28

There is a very interesting story about Karna being an Asura named as Dambhodbhava.
Quora: Who was Karna in his previous birth?. Arjuna-Krishna being Nara-Narayana kids, who fought with Dambhodbhava.

  • There is also a story about Draupadi's previous birth where she asked for a husband with 14 qualities and end up marrying the 5 Pandavas.
  • Bhishma being a Vasu.
  • Shishupala being Raavana (or Vishnu's gatekeeper)
  • Shikhandi being princess Ambaa

Are there any sources for the other key characters' previous births like:

  • Satyavati & Muni Veda Vyasa
  • Dhritarashtra, Pandu, & Vidura
  • Other Pandavas
  • Duryodhana, Dushashana
  • Abhimanyu, Ghatotkacha, Upapandavas
  • Drona & Ashwathama
  • Shakuni, Shalya, Drupada, Dhrishtadyumna
1
  • 2
    Good question sir, Ravana and Kumbhakarna(or Vishnu's gatekeeper) were re-born as Shishupala and Vakradanta(Dantavakra). Apr 14, 2015 at 13:17

5 Answers 5

29

This chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata describes exactly who incarnated as each of the major characters in the Mahabharata. It's too long a chapter to quote the whole thing here, so let me just address some important people.

I discuss the previous births of Draupadi and the Pandavas here. As you said, Bhishma was an incarnation of one of the Vasus, a group of eight Vedic gods controlling various aspects of nature, but more specifically he was the Vasu known as Dyaus Pita, AKA Prabhasa, god of the sky. And as you said Shishupala was an incarnation of Vishnu's gatekeeper Jaya, who had previously been born Hiranyakashipu and Ravana, while Shishupala's brother Dantavakra was an incarnation of Vijaya, who had previously been born as Hiranyaksha and Kumbhakarn, as I discuss in this answer.

Now Bhishma's father Shantanu was a rebirth of Mahabhisha, a king of the Ikshvaku dynasty. After Mahabhisha died, he went to Devaloka, where on one occasion he stared at the goddess Ganga when her robe slipped by accident. As a result, he was cursed by Brahma to be born on earth and to be tormented by Ganga, as described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahbharata:

One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for this cursed by Brahman, who said, 'Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.'

Shantanu's second wife Satyavati, who was the daughter of the king Uparichara Vasu but raised by fishermen, was the next birth of Acchoda, mind-born daughter of the Pitris or ghosts of departed ancestors. (I discuss another mind-born daughter of the Pitris in this question.) Acchoda was caught admiring Uparichara Vasu, so the Pitris gave her the following curse, as described in this chapter of the Harivamsa:

You have just now seen an air-voyager, isn't it... he is called uparichara-vasu... when he takes birth in human world, then you will become his daughter... while remaining a virgin you will deliver the son of sage parAshara, which son of yours, namely veda-vyAsa, will ramify veda canons... still remaining a virgin you will return to your own abode, that which is unachievable otherwise... Later you will auspiciously give rise to two sons of mahAbhiSha, namely king shantanu; one boy will be the glorious vichitraviirya, while the other will be the righteous chitrA~Ngada; and later, on your begetting them you will return to your abode; thus you have to undergo this wretched life on earth because you sidestepped from the morals of manes... will become the daughter of that king vasu through lady adrika, whom you have just now seen along with uparichara-vasu on aircraft... all this happens in twenty-eight dwApara era... then you will emerge as the daughter of a fish, namely from this lady adrika who by then transfigures as a fish

Satyavati's son Krishna Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa (or Vyasa for short) was an incarnation of Vishnu, but he was also the next birth of the sage Aparantamas, an earlier compiler of the Vedas described in this chapter of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata.

Vyasa's son Pandu was apparently the incarnation of the god of Purity, while Vidura was the incarnation of Yama god of death, as described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahbharata:

[Dhritarashtra's] younger brother who was possessed of great strength and was really a great being known as Pandu, devoted to truth and virtue, was Purity's self. And, O king, thou shouldst know that he who was known on earth as Vidura, who was the first of all virtuous men ... was the god of Justice himself.

There's no information in that chapter as to Dhritarashtra's previous birth, but as far as the Kauravas go, Duryodhana was the incarnation of Kali (the demon of the Kali Yuga) and his brothers were incarnations of Rakshasas:

The evil-minded and wicked king Duryodhana, the destroyer of the fair fame of the Kurus, was born of a portion of Kali on earth. He it was who caused all creatures to be slain and the earth to be wasted; and he it was who fanned the flame of hostility that ultimately consumed all. They who had been the sons of Pulastya (the Rakshasas) were born on earth among men of Duryodhana's brothers, that century of wicked individuals commencing with Duhasasana as their first.

Arjuna's son Abhimanyu was an incarnation of Varchas, son of Chandra the moon god, and the reason he died so early is that Chandra didn't want him to be gone too long:

And he who was known as the mighty Varchas, the son of Soma, became Abhimanyu of wonderful deeds, the son of Arjuna. And before his incarnation, O king, the god Soma had said these words to the celestials, 'I cannot give (part with) my son. He is dearer to me than life itself. Let this be the compact and let it be not transgressed. The destruction of the Asuras on earth is the work of the celestials, and, therefore, it is our work as well. Let this Varchas, therefore, go thither, but let him not stay there long.'

The Upapandavas were incarnations of the Vishwadevas, Dristadyumna was an incarnation of Agni, Amba/Sikhandi was the incarnation of a demon, and the Upapandavas are incarnations of the Vishwadevas:

Know also, O monarch, that the mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna was a portion of Agni. And know also that Sikhandin, who was at first a female, was (the incarnation of) a Rakshasa. And, O bull in Bharata's race, they who became the five sons of Draupadi, those bulls amongst the Bharata princes, were the celestials known as the Viswas. Their names were Pritivindhya, Sutasoma, Srutakirti, Satanika, Nakula, and Srutasena, endued with mighty energy.

Kripacharya was an incarnation of the Rudras, Shakuni was an incarnation of Dwapara (embodiment of the Dwapara Yuga), and Satyaki and Drupada were incarnations of the Maruts:

And, O king, that Brahman sage who, on earth, was known by the name of Kripa and was the embodiment of all manliness was born of the tribe of the Rudras. And the mighty chariot-fighter and king who on earth was known by the name of Sakuni, that crusher of foes, thou shouldst know, O king, was Dwapara himself (the third yuga). And he who was Satyaki of sure aim, that upholder of the pride of Vrishni race, that oppressor of foes, begotten of the portion of gods called the Maruts. And that royal sage Drupada who on earth was a monarch, the first among all persons bearing arms, was also born of the same tribe of the celestials.

Ashwatthama was an incarnation of Shiva; see the Shiva Purana. And Shalya was an incarnation of Prahlada's brother Sanhlada:

He who had been known as Samhlada, the younger brother of Prahlada, became among men the famous Salya, that bull amongst Valhikas.

Being a Vaishnava, I'd like to end with one last individual:

And he, called Vasudeva [Krishna], endued with great valour, was among men a portion of him called Narayana--the god of gods--eternal.

17
  • 1
    I have read somewhere that dritarashtra is incarnation of a gandharva king named hamsa the son of Arishtha.Will back up with references
    – tekkk
    May 16, 2015 at 1:09
  • 1
    @sysinit Well, that Adi Parva chapter I linked to says "That son of Arishta who was known by the name of Hansa, was born in the Kuru race and became the monarch of the Gandharvas. He who was known as Dhritarashtra born of the seed of Krishna-Dwaipayana, and gifted with long arms and great energy, also a monarch, of the prophetic eye, became blind in consequence of the fault of his mother and the wrath of the Rishi." I think that may be a mistranslation, and it actually means "That son of Arishta named Hansa who was monarch of the Gandharvas, was born in the Kuru race as Dhritarashtra..." May 16, 2015 at 1:55
  • Isn't the last one obvious? :p But yeah, mentioning him is irresistible.
    – Surya
    Nov 7, 2015 at 17:31
  • @ChinmaySarupria He wasn't mentioning Krsna as in his previous birth. He was saying, also, Vishnu took an avatara as Krsna.
    – Surya
    Nov 7, 2015 at 17:32
  • @Surya Haha yeah, I'd be derelict if I didn't throw in a little note about Vishnu. Nov 7, 2015 at 23:06
8

There is already an answer present here which quotes from Adi Parva ( and several other Parvas also). I'm here quoting the last Parva of Mahabharata from where we can get information about characters of Mahabharata. Svargarohanika Parva chapter 5 of Mahabharata states:

Vaishampayana said, "Every one, O king of men, is not capable of returning to his own nature at the end of his deeds. Whether this is so or not, is, indeed a good question asked by thee. Hear, O king, this which is a mystery of the gods, O chief of Bharata’s race. It was explained (to us) by Vyasa of mighty energy, celestial vision and great prowess, that ancient ascetic, O Kauravya, who is the son of Parasara and who always observes high vows, who is of immeasurable understanding, who is omniscient, and who, therefore knows the end attached to all acts.

"Bhishma of mighty energy and great effulgence attained to the status of the Vasus. Eight Vasus, O chief of Bharata’s race, are now seen. Drona entered into Brihaspati, that foremost one of Angirasa’s descendants. Hridika’s son Kritavarma entered the Maruts. Pradyumna entered Sanatkumara whence he had issued. Dhritarashtra obtained the regions, so difficult of acquisition, that belong to the Lord of treasures. The famous Gandhari obtained the same regions with her husband Dhritarashtra. With his two wives, Pandu proceeded to the abode of the great Indra. Both Virata and Drupada, the king Dhrishtaketu, as also Nishatha, Akrura, Samva, Bhanukampa, and Viduratha, and Bhurishrava and Sala and king Bhuri, and Kansa, and Ugrasena, and Vasudeva, and Uttara, that foremost of men, with his brother Sankha—all these foremost of persons entered the deities. Soma’s son of great prowess, named Varchas of mighty energy, became Abhimanyu, the son of Phalguna, that lion among men. Having fought, agreeably to Kshatriya practices, with bravery such as none else had ever been able to show, that mighty-armed and righteous-souled being entered Soma. Slain on the field of battle, O foremost of men, Karna entered Surya. Shakuni obtained absorption into Dwapara, and Dhrishtadyumna into the deity of fire. The sons of Dhritarashtra were all Rakshasas of fierce might. Sanctified by death caused by weapons, those high-souled beings of prosperity all succeeded in attaining to Heaven. Both Kshattri and king Yudhishthira entered into the god of Righteousness. The holy and illustrious Ananta (who had taken birth as Balarama) proceeded to the region below the Earth. Through the command of the Grandsire, he, aided by his Yoga power, supported the Earth. Vasudeva was a portion of that eternal god of gods called Narayana. Accordingly, he entered into Narayana. 16,000 women had been married to Vasudeva as his wives. When the time came, O Janamejaya, they, plunged into the Sarasvati. Casting off their (human) bodies there, they re-ascended to Heaven. Transformed into Apsaras, they approached the presence of Vasudeva. Those heroic and mighty car-warriors, Ghatotkaca and others, who were slain in the great battle, attained to the status, some of gods and some of Yakshas. Those that had fought on the side of Duryodhana are said to have been Rakshasas. Gradually, O king, they have all attained to excellent regions of felicity. Those foremost of men have proceeded, some to the abode of Indra, some to that of Kuvera of great intelligence, and some to that of Varuna. I have now told thee, O thou of great splendour, everything about the acts, O Bharata, of both the Kurus and the Pandavas.

6
  • Bhishma: The eight Vasus were incarnated of Ganga by her husband Santanu. The seven were killed by Ganga before Bhishma's birth and the youngest of them was Bhishma.

  • Drona: Drona sprung from a portion of the celestial Rishi Vrihaspati

  • Aswatthaman: Aswatthaman was born on earth, of the united portions of Mahadeva, Yama, Kama, and Krodha

  • Kripa: Kripa was born of the tribe of the Rudras

  • Dhritarashtra and Pandu: Dhitrashtra was incarnation of Hansa (the monarch of the Gandharvas and son of Arishta) and Pandu was incarnation of Hansa's younger brother

  • Vidura: Vidura was incarnation of Dharma

  • Duryodhana: Duryodhana was born of a portion of Kali

  • Kunti and Madri: The two goddesses Siddhi and Dhriti became Kunti and Madri

  • Gandhari: Mati became Gandhari

  • Sakuni: Sakuni was incarnation of Dwapara

  • Draupadi: Draupadi was born of a portion of Sachi (the queen of the celestials)

  • Valadeva (Baladeva) - Baladeva was portion of Sesha. Baladeva is also considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu's form Saṅkarṣaṇa in SB.

  • Krishna: Krishna was incarnation of Lord Vishnu or Narayana

  • Rukmini: Rukmini was portion of Sri (Lakshmi)

  • Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul, Sahdeva: They were incarnations of Indra through Dharmraj, Vayu, Indra and Ashvins. Arjuna also believed as incarnation of Nara.

  • Duryodhana's brothers (Duhasasana and others): the Rakshasas from Pulastya

  • Abhimanyu: Abhimanyu was incarnation of Varchas (the son of Soma)

  • Karna: Karna was born from the portion of Surya

  • Jarasandha: Jarasandha was incarnation of Danava Viprachitti

  • Sisupala: Sisupala was incarnation of Hiranyakasipu

  • Salya: Salya was incarnation of Samhlada, the younger brother of Prahlada

  • Bhagadatta: Bhagadatta was incarnation of Asura Vashkala

  • Rukmi, Ekalavya: They were born of the Asura class called Krodhavasa

  • Kansa: Kansa was incarnation of Danava Kalanemi

  • Ugrasena: Ugrasena was the incarnation of Asura Svarbhanu

  • Satyaki, Drupada, Kritavarman, Virata: They begotten of the portion of gods called the Maruts

  • Dhrishtadyumna: Dhrishtadyumna was a portion of Agni

  • Sikhandin: Sikhandin who was at first a female, was (the incarnation of) a Rakshasa. As per Udyoga Parva, Sikhandi was the rebirth of Amba.

  • Five sons of Draupadi: They were incarnations the celestials known as the Viswas

  • Shantanu: Shantanu was the rebirth of king Mahabhisha

  • Satyavati: Satyavati was the incarnation of Achchhoda, the daughter of Pitrs

  • Dhristaketu (Sisupala's son): Dhristaketu was the incarnation of Anuhlada, the younger brother of Prahlada

  • Jayatsena (Jarasandha's son): He were born of the Asura class called Kalakeyas.

Kratha: Kratha was the incarnation of Rahu

Amitaujas:He was the incarnation of Asura Ketuman

Rochamana:He was the incarnation of Asura Asvagriva

  • Bahlika:Bahlika was the incarnation of Asura Ahara

  • Pandya: Pandya was the incarnation of Asura Vikshara's brother

  • Manimat: Manimat was the incarnation of Asura Vritra, Asura Vikshara's another brother

  • Gadhi(Vishwamitra's father):He was the incarnation of Indra.

  • Krishna Dwaipanaya Vyasa:

-Krishna's 16100 wifes: There are the incarnations of the Apsaras.

See below about the unknown characters (ex. Amitaujas, Rochamana and others) from Mahabharata.


References

Abhimanyu: Discussed in Was Abhimanyu's death, a plot by Krishna?

Draupadi, Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul, Sahdeva: Discusseed in Is Draupadi a goddess?, How can Draupadi be a pathivrata (dutiful wife) while being married to 5 men?, Why did all the Pandavas marry Draupadi?

Dhritarashtra and Pandu: Discussed in In Mahabharat who were Dhitrashtra & Pandu incarnations of?

Vidura: Discussed in What is the connection between Vidura from Mahabharata & Rishi Atri?

Baldeva: Discussed in Can Vishnu's multiple avatars exist at the same time on earth?

Shakuni, Duryodhan: Discussed in What does "Avatar of Kali Yuga" and "Avatar of Dwapara Yuga" mean?

== Unknown Characters of Mahabharata ==

=== Previous birth details from Mahabharata===

Mahabharata-Adi Parva-Adivansavatarana Parva-Section LXIII

Mahabharata-Adi Parva-Sambhava Parva-Section LXVII

Mahabharata-Svargarohanika Parva-Section 3, Section 4, Section 5

Mahabharata-Adi Parva-Sambhava Parva-Section XCVI

Harivamsa (Mahabharata)-Harivamsa Parva-Section 18

4
  • Amba was incarnation of Duyu vasu's wife (bhisma's wife) due to curse of sage vasista she would hate her own husband. Arjuna incarnation Vali and Indra Karna sugrivas incarnation, Bheema is vayu or hanuma incarnation important incarnation missing above is Raghavendra swamigal he was there as Bhalika he was the father of bhurisravas. Bhalika was incarnation of prahlad
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 8, 2019 at 14:57
  • Im surprised sakuni is termed good.. actually is evil person, im sure he is rakshas
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 8, 2019 at 15:01
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa the fact u mentioned is already answered here hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/28258/12304 though i hv not checked the sanskrit shloka for this.. In MBH, it's specifically mentioned as Gandharava hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/28261/12304
    – YDS
    Dec 16, 2021 at 5:43
  • @YDS I know. It is just that it could lead to confusion that he was a Gandharva, since that is what you expect the monarch of the Gandharvas to be. There is no reason a Daitya cannot be the monarch of the Gandharvas, it is just not what you would expect. Thus, it is best to clarify it before people jump to (reasonable without contradicting information) conclusions. Dec 16, 2021 at 10:51
3

The Devi Bhagavata gives a bunch more, although some only seem to appear in the Hari Vamsha.

Vyāsa said :-- The part incarnations of Suras and Asuras on this earth, and their names I am now saying to you in brief; hear.

Vāsudeva: Kaśyapa (by the way this probably means Kaśyapa is an incarnation of the first human as Vasudeva is also called an incarnation of him)(this implies the personal name of the first human is Ariṣṭanemi)

Devakī: Aditi

Baladeva: Ananta

Vāsudeva Śrī Kṛṣṇa: Śrīmān Nārāyaṇa; the son of Dharma

Arjuṇa: of Nara

Yuidhiṣṭhira: part incarnate of Dharma

Bhimasena: [part incarnate] of Vāyu

Nakul and Sahadeva: [part incarnate] of Aśvinī-kumāras

Karṇa, born of Kuntī: part incarnate of the Sun

Vidura: the knower of the Supreme Essence: incarnate of Yama, the king Dharmarāj.

Droṇa: the Ācārya of the Kurus and the Pāṇḍavas: part incarnate of Brihaspatī

Aśvatthāmā: part incarnate of Rudra Deva. (Later: The powerful son of Droṇa, Aśvatthāmā, though known as the part incarnate of Rudra, was really born of the four parts of Yama, Rudra, Cupidity and Anger.)

Śantanu: part incarnate of the Ocean;

his wife: of the river Ganges [Ganga] in human farm.

It is stated in the Purāṇas that the king Devaka: part incarnate of the Lord of Gandarvas

Bhīṣma Deva: the incarnate of Vasu

Virāṭa: the Lord of Matsya: the part incarnate of Marut

Dhritarāṣṭra: [part incarnate of] the Daitya Hamsa, the son of Aṛṣṭa Nemi. (He is also called the monarch of the Gandharvas in some places)

Kripa and Krita Varmā: [part incarnate of] Maruts. (This fits with the Mahabharata declaring Kripa is born of the tribe of Rudras through possession as described with Varchas later i.e. Kripa is of the tribe of the Rudras, a part incarnation of the Maruts and possesses a human/Rishi (not sure). This works because the Mahabharata says he was famous on Earth as Kripa.)

Duryodhana: [part incarnate of] Kali

Śakuni: [part incarnate of] Dvāpara;

Suvarcākhya Somapraru (???): [part incarnate of] the son of the Moon

Dhṛṣṭadyumna: [part incarnate of] part incarnate of Fire

Śikhaṇḍī: [part incarnate of] Rāksasa

Pradyumna: part incarnate of Sanatkumāra

king Drupada: was part incarnate of Varuṇa (This fits with the Mahabharata declaring Drupada is born of the Maruts through possession as described with Varchas later i.e. Drupada is a Maruta, a part incarnation of the Varuṇa and possesses a human. This works because the Mahabharata says he was famous on Earth as Drupada.)

Draupadī: [part incarnate of] Lakṣmī

Draupadī’s five sons: [part incarnate of] Visve-devas

Kuntī: was incarnate of Siddhi;

Mādri: Dhriti

Gāndhārī: Mati

the wives of Śrī Kṛṣṇa: heavenly public women;

Thus, all the Devas came as their part incarnations, urged on by Indra.

Śiśupāla: the incarnate of Hiraṇyakaśipu

Jarāsandha: Biprachitti,

Śalya: Prahlāda

Kaṃsa: Kālanemi

Keśī: of Haya Śirā.

The Asura named Aṛṣṭa of the form of a cow that was killed by Kṛṣṇa: son of Bali (???) (apparently his birth name in that life is Kakudmi and he is called Aṛṣṭa because people remember who he was)

Dhṛṣṭaketu: part incarnate of Anuhrādha

Bhagadatta: [part incarnate of] Vāskala

Pralamba: [part incarnate of] Lamba

Dhenuka: [part incarnate of] Khara.

Cāṇūra and Muśṭika: the two athletes: part incarnates of Vārāha, and Kiśora, the two dreadful Daityas.

Kubalaya: the elephant of Kaṃsa: was part incarnate of Aṛṣṭa, the sun of Diti (apparently he was also known as Ristha).

Vakī: the daughter of Bali (???)

Vaka: was her younger (???)(why are the children of Bali not named?)

The Daityas and Rāksasas that were born to relieve the heavy burden of the Earth: all incarnates of Asuras.

O king! I have thus narrated to you in order the incarnations of the Suras and Asuras, as they are stated duly in the Purāṇas.

While the other answers are good, I think there is a contradiction in the obvious answers to who Abhimanyu is an incarnation of. As said by Keshav Srinivasan, Arjuna seems to be the incarnation of the son of Soma, Varchas. However, he is also called an incarnation of Soma in the 15th book of the Mahabharata.

"Vyasa said,

...

He that took his birth as the son of Arjuna, that gladdener of all, that heir to the possessions of the Pandavas, who was slain by six great car-warriors (fighting together), was Soma. He was born of Subhadra. Through Yoga-puissance he had divided

As I see it there are two ways to resolve the conflict. One Abhimanyu is Varchas and Soma for some reason calls him by a different name. The other which I think makes more sense, because it also clears up other contradictions about Abhimanyu (as discussed here) is that Varchas is one of the Asuras that controls the humans in the Mahabharata as discussed in this story here. Varchas is thus the Asura son of Soma, who is a partial incarnation of Soma.

This is actually supported strongly by examining the context of the mention of Varchas. The beginning of the page is talking about Asuras incarnating on Earth. This means expecting the reader to reach this conclusion is not a stretch. Soma also refers to him an Varchas as separate from the celestials, which makes more sense if Varchas is an Asura.

"Vaisampayana said,

...

And he who was known as the mighty Varchas, the son of Soma, became Abhimanyu of wonderful deeds, the son of Arjuna. And before his incarnation, O king, the god Soma had said these words to the celestials, 'I cannot give (part with) my son. He is dearer to me than life itself. Let this be the compact and let it be not transgressed. The destruction of the Asuras on earth is the work of the celestials, and, therefore, it is our work as well. Let this Varchas, therefore, go thither, but let him not stay there long.

Thus, to recap, Soma's son Varchas, who is a partial incarnation of Soma, possesses Arjuna's son Abhimanyu and thus becomes known as Abhimanyu. He does this after Abhimanyu is born. The soul controlling Abhimanyu from birth is unknown.

Parikshit's, Yuyutsu's, Duhsala's, Sanjaya's and Janamejaya's origins are notably missing. Missing on the other side is Lavana, who while mentioned in a speech about Asuras he has to kill again by Narada, there is just a random cliffhanger about who he turns into.

Edit: (In response to an anonymous edit suggestion) I'm fine with people adding to this post, but the additions should be sourced and not in a position in which it implies they are from another text than they are.

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m15/m15031.htm

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01068.htm

2
  • "Vāsudeva: Kaśyapa" -- shouldn't it be Vasudeva instead of Vāsudeva (Vaasudeva)..basic meaning of Vāsudeva (Vaasudeva) is son of Vasudeva..
    – YDS
    Dec 18, 2021 at 2:18
  • @YDS I think it should be Vasudeva, but that was what the translation says. Maybe there should be a comment about this. Dec 18, 2021 at 20:39
1

This chapter of the epic Mahabharata describes the previous of Characters of Mahabharata.

  • Krishna: Krishna was incarnation of Lord Vishnu or Narayana

  • Rukmini: Rukmini was portion of Sri (Lakshmi)

  • Balarama: Balarama was the incarnation of Adi Shesha

  • Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul, Sahdeva: They were incarnations of Indra through Dharmraj, Vayu, Indra and Ashvins. Arjuna also believed as incarnation of Nara.

  • Draupadi: Drupadi was the partial incarnation of Shachi

  • Bhishma: The eight Vasus were incarnated of Ganga by her husband Santanu. The seven were killed by Ganga before Bhishma's birth and the youngest of them was Bhishma.

  • Drona: Drona sprung from a portion of the celestial Rishi Vrihaspati

  • Aswatthaman: Aswatthaman was born on earth, of the united portions of Mahadeva, Yama, Kama, and Krodha

  • Kripa: Kripa was born of the tribe of the Rudras

  • Dhritarashtra and Pandu: Dhitrashtra was incarnation of Hansa (the monarch of the Gandharvas and son of Arishta) and Pandu was incarnation of God of Purity

  • Vidura: Vidura was incarnation of Dharma

  • Duryodhana: Duryodhana was born of a portion of Kali

  • Kunti and Madri: The two goddesses Siddhi and Dhriti became Kunti and Madri

  • Gandhari: Gandhari was the incarnation of a devatha called Mati

  • Sakuni: Sakuni was incarnation of Dwapara

  • Duryodhana's brothers (Duhasasana and others): the Rakshasas from Pulastya

  • Abhimanyu: Abhimanyu was incarnation of Varchas (the son of Soma)

  • Karna: Karna was born from the portion of Surya

  • Pradyumna: Pradyumna was the partial incarnation of Sanatkumara. He also belived as the incarnation of Kamadeva.

  • Jarasandha: Jarasandha was incarnation of Danava Viprachitti

  • Sisupala: Sisupala was incarnation of Hiranyakasipu

  • Dantavakra: Dantavakra was the incarnation of Hiranyaksha

  • Salya: Salya was incarnation of Samhlada, the younger brother of Prahlada

  • Bhagadatta: Bhagadatta was incarnation of Asura Vashkala

  • Kansa: Kansa was incarnation of Danava Kalanemi

  • Ugrasena: Ugrasena was the incarnation of Asura Svarbhanu

  • Satyaki, Drupada, Kritavarman, Virata: They begotten of the portion of gods called the Maruts

  • Dhrishtadyumna: Dhrishtadyumna was a portion of Agni

  • Sikhandi: Sikhandi who was at first a female, was (the incarnation of) a Rakshasa. As per Udyoga Parva, Sikhandi was the rebirth of Amba.

  • Five sons of Draupadi: They were incarnations the celestials known as the Vishwas

  • Krishna's 16100 wives: They were the incarnations of Apsaras

Vyasa was the incarnation of Rishi Aparantamas. It is Stated in this chapter of Santi Parva:

I am he that was born as Apantaratamas through the command of Hari. Once more have I taken birth as the celebrated Krishna-Dwaipayana, a delighter of the race of Vasishtha. I have thus told you, my dear disciples, the circumstances, of my own former birth which was due to the grace of Narayana in so much that I was a very portion of Narayana himself.

Bhishma's father Shantanu was the rebirth of King Mahabhisha. It is stated in this chapter of Adi Parva:

One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for this cursed by Brahman, who said, 'Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse

This chapter of Harivamsa, the appendix chapter of Mahabharata describes Vasudeva was the incarnation of Kashyapa, Devaki and Rohini was the incarnations of Aditi and Surabhi.

  1. O Narayana, in the days of yore, in the great sacrifice of the high-souled Varuna, Kashyapa stole away all the cows giving milk for the sacrifice.
  1. Kashyapa had two wives, Aditi and Surabhi who did not wish to accept the kine from Varuna.
  1. Thereupon coming to me and bowing with his head down Varuna said "O revered one, the preceptor has stolen away all my kine.
  1. Having accomplished his object, even, O father, he has not ordered the return of those kine. He is under the control of his two wives Aditi and Surabhi.
  1. O lord, all those my kine give heavenly and eternal milk whenever wished. Protected by their own power they range in the seas.
  1. They perpetually yeild milk like unto the ambrosia of gods. Save Kashyapa there is none else who can charm them.
  1. O Brahma, a master, a preceptor or whoever he may be if one goes astray you dost control him. You are our supreme refuge.
  1. O preceptor of the world, if punishment is not meted out to powerful persons who do not know their own work, then the order of the world will not exist.
  1. You are omnipotent and lord of all. Do you give me my kine, I will go then to the ocean.
  1. These kine are my soul—they are my endless strength. Of all your creation the kine and the Brahmanas are the eternal sources of energy.
  1. First of all the kine should be saved. When they are saved they protect the Brahmanas. The world is upheld by the protection of the kine and Brahmanas".
  1. O Acyuta, thus addressed by Varuna, the king of water, and being truly informed of the pilfering of the kine I imprecated a curse on Kashyapa.
  1. With that portion, in which the high-souled Kashyapa stole the kine, he will be born as a milkman on earth.
  1. His two wives Surabhi and Aditi, who are like pieces of wood for the birth of gods, will also go with him.

35-36. Being born as a milkman with them he will live there happily. That portion of Kashyapa, equally powerful like himself, will pass by the name of Vasudeva and will live amongst the kine on earth. Near Mathura there is a mountain by name Govardhana.

37-38. Paying tribute to Kamsa he lives there being attached to kine. His two wives Aditi and Surabhi are born as the two wives of Vasudeva by name Devaki and Rohini.

Expect this, Vishnu's Dasavataras was mentioned in this chapter of Santi Parva in Mahabharata.

Appearing in the forms of a swan (Hansa), a tortoise (Kurma), a fish (Matsya), O foremost of regenerate ones, I shall then display myself as a boar (Varaha), then as a Man-lion (Nrisingha), then as a dwarf(Vamana), then as Rama of Bhrigu’s race (Parashurama), then as Rama, the son of Dasaratha, then as Krishna the scion of the Sattvata race, and lastly as Kalki.

Samba was the incarnation of Lord Kartikeya. It is mentioned in this chapter of Bhagavata Purana.

  1. Oh gentle Uddhava! Is Sāmba, the son of Kṛṣṇa, and similar to him, the chief of warriors who ride chariots in battles, happy? Is the god Kārttikeya whom Pārvatī bore in the former birth and whom Jāmbavatī gave birth (as a son) after performing many severe observances, happy?

Everyone belived Subhadra is the rebirth Yogamaya/Trijata. But, actually Subhadra was the rebirth of Madhavi. It is stated in this chapter of Skanda Purana.

You must log in to answer this question.

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