This chapter of the Matsya Purana enumerates various incarnations that Vishnu has taken during the course of the Vaivasvata Manvantara (i.e. the present Manvantara). But along with each incarnation, it also lists an "officiating priest". Here are the priests listed for the different incarnations:

       Avatara of Vishnu              Officiating Priest

  1. Dharma                                Brahma

  2. Narasimha                            Rudra

  3. Vamana                                Dharma

  4. Dattatreya                            Markandeya

  5. Mandhata                             Uttanga

  6. Parashurama                       Vishwamitra

  7. Rama                                   Vasishta

  8. Dwaipayana Vedavyasa      Jatukarnya

  9. Buddha                                Dwaipayana Vedavyasa

  10. Kalki                                     Parasharya Vedavyasa

My question is, why is there an "officiating priest" for each incarnation of Vishnu? What exactly is their role?

I can understand Vasishta's association with Rama, since he was Rama's guru, but for instance why is the sage Markandeya considered the officiating priest of Dattatreya (whom I discuss in this answer), and why is Yama god of death considered the officiating priest of Vamana the dwarf?

  • this is interesting because of the supposed numbering of incarnations mentioned. It says that Dattatreyar was in the first Treta yuga, while parashurama was in the 19th treta yuga and finally rama in 24th treta, which implies a space of 16 millions of years between parashurama and rama (each mahayuga is ~4.3 million years!!) and between rama and krishna. are there other texts that speak of this kind of a gap?? Thanks
    – Sai
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 18:49
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    @Sai Rama living in the 24th Treta Yuga is attested in numerous Hindu scriptures; see my answer here for some of them: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/7189/36 As far as Parashurama goes, in this question I provided an excerpt from the Skanda Purana which also says that he was born in the 19th Mahayuga: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/7194/36 By the way, if I remember correctly, Parashurama's killing of the kings was actually done in a previous Kali Yuga; he was like the Kalki of that Mahayuga who restored Dharma when the kings got too corrupt. Commented May 6, 2015 at 19:53
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    @Naveen We're not talking about the Dashavataram here. (And as we've discussed before, the notion of the Dasavataram doesn't really have a basis in Hindu scripture.) This is just a list of ten incarnations that Vishnu has taken in the Vaivasvata (present) Manvantara. (That's why Matsya, Kurma, and Varaha aren't listed - they came earlier in the Kalpa.). And it's not even a comprehensive list of the Vaivasavata Manvantara incarnations - Krishna isn't listed either. So the fact that Buddha is listed as number 9 as opposed to some other number doesn't have much significance. Commented May 9, 2015 at 0:51
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    @Naveen Well, there's a very good reason why Vishnu would take an incarnation that rejected the Vedas, and that was to delude the Asuras. See my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/4021/36 Commented May 9, 2015 at 0:59
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    Like for example, Rama was assisted by vasistha in his early days, training him to face Ravana, so in that way he 'officiated' the avatara. Parashurama was born due to the wrong intake of potions by his grandmother and greatgrandmother, and his 'qualities' were transferred to Vishwamitra, whereas Vishwamitra's qualities were passed to him - in that way Vishwamitra could be an adhvaryu. (Since this is speculation, I am posting it as a comment and not an answer.) 2/2
    – Surya
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 10:32

1 Answer 1


It's simple. Paramatma can be realized through a jivatma only. When a person reaches a level of conscious only then will he be able to visualize the superconscious state?

Now let us take an example :

Today in the present context, like let us take an average of 50 years from 2018. There was a dire need in people's conscious to live a world where it would give them a physical plane of larger than a life but would seem normal to them, hence people like Steve jobs came into life and today we have seen revolutions like iPhone.

Summary: When the jivatmas of the universe all of them or a larger portion of them start to feed a thought into the cosmos, the cosmos to balance or nullify that thought will feed an answer which matches the level of thought with which it was created and fed.

Hence we see Krishna after Rama and not vice versa.So it needs a key or one jivatma to open the cosmic portal in a certain way as required by the jivatmas of the universe.Just like a key which is just 3 inches can open a door of 6 feet.


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