We hear a lot about incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and other Gods, but were there any incarnations of Lord Bramha too?

  • 1
    Jambavan, the bear who help Ram, also was an incarnation of Brahma. Nov 19, 2015 at 6:25

1 Answer 1


Yes, Brahma has taken incarnations. Here are two of them:

  1. Chandra: As I discuss in this answer, there was once a Brahmana named Kaushika who received a curse from the sage Mandavya that he would die at sunrise. As a result Kaushika's wife, who had magical powers, stopped the sun from rising. So the world was engulfed in darkness, and the gods turned Anusaya, wife of the sage Atri who was a mind-born son of Brahma, for help. Anusaya convinced Kaushika's wife to allow the sun to rise in exchange for Anusaya using her magical powers to save Kaushika's life. The gods were pleased with Anusaya and offered her a boon. Anusaya asked that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva should all be born as her sons. They agreed, and soon enough Brahma incarnated as Chandra the Moon god (AKA Soma), Vishnu, incarnated as Dattatreya, and Shiva incarnated as the angry sage Durvasa. Here is how their births are described in chapter 16 of the Markandeya Purana:

    The moon, the stay of the life of all creatures, was born as the mind begotten son of the patriarch Atri. Well-pleased the high-souled Vishnu was born from his own body as the best of the twice-born, Dattatreya permeated by the quality of goodness. Incarnating himself Vishnu was born as the second son of Atri known under the name of Dattatreya who sucked the breast of Anusuya.... Then was born Durvasa, a portion of Rudra impregnated with the quality of darkness. Thus Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva were born as her three sons. By virtue of the boon conferred upon her by the celestials Brahma was born at the moon, Vishnu as Dattatreya and Sankara as Durvasa.

  2. Vikhanasa: Mainstream Vaishnavism is based on a set of scriptures known as Pancharatra. The Pancharatra texts consist detailed procedures to worship the sage Narayana, an ancient incarnation of Vishnu and twin brother of the sage Nara. (Arjuna and Krishna were reincarnations of Nara and Narayana respectively.) Since the Pancharatra texts originated from Vishnu himself, they are followed by pretty much all mainstream Vaishnava Sampradayas, whether Sri Vaishnavas, Madhvas, Gaudiya Vaishnavas, etc. (For more information on the Panharatra texts, see my questions here.)

    But as I discuss in this question, there is another group of Vishnu-worshippers who worship Vishnu according to a different set of texts, the Vaikhanasas. They're a tiny minority among worshippers of Vishnu, but for instance they're in charge of the famous Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. In any case, the Vaikhanasa tradition was founded by Brahma's incarnation Vikhanasa, as described in this excerpt from S. Rangachar's book "Philosophy of Pancaratras":

    Brahma incarnated himself as Vikhanas in the Naimisharanya and then Vishnu Himself taught Brahma the mysteries of worship in the form of thirty two questions. Since God, the Bhagavan himself taught this Agama to Brahma first, Vishnu Himself is the originator of the Agama also as in the case of Pancharatra Agama. As it was Vikhanasa who gave this Agama to the world directly through his four disciples or Maharishis, namely Atri, Marichi, Kashyapa and Bhrigu, he is as said to be the Pravartaka of this Agama and hence the agama is called after him.

    And then those four sages are said to have composed texts of their own in the Vaikhanasa tradition.

On a side note, putting these two stories together, we get the interesting conclusion that Atri was the father of one incarnation of Brahma and the student of another, all the while being the son of Brahma himself!

  • 2
    Thanks Keshav. Its interesting to know the above. However, I heard a different story regarding Dattatreya in which all 3 Bramha, Vishnu and Shiv come to Anusuya as Rishis & asked her that she has to come nude to give them alms. This they were doing in order to test her Satitva. She smartly said a woman can be nude in front of either her husband or son, hence he asked all of them to taken the form of a baby for which she will act as a mother. Lords became happy & combined to form a baby(maybe with 3 heads). Hence, Dattatreya should be an incarnation of all 3 and not Lord Vishnu alone.
    – Aby
    Mar 13, 2015 at 14:32
  • 1
    @Aby I've definitely heard some version of that story before (except without the three heads part), but I don't think it has any basis in Hindu scripture; see page 7 of this book: books.google.com/… "The story of how the trimurthi tested Anasuya's chastity in Atri's absence, requesting that she serve them food while naked, is very popular though not found in the main Puranas." Mar 13, 2015 at 15:33
  • 1
    @Aby And it's definitely not there in the Ramayana. As far as I'm aware, the only allusion to the story of Dattatreya is when Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita come to Atri's ashram, and Atri introduces his wife Anasuya by saying that she is a "virtuous woman ... by whom for the reason of a divine command, in a great hurry ten nights were reduced to one night": valmikiramayan.net/utf8/ayodhya/sarga117/ayodhya_117_frame.htm That's a reference to how Anusaya helped the gods in getting the sun to rise. Mar 13, 2015 at 15:45
  • 1
    @Keshav- Also, Jambavan was born with amsa of chatumukha brahma.
    – user808
    Jun 5, 2015 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Krishna Do you have a source for that? The Bala Kanda just says that he came out of Brahma's mouth. Are there other scriptures that say that he's an Amsa Avataram of Brahma? Jun 5, 2015 at 16:18

You must log in to answer this question.

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