According to the legend, Bhrigu’s curse led Vishnu to take birth multiple times on earth in various forms, known as avataras or incarnations. The Vayu Purana lists ten significant incarnations of Vishnu, each with a specific purpose and role. These incarnations are as follows:
- Matsya, representing a fish, signifies the preservation of life during a great flood by saving the Vedas and sages.
- Narasimha, depicted as half-man and half-lion, emerged to protect devotee Prahlada and destroy the demon king Hiranyakashipu.
- Vamana, appearing as a dwarf, was instrumental in subduing King Bali, who had become extremely powerful and ensuring that he upheld righteousness.
- Dattatreya, who was a sage born to the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya, is considered an incarnation of the Trimurti—Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
- Bhavya, also known as Yajna Varaha, was born to establish dharma and protect the earth.
- Parashurama, the warrior sage, appeared to rid the world of corrupt Kshatriyas and restore balance.
- Rama, the prince of Ayodhya and the protagonist of the epic Ramayana, exemplified righteousness, duty, and moral values.
- Vedavyasa, who compiled the ancient texts and divided the Vedas, is considered an incarnation of Vishnu.
- Krishna, a central figure in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, demonstrated divine playfulness and guided Arjuna in upholding righteousness.
- Kalki, who is yet to appear according to Hindu belief, will arrive as a horse-riding warrior at the end of the current age to restore order and righteousness.
Each of these avatars holds immense significance in Hindu mythology, showcasing various aspects of divinity, morality, and cosmic balance.