indra and other God got feared that someday Bali would conquer everything and defeat them so they asked Vishnu for help. Vishnu decided to be born in a household of a poor Brahmin one day he went to Bali and asked for alms. Seeing this young boy, Bali agreed to give anything the dwarf asked for. Vamana asked for entire land that would come under 3 steps. Bali agreed. The dwarf then grew in size and covered earth and heaven in two steps. Then he asked Bali where can he put his third steps. Bali reallised vamana was Vishnu incarnation and his pride was broken he offered his head for third step. Vishnu then blessed him and send him to neither world.
6. Parashuram Parashuram was the sixth incarnation of Vishnu had a violent temper. He was a master archer and desciple of Shiva. Vishnu appeared as parashuram in Tetrayuga to destroy warrior caste. When the king of the earth became despotic and started to harm people and saint in the forest. Vishnu incarnated as Parashuram and destroyed all the kings who were harassing people. Jamdagni a brahmin sage was Parashuram’s father, he had a divine cow kamadhenu. There was a king name Kartavirya arjuna (sahasrarjuna) has thousand arms. Once he and his army visited Jamdagni and demanded the magical cow kamdhenu but JAmadangi refused because he needed cow for his religious ceremonies, king forcible took the cow and devastated ashram. Angered at this Parashuram killed entire army and king after cutting his each hand. As a revenge king’s son killed Jamadagniin Parashuram’s absence. Furious at his father’s murder Parashuram killed all sons of Sahasrajuna. His thirst for revenge unquenched and he went on killing every adult kshatriya on earth not once but 21 times and filling 5 pond with blood. Ultimately his grandfther appeared and stopped him.
7. Rama Rama who was prince and king of Ayodhya was 7th incarnation of Vishnu that appeared in Tetra yuga. Lord Rama defeated and killed the king of srilanka, Ravana for capturing and imprisoning his wife Sita in Ashok garden in Srilanka.
8. Krishna In 8th incarnation Vishnu appeared in Dwapara yuga as Krishna. He is one of the most common worshipped deity in Hindu faith. Krishna killed Kansa and played a huge role in the battle of kurukshetra. He helped pandavas to defeat kauravas. Krishna is a significant character in mahabharat. He delivered Bhagwat Gita on battlefield to Arjun. Krishna is known for his bravery in destroying evil powers throughout his life.
9. Buddha Vishnu in his 9th incarnation appeared as mahavir buddha in Kalyuga to teach the lesson of following a middle path in life. Buddha means the ‘enlightened one’. he thought that all sorrow comes from attachment and desire so its better to curb all attachment in order to be happy.