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nations. Here the preserving deity in the form of a large fish (Matsya Avatara) is fabled to have watched over and preserved the boat of the Menu Satyavrata, during the deluge occasioned by the wickedness which degraded all mankind after they had lost the holy books of laws given them by Brahma.

The second Awatar is that of Koorma, or the Tortoise, which has also a reference to the deluge. The good things of the creation having perished in the waters, the immortals wished to renovate the earth, and for this purpose Vishnu became a tortoise, and supported on his firm back the Mount Meru, or the north pole, while the deities placing round it the great serpent of eternity, gave it a rotatory motion so as to agi, tate the milky ocean, whence sprang innumerable good things, but seven were pre-eminent: the moon, the elephant*, the horse t, a physician, a beautiful woman ‡, a precious gem, and Amrita, or the water of life, which was drunk immediately by the spirits, so that man still

* Mythologically this elephant had three trunks, and is the favourite of Indra.

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This was the seven-headed horse of Surya or the Sun.

This woman is often said to be Laeshemi, or Camala,

when she is like the popular Venus, and is the chief of the Apsaras or graces, who, however, are more akin to the inha bitants of Mahomet's paradise.


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remains subject to death. The third Awatar has likewise reference to the drowning of the world, for in it Vishnu is feigned to have heard the complaints of Prithivi, the goddess of Earth, who was nearly overpowered by the genius of the waters, and taking pity on her, he descended from heaven in the form of a man with a boar's head, and seating Prithivi firmly on his tusks, he combated the water demon and restored the earth to her place. The fourth and fifth descents of Vishnu are probably connected with the ancient lost history of India, and appear to have reference to religious wars. The legend of the fourth is, that an impious monarch having denied the existence of the Deity, was so enraged against his son for holding a contrary opinion, that he was about to put him to death, when Vishnu, in the shape of Narasinha or the Manlion, burst from a pillar of the palace and slew the atheistical king. The fifth is Vamuna, or the dwarf Brahmin, called also Trivikera, or the Three Stepper. The famous Bali, who is now one of the judges and monarchs of Hell, or Patala, had, by his meritorious austerities, obtained the sovereignty of the three worlds, earth, sea, and sky; but he so misused his power, that the spirits and Dewtahs were afraid of losing their celestial mansions, and therefore petitioned Brahme and the assembly of the immortals to

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free them from the tyranny of Bali. But as the celestial and irrevocable promise had been passed that no being should have power to dispossess the tyrant, Vishnu undertook by artifice to render him his own undoer, and therefore appeared before him as a mendicant dwarf, begging a boon from the mighty Bali. This boon the king bound himself to grant, and immediately the crafty deity claimed the space he could compass in three strides, and dilating his form, he strode over the earth with the first, over the ocean with the second, and with the third he mounted to heaven, leaving the astonished Bali only hist portion of Patala to rule.

The sixth Awatar, or Parasu Rama, is distinctly stated to have been a Brahmin, who, in revenge for severities practised by the military caste upon the sacerdotal class, assembled an army, and completely exterminated the soldiers of his country, which appears to have been that of the Mahrattas, and to have substituted individuals of the inferior castes in their places. The same country was at no very distant period, the scene of a counter-tragedy; for the Brahmins being slain, the fishermen and other low persons were raised to that dignity, and hence the small esteem in which the Mahratta and Kokun Brahmins are still held.

The seventh Awatar was Rama-Chandra, the

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