Most non-Hindus have probably heard of Krishna and maybe even Rama. They have heard of Buddha (who is considered to be an Avatar or Divine Manifestation of God by some). They probably have not heard of Kalki. But it is the stories of the Avatars of God (Vishnu) who came before Krishna and Rama that tell us how Hindu myth matches up remarkably with the Darwinian evolution. Personally I like the idea that, if we have reincarnated from lower to higher forms, Divinity has been with us living things every step of the way.
Rama is traditionally considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu. But let’s start with the first and work our way forward in order to demonstrate evolution at work.
The first Avatar, Matsya, was a fish, and the second was Kurma, the turtle. According to evolutionary science, sea creatures evolved into land creatures and gills gave way to lungs. The next big step in evolution was the reptile. Kurma offered his back as a pivot on which to rest Mount Mandara, which would suggest that he came before Man, when the earth was still being formed into its current state.
The next avatar was Varaha the Boar. So, here we have mammals, and not only that but he is said to have “released the earth from the bottom of the ocean, and recovered the lost Vedas. So not only do we see evolution in species but the formation of continents, and possibly the root of all religion.
The fourth incarnation was Narasingha, who kind of confuses things as he was half-lion, and half-man. Of course this does not appear to have ever existed in the evolutionary evidence. But if not taken so literally, it shows how we evolved from a form that we would consider more animal than human, into what we are today. Of course I am simplifying the meaning behind these avatars. According to the mythology, Narasingha was man and beast in order to kill the demon who had immunity against being killed by man and by beast. So he became both!
The fifth avatar is the first avatar that took a fully human form. His name was Vamana, and though he was human, he was a dwarf. This is consistent with the fossil records showing pre-hominids who were shorter (significantly in some cases) than modern man. He chased the gods from Heaven, it is said. I wonder, as pre-hominids evolved into humans, if this was the point when humanity received it’s first glimpse of Divinity face to face.
The last avatar before Rama was Parasurama. He took a regular-sized human form, the first modern human avatar of Vishnu. He, Rama, and Krishna, all came in their times to restore dharma in their own ways. But Parasurama will be the guru to Kalki, who it is said will be the last avatar of Vishnu before the next Dance of Shiva which will bring dissolution and the beginning of the next cycle of creation.