The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Description of twenty-four incarnations of lord Vishnu which is chapter 3 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the third chapter of the First Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 3 - Description of twenty-four incarnations of lord Viṣṇu

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1. At the beginning, with the desire to create the Universe, the Lord assumed the form of Man[1] (puruṣa) consisting of sixteen parts[2] created from the tattvas (primary substances) of which Mahat[3] (the Great or “Intellect”) is the first.

2. Brahmā, the Head of the progenitor of the Universe,[4] was born of the lotus of the deep-lake-like navel[5] of the Lord who was lying on the waters (of the post-Deluge ocean) extending his yogic meditation-slumber[6].

3. Verily that form of the Lord on the formation of whose limbs is based the extent of the Universe, is very pure, excellent, and full of sattva (goodness).

4. They (i.e. yogins) with their vision of vast knowledge[7] visualise this form wonderful (on account of its having) thousands of feet, thighs, arms, mouths, thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses, shining on account of thousands of crowns, garments and earings.

5. This[8] (original form of the Supreme Being, the Ādi-Nārāyaṇa) is the indestructible seed[9] and the receptacle (place of return) of different incarnations and from whose parts and parts of parts[10], beings such as gods, subhuman beings (like animals, birds), men and others, are created.

6. At first[11], that very God manifested (Himself) as Youths[12] and (becoming) Brāhmaṇa, practised unbroken celibacy which is difficult to practise.

7. Secondly, also, the Lord of Sacrifices (Nārāyaṇa) with the object of creation, assumed the body of a boar for raising up the Earth which had sunk down to the lower region called Rasatala[13].

8. And thirdly, He, having become the Divine Sage (Nārada[14]) in the Ārṣa Creation (pertaining to sages), expounded the religio-mystical treatise pertaining to the Sātvalas (the devotees of Viṣṇu) namely Pañcarātrāgama by following which actions become void of their binding force.[15]

9. In the fourth incarnation, having been born of the wife of Dharma (namely Mūrti, daughter of Dakṣa Prajāpati) as the twin sages Nara and Nārāyaṇa[16], He performed severe penance with fully pacified mind.

10. The fifth (incarnation) was by name Kapila[17], the chief of Siddhas (who) explained to Āsuri[18] the Sāṅkhya doctrine[19] which determined all the principles, which was lost (formerly) in the course of time.

11. In the sixth (Incarnation) He, being requested by Anasūyā[20] became the child (lit. accepted the child-ship) of Atri[21], taught Metaphysics (Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: knowledge of the Soul) to Alarka[22], Prahlāda[23] and others.

12. Then, in the seventh (incarnation), Yajña[24] was born of Ruci and Ākuti [Ākūti?]. He along with gods of whom Yama[25] was the first, protected the period assigned to the Manu called Svayambhū.[26]

13. In the eighth (incarnation), Lord Viṣṇu (lit. One with wide steps) was born of King Nābhi and queen Meru Devī, He (as Ṛṣabha)[27] showing to the strong-minded ones the path (of sannyāsa), the most respectable of all the stages of life.

14. Oh Brāhmanas! Having been implored by sages, (He) assumed the ninth body (incarnation) pertaining to (i.e. known as) Pṛthu. From this (earth), he milked (medicinal) plants. Thereby he became the most pleasant.

15. At the time of oceanic deluge in the epoch (Manvantara) called Cākṣuṣa[28] He assumed the form of a fish[29] and protected Vaivasvata Manu[30] by making him board the earth-boat.

16. In the eleventh (incarnation) in the form of a tortoise, the omni-present Lord supported the Mandara mountain on his back while gods and demons were churning the ocean.[31]

17. The twelfth (incarnation) is of Dhanvantari[32], and the thirteenth, the female form of Mohinī[33] who after deluding others (i.e. demons) enabled (lit. made) the gods to drink nectar.

18. Assuming the fourteenth Man-lion form[34], he tore up the chest of the powerful king of the Daityas with his claws like a weaver of mats (tearing) the rushes (grass).

19. Proposing to beg three paces (of land) but desirous of recovering (lit. taking back) heaven, he assumed the Pigmy form[35] and arrived at Bali’s[36] sacrifice.

20. In the sixteenth incarnation, being angry at the hostility of kings to Brāhmaṇas, he extirpated the warrior class from the earth for twenty-one times.[37]

21. In the seventeenth (descent on the earth) he was born of Satyavatī from Parāśara[38]. Seeing people of low intelligence, he divided the tree in the form of Veda into several branches.

22. After this (i.e. after the 18th incarnation), with a desire to help gods (lit. to do the work of gods viz. to kill Rāvaṇa etc.), he assumed kingship and performed acts of valour such as control of the sea (by building a bridge over it.)

23. In the nineteenth and the twentieth (incarnations), having taken birth in the Vṛṣṇi family as Rāma (Balarāma) and Kṛṣṇa, he lessened the burden of the earth.

24. Then after full advent of the Kali Age, (He) will be born with Buddha as His name, and as a son of Ajana in the Kīkaṭa country.[39]

25. Then in the twilight of the Kali Age, when kings will be as good as robbers, this protector of the world will be born of Viṣnuyaśas under the name Kalki.

26. Oh twice-born ones! Just as thousands of canals flow forth from inexhaustible lake, similarly innumerable are the incarnations of Han, the ocean of goodness (the Sattva- guṇa).

27. Sages, Manus[40], gods as well as very powerful sons of Manu along with Prajāpatis (gods presiding over creation) are all parts of Hari only.

28. But[41] Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Beiṇg himself and all these, parts and smaller parts of the Supreme Being who give happiness to the world (when it is) troubled by the enemies of Indra (i.e. demons) in every epoch.

29. The man who, exerting himself with devotion, recites in the morning and in the evening this mysterious (account of the) births (incarnations) of the Lord, is completely released from all kinds of misery.

30. This form of the formless Lord whose true constitution is the Spirit itself, has been indeed created in the Soul (or Spirit) by the attributes of Illusion such as Intelligence and others.

31. Just as a stream of clouds (is attributed) to the sky or the dust (particles of the earth) is ascribed to the wind (by ignorant persons), similarly the quality of being seen is attributed to the seer by unintelligent ones. (The spirit is wrongly misunderstood as being material body.)

32. From this is created a different body which is made up of unmanifested attributes (or parts of the body like hands, feet etc.) and which is subtle due to the invisibility and inaudibility of its essential nature. It is the Jīva (spirit) due to which transmigration (takes place).[42]

33. When these two forms sat and asat (i.e. two bodies gross and subtle) attributed to the soul through ignorance are negatived by Self-knowledge, it is the visualization of Brahman (i.e. identification of Jīva with Brahman)[43].

34. They know that if this divine (pertaining to the Omniscient Spirit) and resplendent (or sportive)[44] Māyā (illusion), transforming itself to knowledge ceases itself (automatically), (the Jīva or Spirit) becoming perfect (i.e. identical with Brahman) is glorified in its own greatness).

35. The wise ones describe in this way, the births and deeds of the Birthless and Actionless, the Lord of the hearts (antaryāmin) whose deeds are mystically described in the Vedas[45].

36. Or he whose sports are not ineffective, creates, protects and eats up (destroys) this Universe but is not attached to this.[46] And this Master of six qualities[47] lies concealed in the hearts of all beings and remaining (aloof) independent, he enjoys (as if it is fragrance) the objects of six senses.

37. Just as an ignorant person does not understand the performance of an actor, (similarly) no being of dull intelligence can comprehend by mind, words or skill (in argumentation or Logic)[48] the pastimes of the Supporter (of the universe) who extends greatly[49] his names and forms.

38. He who is attached to the fragrance of his lotus-like feet, without crookedness and obeys him continuously, knows the way to the Pre-eminent Lord, the protector of the universe (who is) of infinite power and the holder of the discus (lit. a part of the chariot).

39. Hence, Oh venerable ones! Blessed are you in this world! As you have thus shown complete devotion to Vāsudeva, the Lord of all the people, there is no terrible transmigration again.

40. The venerable sage (Vyāsa) compiled this epic (Purāṇa) called Bhāgavata, equal in status to the Vedas, describing the deeds of him of pious reputation.

41. For the highest good of the people, he (Vyāsa) made his son (Śuka), pre-eminent among those who have realized the Soul, receive this great (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) which is the means of securing Bliss[50].

42. He (Śuka) made the great king Parīkṣit hear[51] attentively this (Bhāgavata), the choicest essence of all the Vedas and History (Mahābhārata).

43-44. Oh Brāhmaṇas! While he (Parīkṣit) was sitting on the banks of the Ganges fasting himself unto death, and was surrounded by great sages, and Śuka, the Brāhmaṇa sage of great brilliance (splendour) was narrating the Bhāgavata, I learnt the Bhāgavata while I sat there due to his favour. I shall narrate to you whatever I have learnt to the best of my ability (intelligence).

45. When Kṛṣṇa retired to His abode along with Righteousness, knowledge and other things, this sun in the form of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa has now arisen in the Kali Age for persons who have lost their (intellectual) sight.

Footnotes and references:


pauruṣam rūpamBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Though the Supreme Spirit has no such human form, for the convenience of meditation or worship. He is regarded as Virāṭ (one residing in or knowing the affairs of sentient beings.)

Padaratnāvalī explains: The Supreme Being collected and preserved the whole of the universe in its subtle form in his “Belly”, at the time of the Deluge and lay covered in the darkness of his Prakṛti. At the time of Creation of the Universe, he drank up the Darkness covering him and manifesteḍ himself. This is “the assumption of the Puruṣa form”. Alternatively “the assumption of forms like Rāma, Kṛṣṇa etc” may be accepted.

Subodhinī: He assumed of his own accord body consisting of pure sattva (the constituent power—guṇa—of goodness) which is composed of tattvas (principles). It may not be a human form.

Kramasandarbha.: Puruṣa implies 3 forms of Viṣṇu, as (1) the Creator of the principle Mahat (Intelligence), (2) the Being in the Egg, and (3) the Being in all bhūtas. The Supreme Lord described as possessing 6 attributes of glory etc. is now described as Puruṣa. Ṛūpa according to Bhāgavata Candrikā indicates here the cause of Brahmāṇḍa (Brahmāṇḍa-kāraṇaṃ samaṣṭi-tattva-jātam), while with Siddhāntapradīpa rūpa is the effect of Samaṣṭi (aggregate which is considered as made up of parts each of which is consubstantially the same with the whole) and the material cause of vyaṣṭi (an aggregate viewed as made up of many separated bodies)—samaṣṭi-kāryātmakaṃ vyaṣṭyupādāna-bhuvam)


ṣoḍaśakalam [ṣoḍaśakala]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Siddhāntapradīpa, Subodhinī: 10 organs of senses+Mind+5 mahābhūtas (Elements) = 16 parts.


mahadādibhiḥBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Consisting of the “principles” (tattvas) called by Sāṅkhyas as Mahat (the Great or Intellect), ahaṃkāra (ego or self-sense) and 5 tanmātras (subtle pure elements corresponding to the 5 organs of sense).


viśva-sṛjām patiḥ—Brahmā, the Creator of the universe at first created 10 Prajāpatis (Lords or generators of created beings) e.g. Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu etc. In the Vāyupurāṇa we have another list: Kardama, Kaśyapa, Śeṣa, Vikrānta. etc. (For details vide Purāṇa Index. II.404)

Subodhinī remarks that the word pati shows that to these generators of created beings, the order of Brahmā was inviolable.


nābhi-hradāmbujaḥSubodhinī explains that the word nābhi (Navel) is used to signify the existence of the Universe ṭn the belly of the Lord. Bhāvāratha Dīpikā says that this refers to the Supreme Being’s assumption of Puruṣa form in the Padma Kalpa.


Yoga-nidrāBhāvāratha Dīpikā: “The sleep of samādhi (meditation). Subodhinī says that yoga-nidrā is a certain kind of power of the Lord. It relieves the agonies of beings and brings them to him. He extends it for the creation of the Universe.


adabhra-cakṣuṣāBhāvāratha Dīpikā: “With their eyes of vast knowledge” Padaratnāvalī: “Of full knowledge” Siddhāntapradīpa: “Of great knowledge”.


etadBhāgavata Candrikā thinks that this is the Aniruddha form, Padaratnāvalī calls this Padma-nābha while Kramasandarbha. “the Being in the egg of Brahman”.


bījaBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Place of origin; Kramasandarbha.: Embryo. Bhāgavata Candrikā: The root cause.


aṃśāṃśenaBhāvāratha Dīpikā ‘Nārāyaṇa is the seed of incarnations as well as of all animate things as they are created out of his parts. Brahmā is the part (aṃśa) of Nārāyaṇa and Brahmā’s progeny like the mānaṣaputras (Marīci and others) are parts of part (aṃśāṃśa). Bhāgavata Candrikā cidacit tattvaikṣa-deśena.


prathamam [prathama]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: This word is used for numerical reference only and does not indicate superiority or inferiority.


kaumāram [kaumāra]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: This is a name of Creation like Ārṣa, Prājāpatya etc. It includes Sanaka, Sananḍana, Sanātana, Sanatkumāra. They were mind-born sons of Brahmā, and were Brāhmaṇas. They refused to create progeny and led a celibate life. Siddhāntapradīpa, Bhāgavata Candrikā, Kramasandarbha. agree with Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


Rasātala—One of the seven subterranean regions. They are as follows: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talātala, Rasātala, Mahātala and Pātāla. These are inhabited by Nāgas, demons etc.


Nārada: The beloved 10th son of Brahmā; one of the 12 who knew the Dharma ordained by Hari; a celibate; was taught the Bhāgavata by his father; he recited it to Vyāsa; author of Sātvata Tantra; mentioned many times in the Bh. P.—Purāṇa Index. II.225


naiṣkarmyam [naiṣkarmya]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: That from which the cause of the binding force of an action becomes null anḍ void. VS.: means leading to Liberation. Bhāgavata Candrikā observes Those who perform nivṛtṭi type of karma should not follow pravṛtti dharma Vl.: Bv performing karmas as prescribedin the Sāttvata Tantra, one attains liberation.


These twin sages performed penance at Baḍarikāśrama. When Indra sent god of Love and heavenly damsels to disturb his contemplation, Nara created a number of beautiful ladies anḍ asked the god of Love to select one for heaven. They took Urvaśī to heaven and reported the superior powers of the sages, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa are regarded as the incarnations of Nara and Nārāyaṇa respectively.—Purāṇa Index. II.205., 231.


Kapila: Born of Kardama and Devahūti; taught knowledge of Brahman to his mother; propounder of the Sāṅkhya philosophy which he taught to Āsuri; one of the twelve who knew the Dharma ordained by Hari; burnt down 60,000 sons of Sagara when they attacked him on suspicion of theft of their sacrificial horse. (Purāṇa Index. I.311). Apart from the mythological account, Kapila seems to be a historical figure—an exponent of a system of philosophy in Pre-Buddhist period.


Āsuri: Name of the disciple of Kapila; a siddha bat did not comprehend Hari’s Māyā; was invited to Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya sacrifice. Purāṇa Index. I.180.


Sāṅkhya: The system takes its name from its method of arriving at conclusions by theoretical investigation. The word Sāṃkhya is derived by some from Saṃkḥyā or number and is appropriate to this system which gives an analytical enumeration of the principles of the cosmos. But this tendency to enumeration is common to all Hindu systems of thought... In the early texts, Sāṃkhya is used in the sense of philosophical reflection and not numerical reckoning. This particular system, which expounds by careful reflection the nature of puruṣa or spirit and the other entities, acquired this significant title. S. Radhakrishnan—Hist. of Ind. Phil. II. 248-334.

Cf. Śuddhātma-tattva-vijñānaṃ Sāṅkhyaṃ yadabhidhīyate /

Śaṅkara—Comm, on Viṣṇu-sahasranāma.


Anasūyā: The wife of the sage Atri and a daughter of Kardama; mother of Datta, Durvāsas and Soina; mother of 5 Ātreyas and a daughter ŚrutiPurāṇa Index. 1.53.


Atri: A son of Brahmā; married Anasūyā appointed by Brahmā for the creation of the world. While engaged in meditation on Mount Rkṣa, the Trimūrtisblessed him with 3 sons-being their own parts (aṃśas). Accord­ingly Datta (Viṣṇu), Durvāsas (Śiva) and Soma (Brahmā) were born.—Purāṇa Index. 1.41.


Alarka: Bhāratavarṣīya Prācīna Caritra Kośa. (p. 76) records different Alarkas, but the one men­tioned here seems to be the king of Kāśī; youngest son of Ṛtadhvaia and Madālasā; was expounded the spiritual knowledge by his mother and Dattā- treya.


Prahlāda: Son of Hiraṇyakaśipu and Kayādhū; was initiated in the Bhāgavata Dharma by Nārada. For him Viṣṇu incarnated as Man­lion and killed Hiraṇyakaśipu. Prahlāda became the Lord of Daityas. His spiritual preceptor was Dattātreya. It was due to him that Kṛṣṇa spared the life of Bāṇa. Prahlāda lived in Sutala and attained liberation by Satsaṅga.—Purāṇa Index. II.435.36.


Yajña: An incarnation of Viṣṇu, son of Ruci and Ākutī [Ākūti?]; reported to have married his twin-sister Dakṣiṇā; was Indra in the period called Svāyambhuva Manvantara.


Tama: Name of the 1st son out of 12 sons born of Yajña and Dakṣiṇā. He was a god in Svāyambhuva Manvantara.


Svāyambhuva Manvantara: Period relating to Svayambhū. Svayambhū was the first Manu (out of 14 Manus). Śatarūpā was his wife. They had 2 sons—Priyavrata and Uttānapāda and 3 daughters viz. Ākūti, Devahūti and Prasūti who were married to Ruci, Kardama and Dakṣa res­pectively. As Ākūti was married by putrikā-dharma, he took over son Yajña. In the period (Manvantara) of Svayambhū, Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Bhṛgu were the seven mind-born sons of Brahmā, Yajña was the Indra and Dakṣiṇā the Indrāṇī and their sons called Tuṣita were the gods.—Bhāratīya Paurāṇika Kośa 370.


Ṛṣabha—Ādinātha, an incarnation of Viṣṇu. For details see Bhāgavata Purāṇa V.3-6.


Cākṣuṣa—The epoch (Manvantara) of the 2nd Manu Cakṣu. He was the son of Vyuṣṭa and Puṣkariṇī; wife Ākūti, son Manu.—Purāṇa Index. I,574


mātsyaṃ rūpam—The Fish incarnation. Though this is the 10th incarnation here, it is regarded as the 1st incarnation of Viṣṇu, popularly.


Vaivasvata Manu—In his former life, V.M. was King Satyavrata of Tamil Nad, who by his obligations on Viṣṇu in his initial stage of Fish- incarnation was blessed with Manu-ship. He is the 7th Manu whose epoch continues at present. In his regime, Vasu, Rudra, Āditya, Viśve Deva, Marudgaṇa, Aśvinikumāra [Aśvinīkumāra?] and Ṛbhu are the gods. Purandara, the Indra and Kāśyapa, Atri, Vasiṣṭha, Viśvāmitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvāja are the 7 sages.—Bhāratīya Paurāṇika Kośa 307, also Purāṇa Index. II.601.


This refers to the occasion of churning the ocean for nectar. The gods and demons cooperated in churning the ocean with Mount Mandara as the churning staff, serpent Vāsuki as the string. Fourteen valuable things such as the goddess Lakṣmi, Kaustubha gem etc. were obtained. Nectar (amṛta) was one of them. The deadly poison Halāhala was drunk up by god Śiva to save the world. (For details vide Purāṇa Index. 1.87)


Dhanvantari: An incarnation of Viṣṇu. He appeared with the jar of nectar during the ocean-churning for nectar. Another account shows him to be the son of king Dīrgha-tamas of Kāśī; the originator of Ayur-Veda and the father of Ketumān.—Purāṇa Index. II. 156-57


Mohinī: The 13th incarnation of Viṣṇu to delude the Āsura’s [Asura’s?] from having any share in the nectar and distribute it to Devas (gods).—Purāṇa Index. II.156-57.


Narasiṃha: (also Nārasiṃha and Nṛsiṃha): Viṣṇu came down on the earth to punish Hiraṇyakaśipu for his insolence and cruelty. Hiraṇyakaśipu harassed his son Prahlāda for his devotion to Viṣṇu.—the omni-present. When asked whether Viṣṇu existed in the column of his hall, Prahlāda said “Yes” on which Hiraṇyakaśipu kicked it, when Viṣṇu appeared before the demon and killed him.


The origin of this incarnation is “The three strides of Viṣṇu” mentioned in the Ṛg-veda. In the Tretā-yuga (2nd Age), the pious Daitya King Bali acquired the dominance of the three worlds by defeating the gods. To remedy this Viṣṇu was born as a diminutive son of Kaśyapa and Aditi. The dwarf appeared before Bali and begged of him to donate him three paces of land. The generous king agreed. Viṣnu manifested his original form and covered the heaven and earth in two strides. But respecting his (Bali’s) virtues, He made Bali the King of the subterranean region Sutala and assured him of Indra-ship in the 8th Manvantara (Epoch).


Bali: A son of Virocana and grand-son of Prahlāda; married Vindhyāvalī and Aśanā; had 100 sons of whom Bāṇa was the eldest; defeated gods on the battlefield and performed 100 Horse-sacrifices. In the 100th horse-sacrifice, he was deceived by Viṣṇu in a dwarf form, (for the rest vide the above note).—P.I. 2.469-71.


This refers to Paraśurāma incarnation of Viṣṇu, in the Tretā age. He was the son of Jamadagni and Reṇukā (a princess). Haihaya king Kārtavirya Arjuna forcibly took away Jamadagni’s Kāmadhenu (Wish-yielding cow). The scuffle led to Paraśurāma’s killing of Kārtavīrya. Jamadagni disapproved of this and ordered Paraśurāma to go on pilgrimage for one year in expiation of this. After the departure of Paraśurāma, the sons of Kārtavīrya killed Jamadagni. In the struggle between Bhārgavas and Haihayas that followed this, Paraśurāma defeated them 21 times, which has been poetically described as “extirpation” of the Kṣatriya class. After this he retired to perform penance on Mahendra mountain. He is regarded as “deathless”, was discomfited by Dāśarathi Rāma,; taught Astra-vidyā to Bhīṣma and Karṇa; guided Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to Gomāntaka.—Purāṇa Index. II.291.


Parāśara: Son of Śakti, grandson of Vasiṣṭha: father of Vyāsa.—Purāṇa Index. II.293-4.


Kīkaṭa: Name of the land where Buddha was born; noted for the sacred Gayā, the garden park Rājagrha and the hermitage of Cyavana.—Purāṇa Index. I.381.


Manu: Progenitors and sovereigns of the earth for 1/14 part of Brahmā’s day (i.e. 4,320,000 human years). The Manus are 14 in number viz. 1. Svāyambhuva, 2. Svārociṣa 3. Auttami, 4. Tāmasa, 5. Raivata, 6. Cākṣuṣa, 7. Vaivasvata, 8. Sāvarṇi, 9. Dakṣasāvarṇi, 10. Brahmasāvarṇi, 11. Dharmasāvarṇi, 12. Rudrasāvarṇi, 13. Devasāvarṇi, 14. Indrasāvarṇi.


Kramasandarbha. explains the difference between Bhagavān and his parts as follows: The Supreme Lord, by His divine will, can manifest His power any­where without interruption, while the parts (aṃśas) or incarnations can manifest these for performing their appointed mission. Though Kṛṣṇa is included in the list of incarnations, He is not merely a part (aṃśa) of the Supreme Being but the Supreme Being Himself. The particle tu in the above verse is used to distinguish him from other incarnations.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā says that the hypothesis of a subtle body which is invisible, inaudible and formless, is necessary to account for the repeated births or transmigrations of the Soul.


Bhāgavata Candrikā interprets Brahma as “the liberated soul” and darśana as “the knowledge of the nature of the ‘pure’ soul devoid of any contamination or contact with Prakṛti”. So this verse means: “That knowledge by which one realizes that origination (birth) and destruction (death) really belong to the non-Spirit (acit) and that they are ascribed to the Soul through ignorance (avidyā) and that they are to be denied of the Soul (Ātman) by the knowledge of the ātman, is the real knowledge of Brahman.”

But Padaratnāvalī states: “That knowledge is the knowledge of Brahman leading to liberation from saṃsāra (the cycle of births and deaths)—the knowledge which consists in seeing that the forms consisting of the Primordial Nature (Prakṛti) and its products are, from the very beginning, different from the Supreme Soul (Paramātman) due to His self-knowledge. It is due to Nescience (Avidyā) that he mistakes them as belonging to Himself.


SR: Sporting in the cycle of creation, preservation and des­truction of the universe.

Bhāgavata Candrikā: When this cosmic illusion (Māyā or Prakṛti) becomes capacious with Mahat etc. and the consequent pride or belief of thinking the body and the Soul as identical, ceases or disappears, then the individual Soul comes to be worshipped (respected) as having realised his own glory as the liberated with the eight excellent qualities which are manifested on the reali­zation of the Supreme Soul.


Padaratnāvalī differs: “The wise describe the secrets contained in the Upaniṣads: The births (incarnations) of Him whose birth is not like that of other individual souls, whose acts are not meant for any selfish purpose, who is present in and controls the minds of all.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: The differentia between the jīva and God is the unconcer­nedness of God with the universe.


Viz. Jñāna, Śakti, Bala, Aiśvarya, Vīrya and Tejas.


ni puṇena: Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa By skill in knowledge and yoga.


vitanvataḥBhāgavata Candrikā: He extends the world of forms by his mental resolve or will

Padaratnāvalī: manovacobhir nāma-rūpātmakaṃ prapañcaṃ sṛjataḥ /


svastyayana: Lit. averting of evil by recitation of mantras or performance of expiatory rites.


Parīkṣit: A son of Uttarā and Abhimanyu; a great king of Hastināpura; the foremost of Bhāgavatas; married Irāvatī, daughter of Uttarā; had 4 sons of whom Janamejaya was the eldest; visualised the symbolic advent of the Kali Age. Due to his act of throwing a dead snake round the neck of a meditating sage, he was cursed with death by Takṣaka’s bite. Parīkṣit, knowing his doom, sat in prāyopaveśa, where Śuka visited him and narrated the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Afterwards Parīkṣit sat in contemplation in detached spirit, was bitten by Takṣaka and his body was reduced to ashes by the poison.

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