Is yugāvatāra a well-defined term in the scriptures or just a pet name assigned by devotees to their Ishta-deva (worshipable deity) whom they consider to be the most important for that yuga?

Are they the same in various mahāyugas, or changing, like in one Kali-yuga Buddha is the principal, in another — Kalki?

Šrī Satya Sai and Šrī Rāmakrišna wear the title and Šrī Krišna Caitanya is also called "yugāvatāra" by followers, all related only to this particular Kali-yuga. Is there a more complete list?

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    Can you specify which text prescribe Buddha as the principal Avatara in Kali-yuga? Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 6:55
  • @VineetMenon Buddha's predominance was an intentionally concocted example to be defeated. A quick web search gives Sri Satya Sai, Shri Ramakrishna and Krishna Chaitanya as the top candidates for this age. For other ages, there is prabhupadabooks.com/cc/madhya/20/330
    – MKaama
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 7:52
  • This age as in? Kali Yuga? Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 14:51
  • Spiritual answer: avatara = one who is realized from birth. yugavatara = one who is realized from birth and has taken birth in this yuga. All avatars mentioned by OP were born realized, they didn't have to do penance (or sadhana) to realize. Thus they are all yugavataras. And there are many more! As for who is the principal avatara for this age? All are serving different missions, but in reality all are one and the same being (God incarnated as man)!
    – Sai
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


For every yuga, there is the principal process of self-realization:

  • satya — meditation
  • dvāpara — sacrifice
  • trētā — deity worship
  • kali — chanting of the Holy Name.

(Gautama muni switched dvāpara/trētā of this mahāyuga, so trētā was the one with sacrifices and dvāpara was the one with deity worship.)

Yugāvatāra is the messenger of God who establishes the religious process of the age.

Thus, there is only one yugāvatāra per age, and they are different in different yugas and mahāyugas. Chaitanya Charitāmrita Madhya ch.20 gives the only logical explanation. However, I still have no information about other yugas. Most likely, Krishna is not the yugāvatāra of the recent dvāpara-yuga, because he appeared at the very end, too late to establish the yuga-dharma.

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    If I am not wrong , trētā yuga for sacrifice and dvāpara is for deity worshipping.
    – tekkk
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 19:21
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    @sysinit By the way, deity worship is an imprecise term for the activity done in the Dwapara Yuga. Worship of Vishnu was done in all four Yugas, it was just the method that diferred. In the Dwapara Yuga, the method was worshiping Vishnu in person using Pancharatra Agamas. I quote the Srimad Bhagavatam in my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/2150/36 "[I]n Dvāpara-yuga men who desire to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme enjoyer, worship Him in the mood of honoring a great king, following the prescriptions of both the Vedas and tantras." Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 0:59
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    @sysinit Vishnu takes incarnations in all different Yugas, but in the Dwapara Yuga he incarnates in such a way that he can be worshipped in person. So in the case of Krishna, it was publicly proclaimed by sages that he was an incarnation of Vishnu, as I discuss in this answer, so people could go and worship Krishna knowing that he was an incarnation of Vishnu. This is in contrast to Rama, who for the most part wasn't known to be an incarnation of Vishnu, so any service people did to him was done "by accident" in a sense. Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 1:02
  • If rama wasn’t publicly known as incarnation of vishnu, Then how did shabari, Hanuman offer services to him? So Rama was found to be incarnation of Vishnu , only after he departed earth?
    – tekkk
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 2:56
  • @sysinit Well, the Ramayana never mentions Hanuman knowing that Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu, but lots of people think he did know, by some divine means, not because it was public knowledge. As far as Shabari goes, I don't think she knew, but the reason she was waiting for Rama and Lakshmana is that sage Matanga knew that Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu, so Matanga's disciples told Shabari to wait for them: valmikiramayan.net/aranya/sarga74/aranyaitrans74.htm#Verse15. Gods and trikalajnani sages knew the truth, but otherwise it wasn't publicly known. Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 8:11

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