Every night, one of us, either me, my husband or mother in law has to tell the children a story at bedtime. The stories have to be different & new and though repeats are allowed, it's not easy coming up with new ones regularly. One night I was starting at this painting (as I usually do :)) and hubby was trying to rack his brains on dreaming up a new story, when this idea of narrating the sequence of the Dashavataars and stories around it as bedtime stories struck me. I was overjoyed as I wouldn't have to tax my brains each night in recalling a story & neither would I have to create one out of thin air.
History or mythology is best absorbed & remembered when narrated as stories. I remember all the Amar Chitra Katha stories and none from my history text book. Similarly, the Dashaavtaar stories provide a wonderful and interesting medium of educating people especially children on Hindu mythology. My children love listening to these stories which tell them about the YUGAs that existed and the play of the Gods and Asuras. That's also where this idea of sharing these stories with you through my blog came. So many of my customers especially Patachitra admirers have asked about the various stories depicted in Patachitras and this to my mind will be a great medium to put down what I know about the stories from Krishna leela. Of course, most of what I write down here is what I have gleaned from the Internet and the books I have read, so many of you may not find anything new.
The list of Dashavatara varies across sects and regions. If you notice, the order of the Dashavataras does seem to be reflective of Darwinian evolution.
- Matsya Avataar- fish, the first class of vertebrates; evolved in water
- Kurma (Tortoise) Avataar- amphibious (living in both water and land)
- Varaha (Boar) Avataar - wild land animal
- Narasimha (Half Lion Half Man) Avataar - beings that are half-animal and half-human (indicative of emergence of human thoughts and intelligence in powerful wild nature)
- Vamana (Dwarf) Avataar - short, premature human beings
- Parasurama Avataar - early humans living in forests and using weapons
- Rama Avataar - humans living in community, beginning of civil society
- Krishna Avataar - humans practicing animal husbandry, politically advanced societies
- Buddha Avataar- humans finding enlightenment
- Kalki Avataar - advanced humans with great powers of destruction.
The first five avataars of Vishnu appeared in Satya Yuga, the first of the four Yugas, also called 'The Golden Age'. The next two appeared in Treta Yug, the eighth in Dwapara Yuga, the ninth at the beginning of the Kali Yuga and the tenth will appear at the end of the Kali Yuga. The Kali-yuga is described as ending with the appearance of Kalki, who will defeat the wicked, liberate the virtuous, and initiate a new Satya or Kalki Yuga.
In the next blog, I'll put down the story of the First Avataar - the Matsya Avtaar.
I do hope you enjoy this series and can share these stories (if you like them) with your little ones, friends etc. Your views, comments and corrections (if my information sounds wrong to you) are welcome.