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Treta Yuga (Sanskrit: त्रेतायुग, romanized: tretāyuga) is the second of the four yugas, or ages of mankind, in the religion of Hinduism. It follows the Satya Yuga and is followed by the Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Treta means 'a collection of three things' in Sanskrit, and is so called because during the Treta Yuga, there were three Avatars of Vishnu that were seen, the fifth, sixth and seventh incarnations as Vamana, Parashurama and Rama, respectively. The name could also be derived from the fact that the Treta Yuga lasted 3,600 divine years, or 1,296,000 human years. The bull of Dharma symbolises that morality stood on three legs during this period. It had all four legs in the Satya Yuga and two in the succeeding Dvapara Yuga. Currently, in the immoral age of Kali, it stands on one leg.
Vishnu's guardians Jaya-Vijaya, were cursed by 4 kumara sages (Bramha's sons) to incarnate on Earth either 3 times as enemies of Lord Vishnu OR 10 times as devotees of Lord Vishnu. They chose to take birth on earth 3 times. In the first birth (During Satya Yuga), they were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. In the second birth (During Treta Yuga), they were born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna. In the third birth (During Dvapara Yuga), they were born as Sisupala and Dantavakra. The references are from stories of Bhagavata Purana.
Avatars of Lord Vishnu during Treta YugaEdit
Vamana is the first avatar of Vishnu in Treta Yuga and fifth overall. It is said that Indra, king of Svarga had killed Virochana, son of Prahalada (an ardent devotee of Vishnu, whom to protect from his father Hiranyakashipu he took the incarnation of Narasimha) by unjust and unfair means much to Vishnu's disappointment just because he only promoted Vishnu's worship, and not other gods. So the son of Virochana, Mahabali made a yagna and was granted chariot and weapons with which nobody can defeat him. He used this opportunity to imprison Indra and other devas and conquered the three worlds. Aditi, mother of devas was highly worried that her sons were imprisoned by her great grand nephew Mahabali and she asked is their any way to release them, Vishnu stated that he can take the form of a dwarf in order to save her sons. Aditi accepted and gave birth to Vamana. Vamana asked Mahabali three steps of land and Mahabali accepted, and he assumed his vishvaroopa form and covered the Heaven and Earth, and when questioned where can he place the third step, Mahabali being a Vishnu devotee just like his grandfather offered his head and Vamana being Vishnu or Vishnu being Vamana sent him to Patala loka (actually Sutala which is a place below Patala), which is said to be even beautiful than Svarga. Now Indra's place is restored and Vishnu returned to his original form and Vishnu asked Mahabali for a boon, since Vishnu was impressed by Mahabali's act of charity and devotion towards god. Mahabali stated that he wanted to visit his subjects every single year, and this day till now is celebrated as Onam to mark the return of Mahabali to Earth. Vishnu happily granted him the boon and left. According to the story, common belief is that during the day of Onam, the king visits his subjects secretly, worships and blesses them happily and leaves back to his place.
Mahabali is one of the Ashta-Chiranjivi alive till today, some being immortal (forever living) or some being alive till the end current Kali Yuga. All the chirajivis or at least some are alive to help Vishnu's tenth and final avatar or Kalki to wipe out sinners and kill the demon Kali on Earth and restore dharma or righteousness.
Vishnu incarnated as the Brahman Parashurama in this era because there were too many warlike Kshatriyas plaguing the Earth, and he therefore had to wipe out most of the world's warriors. However, some of the Kshatriyas survived or more were created, and their population grew again. Eventually, the avatara of Vishnu in Parashurama ended, though it is said that he continued to live on as a mighty warrior-hermit. He confronted Rama, angrily, years later, before acknowledging the latter's supremacy and retiring. He lived on in the Dvapara Yuga, having a great duel with Bhishma for the sake of Amba. However he failed to defeat him and stopped fighting after he was forbidden by the divine sage Narada and his ancestors and learning that Bhishma had surpassed him in art of warfare. He mentored Dronacharya, teacher of both the Kauravas and Pandavas. Parashurama also taught Karna but when he found out that Karna had lied about being a Kshatriya, he cursed Karna that his knowledge would fail him when he needed it the most. He is believed to be still alive today, doing penance on the Mahendragiri mountain.
The hallmark of this era was the rise of evil in the form of the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. He conquered the three worlds namely, Earth, Heaven and the Netherworld (Patala) and terrorized everyone. Even the Devas were subordinate to him - his son Meghanada had earned the title Indrajit by defeating Indra, the King of heaven in battle; and even the Sun had to obey the king. In this scenario, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as the son of King Dasharatha of the Suryavamshis or Ikshvaku dynasty and was named Rama. Due to his stepmother- Kaikai's wish, Rama was sent away to a forest in exile for 14 years, during which time he confronted and killed Ravana for kidnapping his wife, and thus restored peace on earth. He is said to have afterwards established Rama-rajya or Rama's Kingdom over the entire earth from his throne at Ayodhya for 11,000 years, before eventually returning to his Mahavishnu form.