Child : Mom, can you tell me about divine incarnations in Hinduism?
Mother : Yes, dear. We believe that whenever there is decline in religious activity on earth Lord Vishnu appears in order to save the human race from an unrighteous way of life, to destroy evils, and to show people a path of dharma (the right duty). The process of such appearances of God is referred to as divine incarnations (avatars). There are ten famous incarnation forms of God. They are the Fish (matsya), the Tortoise (kurma or kachhapa), the Boar (varah), the Human-lion (nara-sinha), the Dwarf (vamana), Parashu-Rama (the God with an axe), Rama of the (Ramchandra, the hero of the epic Ramayana and destroyer of demon Ravana), Krishna (the teacher famous Bhagavad-Gita), Buddha (the ascetic prince) and Kalki, (the yet to appear deity, riding on a white horse).
Divine incarnations are an integral part of the Hindu beliefs. Each incarnation is related to fulfilling a particular objective. The objective of the Fish form was to save the sage Manu from his destruction by flood. The Tortoise form helped the human race to recover from the ocean the essentials of life which were lost in the deluge. Rescue of the earth from the grip of the demon, Hiranyaksha, was achieved by the Boar form. The Human-lion form helped the human race from the oppressions of the demon, Hiranyakasipu. The Dwarf form was helpful in restoring the power of gods from the grips of the demon king Bali. The furious God Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya rulers who were oppressing the people. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were incarnated to destroy the demons Ravana and the Kansa respectively. The objective of Lord Buddha was to stop animal sacrifice and to teach piety. The objective of the Kalki form is supposed to be the destruction of evils of the present age (Kaliyuga, the age of strife) and the protection of virtues.