(Part – II)
The Bhagavata Puran describes Vishnu's avatars as innumerable, though ten of his incarnations (Dashavatara), are celebrated therein as his major appearances. The commonly accepted number of ten avatars for Vishnu are Matsya; Kurma; Varaha; Narsimha; Vamana; Parsurama; Rama; Krishna; Buddha and Kalki.
Modern interpreters state that Vishnu's ten main avatars are from simple life-forms to more complexes, and compare the Dashavatara concept to the modern theory of evolution.
(Part – I)
ॐ नमोः नारायणाय.ॐ नमोः भगवते वासुदेवाय ।:।||
(Aum Namoh Narayana:! Aum Namoh Bhagwate Vasudevaya)
Bhagwan Vishnu is one of three sakar forms (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and his cosmic function is preservation and maintenance of life. The tradition of reverence of Vishnu and its avatars is called Vaishnavism or Vishnuism.
Signs & Significance
Vishnu is usually depicted as having a dark, or pale blue complexion and having four arms. A traditional depiction is Vishnu reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi. The significance is as under:
1. The upper left hand represents liberation. It holds Padma (lotus flower) which is symbol of purity and represents the unfolding of creation from which the universe emerges. It represents truth or Satya and the originator of the rules of conduct or Dharma; and knowledge or Gyana.
2. The upper right hand represents cohesiveness and holds the discus or chakra which symbolizes the mind and shines like a tiny sun. The Chakra is named Sudarshan. This name is derived from two words - Su, which means "good", and Darshan, which means "vision". The discus as a weapon thus indicates the necessity of destroying one's ego and illusory self-existence and developing the vision to identify the eternal truth. The discus has six spokes and symbolizes a lotus with six petals, thus representing the power that controls all six seasons.
3. The lower right hand is said to represent creativity and holds the conch, which is the symbol of the five elements. The Conch or Shankha is named Panchajanya, or the originator of the five basic elements - water, fire, air, earth and sky or space. It is said that the sound that evolves from blowing this conch is the primeval sound of creation. The blowing of the Conch by Vishnu is said to remind his devotees to practice kindness and compassion towards all of existence, kindness and compassion being the language the Lord uses to address his devotees.
4. The lower left hand represents individual existence and holds the mace, which symbolizes the primeval force from which all mental and physical strength is derived. The Mace, or Gada is named Kaumodaki.