Dashavatara & Darwin’s Evolution

The ten incarnations or ‘DashaAvatara’ of Lord Vishnu is an extraordinary recording of the evolution of human life and advance in human civilization.

Creationism vs Evolution has always been a topic of hot debate between religious views and modern scientists. Because science claims that human beings evolved from monkeys but these religions preach that God created humans and sent them to the earth. It might come as a surprise to many people, but Indians actually explained Darwin’s theory of Evolution Thousands of years before Darwin! The ten incarnations or ‘DashaAvatara’ of Lord Vishnu is an extraordinary recording of the evolution of human life and advance in human civilization.

In Hindu religion, the three main deities are Lord BrahmaVishu and Shiva. Brahma creates, Vishnu protects and Shiva destroys – three faces of Mother Nature. Lord Vishnu descends on Earth to uphold dharma and to cleanse the Earth of evil. So far, Lord Vishnu has appeared NINE times on Earth and the tenth, Kalki, is expected.

A surprising and much documented aspect of the Dashavatara story is its connection with evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory, when viewed from a certain perspective, neatly intersects with the ten incarnations. Man’s origins in the waters is evoked by the pisciform nature of Matsya. Then come the tortoise and the boar, taking us from amphibians to land animals. This is followed by a therianthropic form (Narasimha), and then homo sapiens proper, and so on. All this was recorded by Hindu sages thousands of years before Christ.

Ten incarnations of Vishnu
Ten incarnations of Vishnu

Stage 1 – (Fish) – Life started in the water

Modern Science: Proto-Amphibians that primarily lived in the water, this can be seen as the first stage of life. Examples are prehistoric fishes.

Hinduism: The first incarnation or avatar of Lord Vishnu was in the form of a fish and is known as Matsya Avatar. It clearly parallels with the scientific view.

Stage 2 – (Tortoise) – Amphibious – Life moved from water to the land.

Modern Science: Fish finally evolved out of water became Reptiles (with legs to be accurate). The examples are tortoise, lizards etc.

Hinduism: Second avatar of Vishnu is Kurma. Kurma means Tortoise which is a reptile that walks on four legs. We all know that tortoise is a creature capable of living both on land & in water, which indicates the transition of life from water to land. Again it’s a direct parallel with the scientific view.

Stage 3 – (Boar) – Complete animal – Adapted to live on land.

Modern Science: Reptiles evolved into the semi-amphibian and then the animals that live in swamps and slush and that could bear children and lived only on the land.

Hinduism: The Varaha Avatara, in the form of a wild boar, portrays the birth of the mammal. You may ask – why Boar? Why not a deer or monkey or some other mammal? The reason is that Boar belongs the the Suina family whose maxillary or teeth are in front and therefore they do not have to swallow and regurgitate their food just like us humans! It’s extremely enlightening to note that Hinduism had such a very insightful knowhow thousands of years ago!

Stage 4 – (Half ape) – Transformation from animal to ape.

Modern Science: Finally primates were evolving into Hominidae forms that looked more like humans, were partially bipedalled (walk on legs) but their brains were still not quite developed. They can be figuratively seen as having partly human lower body and animal like upper body.

Hinduism: Narasimha Avatar is a Half man and Half animal, and indicates the transformation from animal to human form. The interesting thing to note here is that Narasimha has the upper body of a lion but lower body of a man. This is important because this directly relates to the idea of a pre-human without a well developed brain but with the partial ability to become bipedal (walk on legs). This may be early-extinct human ancestor such as someone who could be the missing link between apes and humans.

Stage 5 – (Dwarf) – Transformation from ape to human, developed intelligence.

Modern Science: Finally Hominidae got closer to Homo Erectus was evolved. He was bipedal (walk on legs) more human looking but very short (dwarf).

Hinduism: Vamana Avatar represents a being that is very close to humans but is extremely short. It indicates the complete transition into human form, and the beginning of intelligence in humans.

Stage 6 – (Forest dweller) – Humans developed stone tools.

Modern Science: Homo Erectus and then Homo Sapien was evolved that was
about as tall as present day humans and could use tools. Homo Sapien is the present day human and biological evolution ends and at this stage the human might have a wavering mind, uncontrollable and act without reasons.

Hinduism: Sixth Avatar of Lord Vishnu was forest dweller called Parasuram, who has weapons such as axe for survival. This is the first avatar of Vishnu that has no animal characteristics and wields an Axe. So basically, Parashuaram is what the current day human would be who could also use tools, in other words Homo Sapien.

Stage 7 – (Hunter) – Humans used superior weapons, bows and arrows, created villages.

Modern Science: At this stage the humans developed to be perfect and they started giving importance to penance than the pleasure and started respecting other humans. The survival of the fittest started here and this led to mutinies between mankind. This was the beginning.

Hinduism: The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu is Lord Rama, who is well known among Hindus and is worshipped in temples as a deity. He civilized and has developed more superior weapons like the bow and arrows. He has cleared the forests and developed small communities or villages. He is very vigilant and protects his villages and people. Rama was a very moral man, and was very obedient to his parents. This shows the psychology and simplicity of early human beings.

Stage 8 – (farmer) – the beginning of full-fledged cultivation

Modern Science: People began planting seeds and covering the countryside with food producing plants. The earliest and most successful crops were grasses with large seeds such as barley, wheat, and rice. Hinduism: The eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu is Lord Balarama. He is portrayed with the plough – the beginning of full-fledged cultivation. Human civilization has developed agriculture and is no longer depended on meat and forest for food. 

Stage 9 – Advanced in civilizations and culture and to todays world

Modern Science: Mankind never stopped since they learned to use tools and all the Neanderthalensis were eliminated. Civilizations were formed, wars were fought, kingdoms were born and finally the world is as we see it today. The chief characteristic here is the increasing complexity of life and society. The perfect human with cleverness and ability to think and win developed at this stage. The humans started loving music, dance, etc…

Hinduism: Lord Krishna is another popular deity worshipped in many temples, and is a clear representation of advanced human civilization. Recent excavations of Dwarka city confirm the well planned construction  of cities, towns and streets. 

Stage 10: End of the World

Modern Sciences: According to Big Bang theory and other Modern theories the universe is not stable. The life in world should end at one point and the creation starts from the beginning. This whole loop continues infinite times.

Hinduism: The 10th form is the final life form where Hinduism surpasses the modern theory of evolution, and predicts the future. Remember that we are looking at all the life forms that dominated planet earth since millions of years. So what would the final dominant species look like? According to Hindu mythology 10th Avatar of lord Vishnu, called Kalki is yet to be taken and this occurs when the whole life on earth ends. He would be here to restart the whole cycle, so that it starts again. Species will be disappearing and the world will come to an end.” 

Alternate lists

Various versions of the list of Vishnu’s Avatars exist. Some lists give Balarama as the 8th avatar and Krishna as the 9th. While other give Krishna as the 8th avatar and the Buddha as the 9th avatar. However modern day philosophers and sculptors have completely removed the Balarama (Farmer) and inserted Lord Buddha.

Dashavatar carving on a pillar which show Balrama (Farmer) before Rama (Hunter)
Dashavatar carving on a pillar which show Balrama (Farmer) before Rama (Hunter)

A Pillar at Rayar Gopuram in Mahabalipurum show Balarama as 8th Avatar of Vishnu. According to legends entire structure was left unfinished because a sculptor made a simple mistake in carving this pillar and carved the hunter (Lord Rama) after the farmer (Balarama). This does not fit the evolution theory and makes the entire carving pointless. However, to the so called primitive people who lived thousands of years ago, such a mistake was unacceptable and they completely abandoned the entire structure.

Historian Comments

Monier Monier-Williams wrote “Indeed, the Hindus were … Darwinians centuries before the birth of Darwin, and evolutionists centuries before the doctrine of evolution had been accepted by the Huxleys of our time, and before any word like evolution existed in any language of the world.

J. B. S. Haldane suggested that Dashavatara gave a “rough idea” of vertebrate evolution: a fish, a tortoise, a boar, a man-lion, a dwarf and then four men (Kalki is not yet born).

C. D. Deshmukh also remarked on the “striking” similarity between Darwin’s theory and the Dashavatara.

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