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7 Ansha Avatar (Partial Manifestations) of Bhagwan Vishnu in Hinduism | Avatar in Hinduism

The avatar in Hinduism are mainly classified into three types. In the Ansha Avatar there is a partial manifestation of the Divine, as in Sage Vyasa. In the Avesh Avatar there is a temporary entry of the Divine, as in Bhagwan Nrusimha. And in the Purna Avatar the manifestation of the Divine is complete or full, as believed in the case of Bhagwan Rama, Krishna and Swaminarayan.


1) DATTATREYA


Dattatreya was born to the great sage Atri and his wife, Anasuya (which means one without jealousy). Anasuya is renowned in Hinduism for her fidelity and chastity. Dattatreya introduced some magical rites and created the soma plant.

Dattatreya revered twenty-four gurus, learning something unique from each. His learning and enlightenment endowed him with inner purity.


Later he came to be regarded as the incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He is portrayed as having three heads, six hands and accompanied by four dogs of different colors that represent the four Vedas.


His name appears in the Mahabharata and several other Puranas. He is believed to have played a harmonizing role between the followers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and even non-Vedic sects. He is also considered to be a great sage, and is ranked among the seven great sages. The fellowship bearing his name, Datta Sampradaya, is predominantly in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. His temples are called Datta mandirs where his wooden slippers or padukas are installed and worshipped. The famous Advaita Vedanta work called Avadhutagita is attributed to him. So, he is one of the Ansha Avatar in Hinduism.


2) DHANVANTARI


Dhanvantari is a partial manifestation of Bhagwan Vishnu. He is the divine father of Ayurveda, the life science of health and longevity, Nineteen ayurvedic books are attributed to him. The most important is the Dhanvantari Nighantu.


Over a period of time Dhanvantari became the title for the best medical expert. Among the different types of his iconic forms (murtis) the most prominent is the two-armed divine being emerging from the ocean of milk or kshirasagara (Ocean) holding a pot full of amruta or nectar to make the devas immortal, Dhanvantari is known as the physician of the devas, teacher of medicine and an author of books on Ayurveda. He is mentioned in the Ramayana, Harivamsa, Bhagavata Purana and other Shastras (sacred Hindu texts). Reborn as Divodasa, the King of Kashi, he established the science of medicine.


3) HAYAGRIVA


Hayagriva, also known as Hayashirsh, is the deity of learning, similar to the goddess Sarasvati. He is known to have a human form with a horse's head and neck (griva), having four or eight arms carrying the various weapons of Bhagwan Vishnu. There are several stories about the Hayagriva avatar in the Puranic texts.


Sage Yagnavalkya lost his knowledge of Yajur Veda because of his guru Vaishampayana's curse. Then, pleased with his severe austerities, the sun-god, also called Vajasanihi, appeared before Yagnavalkya as a deity with a horse's head and taught him the Yajur Veda in another form. This new form is known as Vajasaneya Samhita. There are several stories about Hayagriva in the Vedic and Puranic literature. Once, two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, ran away with the Vedas and hid them in the ocean. Bhagwan Vishnu took the form of Hayagriva, dived to the bottom of the ocean and brought them up after killing the demons. Hayagriva is considered to be the 18th avatar out of the 24 partial manifestations.


There is an Upanishad in his name called Hayagriva Upanishad, with only twenty mantras, and a Pancharatra Vaishnava Agama known as Hayagriva Sanhita with 149 chapters.


4) KAPILA


Kapila was a great sage in Hinduism. He was the only son of Kardama rishi and Devahuti, and the brother of Arundhati. Later, Arundhati married the famous sage Vasishtha and she is remembered as a paragon of wifely virtues. Kapila is considered to be the fifth partial incarnation of Vishnu.


He founded the Sankhya philosophy and taught it to his mother, Devahuti, and liberated her soul. This part of the Bhagavata Purana is known as the Kapila Gita. Bhagwan Krishna extols his own greatness in the Gita by stating that he is Kapila among the sages."


5) MOHINI


The story in the Bhagavata Purana describes how the danavas (demons) snatched away the pot of amruta (nectar) from Dhanvantari's hands when he emerged from the samudra manthana (churning of the ocean of milk). On seeing the devas being deprived of amrata, Bhagwan Vishnu appeared as a beautiful damsel called Mohini as an Ansha Avatar in Hinduism. Her enchanting beauty stunned the demons, who on her word gave the pot of amruta to her. Then, Mohini tricked them by distributing the amruta only to the devas.


Even Shiva was bewitched by Mohini's beauty according to the Bhagavata Purana (8.12). It is said that the son of Shiva and Mohini is Lord Ayyappan. He is also known as Hariharaputra, where Hari means Vishnu in the form of Mohini, Hara means Shiva and putra means son.


Ayyappan, also known as Shasta (one who commands), was born to kill the female demon Mahishi, the wife of demon Mahishasura. Mahishi had received a boon from Brahma that she could not be killed by Vishnu or Shiva. So Vishnu assumed the form of Mohini, and Shiva got a son from her to kill Mahishi. Ayyappan killed her when he was only 12 years old, A grand mandir was built in honour of Ayyappan by King Rajashekhara at Shabarimalai in Kerala State.


It is believed the architect of the mandir was Vishvakarma and the murti was made by Parashurama. Even today the Shabarimalai mandir attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.


6. NARA-NARAYANA


It is said that after Bhagwan Narasimha destroyed the evil Hiranyakashipu, he split into two. The lion part became Sage Narayana, and the human part Sage Nara. Later, Nara and Narayana incarnated as Arjuna and Krishna. They are worshipped as Nara-Narayana rishis. Both the deities perform austerities in Badarikashram, believed to be in the Himalayas. To please them thousands of devotees perform austerities. According to another version, Nara and Narayana are the sons of Dharma and Ahimsa and they perform intense austerities.

Once, Lord Indra tried to seduce Nara-Narayana by sending celestial nymphs. In response Narayana produced the nymph Urvashi from his thigh (uru). She was more beautiful than all the nymphs.


Nara is depicted in a human form, and Narayana is also shown in a human form, with two or four arms holding the shankha, chakra, padma and japamala.


7) VEDA VYASA


Krishna-Dvaipayana, the son of Parashara Rishi and Satyavati, is popularly known as Veda Vyasa. Being of dark complexion (Krishna) and since he was born on an island (dvipa) he is also known as Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa. He had codified the Vedas, wrote the Mahabharata and the 17 Mahapuranas, yet it is said that he remained unhappy and restless. As a solution, Sage Narada asked him to compose a Purana describing the enchanting deeds, acts and exploits of the living God, Shri Krishna.


He wrote the Bhagavata Purana, the eighteenth Purana, and subsequently experienced immense inner peace. Guru purnima is celebrated as Vyasa purnima because he is believed to be the first guru.


Veda Vyasa is believed to be born in every yuga to propagate the Hindu shastras.


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