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Some Vishnu avatars I can think of connected with war/destruction:

  • Govardhana Giri - as part of fighting with Indra

  • Bhagavad Gita - inciting Arjuna to internecine war

  • Rescuing the earth - fighting with Hiranyaksha

Are there any avatars that are peaceful in nature i.e., not involving any wars?

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    That's primarily because Lord Vishnu is the maintainer among the Trinities.. so it's his duty to fight the chaotic forces.. – Rickross Feb 27 '18 at 16:29
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    wiki: "The section 1.8.1 of the Shatapatha Brahmana (Yajur veda) is the : "earliest extant text to mention Matsya and the flood myth in Hinduism. It makes no mention of Vishnu, instead identifies the fish with Prajapati-Brahma.[1][4][9] " – S K Feb 27 '18 at 18:24
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    @SK prajapati just means the generator, Lord Vishnu is also called prajapati, even in Vishnu stuti. Just like how the name Sri can be used for multiple deities similarly prajapati can be used for multiple deities, shiva is a prajapati too. Sri, hri, prajapati, ishwar, isha are titles can be used for multiple dieties – Anubhav Jha Feb 27 '18 at 18:39
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    @SK prajapati means generator, hri means a modest women, Sri means giver of fortune, isha means Lord, ishwar means personal diety etc. – Anubhav Jha Feb 27 '18 at 18:43
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    @SK these are no arguments, you can check the Vishnu shasranama and shiva shasranama, for a matter of fact Lord Vishnu is foremost among prajapatis as he is the progenitor of brahma/pitamah thus known by the name prapitamah. He is also known as yajna prajapati. – Anubhav Jha Feb 27 '18 at 19:16
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There are 3 avataras, I can think of which does not include war,

  1. Vamana avatara

  2. Vyasa avatara

  3. Kurma Avatara

While Vamana avatar was to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, in Vyasa avatar Lord Vishnu divided Vedas in four parts.

SB 8.22.31 — The Lord continued: Because of his great tolerance, I have given him a place not obtainable even by the demigods. He will become King of the heavenly planets during the period of the Manu known as Sāvarṇi.

SB 8.22.32 — Until Bali Mahārāja achieves the position of King of heaven, he shall live on the planet Sutala, which was made by Viśvakarmā according to My order. Because it is especially protected by Me, it is free from mental and bodily miseries, fatigue, dizziness, defeat and all other disturbances. Bali Mahārāja, you may now go live there peacefully. SB 8.22.33 — O Bali Mahārāja [Indrasena], now you may go to the planet Sutala, which is desired even by the demigods. Live there peacefully, surrounded by your friends and relatives. All good fortune unto you.

Ref: vedabase SB 8.22

In every Dwápara (or third) age, Vishńu, in the person of Vyása, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions: observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-vyása. Of the different Vyásas in the present Manwantara, and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account.

Ref: Vishnu Purana Book 3, Chapter 3.

One more avatar was Kurma avatar, in this avatar Lord Vishnu helped Gods and Demons to support the foundation of Mandara Mountain for Samudra Manthan.

tam utthitaṁ vīkṣya kulācalaṁ punaḥ  samudyatā nirmathituṁ surāsurāḥ dadhāra pṛṣṭhena sa lakṣa-yojana-  prastāriṇā dvīpa ivāparo mahān

When the demigods and demons saw that Mandara Mountain had been lifted, they were enlivened and encouraged to begin churning again. The mountain rested on the back of the great tortoise, which extended for eight hundred thousand miles like a large island. [SB 8.7.9]

surāsurendrair bhuja-vīrya-vepitaṁ
 paribhramantaṁ girim aṅga pṛṣṭhataḥ
bibhrat tad-āvartanam ādi-kacchapo
 mene ’ṅga-kaṇḍūyanam aprameyaḥ

O King, when the demigods and demons, by the strength of their arms, rotated Mandara Mountain on the back of the extraordinary tortoise, the tortoise accepted the rolling of the mountain as a means of scratching His body, and thus He felt a pleasing sensation. [SB 8.7.10]

Reference Bhagavatam Canto 8 chapter 7

  • this is not an answer. – S K Feb 27 '18 at 18:39
  • I justified it by giving you references :) @SK – TheLittleNaruto Feb 27 '18 at 18:51
  • sorry no dice: wiki "The earliest account of Kurma is found in the Shatapatha Brahmana (Yajur veda), where he is a form of Prajapati-Brahma and helps with the samudra manthan (churning of cosmic ocean).[5] In the Epics and the Puranas, the legend expands and evolves into many versions, with Kurma becoming an avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the form of a tortoise or turtle to support the foundation for the cosmos and the cosmic churning stick (Mount Mandara" – S K Feb 27 '18 at 19:12
  • You can add mohini avatar too. – Anubhav Jha Feb 27 '18 at 20:16
  • I believe Vamana helped Indra in many wars.. – YDS Feb 28 '18 at 13:42
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Are any of Vishnu and his avataras' great deeds not connected with war?

and this could be an endless list...

Are there any avatars that are peaceful in nature i.e., not involving any wars?

I couldn't find stories related to a war for these avatars:

  • Matsya (the one which happened in the beginning of Seventh Manvantara and saved Vaivasvata Manu.)
  • Kumāras
  • Nārada
  • Kurma
  • Dhanvantari
  • Mohini
  • Krishna Dvaipāyana Vyasa
  • Buddha
  • Dattatreya

and there may be few more as Lord's incarnations are infinite.

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    these are "great deeds"? – S K Feb 28 '18 at 14:51
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    @SK Which one is not?...Saving Shiva is not great deed? or Kapila's explanation on the system of yoga? or Lord Shri Rama explains Navdha Bhakti to Shabri? or Shri Ram Geeta?... indeed every act of God is great....ur Qn is invalid at the very first place...u generally don't ask Qn..u simply want to prove some God inferior or superior to another... – YDS Feb 28 '18 at 15:01
  • @sv. Sometimes even great sages get angry...does that mean they r not peaceful?...Kapila is one of the great sages... however deleted that...and made it wiki...feel free to edit... – YDS Feb 28 '18 at 17:39
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    @sv. Stop finding all these political ideas in Hindu scriptures. – Anubhav Jha Feb 28 '18 at 18:07
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    @SK Definition of "Great" changes with person and it is opinion based. If you don't define them, then your question is opinion based. – Sarvabhouma Feb 28 '18 at 18:28
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You interpretation of the avataras , viewing them as war-mongers ("inciting internecine war" ? really? ) is simple-minded and tunnel-visioned.

The avataras are a mixture of heroism in the battlefield and beatific expression.

An example of a peaceful yet great deed is Hayagriva imparting Sri Vidya and Lalita Sahasranama to Agastya.

Now if want to decline this as an answer because Hayagriva went to battle with a horse-faced rakshasa, then the answer is this:-

Suddha sattva is seen only in Shakti. And her counterpart in the hierarchy is nirguna brahman. As soon as brahman becomes saguna, they exhibit traits that can be seen as guna-based (although such arguments are nullified by the examination of dharma). All avataras are saguna bramha.

  • Interesting interpretation from an advaitic perspective. I am interested in perusing the references for the story of Hayagreevar and Agastya as well as the references for the last part. Thanks. – DirghaChintayanti Apr 6 '18 at 14:32
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    This is indeed a good answer. @LakshmiNarayanan lord Hayagriva appearing before sage Agastya and teaching him is mentiond in Lalita Mahatmya of Brahmanda Purana. @ moonstar if you want to cite you take references from hinduscriptures website. Related portion is present from Chapter 5 onwards. – Triyugi Narayan Mani Apr 6 '18 at 19:32
  • Thanks @TriyugiNarayanMani . Please feel free to edit the post. – user1195 Apr 7 '18 at 4:43

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