TYPES OF AVATARS (INCARNATIONS) OF KRISHNA or VISHNU – COMPLETE DETAILS!
Ingeneral, the people know only about the Popularly known Dasavathars (Ten Avatars) of Vishnu or Krishna. They are:
Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna and Kalki.
But there are innumerable incarnations of Krishna or Vishnu. However, to present in a simple format, the literatures list only certain important incarnations.
The classification of the Avatars (Incarnations) of Krishna are:
1) Purusha avatars (Three)
2) Lila avatars (Twenty Two)
3) Guna avatars (Three)
4) Manvantara avataras (Thirteen)
5) Yuga avataras (Four)
6) Shaktyavesha avataras (Many)
Extra Added: (7) Other Forms of Avatars.
(1) PURUSHA AVATARAS OF KRISHNA
(1) KARANODAKASHAYI VISHNU (MAHA VISHNU): He is lying on the causal ocean and creates the material universes just with a glance through Pradhana & Mahat tatva;
(2) GARBHODAKASAYI VISHNU: He is lying on the universal ocean and He enters each and every universe. He creates the stem of a lotus flower from His navel and from this lotus flower, Brahma, is born and Brahma creates the universes.
(3) KSIROSAKASAYI VISHNU: He is lying on the ocean of milk within the universe.
He is also called as Paramathma (or) Supersoul residing in our heart and He is also an incarnation of the mode of goodness.
(2) LILA AVATARS OF KRISHNA
Krishna also incarnates from time to time to perform lilas or some tasks to protect the devotees and eliminate the demons. Srimad Bhagavatam mentions 22 Avatars of Krishna from (1-3-6) to (1-3-25).
As said by Srimad Bhagavatham (1-3-28), Out of the following 22 avatars, 21 are either “plenary portions” or “portions of plenary portions” of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Krishna (Svayam – that means ‘He Himself’).
(1) Sanaka Kumaras (Four Kumaras : Sanaka, Sanadana, Sanatana, Sanath Kumara)
(3) Narada (He is also a Sakthi Avesha Avatar)
(4) Nara and Narayana
(5) Sage Kapila
(8) Rsabha Deva
(9) King Prthu
(21) Buddha (Kaliyuga Avatar – at the beginning of kaliyuga)
(22) Kalki (Future avatar – at the end of kaliyuga)
(3) GUNA AVATARS
(To take care of the administration of the creations)
Satva Guna Avatar (Mode of goodness). Takes care of the maintanence of universes)
Rajo Guna Avatar (Mode of passion). Takes care of the creation of universes)
Tamo Guna Avatar (Mode of ignorance). Takes care of the destruction of universes)
(4) MANVANTARA AVATARS
Brahma’s One day consists of 1,000 catur yugas that is divided into 14 periods and each period is ruled by a MANU who is considered as the father of mankind. These periods of manus are known as manvantaras.
The incarnations that took place during these manvantaras:
(5) YUGA AVATARS
In each of these yugas the Lord incarnates with a different body color according to the yuga.
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.8.13 states:
“Krishna appears as an incarnation in every millennium. In the past, He assumed three different colors – white, red and yellow – and now he has appeared in a blackish color.”
Satya yuga :
Kardama muni (White Avatar) to establish meditation as the process for self-realization.
Treta yuga :
Brahma (Red Avatar) to establish fire sacrifice as the process for self-realization.
Dvapara yuga :
Krishna (Dark Avatar) appeared to establish temple worship as the process for self-realization.
Kali yuga :
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Yellow Avatara) to establish the chanting of holy names as the process for self-realization.
(6) SHAKTI AVESHA AVATARS:
(The Incarnations Empowered in certain aspects/ tasks)
Two types of Shakti Avesha Avatars:
SAKSHAT (DIRECT AVATAR) :
The expansion of Lord Himself to display a particular opulence(s).
AVESHA (INDIRECT AVATAR) :
Krishna empowers a devotee and sends to the material planets to perform certain tasks. Even some great acharyas come under this category if they had displayed great success in their service to Vedas and/ or Services to the Lord.
(1) A few examples of Indirect (Avesha) incarnations mentioned in vedic texts are:
Brahma (creative power), Four Kumaras (knowledge), Narada (devotional service).
Parasurama (eradicating demons), Vyasa Deva (vedas and scriptures).
(2) Some great acharyas of vedic as well as modern age who come under proper disciplic succession can also to be considered Shakti Avesha Avatars because they could make great impacts in the minds of wide section of people. For example, Sri Ramanuja, A.C.Bhakti Vedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, etc could not have created this much of impact in the world in spreading the devotion to Lord without the empowerment of Krishna.
(7) OTHER FORMS OF AVATARS
(Specially Classified and Mentioned under the Avatars, only in this article as a reminder!)
The avatars mentioned above are primary classifications. In addition to them we call some others as avatars of Krishna.
(1) LITERARY AVATAR OF KRISHNA:
Srimad Bhagavatham is called the Literary avatar of Krishna.
(2) ARCHA AVATAR OF KRISHNA:
The Vigraha (Deity) of Krishna is also considered as Archa Avatar of Krishna.
(3) NAMA AVATAR OF KRISHNA:
Krishna’s Names are called Nama Avatars of Krishna. There is no difference between Krishna and His Names.