I was recently asked to speak and perform the Dashavatar. I was delighted when my co-host selected Dashavatar as our theme. Not only it is the most favorite of all the dances I learned as a child, and although each story in itself has great teachings, the collection of stories is a great teaching about the evolution of our consciousness, which we are still unable to measure and define with all of our current scientific methods.
It starts w a fish in the primordial ocean of Jnana the perfect state of undivided consciousness. Next comes the amphibious tortoise who live in the duality between the primordial ocean and individual land activity. After him comes the white boar, who lives on land, but can swim when necessary. In fact the boar is so more closely related a human, that we use the tissues of a pig for organ grafting. Narishima the half man half lion represents our transformational stage between the primitive animal and rational human, he is ferocity personified yet soothed by his devotee for whom he comes to save. Next is the dwarf a perfectly formed man, short in stature, the first to ask for something, three steps of land, rather than to give. Parashuram was a man of full stature, yet his nature was wild and primitive. His life was about bloodshed and he kills warriors in the world many times over until he is vanquished by Ramachandra or Rama who comes next. The perfect king, yet his personal life was miserable. he is banished from his kingdom, loses his wife, his Shakti. Then Krishna whose Shakti and Leela the play exists all within him. He is perfect, beyond all limitations except death. After Krishna leaves the earth Kali yuga begins the time of great temptation. Buddhi means discrimination or intellect. Buddha achieves perfect logical faculties, he chooses a life devoid of asethic experience, to escape Maya or existence all together because of the many temptations that trap us cycles of sufferring. He is known as the compassionate one because although he is no longer in the world, he longs to help others regardless of class, color, or origin. Kalki, is the one who will come next. He is the one without any stain. He will come when our world is at its worst, he will eliminate all but a very few, he will change their consciousness so that they remember their true selves and Satya Yuga a time of peace will begin again.
I was asked to complete a very small synopsis of each avatar’s story, so I have included it here for you. There are so many great questions that can arise and be answered by these stories. Too much for me to write here… I am especially grateful to Robert Svobodha and Dr. Bhagyalipi Malla for their writing on this subject and hope this topic will enchant you as it has me.
The first avatar was a giant fish that protected the world from a great deluge. In this form, after rescuing the Vedas (sacred texts), he guided many seeds of life forms and the septa-rishis seven sages, to safety by pulling them in a great boat until the flood waters receded.
In a quest to regain their powers, the Gods, with the help from the Demons, churned the cosmic ocean. The second avatar, a tortoise, supported a mountain on his back as a churning stick while a giant serpent served as a rope while many great gifts came forth and until the nectar of immortality was obtained.
Tormented by demons, the earth was dragged deep into primordial waters. The third avatar, in the form of a wild boar, retrieved the earth carrying her gently on his tusks, and then slayed the demon responsible with those very same tusks.
A demon king was gifted to not be killed by a human or animal, indoors or outdoors, day or night, with the use of any weapon. To protect his devotee, the fourth avatar appears from a pillar as half human-half lion and killed the king at his doorstep during twilight using bare claws.
The fifth avatar appeared as a dwarf and requested three steps of land to teach the superpower, King Bali, a lesson. The dwarf then grew into a giant and took over the earth and heavens in two steps. With no other place to step, Bali offered his head for the third step.
A power-hungry king steals a celestial cow from a humble forest dwelling couple and murders them. Their son Parasurama, takes up an axe as the sixth avatar and pledges to kill the king and all other rulers in the warrior caste wrongfully enforcing their supremacy on citizens.
In the seventh avatar, Prince Rama endures exile and the abduction of his wife by the demon king Ravana. With the help of his great devotee Hanuman, and an army of monkey warriors, he defeats Ravana, rescues his wife, and becomes a righteous king.
The multifaceted eighth avatar Krishna, is depicted in his leela, or play as a prankster in childhood, a lover in his youth, and an advisor for the epic battle Mahabharata in his adulthood. He is portrayed with a peacock feather in his crown and a flute in his hand.
Born as a prince, the ninth avatar renounced palatial pleasures and family ties after seeing sickness, old age, death, and a holy man to lead an ascetic life. His compassion and teachings offer a path of enlightenment for all souls regardless of caste, color, or origin.
The prophesied future avatar, Kalki is the one without any stain. He is depicted as riding a white horse and carrying a comet as his sword. He will eliminate evil forces and wrong-doers in three nights to bring an end to the darkness and beginning of a new age of peace.