Many incarnations of Vishnu, including partial and full, were mentioned in Puranas.

In Ramayana, Vamana and Parasurama were mentioned as incarnations of Vishnu, which is disputable.

My area of interest is restricted to the following incarnations of Vishnu.

  • Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha

Do the above 4 incarnations, as that of Vishnu, have references in Rig Veda/ brAhmanAs/ Upanishads?

  • Level 1 - all scriptures are false. Level 2 - only Sruti/Vedas are true. Smriti is false. Level 3 - only Purva Mimamsa of Vedas is true. Upanishads are false. Level 4 - only Rig Veda of Purva Mimamsa is true. Yajur/Sama/Atharva are false. @Satya
    – ram
    Sep 26, 2020 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Whole story of Matsya is narrated in Satapatha Brahmana.

1:33. It said, 'As long as we are small, there is great destruction for us: fish devours fish. Thou wilt first keep me in a jar. When I outgrow that, thou wilt dig a pit and keep me in it. When I outgrow that, thou wilt take me down to the sea, for then I shall be beyond destruction.'

1:8:1:44. It soon became a ghasha (a large fish); for that grows largest (of all fish) 3. Thereupon it said, 'In such and such a year that flood will come. Thou shalt then attend to me (i.e. to my advice) by preparing a ship 1; and when the flood has risen thou shalt enter into the ship, and I will save thee from it.'

1:8:1:55. After he had reared it in this way, he took it down to the sea. And in the same year which the fish had indicated to him, he attended to (the advice of the fish) by preparing a ship; and when the flood had risen, he entered into the ship. The fish then swam up to him, and to its horn he tied the rope of the ship, and by that means he 2 passed swiftly up to yonder northern mountain.

1:8:1:66. It then said, 'I have saved thee. Fasten the ship to a tree; but let not the water cut thee off 3, whilst thou art on the mountain. As the water subsides, thou mayest gradually descend!' Accordingly he gradually descended, and hence that (slope) of the northern mountain is called 'Alarm's descent 1.' The flood then swept away all these creatures, and Manu alone remained here.

In Shatpatha Brahmana 7:5.1 & 5 Kurma avatar is mentioned.

  1. He then puts down a (living) tortoise;--the tortoise means life-sap: it is life-sap (blood) he thus bestows on (Agni). This tortoise is that life-sap of these worlds which flowed away from them when plunged into the waters 1: that (life-sap) he now bestows on (Agni). As far as the life-sap extends, so far the body extends: that (tortoise) thus is these worlds.

5.And as to its being called 'kûrma' (tortoise);Pragâpati, having assumed that form, created living beings. Now what he created, he made; and inasmuch as he made (kar), he is (called) 'kûrma;' and 'kûrma' being (the same as) 'kasyapa' (a tortoise), therefore all creatures are said to be descended from Kasyapa.

In Mahanaryana Upanishad Varaha avatar is mentioned.

bhūmirdhenurdharaṇī lokadhāriṇī . uddhṛtāsi varāheṇa kṛṣṇena śatabāhunā .. 38..

The earth is the giver of happiness like the milk cow, the sustainer of life and support for all living beings. (Represented as such the earth is addressed:)Thou wert raised up by Kṛṣṇa in His incarnation of the boar having hundred hands.

  • My question is - Do the above 4 incarnations, as that of Vishnu, have references in Rig Veda/ brAhmanAs/ Upanishads? @SanatanDarshan . The upanishads should say that those incarnations are of Vishnu. please check Aug 16, 2020 at 7:17
  • 1
    @Srimannarayana K V. FYI, Sri Vaishnavas interpret these as avatars of vishnu alone using their shariratma bhava(considering upanishad statements like yasya aatma shariram) . Dvaitins consider all names are that of vishnu(their brahman). This answer clarifies that it is in the same way puranas also describe them. If you consider Vishnu as the brahman or Narayana of narayna/purusha suktam and not the son of aditi then there is no need of explicit mention of vishnu to attribute this avataras to vishnu. Vishnu is manifestation of narayana
    – Satya
    Aug 16, 2020 at 15:54
  • @Satya Aditi's son Vishnu is actually Vaamana -hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/23587/12304
    – YDS
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:11
  • @YDS I know that , since sriman do not believe in this imcarnation theory I just expressed my views in accordance to his beliefs.Shaivas(not the humble ancient ones, modern shaivas) too do not attribute narayana suktam or purusha suktam to vishnu of trimurti and this vamana is same vishnu of trimurti for them. Vishnu gayatri identifies vishnu with Narayana, but they interpret this suktas as praise of their dieties. My point is that vedas themselves say that vishnu is glorified for what he intrinsically is and calls him Ancient and Last, Supreme, stronger than the strongest etc.,
    – Satya
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:24
  • @YDS Though other dieties too glorified as such, vedas do not say that this praises to the dieties are really for what they are unlike vishnu's case. Whether one believe incarnations or not , the referrant of purusha/narayana suktas as vishnu or not . Vishnu proximity to brahman can be established (this is my personal view, apologies if this comment disturbs anyone in advance)
    – Satya
    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .