Krishna as avatarin?

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 15 16:47:45 UTC 2000

The Bhagavata does not support this particular Krishnaite claim
(despite strained exegeses on 1.3.28); nor, to my knowledge, do any
other Puranas. Bhagavata 1.3.3-5 describes the source of all avataras
(naanaavataaraa.naa.m nidhaanam) -- including Krishna -- as a
  particular form (bhagavato ruupa.m vizuddha.m sattvam) endowed with
  thousands of limbs, etc (sahasrapaadorubhujaananaadbhutam). The
  10th skandha dealing with Krishna's life also explicitly portrays
  him as an avatara of Vishnu (10.1.2: a.mzenaavatiir.nasya,

I can't say for sure about the Alvar writings as such, but the
tradition which has perpetuated them -- Sri Vaishnavism -- does not
regard Krishna as avatarin. To my present knowledge, such Krishnaite
theology appears to be a North Indian phenomenon. As mentioned by
Shrisha Rao (thank you, SR), Madhva -- another southern Vaishnava
theologian -- explicitly rejects the doctrine. Interesting, that,
considering that certain Gaudiyas trace their succession back to

  It is likely that Alvar poems or CT do not explicitly say that
  Krishna is the avatarin. However: When one reads sangam
  or alvar corpus, the Krishna themes dominate far exceeding
  in import than any other avatar. In Alvars, we can find
  Krishna theme more important than the rest of avatars inside a
  single poem when several avatars mentioned. It is also interesting
  that the "karumaNi" (black jewel) sleeping in Srirangam  sung by
  the Alvars, or the "kaTalvaNNan" (god whose colour is like the sea,
  = Vishnu) of the buddhist maNimEkalai, that Vishnu is black is
  not found in Sanskrit, so much so, I think, that led
  F. Hardy (virahabhakti) to suggest that early Tamils knew
  only about Krishna avatar.

  V. Iyer
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