21 incarnations of Lord Vishnu – Part 1

Lord Vishnu’s 21 incarnations

Lord Vishnu’s ten incarnations or Dashavataras are famous, but few people know that actually there are twenty one incarnations.As per Hindu Mythology and Puranas, Lord Vishnu has 21 incarnations.

1. Samnak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanat- Kumar 

These four Kumaras are the eldest sons of the creator-god Brahma. They are said to be lord Vishnu’s first incarnation. All four brothers studied Vedas from their childhood. They always travelled together. They are said to wander throughout the materialistic and spiritualistic universe without any desire but with purpose to teach. The four Kumaras undertook lifelong vows of celibacy (brahamacharya) against the wishes of their father. They all learned Vedas at an early age of five. The Kumaras remained in form of children due to their spiritual virtues.


2. The Varaha or Boar Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Vishnu incarnated as varaha or boar to retrieve the earth. When the demon Hiranyaksha stole the earth (Bhudevi) and hid her in the primordial waters, Vishnu appeared as Varaha to rescue her. Varaha killed  the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting it on his tusks, and restored Bhudevi to her place in the universe.


3. The Narada Incarnation

In many Hindu scriptures, divine sage Narada is considered a saktyavesa-avatara or partial-manifestation (avtar) of God. He is  empowered to perform miraculous tasks on Vishnu’s behalf. In this avtar, Narad became great devotee of Lord Vishnu and is described to be always chanting the name of “Narayan” He also taught the Satvan- Mantra, in this incarnation.


4. The Nara- Narayan incarnation

The hindu deity pair, Nara and Narayan are twin brother incarnation of Vishnu on earth. The twins were son of Dharma and his wife Murti. They came on Earth for the welfare of mankind. They performed great penances at the holy spot of Badrinath.


nara narayan

5. The Incarnation of Kapil – The Sage

Kapil, the vedic sage was considered as one of the founder of Samkhya school of philosophy. Hindu mythology regards Kapila as a descendant of Manu, the primal human being, and a grandson of the creator-god Brahma or as an avatar of the god Vishnu. An exemplar of Yogic stringency, Kapila is said to have produced an inner store of such intense heat (tapas) that he was capable of reducing to ashes the 60,000 sons of the Vedic king Sagara. After his father left home, Kapila instructed his mother, Devahuti in the philosophy of yoga and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation (moksha). He is known for teaching a process of liberation known as bhakti yoga.

kapila rishi

6. The Dattatretya Incarnation

Dattatreya had descended into the realm of world as progeny of Atri and Anusuya, a sage couple of the Vedic age.  Dattatretya, taight knowledge to various devotees. The three heads signified as Brahma: ‘Tejas’ personified, Vishnu: ‘Ojas‘ personified, Shiva: ‘Tapas’ personified. Under these heads, illumination of knowledge, vigorosity of action and stringency of penance were represented as three aspects or state of being of the same.


7. The Suyash Incarnation

Suyash was born to Prajapati and Akuti. The main thrust of Suyash , teaching was based on the values of helpfulness and protecting each other during the time of crisis. He had rescued a ‘Devagana’ named Yama and also the Manvantar named as ‘Swayambhuva’.


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