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Re: Historical origins of Dashavatara ? -- another question

In article <2ruafe$78f@ucunix.san.uc.edu>,
rroy@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Raja R Roy) writes:
|>     I think that Vishnu made the appearance of Mohini to fool Bhasmasur
|>   to save Shiva. The difference between Avatars and Mohini seems to me that
|>    Vishnu did not take birth as Mohini, it was just a disguise for a small
|>   amount of time.

However, this applies to some of the avatars in what we think of as
Dasha avatar as well.  Narasimha was not necessarily "born", and niether was
Vamana, Kurma, or Varaha.  They all just came into being to perform an
action, same as Mohini.

Furthermore, in some South Indian traditions, Vishnu actually *became*
Mohini so that the union of Mohini and Shiva could produce a child that
would eventually kill the demoness Mahishi (the wife of the demon
Mahishasura, who was killed by Durga Devi).  This son was Ayappa, who is
very big in South India (especially Kerala), and is the god of worship at
one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the south, Sabarimala.

|>    Regarding, Balram and Lakshman, they are not incarnations of Vishnu, but
|>    incarnations of "Sheshnag". Mythologically, Vishnu rests on the bed of
|>     Sheshnag, while Lakshmi gives him company. Interpretation, at least to
|>   me, seems that Vishnu represents God, Lakshmi represents nature and 
|>    Sheshnag represents space. Shesh means what is left, and space is what
|>   is left after universe dissolves. God is distinguished from space, as the
|>   one who occupies this space, and universe comes out of God as the inter-
|>   action with nature proceeds.

As Mani has mentioned earlier, in some traditions, Balarama IS mentioned
as one of the ten avatars in the Dasha Avatar grouping.  He is seen as
the 8th of the ten, and Krishna is then placed as the ninth (and there
is no mention of the Buddha in that tradition).

I unfortunately do not have an answer as to why the notion of
Dasha Avatar exists.  I think it just goes to show the 
flexibility of the religion, which has changed and evolved
an uncountable number of times since its inception...


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