Lord Vishnu Ten Avatars – It is believed based on the interpretations from Hindu scriptures, Lord Vishnu self-incarnates at various stages of earth cosmic cycle (yugas) to bring ordinance whenever evil forces go beyond a tolerable limit.
Out of several views of avatar interpretations, I like the way how avatars are described related to life evolution characteristics in earth. Following are the avatars.
- Matsya – like a fish (initial life)
- Kurma – like a tortoise (life in water and land)
- Varaha – like a boar (disconnected from water, started living in land)
- Narasimha – like a lion (transition to knowledge; high in food chain)
- Vamana – short form (kind of Neanderthal; knowledge; wisdom)
- Parasurama – human form with axe, bow and arrow
- Rama – concept of King (society, community)
- Balaram – human form with plough and mace (civilization, farming)
- Krishna – intellectual dealing with politics, human weakness, life lessons, etc. (bhagavad gita)
- Kalki – (believed to happen in future) human machine
After 10 avatars, earth is believed to enter a silent phase / ice age / suspend state and again the life cycle starts and then the avatars from #1.
http://www.balagokulam.org/kids/stories/dashavatara.php (in this article, they have considered Buddha in the list instead of Balaram)