SECTION LXVII of the Sambhava Parva of Mahabharat mentions the various gods and demons who incarnated in human forms as characters of Mahabharat. There's something that I noticed and would like to ask about:

And he, called Vasudeva, endued with great valour, was among men a portion of him called Narayana--the god of gods--eternal. And Valadeva of exceeding strength was a portion of the Naga, Sesha. And, O monarch, know that Pradyumna of great energy was Sanatkumara. And in this way the portion of various other dwellers in heaven became exalted men in the race of Vasudeva, increasing the glory thereof.

The highlighted portion refers to Krishna's son Pradyumna as an incarnation of Sanatkumar. For those who do not know, Sanatkumar is one of the mind born sons of Lord Brahma who was created along with three others. Together the group of four is listed as Lord Vishnu's incarnations in the Bhagavatam. However, the same Pradyumna is also mentioned at many places as the rebirth of Kamadeva who had been burnt to ashes by Shiva's wrath when he tried to incite passion in his heart to help Parvati.

So my question is - *Was Krishna's son Pradyumna the rebirth/incarnation of Kama or of Sanat Kumar? If we believe in the Sanat Kumar version, are there any other instances of an incarnation giving rise to another incarnation?

P.S. - Please refrain from Kalpa Bheda reasoning and also the Vyuha forms of Lord Vishnu. I am looking for scriptural references about the son of Krishna born in the 28th Dwapar of Vaivasvat Manvantar.

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    As per above chapter in Mahabharata, it is Sanatkumara but as per Puranas such as Bhagavata and Shiva Purana, he is Kama deva.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 7:37
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    One other point is relevant. In the worldview of the Pancharatra Agamas, Vishnu has four Vyuha forms named Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. Krishna, Balarama, Krishna's son Pradyumna, and Krishna'a grandson Aniruddha are incarnations of these four Vyuha forms. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 8:34
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    Yeah, it's mentioned in the Pancharatra Agamas. By the way, Kama is the son of Vishnu and Lakshmi, just as Pradyumna is the son of Krishna and Rukmini, so there may be some connection there. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 9:00
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    Another thing worth noting is that Vishnu's Vyuha form Pradyumna is connected to preservation, and so Kama may be an incarnation of Vishnu's Vyuha form Pradyumna, insofar as Kama plays a role continuing the existence of the human race. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 9:01
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    By the way, another thing worth noting is that Shiva's son Kartikeya is the rebirth of Sanatkumara, as I discuss here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/11298/36 And yet Pradyumna and Kartikeya fought each other in the Banasura episode. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 5:44

2 Answers 2


Sri Garuda Purana, Brahma (Moksha) Kānda, Chapter 27.:

  1. Pradyumna, the son of Kṛṣṇa was the incarnation of Kama (the cupid). He was called Pradyumna because he possessed excellent brilliance.

  2. Bharata, the younger brother of Rama was also the incarnation of cupid. He was called Bharata because he travelled on the footprints of king Bharata.

31-33. Kama, the presiding deity of the disc, was born as Sudarsana. He was the son of Kṛṣṇa and Jambavati. Samba the son of lord Kṛṣṇa was also the incarnation of Kama. Skanda, the son of Rudra was also Kama. Since he overcame the enemies he is called Skanda. Sanatkumāra, the son of Brahma, O lord of birds, is the incarnation of Kama.

  1. Sudarsana, Pradyumna, Bharata, Samba, Sanatkumara, and Skanda these six are the incarnations of Kama (cupid).

A Side Note.:

Bhagawan Kameshwara (Kāma) in Vedas.:

Rig veda (Nasadiya Suktam) 10:129:4 says.:

"kāmas tad agre sam avartatādhi manaso retah prathamam yad āsit".

Kâma rose in the beginning, Kâma, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.

Atharva Veda 9:2.:

duṣvápnyaṃ kāma duritáṃ ca kamāprajástām asvagátām ávartim ugrá ī́śānaḥ práti muñca tásmin yó asmábhyam aṃhūraṇā́ cíkitsāt 3.

Evil dreams, O Kâma, and misfortune, O Kâma, childlessness, ill-health, and trouble, do thou O ugrá O ī́śānaḥ , let loose upon him that designs evil against us! 3.

yā́s te śivā́s tanvàḥ kāma bhadrā́ yā́bhiḥ satyáṃ bhávati yád vr̥ṇiṣé tā́bhiṣ ṭvám asmā́m̐ abhisáṃviśasvānyátra pāpī́r ápa veśayā dhíyaḥ 25.

With those auspicious(śivā́h) and gracious forms of thine, O Kâma, through which what thou wilst becometh reaL with these do thou enter into us, and elsewhere send the evil thoughts! 25.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..


Pradyumna is the member of Sri Krishna's eternal quadruple expansions (catur-vyuha) and Kamadeva who is a devata entered into his body to acquire a body.

Jiva Goswami says that the statement that Kama who is burnt by Shiva took birth as Pradyumna is only partially acceptable and is a limited proposal.

For Pradyumna to be burnt or for Kamadeva to become Pradyumna is an impossibility since Pradyumna is famed as a member of Sri Krishna's eternal quadruple explansions(catur-vyuha) as sated in Gopala Tapani Upanishad.

yatrāsau saṁsthitaḥ kṛṣṇas tribhiḥ śaktyā samāhitaḥ | rāmāniruddha-pradyumnai rukmiṇyā sahito vibhuḥ ||

There the powerful Lord Kṛṣṇa resides, situated with excellent pastimes, accompanied by Balarāma, Aniruddha and Pradyumna and by his śakti Rukmiṇī. Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad 2.36

It is well known that Kamadeva is an ordinary devata and is constitutionally unfit to be included within quadruple expansion.

Therefore with the intention that will be spoken of later[SB 10.55.12] Sri Suka says:

kāmas tu vāsudevāṁśo dagdhaḥ prāg rudra-manyunā dehopapattaye bhūyas tam eva pratyapadyata

The real Kāma-deva is an expansion of Vāsudeva. Cupid had previously been burned to ashes by Rudra’s anger. Now, to obtain a new body, he again merged into the body of Pradyumna. SB 10.55.1

For eg:

avedajñasyāpi brāhmaṇye saty eva brāhmaṇas tu vedajña itivat tu śabdo'tra mukhyatāṃ sūcayati

"“Though a brāhmaṇa ignorant of the Vedas may exist, a real brāhmaṇa (tu) knows the Vedas.” The word tu differentiates a true brahmana from one how is brahmana who is merely by birth.

The real Kāmadeva is an expansion of Vāsudeva. Or the word tu indicates a new topic. Stating Vāsudeva’s aṁśa is Kāmadeva has the same meaning. He who previously was burned by Śiva’s anger, the material devatā Cupid, in order to take a body entered (pratyapadyata) Pradyumna, known as Cupid since it was impossible to otherwise attain a body by himself because of Śiva’s curse. Bhūyaḥ indicates that previously he had arisen from Pradyumna.

Alternatively [the word dagdha can be red as adagdha due to sandhi], he[Pradyumna] who previous was not burned (adagdhaḥ) by Śiva’s anger, again entered Vāsudeva in order to reveal his form, in order to take a body for manifesting pastimes in this world. He was not burned since he was Vāsudeva’s aṁśa.

What was said is made clear:

sa eva jāto vaidarbhyāṁ kṛṣṇa-vīrya-samudbhavaḥ pradyumna iti vikhyātaḥ sarvato ’navamaḥ pituḥ

He took birth in the womb of Vaidarbhī from the seed of Kṛṣṇa and received the name Pradyumna. In no respect was he inferior to his father. SB 10.55.2

He who arose from Kṛṣṇa’s seed and who was named Pradyumna, he appeared, born from Vaidarbhī, at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes on earth. This person was not the other, material Cupid. The reason is given. He was not inferior (anavamaḥ), he was equal to Kṛṣṇa his father in unlimited qualities and in form (sarvataḥ). If it were otherwise he could not be said to be equal to Kṛṣṇa.

Though Arjuna is famous as being Nara in Mahābhārata, in the story of five Indras, Indra becomes Arjuna. This actually means that Indra entered Arjuna. Consequently Narada's instruction to Rati[10.55.6] to accept Pradyumna as her husband and her attaining him was not inappropriate. Even if we accept alternate meaning of the previous verse['adaghda' reading], by the strength of Nārada’s instruction, it is understood that the burned up material Cupid had entered Pradyumna. Rati’s qualification for directly contacting Pradyumna is like being touched by a touchstone.

  • Thanks but I am curious to know what the relationship of Pradyumna or Kama is with Sanat Kumar. Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 6:18

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