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Vamana Avatar of Vishnu | Hindu FAQs

Vamana (वामन) is described as the fifth avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age or Treta yuga. Vamana was born to Aditi and Kashyapa. He is the first avatar to appear with anthropomorphic features, although he does appear as a dwarf Namboothiri Brahmin. He is the twelth of the Adityas. Vamana is also the younger brother of Indra. He is also known as Upendra and Trivikrama.

Vamana Avatar of Vishnu | Hindu FAQs
Vamana Avatar of Vishnu

The Bhagavata Purana describes that Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Mahabali, a benevolent Asura King. Bali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grand son of Prahlada.

Mahabali or Bali was the “daitya” king and his capital was the present day state of Kerala. was the son of Devamba and Virochana. He grew up under the tutelage of his grandfather, Prahlada, who instilled in him a strong sense of righteousness and devotion. He was an extremely devoted follower of Lord Vishnu and was known as a righteous, wise, generous and judicious King. King Mahabali was a generous man who engaged in severe austerities and penance and won the praise of the world. This praise, from his courtiers and others, led him to think of himself as the greatest person in the world. He believed that he can help any one and can donate whatever they ask. Even though he became benevolent, he became pompous of his activities and forgot that the almighty is above him. Dharma says that one should do his duty and helping others is the duty of a king. Mahabali was a devoted worshiper of the Lord. The story is an ample example that the almighty, the Parabrahma is neutral and unbiased; he only tries to balance nature. He showers his divine light to all, irrespective of what they do.
Bali would eventually succeed his grandfather as the king of the Asuras, and his reign over the realm was characterized by peace and prosperity. He would later expand his realm by bringing the entire world under his benevolent rule and was even able to conquer the underworld and Heaven, which he wrested from Indra and the Devas. The Devas, after their defeat at the hands of Bali, approached their patron Vishnu and entreated him to restore their lordship over Heaven.

In Heaven, Bali, on the advice of his guru and advisor, Sukracharya, had begun the Ashwamedha Yaga so as to maintain his rule over the three worlds.
During an Ashwamedha yagna, Bali was granting wishes to his masses out of his generosity.

Vamana avatara as a short brahman | Hindu FAQs
Vamana avatara as a short brahman

Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahmin carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request three paces of land. Mahabali consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya. Vamana then revealed his identity and enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. Having left nothing else to offer, for his third and final step, King Bali bowed down infront of the Vamana realizing that he was none other than his Lord Vishnu and asked him to place the third feet as this was the only thing that belonged to him.

Vamana and Bali
Vamana placing his foot on King Bali

Vaman then took the third step and thus raised him to Suthala, the supreme form of heaven. However, looking at his generosity and devotion, Vamana on request of Bali, gave him permission to visit earth once an year to ensure that his masses are well off and happy. The Onam festival is a celebration of welcoming Mahabali home to his lost kingdom. During this festival, beautiful floral decorations are made in every house and boat races are held throughout Kerala. A twenty-one-course feast is the most important part of the Onam festival.

In worshiping Mahabali and his ancestor Prahlada, he conceded sovereignty of Patala, the netherworld. Some texts also report that Vamana did not step into the netherworld, and instead gave its rule to Bali. In giant form, Vamana is known as Trivikrama.

Mahabali symbolizes ahankar, the three feet symbolizes the three planes of existence (Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupthi) and final step is on his head which elevates from all three states and he attains moksha.

Vamana as per Theory Of Evolution:
Some 5 million years ago, Homo Erectus got evolved. The organisms of this species were much more like humans. They walked on two legs, had lesser facial hairs, and had an upper body like a human. However, they were dwarves
The Vamana avatar of Vishnu could also relate to Neanderthals, which are known to be quite shorter than humans.

Temples:
Some famous temple dedicated for vamana avatar are.

Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakkara, Cochin, Kerala.

Thrikkakara Temple | Hindu FAQs
Thrikkakara Temple

Thrikkakara Temple is one of the few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana. It is situated in Thrikkakara, a village panchayat near Kochi in the state of Kerala, South India.

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram in Kanchipuram.

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple | Hindu FAQs
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu located in Tirukkoyilur, Tamil Nadu, India. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Ulagalantha Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Poongothai
Vamana Temple, Eastern Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.

Vamana Temple, Khajurao | Hindu FAQs
Vamana Temple, Khajuraho

Vamana temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vamana, an avatar of the god Vishnu. The temple was built between assignable to circa 1050-75. It forms part of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Credits:
Photo Credits to the original Photo grapher and Artist.
www.harekrsna.com

Narasimha Avatar (नरसिंह), Narasingh, Narsingh and Narasingha, in derviative languages is an avatar of Vishnu and one of Hinduism’s most popular deities, as evidenced in early epics, iconography, and temple and festival worship for over a millennium.

Narasimha is often visualised as half-man/half-lion, having a human-like torso and lower body, with a lion-like face and claws. This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaishnava groups. He is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need. Vishnu is believed to have taken the avatar to destroy the demon king Hiranyakashipu.

Narsingha Avatar | Hindu FAQs
Narsingha Avatar

Hiranyaksha’s brother Hiranyakashipu wants to take revenge by destroying Lord Vishnu and his followers. He performs penance to please Brahma, the god of creation. Impressed by this act, Brahma offers him any thing he wants.

Hiranyakashipu asks for a tricky boon from Brahma which goes like this.

“O my lord, O best of the givers of benediction, if you will kindly grant me the benediction I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you.
Grant me that I not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death not be brought about by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal.
Grant me that I not meet death from any entity, living or nonliving created by you. Grant me, further, that I not be killed by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets. Since no one can kill you in the battlefield, you have no competitor. Therefore, grant me the benediction that I too may have no rival. Give me sole lordship over all the living entities and presiding deities, and give me all the glories obtained by that position. Furthermore, give me all the mystic powers attained by long austerities and the practice of yoga, for these cannot be lost at any time.”

Brahma grants the boon.
With virtually no fear of death he unleashes terror. Declares himself as god and asks people to utter no God’s name except his.
One day while Hiranyakashipu performed austerities at Mandarachala Mountain, his home was attacked by Indra and the other devatas. At this point the Devarshi (divine sage) Narada intervenes to protect Kayadu, whom he describes as sinless.Following this event, Narada takes Kayadu into his care and while under the guidance of Narada, her unborn child (Hiranyakashipu son) Prahalada, becomes affected by the transcendental instructions of the sage even at such a young stage of development. Thus, Prahlada later begins to show symptoms of this earlier training by Narada, gradually becoming recognised as a devoted follower of Vishnu, much to his father’s disappointment.

Narada and Pralhad | Hindu FAQs
Narada and Pralhad

Hiranyakashipu furious at the devotion of his son to Vishnu, as the god had killed his brother. Finally, he decides to commit filicide. But each time he attempts to kill the boy, Prahlada is protected by Vishu’s mystical power. When asked, Prahlada refuses to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe and claims that Vishnu is all-pervading and omnipresent.

Hiranyakashipu points to a nearby pillar and asks if ‘his Vishnu’ is in it and says to his son Prahlada. Prahlada then answers,

“He was, He is and He will be.”

Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashes the pillar with his mace, and following a tumultuous sound, Vishu in the form of Narasimha appears from it and moves to attack Hiranyakashipu. in defence of Prahlada. In order to kill Hiranyakashipu and not upset the boon given by Brahma, the form of Narasimha is chosen. Hiranyakashipu can not be killed by human, deva or animal. Narasimha is neither one of these as he is a form of Vishu incarnate as a part-human, part-animal. He comes upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight (when it is neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and puts the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space). Using his sharp fingernails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons, he disembowels and kills the demon.

Narsingha Killing Hiranyakashipu | Hindu FAQs
Narsingha Killing Hiranyakashipu

Aftermath:
There is another story of Lord Shiva fight with Narasimha to calm him. After slaying Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha’s wrath was not appeased. The world trembled, fearing what he might do. The Devas (the gods) requested Shiva to tackle Narasimha.

Initially, Shiva brings forth Virabhadra, one of his terrifying forms, in order to calm Narasimha. When that failed, Shiva manifested as the human-lion-bird Sharabha. Shiva then assumed the Sharabha form.

Sharabha, part-bird and part-lion
Sharabha, part-bird and part-lion

Sharabha then attacked Narasimha and seized him up until he was immobilized. He thus quelled Narasimha’s terrifying rage. Narasimha became a devotee of Shiva after being bound by Sharabha. Sharabha then decapitated and de-skinned Narasimha so Shiva could wear the hide and lion-head as a garment. The Linga Purana and Sharabha Upanishad also mention this mutilation and murder of Narasimha. After the mutilation, Vishnu assumed his normal form and retired to his abode, after duly praising Shiva. It was from here on that Shiva came to be known as “Sharabeshamurti” or “Simhagnamurti”.

This myth is particularly interesting because it brings to forth the past rivalries between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

Narasimha as per Theory Of Evolution:
The mammals or semi-amphibians gradually evolved to become human-like creatures, which could walk on two legs, used their hands to hold things, but the brain was still not that developed. They had a human like lower body and animal like upper body.
Though not exactly apes, Narsimha Avatar fits into the above description pretty well. Though not a direct reference, it would certainly mean an ape man.
An interesting point here is that those who are aware of the story of Narsimha, he appears at a time, place and setting, where each attribute is in the middle of two things(neither human nor animal, neither at home nor outside, neither day nor night)

Temples: There are more than 100 temples of Narasimha. Of which, the famous are,
Ahobilam. Ahobalam is located in the Allagadda mandal of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. This is the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada.

Ahobilam, the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada. | Hindu FAQs
Ahobilam, the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada.


Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple, Which is located about 55 km from Chennai and 21 km from Arakkonam, in Narasingapuram, Thiruvallur

Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple | Hindu FAQs
Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple

Credits: Photo and Image Credits to the Original Artists and Uploaders

Dashavatara the 10 incarnations of Vishnu - Part I- Matsya Avatar - hindufaqs.com

Matsya:
Matsya is said to be the first avatar of Vishnu. He is a fish (or sometimes depicted as half man and half fish like a mermaid). He is said to have rescued the first man from a flood in a story that seems to have influenced the Noah flood story (or, perhaps more likely, both stories were influenced by a common source). Matsya is associated with the beginning of the world.

Matsya (मत्स्य, Fish) is the avatar of the Vishnu in the form of a fish, preceding Kurma. It is listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu. Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu, from a great deluge. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, or anthropomorphically with a human torso connected to the rear half of a fish.

Matsya Avatar of Lord Vishu | Hindu FAQs
Matsya Avatar of Lord Vishu

One Line Explaination of this avatar is: In this avatar, Vishnu Warn Mahapralaya (Big Flood) and Rescue Vedas. Vishnu also saved the Saint Vaivaswata.

This avatar was taken by Maha Vishnu to save the humanity and the sacred Veda text from the flood in the Satiyuga. In Matsya Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a fish in this world and informs King Manu that the world would come to an end by a huge flood in seven days and to survive this and move on to the next yug the king to build a huge boat and take the seven sages, seeds of all plants, one animal of each type along with him. The matsya told Manu that he would appear on the seventh day to propel the boat to Mt Himavan. True to his word, lord Vishnu appeared before Manu in his avatar as fish and propelled the Boat to Mt Himavan and kept them there till the flood was over.
The story is:
Many years ago, the whole world was destroyed. The destruction in fact extended to all the three lokas (worlds) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka. Bhuloka is the earth, svarloka or svarga is heaven and bhuvarloka is a region between the earth and heaven. All three worlds were flooded with water. Vaivasvata Manu was the son of the sun-god. He had spent ten thousand years in prayers and tapasya (meditation) in the hermitage vadrika. This hermitage was on the banks of the river Kritamala.

Unfolding the Story of King Satyavrata and his role in the context of Mahavishnu’s Incarnation as a Giant Fish, Suka Maha Muni informed King Parikshith that the former King would become the Seventh Manu as Sraddhadeva. The incident of the Incarnation of the Lord as Fish was recalled in this context since King Satyavrata was once paying offerings of water in River Kirtimala, a small fish appeared on his palms and requested him not to throw it back in the River as big fishes might swallow it and as such keep it safe in a pot.

Once Manu came to the river to perform his ablutions. He immersed his hands in the water to get some water for his ablutions. When he raised them, he found that there was a small fish swimming in the water in the cup of his hands. Manu was about to throw the fish back into the water when the fish said, “Don’t throw me back. I am scared of alligators and crocodiles and big fishes. Save me.”
Manu found an earthen pot in which he could keep the fish. But soon the fish became too big for the pot and Manu had to find a larger vessel in which the fish might be kept. But the fish became too big for this vessel as well and Manu had to transfer the fish to a lake. But the fish grew and grew and became too large for the lake.

So, Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. In the ocean, the fish grew until it became gigantic.
By now, Manu’s wonder knew no bounds. He said, “Who are you? You must be the Lord Vishnu, I bow down before you. Tell me, why are you tantalising me in the form of a fish?” The fish replied, “I have come to punish the evil and protect the good. Seven days from now, the ocean will flood the entire world and all beings will be destroyed. But since you have saved me, I will save you. When the world is flooded, a boat will arrive here. Take the saptarshis (seven sages) with you and spend the terrible night that will come on that boat. Don’t forget to take the seeds of foodgrains with you.
Will arrive and you will then fasten the boat to my horn with a huge snake.”

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Matsya avatar saving Manu and the seven sages in Maha PralaySaying this, the fish disappeared. Everything happened as the fish had promised it would. The ocean became turbulent and Manu climbed into the boat. He tied the boat to the huge horn that the fish had. He prayed to the fish and the fish related the Matsya Purana to him. Eventually, when the water receded, the boat was anchored to the topmost peak of the Himalyas. And living beings were created once again. A danava (demon) named Hayagriva had stolen the sacred texts of the Vedas and the knowledge of the brahman. In his form of a fish, Vishnu also killed Hayagriva and recovered the Vedas.

Matsya Jayanti is a day which is celebrated as a birth day of first incarnation of Lord Vishnu on the earth as Matsya Avatar. On that day lord Vishnu had Lord Vishnu born as a one horned fish. He had born as on the 3rd day of Shukla Paksh of the month of Chaitra month according to the Hindu calendar.

Matsya Avatar saving the Vedas | Hindu FAQs
Matsya Avatar saving the Vedas

Matsya as per Theory Of Evolution:
In the evolution chronology, life evolved in the waters and thus the first form of life is an aquatic animal i.e. the fish (matsya). Proto-Amphibians that primarily lived in water can be seen as the first stage of life.
Lord Vishnu took the form of a huge fish and towed the primordial boat carrying good people and cattle to the new world of the future through the waters of the great deluge.
As per the theory of evolution, These creatures first appeared some 540 million years ago.
A starking resemblance is the first Avatar of Vishnu, Matsya Avatar, which was actually a fish that helped Manu save the world.