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Bhagavatam describes supreme personality of godhead incarnated as Vyasa before Rama:

SB 1.3.21

Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Śrī Vyāsadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavatī through Parāśara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and subbranches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.

SB 1.3.22

In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rāma. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Rāvaṇa, who was on the other side of the sea.

Why does the Bhagavata Purana say so?

  • There are many manvantra sage vyasa gets incarnated.. In this manvatra vyasa is actual Narayana himself.. this is 28. before that 3, 7, (don't the reference) in the next manvantra its ashwattamacharya will be born as vyasa – Prasanna R Jan 21 at 12:32
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It seems that Lord's incarnations are not given in chronological order, these are some other references from the same source which you have used in your question:

10th incarnation: SB 1.3.15

When there was a complete inundation after the period of the Cākṣuṣa Manu (6th Manu) and the whole world was deep within water, the Lord accepted the form of a fish (Matsya Avtar) and protected Vaivasvata Manu (7th Manu), keeping him up on a boat.

11th incarnation: SB 1.3.16

The eleventh incarnation of the Lord took the form of a tortoise whose shell served as a pivot for the Mandarācala Hill, which was being used as a churning rod by the theists and atheists of the universe.

However, there are more than one reference found for Matsya incarnation (earlier, it happened to save Vedas as well) but here the shloka clearly tells about Matsya incarnation which happened at the end of previous Manvantar and at the beginning of current Manvantar.

Kurma (Tortoise) and Dhanvantari incarnations happened during Samundra manthan. And all the sources say that Samundra manthan happened in the 6th Manavantar.

But, here Matsya incarnation is depicted as 10th and Kurma as 11th which shows that strict chronological order is not followed.

In your question, Vedvyasa is clearly mentioned as son of Satyvati and Parasar. So, there is no possibility that it is referring some other Vyasa other than 28th Dwapar yuga's Vyasa. However there may be chances that it is referring Vyasa of some other Kalpa/Manvantara altogether. List of all the Vedvyasas of current Manvantar can be found in Vishnu Purana.

Vayu Purana mention that Rama incarnated before Vyasa. enter image description here

  • Hi YDS, You gave a wonderful detailed answer. I have two questions: You mention that Samudra manthan happened in 6th Manvantar. Where is the evidence for the same? I have been looking for it. – sidharth chhabra Feb 14 at 18:44
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SB 1.3.22 does not mention the name of Rama or the killing of Ravana at all and so the above translation seems incorrect.

nara-devatvam āpannaḥ sura-kārya-cikīrṣayā

samudra-nigrahādīnicakre vīryāṇy ataḥ param

Synonyms: nara — human being; devatvam — divinity; āpannaḥ — having assumed the form of; sura — the gods; kārya — activities; cikīrṣayā — for the purpose of performing; samudra — the sea; nigraha-ādīni — controlling etc, ; cakre — did perform; vīryāṇi — superhuman prowess; ataḥ param — thereafter

Ref: the link of the sloka provided in the question. I have just changed demi-gods to gods and indian ocean to sea. Sagar does not mean the Indian Ocean and there is no word in our ancient culture as demigod.

The actual translation therefore should be something like this : Then, assuming a divine human form, the Lord appeared for helping the gods and controlling the sea by His superhuman power.

So there is NO mention of the killing of Ravana. Just helping the gods and contolling the sea etc does not repesent Sri Rama.

Moreover, according to the Gaudiya explanation of Bhagavatam, the avatara of treta yuga is red-coloured. They had to make this to make the avatar of kali yellow-coloured, ie Sri Chaitanyadeva. In satya yuga, the avatar was white-complexioned and in black in dwapara. It is true that these four colours have been mentioned in the bhagavata.

Garga Muni confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam that although the child Krishna was black, He also appears in three other colors -- red, white and yellow. He exhibited His white and red complexions in the Satya and Treta ages respectively.and as per yellow that was used in kali yuga as Chaitanya mahaprabhu.

So the texts of Bhagavata along with the Gaudiya and BBT interpretations make it very confusing. If we accept that Vyasdeva was born before Rama, then we have also to accept that Rama's skin colour was red!

  • Then kindly do post the correct translation for that verse. On the side, a verse need not mention exact names and it can be inferred who it is refering to. – Ambi Jan 20 at 15:21
  • @Ambi yes I have added – user17294 Jan 20 at 15:29
  • sorry, but what makes your version the actual translation? That is why the rules here are for citing a proper reference. – Ambi Jan 20 at 15:33
  • I have read the original sanskrit verse and translated it word by word. You are free to check it yourself. – user17294 Jan 20 at 15:36
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    If that doesn't represent Rama, then it appears that Suta Goswami forgot to mention such an important incarnation Rama from the list, strange, is it not? – user16618 Jan 21 at 14:28

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