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The Hindu mythologies have no end. The more you indulge yourself in these mysterious stories, the more intrigued you will become. For every ritual or custom you will find an explanation which is beautifully narrated in the form of various stories. These stories have been passed on from generation to generation and this oral tradition still continues today.

Dashavatar is one intriguing story from Hindu mythology which is an important part of the Hindu scriptures. This story is about the Preserver of the Universe, Lord Vishnu. It is believed that whenever injustice and negative forces prevail on Earth, Lord Vishnu comes in one of his various forms to uproot them. So, Lord Vishnu incarnates from time to time to eradicate the evil forces which seem to threaten the existence of mankind.

The first four avatars of Lord Vishnu appeared in the Satya Yuga. Which of them came first?
In Matsya Avatar Vishnu incarnated as a fish. His duty was to transfer all the species of plants and animals to the new world and protect them from a great deluge. He pulled a boat that carried all the plants and animals and transferred them to the new world
The second avatar to appear was Kurma Avatar. What kind of animal was Kurma?
A boar
A snake
A lion
A tortoise
The tortoise incarnation was the second avatar of Lord Vishnu. When the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were churning the sea for Amrita (the nectar of immortality) the mountain Mandarachala started to sink. Vishnu, as Kurma, bore the weight of the mountain
Which avatar of Vishnu was incarnated in order to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu?
Hiranyakashipu had acquired a special boon that no man, or god, could kill him; he could neither be killed at day nor at night; neither indoors nor outdoors, neither on space nor on earth and not by any weapons. Narasimha came in a form which was neither a god nor a man, at twilight (neither day nor night), in his courtyard (neither indoors nor outdoors), put him on his lap (neither space nor earth) and with his nails (no weapons) killed him
Narasimha was neither a god nor a man, but what form did he take?
Half man, half tiger
Half man, half horse
Half man, half lion
Half man, half bull
Narasiṁha had a human body but a lion's face and claws. It was with these claws that Narasimha killed Hiranyakashipu, disembowelling him
The fifth avatar of Vishnu took what form?
A man
A horse
A dwarf
A bull
Lord Vishnu incarnated as a dwarf called Vamana in the Treta Yuga. An asura king, Bali, had defeated Indra and became the king of the three worlds. When the gods pleaded for Vishnu's aid he incarnated as Vamana. When Bali was organising a yagna (ritual offerings) for the prosperity of his kingdom, Vamana came. Bali promised him to give whatever he asked for. Vamana asked him for a place that will fit inside the length of his three steps and then he started to grow taller and taller. With his two steps he covered the earth and Swarga (heaven). Then he asked Bali where to place his third step. Bali was amazed. He thought - then said that Vamana should place his foot on his head. Vamana did so and blessed him for keeping his promise
Which was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, born in Ayodhya?
Rama was born to King Dasharatha and Kausalya. He is remembered for his respect to his parents and as an ideal ruler. He defeated the Asura Ravana, King of Lanka, who had captured Rama's wife Sita
In his sixth avatar Vishnu incarnated as Parashurama. What is Parshu, Parashurama's weapon?
A trident
An axe
A spear
A sword
Parashurama was born in the Brahmin family of Jamadagni and Renuka. He received his axe after performing a difficult penance to Lord Shiva. Once, a Kshatriya king named Kartavirya Arjuna came to the hut of Jamadagni. Jamadagni had the divine cow, Kamadhenu, who gave to Jamadagni whatever he asked for. With Kamadhenu's help Jamadagni was able to serve the king well.

When Kartavirya Arjuna came to know about the cow, he asked Jamadagni to sell it to him at any price he liked. Jamadagni refused so the king forcefully took the cow. When Parashurama came to know about this, he set out to fight against Kartavirya Arjuna. He alone fought with the king and his huge army and defeated them. Parashurama then started punishing every cruel and evil Kshatriya king and saved the poor from their cruelty. Parashurama was said to be immortal and it is believed that he still lives in some part of the world
According to North Indian myth, who was the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who appeared in the Dwapara Yuga?
Krishna was the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was also the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva, but was brought up by Yasoda, his foster mother. Krishna killed his own uncle, Asura King Kansa. Later he acted as an advisor to the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war and was the charioteer of Arjuna. He did much for the betterment of humans
The first avatar of Lord Vishnu to appear in Kali Yuga was the founder of which religion?
Gautama Siddhartha, or Buddha, is hailed to be the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu. He was born to the Sakhya king, Sudhodhana, in Lumbini, Nepal around 540 BC. He was brought up amidst luxury and cosseted by his father, but once, while exploring his kingdom, he saw a sick man, an old man, a dead man and an ascetic. This awoke in him a desire to know what the true nature of life was. So, leaving his wife, son and palace, he went out in search of truth. During a meditation under a Bodhi tree, in Bodh gaya, he attained enlightenment. He had many disciples and today people follow his teachings in Buddhism
The last avatar of Vishnu is yet to come. What is its name?
Kalki avatar is expected to arrive at the end of Kali Yuga. Lord Vishnu will incarnate as the Kalki avatar, riding on a white horse and with a sword in his hand with which he will kill any evil person he sees. After Kali Yuga truth and peace will prevail in the world once more


Author:  Siddarth Bhattacharjee

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