1. MATSYA - THE FISH
The imminent end of this kalpa,
Slipped the Vedas from his sleep.
By the folly of Brahma he did receive, the Vedas.
I fear they will be lost.
With the coming of pralaya,
This task upon me now,
I take the form of Matsya.
To a king I am found.
To a king I do speak.
Protect me from this world,
I am but helpless and weak.
With hours passing I grow,
I beseech you, king, to find me a home.
From ponds to lakes and to the sea,
My form, no space can hold.
Who are you, oh wonderful creature? Surely not of this world.
In the matter of a day, the largest lakes you have outgrown.
Oh Lord Vishnu can it be true?
Seven days from now,
All three worlds will be submerged by the oceans,
Which will rise for the dissolution of creation.
Build a vessel to hold all life,
And the lord of the serpents, Vasuki.
Fear not for I will come for you,
And bring you salvation.
Terror gripped him inside,
As the beast that is Matysa approached him.
Slaughtered in silence, he perished,
Restoring the Vedas to Brahma.
Before his slumber is ended,
Before the next kalpa.
Seven days later clouds gathered over the ocean,
The rain poured down in torrents.
The ocean, it did begin to rise, swallowing all of earth
Darkening skies, we wait with the hope for our savior.
And so he appeared with an illuminated horn of gold,
Lighting the way, giving them hope.
The serpent king, Vasuki, he became the bridge, the rope,
He told them not to fear, no harm shall come to you.
As they sailed on through a day of Brahma,
Vishnu did impart wisdom, the highest form of truth.
A collection of puranic lore, called Matsya Purana,
Saving the true devotees from dissolution,
Carrying the divine knowledge into the next kalpa.
2. KURMA - THE TORTOISE
Fallen to the curse of Durvasa,
Weak and helpless against the asuras.
On the sixth manvantara of the present kalpa,
Indra turned to the creator, the lord Brahma.
Turn to Vishnu, he said, for it is he who preserves the order.
The nectar of immortality, said Vishnu, is the only answer.
Make peace with your enemies to achieve your ends,
The ocean of milk you must churn.
Mount Mandara, your churn dasher,
And lord Vasuki will be the rope.
Covet not things that the ocean will throw,
Give not vent to anger when the Asuras take them by force.
I promise you that their efforts will not reap them their rewards.
Indra did face Bali for a feud he wished to forget,
To join hands and work together for immortality in the end.
Uprooting the mountain, working together,
Not even halfway there they did fall.
Before Indra could appeal, Lord Vishnu showed his form.
Reviving the Devas, summoning the Garuda, the mountain was airborne.
Play your role well Vasuki and a share of the nectar will be yours.
Come my brothers, all our strength we will unite,
For the common good of all, let us churn with all our might.
As they did churn, their joy turned to despair,
The mountain did sink,
Into a tortoise lord Vishnu did transform,
Plunging into the ocean deep,
He held the mountain on his back,
So they could begin to churn.
The ocean did spit out,
The deadliest of poison,
Consuming both Deva and Asura.
Frightened they ran to Kailasa.
Om Namah Shiva
Swallowing the poison,
Shiva did save them all.
The poison was now removed,
They churned the ocean again.
Throwing up many precious things,
Finally the nectar in the end.
Dhanwantari holds the nectar,
The key to immortality.
Forgetting their truce the Asuras did usurp,
Giving in to their greed.
The Devas watched in dismay but obeyed Vishnu’s words:
‘Be not dejected, they are divided by greed, I shall charm them with my powers’
We have been fooled by Vishnu,
Cheated of our share of the nectar.
The lord smiled and vanished to the skies,
Enraged they charged at the Devas.
A terrible war ensued on the shores,
The losses to both were great.
But Indra did vanquish in the end,
His might and splendor restored.
Brahma sent word with Narada,
To cease the hostilities.
Indra did agree,
The devas returned to their realms.
3. VARAHA - THE BOAR
At the dawn of the new kalpa,
As Brahma did architect his creations,
Bhoomidevi tossed upon the waves,
And sank to the bed of the ocean.
Swayambhuva and Shatarupa came into being.
Father your guidance is what we seek.
Beget many children and rule over the earth,
Keep your heart free from jealousy.
I shall obey you wishes Father,
But I have a question for thee.
Where shall me and my progeny live,
Bhoomidevi lies submerged.
In his hour of need,
Brahma turned to Vishnu.
He meditated on the lord,
And lo and behold from his nostrils,
Appeared a boar.
No larger than his thumb,
As he gazed upon it, it grew.
Larger and larger, up to the skies,
It was indeed Lord Vishnu.
He tore through the clouds and rose to the skies,
Dived into the ocean to retrieve.
To safely restore Bhoomidevi, his quest,
Swallowed by the ocean’s depths.
As Vishnu raised Bhoomidevi from the ocean bed,
The asuraHiranyaksha came spoiling for war from the west.
Vishnu paid him no heed, rising from the ocean floor.
Enraged Hiranyaksha challenged the beast, with his mighty roar.
The boar kept rising while the asura gave chase,
Vishnu did succeed in keeping her safe.
Blessed Bhoomidevi and he turned to face,
Asura versus god, a war they did wage.
As the hour of twilight draw near,
Brahma spoke to the boar.
Slay him before it’s too late.
It is the hour that favours his might,
Slay him before he grows formidable.
Slay him and rid us of this pestilence
It was not long before Vishnu was victorious,
Hiranyaksha lay slain.
4. VAMANA - THE DWARF
Mahabali, the Asura king, son of Vairochana, grandson of Prahlada,
His penance did reap him the golden chariot, celestial weapons for the conquest of heaven.
Riding into battle, conquering the heavens, Mahabali sat powerful, on the throne of Indra.
He will fall, when he does not heed to words from his counsel, a curse will fall on his head.
A brooding mother did pray, for the glory of her sons, observing a payovrata for lord Vishnu.
To restore the order, he was born into this world, a dwarf son to Aditi, mother of the devas.
Marching to the kingdom, with tricks up his sleeve, asking for alms, Mahabali agreed.
Tell me oh Bramhachari, what will you have? I will fulfill your desires, grant any wish you have.
Three paces of land are all I need,
And three paces of land are all I’ll have.
You wish shall be granted,
Said the pompus King Mahabali
He paid no heed to his guru Shukracharya,
Who warned him of deceit.
Vamana did claim the land he did seek,
From a dwarf to a giant he grew.
Vamana! The great deceiver.
Vamana! Mahabali was fooled.
With every step you take, you cover the world.
With his first stride he covered the distance,
From the heaven to the earth.
With the second he covered the netherworlds.
With one stride left and nowhere to go,
Bali offered his head.
Vamana! The great deceiver.
Vamana! Mahabali was fooled.
With every step you take you cover the world.
I grant you immortality for your humility,
I grant you the chance to visit your people.
5. NARASIMHA - THE MAN-LION
It was revenge that fueled Hiranyakashipu to undertake years of austere penance,
It was his vow to avenge the death of his kin, slayed by the hand of Vishnu.
Brahma did offer a boon ‘oh lord grant me immortality’
‘That I cannot’ Brahma did speak, Hiranyakashipu chose his words carefully.
Let death not come to me,neither by man nor beast,
Not by day or by night, not on the earth or in the sky.
Let death not come to be, neither indoors nor outdoors,
Nor by any weapon, grant me lordship over the material world.
‘So let be it’ said Brahma,
And he became lord of the heaven and earth.
It was his son who did betray, a devoted follower of Vishnu,
How can he worship my enemy, the god who killed my brother?
Worship me or I will kill you, where is your god, will he protect you?
I fear you not for he will protect me, the all pervading Lord Vishnu
If he is all pervading, he must be in this pillar.
Let him come and protect you.
For I shall slay you,
Vishnu, in the form of Narasimha, emerged
He is neither a beast nor a man.
It is the twilight hour, neither day nor night.
At the threshold, neither indoors nor outdoors.
Upon his body, neither on the earth nor in the sky,
Disemboweled by his claws.
Alas, Vishnu has outwitted me.
6. PARASHURAMA - THE AXE WIELDER
In the kingdom of Haihaya,
A king, powerful and cruel,
Possessing a thousand hands,
Invincible, merciless tyrant, Arjuna.
Born, the only one with the power,
Vishnu, to vanquish the King Arjuna,
Son to Jamadagni and Renuka,
Granted, the Parashu of Shiva.
It was Kamdhenu, a gift from Indra,
That did feed the entourage of the King.
It was his greed that showed, not gratitude,
The uninvited guests did turn into thieves.
Infuriated, Parashurama stormed the kingdom of King Kartavirya
Seventeen akshauhinis greeted Parashurama,
Brandishing his axe with a murderous rage,
Decimating an entire army, not a single man escaped
From his wrath.
Enraged, at the destruction of his armies, Arjuna charged forth.
A thousand arms dismembered,
The final blow his to his head,
Arjuna Kartaviriya, now he lies dead.
Victorious Parashurama, a kingdom laid waste.
Kamdhenu was returned from where she came.
And life goes on as it did before.
My son, be aware of wrath and pride,
Father, I accept this penance.
A pilgrimage to the holy places,
A year for my purification.
The sons of Arjuna were out to avenge,
The murdererof ourfather will meet his end.
For this sin of Parashurama, Jamadagni will pay,
Decapitated his body, his head we shall claim.
On his return home Parashurama found no solace,
His mother lay weeping by the corpse of his father.
Furious, he hunted and killed the sons of Kartavirya,
Returning with the head of his father, cremating his remains.
I will enact genocide on the Kshatriyas,twenty one times over,
One for every time you beat your breast beside the corpse of my father.
And so he travelled the earth,
Killing all men of the Kshatriya caste.
Guilty or innocent,
All shall pay.
7. RAMA - THE PRINCE
The demon king Ravana grows powerful,
He is all but immortal.
In fear, the devas approach Vishnu.
Fear not for I shall slay him,
Manifest myself in the sons of Dasharatha,
In Rama the eldest, and partially in his brothers.
But fate would have its way,
Ram was not crowned king.
Banished into exile,
For fourteen years to the day.
His brother and his wife chose to stay by his side
Follow him into the forest, into his exile.
And so she came, one day in to the forest,
Shurpanakha, sister of Ravana.
Smitten by Rama, who spurned her advances.
Even Laxman did turn her away.
Infuriated by their mockery she attacked Sita.
Hacking off her ears and nose, Laxman sent her on her way.
And Ravan vowed vengeance on Rama,
Take what he holds most dear, his wife Sita.
It was a deceitful golden deer,
That led Ram and Laxmanastray.
Ravan did have his way and abduct Sita.
They searched the forest, all but in vain,
In befriending Sugreeva, the answer, it came.
Sita was held captive in Lanka, Ravan’s domain.
On the quest to bring her back, the ocean stood in the way.
Rama called upon Varuna, who said, ‘lord build your way’.
The bridge across the ocean, to Lanka, you must lay.
The army of Rama did lay wasteto the demon king’s.
With the twang of his bow, victory’s cry did ring.
Ravan did perish, Sita’s freedom.
And so Vishnu did complete the quest for which he came.
8. KRISHNA - THE COWHERD
On the eve of the dawn of kaliyuga,
A distressed Bhoomidevi stood before Brahma,
In the form of a disconsolate cow.
I seek refuge in you my lord, rid me of my burden.
Brahma turned to Vishnu for guidance.
I know of her distress, he said.
Shesha and I shall come to earth,
Born as the seventh and eight sons of Vasudeva,
I will free her from these chains.
Kamsa the tyrant shall fall,
A heavenly voice did prophesize,
His death by the eight son of Devaki.
As he raised his sword to slay her,
The hand of Vasudeva did stop him.
A promise was made to spare her life,
To you we give every child that is born.
And so they were slain,
The first six sons who were born.
The seventh one, cloaked in deceit,
Misleading Kamsa to believe it was lost.
Vishnu appeared, and said,
Leave me on the bed of Yashodha,
And bring back the girl that has been born.
And so the eight child was born,
The king he stormed in.
Spare this child for it is only a girl,
Let me keep her, dear brother.
Kamsa paid no heed as he snatched the infant,
And dashed it to the ground.
The spirit of Yogamaya rose,
Oh foolish one, your destroyer lives elsewhere.
Several asuras were sent over time,
To Gokul, home to Krishna and Balarama.
Each of them vanquished, destroyed,
The king was left in dismay.
A challenge to bend a bow,
Krishna did not bend, but break it.
A wrestling bout with champions,
Victorious did Krishna remain.
A furious Kamsa did try to run in vain,
At the hands of Krishna, he was slain.
9. BUDDHA - THE TEACHER
Siddhartha was a prince,
Scion of a king
His majesty enjoyed luxuries of his choice,
Ignorant of the world's evil,
Until he left his world.
Stepped out, into the world,
His chariot on the road,
Went forth to lands he owned.
His inquisitive soul,
He saw, truth behold,
Untold before unfold.
And he saw pain, agony, misery.
And he saw anguish.
And he saw suffering.
Cries, thru his eyes.
Lies, thru his eyes.
Death, thru his eyes.
Lies, thru his eyes.
And he asked, is this life?
Questioned existence. Questioned life.
Abandoned his wife and child.
He ventured out in search of the truth,
Abandoning the lie.
Years passed and time went by,
Meditating under Bodhi, enlightened by.
And he returned to live among men,
Sharing what he had gained.
Another gospel for the world,
And this was his sermon.
And so he became Buddha.
Buddham sharanam gacchami.
10. KALKI - THE DESTROYER OF FILTH
Evil walks the earth freely, and its supremacy grows strong,
But all hope is not lost.
For when the evil kings will feed on the pious,
Kalki will be born.
In his most human form Vishnu will descend,
With his sword and riding his celestial horse,
He will restore dharma to this world.
He will bring the coming of a new age.
Man made demons, man made gods.