Readers I plan to write on a topic which is very close to my heart – The Avatars of Vishnu.
Let me at the beginning itself clarify that I do not equate Avatar as an incarnation. As there is a difference between the meaning of the 2 words itself. Avataran for me is प्रादुर्भाव। Incarnation is an embodiment of a deity/ spirit or quality in the flesh. When we Indians say Avataran we mean that the “परब्रह्म” takes a form. Simple logic being that one who made these different forms, cannot He decide and take a form for Himself!
I know that when I speak this, am from the minor few in this world who believe in any form of “परब्रह्म”. But I have my strong convictions about the same. In the same breathe I respect those who do not believe or are not ready to accept any form of “परब्रह्म”. Cause they believe anything which has form, needs to be born. Once born, it has to deteriorate and later at some time die. But “परब्रह्म” is never born. Respecting this point of view, I quote Whitehead – ” Human form is the most intimate form for me”, meaning that we all need someone or something in whom we can confide and trust. Then why not confide and trust in the “परब्रह्म” I believe in. And so if I need to talk and share, I need HIM to be in some form. That’s the need of a Human form.
Avatar means to “come down”. But that makes HIM different from me. And I cannot exist without HIM. So I like the word प्रादुर्भाव – HE rises from me, from amongst us. And I will narrate the story of Matsya (Fish) keeping this meaning in mind.
Today is Matsya Jayanti. The day when “परब्रह्म” took the form of a Fish to save the mankind.
At this juncture should also clarify the Shlok which is always quoted for Avatar. The most famous Shloks of Chapter 4 of the Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta :
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् || 7||Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjun, at that time I manifest myself on earth.
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् |
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे || 8|| To protect the righteous, to annihilate the wicked, and to reestablish the principles of dharma I appear on this earth, age after age.
In the reasons of HIS coming to the Earth, “परब्रह्म” says the main reason is to increase the righteousness. Also people generally believe that the Avatar is to annihilate the wicked but let’s read the understanding of the shlok 8 again. It says – to protect the righteous परित्राणाय साधूनां. This is the first reason behind the Avatar. Yes while protecting the righteous if the wicked need to be annihilated, then they will be annhilitated. But the reason of coming is not only annihilation.
So all those who say that let the world deteriorate and the “परब्रह्म” will come and save this world are wrong. The basis of Avatar is “प्रयत्नवाद”। HE comes to save the people who are making efforts – to save the Civilisation, Humanity and Righteousness. In the middle ages when India was being ruled by the Moghuls and the British, our History has been changed or twisted in a wrong way. And we the people of our Motherland have stopped thinking critically about our own History and are just learning what our rulers told us then and tell us now.
So as I said that I take the meaning of Avatar as प्रादुर्भाव and keeping HIS promise (Geeta Chap 4 Shlok 7-8) in mind will write about Avatar.
Also our Purans have many different Avatars of Vishnu, Shiv and other Gods. But I will be sticking to the different Avatar of Vishnu – 10 to be specific. We begin with the first Avatar of Vishnu – Matsya Avatar.
Namaskaars to Matsyavatar today.
To be continued…