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 What is an Avatar: Dashavatara - Avatars of Lord Dattatreya?
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siddha yoga blue What is an Avatar?
siddha yoga blue Dashavatara - 10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu
siddha yoga blue Avatars of Lord Dattatreya
siddha yoga blue Shripad Shri Vallabha
siddha yoga blue Shri Narasimha Saraswati
siddha yoga blue Shri Swami Samarth
What is an Avatar?
God, Guru and Avatar are no different from each other. They all are one and the same. Avatar and Guru both remain in a state of eternal bliss (Divine or God), they both are omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. At the same time there is a basic difference between Avatar and Guru. The difference lies in how that state of cosmic consciousness (state of eternal bliss) is attained.

Generally Guru is one who has walked the path of material world and eventually attained union with the divine (cosmic consciousness). He has attained Self-Realization. That is his victory over the Maya (grand illusion of mind) after sustained efforts of several lives. Avatar on the other hand is a direct descent of divine to Earth, or descent of the Supreme Being. Lord Absolute himself in the form of Avatar, comes down to be in the creation to guide and protect Bhaktas and to re-establish Sanatana Dharma (Law of Eternal or Universal Righteousness) in this world. The Avatar, or incarnation, descends from the kingdom of God for material manifestation. Such incarnations are situated in the spiritual world, the kingdom of God. When they descend to the material creation, they assume the name Avatar. There are various kinds of Avatars, such as Purusavatar, Lilavatar, Gunavatar, Shakty Avatar, Manvantara-Avatar and Yugavatar. Lord Krishna says that he incarnates himself in every millennium.

Gurus, Sages and Saints are quite distinct from Avatars, being pure human souls aspiring to God. The difference between an Avatar and a Guru, Sage or Saint is this: the full Avatar is enlightened and completely aware of his own Divinity even at the time of birth. The Avatar is never overcome by the maya (illusion) of the world, and is always aware of His mission and the Divine powers at His command. In contrast a Guru, sage or saint is a human who has attained spiritual progress and is reborn in ever higher states until, in a final life, that Guru or saint attains to Self-Realization or mergence in the Absolute. The Guru, sage or saint is devoted to God and practices meditation or rituals or prayers, depending on the path, as spiritual sadhana to approach ever closer to the Supreme Being.

Lord Krishna declares in Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4, Verse 7):

“Yada--whenever; yada--wherever; hi--certainly; dharmasya--of religion; glanih--discrepancies; bhavati--manifested, becomes; bharata--O descendant of Bharata; abhyutthanam--predominance; adharmasya--of irreligion; tada--at that time; atmanam--self; srjami--manifest; aham—I”

"O Bharata, whenever there is decline of righteousness and rise of evil, I manifest Myself!" “Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskritam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge”

(Chapter 4, Verse 7)

“Paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskritam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
 sambhavami yuge yuge”

"To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of Sanatana Dharma, I myself appear, millennium after millennium."

This means:

Whenever or wherever dharma or righteousness as ordained by the Vedic scriptures under Varnasrama (four stages and position in Vedic culture) become degraded or endangered and unrighteousness increases and becomes dominant, at that time Lord Krishna or any of His authorized incarnations descends on the earth to reestablish Sanatana Dharma (Law of Eternal or Universal Righteousness). If there is majority of those who break the law of the land and/or the law of the divine (Law of Karma), it leads to acts of evil. This in turn leads to doom of the society. Anarchy destroys the society. It be-comes act of self-destruction. During such times, when there is great danger of an anarchy and destruction of society, the Lord says “I Manifest.”

All the names of His avatars or incarnations are recorded in the Bhagavat Purana. There are primarily 10 known Avatars of Lord Vishnu. Beyond this there are several other Avatars of the Divine principal. No fixed time schedule has been mandated for Lord Krishna to manifest Himself in His avatar forms or authorized incarnations. 

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Dashavatara - 10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu
God Vishnu (God of preservation of this universe) incarnates on Earth from time to time to eradicate evil forces, to restore the Dharma and to liberate the worthy ones or devotees from the cycle of births and deaths. The avatars in this list are also described as Lila-avatars. 9 of his Avatars have already taken place, the tenth one – Kalki is yet to take birth.

The power that various Avatars have differs greatly. God sometimes incarnates with full powers and sometimes a smaller portion of his glory depending on the purpose.  The Lord’s manifestation in His Avatars ranges from nine to sixteen digits or rays (called Kalas). The full or Purna Avatars are those in whom all sixteen rays are present.  Purna means it is complete in all respects. From their birth till returning back to Vaikuntha. Lord Krishna was a Purna-Avatar, with sixteen rays; Lord Rama was an Avatar of twelve rays. A Poorna Avatar is one where the avatar is fully conscious, simultaneously about his Jiva form, his God form and his Turiya (Brahm) form. Rama was aware of his Jiva form and Turiya form but unaware of his God's form (that too for a purpose). Purna (Full) Avatars have incarnated with with 16 kalas (full potency). Purna Avatars have born only in India, the ancient land of Bharath, because only in India have the Vedas and Sastras been understood and practiced by sages over the milleniums. Partial Avatars may be born anywhere on Earth.

Krishna Avatara alone is considered as Poorna Avatara: with 16 kalas that are: 1) Anna Maya 2) Pranamaya 3) Mano Maya 4) Vigyanamaya 5) Anandamaya 6) Atishayini 7) Viparinabhini 8) Sankramini 9) Prabhavi 10) Kunthini 11) Vikasini 12) Maryadini 13) Sanhaladini 14) Ahladini 15) Paripurna 16) Swarupavasthitha

The rest of the Avatars are not with full kalaas. Rama is with 12 kalas whereas Krishna with 16. Krishna never prayed even in a biggest crisis, whereas Rama come with Aditya Hridhayam. Therefore, among the Vishnu avatars, Rama and Krishna takes the poorna avatar title.

Here are 10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu

Matsya: the fish, from the Satya Yuga. Lord Vishnu takes the form of a fish to save Manu from a flood, after which he takes his boat to the new world along with one of every species of plant and animal, gathered in a massive cyclone.

Kurma: the tortoise, appeared in the Satya Yuga. When the devas and asuras were churning the ocean in order to get the nectar of immortality, the mount Mandara they were using as the churning staff started to sink and Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise to bear the weight of the mountain.

Varaha: the boar, from the Satya Yuga. He appeared to defeat Hiranyaksha, a demon who had taken the Earth, or Prithvi, and carried it to the bottom of what is described as the cosmic ocean in the story. The battle between Varaha and Hiranyaksha is believed to have lasted for a thousand years, which the former finally won. Varaha carried the Earth out of the ocean between his tusks and restored it to its place in the universe.

Narasimha: the half-man/half-lion appeared in the Satya Yuga. The raksha Hiranyakashipu was granted a powerful boon from Brahma, not allowing him to be killed by man or animal, inside or out, day or night, or in earth or the stars, with a weapon either living or inanimate. Vishnu descended as an anthropomorphic incarnation, with the body of a man and head and claws of a lion. He then disembowels the rakshasa at the courtyard threshold of his house, at dusk, with his claws, while he lay on his thighs.

Vamana: the dwarf, appeared in the Treta Yuga. The fourth descendant of Hiranyakashyap, Bali, with devotion and penance was able to defeat Indra, the god of firmament. This humbled the other deities and extended his authority over the three worlds. The gods appealed to Vishnu for protection and he descended as the dwarf Vamana. During a yagna of the king, Vamana approached him in the midst of other Brahmins. Bali was happy to see the diminutive holy man, and promised whatever he asked. Vamana asked for three paces of land. Bali agreed, and the dwarf then changed his size to that of a giant. He stepped over heaven in his first stride, the netherworld with the second. Bali realized that Vamana was Vishnu incarnate. In deference, the king offered his head as the third place for Vamana to place his foot. The avatar did so and thus granted Bali immortality. Then in appreciation to Bali and his grandfather Prahlad, Vamana made him ruler of Pathala, the netherworld. Bali is believed to have ruled Kerala and Tulunadu. He is still worshiped there as the king of prosperity and recalled before the time of harvest.

Parashurama: Rama with the axe, appeared in the Treta Yuga. He is son of Jamadagni and Renuka. He received an axe after a penance to Shiva. Parashurama is the first Brahmin-Kshatriya in Hinduism, or warrior-saint, with duties between a Brahmana and a Kshatriya). His mother was from the Kshatriya Suryavanshi clan that ruled Ayodhya, of the line of Rama. King Kartavirya Arjuna and his army visited the father of Parashurama at his ashram, and the saint was able to feed them with the divine cow Kamadhenu. The king demanded the animal, Jamadagni refused, and the king took it by force and destroyed the ashram. Parashurama then killed the king at his palace and destroyed his army. In revenge, the sons of Kartavirya killed Jamadagni. Parashurama took a vow to kill every Kshatriya on earth twenty-one times over, and filled five lakes with their blood. Ultimately, his grandfather, the great rishi Rucheeka, appeared and made him halt. He is a Chiranjivi, and believed to be alive today in penance at Mahendragiri.

Rama: Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya, appeared in the Treta Yuga. Rama is a commonly worshiped avatar in Hinduism, and is thought of as the ideal heroic man. His story is recounted in one of the most widely read scriptures of Hinduism, the Ramayana. While in exile from his own kingdom with his brother Lakshman and the monkey king Hanuman, his wife Sita was abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. He travelled to Ashoka Vatika in Lanka, killed the demon king and saved Sita.

Shree Ram is not called Purna Avtar. Only Krishna Avtar is Purnavatara... Rama was 14 kala sampurna and krishna was 16 kala sampurna. This is because of a boon to Ravana. He was promised that no God would kill him. So Rama intentionally hid his 2 kalas and behaved like a common man (to fulfil the boon that Ravan would be killed by a man). This answers why Rama cried for his wife and the reason for taking help from monkeys.

Krishna: was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudev. Krishna is the most commonly worshiped deity in Hinduism and an avatar in Vaishnava belief. His name means 'dark' or 'attractive', and he appeared in the Dwapara Yuga alongside his brother Balarama, and was the central character of the Bhagavad Gita, the most published Hindu canon. He is mentor to Arjuna, delivering him the Gita at the Battle of Kurukshetra. He is often depicted playing the murali, (flute), and having a mischievous spirit.[12] The appearance of Krishna coincided with the beginning of Kali Yuga.

Krishna Avatara alone is considered as Poorna Avatara: 16 kalas: 1) Anna Maya 2) Pranamaya 3) Mano Maya 4) Vigyanamaya 5) Anandamaya 6) Atishayini 7) Viparinabhini 8) Sankramini 9) Prabhavi 10) Kunthini 11) Vikasini 12) Maryadini 13) Sanhaladini 14) Ahladini 15) Paripurna 16) Swarupavasthitha

Rama is avatar but he didn’t know that till Lord Yama reminded him of it at the end of his life and he behaved like a human being who respects parents and their decisions. He carried out his duties as a normal human being. But in the case of Lord Krishna he knew that he is Vishnu’s avatar and behaved like that and delivered the Gita to Arjun at the battle field.

Balarama: Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna and considered the eighth avatar of Vishnu in modern versions and interpretations of Puranic texts.

Kalki: meaning 'Eternity,' 'White Horse,' or 'Destroyer of Filth' is the final incarnation of Vishnu in the current kalpa, foretold to appear at the end of Kali Yuga. Religious texts called the Puranas foretell that Kalki will be atop a white horse with a drawn blazing sword. He is the harbinger of end time in Hindu eschatology, after which he will usher in Satya Yuga.

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Avatars of Lord Dattatreya in Kali-Yuga (Iron Age)
Other example is of Dattavatars - Avatars of Shri Datta Guru

It is believed that when the Lord made the Universe. He introduced himself into the creation as Dharma. The planes of existence were created, the beings related to every plane were created and the Dharmas were enunciated. The beings in various planes needed to be guided back unto their original state. The need was felt by the beings, to be guided in terms of their Dharma. For that reason, the seers worshipped the Lord and invoked him as the teacher (Guru). Out of compassion, the Lord Absolute himself, came down as the teacher to be in the creation and to guide them. He has, thus, donated himself to the creation for a second time and therefore is called Datta (meaning given).

Shri Dattatreya’s teachings come on the very highest authority. Lord Krishna, personally narrates the story of Sri Dattatreya and His Gurus (Srimad Bhagavatam 11, 7-9). This forms part of Lord Krishna’s final great teaching, The Uddhava Gita, considered second only to the Bhagavad Gita in importance, and it raises the question of why Lord Krishna, who Vaisnavas regard as the ultimate source, soul, and substance of everything, should choose to quote from anyone at all? Nevertheless, since He does, these teachings and their author, Shri Dattatreya, merit deep attention.

Shri Dattatreya teaches that beneath the apparent multiplicities of the material world there is a single, underlying Unity. This Unity is a Universal Consciousness, “Brahman,” often characterized as “Satcitananda,” which means “truth, consciousness, and eternal bliss.” Shri Dattatreya teaches that within every living being there is a particle of this Supreme, which is presently deluded into thinking that it belongs to the material world, but which, once re-awakened to its true nature, may return to union with the Supreme. Thus, the Sandilyopanisad meditates upon “the eternal Lord of Lords, Dattatreya, who is intent on unravelling the illusion investing the spiritual soul (Atman)” (Sandilyopanisad 3, 9-15). He is one of the great teachers of Yoga. “Dattatreya ... intent on the welfare of all beings, the four-armed MahaVishnu, holds sway over yoga as its crowned king” (Darsanopanisad 1, 1-4). Shri Dattatreya teaches a spiritual aspirant to seek the Brahman within

There are three known Purna (absolute) Dattavatars: 

What is Purna Avatar?

The power that various Avatars have differs greatly. God sometimes incarnates with full powers and sometimes a smaller portion of his glory depending on the purpose.  The Lord’s manifestation in His Avatars ranges from nine to sixteen digits or rays (called Kalas). The full or Purna Avatars are those in whom all sixteen rays are present.  Purna means it is complete in all respects. From their birth till returning back to Vaikuntha. A Poorna Avatar is one where the avatar is fully conscious, simultaneously about his Jiva form, his God form and his Turiya (Brahm) form, even at the time of their birth.

All three Avatars of Shri Dattatreya below are considered Purna Avatars.

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Shripad Shri Vallabha
Shripad Shri Vallabha is the first Purna Avatar (incarnation) of the Shri Dattatreya in the Kali-Yuga (iron age or darkest age)
Shripad Shri Vallabha is the first Purna Avatar (incarnation) of the Shri Dattatreya in the Kali-Yuga (iron age or darkest age). Shripad Shri Vallabha was born in 1320 in Pitaapuram. He lived (in physical body form) from 1320 AD to 1350 AD. At the age of 16, with parent’s permission, He renounced all worldly ties and left their home for Kashi-pilgrimage. Shripad trekked to several Holy places like Dwaraka, Mathura, and Badrinath. Sripada bless several spiritual seekers during this travel. After the pilgrimage, Shripad went to Gokarna Mahabaleshwar in South. After spending 3 years at Mahabaleshwar he went to Shri Shaila Mountain. Having blessed several seekers, Lord went to Kurvapur and settled there. Shripad stayed here most of his life and performed several miracles at this place. All his miracles were compiled into a book named Shripad Shri Vallabha Charitaamrutam. These stories were compiled by Shripad’ devotee Shankar Bhat

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Shri Narasimha Saraswati
Shri Narasimha Saraswati is the 2nd Purna Avatar of Shri Dattatreya
Shri Narasimha Saraswati is the 2nd Purna Avatar of Shri Dattatreya. He was born in 1378 in Karanjapur, Maharashtra. After he was born the first words he said were OM which is considered very holy. However, until he was 7 he did not utter any other word other than OM, so his parents were worried about his speech ability. However, he showed by hand gestures that after his Upanayana (Munja) he will be able to speak. In fact after his Munja was performed he was able to speak all the Vedas and even started delivering lectures on it. 

Shri Narasimha Saraswati performed many miracles in his life. Shri GuruCharitra is a book which describe a life of Shri Narasimha Saraswati. The source of this script, Shri Guru Charitra, is still a mystery. One of the events in his life was the meeting with the Muslim king (Sultan) of Bedar who is possibly Allauddin-II of the Bahamani Sultanate who was ruling that area that time. Bedar visited Narasimha Saraswati because he was suffering from a blister which was not curing. No one was able to cure, so he was advised to visit Narasimha Saraswati, and after visiting him he was cured. After the meeting with the Muslim king, Narasimha Saraswati thought that his fame has gone to such an extent that now all types of people will start coming in, and will start troubling him and his disciples. Thus he decided to take Samadhi in 1458. He left for the Kardali-vana (jungle of Kardali tree).

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Shri Swami Samarth
Shri Swami Samarth is considered 3rd Purna Avatar of Shri Dattatreya
Shri Swami Samarth is considered 3rd Purna Avatar of Shri Dattatreya. It is mentioned in the holy book of Shri Gurucharitra that Shrimad Narasimha Saraswati entered into Mahasamadhi in Kardalivana in 1458. He stayed in Samadhi for over 300 years and emerged from Samadhi because a woodcutter accidentally cut through a tree and hit Shrimad Narasimha Saraswati (or Shri Swami Samarth). This awakened Shrimad Narasimha Saraswati from the prolonged Samadhi. That divine personality is now known as Shri Swami Samarth. After emerging from Samadhi Shri Swami Samarth traveled all over the country. On April 30, 1878 after nearly 600 years of the incarnation, the great Avatar adopted Mahasamadhi (the last conscious communion with God) under his favorite Banyan tree in Akkalkot.

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