The Dashavatar dance depicts the 10 incarnations (avatars) of the Hindu god Vishnu performed to classical Indian music. The first video shows the entire dance, while the other 10 video clips demonstrate the different gestures and poses that identify the various avatars of Vishnu.

Matsya ("the Fish")
One day Manu (man-oo). "Father of Man," was washing himself by a river. He found a tiny fish , Matsya (mat-see-ah), in the hollow of his palm. Matsyawas the god Vishnu in disguise, and he asked Manu to save him. The small fish grew quickly, and soon he was so big Manu could no longer keep him. Manu said goodbye and returned the fish to the ocean. Upon his release, the fish told Manu that in one year a great flood would submerge the world, and he urged Manu to build a ship in preparation. The flood took place precisely one year later, as Matsya had said. Matsya returned during the flood to guide Manu's ship through the waters to safe ground. After the flood, Manu created new plants, animals, and people for the earth.

Kurma ("the Tortoise")
Long ago, many floods destroyed the world. Precious things were lost , including the heavenly nectar amrita, or cream of the milk ocean, which the gods ate so that they would live forever. Without the cream of the milkocean, the world and the gods would die. The gods and demons came together to make the cream of the milk ocean. Mount Mandara was turned upside down so that it could be used as a churning stick to stir up the water. The snake Vasuki (va-sookee) was employed as a rope to turn the mountain. The mountain was so heavy it began to burrow into the earth, making the earth tremble and fall apart. The gods and demons called out for the help of Vishnu. Vishnu became Kurma, "the tortoise, " then used his curved back as a pivot on which the mountain could rest . Gods and demons worked very hard together to churn the ocean. Soon, they were able to make the cream of the milk ocean. Then all of the lost, precious objects rose up out of the milky water.

Varaha ("the Boar")
Near the dawn of time, the Earth was born. The newborn Earth, in the form of a lovely young woman, was floating on the Cosmic Sea when she was suddenly attacked. The Serpent of the Abyss, which is a very deep hole, dragged Earth beneath the wat ers. Earth cried out to Vishnu to save her. Vishnu, hearing her desperate cries, became Varaha, "the boar." Boars are fierce creatures of the land that also delight in water and swamps. Varaha plunged into the Cosmic Sea, lifted Earth up on his large tusks, and returned Earth to her home above the waters.

Narasimha ("the Man-Lion")
There was once a demon king called Hiranyakashipu (hih-ran-ya-kash-ya-poo), who was so powerful that he could not be killed "by day or night, by man or beast, by no man-made weapon, either inside or outside his palace, nor on the earth or in the skies." Thus protected, he terrorized the three worlds. The demon king was so powerful he scared everyone, even his young son. The demon king's sale worry was that his son worshipped Vishnu. This worry made the king so unhappy that the son was afraid his father would kill him. Vishnu decided to save the boy and bring peace to those who feared the king. Vishnu became Narasimha, a creature who is half-manjhalf-lion and, thus, "neither man nor beast." He hid inside a pillar on the porch of the demon's palace, a place that is "neither inside nor outside." At twilight, which is "neither day nor night," Narasimha burst forth from the pillar, seized the demon king in the palace doorway, stretched him across his lap, which is "neither on earth nor in the skies," and killed him with his claws.

Vamana ("the Dwarf")
At one time, Bali the demon king controlled the earth. Vishnu decided to fool the demon king, and he became Vamana(vah-man-ah), "the dwarf." Vamanaasked Bali if he could have as much space as he could cover in three steps. Believing that the dwarf could cover only a small space, Bali agreed. Then Vamana the dwarf turned himself into a great giant. His first step covered the entire earth. His second and third steps covered the heavens. Nothing was left for the demon king to rule but the world of the afterlife.

One day a powerful warrior king named Kshatriya (kshat-ree-ah) visited the home of Jamadagni (jah-mahdahg-nee), a strict Brahman hermit of the priestly class. Jamadagni and his family lived a very simple life. When the warrior king saw Jamadagni's wonderful cow, he decided to take it for himself. Jamadagni and his family tried to get the cowback. By accident , Jamadagni was killed by the warrior kinq's sons. Vishnu decided to help Jamadagni's family and, in the process, to restore on earth the power of the priestly class over the warrior class. Vishnu became Parasurama (para-soo-rama) , the youngest and most obedient son in Jamadagni's family. In revenge for his father' s death, Parasurama killed the warrior kinq's entire family, and thereby restored order.

Vishnu had many adventures as the brave and daring Prince Rama, "destroyer of the wicked." Prince Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana were banished to the forest for fourteen years upon the demand of Rama's stepmother. Rama and his family constantly defended themselves against the demons who also lived in the forest. One day, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, demon king of Sri Lanka. Rama went to Hanuman, the king of the monkeys, and asked for help in finding his wife. The monkeys searched for Sita east and west, north and south. Finally, Hanuman spied Rama's wife hidden in a grove of trees in the demon king's palace garden. Rama and the monkeys attacked the demons, killing Ravana and his mighty warriors in order to free Sita. After a long time, Rama and his family were able to come home to rule over his kingdom Ayodhya (ah-yod-hee-a). This was a time of justice, peace, and happiness.

Vishnu had many adventures as the loving, playful, and wise god Krishna. One day, the young Krishna was playing ball near the Yamuna River, and the ball bounced into the water. It landed near the many-headed, giant cobra Kaliya, who lived in the YamunaRiver. The snake was so poisonous that no trees or birds could live near the river. In order to retrieve the ball, Krishna climbed a tree and dived into the river. The cobra immediately began to fight with Krishna . Krishna stomped so hard on Kaliya with his feet, Krishna's footprint was imprinted on the cobra's head, where it appears to this day. Soon, Kaliya became faint from the many blows. Krishna offered Kaliya the opportunity to go live in the ocean if he would reform his evil ways. Fearing for his life, Kaliyaagreed. After the poisonous snake had gone, the water and the land became safe again for trees and birds.

At the beginning of the present age, many people were talking about Vishnu in strange ways. He decided to corne to earth as the god Buddha. Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha into the rich and noble Gautama family. He grew up in luxury and pleasure, and he was married for many years to the beautiful Yasodhara (yah-show-dah-rah), with whom he had a son. One day, he sneaked out of the palace and saw that others lived with sickness, old age, and death. In order to find the meaning of these "three sorrows," Buddha decided to leave his home and family and pursue the life of a religious man. Buddha began a pilgrimage lasting seven years that involved learning, thinking, and preaching. He realized that in order to be free of the cycle of rebirth, he had to meditate and lead a simple life.

Vishnu will appear as Kalki sometime in the future. When he comes, Kalki will ride a white horse through the world. He win raise his arm high with a sword in his hand. The sword will blaze like a comet, and Kalki will destroy the world. Then Kalki will sleep on the Cosmic Sea for a long, long time. When he wakes up, Kalki will stir the milky waters. The god Brahma the creator will be reborn. The earthly world will begin to grow and play again, and a new GoldenAge will unfold.