The Purusha incarnation, just previously described, is the primary incarnation for the material world, existing through the entire thing – before and after it as well – and maintaining its reality. The first aspect of the Purusha creates the primordial potentialities for all the universes. The second aspect enters each potential universe and generates Brahmā, the agent of actual creation. The third aspect enters within each quantum particle of the universe, including each soul therein, and makes their mutual existence and exchange possible.
From this third aspect comes a myriad of “avatār” (incarnations). Suta will now enumerate some of the prominent ones.
The first avatār occurs within the “Childhood” age of creation. “The Children” performed the very difficult task of Brahmā: uninterrupted celibacy.
The quadruplet sons of Brahmā (the god who creates) are the first avatār of the Purusha. They appeared in a very early cycle of creation, called the “Childhood Age” (kaumāra sargam). Brahmā asked them to create thousands of offspring to generate the initial population base of the world. They declined and took up a more difficult, implicit order: to cultivate spiritual knowledge. Such endeavor is made much more efficacious if one desists from simultaneously cultivating anti-knowledge: which is the ignorance that the soul deserves to be a central figure of gratification via the world’s resources. So celibacy is one of the important components of classical spiritual discipline. The Children (Kaumara. Or, “The Four Kumaras”) had a very novel idea. They did not allow their bodies to age into puberty, a really great solution to the often troubling practice of celibacy!
The second avatār of He For Whom Sacrifices Are Meant appeared when the Earth fell into the lowest dregs of the universe. Appearing as a boar, this avatār rescued the world by lifting it back to its proper orbit
He is more popularly named Varāha.
The third avatār came during the “Sage Age” as the Sage of the Gods. He compiled purifying manuals regarding how to live in the world without becoming entangled in selfishness.
He is most popularly known as Nārada.
The fourth came during the “Age of Dharma’s Wife” as Sage Nara-Nārāyaṇa. His task was to show how to perform very serious disciplines of self-control.
The fifth is named Kapila, the master of the accomplished ones. He restored empiric material sciences, which had been lost over time, by teaching Āsuri.
The sixth is Atri’s, because his wife Anasūyā prayed for such a son. He instructed spiritual knowledge to Alarka, Prahlāda and others.
The name of Atri and Anasūyā’s son is Dattātreya. Many of these initial incarnations came for the purpose of giving spiritual knowledge to humanity. Knowledge which is beyond the human mind cannot exist unless a being which is beyond the human mind comes and delivers it in a manner which the human mind could hope to comprehend.
Among Dattātreya’s students is the name Prahlāda. It seems this could not be the famous Prahlāda associated with a later incarnation.
Then the seventh avatār, Yajña, appeared from his mother Ākūti and father Ruci. He took care of the world during the difficult transition out of the “Svāyambhu Age.”
The eighth, Urukrama, was born from his mother Merudevī and father Nābhi. He showed the path walked by those enlightened souls who are honored by all spiritualists.
A more common name for him is Ṛṣabha. “Enlightened souls honored by all spiritualists” has a specific import. There are four generally sequential spiritual orders in classical Indian culture: the student (brahmacārya), the active householder (gṛhastha), those retired to the forest (vānaprastha), and the renounced (sannyāsa). The fourth, the renounced, is honored by all the others as the objective. Within each order are sub-orders. The fourth order has four classical sub-orders: renounced in the hermitage (kuṭicaka), without a hermitage (bahudaka), without a location (parivrājaka), and the topmost swan (paramahaṁsa). The topmost swan is honored by all others, even those in the fourth order, as the ultimate objective.
The nature of such persons is that they have completed all development and require no further discipline. The eighth avatār set the standard of the nature, quality, and behavior of such very rare souls.
The person of a similar name important to the Jain religion must be named after this avatar, considering the chronology.
Answering the prayers of sages, Purusha accepted the ninth avatār as a king of the earth. By milking the earth he made her body very verdant and attractive.
He is more commonly known as Pṛthu.