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Guna-avataras

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

SB 1.2.22, Purport:

The speciality of devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is specifically mentioned herein. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the svayaṁ-rūpa Personality of Godhead, and all other forms of Godhead, beginning from Śrī Baladeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna and Nārāyaṇa and extending to the puruṣa-avatāras, guṇa-avatāras, līlā-avatāras, yuga-avatāras and many other thousands of manifestations of the Personality of Godhead, are Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa's plenary portions and integrated parts. The living entities are separated parts and parcels of the Personality of Godhead. Therefore Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa is the original form of Godhead, and He is the last word in the Transcendence.

SB Canto 4

SB 4.6.43, Purport:

In this verse the word śiva-śakti is significant. Śiva means "auspicious," and śakti means "energy." There are many types of energies of the Supreme Lord, and all of them are auspicious. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara are called guṇa-avatāras, or incarnations of material qualities. In the material world we compare these different incarnations from different angles of vision, but since all of them are expansions of the supreme auspicious, all of them are auspicious, although sometimes we consider one quality of nature to be higher or lower than another. The mode of ignorance, or tamo-guṇa, is considered very much lower than the others, but in the higher sense it is also auspicious.

SB 4.7.51, Purport:

There are 8,400,000 life forms. The same living entity acts under the influence of the different qualities of material nature. The entities have different bodies, but originally, in the beginning of creation, Lord Viṣṇu is alone. For the purpose of creation, Brahmā is manifested, and for annihilation there is Lord Śiva. As far as the spiritual entrance into the material world is concerned, all beings are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but under the covering of different material qualities they have different names. Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are qualitative incarnations of Viṣṇu, as guṇa-avatāras, and Viṣṇu with them accepts control of the quality of goodness; therefore He is also a qualitative incarnation like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā. Actually the different names exist for different directions, otherwise the origin is one only.

SB 4.17.6-7, Purport:

Lord Kṛṣṇa is also known as avatārī, which means, "one from whom all the incarnations emanate." In Bhagavad-gītā (10.8) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me." Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa is the origin of everyone's appearance. As far as this material world is concerned, Lord Brahmā, Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva are all emanations from Kṛṣṇa. These three incarnations of Kṛṣṇa are called guṇa-avatāras. The material world is governed by three material modes of nature, and Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva respectively take charge of the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Mahārāja Pṛthu is also an incarnation of those qualities of Lord Kṛṣṇa by which one rules over conditioned souls.

SB 4.30.24, Purport:

In the previous verse it has been said (gṛhīta-māyā-guṇa-vigrahāya) that the Lord accepts three kinds of bodies (Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Śiva) for the purposes of creating, maintaining and annihilating the cosmic manifestation. The three predominating deities of the material universe (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva) are called guṇa-avatāras. There are many kinds of incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the first incarnations within this material world are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara (Śiva). Out of these three, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva accept material bodies, but Lord Viṣṇu does not accept a material body. Lord Viṣṇu is therefore known as viśuddha-sattva. His existence is completely free from the contamination of the material modes of nature. One should therefore not think that Lord Viṣṇu is in the same category with Lord Brahmā and Śiva. The śāstras forbid us to think in this way.

SB Canto 8

SB 8.1.2, Purport:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead has different varieties of incarnations, including the guṇa-avatāras, manvantara-avatāras, līlā-avatāras and yuga-avatāras, all of which are described in the śāstras. Without reference to the śāstras there can be no question of accepting anyone as an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, as especially mentioned here, gṛṇanti kavayaḥ: the descriptions of various incarnations are accepted by great learned scholars with perfect intelligence. At the present time, especially in India, so many rascals are claiming to be incarnations, and people are being misled. Therefore, the identity of an incarnation should be confirmed by the descriptions of the śāstras and by wonderful activities. As described in this verse by the word mahīyasaḥ, the activities of an incarnation are not ordinary magic or jugglery, but are wonderful activities.

SB 8.5.21, Translation and Purport:

Lord Brahmā said: I, Lord Śiva, all of you demigods, the demons, the living entities born of perspiration, the living beings born of eggs, the trees and plants sprouting from the earth, and the living entities born from embryos—all come from the Supreme Lord, from His incarnation of rajo-guṇa (Lord Brahmā, the guṇa-avatāra) and from the great sages (ṛṣis) who are part of me. Let us therefore go to the Supreme Lord and take shelter of His lotus feet.

Some creatures are born from embryos, some from perspiration, and some from seeds. In this way, all living entities emanate from the guṇa-avatāra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ultimately, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the shelter of all living entities.

SB 8.7.23, Translation and Purport:

O lord, you are self-effulgent and supreme. You create this material world by your personal energy, and you assume the names Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara when you act in creation, maintenance and annihilation.

This prayer is actually offered to Lord Viṣṇu, the puruṣa, who in His incarnations as the guṇa-avatāras assumes the names Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara.

SB 8.12.4, Purport:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, resides within the material world as the sattva-guṇa-avatāra. Lord Śiva is the tamo-guṇa-avatāra, and Lord Brahmā is the rajo-guṇa-avatāra, but although Lord Viṣṇu is among them, He is not in the same category. Lord Viṣṇu is deva-deva, the chief of all the demigods. Since Lord Śiva is in this material world, the energy of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, includes Lord Śiva. Lord Viṣṇu is therefore called jagad-vyāpī, "the all-pervading Lord." Lord Śiva is sometimes called Maheśvara, and so people think that Lord Śiva is everything. But here Lord Śiva addresses Lord Viṣṇu as Jagad-īśa, "the master of the universe." Lord Śiva is sometimes called Viśveśvara, but here he addresses Lord Viṣṇu as Jagan-maya, indicating that even Viśveśvara is under Lord Viṣṇu's control. Lord Viṣṇu is the master of the spiritual world, yet He controls the material world also, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram (BG 9.10)).

SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13

SB 10.3 Summary:

The Lord, the cause of all causes, is beyond material existence, although He is the creator of this material world. When He enters this world as Paramātmā, He is all-pervading (aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham (Bs. 5.35)), yet He is transcendentally situated. For the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this material world, the Lord appears as the guṇa-avatāras-Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara. Thus Vasudeva offered prayers full of meaning to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Devakī followed her husband by offering prayers describing the transcendental nature of the Lord. Fearing Kaṁsa and desiring that the Lord not be understood by atheistic and materialistic nondevotees, she prayed that the Lord withdraw His transcendental four-armed form and appear like an ordinary child with two hands.

SB 10.9.21, Purport:

Although the nitya-siddha expansions of Kṛṣṇa always remain with Kṛṣṇa, if those engaged in sādhana-siddhi follow in the footsteps of Kṛṣṇa's nitya-siddha associates, such sādhana-siddhas also can easily attain Kṛṣṇa without difficulty. But there are those who are attached to bodily concepts of life. Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, for example, have very prestigious positions, and thus they have the sense of being very exalted īśvaras. In other words, because Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are guṇa-avatāras and have exalted positions, they have some small sense of being like Kṛṣṇa. But the pure devotees who inhabit Vṛndāvana do not possess any bodily conception. They are fully dedicated to the service of the Lord in sublime affection, premā. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore recommended, premā pum-artho mahān: the highest perfection of life is premā, pure love in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. And mother Yaśodā appears to be the topmost of devotees who have attained this perfection.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Madhya-lila

CC Madhya 20 Summary:

First they discussed the constitutional position of the living entities, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained to Sanātana Gosvāmī how the living entity is one of Lord Kṛṣṇa's energies. After this, the Lord explained the way of devotional service. While discussing the Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord analyzed Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān, as well as the expansions of the Lord called svayaṁ-rūpa, tad-ekātma and āveśa, which are divided into various branches known as vaibhava and prābhava. Thus the Lord described the many forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He also described the incarnations of God within the material world, incarnations such as the puruṣa-avatāras, manvantara-avatāras, guṇa-avatāras and śaktyāveśa-avatāras. The Lord also discussed the divisions of Kṛṣṇa's different ages, such as bālya and paugaṇḍa, and the different pastimes of the different ages. He explained how Kṛṣṇa attained His permanent form when He reached youth. In this way Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained and described everything to Sanātana Gosvāmī.

CC Madhya 20.246, Translation and Purport:

“There are incarnations that control the material qualities (guṇa-avatāras), incarnations associated with the reign of each Manu (manvantara-avatāras), incarnations in different millenniums (yuga-avatāras) and incarnations of empowered living entities (śaktyāveśa-avatāras).

The guṇa-avatāras are three—Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu (SB 10.88.3). The avatāras associated with the reign of each Manu, known as manvantara-avatāras, are listed as follows in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Eighth Canto, chapters 1, 5 and 13): (1) Yajña, (2) Vibhu, (3) Satyasena, (4) Hari, (5) Vaikuṇṭha, (6) Ajita, (7) Vāmana, (8) Sārvabhauma, (9) Ṛṣabha, (10) Viṣvaksena, (11) Dharmasetu, (12) Sudhāmā, (13) Yogeśvara and (14) Bṛhadbhānu. All together these are fourteen in number, and of these, Yajña and Vāmana are also counted among the līlā-avatāras. All these manvantara incarnations are sometimes called vaibhava-avatāras.

CC Madhya 20.294, Translation:

“The third expansion of Viṣṇu is Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is the incarnation of the quality of goodness. He is to be counted within both types of incarnations (puruṣa-avatāras and guṇa-avatāras).

CC Madhya 20.300, Translation:

“I have given a few examples of pastime incarnations. Now I will describe the guṇa-avatāras, the incarnations of the material qualities. Please listen.

CC Madhya 20.309, Purport:

Of the three deities supervising the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the universe, Lord Viṣṇu is never separate from the original Viṣṇu. However, Lord Śiva and Brahmā, due to their association with māyā, are different from Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu cannot be transformed into any form of material energy. Whenever there is association with māyā, the personality involved must be different from Lord Viṣṇu. Therefore Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are called guṇa-avatāras, for they associate with the material qualities. The conclusion is that Rudra is not exactly Lord Viṣṇu but rather a transformation of Viṣṇu. Therefore, he does not come within the category of the viṣṇu-tattvas. Thus he is inconceivably one with Viṣṇu and different from Him. The example given in this verse is very clear. Milk is compared to Viṣṇu. As soon as milk touches a sour substance, it becomes yogurt, or Lord Śiva. Although yogurt is constitutionally milk, it cannot be used in place of milk.

CC Madhya 20.348, Translation:

“As stated before when I described the incarnations of the material modes (guṇa-avatāras), one should consider that these incarnations also are unlimited and that no one can count them.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Teachings of Lord Caitanya

Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 7:

There are six kinds of incarnations: (1) the puruṣa-avatāra, (2) the līlā-avatāra, (3) the guṇa-avatāra, (4) the manvantara-avatāra, (5) the yuga-avatāra, and (6) the śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Out of the six vilāsa manifestations of Kṛṣṇa, there are two divisions based on His age, and these are called bālya and paugaṇḍa. As the son of Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa in His original form enjoys both of these childhood aspects—namely bālya and paugaṇḍa.

Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 7:

A list of incarnations is given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.3), and they are as follows: (1) Kumāras, (2) Nārada, (3) Varāha, (4) Matsya, (5) Yajña, (6) Nara-nārāyaṇa, (7) Kārdami Kapila, (8) Dattātreya, (9) Hayaśīrṣa, (10) Haṁsa, (1 1) Dhruvapriya or Pṛśnigarbha, (12) Ṛṣabha, (13) Pṛthu, (14) Nṛsiṁha, (15) Kūrma, (16) Dhanvantari, (17) Mohinī, (18) Vāmana, (19) Bhārgava (Paraśurāma), (20) Rāghavendra, (21) Vyāsa, (22) Pralambāri Balarāma, (23) Kṛṣṇa, (24) Buddha (25) Kalki. Because almost all of these twenty-five līlā-avatāras appear in one day of Brahmā, which is called a kalpa, they are sometimes called kalpa-avatāras. Out of these, the incarnation of Haṁsa and Mohinī are not permanent, but Kapila, Dattātreya, Ṛṣabha, Dhanvantari and Vyāsa are five eternal forms, and they are more celebrated. The incarnations of the tortoise Kūrma, the fish Matsya, Nara-nārāyaṇa, Varāha, Hayaśīrṣa, Pṛśnigarbha, and Balarāma are considered to be incarnations of vaibhava. Similarly, there are three guṇa-avatāras, or incarnations of the qualitative modes of nature, and these are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva.

Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 8:

As far as the guṇa-avatāras, or qualitative incarnations of Viṣṇu, are concerned, they are three—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Brahmā is one of the living entities, but due to his devotional service he is very powerful. This primal living entity, master of the mode of material passion, is directly empowered by the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu to create innumerable living entities. In Brahma-saṁhitā (5.49) Brahmā is likened to valuable jewels influenced by the rays of the sun, and the sun is likened to the Supreme Lord Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. If in some kalpa there is no suitable living entity capable of acting in Brahmā's capacity, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu Himself manifests as Brahmā and acts accordingly.

Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 8:

After describing the Līlā and guṇa-avatāras, Lord Caitanya explains the manvantara-avatāras to Sanātana Gosvāmī. He first states that there is no possibility of counting the manvantara-avatāras. In one kalpa, or one day of Brahmā, fourteen Manus are manifest. One day of Brahmā is calculated at 4 billion 320 million years, and Brahmā lives for one hundred years on this scale. Thus if fourteen Manus appear in one day of Brahmā, there are 420 Manus during one month of Brahmā, and during one year of Brahmā there are 5,040 Manus. Since Brahmā lives for one hundred of his years, it is calculated that there are 504,000 Manus manifest during the lifetime of one Brahmā. Since there are innumerable universes, no one can imagine the totality of the manvantara incarnations.

Renunciation Through Wisdom

Renunciation Through Wisdom 4.4:

We would like to inform Dr. Radhakrishnan, however, that when the Supreme Lord empowers a jīva with His divine potency so that the jīva can carry out some specific work, then that jīva is known as a śaktyāveśa avatāra. But this is not the only type of incarnation. The scriptures describe innumerable incarnations of the Supreme Lord, such as svayaṁ-rūpa, svayaṁ-prakāśa, āveśa, vilāsa, prābhava, vaibhava, yuga-avatāra, puruṣa-avatāra, guṇa-avatāra, and manvantara-avatāra. If we calculate the duration of one manvantara-avātara's life, it comes to an incredible number of years—more than three hundred million.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 7.7 -- Vrndavana, August 13, 1974:

There is controversy... In another place Kṛṣṇa says, aham ādir hi devānām (Bg 10.2). He is the origin of all demigods. The principal demigods are Viṣṇu and Maheśvara and... Maheśvara means Lord Śiva. And Brahmā. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara. So Kṛṣṇa is the origin of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara. They are guṇa-avatāra. For maintaining this material world... The material world is composed of three guṇas: sattva, rajas, tamas. So the director of the sattva-guṇa department is Lord Viṣṇu, and the director of the rajo-guṇa department is Lord Brahmā, and the director of the tamo-guṇa department is Lord Śiva.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 3.25.3 -- Bombay, November 3, 1974:

So we have to learn from the śāstra that Kṛṣṇa is the origin, Bhagavān. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). All the viṣṇu-tattvas, all the incarnations, they are plenary expansion of Kṛṣṇa, and... Or expansion of the expansion. Thousands and thousands. Millions. Just like there are waves in the ocean and the river, similarly there are incarnations, many thousands. Śaktyāveśa-avatāra, guṇa-avatāra, svayam avatāra... Many avatāras. They are described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So all these avatāras are svacchandātmā. There is no cares and anxiety. Just like if we organize a business or some management, we have got so many anxieties. Even he's a managing director or proprietor or the supreme person in some establishment, he has got so many anxieties. He's not very happy.

Lecture on SB 7.9.11-13 -- Hawaii, March 24, 1969:

The whole world is darkness. So these demigods... Similarly, Lord Śiva is in charge of destroying, tamo-guṇa. When there will be necessity of destroying this whole thing... Because this world is like that. Everything that is created, that must be destroyed. Your body is being created from the father and mother. Now it is being maintained. So creation and maintenance, and then a time will come—it will be destroyed. So these, these three departments are there. So for creative department of this material world, Lord Brahma; for maintenance department, Lord Viṣṇu Himself; and for destruction, Lord Śiva. These are the guṇa avatāras, three, trinity. One is creating, one is maintaining...

Lecture on SB 7.9.32 -- Mayapur, March 10, 1976:

So the same principle is applicable to the whole cosmic creation, that even within the ant the same principle, within Brahmā the same principle, and within the gigantic universe, the same principle. Without the spirit soul, there is no question of creation. Creation, maintenance and destruction, three things are going on on account of presence of the Supreme Soul. Therefore the three principal deities—Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara—are there, guṇa-avatāra. He is not within the guṇa; therefore He expands Himself as guṇāvatāra: sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. But He's turya of the guṇas. Just like if we enter into the fire, we'll be burned, but sometimes the fire brigade men, they enter into the fire... They have got suit and contradictory dress that they can enter into the fire. Similarly, māyā... Māyā is very strong, but Kṛṣṇa, the Lord, when He comes within this material world—yuge yuge sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā (BG 4.6)—He comes in His own original turya status.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.281-293 -- New York, December 18, 1966:

And when these material worlds or universes are to be annihilated, the same Viṣṇu in His form of Lord Śiva, Rudra-rūpa, He annihilates. So Viṣṇu creates, and Lord Śiva annihilates, and Brahmā is in charge of this universe.

brahmā, viṣṇu, śiva-tāṅra guṇa-avatāra
sṛṣṭi-sthiti-pralayera tinera adhikāra

Now, this material world is created, it is, it stays for some time, and it is again annihilated. Just we have seen in the Bhagavad-gītā, bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate (BG 8.19). This is the nature. This material nature is like that. Just like you have seen one lamp. Once it is extinguished; once it is light. Similarly, there is creation, there is maintenance and there is annihilation of this material world.

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.281-293 -- New York, December 18, 1966:

First of all, the everything is, the principle, the material principle ingredients and the guṇas and the everything is created by Viṣṇu. Then, the secondary creation, with those ingredients, all these planetary system, everything, is created by Brahmā. So Brahmā is also a secondary creator. And then Viṣṇu maintains. Just like to a carpenter you give wood and planks and materials and screw and other thing, and the carpenter makes a very good cabinet, and you maintain that, similarly, this brahmāṇḍa, the secondary creation, is Brahmā, and Viṣṇu is the maintainer, and when it is to be destroyed, it is destroyed by Lord Śiva. These three guṇāvatāras. Brahmā, viṣṇu, siva-tāṅra guṇa-avatāra. They are incarnations of Kṛṣṇa's guṇa. So in other words, it is to be understood that these three guṇas, they are also coming from Kṛṣṇa, three guṇas. So therefore, for Kṛṣṇa, there is no such distinction.

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.281-293 -- New York, December 18, 1966:

If the prisoner thinks, "Oh, he is also one of the prisoners because he has come here," this is nonsense. He is not prisoner. Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa comes in this material world, if a foolish man thinks that he is also one of us, he is foolish number one. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritāḥ: (BG 9.11) "Foolish persons, they think that I am one of them." These examples are very nice. We can understand.

So here it is stated that Viṣṇu...,

brahmā, viṣṇu, śiva-tāṅra guṇa-avatāra
sṛṣṭi-sthiti-pralayera tinera adhikāra
hiraṇyagarbha-antaryāmi-garbhodakaśāyī
'sahasra-śīrṣādi' kari' vede yāṅre gāi

In the Vedas there is a prayer, Sahasra-śīrṣā. That is very famous prayer. That prayer is offered to this Viṣṇu. Which Viṣṇu? The Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, the Viṣṇu who has entered in every universe, that Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.294-298 -- New York, December 19, 1966:
tṛtīya-puruṣa viṣṇu-'guṇa-avatāra'
dui avatāra-bhitara gaṇanā tāṅhāra
virāṭ vyaṣṭi-jīvera teṅho antaryāmī

kṣīrodakaśāyī teṅho-pālana-kartā, svāmī

So Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu; then next Viṣṇu, the third incarnation, is Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. Within this universe there is a planet near the polestar which is called Kṣīrodakaśāyī planet, and there Lord Viṣṇu in His incarnation of antaryāmi, Supersoul... He is acting as the Supersoul. And He is the universal form. When you think of universal form of the Lord, that is the manifestation of this Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. And that Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu as Paramātmā, Supersoul, is situated in everyone's heart, even within the atom also. Aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham (Bs. 5.35).

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.298 -- New York, December 20, 1966:

Now Lord Caitanya says, "I have mentioned some of the līlāvatāra. Now, Sanātana, you just hear from Me about guṇāvatāra." Guṇāvatāra means the incarnation of the material qualities. There are three qualities in the material world: goodness, passion and ignorance. So each quality is controlled by the Supreme Lord Himself by His expansion of different incarnation. Brahmā, viṣṇu, śiva—tina guṇa avatāra. Now on these three qualities, material modes of nature, the heads are Brahmā-Brahmā, the first living creature, Brahmā—and Viṣṇu—Viṣṇu, God Himself—and Śiva, Lord Śiva. Śiva's position is between Brahmā and Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu is God, and Brahmā is living entity.

General Lectures

Lecture -- Bombay, March 19, 1972:

Sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also said, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate (BG 10.8). Sarvam means the creative deities: Brahma, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara. They are also from Kṛṣṇa. The Brahma, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara are called guṇa-avatāras of Kṛṣṇa, incarnation of the material qualities. Brahma is incarnation of the material quality passion, rajo-guṇa, and Viṣṇu is incarnation of the quality sattva-guṇa, and Lord Siva is the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in tama-guṇa. So the example is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also, what is the difference between Lord Siva, Lord Brahma and Lord Viṣṇu. The difference is they are one but they are different manifestations. Just like firewood. In the wood there is fire. So in the beginning there is no fire, but when there is little fire, there is smoke, then there is ignition, flame.

Philosophy Discussions

Philosophy Discussion on Origen:

Prabhupāda: Viṣṇu is personal expansion, and Brahmā is expansion of the living entity, or the vibhinnāṁśa. And another expansion, via-media between the personal expansion and expansion of jīva, the via-media expansion is called Śiva. So the material creation is done by personal expansion primarily—the whole material ingredients, and then with the ingredients the guṇa-avatāra, Brahmā, he creates particularly. And Lord Śiva, when the time is right, he annihilates. So this creation, material creation, is created, maintained for sometimes, and again dissolved or annihilated. Bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate (BG 8.19). This is the nature of the external potency. There are others, detailed information, described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, but the jīvas, or the living entities, they are considered as the sons, and they have got two positions: one liberated position, one conditioned position.

Philosophy Discussion on St. Augustine:

Prabhupāda: They... It is, our Vedic conception is also like that, that the mankind has come from Manu. From Manu, human being, or manuṣya... The Sanskrit word is manuṣya, "coming from Manu." So Manu is also coming from Brahmā. In this way, as the conception of a first creature, Adam, similarly, a first living being is Lord Brahmā. Therefore our proposition is that a living being coming from the living being. Brahmā is living being, or Adam is living being. Then the living being does not come from matter. Brahmā is also coming from the Supreme Lord as raja-guṇa avatāra, incarnation of raja-guṇa. So all living being, they are coming from the Supreme Living Being. So Brahmā is also the first creature within this universe.

... more about "Guna-avataras"
Visnu Murti +  and Matea +
November 16, 0008 JL +
September 30, 0010 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 11 +, CC: 6 +, OB: 5 +, Lec: 12 +, Conv: 0 +  and Let: 0 +