Tag Archives: Purusha

The Reincarnation of Nārada

[1.6.25]

Having said that, that great master of beings known by sound not sight, stopped speaking. Feeling grateful for his favor I bowed my head to the glorified of the great.

The second time the boy directly experienced the All-Attractive was not visually, but aurally. However by analogy it is also true that God can be heard in sound more easily than seen by sight.

[26]

Shamelessly chanting the names of the Unlimited and remembering his auspicious and mysterious deeds I travelled the world with a mind full of satisfaction and void of desires, awaiting that time without pride or hatred.

After this second encounter with the All-Attractive, the boy received the news that they would not again meet until he was fully purified. So Nārada set out to accomplish that objective. It is quite essential for a spiritualist to be shameless. We cannot get far by feeling embarrassed of our affection for the All-Attractive. Without embarrassment the boy went about everywhere chanting the names of the Unlimited All-Attractive. By this chanting he constantly remembered the very confidential, mysterious, auspicious and purifying deeds of Kṛṣṇa. He knew that by doing so he would soon attain complete purity, and therefore kept no space in his heart reserved for pride or hatred.

[27]

Thus by keeping my mind on Kṛṣṇa I remained free from attachments and my soul became completely pure. In due course of time, that time appeared, like lightning from a cloud.

In due course, the boy attained complete purity by chanting the names of the All-Attractive and remembering his divine deeds. When that time came there was a very sudden illumination. The purified child was like a cloud, and suddenly the divine energy of Godhead appeared like a flash of golden lightning.

[28]

A pure body fit to associate with Godhead was awarded to me, and the limiting body of five elements fell away.

The flash of lightning of Godhead’s energy granted to the boy a form that is on a par with God’s own limitless form. The limiting, restrictive body created by earth, water, fire, air and ether just fell away unnoticed. This spiritual body is Nārada.

[29-30]

At the end of the kalpa, during devestation, Nārāyaṇa lay upon the ocean and recalled everything within himself by inhaling, including Brahmā and I. When this creation had expired for a thousand ages the desire to create caused the sages, headed by Marīci to appear from his exhalation. I too appeared.

A kalpa is a very long measure of time defined as a thousand revolutions of the four ages. By celestial reckoning this comes to roughly 4.32 billion years. This duration is equal to one day for the creator, Brahmā; just a day, not a night. At the end each day, Brahmā must sleep and during that time everything in his universe disintegrates. The Purusha (Original Incarnation of Godhead) from which Brahmā was born inhales and thus recalls within himself all the components of creation, including Brahmā. Not everything is destroyed by this inhalation. The very highest entities in the universe, like Brahmā and Nārada merely rest within the Purusha for another kalpa. When the kalpa of rest is completed, Purusha exhales and a new kalpa of creation begins.

 [31]

By the kindness of Mahā Viṣṇu I keep my unbroken vow going anywhere whenever I like, inside or outside of the three worlds.

What vow? The next text says…

[32]

I move about carrying this vīṇā given to me by God, which resonates ornate spiritual notes, singing about Hari.

This is the vow begun in Nārada’s previous life which remains still unbroken – to constantly sing the name and fame of the Heart-Stealer, Hari. In appreciation of this loving vow, Hari gave Nārada a special divine musical instrument.

[33]

When I sing of the heroism of the Delightful Topic, who feet create sacred places, he quickly appears in my consciousness and grants audience as if responding to my call.


Is Krishna an Incarnation?

Continuing the sequential list of the more prominent incarnations of Godhead, we come to those who are relatively more contemporary.

[1.3.15]

He took the form of a fish during the world-devastating flood of the “Cākṣuṣa” era, and protected the lord of humans, Vaivasvata Manu, be keeping him up on a boat.

[16]

In the form of a tortoise his shell provided the foundation for Mt. Manara when the gods and demons were churning the ocean. This was the eleventh incarnation of the All-Powerful.

[17]

Dhānvantari was the twelfth. And then in the thirteenth, as a woman, she gave nectar to the gods while charming the others with her allure.

The eleventh, twelfth and thirteen incarnations all happened in relatively rapid succession during the churning of the ocean. Dhānvantari is the incarnation of Godhead who delivered medical science to humanity. The thirteenth usually is addressed by the name Mohinī.

[18]

The fourteenth was the Man-Lion, Nārasiṁha. His claws split open the powerful demon-god, like a carpenter splitting wood.

[19]

In the fifteenth incarnation he became the dwarf, Vāmana. He went to Bali’s ritual court to peacefully beg three steps of land, to reclaim the three worlds.

[20]

The sixteenth avatār saw that the kings began to hate moral guidance and so protected the earth by annihilating all the militias twenty one times.

His name is Bhṛgupati, also known as Paraśurāma.

[21]

Then, becoming the seventeenth, he entered the womb of Satyavatī through Parāśara, to present the many branches of the tree of knowledge (Veda) in a way which less intellectual commoners could grasp.

His name is Vyāsa.

[22]

After that, he assumed the role of a human king and, for the sake of the gods, performed many heroic deeds like controlling the ocean.

The name of this eighteenth incarnation is Rāma.

[23]

The nineteenth and twentieth, known as Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, were born in the Vṛṣṇi family. The All-Attractive removed the earth’s burden.

This “Rāma” is the short form of Balarāma, who advented as Kṛṣṇa’s brother.

[24]

Then, as the age of Kali comes in, he will bewilder those who dislike the godly. He will be named Buddha, the son of Añjanā of Gayā.

This is in future tense relative to the storyline. Suta spoke these words to the sakes more than a dozen centuries before Buddha, the twenty-first avatār.

[25]

When the age of Kali draws to a close and almost all the rulers are criminals he will take birth to protect the world with the name Kalki, son of Viṣṇu Yaśā.

Suta’s list of primary incarnations of the Purusha thus closes with twenty one. This is not a complete list.

[26]

O sages, Hari is a vast sea of being. Inexhaustible thousands of rivers and lakes flow from this sea. Likewise, his avatars are beyond counting.

[27]

You should know that all the sages, gods, progenitors, and the original lords of mankind and their extremely powerful descendants are portions of Hari.

[28]

All of them are fragments or portions of the Purusha, and incarnate in various ages to protect the world whenever it is disturbed by the enemies of the gods. But Kṛṣṇa is different. He is the All-Attractive One himself.

With this, Suta concludes his list of the incarnations of Godhead, answering in summary one of the original inquiries of the sages, “tell us about the incarnations of the All-Attractive.”

He first described that the fundamental incarnation of Godhead is Purusha, who exists in three facets: outside the universes, inside each universe, and inside each particle – including each soul. Then he said that innumerable incarnations spring from the Purusha to assist the development and well-being of the world, and he gave a chronological list of twenty-one prominent instances of such incarnations.

This list included various types of incarnations. Some – like The Kumara, Narada, and Vyāsa – are aveśa incarnations. Aveśa means “dressed.” They are individual souls who are “dressed” in the supernatural powers of God and therefore act as incarnations on his behalf. Others – like the Man-Lion, the Dwarf, and Rāma – are more literally incarnations of Godhead.

Then Suta reminded us that the list cannot be complete and said that all extremely powerful entities are incarnations of Godhead. This is a third type of avatār, called vibhūti. It is more distant than aveśa from being a literal “incarnation.”

Suta has given a list which may seem to lump together at least three different grades of incarnations. He mentions Kṛṣṇa in the same breath as Narada or Buddha and others. Suta wants to correct any possible misunderstanding, so makes an explicit statement with the help of the word tu: “but.” In all languages, “but” is an important word, marking the topic at hand as being a sharp contrast to the previous. When we see this word in Sanksrit it calls our attention to an important topic that stands out in contrast to the other subjects around it. Suta says, “ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ, kṛṣṇas TU bhagavān svayam.” It means, “All of the many personalities I have just mentioned are fragments, or fragments of fragments, of the Purusha incarnation. BUT Kṛṣṇa is the All-Attractive himself.”

Remember that Purusha is the first incarnation of bhagavān, the All-Attractive Supreme Entity. All of the incarnations we have just heard enumerated by Suta are incarnations of that incarnation of bhagavān. Kṛṣṇa belongs on this list because he accesses the material domain via his own expanded conduit: through the Purusha’s into the particle-pervading Supersoul and out into materially tangible reality. But equally, Kṛṣṇa does not belong on this list, because everyone else on it is a fragment or partial fragment of Bhagavān’s Purusha incarnation, but Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān himself.

A child comes down a slide, but the slide does not produce the child. Similarly Kṛṣṇa comes down into our domain through the Purusha. Unlike other incarnations, however, Kṛṣṇa does not originate from the Purusha at the “top of the slide.” Rather the Purusha emanates from Kṛṣṇa, and is then utilized by him to advent within our conceptual space as an avatār.

Is Kṛṣṇa an incarnation? Yes in a sense, but he is an incarnation of himself. Kṛṣṇa is the original All-Attractive supreme entity. Suta, selected as the most authoritative sage among sages, has made this declaration.

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam will, in the course of its 18,000 verses, expand upon the amazing details of almost all of the incarnations just listed, especially focusing all upon the All-Attractive original Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.

[29]

A person who carefully recites this list of confidential incarnations of the All-Attractive in a spirit of devotion in the morning and evening gets freed from all misery.

Krishna Holding Mount Govardhan ca. 1790 Color...

Image via Wikipedia


Prominent Early Incarnations of Godhead

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.

English: Four Kumaras: Source is from Editor i...

The Kumara

[1.3.6]

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!

[7]

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.

[8]

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.

[9]

English: ~ NaraNarayana ~ DasAvatara Mandir ~ ...

Nara Naryana

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.

[10]

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.

[11]

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.

[12]

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.”

[13]

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.

[14]

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.


Incarnations of Godhead – Creators

Suta says [1.2.34]:

I’ve spoken of how Vishnu pervades everything in the universe out of compassion to help all living beings fulfill their desires. Now I will speak of another way that the spiritual Godhead manifests his pure existence within this material realm: he performs pastimes in the role of incarnations among the gods, animals, and humans.

[1.3.1]

The All-Attractive first takes the form of Purusha, at the very beginning of the universe, with the intention to manifest all that is required for creation. This begins with manifesting the great conglomeration of energies from which sixteen primary ingredients emerge.

“Purusha” means the man. This first incarnation of Godhead, Purusha, is basically “the man of the house” where “the house” is the entirety of all material creation. The role of the male is to supply the seeds and necessary ingredients. The female role is to develop the seeds and ingredients. So the original man, Purusha, gives the seed of all ingredients required in the universe.

The sixteen primary ingredients of creation manifest from “the great conglomeration of energies” (mahat) which the Purusha produces. In due course Suta will explain all these details fully. At present, suffice to say that the sixteen ingredients are the five elements, five gathering senses, five expressing senses, and the mind.

Eighteenth century Vaishnava painting deciptin... [2]

He lies down upon the water and enters a mystic sleep. In the lake of his naval grows a lotus, from which is manifested Brahmā, the master engineer of the universe.

He does this in a second form. The Purusha has three forms. The first was described in the previous text. It is Vishnu Lying on the Ocean of Causality (kāraṇodakaśayī viṣṇu). From this first Purusha comes all the globs (mahat) in which are stored all the ingredients required to create a universe.

The current text now describes the second form of the Purusha, Vishnu Lying on the Womb-Ocean (garbhodakaśayī viṣṇu). This Purusha enters each proto-universal glob to empower its creation.

[3]

We imagine that all the many worlds are grounded within the Purusha’s expansive body. But really, the body of the All-Attractive Godhead is super-excellently pure existence.

In other words, the idea that material things exist within God is a conception only. The truth is that nothing material exists in super-excellently pure nature of God. Thus material existence itself is a conception only.

Now the sages ask, “What does this conceptual form of Godhead that contains all the various worlds look like?

[4]

Only perfect eyes can see this form; Thousands of amazing legs, thighs, hands and faces; Thousands of heads, ears, eyes, and noses; Thousands of effulgent garlands, clothes, and earrings.

Having answered their question, Suta returns to his original train of thought:

[5]

He gives the inexhaustible seed of the multitudes of incarnations. The portions of his portion create gods, animals, humans and so forth.

The second form of the Purusha creates the third form of the Purusha, Vishnu Lying on the Milk-Ocean (kṣīrodakaśayī viṣṇu). This third Purusha enters into the globule of each subatomic quantum within his universe. He is the origin of all the incarnations. His fragments and the fragments of his fragments become the gods, animals, humans, and so forth.

In the next section, Suta will describe many of the innumerable incarnations of Godhead that spring forth from this third Purusha.