When did Buddha become an Avatar of Vishnu? How& Why?


Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1156; Dated 7th July 2014.

How many Avatars of Vishnu are narrated so far?
There are twenty two + Avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu in the Bhagavatha Purana. Sikh’s Dasam Granth written by Guru Gobind Singh has listed 24 Avatars of Lord Vishnu.

But Bhagavatha Purana says his incarnations are innumerable. Whenever Vishnu comes down in some form to help a devotee, it is considered an Avatar. But later Puranas made Ten Avatars more popular and grouped them under Dasavatar. The strange thing about this list is suddenly Buddha’s name was inserted as an avatar of Vishnu!! In short Buddha was Hinduized or reconverted to Hinduism!!

Who did this? Why?
First of all Buddha was born as a Hindu and never said anything against Hinduism. He never contradicted anything, but complemented to Hindu philosophy. He devoted one full chapter for Brahmins in his Dhammapada. Wherever possible he praised them (E.g.Indra). From Buddha to Asoka all the scriptures ranked Brahmana first and Sramana second. But Buddha was against sacrificing animals in the Yagas. That was where he differed from orthodox Hinduism. But he was not the only one. Even before the Buddha, Mahavira and his predecessors were preaching different ideologies.


After Buddha’s death some fanatics started “Buddhasizing” everything. The entire ancient Hindu stories from proto Panchatantra folklore, Ramayana and Mahabharata to Puranas were converted as stories of Buddha’s previous Avatar. Six hundred such stories were collected as Jataka Tales. In short they “stole the Avatar concept” from the Hindus and converted all the characters as Bodhisatvas. Bhagavatha Purana of the Gupta period included the Buddha in the Avatar list. Then came a clever man among the Hindus by name Jayadeva (1200 CE), the author of Gita Govindam, who gave a final blow to the already dying Buddhism, by including Buddha as an avatar of Lord Vishnu in his Gita Govindam. Nobody bothered or objected to it. Hindus can digest anything that comes their way. They digested all the invading western tribes. In the same way Buddhism was also absorbed by including the Buddha in the list of Ten Greta Avatars.

Jayadeva’s hymns known as astapathis included Buddha in the following sloka:
“O you merciful heart denounced the Veda where the slaughter of cattle was taught. O Kesava, you in the form of the Buddha, victory to you, Hari, the lord of the world”.
The commentator also said the Buddha did not condemn the whole Veda but only the part of it which supported sacrifices.
bommai krishnan, fb

In the next verse Jayadeva listed all the ten incarnations of Vishnu :-
“Who upheld the Vedas , supported the universe,
Bore up the world, destroyed the demons, deceived Bali,
Broke the force of the Kshatriyas, conquered Ravana , made the plough, spread mercy, who took the ten forms. Prevailed over aliens, Homage. O Krishna”.

Philosopher Dr S Radhakrishnan said, “ Buddha utilized the Hindu inheritance to correct some of its expressions. He came to fulfil, not to destroy.”
Buddhism took different forms in different countries. Some of them went against the main teachings of Buddhism such as non violence, vegetarianism, ascetic life etc. but in India it has entered in to and become an integral part of our culture.

22. Shankaracharya VEDVYASA
Veda Vyasa: Vyasaya Vishnu Rupaya, Vyasa Rupaya Vishnave.

Vedic Origin of Avatars

Story of deluge is found in all ancient cultures. It must have originated in India, because Rig Veda, the oldest scripture in the world, has it’s seed (Manu and Matsya Sammata were mentioned in the Veda). More over all the epics, Puranas and other scriptures described the deluge in detail. Hindu scriptures clearly located it in the Indian sub continent, whereas other cultural references are a bit vague and less detailed.
Avatara means a descent. God is coming down to earth from the heaven. The three steps of Lord Vishnu (Vamana Avatara) is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Sayana, the most famous Vedic commentator, interpreted it as three steps of Vishnu as Vamana. It is one of the Ten Avatars.

In the Taiittiriya Samhita and the Satapatha Brahmana, Varaha (Boar) avatara is mentioned. But Prajapathi’s name was there instead of Vishnu.

Kurma Avatara was mentioned in the Sathapatha Brahmana. Again Prajapathi’s name replaced Vishnu. Satapatha Brahmana mentioned the fish/ matsya avatara as well.
Narasimha’s avatara of man lion, Parasurama’s (Rama with axe) incarnation, Rama and Krishna , followed by the Buddha are featured as Dasavatar in later literature. Last Avatar Kalki is yet to come.
may sri ram bless you

Bhagavatham mentioned the following 22:

1)Purusha, the male progenitor or Four Sons of Brahma 2)Varaha, the boar 3)Narada, the great sage 4)Nara and Narayana 5)Kapila, a sage 6)Dattatreya, a sage 7)Yajna, sacrifice 8)Rishaba, a righteous king, father of Bharata (may be the first Tirthankara of Jains) 9)Prithu, a king 10)Matsya, the fish 11)Kurma, a tortoise 12) Dhanvantri, the physician of the Gods.13) Mohini 14)Nara-simha, the man lion 15)Vamana, the dwarf 16)Parasurama 17)Veda Vyasa 18)Rama 19)Balarama 20)Krishna 21)Buddha 22)Kalki
Hamsa (swan) and Hayagriva (horse faced) avatars also mentioned elsewhere.


Dasamagranth gave a slightly different list with 24 avatars by adding, Brahma, Rudra, Manu, sun, moon, Seshasayi, and Jalandhara by replacing a few. But all the main ten Avatars are there.
So the inclusion of the Buddha in the avatar list was a tactical move to neutralise the effect of Buddhism. They were paid back in their own coin!

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