I am a Vaishnav and hence I worship Shrinathji. It is said that Shrinathji is an avatar of Lord Krishna but again, Lord Krishna is an avatar of Lord Vishnu so is it possible that gods can take avatars of avatars?

According to Wikipedia:

Shrinathji is a form of Hindu god Krishna, manifest as a seven-year-old child (Balak).

Here, they have used form to describe it but I think that means an avatar or am taking it wrongly?

2 Answers 2


Shrinathji is not an incarnation (avatara) of Krishna, he's just Krishna himself. The Srinathji idol depicts Krishna as a child holding the Govardhana hill, which is why his hand is raised as you can see in the image below. Krishna didn't incarnate as some other individual to lift the hill, he lifted it himself. So it makes no sense to call Shrinathji an incarnation of Krishna.

enter image description here

Now as to your question about whether there can be incarnation of an incarnation, the answer is yes, as long as we understand what we mean by that. "X is an incarnation of Y" means that X is a body whose soul is Y. So Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, for instance, because the soul that was occupying Rama's body was Vishnu. Now if Rama were in turn to create an incarnation, what soul would it have? Vishnu would be the soul, of course. So an incarnation of an incarnation of a god is at a fundamental level just an incarnation of that same god. To put it another way, to say that someone is an incarnation of an incarnation is a statement about how that person came to be created, not a statement about what they are.

Keeping that in mind, here are some examples of people who were an "incarnation of an incarnation" of some god:

  1. As I discuss in this answer, Krishna's elder brother Balarama is an incarnation of Vishnu's serpent Adiseshan (AKA Ananta), but he is still an incarnation of Vishnu, even included in the Dasavathara often, because Adiseshan is himself an incarnation of Vishnu.

  2. As I discuss in this answer, the Shiva Purana describes a (possibly spurious) story where Vishnu's incarnation Narasimha is subdued by a half-lion half-bird creature Sharabha, an incarnation of Virabhadra, who is himself a demon incarnation that Shiva took to kill Daksha after Shakti's death.

  3. As I discuss in this answer, there is also a story about how after Narasimha was subdued by Shiva's incarnation Sharabha, Sharabha was himself defeated by Ghandaberunda, a two-headed bird beast incarnation of Narasimha, who let's remember is himself an incarnation of Vishnu. Whew!

By the way, in a comment to one of my answers, a user suggested two other potential examples, Vitthoba and Venkateshwara, who he claimed were incarnations of Krishna, but I don't think it's true in either case. I would call Venkateshwara (AKA Srinivasa or Balaji) either Vishnu himself or a simple incarnation of Vishnu. After all, he does call Rama and Krishna past births of his, which suggests that he's either a reincarnation of them, in which case he would be a simple incarnation of Vishnu, or that they're incarnations of his, which would mean that he's Vishnu himself. And I think Vitthoba (AKA Vitthala or Panduranga) is just Krishna, not an incarnation of Krishna, based on the stories presented on the Wikipedia page.

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    Never tried to know why he had one hand lifted up, so basically he is lord Krishna...
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 7:50
  • @Mr.Alien, Keshav, though I agree with answer that Srinathji was not a separate personification of Krishna, I think there are legends that this energy of Krishna in form of Shrinathji actually revolved in certain area of Rajasthan and then finally brought to modern day Nathdwara, where it pacified during aggression of Muslim rule. Hence it could be a subtle body incarnation. Just a guess. BTW, I also belong to the Shri Nathji sect!
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 10:30
  • @iammilind Well, Vishnu is certainly present in all divinely created statues, so it's not surprising that power of the statue has done great things in the past. By the way, were you just born into the Srinathji sect or do you still believe in it? Because I thought you were an Advaitin, and the Srinathji sect has very different beliefs from Advaita. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 14:16
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    I am born into a strong Pushti margi family extended to many generations. We don't worship teen or adult form of Krishna at home, but his exclusively Baalak swaroop which is less than 12 years. This is also added by equally strong belief in Shrinathji with respect to worshiping and also visiting at Nathdwara. However, personally I have become more leaned towards what is called Advaita philosophy (oneness with God) after reading Gita and listening to some of the philosopher such as Osho, Jaggi Vasudev. Though I don't believe everything they say.
    – iammilind
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 14:26

Yes, an avatar can also take avatar. Like Sage Narayana was the partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Sri Krishna was the partial incarnation of Sage Narayana.

Srimad Devi Bhagwatam 5.1.:

12-54. Vyāsa said :-- ". . . Again the Ṛṣi Nārāyaṇa is the part incarnate of Viṣṇu, and Vāsudeva is the part incarnate of the Ṛṣi Nārāyaṇa; hence what wonder is there, if Vāsudeva be seen to adore and propitiate Śiva? Śiva is the God of gods; and He is the Lord of all the causal bodies that exist; in the state of Suṣupti (deep sleep). In this respect, Śiva is the creator of Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu worships Him in this light. Rāma, Kṛṣṇa and others are all part incarnations of Viṣṇu; so there is no wonder if they worship Śiva. . ."

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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