In the Kamba Ramayana, a Gandharva praises Rama as such:

2575.Oh Rama who is a boar unearthed the earth by your horn, Taking the shape of a swan , you taught Vedas to Lord Brahma, Who taught you that Vedas before? Were they all dead at that time? If those which separated from a thing , join together to form , That same thing, does it mean they are the same thing or, Does it mean they have not come by division, I am not able to understand this illusion.”

Which avatar of Vishnu is this? Is he mentioned in any other texts?

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    I think that's why great acharyas are also known as paramhamsa, or vice versa since hamsa is connected to intellectual figures Bhagwan is also depicted as paramahamsa.
    – Yogi
    May 5, 2017 at 13:00

2 Answers 2



This avatar of Vishnu is described in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 11 Chapter 13 known as the Hamsa avatar. The story of his manifestation is cited below.

Uddhava asks Krishna how he(as Vishnu) dispelled the doubts of the Sanatakumara. The Sanatkumara once went to Brahma to inquire about the science of Yoga. Brahma was confounded by their questions as he was in the process of creation and meditated on Lord Vishnu for answers.

Vishnu appears in the avatar of a Hamsa (swan) and imparts the essential knowledge to them.

SB 11.13.15 — Śrī Uddhava said: My dear Keśava, at what time and in what form did You instruct the science of yoga to Sanaka and his brothers? I now desire to know about these things.

SB 11.13.16 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Once, the mental sons of Lord Brahmā, namely, the sages headed by Sanaka, inquired from their father about the difficult subject matter of the supreme goal of yoga.

SB 11.13.17 — The sages headed by Sanaka said: O Lord, people’s minds are naturally attracted to material sense objects, and similarly the sense objects in the form of desire enter within the mind. Therefore, how can a person who desires liberation, who desires to cross over activities of sense gratification, destroy this mutual relationship between the sense objects and the mind? Please explain this to us.

SB 11.13.18 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Uddhava, Brahmā himself, who is born directly from the body of the Lord and who is the creator of all living entities within the material world, being the best of the demigods, seriously contemplated the question of his sons headed by Sanaka. The intelligence of Brahmā, however, was affected by his own activities of creation, and thus he could not discover the essential answer to this question.

SB 11.13.19 — Lord Brahmā desired to attain the answer to the question that was puzzling him, and thus he fixed his mind on Me, the Supreme Lord. At that time, in My form of Haṁsa, I became visible to Lord Brahmā.

  • Erm..do u know what manavatara, yuga, etc this happened in?
    – user4627
    May 6, 2017 at 1:12
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    Did Lord Vishnu instructed / taught Lord Brahma knowledge of Vedas or of Yoga through Hamsa avatara ? According to Bhagvatam it was "difficult subject matter of the supreme goal of yoga" . May 6, 2017 at 7:51
  • @KVickneshvara The Bhagvatam does not give any reference as to which manavantara/yuga this incident took place but as the Sanatkumar were the first creation of Brahma perhaps we can assume it happened during the Swayambhu Manavantara?
    – Arya
    May 6, 2017 at 10:10
  • @SwiftPushkar Hamsa avatar taught them the science of supreme yoga, Uddhava asked Krishna about the same as quoted in my answer. The rest of the chapter gives details of what the Hamsa taught Brahma and his sons, maybe some of it was Vedic instruction? I don't have much idea about it since I have very minimal knowledge of the Vedas. If somebody has a more precise answer please do write. :)
    – Arya
    May 6, 2017 at 10:19

The original and detailed version of hamsa (swan) avtAr is found in mahAbhArat shAnti parva (book 12), chapter CCC . It is a discourse between sadhyas and swan :

bhIshma said, 'In this connection I shall recite to thee an old narrative, O yudhishthir, of the discourse between the Sadhyas and a Swan. Once on a time the Unborn and eternal Lord of all creatures (vishNu), assuming the form of a golden Swan, wandered through the three worlds till in course of his wanderings he came upon the Sadhyas.'

Rest of the chapter gives detailed conversation between sadhyas and swan (hamsa)

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