Best of 10 avatars

Published - April 09, 2019 10:12 pm IST

While writing about the names of the Lord, Parasara Bhatta argues that His Varaha avatara is the best of His incarnations. Bhatta’s arguments must be seen as rasOkti, that is as indicative of his enjoyment of the Lord’s avataras, and not as an attempt to portray any of His avataras as less worthy of respect. All His avataras are to be celebrated, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse. All avataras were taken by Him to help jivatmas. In that case, what is so special about the Varaha avatara? Parasara Bhatta explains. He says it is Varaha’s words that we must hold on to. During the Matsya avatara, He was in the ocean. How can He help us cross the ocean of samsara when He is Himself in the middle of an ocean? In the Kurma avatara, He bears a Mount Meru on His back. When He is already burdened thus, can He help us get rid of the burden of samsara?

As Narasimha, He was half man, half lion. So, He would have said one thing with one half of the body and something else with the other half. Coming to Vamana avatara, Mahabali trusted Him. As a result, he lost his kingdom and was sent to Patala loka. Parasurama was master of the Earth. But when he was humbled by Rama, he gave up Kshama. Here there is a pun on the word Kshama. It means both the earth and patience. Parasurama withdrew from his overlordship of the earth (kshama), having lost to Rama.

So how can we trust Parasurama? Rama was in the company of monkeys, and monkeys are restless. Balarama was known for being in a confused state. Krishna was known for telling lies. So, trust Varaha’s words, says Bhatta. This is a sample of Bhatta’s genius and should not be taken as belittling any of the Lord’s avataras. Bhatta could just as easily have argued in favour of any avatara.

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