(Based on narrative from Narsigh Puran)
Bhagwan Vishnu's incarnations started even before the world came into existence. Once the Supreme Absolute God tasked Vishnu to create the worlds, Vishnu began to meditate and was deeply in thoughts as to how and where to begin execution of his task. There was jsut nothing that had manifeted itself and there was total darkness and miles and miles of water without end.
Vishnu lay down on the coils of Anant Naag who had folded his body as a mattress and had held his thousand-hooded head high to protect the Lord. The thought of creating the world was viciously going around in his head even as He lay there in Yoga-nidra. Vishnu, then decided to duplicate Himself into Brahma and then create not just Living beings but also other means to sustain life form. He strained His mind and body and then a lotus stem began to grow from His naval. The stem kept growing and a single bud appeared at the far end. Over time, the bud formed into a Lotus flower and in the centre of it sat Brahma in deep tapsya. Vishnu had tasked himself in this form. Brahma too did not clearly know how he had to procede and he prayed to Vishnu for over a thousand years. Vishnu began to transfer the Vedas and other scripture knowledges to Brahma who had to use these for his creation. Now, the process of knowledge transfer was nearly complete.
With all the strain of thoughts and his sincere desire to create a world that would self-sustain, he began to sweat. Two drops of his perspiration flowed behind his ears and fell below. Instantly the drops turned into two Asuras by the names of Madhu and Kaitabh. Being Asuras they were violent and looked around to orientate themselves. They sighted Brahma sitting in the Lotus flower so they attacked him. Brahma was scared and He began to pray and cried out for protection to Vishnu. But, by the time Vishnu could arrrrive the Asuras had taken away the Vedic and shastra gyan from Brahma and jumped into the waters to escape. without gyan Brahma could not procede in his endeavour to create the worlds and sat in deep despair.
Vishnu appeared in his four-hands form with Shankh, Chakra, Gada and Lotus flower and queried Brahma. Brahma told him the detailed happening as to how he had been attacked by the Asura and how they had taken away his Veda and Shastra gyan. Vishnu was deeply concerned because he knew that in wrong hands the Veda and shastra gyan could be very destructive and perhaps be used to make a creation favouring the evil Asura. Vishnu had to first search out where the two Asuras had run away to. He immidiately transformed into a huge fish-Matsya..
In the fish-form Vishnu began to move his enormous tail and fins wildly so as to agitate the waters around him, thus dislodging any hidden Asuras in the abundent dark waters around him. Soon, He arrived in Patal-Lok where the two Asuras had taken refuge. Vishnu cast his Mohini-maya on them and took away the stolen Veda and Shastra gyan ffrom them and gave it back to Brahma and resumed his supine position on anant-Naag. When the Asuras came out of the spell of Mohini-maya they realised they had lost the Gyan and both became very furious. They saw Vishnu lying on the Coils of Anant Nag and said, 'This is the Deva who has snatched away our looted Gyan by casting a magic spell, let us kill him'. They confronted Vishnu and challanged him for a war.
Vishnu pulled on the Cord of his great Sharang bow and gave it a twang. The twang viberated all four corners of the universe. Madhu and Kaitabh too made their weapons ready and stood their grounds to fight. After a protacted battle Vishnu killed both the Asuras with his arrows. Then he began to knead the bodies of the two Asuras and prepared a pulp. He made this pulp into the earth. In Hindi this kneading is called medan-kriya, hence the earth got its other name as Medani.
This way, after Brahma had received back his stolen Veda and Shastra gyan created the world in its present form.
(Based on narrative from Agni Puran)
An incarnation takes place for the destruction of evil and also to re-install Dharma and for the well-being of Dharmic populations. After one of the foregone Kalpas ( A cycle of time consisting of Manvantar, Yuga and so on during which the creations are formed, flourish and enter disssolution), a great dissolutuion called 'Brahmya' took place during which the three Lokas of Bhu, Bhuvahand Swah went under water, thus drowning all that was there completely. At that time a Muni called Vaivasvat was performing Tapasya for Mokshaprapti. One day as he was performing Tarpan for comforting the Pitras in the waters of Kritmala river a very small fish entered his palms along with the scooped up water. As the Muni was about to throw away the fish back into the river, he heard its small voice. 'Sir, please do not put me back in the river as I am small and any big creature will readily eat me up. Please have mercy and save me'. Vaivasvat took pity on him and put him in his Kamandalu filled with water. Soon after that the fish grew in size and asked the Muni for a bigger enclosure. Muni put him in a bigger vessal, but again the fish grew even bigger so the Muni put him in a lake. But to his surprise, the fish outgrew the lake and asked to be put in a larger water body.
The Muni folded his hands and fell to his knees and said, ' Who are you? Are you Bhagwan Vishnu? I pray to you, you are the savior of the worlds'. After this he put the fish into the ocean and saw his size growing to humongus proportions. He heard an Akashvani, which said, ' I have taken birth for destroying all evil Asuras and saving the Earth for the Dharmik people. On the seventh day from today the sea waters will rise and everything will go under its vast expanse. On that day a huge boat will appear next to you and you must collect all types of seeds and get into that boat. Then, till such time it will be night for Brahma you will be riding on that boat. The Sapt-rishis will also be in the boat with you. I will come to the boat and you must tie your boat to a horn on my body'. Then the fish went under the water.
The Muni did as he was bid and he, along with the Sapt-rishis were riding in the boat singing Vishnu's praise and reading out the Matsya Puran to each other. Later, as the new Kalp began, Vishnu killed an Asura by name of 'Hayagreev' who had stolen the Vedas fro Brahma. Thereafter the creations began to form all over again and the sea-waters began to recede.
In very ancient times war broke out between children of two of the wives of Maharshi Kashyap and developed into a long drawn war. In the end the Devas, sons of Aditi lost out to Asura who were sons of Diti. Heartbroken and badly bruised, the Devas went to Laksmipati, Shree Vishnu and fell at his feet in prayers for help. Vishnu had known of their fate and he advised them to go back to the Asuras and perform Sandhi (Agreement) after admitting their defeat.
The plan was to make a stirrer of Mandarachal parvat and churn up the Ksheersagar (oceans) using Vasuki Naag as the rope. After the churning the oceans would throw up several things in the manner that Butter is thrown out when buttered creme is agitated. They promised that Devas could keep some and the Asuras could keep the rest. This way the Asuras felt happy and saw much benefit to themselves.
When the Asuras heard the plan they were very impressed and began to imagine life-potions of superpower coming out of the sea along with riches and wealth that was lying at the ocean bottom for several ages. They readily agreed. Bali alone pulled out Mandarachal top and put it in the ocean with his mighty strength. The Devas rushed to other forests to collect many Aushudh (medicinal) plants that were needed for the great churning. Bhagwan Vishnu arrived there along with Vasuki Naag.
Soon, the great ocean churning began with Mandrachal as the stirrer and Vasuki as the rope. The Asuras were placed at the head end of Vasuki, while Devas grabbed the tail end. However, due to its weight, Mandarachal sank and began to fall to the bottom. Vishnu quickliy split himself in three parts. From one part he took the form of Kurma- a sea turtle and swam below the falling mountain to lift it and maintain it in the correct place. In his second capacity he held the top of the mountain so that it could rotate freely and in his third form he helped the Devas to apply their strength. The churning resumed again with the great turtle holding the mountain on his hard back, in position, while the Devas and the Asuras alternated their strength at either end of Vasuki.
The first to come out of the effort of churning was a very strong poison called 'Kalakoot Vish'. The Asuras shared it among themselves and Vishnu gave the remaining to Lord Shiva, who kept it in his throat. Because of the poison Shivas throat turned Blue and he got the name Neelkanth because of this appearance. The next to come were Airavat Elephant and Uchchshrava Horse. After this came the Apsara Urvashi. she flew away to the heavan. The churning continued and the next to come out was the Parijaat tree. In the fifth outcome, Chandrama came to the top of the ocean and Vishnu gave it to Shiva who positioned it on top of his forehaead like ladies carried the Bindi . After this many gems and precious stones kept coming out which the Asuras and devas shared between themselves.
Meanwhile, Vasuki too was getting tired and his poison laden breath caused severe burns and harm to many of the Asuras, some of them even died of the poisonous air. Vishnu saw this and he started rains and light breeze so that the two parties did not tire out and the churning continued. The next to come out was Laksshmi with lotus flowers in her hands. She blessed both teams of Devas and the Asuras and went to reside in Vishnus heart.
Finally, Dhanwantri appeared with the pot of Amrit (Elixer of life). Asuras had been hoping for this potion and grabbed it and started to run away with the Amrit pot. Devas were surprised and prayed to Vishnu. They were apprehensive that if Asuras imbibed the liquid they will defeat death and become invincible. Vishnu turned himself into a beautiful woman and went into the Asuras Camp. Seeing such a remarkable beauty there the Asuras put the Elixer pot on the ground and rushed towards the Girl. Having charmed the Asuras, Vishnu picked up the pot and gave the Amrit to the Gods.
The Gods went back to their Loka and shared out the Amrit. Thus they became strong and had conquered death. They regrouped and challenged the Asuras for a battle once again. But this time they easily won over the Asuras and killed many of them. A few that remained retreated to Patal Loka.
The manifested universe cycle is equal to one day of Brahma and after the day is over there is maha-pralay and the entire creation goes under immesurable amounts of water. At that time Shiva absorbs all the living beings in himself and nothing is left in all the three lokas. Vishnu, then goes to rest in yoga-nindra on the coils of Anant-Naag under these waters. The earth and the other lokas remain completely bereft of any Life.
During one such event there was a powerful Rakshas called Hiranyaksh who lived in Patal Lok. Due to his might he often attacked the Devas and lay seige of their kingdom and killed whatever came in his approach wantonly. He was particularly aggresssive to anyone engaged in yagya or other religious activity. Once he thought that when the martya-lok is reformed and populations return, then people will once again perform religious activities like yagya. Thus their powers, strength and virtues will increase and they will make offerings to the Devas who in turn will become strong. He deliberated and decided to steal the powers created by Brahma that keep the earth afloat. He implemented his sinister plan while Vishnu had been resting below deep waters. Immidiately, the Earth lost its bouyancy and sank to Rasatal; the very bottom of the immesurable dark waters. He then retreated to his Patal Loka, quite assured of his grand feat as a win over the three Lokas, the Devas and whatever life-form was yet to come up at a subsequent time of recreation of the universe.
After his rest of a thousand earthly years which equalled one Night of Brahma, Vishnu came out of his meditational jal-samadhi. It immidiately occured to him that the Earth was not in its designated place and for some time he wondered where it could have gone. He saw through his yoga-bal that it was lying in Rasatal at the bottom of the oceans. Then he assumed a vast divine body of Varah (wild boar) . The four Vedas were its four legs, He had huge tusks and his body oozed of great strength and muscles.
In the Varah incarnation, Vishnu dived to the rasatal and found Hiranyaksh guarding the sunken earth. Immidiately they broke into a vicious fight, but the incarnation was so powerful that it did not take a long time defeat and kill Hiranyaksh. Vishnu recovered the stolen bouyancy powers from the asura and returned it to the earth. He then hooked his tusk under the earth and brought it up to the surface once again and floated it at the place where Brahma had placed it originally. He then re-esteblished the mountains and rivers and all the other features. He went around the teerthsthals and finally at a place called Kokamukh he gave up his Varah form. In his form of Brahma, he again created the world with all the life forms that had existed before the mahapralay.
It is Vishnu who as Brahma creates the worlds in all its manifest features and then conducts its running as Vishnu himself and finally as Rudra he annihilates the cosmos. These three incarnations of Vishnu so far were in the pure form of aquatic life and Varah which,as an animal, is equally adept on land as well as swamps. This perhaps gives the sense that when there was no earth and it was deep seas around, Vishnu became a formidable fish and then as the earth was forming and waters became shallow, he incarnated as Kurma which is more adopted to shallower waters. He assumed the Varah form as earth was in the process of forming and life still depended on the waters of the seas around. In the next avtar he appears as Narsingh where he is half Lion and half man. This indicates that the world orders were not yet fully incorporated. But, after that all the incarnations are in human form.
In very early times, Hiranyakashipu - Diti-putra and a brother of the slain Asura Hiranyaksh, sat in severe tapsya of Lord Brahma. Brahma was pleased with his Tapa and personally appeared in front of him and asked him to seek a boon. The Asura folded his hands and said, ' Deva, if you are pleased with me and want to give me a boon then please that it may be that I die from neither a dry thing nor a wet one, Neither from water nor from fire, neither by wood nor insect, neither by stone nor air. No arrow or any other weapon can kill me. No Mountain, Man, God, Asura, Gandharva or Rakshas can kill me. No Kinnar, Yaksh, Vidyadhar or Bhujang (Naag), Vanar or any other animal can kill me. Neither any Devi-mata like Durgaji may cause my death. I may not be killed either inside or outside an enclosure. I should die niether in day nor at night by any conventional methods of death. O! Brahma, this is the boon I seek from you." Brahma raised his right hand and said, 'Tathastu' and disappeared. Hirankashyapu was happy with himself and returned to his kingdom. Soon he conquered all the Devas and deprived them of their shares of yagya offerings. This made the Devas very weak and vulnerable. The Devas were driven out of their dwellings in swarga and pushed to the earth to live as ordinary beings. The Asura began to rule swarg and set up his own rule in the three Lokas. Even Indra was forced to live on Earth like any other human being.
Hiranyakashipu issued a whip to say that no person should ever pray to any Deva and as he himself was the Ruler, all people should pray only to him and make offerings that should reach his treasury. With such a dictat enforced upon people only Adharma flourished and every one got oriented to unfair ways of the Asuras. Indra and other Devas secretly met their Guru, Vrihaspatiji and queried ways and means to get rid of the Asura-raj and how Hiranyakashipu could be killed.
Vrihaspati said, ' Devas, this Asura has been deeply scared by his brother Hiranyaksh's death and most of his punya karmas have already borne fruit in his favour. There is no enemy greater than shok (grief) and this will make him even more weak and he will loose his power to resolve and Rule. The attack of a weapon or fire on ones body can be tolerated but the attack of grief is unbearable. Now all of you go to Ksheersagar where Vishnu is in meditation and pray to him for relief from this Asura'. The Devas soon reached as directed and saw Vishnu was about to conclude his tapasya. Shiv began to chant the Vishnu-sahastra naam (thousand names of Vishnu). Presently, Vishnu opened his eyes.
Meanwhile, Prahlad was born to Hiranyakashipu from his wife Kayadhu. He was a Vishnu Bhakta by birth and received his teachings from Narad in a secret way. Even though born in Asura family the boy always chanted the name of Vishnu and lived the life of a God-fearing person. As the boy grew up, so did his devotion to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried out many ways to reform Prahlad and wanted him to forget Vishnu and adopt Asura traits. But the boy was adament and kept his faith in Vishnu. Hiranakashyapu sent him away to gurukul with strict instructions that the child be taught only Asura shastra and he should be weaned away from Vishnu bhakti. But this did not work and when the boy returned from Gurukul he was even more inclined to chant Vishnu names. Hiranyakashipu tried many other ways to reform his son and failed. He decided to kill the boy since he failed to reform.
Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu had also prayed to God and had the boon that she could not be consumed by fire. In order to kill Prahlad, the Asura asked Holika to seat the boy in her lap and enter fire. He was sure that in this way the boy will be killed and Holika will come out unscathed. But after the ritual people saw Prahlad come out of the fire and Holika had been burn to ashes. There were many other attempts to kill Vishnu-bhakta Prahlad but nothing succeeded by God's grace. Hiranyakashipu ordered his men to tie up the boy with a heavy rock using snakes as ropes and throw him into deep ocean. The men complied, and as soon as Prahlad was dropped into the waters, Varun, the Lord of Sea came to him and brought him to his shores after untying all his bonds. Garud, the mount of Vishnu happily ate up all the snakes that had been used to tie up Prahlad. The boy reached home again praying to Vishnu with folded hands.
Hiranyakashipu flew into rage and pulled out his powerful swaord called Chandrahaas and shouted loudly, ' re Murkh! Call your Bhagwan Vishnu now to save you, because I am myself going to kill you at this very instant. You said he exists everywhere, let him appear now and try to save you. If he is every where, he should also be in this pillar.' Saying thus he hit his sword against the Pillar in disgust. Suddenly all present saw that the pillar indeed disintegraate and a humongus form of half man half lion bursted out of it. Many Asuras fainted and some even died with fear. The form of Narsingh made loud rumbling noises that shook the earth under foot. The form had huge eyes, wide mouth with flashing fangs and had several hands with outsized nails growing at the finger-tips. Then Narsingh form of Vishnu killed all the Asuras there and entered into duel with Hiranyakashipu. This lasted till the day was almost done and none of them relented. Then Narsingh threw away his weapons and grabbed the Asura in his hands and dragged him to the main door of his Royal Palace. Once there, Narsingh placed him on his thighs and split his chest using nails of his bare hands. The Asura made great dying sounds and his life ebbed out of him.
This way Bhagwan Narsingh had circumvented the effects all the boons that Hiranyakashipu had obtained from Brahma- nothing was violated. Brahmaji, himself arrived and did the coronation ceremony of Prahlad. And as Prahlad ruled with Bhakti bhav, there was once again Vedic order all around. The Devas got back their respective duties and residence in swarg. Dharma was prevelant in all the three Lokas once again. Vishnu had once again incarnated and ended the Asur rajya and re-esteblished dharma in the triloki.
In earlier times there lived King Bali who was son of Virochan. He was a powerful king and well known for his magnanimity who gave away many gifts and money to anyone who approached him. He was an Asur and had defeated the Devas and taken away their rule and had declared himself the Ruler of the three Lokas. Because the Devas had been denied their yagya bhag (offerings of sacrifices made during yagya) they had become very weak and lean. On seeing their pitiable condition their mother Aditi sat in Tapasya and prayed to Lord Vishnu for succour. In due course, Vishnu was pleased and gave her the boon that He will take form and defeat the wily Asuras and return the rule of Triloki back to her sons-the Devas.
Soon, a son was born to Aditi and Kashyap and at the time of his birth all the Devas came to get the rare darshan of Vishnu as an incarnation. Brahma performed all the veda's prescribed rites and named him Vaman. At that time Bali had been performing his morning yagya and he was surprised to see that the yagya-agni did not accept any of his offerings. Suddenly, the earth began to shake and his priests could not recite the mantras correctly any longer. Many of them had fallen silent. Bali asked his Guru Shukracharya the cause and he was informed that Vishnu had incarnated and was now on his way to the yagya to receive the offerings personally. The Guru also told him that since Bali had taken away the rules from the Devas, Vishnu would undoubtedly return these after forcing Bali to give them up. He also advised Bali not to commit giving any gift to Vishnu. Bali thought for a while and said if Vishnu himself asked for anything, then he will surely not deny him.
Presently, Vaman entered the yagya area and began to praise the proceedings. Bali jumped to his feet and began to pray to him with offerings of water, flowers and scented samagri. He said, ' O ! Deva, please ask me for anything and I will be happy to place it at your feet'. Vaman said, 'Please give me three strides of earth for my yagyashala, I have no need for anything else'. Bali picked up his water pitcher and started to pour water on Vaman's hands as confirmation of his gift. But he found that no water was coming out of its spout. Actually Shukrachrya had changed form and entered the spout to block it so that Bali could not confirm his Gift. Bali picked up a strand of Kusha grass and put it in the spout to clear the passage, in the process he hit Shukracharyas eye and he baecame blind in that eye. The Guru rushed out in pain and Bali completed his confirmation by pouring water on Vaman Devas hands.
The moment water fell on his hands, Vaman grew into his huge immeasurable form and in his first stride covered the whole earth, in his second stride he covered the skies and in his third stride he covered swarglok (Bhu, bhuv and swah). He chased out all the Asuras from the triloki and said to Bali, ' You have given me the gift of land and therefore, I give you the kingdom of Patal loka. You may rule this place for many years and when the cosmos reforms again after maha-pralay, you will be the Indra of that yuga'.
Bali proceeded to Patal loka with his Guru Shukracharya and remaining Asuras and lived in Patal as the King and ruled for many years. Lord Vishnu blessed the praja and unmanifested himself.
In ancient times the Devas realised that the Kings and other Rulers on earth were not following Vedic Dharma while ruling their respective subjects, This way Adharma was prevailing over Dharma and the populations were antagonised and they cried out to Gods for help. All the Devas went to Ksheersagar and prayed to Vishnu, seeking a solution to the woes of man-kind. Vishnu agreed to help and was born as Jamdagnya- son of Rishi Jamdagni. The boy grew up and became famous in the world as Parashuram because he weilded the Farsa-Chopper as his favoured weapon. He undertook reforms all over martyalok and killed many Kings and his tyrant administrators. In the process he got the world rid of Kshatriya class of people 21 times.
Around this time Kartveerya, son of Kratveerya was the ruler of the worlds as a powerful Samrat. He had fought with many Kings and attached their Kingdom and wealths to his Rule. As a powerful king he was unfair to his people and had taxed them heavily and indulged in all kinds of misrule. In his kingdom no one was safe and there was fear of robbers, dacoits nd vandals. Even the children were not educated to follow Scripture professed knowledge.
One day Kartveerya, followed by his vast Armed might had gone hunting in the nearby forest. They killed many animals birds unmindfully and destroyed vast tracts of forest. As night grew they found themselves still in forest and felt the necessity to camp there for the night. But the followers and the Army were not prepared for night camping. The scouts told the KIng that there was the Ashram of Rishi Jamdagni quite close by. Kartveerya went there and met the Rishi. The Rishi was thrilled that the King had visited his Ashram and he said, ' King, you have arrived here as my guest, so, please camp here along with your entire Army and let me have the pleasure of serving you for the night halt I will offer you and your Army fruit, roots and other foods available in this forest'. The king agreed but in his heart he was unsure how the Rishi would feed so many people with only a handful of desciples. But, after he had rested, the Rishi laid down the most exquisit fare of foods and drinks,not only for himself but for all his followers and his retinue of slaves and animals. And, when Dinner was over he was led to a superbly decorated tent with woman servants, chandlairs and live music by several artists. Similarly, his troops as well the animals like elephants, horses, camels etcetra too were housed in proper barracks and stables.
The King called his henchmen and Senapati (Minister leading the forces) and asked them to find out how Jamdagni had achieved this feat. Then he slept well as he was very tired from his days activity of hunting in the forest. Next day, early in the morning, Senapaty arrived and told him that the Rishi had a divine cow called Kamadhenu. Kamadhenu had miraculous powers to grant the Rishi whatever he desired. Thus, when the King had arrived with such a huge troop at his command the Rishi had prayed to the Cow and everything appeared as they all were witnessing now. The cow not only provided the milk it also granted any other wish that the Rishi made to it. Even as the King was in conversation with his Minister the sun was slowly rising in the East. And as soon as it crossed the Horizon everything vanished in front of their eyes. Kartveerya was flabbergasted and he immidiately told Senapaty that he wanted the cow at any cost.
He himself went to Jamdagni and demanded that the cow be handed over to him as it would be more useful to him than the purpose it served at the Ashram. The Rishi warned him that any one who had wanted to take away Kamadhenu by force would not survive and he advised him to pack his Royal belongings and leave for his planned activities. Now, Kartveerya was really angry that his wish was turned down, he ordered his Army to take the cow by force. Jamdagni and his wife, along with some disciples tried to prevent this kidnaping, but were powerless in front of the fully armed Guards and soldiers. The Senapaty killed Jamdagni and tried to drag the Cow, but, the cow was Divine and it went away to the Heaven along with the slain Rishi. The King returned to his Capital very dejected and disappointed.
The Rishi's wife began to cry and hit her torso twenty one times in grief. Just then her son Parshuram returned from his daily karmas and understood what had transpired. He told his mother to take heart and promised to get the world rid of Kshatriya cast Twenty one times- once for each time that she had beaten her chest. Saying this, Parshuram picked up his Farsa (Chopper) and went to the Kartveeryas city of Mahishmatipur and challanged him for a duel. The King came out with an army twice as large as what he had gone to the forest with. He himself sat on a superb Horse. Parshuram now assumed his Vishnu form and easliy slayed the king and his army in a trice.
His anger did not subside and he went around the three Lokas killing all the Kshatriya rulers who had violated the Vedic norms. He repeated his act twenty one times in accordance with the promise he had made to his mother. Vishnu had once again rid the world of evil and had re esteblished proper order and all the people once again began to live proper lives and happiness dawned on all the three worlds.
At the end of Sat-yug the creation entered into Treta-yug. At this time it is said that Dharma lives with only three of its legs and people are less oriented to Satvic ways. The worlds increasingly get under the influence of non-vedic rituals and evils prevail. During this time the Asuras become very powerful and tried to establish Tamsic living. To balance out and eliminate the Asuras Vishnu incarnated as Rama. Interestingly, if the English calender is extrapolated backwards, some say that Rama was born on January 10, 5114 BC!
The Asura who became powerful and took away the reins of the world order from the Devas and held them captive while he enforced people to follow his dictat. Those Rishis and Munis that did not comply were physically eaten up or their yagyas were corrupted by Rakshas in many ways. The king of all the Rakshas, Ravan, was the great grandson of Brahma himself. Brahma's son was Rishi Pulstya and his son was Vishrava. Ravan was born in the Rakshas yoni to Vishrava. He had prayed to Shiv and and obtained many boons and with absolute power, he became absolutely corrupted and thought himself to be the creator himself. Apart from all Rakshas traits like killing, dishonouring people, stopping people from performing religious rituals like yagya and so on, Ravan's weakness was women. He would kidnap them and after violating them would kill them.
Ravan had even defeated his own uncle Kuber, the brother of Vishrava and taken away his Golden City of Lanka along with the airial Viman called Pushpak. This Viman could move at the speed of mind and was extermely versatile. Even the city of Lanka had been crafftily designed on an island in the ocean with natural defences. From such a fortress he ruled evrywhere through his reliable and committed Rakshasas who had free hand against anyone practicing devotion to the Devas. Not only the people of the three Lokas were desparate, even the Devas had become very weak and vulnerable because they did not get any yagya bhag (offerings). Ravan had defeated them collectively and individually and taken away their portfolios of maintaing the functioning of the Cosmos. They all were expelled from the Swargloka and now resided on earth as common people. All of them assembled under Lord Shiva and went to Ksheersagar where Vishnu had been in Tapasya. They narrated their woes to him and pleaded that he kill Ravan and all the othor notorious Rakshas. Vishnu agreed and said he will take birth in Ayodhya as sons of King Dashrath of the Suryavanshi lineage very soon. He advised the Devas also to take birth as Vanars or as appropriate to help in this cause.
Dashrath, King of Ayodhya had being ruling his Kingdom with great religious following and had somehow succeeded in keeping the Rakshas away from his territories. Now, he was aging and worried that he had no sons to take over the Kingdom. He had married thrice but to no avail. At one time he was performing "Putreshthi" yagya to beget a son and praying to Vishnu for the favour. The assembly suddenly saw that Agni-Dev himself materialised from the flames of Havan-kund with a bowl of Kheer in his hands. This, he gave to Dashrath and advised him to feed it to his queens and they will soon deliver heirs to the family. After that he returned to the fire and yagya was completed.
Dashrath made two portions of the kheer and gave it to his wives, Kaushalya and Kaikayi. These two queens shared their portions with the third wife, Sumitra. In time Rama was born to Kaushalya , Laxman and Shatrughan to Sumitra (she had received a portion each from the other two queens) and Kaikayi's son was called Bharat. The King was extremely pleased and celebrations took place all over Ayodhya. These four princes began to grow up and were coached by Rishi Vashishtha, who was also the Rajguru. All four princes were Vishnu incarnates and soon picked up education and training in all fields fit for a Royal Prince. One day a powerful Rishi, Viswamitra, came and saw the nearly sixteen year old sons of Dashrath. He consulted him and told him that Vishnu had taken birth as his Sons and now it was time to train for the very purpose for which the incarnation had taken place. Very reluctantly, Dashrath permitted Vishwamitra to lead away Rama and Laxman to the forest.
Immidiately, even during the journey to the forest, Vishwamitra began imparting great secrets of war-making to the two brothers. Enroute, they met many Rakshas who Rama killed as per instructions of his Guru. Rama also killed Tadka asura, who was close to Ravan. There after, both brothers would be alert and take on any Rakshas who came to disturb the Rishis of the forest engaged in religious persuits. One day they were attacked by Marichi and Subahu who were two dreaded Asuras. Rama killed Subahu on the spot but the arrrow he shot at Marichi carried the Rakshas far into the sea. The badly injured Asura reached Ravan and told him about the arrival of Rama and Laxman in the forest.
During their various forrays in the forest Rama had given his darshan to many like Nishad Raj, Shabri, Ahilya and others. When Vishwamitra was sure that Asuras will not dare venture in his forest, he reached Mithila Nagri with the two princes. Here they saw that Raja Janak had organised a Swayamwar (Selection process of finding a groom by the princess) and many eligible Rajkumars of renown had reached there. But King Janak had laid down a condition. He had placed an old Dhanush (Bow) of Shiva and had stipulated that any one who could string the bow could marry his lovely daughter, Sita. All the Rajkumars had tried and failed the test. Vishwamitra asked Rama to string the bow. As Rama picked it up and pulled the string, the Bow broke into two parts and Rama was declared winner. But, because he broke the Shiva's bow, suddenly, Rishi Parashuram appeared and shook with anger. He wanted to kill the person who had dared to even lift the bow. Janak and Vishwamitra pacified the Rishi and he departed. Interestingly, both Rama and Parashuram were incarnations of Vishnu.
Back at Ayodhya after they were married things began to hot up. Dashrath decided that he had become old and it was time to Crown the eldest Son- Rama, and himself live live in seclusion. But Queen Kaikeyi had different ideas. She confronted the King for two boons that she had received in early life and were forgotten all this while. Firstly, She asked him to Crown her son Bharat instead of Rama, and secondly, that Rama be exiled to the forest for fourteen years. Dashrath had no recourse and agreed reluctantly but could not sustain the pain of losing his favourite son and eventually died.
Rama proceeded to the forest to keep the sanctity of his father's words. Sita and Laxman dutifully followed him. In the forest, they give up Royal attire and covered themselves with barks and leaves like several jungle people did. They survived on forest produce such as roots, fruit animal game . Bharat was livid with anger when he returned to Ayodhya and came to know what his mother had done. He even visited the forest and tried to get Rama to change his mind, but Rama was the ideal maryada -prushottam (person who lives for the honour of his words) and he declined. Bharat returned back and took over the Kings duties for Rama in absentia.
While residing in Dandakaranya forest both brothers killed several Rakshasas and made the place safe for Rishis to pray in safe environment. At one time Shrupnakha, Ravan's sister came there and Laxman cut off her nose and ears. She went to Lanka and cried in front of Ravan. Ravan asked his two brothers Khar and Dooshan to bring the two brothers to book. Rama and Laxman killed them both and then the stage was set for a bigger fight. Ravan roped in Marichi once again and abducted Sita by deciet and carried her away to his Capital City- Lanka. He had been cursed that he would die if he violated another lady, therefore, he Kept Sita in his beautiful garden called Ashok Vatika hoping that the victim will surrender herself one day.
Rama is overcome by grief and both brothers search far and wide crying her name loudly. One day they are seen by another Jungle King, Sugreev, who sends Hanuman to investigate. Hanuman recognises Rama and ultimately befriends Rama and Sugreev. Incidentally, Hanuman is the elevnth Rudra- an incarnation of Shiva. Sugreev had a vast enemy that consisted of Vanars (Monkey people) and Reech (Bear people). He dispatches Hanuman to seek Sita along with several other Vanars in all directions. Hanuman locates Sita in Lanka and sets the Golden city on fire before returning to Rama. A huge Army cosisting of Vanars and Reech sets out for Lanka. They build Ram-setu for the army to cross over from mainland.
A war breaks out and one by one Ravan's Generals, who were his uncles, brothers and sons . are killed by the Rama-Sena. Great warriers like, Indrajeet, Kumbhkaran and many others get killed but Ravan can not suppress his desire for Sita. At last he takes the field himself and is killed by an arrow shot from Rama's bow.Thus Rama begets his loving wife from the clutches of Ravan and they all return to Ayodhya as Victors. This coincided with completion of fourteen years of exile.The days are celebrated in India from Vijaydasmi to Deepawali every year, even to this day.
In this incarnation too, Vishnu eliminated evil completely from the face of the earth by killing Rakshas and Asuras. He reinstalled Dharmic ways of life and returned the Triloki administration to the Devas. Rama ruled for several years in Ayodhya and later returned to Vaikunth, his holi city
BALRAM AND SHREE KRISHNA AVTAR
As Treta yuga was slipping into Dwapar yuga once again the Asuras and Rakshas had become strong and were propogating evil and destroying the Vedic running of the Triloki affairs. The Mother Earth- Bhuma Devi, felt it was overburdened by evil Asuras and was being pressed into Rasatal by the sheer weight of these evil devils. The now all powerful Asuras, who had taken birth largely as Kshatriyas had overthrown the Devas from the Swargloka and had forced them to live on earth as common people. Bhuma Devi was in tears and complained to Devas living on Earth for relief, but they were powerless. The agrieved Devas prayed and petitioned Brahma who appeared in their presence and heard their submission with great concern. Then all the Devas and Bhuma Devi followed Brahma to Vaikunth Loka and began to pray to Vishnu. Vishnu was pleased and he welcomed Brahma and his delegation of Devas. He had already known the problem of Bhuma Devi. He assumed his four armed rupa with Shankh, Chakra, Gada and Padma flower in his hands to grant them his rare darshan in this form. The Devas were reassured. Vishnu told them that when time comes he will be born as son of Vasudev with his Gaur-Shakti (White power) as well as his Krishna-shakti (Dark Power) through the womb od Devaki. He will rid the three Lokas of the Rakshas with these two shaktis and re-esteblish dharma. The Devas and Bhuma Devi returned back and began to wait for the incarnation of Vishnu.
Kansa, a powerful Rakshas ruled the Earth and had his Captal in Mathura City. He had learnt that his killer will be born to his sister Devaki as her eight child. To insure that none of Devaki's children survived, he put both her, and her husband into underground cells. This way he would always know when her Babies were born. To be on the safe side he decided to kill each and every infant so that there was no fear of such a birth that could kill him. Assured, that he had taken due care he continued to practise his evil ways and made sure that evryone prayed and made offerings to him alone. He had already stopped Deva-puja and yagya offerings to Devas. He was the tyrrant king of the Rakshas, and even other powerful Asuras were afraid to face him.
When it was time for incarnation of Vishnu, Devaki found herself pregnent with Vasudeva's seventh son. This was the first of the two Shaktis, the Gaur-Shakti. But miraculously, the birth was transplanted to Rohini who delivered the baby. He was named Sankarshan (Transplant), or Rama, or Balram as he was popularly called. Later, Devaki realised she was once again carrying Vasudevs Baby and she delivered the Krishna -Shakti. As if by magic, when the baby was born, every one of the guards went to sleep, and the locks of the dungeon broke open. Vasudev put the Baby in a Sifter and carried it across the river Jamuna into Brij where he put the baby next to Yashoda. Yashoda too had delivered a baby girl that night and Vasudev returned to prison with this baby girl and put her next to his wife Devaki. Next day morning Kansa came to know of the birth and decided to kill this baby too, in the way he had killed Devaki's other children. But, the Girl turned into lightening and made akashvani to Kansa that his killer had already taken birth. In a flash she swooped up and returned to swarg as Vishnu's prime Shakti.
Both Balram and Krishna grew up in Brij and began to exhibit their Godly traits while killing many Rakshas. Balram had killed the Rakshas who had taken bird-form to kill the brothers and later killed Dhenuk and several other Rakshas who came to Mathura. Krishna, as an infant sucked life out of Putna Rakshasi, granted swarga to two trees called Yamalarjun, Chased Kaliya Nag to Patal Lok, Lifted Goverdhan Parvat to shield his devotees from the ire of Indra. The brothers would go out as Charvahas (cow tenders) and had held every one in the village entranced by their love and caring. The village girls called Gopis were particularly in love with Krishna. As they grew up, Krishna would often go to Madhuban forest and would conduct Raasleela with the Gopis, lead by his favourite Gopi, Radha.
When they were old enough, both Balram and Krishna went to the Gurukul of Sandipan Rishi and mastered the arts of weaponary, warfare and gyan of the Vedas and other scriptures. Their fame began to spread and Kansa came to know of their feats and became suspecious that they could be the cause of his death on day. He invited them to Mathura and tried to kill them through efforts of Royal elephant called Kulvayapeeda and other wrestler Rakshas such as Chaanoor. The duo killed all the adversaries and dragged down Kansa from his throne. Krishna killed the Rakshas and crowned Kansa's father, Ugrasen as the King, thus, reversing the Rakshas Raaj. Thereafter, both Balram and Krishna killed many of the trouble making Rakshas. Balram had fought and killed the forces of powerful Asuras like Mushtik, Pralamb and Jarasandh.
Krishna created a townshipat Gomant Parvat, out of land given by the sea-God and called it Dwarika. The remains of this holi city have been found off-shore from Gujarat Coast. During this time Krishna had defeated many other Rakshas and set free the women they had captured. Later Krishna married over 16000 girls as his wives to give them honourable existence in Dwarika. He lived with his eight other wives. Rukmani was his prime wife and amongst the others were Jambvanti, Satyabhama, Kubja and others.
The Kauravas had abducted Krishnas son Saamb and did not listen to reason. Balram was enraged and he forcefully freed him. This planted the seed of distrust between Krishna and Balram on one hand and the Kauravas on the other. The hostility grew exponentially. During that time the Battle-Royal between Pandavas and the Kauravs took place. The Kauravas were evil and represented the Rakshasas while Pandavas were devotees of God. Krishna had vowed to help the Pandavas, but, would not weild a weapon himself. He bacame the Saarathi (Chariot driver) of Arjuna. In the battle all the forces of Kauravas were killed, depicting end of evil and Pandavas won, depicting win of Good over Evil. Krishna had put his own Sena at the disposal of Duryodhan, the King of Kauravas. These soldiers, many of them of his Yadava jaati (cast) also perished.
Krishna delivered the Gita-gyan to Arjun and to the world when Arjun showed his reluctantance to fight and kill his own kith and kin at Kurukshetra battle. The Kauravas, sons of Raja Kuru and Pandavas, sons of Pandu were first cousins.
Thus Vishnu once again destroyed adharma and set the basis for dharmik ways. When his need was done he returned back to Vaikunthlok.
This is one Avtar whose time has not come as yet. In our present Yuga cycle, Kalyuga has already begun. During Kaliyug, Dharma is destroyed completely and sinful living is adopted by people on the earth resulting in various new sickness and disease that attack the masses- killing several people or leaving them maimed for life. Men everywhere will be interested only in their transient worldly happiness and pleasures. With such a mayhem prevailing, the Gods will assemble at the banks of Ksheersagar and pray to Bhagwan Vishnu to once again end the evil and setup the dharmayug.
Vishnu will oblige and will take birth at Saambhal village which will be populated by many non-believers of Hindu-Dharma and its Chaturvarna philosophy. Such people will be called Malechch. The Avtar will be as a famous and well known King by the name of Kalaki. He will then mount his horse and will destroy the non-believers by his mighty sword. (Read will mount his dark vehicle and destroy corrupt masses by his weapon). After cleansing the populations he will conduct a havan called 'Bahukaanchan' ,establish dharma again and return to his Vaikunthaloka.
Since the event is yet to take place not much of his feats are recorded, but there is some text available on what needs to be actually expected during Kalikal.
After Krishnavtar is over, there will again be a graduaal fall in dharmik ways and sinful living will gain strength. All recognised dharmas will wean away and no one will really care for Gods and each person will live only for himself. The chaturvarna system will fail causing increase in the malechch populations where there will be no Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas or kshudras classification. The average lifespan of people will dramatically reduce and there will be no time in any ones life to learn family traditions or advance values of their departed ancesters. It will be a dog-eat-dog world. People of higher standings will fall and be governed by people of the lower orders who will maliciously occupy higher posts. The Ruling class will be intersted only in their welfare and money-making and will have no interest to raise the living standards of its subjects. Only those people who have Horses, Cattle etcetra (read -wealth) will have access to power and will be called Rulers. Sons will be disrespectful to their Father and wives will boss over their husbands and Mothers-in-law.
The population ratio will see more numbers of girls than boys. There will be more lowly animal forms like Dogs and Pigs and hardly any cows or other farm animals left. Even rainfall will be scanty and growth of farm-produce will decline leading to famine and spread of contegious disease. Else there will be floods due to excess rainfalls leading to deaths and destructions. The few Religious people still found will be rediculed and have no standing in the society. Even the Brahmins will become critical of the Vedas to appease the non-believers and earn their living somehow.
Only those handful people who still live life by the Vedas and scriptures alone will somehow pull through Kiliyuga and will pray to God for its end and re-esteblisment of Sat-yuga. In Sat-yuga, Tapasya is the main duty, Dhyan is practised during Treta-yuga, Yagya is prominent in Dwapar-yug, but in Kali-yuga only Daan and uttering God's name (Japa) will suffice for God's mercy. Fruit of ten years Tapsya during Sat-yuga can be achieved by only one day and night's recitation of God's name.
Om Parmatmane Namah
Om Namo Narayanah