Kalki and the Mahdi: The Twenty-Four Avatars of the Dasam Granth

The Dasam Granth, a text attributed to the tenth guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, includes a composition with accounts of twenty-four avatars of the god Vishnu. The concluding story narrates the deeds of the future avatar Kalki and his battle with a figure named Mir Mahdi. Sikh exegesis of this text has often centered on why tales of Vishnu’s avatars appear in a Sikh text; this presentation will analyze this Kalki narrative in relation to other accounts of Vishnu’s final avatar and Indic accounts of the mahdi, a figure who in Islamic theology appears at the end of time.