On the Birth of the several Avatâras of Visnu and their deeds
1-2. Janamejaya spoke :– O best of Munis! How did Visnu, of wonderful deeds, get his incarnation owing to the curse, cast on Him by Bhrigu? what were His different incarnations in different Manvantaras respectively? O Thou, well versed in religion! O Brâhmana! Kindly narrate those sin-destroying deeds of Hari in His several incarnations, that are the source of happiness, peace and welfare to all humanity.
3. Vyâsa said :– O king! Hear, I am narrating to you the incarnations of S’rî Bhagavân Hari which He had in the several Manvantaras and in the several Yugas respectively.
4. I will tell you now, in brief, what forms He took and what deeds He did in the various incarnations.
5. In the Châksusa Manvantara, the Bhagavân Hari took the incarnation of Dharma; and the two sons of Dharma, Nara Nârâyana, were widely celebrated in this world.
6. Then, in the present Vaîvasvata Manvantara, under the reign of Vaîvasvata Manu in the second Yuga, Bhagavân Hari incarnated as Dattâtreya, in the shape of the son of Atrî Risi.
7. Anasûyâ the wife of Atrî, was desirous to have, as her sons, the three Devas Brahmâ, Visnu and Rudra; and in fulfilment of her desires, the Devas took their births in her womb.
8. Anasûyâ, was foremost amongst the chaste and virtuous women and on her praying, Brahmâ, Visnu and Rudra the Trinity at once agreed to become her sons.
9. Brahmâ was born as Soma, Hari was born as Dattâtreya and Rudra was born as Durvâsâ.
10. In the fourth Yuga, the Bhagavân assumed the beautiful double form in one, the upper part resembling a lion and the lower part a human being to accomplish the noble purpose of the Devas.
11. It was to kill Hiranyakas’ipu that the Bhagavân Hari assumed this appearance, wonderful even to the Devas.
12. In the Tretâ Yuga, the superior and the best of all the Yugas, the Bhagavân incarnated as Vâmana ( the Dwarf), the son of Maharsi Kas’yapa, to curb the power of Bali.
13. The Dwarf Hari took away by pretext, the kingdom of Bali, while he was performing a sacrifice and sent him down into the Pâtâla (the lower regions).
14. Afterwards, in the nineteenth Yuga, known as the Tretâ Yuga, S’rî Bhagavân Hari incarnated as Paras’urâma, very powerful and the son of Jamadagnî Risi.
15. He was very beautiful and graceful in his body, truthful and the conqueror of his senses. He extirpated the Ksattriya race and gave the whole world over to the high minded Risi Kas’yapa.
16. O king! He is the Paras’urâma, the sin-destroyer, the incarnation of Hari, and the doer of wonderful deeds.
17-20. After that the Bhagavân Hari incarnated as Râma, the son of Das’aratha. Next in the twenty-eighth Dvâpara Yuga, He incarnated as the very powerful Arjuna and S’rî Krisna, the Ams’as of Nara Nârâyana. To remove the load of the earth, these two were born; and they fought deadly battles in the battlefield of Kuruksettra. O king! Thus the several incarnations of Hari arose, according to the requirements of Prakriti. O King! These three worlds are under the control of Prakriti.
21. Whatever the Prakriti wishes at any time, She can fashion the world in that way. And She does this incessantly in accordance with the Word Divine, the Highest S’akti, to please the Purusa, without any cessation.
22-23. In days of yore, the most ancient Bhagavân, the Highest, above all the qualities of Mâyâ, formless, all pervading, difficult to be conceived, without any decay, self-supporting, without any want, created these worlds, moving and unmoving and He manifested Himself as the Trinity, Brahmâ, Visnu, Mahes’a in the shape of the three qualities Sâttva, Râjas and Tâmas, and which is called the Highest Prakriti.
24. This all auspicious Prakriti shines differently according to the differences in time and circumstances. This threefold Prakriti, the Great Enchantress of the world is creating, preserving the worlds and is destroying them at the end of the Kalpas.
25. O King! Whenever there takes place the union with this Prakriti, Brahmâ creates, Visnu preserves, and the all-auspicious God S’ankara destroys the worlds.
26. It was She That gave birth to Kâkutstha, the best of the kings; and to conquer the Dânavas, She placed him at a certain place.
27. O king! Thus all men controlled by the Great Law in this world, enjoy sometimes the pleasures, enjoy sometimes pains and thus exist in the world.
Here ends the Sixteenth Chapter in the Fourth Book of S’rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam, the Mahâpurânam of 18,000 verses, by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa, on the Birth of the several Avatâras of Visnu and their deeds.