Lord Vishnu is the part of Holy Trinity in Hinduism. Narayana descends to restore the cosmic balance. Whenever the evil forces reachbrim, Vishnu takes an incarnation to ensure prosperity and rule of goodness. As per the Holy Scriptures like Bhagwat Gita and Vishnu Purana refer to the origin of Dashavataras or the ‘Ten incarnation forms’. Recent readings also acknowledge Chaitanaya Muni, Vithobha and Ramakrishna Parmahansa as Vishnu’s incarnations. Some Vaishnavs consider Balarama as one of incarnations and not Buddha.
Matsya avatar is said to be the most humble and powerful incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu came in Sata Yuga in Piscean form to save Manu from annihilation due to apocalypse.
Kurma or Tortoise form of Lord Vishnu came to support the churning of the Ocean and bring the Amrita (elixir) to Earth from the ocean floors. The Mandara Mountain was placed on the back of the Kurma and spun to churn the ocean. The amrita, Kamdhenu, and Airavata are some of the items that came out of the process.
Old boar or Varaha form of Vishnu rescued Prithvi from the clutches of Hiranyaksha, the demon ruler who took it to the bottom of the cosmic ocean. After defeating the demon, Varaha restored the position of Earth in the solar system.
Narasimha is the lion manifestation of the human body. Hiranyakashiu, the elder brother of Hiranaykasha and father of BhaktPrahalad, was killed by this form. The form has special significance in mythology owing to the fact that Vishnu can take any form and can appear from any place.
Vamana arrived at the Havana site of King Bali, grandson of Bhakt Prahalad. Bali had grown boastful of his reigning powers. Lord Vishnu took a dwarf form and asked for three portions of land as alms from Bali. Unable to gauge what the portions could be, Bali asked to measure the land using the three paces of foot. Vamana grew in size and seized the heaven with his first step the netherworld with the next. When Bali realized his ego has been shattered, he offered his head for the third step. This earned Bali immortality and brought Indradeva back to prominence.
Parshurama was the first warrior saint. He received Parshu axe from Shiva. He eliminated the Kshatriya clan 21 times and filled five lakes with their blood. He is the dutiful son to rishi Jamaadgini. He is an immortal and still performs his penance at Mahendragiriparvat.
Treta Yuga was haunted by demonic powers. Rama, who was born in Ayodhya, killed Raavana and his brother, Kumbhakaran in Treta Yuga and freed Lanka from the reigns of Raavana. He also gave back Kishgindha to Sugreeva after helping him defeat Bali. He is also referred to as Maryada Puroshottam.
Krishna killed his evil uncle, Kanksha and Shishupala in the Dwapar Yuga. He is the raconteur of the Bhagwad Gita. He mesmerised the Gokulvasis with his BAL leelas and Gopi Kaands. Krishna is also known as Jagannath, Govardhandhari, Muralidhar, and Shrinathji. He was cursed by Gandhari for pushing Kurava clan towards its end. He shifted his capital to Dwarka and became Dwarkadheesh.
Different sects of Vaishanavas see the ninth incarnation in different form. Buddha earned Moksha, while Vithoba and Chaitnaya Muni freed the society from evils in society. The followers of Ramakrishna Parmahanasa see him as the ninth incarnation.
Yet to arrive, Kalki will bring Armageddon on Earth and remove the filth of humanity. He will arrive at the end of Kali Yuga. He is said to arrive riding a white horse carrying powerful weapons that would bring total annihilation on Earth.