Kurma, which means turtle or tortoise, is now viewed as the second avatar of Lord Vishnu. There are a total of ten principal avatars via which Vishnu is believed to descend on earth to restore cosmic order. The word Dashavatara derives from da┼Ťa, which means ten and avatara which means incarnation.

In recent times, the order of the ancient concept of Dashavataras has been interpreted to be reflective of the theory of evolution as well as a description of the earth’s evolutionary consciousness.

Matsya, the fish, is the first incarnation of Vishnu; and as mentioned earlier, Kurma, the turtle, is the second.

In the Shatapatha Brahmana, the tortoise Kurma is equated to be the creator of all creatures. Prajapati, who is an aspect of Lord Brahma, takes on the form of Kurma to create all creatures. Kurma is also referred to as called Aditya, one of the solar children of the Goddess Aditi.

When the worship of Lord Brahma became less popular and that of Vishnu increased; the names, attributes, and aspects of Brahma were transferred to Vishnu. In Lord Vishnu’s form as the world turtle Kurma, he supports all the worlds on his back. In the Brahma tradition, however, the tortoise is the animal form that Prajapati took on in order to create offspring.

The Hindu doctrine teaches that whenever humanity and creation as a whole is under threat, God descends into the world as an avatar to restore order and redeem its creation.

The avatar doctrine presents a worldview of divinity that is compatible with science and a belief in evolution. The world was shaped by a gradual progression of avatar incarnations: from fish to turtle to mammal and lastly to human.

The existence of ten avatars presents the theological view of a deeply personal and loving God who cares about the fate of its creation. It is due to Vishnu’s second incarnation as Kurma that the world is blessed with the bounty of creative potential.

It is Vishnu in his aspect as Kurma that both supports and sustain the universe.

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