It is known by all that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, has got 10 avatars. In Indian context it means that Lord Vishnu reincarnate itself in every age in order to protect the kingdom of heaven on earth from hands of evil powers. Does anyone give a serious thought to the explanation of this concept avatar? It comes from the Sanskrit word avataran which means coming downwards. In short, Lord Vishnu takes the form of human and come down to the earth in order to save the mankind from the grasp of evil powers. It is known by all that Lord Vishnu has 10 avatars. But this theory was propagated by Jaydev in his book “Gitgovinda” and this theory has been acceptable by the most of the Hinduism followers. Ask anyone who is the follower of Hinduism and they will tell you that Lord Vishnu has 10 avatars. What is unknown to most of the people that long before the birth of Jaydev it had been stated in some of the religious books that Lord Vishnu has 20 avatars, some had not given a specific description of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. In this context, it can be said that Mohini was considered as one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. Swan has also been included in this list. There is a lot of theory which was propagated in this context, but it is still uncertain how many avatars Lord Vishnu has got. But it is true that each and every avatar of Lord Vishnu symbolises some of the virtues.
Matsya: Such as, Vishnu’s first avatar Matsya which is a fish symbolises Creation. You must have heard about an Bengali word “Matsyanyay”. Matsya means fish and Nyay means justice. In this Matsyanyay system it is not considered as injustice or unfair if a big fish devours a small fish.
Kurma: The Kurma or tortoise is the symbol of balance between good and evil. It teaches us to maintain balance in whatever we do in life. If imbalance exists in whatever we do, the mission cannot be accomplished.
Varaha: Varaha or wild boar symbolises the force. If the evil power cannot be controlled and goes beyond limitation then the use of force becomes the necessity. The Varaha Killed Hiranyaksh when he kept the Mother Earth inside the ocean and in this way Varaha saved Mother Earth.
Vaman: This avatar of Vishnu gives us one important lesson and that is, one cannot have each and everything in life. There is a limitation in each and everything we do. So, we should not brag about even if we have got everything in the form of earthly things.
Narsimha: Narsimha as the name suggests, was half lion and half human and he was symbol of wit and cleverness. It indicates that God is everywhere. All you need to do is keep your eyes wide open and keep him in prayers. God cannot be found in idols only, it is found in the hearts of pure people.
Parshu Rama: Vishnu was born as Parshu Rama in order to save Brahmins from the hands of oppressor Kshatriya kings. By incarnating as Parshu Rama , Lord Vishnu wanted to tell the human race that a saint can resort to armed resistance against oppressors if need be. When the Brahmins were being tortured, executed and oppressed by the Kshatriya kings, Lord Vishnu appeared as Parshu Rama in order to save Brahmins from the clutches of Kshatriya kings.
Rama: We often consider Rama as Maryada Puroshottom, which means Honourable Supreme Being. It represents a magnificent personality which follows code of conduct and ethics in whatever it does and achieves be it in the battlefield fighting against enemies or family life. Going beyond ethics and violating code of conducts is equivalent to sin to these kinds of personalities. What is the most important thing is that Rama represents a rigid kind of personality which follows a certain set of principles without flexibility.
Krishna: Krishna is the most flexible and dynamic mythological character in Indian mythology. It teaches us to break rules if need be. It teaches us not to be confused when it comes to the question of performing duty, and not to hanker for results of action. Keep our focus on action instead. The most important lesson we have got from this character that we need to customise ourselves according the changing situation instead of clinging to the rigidity.
Buddha: According to the Buddhist scholars, Buddha has never been avatar of Lord Vishnu. Without going to that controversy, it could have been said that Buddha preaches the idea of loving each other and love men and women alike putting aside all our prejudices based on casteism.
Kalki: When India was under the attack of many central Asian tribes like Mongal, Turks etc., and way had been paved for the creation of new avatar concept. People started thinking Lord Vishnu will against appear again in the form of Kalki Deva to save people from the clutches of the Mleccha or Yavanas. It reminds us the concept of Judgement day and Messiah in Abrahamic group of religions.
In the chapter of Bhagavat Gita named, Renunciation of Actions, Lord Krishna said, “O scion of the Bharata dynasty, whenever there is a decline of virtue and increase of vice, then I do manifest myself. For the protection of the pious, the destruction of the evil doers and establishing virtue, I manifest myself in every age. “
Here virtue consists of the duties in every stages of living beings which are the means to achieving prosperity and liberation. And Lord Vishnu will come down to earth from Vaikuntha dham in order to protect the followers of the virtuous path as described in Bhagavat Geeta.