I read answers about Krishna and Rama as source of all avatars on this site. Are there any verses that support Vishnu as source of all avatars? Since there are different Vishnus and such complexity in pancharatra, I want to know about root Vishnu from whom all other Vishnus and avatars emanate. Which Vishnu is talked about when we say Vishnu's 10 avatars. Please quote Sanskrit verse and translation.

  • Vishnu is indeed the source of all the incarnations .. We hv "Dashavatara of Vishnu" .. Isn't it?
    – Rickross
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:24
  • @Rickross I am aware. I am just looking for statement like source of all avatars. Because avatars are said to be many more. A much like direct statement saying all avatars come from him. Also I think there is complexity in pancaratra system of many Vishnus. Which Vishnu?
    – user16895
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:32
  • @krr for your question on which Vishnu - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/28680/… Jan 19, 2019 at 14:41
  • Avatar means who descends. Someone descends to world doesn't mean they are not source .Though Krishna is counted in Vishnu's 10 avatars, it really doesn't say anything about position of him. A prime minister though being higher can accept a department under someone, that doesn't make him any less. Also, if there are 99 cows and 1 horse, you may group them as cows. Though Krishna, Rama are counted among 10 avatars, they may be higher in hierarchy than Vishnu. I am sure of Krishna's. Bhagavatam places Krishna at top, it doesn't explicitly give the position of Ram. I think Rama is also higher.
    – user16618
    Jan 20, 2019 at 5:26
  • Look at verse no 17. - archive.org/details/BhagavataPuranaMotilalEnglish/page/n1941 Jan 20, 2019 at 9:01

4 Answers 4


The Lord Visnu took the incarnations of Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar) Nfhari (Man-lion), Vamana (Dwarf) the powerful ParaSurama, Rama son of Dalaratha Krsna, Buddha and Kalki for the destruction of demons and ogres. In the same way the manifest and unmani- fest form of the primordial Gadadhara. GP 1.86.10-11

  • 1
    Which Vishnu is this among chatur vyuha?
    – user16895
    Feb 5, 2019 at 13:50
  • The Order of Hearing The Rishis —> Suta, Suta —> Vyasa, Vyasa (also present Narada, Daksa, Bhrgu)—> Brahma (in Brahmaloka), Brahma —> Visnu, A short conversation between Brahma and Rudra: Rudra said : It is Lord Visnu whom I contemplate upon. He is the Supreme Soul, the Almighty. Lord Visnu known as Padmanabha and Hari is devoid of physical body and is ever victorious. He is pure, the source of purity, he is Supreme Soul, die Almighty, conne- cted by the word Tad (in the Upanisads) ,* Feb 5, 2019 at 14:42

Yes. There is.

In Ananda-Ramayana (Saara-Kanda Sarga 3), we get:

अष्टावंशेन विधृता अवताराश्च विष्णुना। रामकृष्णावतारौ च पूर्णरूपेण तौ धृतौ॥

meaning: Avarataaras are born out of one- eighth parts'Kalaas' of Vishnu, Rama and Krishna beingnPurna-Avataaras.(quoted in Pranava-Preama-Pijusha Bhashya of Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, Sitaramdas Omkarnath, Mahamilan Math, vol.2, page 48)

Sri Shankaracharya writes in His Vishnushatpadi (Ref:Stavakusumanjali, Swami Gambhirananda(Edited) Udbodhan, page 246:)

O lord Vishnu, You protect this world by assuming different forms of Avataaras as Matsa, Kurma etc: "Matsyadibhi ravatarair avataa avata yada vasudhaam.

Regarding 'which Vishnu is being referred to, we have to know the meaning of the word 'Vishnu'.

"vebeshti vyaapnoti vishwam yah sa vishnuh" meaning He who is all-pervading >is Vishnu.Alternatively, "veshati sinchati aapyaayante vishwam iti va" meaning Who entertains or enters into ALL beings is Vishnu. >Thirdly,"vishnaati vijunakti bhaktaan mayaapasarena samsaaraadid iti ba" >meaning Who removes the maya and uplifts devotees from the worldliness is >Vishnu. Fourthly, "yasmaad vishwam idam sarvam tasya shaktyaa samudbhavah/ >tasmaadevochchyate vishnur vishadhaatoh praveshanaat" meaning He Whose Power >has created the entire universe, or who is in everything is Vishnu".So Vishnu is the name of the Supreme Godhead.(Ibid, vol 1, page 295)

  • hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/6608/16895 Check this out.
    – user16895
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:13
  • My question is who is root Vishnu. See this you will idea exactly what I am asking for. hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6923/16895
    – user16895
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:25
  • The question is not as simple as it seems to be. It is mixed with lot of Pancaratra that confuses me. There are notions of different Vishnus. Who is the Hari referred in that bhagavatam verse is not clear. So I think we can't conclude anything from that IMO.
    – user16895
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:30
  • I will just say that as per Sri Ramakrishna, this is the undesirable comfusion resulting from study of too many scriptures, as per His Kathamrita.
    – user17294
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:50
  • @krr seems like what Sri Sri Chandi is basically chapters in Markandeya purana commonly called Devi Mahatmya.
    – Ambi
    Jan 20, 2019 at 11:53

This is from Mahabharata, Adi parva, 1.57, which states that Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu -

anugrahArthaM lokAnAM viShNurlokanamaskRRitaH | vasudevAttu devakyAM prAdurbhUto mahAyashAH || 83|| anAdinidhano devaH sa kartA jagataH prabhuH | avyaktamakSharaM brahma pradhAnaM nirguNAtmakam || 84|| AtmAnamavyayaM chaiva prakRRitiM prabhavaM param | puruShaM vishvakarmANaM sattvayogaM dhruvAkSharam || 85|| anantamachalaM devaM ha.nsaM nArAyaNaM prabhum | dhAtAramajaraM nityaM tamAhuH paramavyayam || 86|| puruShaH sa vibhuH kartA sarvabhUtapitAmahaH | dharmasa.nvardhanArthAya prajaj~ne.andhakavRRiShNiShu || 87||

Translation by van Buitenen - Visnu, whose fame is great, who is worshiped by all the worlds, the Unmanifest, Aksara, Brahman, and Cause, to favor all the worlds became manifest in Devaki by Vasudeva–God without beginning or end, the Lord Maker of the universe, who is without attributes as well as the imperishable Soul, and Nature, the ultimate Source, the Man, the Maker of all things, the Yoker of Being, the stable Intransient, the Unending, Unmoving God, the Swan, the Lord Nārāyana, whom they call the unaging, sempiternal Place, supreme and everlasting. He is the ubiquitous Man, Maker, and Grandfather of all creatures; and so in order to further the growth of the Law, he was born amidst the Andhaka-Vršnis.

  • 2
    I didn't ask relation between Krishna and Vishnu.
    – user16895
    Jan 31, 2019 at 18:28
  • You asked - "Are there any verses that support Vishnu as source of all avatars?". I have given verses which show that Vishnu is the source of Krishna avataar.
    – user16581
    Jan 31, 2019 at 18:40

Are there any verses which say Vishnu is source of all avatars?

Yes. There are several scriptures that state Vishnu to be the source of all avataras. I am giving two examples, for instance.

1. Padma Purāṇa.

Chapter 229, Uttara-Khaṇḍa, Padma-Purāṇa

इत्यंतर्य्याम्यवस्थायामंतर्य्यामित्वमात्मनः । मत्स्यः कूर्म्मो वराहश्च नरसिंहोऽथ वामनः ॥ ४० ॥ रामो रामश्च कृष्णश्च बुद्धः कल्की च ते दश । एते तु विभवावस्था ब्रह्मणः परमात्मनः ॥ ४१ ॥ नृसिंहरामकृष्णेषु षाड्गुण्यं परिकीर्तितम् । परावस्था तु देवस्य दीपादुत्पन्न दीपवत् ॥ ४२ ॥ सा ह्यवस्था हरेरस्य शृणुष्व गिरिजे शुभे । वैकुंठं परमं लोकं विष्णुलोकमनुत्तमम् ॥ ४३ ॥ श्वेतदीपं स्वरूपं तु क्षीरसागरमुत्तमम् । एवं चतुर्द्धा व्यूहं तु सम्यगुक्तं महर्षिभिः ॥ ४४ ॥

  • 40-44. Thus the state of the inner-controllership of self consists in his being the innermost soul. Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Narasiṃha, Vāmana, Rāma, Paraśurāma, Kṛṣṇa, Buddha, and Kalki are the ten Vibhavas (incarnations) of Brahman, the highest soul. The group of six qualities is said to exist in Nṛsiṃha, Rāma, and Kṛṣṇa. The highest state of the god is like one lamp being produced (i.e. lighted) from another lamp. O auspicious Girijā, that is the state of this Viṣṇu. Listen. The highest heaven Vaikuṇṭha, the excellent Viṣṇuloka, his own form Śvetadvīpa, the excellent Milky Ocean are said to be the four-fold Vyūha (manifestation of god) by the great sages.

2. Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra

In reply to Maitreya's question, Rishi Parāśara says the from Vishnu proceeds all the avataras.

Chapter 2

  • Great Incarnations of the Lord.

रामकृष्णादयो ये ह्यवतारा रमापतेः । तेऽपि जीवांशसंयुक्ताः किंवा ब्रूहि मुनिश्वर ॥ १॥

Matireya asked: "O sage, are the incarnations of Vishnu viz. Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, etc. endowed with Jeevamsa?

रामः कृष्णश्च भो विप्र नृसिंहः सूकरस्तथा । एते पूर्णावताराश्च ह्यन्ये जीवांशकान्विताः ॥ २॥

Parāśara said - "O Brahmina, the four incarnations, viz. Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Nṛsiṃha, and Vārāha are wholly with the Parmatmamsa. The other incarnations (other than these, out of the ten), have Jeevamsa with them.

English Translation by Dr. R. Santhanam

Which Vishnu is talked about when we say Vishnu's 10 avatars?

As regards the question, from which vyuha does the avataras originate?

The answer is - Aniruddha. He is the one who reclines on the Shesha in the Śvetadvīpa, and from whom the avataras is said to originate since he is the one who's responsible for the Maintenance & Protection of the Universe, as clear from the below verse.

Verse 6.229.37,38, Padma-Purāṇa

अनिरुद्धश्च भगवाञ्छक्तितेजः समन्वितः । मनूनां पार्थिवानां च कालस्य च जनस्य च ॥ ३७ ॥ स्थितिं करोति भगवानंतर्य्यामित्वमास्थितः ।

Lord Aniruddha, endowed with power and luster, and having got the position of the inner controller of Manus, kings, time, and people, he looks after the maintenance.

English Translation by N.A Deshpande

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