Was Rama an avatar of Shiva

Bernhard Peter
When the world gets out of whack:
The avatars of Vishnu

Vishnu is one of the three male high gods of the Hindu pantheon, forms the trinity Trimurti together with Shiva and Brahma. Vishnu is considered to be the world preserver, the preserver of life and the cosmos with all its worlds. Vishnu has the task of protecting gods and people and fighting all evil. Lord of the world, husband of Lakshmi, the goddess of happiness and beauty. Depiction with dark blue or black body and 4 arms, in the hands his attributes club, conch shell, disc or wreath of light as a symbol of the sun and lotus flower. Sometimes he sits on a lotus, sometimes he rests in the milk ocean on the serpent Ananta, at his feet Sri Lakshmi, while a lotus flower sprouts from his navel, on which Brahma sits. Vishnu helped the good gods, the Suras, to defeat the bad gods and the opponents of the Suras, the Asuras. His mount is Garuda. Together with Shiva, Vishnu is one of the most important and most revered gods in Hinduism.

Vishnu is supposed to guard the Dharma, the divine world order. He can only fulfill this task by intervening in a saving manner when the world is out of whack again. To do this, he embodies himself and descends as an avatar on earth to help savior of the world intervene and restore balance. In this sense, certain outstanding religious figures were also declared to be his avatars. There are a total of 10 better-known avatars, each of them fought in his own way to restore the balance of the world after it was disturbed. And so that she can also be close to her husband, sometimes his wife Lakshmi descends and embodies herself in the companion of the respective avatar.

Now the individual avatars and the respective stories are presented:

1.Matsya (horned fish)After the destruction by Hayagriva, this horned fish saved the world. Hayagriva was a demon who stole the Vedas that poured out of Brahma's mouth. But because the Vedas were life-sustaining, the world was destroyed. Matsya fought against the Flood - he appeared to King Satyavrata (or Manu) and his family. As a tiny fish it could be caught and grew immensely, so that it had to be constantly moved into larger vessels. He warned the Satyavrata that in 7 days the earth, air space and sky would perish in the ocean of dissolution, that he should board a boat with seven wise men and all kinds of plants, seeds, etc. So it happened. Satyavrata was able to tie the boat to the horn of the horned fish, as rope he used the serpent king Vasuki. The big fish pulled the boat to the Himalayas, which was still sticking out of the water. When the water sank, only the occupants of the boat had survived. Satyavratu-Manu became the forefather of a new humanity, and from the seeds and plants a new nature sprouted. This legend has analogies with the biblical flood, and like Noah, Satyavrata escaped the floods with an ark occupied by the animals of the earth and the birds of the air.
2.Kurma (turtle)Once upon a time, the gods lost their youth due to a curse. They became wrinkled and had gray hair. Vishnu knew what to do: the drink Amrata (deathlessness) alone could help, but it was very difficult to obtain because it had to be obtained from the ocean of milk. The gods would not make it alone, so a truce was agreed with the demons (Asuras), and together they whirled the ocean of milk. How do you whisk an ocean? Mount Mandara was used as a handle, and Vasuki as a staff. But the mountain was unsupported and sagged downward. Vishnu then took the form of a turtle, dived into the ocean of milk, and took Mount Mandara on her back while the gods stirred the sea and gained the elixir of life. A total of 13 treasures came to light in the course of the whirling, including the goddess Sri Lakshmi, the Ayurveda doctor Dhanvantari with the elixir of life in his hand, etc. In this way, the turtle saves the complicated extraction of the elixir, which ensures the continued existence of the gods and thus the world .
3.Varaha (wild boar)The Asuras Hiranyakasipu and his twin Hiranyaksa had subjected the earth to brutal tyranny after Brahma had assured them that no one would be their equal in battle. That went to the twin demons' heads. At some point the terror on earth that they organized was no longer enough for them, but Hiranyaksa appeared in heaven with club in hand and challenged the gods to a duel, who however kept themselves hidden. Thereupon the demon jumped into the sea, met Varuna there and challenged him. He replied cleverly that only Vishnu could take him on. Vishnu meanwhile had assumed the form of a wild boar. The boar first saved the world on his tusks from the world of the deep to a safe place, then there was a terrible duel between the two. Finally Brahma whispered to the boar how to defeat the demon. The boar then hit the demon with the front legs at the base of the ears, the demon collapsed, the world was saved once again.
4.Narasinha (man lion)The twin brother of the demon Hiranyaksa, who was killed by the wild boar, Hiranyakasipu, now wanted to become master of the world. Through asceticism and self-mortification he collected magical energy (tapas). Brahma then granted him the following wishes: No creature in creation could kill him, death would overtake him neither by a person nor by an animal, neither inside nor outside the house, neither by day nor by night. When the demon believed himself so powerful that he did not want to recognize any other Lord of the Welr, he was "ripe": the entrance pillar of his house split, and Vishnu stepped out in the form of a man-lion: lion head, lion paws, human abdomen. The demon was torn to pieces - on the threshold of the house between inside and outside, at dusk between day and night, by a being between human and animal. The man-lion saved the world from a demonic ruler who no longer wanted to acknowledge the rule of the gods.
5.Vamana (dwarf)Fought against the Asura Bali or Mahabali. Bali was the grandson of the Vishnu-believing demon Prahlada. Bali once ruled heaven and earth. This rule depressed Aditi, the mother of the gods, who saw no more opportunities for her own children in a world ruled by demons. But then the world was freed from him, the savior of equilibrium was Vishnu in the form of Avatara Vamana (the dwarf). Vishnu promised the mother god Aditi that he would be born as her own son. But this one became a dwarf. When the demon Bali was just making a horse sacrifice, the incarnated Vishnu appeared before him in the form of the dwarf, dressed like a ceremonial Brahmin. When asked about his request, he asked Bali as much land for himself as he could reach in three steps. No sooner was the request granted than the god resumed his great form. With the first step he spanned the earth, with the second the sky, with the third step he stepped the demons Bali into the underworld (patala). Since then, Bali has ruled the underworld, and the world and heaven are freed from demon rule.
Rama with the ax
Parashu-Rama fought against the rule of the Kshatriyas (warrior caste). The Brahmins were the guardians of spirituality and mediators between humans and gods. The second caste, the Kshattriyas, were the warrior caste who had political and military power in the country. King Kartavirya-Arjuna tormented the brahmin and hermit Jamadagni. Parasurama, Vishnu's incarnation as the youngest son of the hermit, avenged the misdeeds of the Kshattriya king. He slew all the soldiers with the ax and also the king himself and, after the later murder of the hermit, also the sons of the king who had committed the crime. History shows that in spite of this, the world is not helplessly at the mercy of the warrior caste.
7.Rama-ChandraHero of the Ramayana. Around 2500 BC BC, towards the end of the second world phase, Ravana was a ten-headed demon prince on the island of Lanka (Sri Lanka). Through iron asceticism he had accumulated a great deal of magical energy, which gave him great power, so that the world became unbalanced. Even the gods were frightened and asked Vishnu to take care of the problem. Vishnu incarnated as Rama to free the world from the demon. Married to Sita, who is kidnapped by Ravana. Son of Dasaratha, half-brother of Lakshmana, Satrughna and Bharata. Fight in Ramayana against the Rakshasa Asura Ravana, with Hanuman and his monkey army as well as Jatayu and Sampati helping him.
8.Krishnadivine hero and warrior fighting Kamsa and the Kauravas, deity of the Bhagavadgita, teacher of the Mahabharata hero Arjuna. Around 1500 BC Chr. Son of Vasudeva and Devaki, but raised by Yashoda. Immediately after his birth he was given to a family of cowherd men (Nanda and Yasoda) (to be precise: exchanged for the girl who had just been born there) in order to hide him from the evil King Kamsa, who had vowed to kill him . He grew up as a cowherd, which is also reflected in many pictorial representations. There are many Krishna ideas; B. Krishna as the blue-skinned, flute-playing shepherd god, as a "wanton" boy, as a stately youth, Krishna as the supreme lord of the universe, Krishna as the god of the herd of cows or - the most important embodiment - as a war hero, cousin and companion of the Pandawas in their fight against the Kauravas in the Mahabharata. Husband of the Rukmini. There are an infinite number of heroic stories about Krishna that would go beyond the scope of this article.
9.Gautama BuddhaFought against the decline of religion, taught Raja-Yoga (meditation). Around 500 BC Here the completely non-Vishnuitic Gautama Buddha is nominally subordinated to the god Vishnu by declaring him to be a "Vishnu avatar". Conversely, there is a similar situation with the Mahayana Buddhists. There the avatar Rama was unceremoniously declared a "Bodhisattva" and thus integrated into the belief system.
10.Kalki (n)Fight demons and evil people. This avatar has not yet appeared and in the future, when at the end of the Kaliyuga age the praises of the gods fall silent and Vedic mantras can no longer be heard, when the members of the castes disbelieve, when the servant caste provides the kings. Kalkin will be born in Sambhala and will be born into a Brahmin family. He is armed with a ski guitar and rides a white horse. He has four arms. One hand shows a mudra, the exposition gesture (Vitarkamudra). In the three other hands Kalkin holds the skimitar sword, the Vishnu attribute of the conch shell, and the discus or wheel. He will exterminate the evil and reward the good, settle the accounts of karma. He is an apocalytic avatar and will end the present age and go to sleep on the waters. He will bring forth Brahma again who will inaugurate a new world. Then a new krtayuga will dawn.

Let us take a closer look at the role animals play in this series of avatars: Four times the High God is born as an animal, and all four times in Krtayuga, the first world age. After that he only comes to earth in the form of human heroes to intervene to save them. And these four animals also have a development within themselves: fish - turtle - boar - male lion, that traces the development from aquatic animal to amphibious animal to land animal to semi-anthropomorphic being, an evolutionary upward movement.

Furthermore, fish, turtles and boars as well as male lions seem to be revered beings from early times, a kind of animal deity that was incorporated into high religion in this way.

Snake cult in India
The cow - saint and waste management officer
The mounts of the gods
High gods in animal form: Vishnu and his avatara
Half human, half elephant and God to boot: Ganesha

Hindu Mythology Lexicon:

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© Text, graphics and photos: Bernhard Peter 2005