I came to know Saṁkarṣaṇa was an incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. I want to know his description as given in Purāṇas, Why did Viṣṇu take that incarnation and the story behind the incarnation?

1 Answer 1


Saṁkarṣaṇa is regarded to be Śēṣanāga's, the King of Serpents' Incarnation. Saṁkarṣaṇa is one of the many epithets for Balarāma, also known as Kr̥ṣna's brother in Mahābhārata.

Please know that Saṁkarṣaṇa is not directly Viṣṇu's incarnation. Some believe that Śēṣanāga is Viṣṇu's incarnation, as proven by the Brahma Purāṇa:

21-25. The second form called Śēṣa upholds the Earth with its head. It stands below in the nether regions. It is called Tāmasa (having mental darkness attribute) and hence assumed the status of a lower species of animal. (Brahma Purāṇa, Chapter 71)

However, since everything stems from Vishnu Himself, I would like to consider Saṁkarṣaṇa a form of Ādiśēṣa.

Saṁkarṣaṇa, like I said, is an epithet of Balarāma. He assisted Kr̥ṣna in defeating the Kauravas. Here are the references of Saṁkarṣaṇa:

  1. Due to his being taken out of the womb of Dēvakī (and transfer to that of Rōhiṇī), he will be known as Saṁkarṣaṇa. As he would give delight to the world, he would be called Rāma, and Bala on account of his eminence among the mighty people. (Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa, Book 10, Chapter 2)

52-53. By Dēvarakṣitā, he got nine sons such as Gada and others. While he begot eight sons on Sahadēva. Of them, Puruviśruta was most prominent. Just as God Dharma procreated eight Vasus, the noble-minded Vasudēva begot on Dēvakī eight sons.

  1. They were Kīrtimat, Suṣēṇa, Bhadrasēna, R̥ju, Sammardana, Bhadra and Saṅkarṣaṇa who was Śēṣa, the Lord of Serpents.

  2. Their eighth son was verily Lord Hari himself. And the highly fortunate Subhadrā, your grand mother was their daughter, Oh King! (Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa, Book 9, Chapter 24)

  1. The glorious Lord Viṣṇu (Slayer of demon Madhu) accompanied by Saṅkarṣaṇa (Balarāma) achieved feats which the Lords of gods could not comprehend, even by thought or imagination. (Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa, Book 9, Chapter 24)

Here are some from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa as well:

When Dēvakī was pregnant the seventh time, Yōganidrā (the sleep of devotion), sent by Viṣṇu, extricated the embryo from its maternal womb at midnight, and transferred it to that of Rohiṇī; and from having been thus taken away, the child (who was Balarāma) received the name of Saṅkarṣaṇa. (Viṣṇu Mahāpurāṇa, Book 4, Chapter 15)

The great serpent Śēṣa issues from the mouth of Rāma. Kr̥ṣna is shot by a hunter, and again becomes one with universal spirit. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Book 5, Chapter 37)

I hope this answered your questions!

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