When Vishnu appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki in their prison cell in order to incarnate as Krishna, he told them about how he was born to them in previous births as well, as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam:

My dear mother, best of the chaste, in your previous birth, in the Svāyambhuva millennium, you were known as Pṛśni, and Vasudeva, who was the most pious Prajāpati, was named Sutapā. When both of you were ordered by Lord Brahmā to create progeny, you first underwent severe austerities by controlling your senses.... Since I am the best of all bestowers of benediction, I appeared in this same form... to ask you to take from Me the benediction you desired. You then expressed your desire to have a son exactly like Me....

Since I found no one else as highly elevated as you in simplicity and other qualities of good character, I appeared in this world as Pṛśnigarbha, or one who is celebrated as having taken birth from Pṛśni. In the next millennium, I again appeared from the two of you, who appeared as My mother, Aditi, and My father, Kaśyapa. I was known as Upendra, and because of being a dwarf, I was also known as Vāmana. O supremely chaste mother, I, the same personality, have now appeared of you both as your son for the third time.

My question is, what is the story of Vishnu's incarnation (avatara) Prishnigarbha? What was the purpose of this incarnation, and what did he do? I can't find much information on him. Prahupada claims in one of his purports that Prishnigarbha was the incarnation of Vishnu who appeared before Dhruva:

According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, the Sahasraśīrṣā Personality of Godhead who appeared at that time was the incarnation known as Pṛśnigarbha.

But does this claim have any scriptural basis?

Also, Wikipedia says "King Suthapas and his wife ... gave birth to Prasnigarbhan who gave to the world the practice of Brahmacharya Vratha (Celibacy)." But it doesn't provide any sources. Are there any scriptures that mention this?

What other details about Prishnigarbha's life are mentioned in Hindu scripture?

  • What is interesting is that, given Vishnu's prioritisation of this avatara, it was missed by both Sauti and Brahma. Unless you account for the verse talking about Dhruva's fortune, among the list of avatars which will lend credence to the story of Prsnigarbha blessing Dhruva.
    – Surya
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 4:57
  • @Surya What do you mean by missed Sauti and Brahma? Sauti is just relaying the words of Vyasa, not composing his own words. And what does Brahma have to do with any of this? What verse about Dhruva's fortune are you referring to, and how does it lend credence to a connection between Prishnigarbha and Dhruva? Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 5:43
  • @Surya In any case, Vishnu isn't really "prioritizing" Prishnigarbha over other incarnations - he's just mentioning him because he was born to the previous births of Vasudeva and Devaki. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 6:33
  • Ok then, Vyasa. I said Brahma, because in the 8th chapter of the 2nd canto, he lists some avatara of Vishnu. 1/2
    – Surya
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 7:29
  • 1
    @TheDestroyer Yeah, the Srimad Bhagavatam quote in my question says that first Sutapa and Prishni had Vishnu's incarnation Prishnigarb as a son, then they were born as Kashyapa and Aditi and had Vishnu's incarnation Vamana as a son, and then they were born as Vasudeva and Devaki and had Vishnu's incarnation Krishna as a son. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


In Santi Parva of Mahabharata, while Lord Sri Krishna describes Arjuna the significance of his different names, speaks of the name pṛśnigarbha

The word Prisni includes food, the Vedas, water, and nectar. These four are always in my stomach. Hence am I called by the name of Prisnigarbha. The Rishis have said that once on a time when the Rishi Trita was thrown into a well by Ekata and Dwiti, the distressed Trita invoked me, saying,--O Prisnigarbha, do thou rescue the fallen Trita! That foremost of Rishis, viz., Trita, the spiritual son of Brahma, having called on me thus, was rescued from the pit.

The story of Trita can be found in Salya Parva of Mahabharata here. Apart from this I was not able to get any references.

Hope this helps you.

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