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 Various incarnations of Lord Krishna as per Shrima
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Vasant Punjabi
Vice-President & Pushtikul Elite Member - May 2003

1047 Posts
Posted - 13 May 2005 :  07:56:10
Jai Shri Krishna,

Few weeks back there was this topic about various incarnations of Lord Shri Krishna.

Well this is the one as per Shrimad Bhagwad.

Shri Krishna’s Incarnations

The greatest and the invaluable treasures of the world are freely available, but man seldom utilises them for his advantage. Shrimad Bhagavatam is a case in point . Unlike this modern age when every creative output is being patented, the sacred text Bhagavatam bequethed by the great sage Vyasa to humanity was written by him not for self-gratification but out of great compassion for those suffering in the world so that they can peruse Bhagavatam and be benefited by it .

In one of the famous prayers enshrined in the Bhagavata Purana which is in the form of the creator, Brahma, adoring the Supreme Lord Mahavishnu just before His advent as Shri Krishna in the world, he brings attention to the great legacy of the sages to mankind by way of leaving behind them the knowledge by which they attained liberation from bondage.

The same prayer also points out the means by which man need not be born again in this world of bondage. It says that by hearing and reciting, contemplating on and helping others remember Bhagavan Shri Krishna’s auspicious names and forms, he whose mind is fixed on His lotus feet even when he is engaged in activities of various kinds puts an end to transmigration.

Thus cultivating devotion is the objective of the Bhagavatam and it is not a commodity that can be purchased. The desire for liberation must be strong and with this end in mind the aspirant must adopt the prescriptions outlined in this scriptural text to develop devotion toward Shri Krishna. This text narrates the glory of the Supreme Lord in His various incarnations and by listening to them devotion to Him took root in the mind.

The manifestations of Shri Krishna by which the Earth has become sanctified were undertaken by Him with the purpose of protecting His devotees. When the Earth was troubled by the likes of Kamsa, the celestials under Brahma prayed to Lord MahaVishnu, ``Relieve the burden of the Earth on this occasion even as You have protected us as well as all the three worlds at other times having descended in the form of a fish, a horse (Lord Hayagriva), a tortoise, a man-lion, a boar, a swan, Prince Rama, Parasurama and the divine dwarf.''

Another significant point that this prayer states is that there is no need for Shri Krishna to incarnate in this world and hence it is out of compassion for humanity that He sportingly manifests every time there is an occasion for His direct intervention. Vasudeva and Devaki had the singular fortune of not only becoming the parents of Lord Shri Krishna but also the knowledge of His divine nature.

Shrimad Bhagavatam describes Sri Krishna’s various incarnations in Canto 1, Chapter 3 as follows :


sa eva prathamaà devaù

kaumäraà sargam äçritaù

cacära duçcaraà brahmä

brahmacaryam akhaëòitam

(First of all, in the beginning of creation, there were the four unmarried sons of Brahma [the Kumaras], who, being situated in a vow of celibacy, underwent severe austerities for realization of the Absolute Truth.)


dvitéyaà tu bhaväyäsya

rasätala-gatäà mahém

uddhariñyann upädatta

yajïeçaù saukaraà vapuù

(The supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices accepted the incarnation of a boar [the second incarnation], and for the welfare of the earth He lifted the earth from the nether regions of the universe.)


tåtéyam åñi-sargaà vai

devarñitvam upetya saù

tantraà sätvatam äcañöa

naiñkarmyaà karmaëäà yataù

(In the millennium of the Risis (Sages) , the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarsi Narada who is a great sage among the devatas. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action.)


turye dharma-kalä-sarge

nara-näräyaëäv åñé


akarod duçcaraà tapaù

(In the fourth incarnation, the Lord became Nara and Narayana, the twin sons of the wife of King Dharma. Thus He undertook severe and exemplary penances to control the senses.)


païcamaù kapilo näma

siddheçaù käla-viplutam

proväcäsuraye säìkhyaà


(The fifth incarnation, named Lord Kapila, is foremost among perfected beings. He gave an exposition of the creative elements and metaphysics to Asuri Brahmana for in course of time this knowledge had been lost.)


ñañöham atrer apatyatvaà

våtaù präpto ’nasüyayä

änvékñikém alarkäya

prahlädädibhya ücivän

(The sixth incarnation of the puruña was the son of the sage Atri. He was born from the womb of Anasuya, who prayed for an incarnation. He spoke on the subject of transcendence to Alarka, Prahlada and others [Yadu, Haihaya, etc.].


tataù saptama äkütyäà

rucer yajïo ’bhyajäyata

sa yämädyaiù sura-gaëair

apät sväyambhuväntaram

(The seventh incarnation was Yajna the son of Prajapati Ruci and his wife Akuti . He controlled the period during the change of the Svayambhuva Manu and was assisted by devatas such as His son Yama.)


añöame merudevyäà tu

näbher jäta urukramaù

darçayan vartma dhéräëäà


(The eighth incarnation was King Rishabhadeva , son of King Nabhi and his wife Merudevi . In this incarnation the Lord showed the path of perfection, which is followed by those who have fully controlled their senses and who are honored by all orders of life.)


åñibhir yäcito bheje

navamaà pärthivaà vapuù

dugdhemäm oñadhér vipräs

tenäyaà sa uçattamaù

(O brahmanas, in the ninth incarnation, the Lord, prayed for by sages, accepted the body of a king [Prithu] who cultivated the land to yield various produces, and for that reason the earth was beautiful and attractive.)


rüpaà sa jagåhe mätsyaà


nävy äropya mahé-mayyäm

apäd vaivasvataà manum

(When there was a complete inundation after the period of the Caksusa Manu and the whole world was deep within water, the Lord accepted the form of a fish and protected Vaivasvata Manu, keeping him up on a boat.)


suräsuräëäm udadhià

mathnatäà mandaräcalam

dadhre kamaöha-rüpeëa

påñöha ekädaçe vibhuù

(The eleventh incarnation of the Lord took the form of a tortoise whose shell served as a pivot for the Mandarachala Hill, which was being used as a churning rod by the Devatas and Asuras .)


dhänvantaraà dvädaçamaà

trayodaçamam eva ca

apäyayat surän anyän

mohinyä mohayan striyä

(In the twelfth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Dhanvantari, and in the thirteenth He allured the Asuras by the charming beauty of a woman and gave nectar to the Devatas to drink.)


caturdaçaà närasiàhaà

bibhrad daityendram ürjitam

dadära karajair üräv

erakäà kaöa-kåd yathä

(In the fourteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Narasimha and bifurcated the strong body of the Asura Hiranyakashipu with His nails, just as a carpenter pierces cane.)


païcadaçaà vämanakaà

kåtvägäd adhvaraà baleù

pada-trayaà yäcamänaù

pratyäditsus tri-piñöapam

(In the fifteenth incarnation, the Lord assumed the form of a dwarf-brahmana [Vamana] and visited the arena of sacrifice arranged by Maharaja Bali. Although at heart He was willing to regain the kingdom of the three planetary systems, He simply asked for a donation of three steps of land.)


avatäre ñoòaçame

paçyan brahma-druho nåpän

triù-sapta-kåtvaù kupito

niù-kñaträm akaron mahém

(In the sixteenth incarnation of the Godhead, the Lord [as Parasurama] annihilated the administrative class [Kshatriyas] twenty-one times, being angry with them because of their rebellion against the Brahmanas [the priestly class].


tataù saptadaçe jätaù

satyavatyäà paräçarät

cakre veda-taroù çäkhä

dåñövä puàso ’lpa-medhasaù

(Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Sri Vyasadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavati through Parasara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and sub-branches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.)


nara-devatvam äpannaù



cakre véryäëy ataù param

(In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rama. In order to perform some pleasing work for the devatas, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the demoniac king Ravana, who was on the other side of the sea.)


ekonaviàçe viàçatime

våñëiñu präpya janmané

räma-kåñëäv iti bhuvo

bhagavän aharad bharam

(In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord advented Himself as Lord Balarama and Lord Sri Krishna in the family of Vrishni [the Yadu dynasty], and by so doing He removed the burden of the world.)


tataù kalau sampravåtte

sammohäya sura-dviñäm

buddho nämnäïjana-sutaù

kékaöeñu bhaviñyati

(Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana , in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.)


athäsau yuga-sandhyäyäà

dasyu-präyeñu räjasu

janitä viñëu-yaçaso

nämnä kalkir jagat-patiù

(Thereafter, at the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Vishnu Yasa. At this time the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.)


avatärä hy asaìkhyeyä

hareù sattva-nidher dvijäù

yathävidäsinaù kulyäù

sarasaù syuù sahasraçaù

(O brahmanas, the incarnations of Lord Krishna are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.)


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