The Dashavatar is the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu for the betterment of Dharma. Alongside, the Ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu reveal many interesting facts about human evolution. The Dashavatar story for kids creates a scientific temper in them besides teaching them the reason behind the ten avatars of Vishnu.
Here we presented the Dashavatar story for kids in English for their easy understanding.
What are the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu?
Lord Vishnu incarnated in ten avatars to reinstate Dharma on the Earth. The main reason for Lord Vishnu to don avatars is to kill demons who make Dharma suffer.
In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Sri Krishna says – Dharma Samsthapanarthaya Sambhvaami Yugey Yugey.
Means to correct the world where Dharma is not followed, Lord Krishna himself comes to the Earth in various avatars yuga after yuga.
The ten avatars of Lord Vishnu – Dashavatar- are:
- Matsya – Fish
- Kurma – Tortoise
- Varaha – Wild boar
- Narasimha – Man-Lion
- Vamana – Dwarf Brahmin Boy
- Parashurama – Brahmin Warrior
- Rama – King of Ayodhya, Human
- Krishna – King of Dwaraka, Human
- Buddha – Gautama Buddha, Human
- Kalki – The Prophesied warrior who comes on a king at the end of Kali Yuga
Let us understand the story of ten avatars of Vishnu one by one:
Story of Matsya Avatar
Matsyavatar is the first avatar among Dashavatar. In the Matsya Avatar, Lord Vishnu was born as a giant fish with a horn.
There are two stories related to Matsya Avatar.
Story of Matsya Avatar according to Matsya Purana:
There was a sage named Vaivasvata Manu. When he was paying obligations to Sun God one morning, a small little fish came into his hand. It says – it would be the savior of Manu at the end of the yuga during the Great Flood Pralaya. Sage Manu takes it home and keeps it in a water pot.
But the fish starts outgrowing the pot immediately. Then he shifts it to a tank and then to the Ganges river as it outgrows everything soon. He realizes that the fish is none other than Sri Maha Vishnu. The fish tells Manu to prepare a boat with seeds and material enough to create life once again after the deluge. The sage obeys this and prepares accordingly.
When the Great Flood starts, Manu rushes to the fish for help along with the boat. The fish rescues them by tying the boat to its horn. After the Great Flood ends, Lord Brahma again starts creating the Earth and makes Manu the Caretaker throughout the end of this Kalpa.
Story of Matsya Avatar according to Bhagavata Purana:
There was a demon named Hayagriva. He stole Vedas from Lord Brahma when Brahma was yawning. The demon hides them under the ocean.
Lord Brahma could not create the Universe because of this stealing act. He approaches Lord Vishnu for help who then turns into the giant fish and enters the oceanic waters. After a fierce battle with Hayagriva, Lord Vishnu in the form of fish kills the demon and gets back Vedas and hands them over to Brahma who then again starts creating the Universe.
This day when Brahma gets the Vedas and starts recreating the Universe is nothing but the day of Ugadi – an important Indian festival.
Story of Kurmavatar
Kurmavatar is the second among the ten avatars of Vishnu. Kurma means tortoise.
The story of Kurmavatar is as follows:
Once all the Gods and Demons wanted to obtain Amrita – the Divine Nectar that makes one immortal. As per Lord Vishnu’s suggestion, they plan to churn the Great Ocean of Milk ( Ksheera Sagara Mathanam).
To churn such a big ocean, they needed a churning pole, for which they chose Mount Mandara. Next, they choose Vasuki, the giant snake as the churning string. But when they landed the Mandara in the milk ocean, it started drowning in the ocean.
It is at this instant that Lord Vishnu took the form of a giant tortoise. The tortoise supported Mount Mandara on his back and helped complete the process of Ksheera Sagara Mathanam.
Story of Varaha Avatar
Varaha Avatar is the third among the ten avatars of Vishnu. In the Varaha Avatar, Lord Vishnu appears as the giant wild boar with huge and powerful tusks.
The story of Varaha Avatar is as follows:
There was a demon named Hiranyaksha. He is the elder brother of Hiranyakashipu, a well-known king and father of Prahlada.
Hiranyaksha is a powerful demon. With his powers, he steals Mother Earth (Bhudevi) and hides her in the Cosmic Oceanic waters. Then Lord Vishnu appears in the form of a wild boar and kills Hiranyaksha.
Thus, he rescues Earth from the Cosmic oceanic waters and puts it back in the solar system. Grateful for his help, Bhudevi requests him to make her his wife. Thus, Bhudevi is another wife of Lord Vishnu along with Lord Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
Story of Narasimha Avatar
Narasimha Avatar is the fourth among ten avatars of Vishnu. In the Narasimha Avatar, Vishnu appears as half-man and half-lion.
The story of Narasimha avatar is as follows:
King Hiranyakashyap was very powerful. He was a great hater of Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap is a great warrior and gets a boon from Brahma that neither a man nor an animal, neither in the morning nor in the night, neither in the house nor in the outside, neither on the land nor in the air should kill him.
Interestingly, his wife Kayadhu is one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu. When she was pregnant, Maharshi Narada used to come to visit her to extend his blessings. He used to recite the great tales of Vishnu to her. She used to listen to him with utmost devotion.
Sometimes she used to sleep when he was narrating tales out of energy less of being pregnant. At that time, the child in her womb used to listen to the tales and nod to the Sage Narad. Thus, the kid in the womb turns into a great devotee of Maha Vishnu. This boy is none other than the little Prahlad.
After he was born, he used to sing songs and recite the greatness of Lord Vishnu to his father Hiranyakasyap. Being the hater of Vishnu, Hiranyaksyap could not tolerate this behavior of Prahlad. He tries to kill him in many ways – by pushing him off the cliffs, making elephants press him, etc.
Every time Lord Vishnu used to protect the little Prahlad. Once Hiranyakasyap orders his sister Holika to kill Prahlad. Holika has a boon that fire cannot do any harm to her. Thus, she plans to make little Prahlad sit on her lap and sits on fire.
Due to the Maya of Vishnu, the fire burns and kills Holika and does not harm Prahlad. This day is what we celebrate as Holika Dahan or Holi.
Vexed with all such events, Hiranyakasyap challenges Prahlad to show him Lord Vishnu.
For this Prahlad says that Lord Vishnu is present anywhere around us, even in the pillar of the royal court. Then when Hiranyakashyap breaks the pillar with anger to prove that Vishnu does not live on the pillar, a fierce lion-man comes out of the pillar. He is none other than Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar. He then kills Hiranyakasyap with the strong nails of lion hands and brings his intestines out by keeping him on His lap and sitting at an entrance door.
Thus, Lord Vishnu comes in half-man half-animal, kills him in the evening dusk, by putting him on his lap, thus neither on the ground nor in air, and killing him at the entrance of the house. Thus, satisfying all the conditions of his wish!
Story of Vamana Avatar
Vamana avatar is the fifth among ten avatars of Vishnu. In the Vamana avatar, Vishnu appears as a small Brahmin boy.
The story of Vamana avatar is as follows:
There was a demon king Mahabali who ruled the lands of Kerala and around. He was the kindest ruler of his time. He used to donate anything that they sought. Gods were jealous of his good powers.
Bali also conquered the Deva Loka by winning over Indra in a war. Thus, Indra wanted to bring back his power somehow. Meanwhile, as he won the Indra Loka, as a rule after winning a war, a King has to perform Ashwamedha Yaga (a ritual that involves horses). Bali was doing this and granting boons to everyone who attended the Yaga.
Meanwhile, Indra approached Lord Vishnu and requested his help to gain back the Deva Loka. Thus, Maha Vishnu turned into a small Brahmin boy and visited the Yoga place. He then approached Maha Bali and sought three feet of land as his shelter. Bali promises him the same.
Then the Vamana boy grows into a giant touching the sky and occupies the whole Earth and the Sky with his two feet. He then asks where he should keep the third foot. For this Bali shows his head and asks him to take that place. Vamana then places his leg on Bali’s leg and pushes him to the Patala Loka – The Underworld.
But as King Bali is kind-hearted, Maha Vishnu grants him a boon that he can come back to Earth every year and visit his people. This day of the year when he visits his people by coming back to the Earth is celebrated as another famous Indian festival Onam.
Story of Parashurama
Parashu Rama is the sixth avatar from ten avatars of Vishnu. In this form of the Parshurama avatar, Vishnu is born as Parashu Rama, the son of sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka.
Story of Parashurama:
In the ashram of Jamadagni, there was a cow Surabhi. It is the daughter of Kamdhenu – the eternal Divine Cow that grants anything.
Once, the king of the place Kartavirya Arjuna came to know about it and wanted to get hold of the cow Surabhi. He asks the Sage Jamadagni for the same for which the sage refuses politely. This angers the king and he steals it when the sage is not at home.
This triggers Parashurama who wages a war on the King and kills all his soldiers. Till then there used to be a sort of undertreatment given to Brahmins by Kshatriyas in terms of power. This avatar was taken by Lord Vishnu to prove that Kshatriyas are not the only ones who can win a battle but Brahmins can also fight as equal as Kshatriyas.
Story of Ramavatar:
Lord Rama is the seventh avatar from ten avatars of Maha Vishnu. In this form of the Ramavatar, Vishnu is born as Rama, the son of Dasaratha and Kausalya.
Story of Ramavatar:
Rama was the first son of King Dasharatha, and his first wife Kausalya. He has brothers Lakshman, Bharata, and Shatrughan.
When Rama grows up, he marries Sita- the daughter of King Janaka. But the couple had to go to the forest for 14 years due to the wish of Kaikeyi, the third wife of Dasaratha.
While they were in the forest, Ravana the king of Lanka kidnaps Sita. Then Rama brings her back by killing Ravana with the help of ape warriors that included Hanuman.
The day when Lord Ram killed Ravan in Lanka is what we celebrate as Vijaya Dasami or Dussehra.
The day Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya with Sita Maa and Lakshman, the people of AYodhya welcomed their king and queen with lakhs of lamps. This event we celebrate as the festival of Diwali.
In this avatar, Vishnu is a normal human in the form of Ram. He stands by the Dharma in every situation of his life and faces many testing times as a human does.
Story of Krishnavtar:
Lord Krishna is the eight avatars from ten avatars of Maha Vishnu. In this form of the Krishna avatar, Vishnu is born as Krishna, the son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
Story of Krishnavtar:
There was a demon king Kamsa. He is the brother of Devaki, the mother of Lord Krishna. Kamsa wants to gain the hold of the whole Earth. He had many demons under him with whom he made many atrocities against sages and good people.
Once an Aakash Vani (an invisible divine voice) tells him that the eighth son of Devaki will kill Kamsa. From then onwards, he starts killing every child born to Devaki. Unable to see the eighth child die, Vasudeva shifts him to Gokula as soon as he was born.
This eighth child is Krishna and he turns into a great warrior and hero when he grows up and kills many demons and evil persons as he grows. At last he killed Kamsa. It is also in the Krishna avatar that Krishna shared Bhagavad-Gita with Arjuna that is considered as the Supreme guide for Hindus.
Story of Buddha Avatar
While the rest of the avatars are undertaken to kill demons and reinstate Dharma on the Earth, the Buddha avatar is for bringing peace and enlightenment to humans. Buddha avatar is the ninth among the ten avatars of Vishnu and the most recent Dashavatar of Lord Vishnu.
Story of Buddha avatar:
Buddha was born as Siddhartha Goutama for King Suddhodhana and his queen Maya Devi. They raise him in the palace very carefully so that he would not know what pain and suffering are.
But after his marriage, it so happens that Gautama comes out of the royal fort for the first time in his life. He sees the diseased people, dead people, poor people, and people with sufferings. He understands that life is more than what he experiences in his fort.
Thus, he renounces everything and seeks enlightenment under a Peepal tree. He found the Eight Fold Path that leads humans from suffering towards enlightenment. Thus, Gautama Buddha founded Buddhism which focuses mainly on simple living, non-violence, and peace.
Story of Kalki Avatar
Kalki is a superhero character that comes on ahorse to destroy the bad and bring the good onto the Earth again. Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu comes as Kalki at the end of the Kali-yuga. Kalki is the last form of Dashavatar, the ten avatars of Vishnu.
What the ten avatars of Vishnu teach us?
- Lord Vishnu protects his devotees though they may seem to undergo some tests. For example, Prahlada.
- Vishnu takes the form of a Super Creature to save Earth and dharma abiding humans from demons and evil people.
- In every avatar, Lord Vishnu follows the Dharma-related to that avatar. For example, in Rama Avatar, he faces the troubles of losing his wife, his father dying, etc. as a normal human would. In the Krishna avatar, Krishna ends his avatar in the hands of a forest man due to his arrow, like a human.
- The ten avatars of Vishnu follow the evolution of life – from fish to Super Human with Super Powers. If you observe carefully, Charles Darwin’s evolution theory follows the same observation. Life starts in Ocean and then evolves into super-powered humans.
Kids find the Dashavatar story in English very interesting. All these avatars are interconnected. Characters appear from one yuga to another in sequence. Thus, Dashavatar may be mythological, but their interrelation and the sequence of events shows that they are not just mythology but real happenings that occurred in times that are very far away from our perception.