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Saktyavesa-avataras (Books)

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Expressions researched:
"saktyavesa avatara" |"saktyavesa avataras" |"saktyavesa-avatara" |"saktyavesa-avataras" |"saktyavesavatara" |"saktyavesavataras"

Notes from the compiler: Quote under SB 10.1.69 Purport is from "Additional Notes for this Chapter"

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 3

Such empowered representatives are called śaktyāveśa-avatāras, or incarnations invested with transcendental power of attorney.
SB 3.5.21, Purport:

Your good self is one of the eternal associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead for whose sake the Lord, while going back to His abode, left instructions with me."

Yamarāja, the great controller of life after death, decides the living entities' destinies in their next lives. He is surely among the most confidential representatives of the Lord. Such confidential posts are offered to great devotees of the Lord who are as good as His eternal associates in the spiritual sky. And because Vidura happened to be among them, the Lord, while returning to Vaikuṇṭha, left instructions for Vidura with Maitreya Muni. Generally the eternal associates of the Lord in the spiritual sky do not come to the material world. Sometimes they come, however, by the order of the Lord—not to hold any administrative post, but to associate with the Lord in person or to propagate the message of God in human society. Such empowered representatives are called śaktyāveśa-avatāras, or incarnations invested with transcendental power of attorney.

SB Canto 4

Such incarnations, empowered for specific purposes, are known as śaktyāveśa-avatāras.
SB 4.15.6, Purport:

In the form of King Pṛthu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has appeared through a part of His potency to protect the people of the world. The goddess of fortune is the constant companion of the Lord, and therefore she has incarnated partially as Arci to become King Pṛthu's queen."

In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that whenever one sees an extraordinary power, he should conclude that a specific partial representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is present. There are innumerable such personalities, but not all of them are direct viṣṇu-tattva plenary expansions of the Lord. Many living entities are classified among the śakti-tattvas. Such incarnations, empowered for specific purposes, are known as śaktyāveśa-avatāras. King Pṛthu was such a śaktyāveśa-avatāra of the Lord. Similarly, Arci, King Pṛthu's wife, was a śaktyāveśa-avatāra of the goddess of fortune.

He is without change, and he is an incarnation of the Supreme known as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra.
SB 4.16.19, Purport:

This King is the master of the three worlds, and he is directly empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is without change, and he is an incarnation of the Supreme known as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Being a liberated soul and completely learned, he sees all material varieties as meaningless because their basic principle is nescience."

Being a śaktyāveśa-avatāra, empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Pṛthu Mahārāja did not change his spiritual position, and consequently there was no possibility of his viewing the material world as reality.
SB 4.16.19, Purport, Purport:

Thus a learned man does not look upon the dresses that externally cover the living entity, but sees the pure soul within the varieties of dress and knows very well that the varieties of dress are the creation of nescience (avidyā-racitam). Being a śaktyāveśa-avatāra, empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Pṛthu Mahārāja did not change his spiritual position, and consequently there was no possibility of his viewing the material world as reality.

Pṛthu Mahārāja was a śaktyāveśa-avatāra incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. Actually Pṛthu Mahārāja was a living entity, but he acquired specific powers from Lord Viṣṇu.
SB 4.19.3, Purport:

In this verse the word sākṣāt is significant. Pṛthu Mahārāja was a śaktyāveśa-avatāra incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. Actually Pṛthu Mahārāja was a living entity, but he acquired specific powers from Lord Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu, however, is directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus belongs to the category of viṣṇu-tattva. Mahārāja Pṛthu belonged to the jīva-tattva. The viṣṇu-tattva indicates God, whereas the jīva-tattva indicates the part and parcel of God. When God's part and parcel is especially empowered, he is called śaktyāveśa-avatāra.

As explained before, these śaktyāveśa-avatāras are incarnations of Viṣṇu's power invested in a living entity.
SB 4.19.37, Purport:

Sometimes Lord Viṣṇu appears in His person as Lord Kṛṣṇa or Lord Rāma. All of these appearances are mentioned in the śāstras. Sometimes He appears as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra like Lord Buddha. As explained before, these śaktyāveśa-avatāras are incarnations of Viṣṇu's power invested in a living entity. Living entities are also part and parcel of Lord Viṣṇu, but they are not as powerful; therefore when a living entity descends as an incarnation of Viṣṇu, he is especially empowered by the Lord.

When King Pṛthu is described as an incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu, it should be understood that he is a śaktyāveśa-avatāra, part and parcel of Lord Viṣṇu, and is specifically empowered by Him. Any living being acting as the incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu is thus empowered by Lord Viṣṇu to preach the bhakti cult. Such a person can act like Lord Viṣṇu and defeat demons by arguments and preach the bhakti cult exactly according to the principles of śāstra. As indicated in Bhagavad-gītā, whenever we find someone extraordinary preaching the bhakti cult, we should know that he is especially empowered by Lord Viṣṇu, or Lord Kṛṣṇa. As confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Antya 7.11), kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana: one cannot explain the glories of the holy name of the Lord without being specifically empowered by Him. If one criticizes or finds fault with such an empowered personality, one is to be considered an offender against Lord Viṣṇu and is punishable.

When a living being is specifically empowered by the Supreme Lord to act for a particular purpose, he is called a śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Pṛthu Mahārāja was not only a śaktyāveśa-avatāra but also a great devotee.
SB 4.21.11, Purport:

The terms "pious" and "impious" are applicable only in reference to the activities of an ordinary living being. But Mahārāja Pṛthu was a directly empowered incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu; therefore he was not subject to the reactions of pious or impious activities. As we have already explained previously, when a living being is specifically empowered by the Supreme Lord to act for a particular purpose, he is called a śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Pṛthu Mahārāja was not only a śaktyāveśa-avatāra but also a great devotee. A devotee is not subjected to the reactions resulting from past deeds. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said, karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājām: (Bs. 5.54) for devotees the results of past pious and impious activities are nullified by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Since Pṛthu Mahārāja was a power incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, śaktyāveśa-avatāra, why did he have to execute the regulative principles in order to become a prabhu?
SB 4.23.18, Purport:

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura writes:

sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ

"The spiritual master is honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord." Thus Pṛthu Mahārāja can also be called Prabhupāda, or, as described herein, prabhu. Another question may be raised in this connection. Since Pṛthu Mahārāja was a power incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, śaktyāveśa-avatāra, why did he have to execute the regulative principles in order to become a prabhu? Because he appeared on this earth as an ideal king and because it is the duty of the king to instruct the citizens in the execution of devotional service, he followed all the regulative principles of devotional service in order to teach others.

SB Canto 6

After offering prayers to the Lord's personal expansions known as the svāṁśa and śaktyāveśa-avatāras, one should pray to the weapon.
SB 6.8 Summary:

After finishing this dedication, one must offer a prayer to the eight-armed Lord Viṣṇu, who sits on the shoulders of Garuḍadeva. One also has to think of the fish incarnation, Vāmana, Kūrma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, Paraśurāma, Rāmacandra (the elder brother of Lakṣmaṇa). Nara-Nārāyaṇa, Dattātreya (an empowered incarnation), Kapila, Sanat-kumāra, Hayagrīva, Nāradadeva (the incarnation of a devotee). Dhanvantari, Ṛṣabhadeva, Yajña, Balarāma, Vyāsadeva, Buddhadeva and Keśava. One should also think of Govinda, the master of Vṛndāvana, and one should think of Nārāyaṇa, the master of the spiritual sky. One should think of Madhusūdana, Tridhāmā, Mādhava, Hṛṣīkeśa, Padmanābha, Janārdana, Dāmodara and Viśveśvara, as well as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa Himself. After offering prayers to the Lord's personal expansions known as the svāṁśa and śaktyāveśa-avatāras, one should pray to the weapon.

SB Canto 8

Lord Brahmā creates, and Lord Śiva annihilates, but both Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are incarnations of Lord Viṣṇu and are known as śaktyāveśa-avatāras.
SB 8.7.21, Purport:

Since Lord Śiva is in charge of annihilation, why should he be approached for protection, which is given by Lord Viṣṇu? Lord Brahmā creates, and Lord Śiva annihilates, but both Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are incarnations of Lord Viṣṇu and are known as śaktyāveśa-avatāras. They are endowed with a special power like that of Lord Viṣṇu, who is actually all-pervading in their activities. Therefore whenever prayers for protection are offered to Lord Śiva, actually Lord Viṣṇu is indicated, for otherwise Lord Śiva is meant for destruction. Lord Śiva is one of the īśvaras, or the controllers known as śaktyāveśa-avatāras. Therefore he can be addressed as having the qualities of Lord Viṣṇu.

SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13

Rāmānujācārya sometimes accepts Baladeva as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra, but Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has explained that Baladeva is an expansion of Kṛṣṇa and that a part of Baladeva is Saṅkarṣaṇa.
SB 10.1.69, Purport:

Rāmānujācārya sometimes accepts Baladeva as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra, but Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has explained that Baladeva is an expansion of Kṛṣṇa and that a part of Baladeva is Saṅkarṣaṇa. Although Baladeva is identical with Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is the origin of Saṅkarṣaṇa. Therefore the word svarāṭ has been used to indicate that Baladeva always exists in His own independence. The word svarāṭ also indicates that Baladeva is beyond the material conception of existence. Māyā cannot attract Him, but because He is fully independent, He can appear by His spiritual potency wherever He likes. Māyā is fully under the control of Viṣṇu. Because the material potency and yogamāyā mingle in the Lord's appearance, they are described as ekānaṁśā. Sometimes ekānaṁśā is interpreted to mean "without differentiation." Saṅkarṣaṇa and Śeṣa-nāga are identical. As stated by Yamunādevī, "O Rāma, O great-armed master of the world, who have extended Yourself throughout the entire universe by one plenary expansion, it is not possible to understand You fully." Therefore ekāṁśā refers to Śeṣa-nāga. In other words, Baladeva, merely by His partial expansion, sustains the entire universe.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Madhya-lila

The Lord also described the incarnations of God within the material world, incarnations such as the puruṣa-avatāras, manvantara-avatāras, guṇa-avatāras and śaktyāveśa-avatāras.
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.

Vyāsadeva is a śaktyāveśa-avatāra of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
CC Madhya 20.122, Purport:

Out of His causeless mercy and compassion, Kṛṣṇa has compiled various Vedic literatures in His incarnation as Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva is a śaktyāveśa-avatāra of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He has very kindly presented these literatures to awaken the conditioned soul to his senses. Unfortunately, at the present moment the conditioned souls are guided by demons who do not care to read the Vedic literatures. Although there is an immense treasure-house of knowledge, people are engaged in reading useless literature that will give them no information on how to get out of the clutches of māyā. The purpose of the Vedic literatures is explained in the following verses.

As the śaktyāveśa-avatāra Vyāsadeva, Kṛṣṇa teaches the conditioned soul through the Vedic literatures.
CC Madhya 20.123, Purport:

As the śaktyāveśa-avatāra Vyāsadeva, Kṛṣṇa teaches the conditioned soul through the Vedic literatures. Kṛṣṇa externally appears as the spiritual master and trains the conditioned soul to come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When his original Kṛṣṇa consciousness is revived, the conditioned soul is delivered from the material clutches. Thus a conditioned soul is always helped by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in three ways—by the scriptures, the spiritual master and the Supersoul within the heart.

CC Madhya 20.246, Translation:

"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)."

CC Madhya 20.246, Translation:

The śaktyāveśa-avatāras are categorized into (1) forms of divine absorption (bhagavad-āveśa), such as Kapiladeva or Ṛṣabhadeva, and (2) divinely empowered forms (śaktyāveśa), of whom seven are foremost: (1) Śeṣa Nāga in the Vaikuṇṭha world, empowered for the personal service of the Supreme Lord (sva-sevana-śakti), (2) Anantadeva, empowered to bear all the planets within the universe (bhū-dhāraṇa-śakti), (3) Lord Brahmā, empowered with the energy to create the cosmic manifestation (sṛṣṭi-śakti), (4) Catuḥsana, or the Kumāras, specifically empowered to distribute transcendental knowledge (jñāna-śakti), (5) Nārada Muni, empowered to distribute devotional service (bhakti-śakti), (6) Mahārāja Pṛthu, specifically empowered to rule and maintain the living entities (pālana-śakti) and (7) Paraśurāma, specifically empowered to cut down rogues and demons (duṣṭa-damana-śakti).

CC Madhya 20.366, Translation:

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “O Sanātana, you must give up your intelligent tricks. Now just try to understand the description of the śaktyāveśa-avatāras.

CC Madhya 20.367, Translation:

"There are unlimited śaktyāveśa-avatāras of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Let Me describe the chief among them."

CC Madhya 20.369, Translation:

"Some śaktyāveśa-avatāras are the four Kumāras, Nārada, Mahārāja Pṛthu and Paraśurāma. When a living being is empowered to act as Lord Brahmā, he is also considered a śaktyāveśa-avatāra."

CC Madhya 20.373, Translation:

"'Whenever the Lord is present in someone by portions of His various potencies, the living entity representing the Lord is called a śaktyāveśa-avatāra—that is, an incarnation invested with special power.'"

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Teachings of Lord Caitanya

As far as the āveśa-rūpa is concerned, when Kṛṣṇa empowers some suitable living entity to represent Him, that living entity is called āveśa-rūpa, or śaktyāveśa-avatāra.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 6:

By devotional service one can understand that Kṛṣṇa first of all manifests Himself as svayam-rūpa, His personal form, then as tadekātma-rūpa, and then as āveśa-rūpa. It is in these three features that He manifests Himself in His transcendental form. The feature of svayam-rūpa is the form by which Kṛṣṇa can be understood by one who may not understand His other features. In other words, the form by which Kṛṣṇa is directly understood is called svayam-rūpa, or His personal form. The tadekātma-rūpa is that form which most resembles the svayam-rūpa, but there are some differences in the bodily features. The tadekātma-rūpa is divided into two manifestations—the personal expansion (svāṁśa) and the pastime expansion (vilāsa). As far as the āveśa-rūpa is concerned, when Kṛṣṇa empowers some suitable living entity to represent Him, that living entity is called āveśa-rūpa, or śaktyāveśa-avatāra.

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.
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.

As far as the śaktyāveśa-avatāras are concerned, they include Kapila and Ṛṣabha, Ananta, Brahmā (sometimes the Lord Himself becomes Brahmā), Catuḥsana (the incarnation of knowledge), Nārada (the incarnation of devotional service), King Pṛthu (the incarnation of administrative power), and Paraśurāma (the incarnation who subdues evil principles).
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 7:

The four yuga-avatāras are also described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In the Satya-yuga, the incarnation of God is white; in the Tretā-yuga He is red; in the Dvāpara-yuga, He is blackish; and in the Kali-yuga He is also blackish, but sometimes, in a special Kali-yuga, His color is yellowish (as in the case of Caitanya Mahāprabhu). As far as the śaktyāveśa-avatāras are concerned, they include Kapila and Ṛṣabha, Ananta, Brahmā (sometimes the Lord Himself becomes Brahmā), Catuḥsana (the incarnation of knowledge), Nārada (the incarnation of devotional service), King Pṛthu (the incarnation of administrative power), and Paraśurāma (the incarnation who subdues evil principles).

When Sanātana Gosvāmī tried to confirm Lord Caitanya's personal characteristics as being those of the incarnation of this age, Lord Caitanya Himself indirectly made the confirmation by simply saying, "Let us leave aside all these discussions and continue with a description of the śaktyāveśa-avatāras."
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 8:

Any intelligent person can understand the characteristics of an avatāra by understanding two features—the principal feature, called personality, and the marginal features. In the scriptures there are descriptions of the characteristics of the body and the activities of an incarnation, and the description of the body is the principal feature by which an incarnation can be identified. The activities of the incarnation are the marginal features. This is confirmed in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.1) where the features of an avatāra are nicely described. In that verse, the two terms param and satyam are used, and Lord Caitanya indicates that these words reveal Kṛṣṇa's principal feature. The other marginal features indicate that He taught Vedic knowledge to Brahmā and incarnated as the puruṣa-avatāra to create the cosmic manifestation. These are occasional features manifest for some special purposes. One should be able to understand and distinguish the principal and marginal features of an avatāra. No one can declare himself an incarnation without referring to these two features. An intelligent man will not accept anyone as an avatāra without studying the principal and marginal features. When Sanātana Gosvāmī tried to confirm Lord Caitanya's personal characteristics as being those of the incarnation of this age, Lord Caitanya Himself indirectly made the confirmation by simply saying, "Let us leave aside all these discussions and continue with a description of the śaktyāveśa-avatāras."

When the Lord Himself comes, He is called sākṣāt, or a direct śaktyāveśa-avatāra, and when He empowers some living entity to represent Him that living entity is called an indirect or āveśa incarnation.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 8:

The Lord then pointed out that there is no limit to the śaktyāveśa-avatāras and that they cannot be counted. However, some can be mentioned as examples. The śaktyāveśa incarnations are of two kinds—direct and indirect. When the Lord Himself comes, He is called sākṣāt, or a direct śaktyāveśa-avatāra, and when He empowers some living entity to represent Him that living entity is called an indirect or āveśa incarnation. Examples of indirect avatāras are the four Kumāras, Nārada, Pṛthu and Paraśurāma. These are actually living entities, but there is specific power given to them by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a specific opulence of the Supreme Lord is invested in specific entities, they are called āveśa-avatāras. The four Kumāras specifically represent the Supreme Lord's opulence of knowledge. Nārada represents the devotional service of the Supreme Lord. Devotional service is also represented by Lord Caitanya, who is considered to be the full representation of devotional service. In Brahmā the opulence of creative power is invested, and in King Pṛthu the power for maintaining the living entities is invested. Similarly, in Paraśurāma the power for killing evil elements is invested. As far as vibhāti, or the special favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is concerned, it is described in the Tenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā that a living entity who appears to be especially powerful or beautiful should be known to be especially favored by the Supreme Lord.

Renunciation Through Wisdom

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.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 4.4:

Wthout proper understanding, Dr. Radhakrishnan has given his opinion about the descent of the Lord's incarnation. He writes, "An avatāra is a descent of God into man and not an ascent of a man into God." What he means by "descent of God into man" is that the avatāras, or incarnations, possess physical bodies made up of the five gross elements. Of course, it remains to be clarified what he means by "not an ascent of man into God." Nowadays it is very much in vogue to designate a man as God. And it is not just a few who are said to be avataras: many philosophers go as far as to say that every human being is God. For the present we do not wish to delve into this subject.

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. And there are other incarnations who live longer. The scriptures give details of the Lord's authorized incarnations—the purposes for their appearance, their forms, the places of appearance, their pastimes, etc. There is no room for the vox populi whimsically choosing an ordinary mortal as an incarnation. And if despite the scriptural injunctions some people still accept a human being as an incarnation, it is easy to surmise the extent of their scriptural knowledge.

Labangalatika +  and Visnu Murti +
December 28, 0008 JL +
April 3, 0010 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 11 +, CC: 9 +, OB: 6 +, Lec: 0 +, Conv: 0 +  and Let: 0 +