This article is in continuation of a series on Das Avatara. Please read (1) Avatāra and (2) Dasa avatāra Overview before this article to get a complete picture.
We have shown the wisdom of our tradition in explaining that there is no real controversy about the list of dasa-avatāra and that each of the lists are meant for a specific purpose like Parāśara list of Iṣṭa devatā, Jayadeva modification for the Bhakti path and Jagannāth list for Dharma devatā.
Dasa avatāra or ten incarnations
Any list of ten incarnations can be made from the lists of various avatāra of Viṣṇu indicated above. However for identifying the ten principal avatāra of Viṣṇu symbolizing the highest potentate of the ten variables of Jyotiṣa (navagraha and lagna), we need to ensure that they belong to principal list of 22 incarnations or find mention in the Bhagavat Purāṇa. Other factors to consider include-
Guṇa avatāra are not to be selected as they are much above the navagraha and lagna which are in the three modes of sattva, rajas and tamas.
The Sanskrit word avatāraḥ is derived from ava meaning ‘down’ or descent and tarati meaning ‘crossing over or tiding over’ and refers to the deliberate descent of a deity, immortal being or the Supreme Being from heaven (normally Viṣṇu) for specific purpose(s).