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Re: Number 1 Divya Desam- Tiruvemkatam

From: R. Skrintha (srik_at_iiap.ernet.in)
Date: Mon Aug 24 1998 - 15:57:53 PDT

Dear Bhagavatha-s,

Sri Gopal wrote:-

> On Thu, 20 Aug 1998 Ramanbil@aol.com wrote:
>  
>  
>   I have a doubt here..
>  
> > The first 4 Avatars (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and Nrisimha) are deemed to
> > have
> > taken place in Krita Yuga; The next 3 Avatars (Vamana, Parasu Rama and
> > Rama)
> > in Treta Yuga; The next 2 (Balarama and Krishna) in Dwapara Yuga. The
> > last 1,
> > Kalki, the Apocalypse yet to take place in this Kaliyuga in the
> > descending
> > order in tune with the length of each yuga. And, the Lord appears in
> > Archa
> > Vigraha as Sri Venkateswara till then.
> > 
>    Eventhough all the dasAvatAra stOtrams give the order as u have
>    enumerated, they directly contradict the order as given in srImad
>    bhAgavatam - In it the order for the first five is matsya, varAha,
>    nArasimha, kUrma, vAmana. And if one examines these one finds that
>    in the kUrma avatAra, the king of asurAs is bali (specifically the
>    son of virOcana who is the son of prahlAda), and at the beginning
>    of the vAmana avatara it is specifically mentioned that bali who
>    had died at the hands of indra in the battle after the churning of
>    the ocean was brought back to life by SukrAchArya. The same bali
>    is the king of asuras when vAmana comes to his sacrifical ceremony.
>    
>     Can someone clarify this!

I am hardly the authority to clarify this. In fact, I shall adopt a
anthropological, rather than the traditional, stance to justify Sri
Anbil's version. Perhaps the order in which it is given in Srimad
Bhagavatam is not meant to be chronological? I had already posted about
this before Sri Mani moved Bhakti list to its present address. Anyway,
briefly put: 

The order, if not the timeframe, of the avataaras of Lord Vishnu appear to
reflect the biological evolution of life, as understood paleontologically.
As is well recognized life arose about 5 (?) billion years ago in the form
of very primitive lifeforms in water. The reason is that water affords 
spatially and dynamically optimal conditions for simple molecules like
carbonates, nitrates and amino acids to come together to form complex
molecules like proteins, the building blocks of the cellular components.
This ancient epoch of dawn of life corresponds to Matsya avataara, when
Paramaatma was manifested as a fish. 

Before the advent of land borne creatures, the intermediary stage was of
amphibians. The former corresponds to Varaaha avataara, latter to Kuurma
avataara. Note that the transposition of Kuurma to the post-Nrsimha stage
wd not be amenable to this interpretation.

Nrsimha, as man-lion, possibly represents the stage of evolution estimated
to be 1.4-1.8 million years ago, when the genus Homo (the generic 
designation for all forms of human-like stages) started to evolve. Perhaps
more detailed study is needed to ascertain whether it actually represents
a pre-Homo stage (say, like pithecanthropus, australopithecus Afarensis,
etc.); anyway, even anthropologists are not fully agreed about some
details. Thus, Nrsimha avataara represents the state when what is
claimed to be the potentially highest aspect of the jiivaatma, the
allegedly best instrument to reflect Godliness on the physical plane,
namely the human, was about to evolve.

Vaamana, dwarf, presumably represents the hunched, not-fully-biped stage
of the genus Homo before the species of Homo Erectus (the straight
standing) arose.

ParaCuraama is thought to represent the Homo Sapiens stage, the perfect 
product of evolution, but presumably at the time when humans still
retained violent atavisms. This is not to mean that Sri ParaCuraama was a
violent person: just that his *external* actions may be thought to
characterize a certain stage in the evolution of life.

---*with this, the interpretation of the avataaras as an anthrological
   evolutionary process is replaced by their interpretation as a social
   process*---------------------------------------------------------------

 Raama marks the *culmination* of evolution, as the perfected human: in
thought, word and speech. 

 Krishna, *as a symbol of a certain stage of evolution* represents the
advent of the urban man, political and given to machinations.

 I am unable to understand Sri Balaraamar in this context: but, perhaps
Buddha, if taken as avataara, can be thought to represent the post-modern
moralizing man, self-critical, possessed of (corporate!) compassion, etc.

 Only Kalki avataara remains. 

----

I hope this anwers yr question from one point of view. What I mean is that
to interpret DaCaavataaram as a time-sketch of the evolution of primitive
life into modern "Homo sapiens sapiens", the chronology given by Sri Anbil
is suitable. 

[nota: I have used <C> to represent the (voiceless) palatal fricative
sound; I would use <sh> to represent the alveolar sibilant)

Hari Om,
Srikanth