Avatara Rahasyam: Secret of incarnations

Secret of incarnation - Avatara Rahasyam

After sharing this link in my group, I received some really interesting narrations*. The fish I get is billions of times larger than the bait I could offer! Just by forwarding a link from the website early in the morning, if I can get this much "lessons" on mythology and science, I consider myself extremely lucky.
The food for thought these mails have provided by sharing excerpts from earlier mails really is a treasure. This has brought together many things we would have heard in bits and pieces at different occasions.

M G Warrier
*Some mails on the subject exchanged in a group:

    Confusion about Avataras


The ten avataras of Vishnu are as given below.
1. Matsya
2. Kurma
3. Varaha
4. Narasimha
5. Vamana
6. Parasurama
7. Rama
8. Krishna
9. Buddha
10. Kalki 

It is axiomatic that one avatara is succeeded by another. Lord Krishna himself declared in the Gita, “Sambahavami yuge yuge”.

The fifth avatara is that of Vaamana, who is Vishnu in dwarf form. He took three steps, covering the heavens in one step and the Earth in the second step. With his third step, he pushed King Bali or Mahabali into Patala. The legend goes that Mahabali was the king in Kerala and appears every year during Onam to meet his happy subjects who cherish his memory.
The legend also goes that Kerala was formed by Parashurama - the sixth avatara - who threw his axe into the sea and carved out a piece of land for Brahmins to live in peace. The Brahmins were earlier oppressed by the kshatriyas and Parashurama was born to decimate them.

So, how can Vamana -the fifth avatara be co-terminus with the next -sixth avatara- Parasurama?  The first Confusion!

Now here is the second confusion:
In the Ramayana, Parasurama, a follower of Lord Shiva felt aggrieved by Rama’s breaking the bow of Shiva and challenged Rama to a duel - a trial of strength. This ended in his defeat and in some way led to his being “excluded from a seat in the celestial world”.

How can Parasurama - the sixth avatara - coexist with the next i.e. the seventh avatara-Rama?

Here is another related confusion:
Once, the ever angry Durvasa sage was pleased to give a fragrant garland to Indra who promptly put it on his elephant Airavatha. The powerful smell of the garland attracted thousands of bees and distracted the tusker. Airavatha tore the garland and trampled on it. The sage was furious and cursed that Indra and all the Devas be afflicted with Jara and Nara. The only cure for the curse was to be found by churning the sea of milk. This churning led to nectar or amritha which helped remove the affliction. The legend also states that many items emerged out of this Amritha Manthan, including the elephant Airavatha.

How does one explain this, if Airavatha is the cause of it all?

 I request scholars to clarify my doubts--maybe I am wrong.

PP Ramachandran

Response to the above:


Dassaavatar confusion will remain as long as the universe is active.
Avatars are incarnations of Omnipresent God.If we believe that God dwells in every human being,millions and trillions,all at the same time, there is no question of contradiction of Avatars-one preceding or succeeding or having two avatars simultaneously..
Srimat Bhagavatam speaks of nearly 25 avatars.
Many scholars include  Mohini and Dhanvantri also as avatars of Vishnu.
When we talk about Avatars we think of Vishnu who transcends all limitations of time and place.
When we start analysing we compare them with normal human beings capable of living in one place at a time.It may be beyond human intelligence to understand the intricacies of avatars in the proper perspective.Too much analysis in this area leads to paralysis only.
Vathsala Jayaraman
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In 2015 we had a forward from Shri Shridhar Ghadiyaram and later by Shri Chandraiah, the moderator of Chennai Group-both along similar lines.

Mail from Shri Sridhar Ghadiyaram 

Things were going exactly as Srinivasan had feared, his Mother would come in from India and crush his American way of life under her strong South Indian influence. For a genetic scientist like Vasu, as Srinivasan was called by his friends, the only kind of order was disorder. So consumed he was by his research that the world and it's affairs mattered little to him. When his last girlfriend walked out on him, "Find a girl on planet Srinivasan," she had screamed as she stomped out.

Now Vasu's Mother had taken over the administration of the planet. It irritated him, this milk at night and chywanprash every morning. "Have you been wearing the same pair of Jeans for the past three days?" Mother was beginning her morning interrogation.

Vasu stared at the hot idlis in front of him, the chywanprash to follow and the wardrobe interrogation that had begun. Something snapped in his mind. "Mom I love you and I love that you come all the way from India to take care of me but plesse don't fuss over me! It irritates me!  And then I cannot work!"

His Mother did not really care if Vasu was upset, "The idlis are getting cold," was her matter of fact response.

"You don't really care, do you Mom?"

"I care about you Vasu. The work you do is alright. If you don't do it, someone else will do it."

"Mom, I am genetic scientist. I am working on the evolution of man. Theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, have you heard of him? " Vasu was exasperated with her unwillingness to understand. His Mother sat down next to him and smiled, "I know Darwin, Vasu. I also know that what you think he discovered was old news in India."

" Yeah sure Mom!" Vasu said with sarcasm.

"Well if you are too smart then listen to this, " his Mother countered." Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?" Vasu nodded. "Then let me tell you what you and Mr. Darwin don't know. The first avatar was the Matsya avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that not right?" Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.

"Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, cause life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian. So the Tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land. Third was the Varaha, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect, you call them the Dinosaurs, correct? " Vasu nodded wide eyed.

"The fourth avatar was the Narasimha avatar, half man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings. Fifth the Waman avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow really tall. Do you know why that is? Cause there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens won that battle." Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he was stupefied.

"The Sixth avatar was Parshuram, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social but the seventh avatar  was Ram, the first thinking social being, who laid out the laws of society and the basis of all relationships. The eight avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live and thrive in the social structure. The Ninth avatar, the Buddha, the man who rose from Narasimha and found man's true nature. The nature of Buddha, he identified man's final quest of enlightenment. And finally, my boy, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme."

Vasu looked at his Mother speechless. "This is amazing Mom, how did you.. This makes sense!"

"Yes it does Vasu! Now have your chywanprash! "
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Response from Vathsala Jayaraman




Dear Sridhar Ghadiyaram,
Thank you very much for your interesting forward couched in the form of conversation between a South Indian genetic scientist and his mother who came to visit him.This topic deals with the view that Darwin did not discover something new and that the theory of evolution is already conveyed in Dasavathars of Mahavishnu.



Religion, Avatars etc depend essentially on 'Faith' and Darwins Theory of Evolution is based on his actual observations. ( pratyaksham)though scientific theories also first originate from hypotheses, later on get so many transformations based on future scientists..

In Shrimat Bhagavatham  a reference is made to 24 Avatars, of which sage Narada, Vyasa are also included.
However taking the ten main Avatars, it is argued that the avataras typically represent the ascent from acquatic creatures to amphibions to mammals leading to  semi animal-man ( Narasimha ) Avatar, then to a dwarf human avatar ( Vaman), a jungle dweller, terrific uncontrollable Parasurama to the more civilized Shri Rama and Krishna,Rama being perfect, Krishna being more wise, clever with an aim to win.

We can notice the different stages of animal life from the invertebrates to the fully-grown human beings. These stages have been classified by the Indian sages of a scientific outlook in ten orders, viz, (1) the invertebrate, (2) testaceous or shelly, (3) vertebrate, (4) erectly vertebrate (as in the combined form of man and beast), (5) mannikin, (6) barbaric, (7) civilised, (8) wise, (9) ultra-wise and (10) destructive. These are the historical stages of jivas [souls]. According to the gradation of these stages as indications of evolution of the serving mood of the jiva soul, there are manifested the ten Incarnations of God, viz., Matsya (fish), Kurma (Turtle), Varaha (Boar), Nrishmha (Man-Lion), Vamana (Dwarf), Parasu-rama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki, as worshippable Deities with eternal transcendental Names, Forms, Attributes.

But on close observation, though there are some similarities between Dasavathars and Theory of Evolution there are many contradictory questions to be answered.

While analysing different avatars of Mahavishnu, in many of the avatars we find some civilized human beings or devas in the earlier avatars.
First of all Dasavathar is about the incarnation of God, Mahavishnu alone ,in particular sequence and other devathas, demons or human beings who also exist simultaneouly during the avatar.Whereas Darwin speaks of the entire race of creatures one evolving from another until a perfect human is born.
1.During Kurma Avatar we learn of churning ocean.There was not only kurma but devas and asuras were there to churn the ocean.
2. King Mahabali ,the grandson of Prahlada was ruling the world during the time of churning of ocean during which Vishnu incarnated as Kurma-the 2nd avatar.
3.But Prahlad ,the grandfather of King Mahabali appears only in 4th Avatar -Narasimha -of Vishnu.
A doubt arises whether how a grandfather's role appears after two avatars and whether Narasimha Avatar-a semi human-animal avatar is prior to Kurma Avatar, which goes totally against Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
4.Keralites believe that King Mahabali ruled their country and the famous Onam celebration is to welcome Mahabali who is supposed to visit his subjects once in a year.  Agreed.So Kerala was there during Vamanavathar.
5.But tradition goes that Parasurama created Kerala.How could Parasurama who lived during Rama's time ,have created Kerala, which was already in existence during Vamana Avatar and was being ruled by Mahabali?
To common sense it appears that one of the facts is wrong.
Either Mahabali would not have ruled Kerala or Parasurama would not have created Kerala

6.Parasurama is stated to have gone round the world 21 times and have killed all the kshatriyas.
But there seems to be no break in the lineage of Ikshwaku vamsa of Srirama which Valmiki traces in detail in Ramayanam.
Darwin's theory traces evolution step by step and does not seem to overlap.
But in Dasavathar we find human beings intermittently along with primitive avatars.The jungle man, the rude parasuram meets a Dharmic human being Rama.

There is no possibility that Darwin has read Shrimat Bhagavatham and tried to bring out Theory of Evolution based on this.
Scientific theories are separate and they have to be understood in their stride.
Dasavathar incidents should be learnt separately in a separate set up.we need not compare both. The yugas, manvantharas etc seem to be in a circular scale and not based on  linear timings. There is every possibility of avatars getting mixed up and the order also may vary, though we have have got used to ten Avatars in a particular sequence.

Darwin speaks of evolution or emergence of bodies from one species to other.But dasavathar speaks of evolution of CONSCIOUSNESS and not the emergence of bodies.
Science needs distinct facts for proof .Inner development through spiritual elevation can never be compared to a scientific theory. 

Scientific theories which have been proved after years and years of hard work and research cannot be set aside or phoo phooed as mere copying of mythological events.A well knit balance is needed to have  a harmonious integration between spiritual progress and scientific advancement and we can't ignore either.

Thank you Sridhar Sir for bringing this discussion into our midst.

Vathsala Jayaraman-M 170


Well explained Vathsalaji. We must not compare religion and science. These are matters of Faith and Logic. Thanks. Jayakumar (724)
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