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It is said that Vyasa is the Jnana Avatar of Vishnu Bhagawan. Narada is said to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu. How far is this true?

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Yes, they are incarnations of Vishnu. This chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam lists 22 of the countless incarnations Vishnu has taken, and in particular it says this:

In the millennium of the ṛṣis, the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarṣi Nārada, who is a great sage among the demigods. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action....

Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Śrī Vyāsadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavatī through Parāśara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and subbranches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.

By the way, Vyasa isn't the only one who has ever divided the Vedas; see my answer here.

  • Huh. The same answer! :p – Surya Nov 6 '15 at 15:53
  • @Surya Haha yeah, you posted three seconds after I posted :-) – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 6 '15 at 15:56
  • @KeshavSrinivasan what's the main purpose of Narada avatar? – The Destroyer Nov 6 '15 at 16:35
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    @sysinit In any case, it is possible for an ordinary Jiva to become a partial incarnation; in fact Vyasa's previous birth was a sage named Apantaratamas, who was an ordinary Jiva. Apantaratamas compiled the Vedas in the Swaymbhuva Manvantara, and Vishnu was so pleased that he gave Apantaratamas the boon that he would be reborn as a partial incarnation of Vishnu. What that means is that the soul of Vyasa was a sort of like a combination of Apantaratamas' soul and Vishnu. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 11 '15 at 18:00
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    @sysinit I can try to find the Narada reference for you. As far as who the Brahma would have been, chapter 339 of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata lists some previous Brahmas: sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12c038.htm And the story of Apantaratamas is told in chapter 350 of the Shanti Parva: sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12c049.htm. By the way, both chapter 339 and chapter 350 are part of a very important section called the Narayaniya section, which goes from chapter 335-352: sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12c034.htm I highly recommend you (and everyone else) read it. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 11 '15 at 18:26
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Yes, in the Bhagavatam, 1st Canto, 3rd Chapter, there is a list of avataras of Vishnu:

Verse 8: In the millennium of the ṛṣis, the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarṣi Nārada, who is a great sage among the demigods. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action.

And then,

Verse 21: Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Śrī Vyāsadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavatī through Parāśara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and subbranches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.

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    OK, this is getting freaky. Now we posted the same answer within three seconds of each other! – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 6 '15 at 15:54
  • Coincidental. So should I delete, or keep it as an evidence of freakiness? – Surya Nov 6 '15 at 15:59
  • Haha, I know it's a coincidence, it's just funny we did it two times in a row. We posted at the same time, so feel free to delete or not delete. It's up to you. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 6 '15 at 16:00

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