Saturday, 27 July 2013


Ancient texts, especially those that belong to the great Indian civilization describe in detail a 'Great Deluge' that occurred in antiquity. Using the ancient Sanskrit texts as a frame of reference, many other old civilizations have now been able to interpret scattered remnants of information about pre-history to conclude that a great deluge did indeed take place.

In the Indian texts, Vishnu is said to have taken nine 'avataras' [avatara 
(अवतार) means 'incarnation'], each time appearing to save the world from natural calamities, great wars or from destruction wrought by the 'malechas' (म्लेच्छ) or the evil tribes. One of the avatars of Vishnu is that of the 'Kurma (कूर्म) - Sanskrit for 'tortoise' or 'turtle'. 

In the second verse of the 'Dashavatara Strotram' that describes the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, poet Jayadev Goswami  (circa 1200 AD) writes:

kṣitir iha vipulatare tiṣṭhati tava pṛṣṭhe
keśava dhṛta-kūrma-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare

O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a tortoise/turtle! All glories to You! In this incarnation as a divine tortoise the great Mandara Mountain rests upon Your gigantic back as a pivot for churning the ocean of milk. From holding up the huge mountain a large scar like depression is put in Your back, which has become most glorious.

Sculpture in India depicting Vishnu's avatar as a 'turtle'.
Vishnu saves the earh by carrying it on his back.

The description of the Kurma (tortoise) holding up the earth is not only found in the great Indian texts such as the Puranas, it also appears in sculpture in South America. One example is the sculpture of the Cosmic Turtle of the Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras.

Take a look:
The Giant Turtle Altar, Copan, Honduras
Click here for another view of the  Copan Cosmic Turtle with the accompanying deity.  

And here is a mural from South America that depicts the turtle carrying the earth on its back.

Here is another Mayan mural depicting the Cosmic Turtle with a deity.

The Dashavatara strotram of Jayadev Goswami describes not only the 'Kurma' avatara but all the 10 avataras of Vishnu. Here is a rendition of five of the ten verses (pertaining to the Meena, Vamana, Rama, Buddha and Kalki incarnations) of the Strotram. Click here to listen. Click here  for the Dasavatara Strotram with translation from Sanskrit to English.

1 comment:

Vinay Kumar Vaidya said...

॥ श्रीदशावतारस्तोत्रम् ॥
प्रलयपयोधिजले घृतवानसि वेदं ।
विहितवहित्रचरित्रमखेदं ॥
केशव धृतमीनशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥१॥
क्षितिरतिविपुलतरे तव तिष्ठति पृष्ठे ।
धरणिधरणकिणचक्रगरिष्ठे ॥।
केशवधृतकच्छपरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥२॥
वसति दशनशिखरे धरणी तव लग्ना ।
शशिनि कलङ्ककलेव निमग्ना ॥
केशवधृतसूकररूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥३॥
तव करकमलवरे नखमद्भुतशृङ्गम् ।
दलितहिरण्यकशिपुतनुभृङ्गम् ॥
केशव धृतनरहरिरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥४॥
छलयसि विक्रमणे बलमद्भुतवामन ।
पदनखनीरजनितजनपावन ॥
केशवधृतवामनरूप जयजगदीश हरे ॥५॥
क्षत्रियरुधिरमये जगदपगतपापम् ।
स्नपयसि पयसि शमितभवतापम् ॥
केशवधृतभृगुपतिरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥६॥
वितरसि दिक्षु रणे दिक्पतिकमनीयम् ।
दशमुखमौलिबलिं रमणियम् ॥
केशवधृतरघुपतिवेष जय जगदीश हरे ॥७॥
वहसि वपुषि विशदे वसनं जलदाभम् ।
हलहतिभीतिमिलितयमुनाभम् ॥
केशवधृतहलधररूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥८॥
निन्दसि यज्ञविधेरहह श्रुतिजातम् ।
सदयहृदयदर्शितपशुघातम् ॥
केशवधृतबुद्धशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥९॥
म्लेच्छनिवहनिधने कलयसि करवालम् ।
धूमकेतुमिव किमपि करालम् ॥
केशवधृतकल्किशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥१०॥
श्रीजयदेवकवेरिदमुदितमुदारम् ।
शृणु सुखदं शुभदं भवसारम् ॥
केशवधृतदशविधरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥११॥
॥ इति श्रीजयदेवविरचितं श्रीदशावतारस्तोत्रं सम्पूर्णम् ॥