Sri Sut ji says– In the beginning of the creation of the cosmos, the Lord desired to create different worlds. As soon as He desired, He assumed the form of the Purusha (Man), endowed with Mahtatva and other divine qualities. In that form, were manifested the ten senses, the mind and the five elements- these sixteen parts were the sole components of the Purusha.
While immersing in Yog-Nidra (contemplative sleep; Yogic sleep) and expanding his state of consciousness, emerged a lotus from Lord Vishnu’s navel, from which Lord Brahma, the deity of Prajapatis (Lord of creatures), was born and is said to be seated on it. All the worlds and universes are believed to be situated in HIS GREAT COSMIC FORM, which is the most divine, pure and sublime form. Yogis (a person proficient in yoga and spiritual knowledge) perceive and worship this divine cosmic form of Lord Vishnu with divine vision. This supreme manifestation of the Lord is extremely extraordinary and remarkable, having thousands of feet, legs, arms and faces with thousands of eyes, ears, noses, adorned with thousands of crowns, jewelry, and clothing. This Purusha roop of Lord, which we address as Narayan, is the infinite form from which all incarnations of Lord manifest. From even the tiniest fragment of this form, the creation of gods, human beings, animals and birds, and all other living species occurs.
It was the same Lord, who in the beginning, incarnated in the form of the four Brahmins-Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatan, and Sanatkumar, following the extremely difficult and uninterrupted path of celibacy (brahmacharya).
For the welfare of this world, the Lord himself, worshiped as the deity of all spiritual homas and offerings, for the second time incarnated in Sukar roop (the divine form of boar), and protected the earth from submerging in water.
Among the sages, Lord incarnated as Devarshi Rishi Narada, this being his third avatara. In this incarnation, Lord gave teachings of the Saatvat Tantra (which is called ‘Narada Panchratra’); it describes how liberation from the bondages of Karma is attained through deeds.
Lord then incarnated in the fourth avatara as Nar-Narayan, as the son of Murti, wife of Dharma. In this incarnation, by becoming a Rishi (sage), he practiced a rigorous form of tapasya (spiritual practices), thereby controlling his mind and senses.
In the fifth avatara, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Kapil – the lord of sages, and imparted knowledge of the Sankhya Shastra (Numerology; statics), which had disappeared with time, to a Brahmin named Asuri.
In the sixth avatara, upon the request of Anasuya, Lord incarnated as Dattatreya, and became the son of Atri. In this incarnation, he imparted wisdom of Brahma gyaan (the divine ultimate cosmic wisdom) to Alarka, Prahalada and others.
In the seventh avatara, Lord incarnated as Yagnya, the son of Aakuti and his wife Ruchi Prajapati and protected the Swayambhuva Manvantara along with his son ‘Yama’ and other deities.
Lord Vishnu then took his eight avatara as Rishbhadeva, the son of King Naabhi and his wife Marudevi. In this avatara, he showed the path of Paramhansas, which can be followed and understood by everyone.
At the request of sages, Lord then incarnated as King Pruthu in his ninth avatara, and ascertained the herbs from earth, making it highly beneficial for everyone.
At the end of the Chakshusha Manvantara, when the entire universe was submerged in the ocean, the great compassionate Lord Vishnu, then took his tenth incarnation as Matsya (fish) and protected the ruler of the next Mnavantara, Vaivasvata Manu, by carrying him on a boat.
At the time of Samudra-Manthan (the churning of ocean) between the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons), Lord took his eleventh incarnation in the form of Kurma (a giant tortoise) and held Mount Mandara on his back.
In the twelfth avatara, Lord incarnated as Dhanvantari, holding a kalasha of Amrit (divine water that makes one immortal); and then took the form of Mohini in his thirteenth avatara, making the demons captivated by his (Lord’s) this form, thereby providing the Gods with Amrit.
Lord then incarnated as Narsingh (half lion, half man) as his fourteenth avatara, and killed the demon king named Hiranyakashipu, thereby protecting his beloved devotee Prahalada.
In the fifteenth avatara, taking the form of Vamana, Lord Vishnu went to Yagnya (Homa) of the demon King Bali. He (Lord) could have asked for the land of the whole earth, but instead asked for only three steps of land.
In the sixteenth incarnation as Parshurama, when he (Lord) saw the Kshatriyas (the warrior or military caste) misusing their powers and had become traitors to the Brahmins, driven by anger he completely destroyed the Kshatriyas 21 times.
In the seventeenth avatara, Lord took birth as Vyas, the son of Parshara and Satyavati. Considering the capability of people to understand the scriptures and their retention power, Vyas ji subdivided the Vedas into different branches, making it easy to understand for everyone.
Lord Vishnu, then for the eighteenth time incarnated as Rama, with the intention of helping and fulfilling the work of Gods, he performed many divine deeds such as building Ram Setu (a bridge on ocean), killing the demon king Ravana, and many other deeds benefiting the people.
As of the nineteenth and twentieth avatara, Lord incarnated as Balaram and Sri Krishna in the Yadu dynasty and lightened the burden of the earth.
After that, when Kaliyuga arrives, the Lord will incarnate on the land of Magadha (Bihar), in the form of Buddha, the son of Ajana.
When the time of Kaliyuga’s end will come, to protect his devotees and to destroy the evil-minded people, the Lord will incarnate as Kalki in the house of a highly spiritual Brahmin named Vishnuyasha.
Addressing the Shaunkadi Rishis (sages), Sut ji further says-
Just as thousands of small streams flow out of a deep lake, similarly, the Supreme Lord Hari manifests countless incarnations. All the sages, Manus, Gods, Prajapatis, the children of Manu, and all the other beings are all the parts of the Supreme Lord. All the incarnations are either Anshavtara or Kalavatara of the great Lord, but Sri Krishna himself is the Lord (Avatari) from whom this universe was created, from whom various avatars manifest. Whenever people have to suffer due to the atrocities of demons and are affected severely due to the evil deeds, the great compassionate Lord incarnates in different forms to protect them. The story of these divine births of the Lord is extremely mysterious. One who listens or recites this with full attention, purity, love and selfless devotion in morning and evening, he/she gets liberated from all the sufferings and sorrow. The supreme physical cosmic manifestation of the Lord, which is devoid of the materialistic identity or attributes, is said to be manifested by his own divine qualities, supreme illusory power (maya) in himself. Just as clouds reside in the shelter of the air and the dusty particles reside in the dust, but an ignorant person thinks of clouds as being in the sky and dust as being in the air, similarly, an ignorant person attributes the visible material world to the soul, physical form.
Beyond this physical form, there is a subtle and un-manifest form of God, which is neither characterized by the qualities of the physical nor can be perceived through sight or by hearing; it is the subtle (sukshma) form. When the self is superimposed or enters into it, it is called the individual soul and is repeatedly born. The above mentioned subtle and physical bodies/forms are superimposed on the Self due to ignorance, lack of right wisdom. When this superimposition is removed through the knowledge or wisdom of the true form or nature of the Self (self-realization), then the God-realization (the realization of Brahma, the ultimate cosmic divine being) happens. Those who have the knowledge of the truth know that when one is liberated from this illusion of God, then that individual soul becomes full of supreme bliss, consciousness and is established in its own real form.
Highly spiritual and wise people describe the great compassionate Lord’s form Aprakrut (non-physical), one who has not been born and does not perform any deed. // The Lord’s leela (divine play) is beyond understanding. The creation, maintenance and destruction of this cosmos takes place by his divine play only, but is not attached to it. He (the Lord) resides in every living being in the form of senses and mind, and perceives and lives all materialistic delight and essence and yet is detached, separate from all these. He is supremely independent and is never driven by these illusions and desires. Just as an ignorant person who cannot understand the magic performed by a magician or an action performed by an actor, similarly one who lacks spiritual knowledge and wisdom, cannot understand the true essence behind the various names, forms and leela (divine play) of Lord no matter how much ever of intelligence and theories he/she uses. The divinity and power of the Lord Chakrapaani are infinite, no one understands it, and gets a hold of it. Although He is the creator of this entire universe, He is completely beyond it. Only those who selflessly, constantly and sincerely worship the lotus feet of the Lord Mahavishnu, can only understand his (the Lord’s) true form, and the secret behind his (the Lord’s) divine plays.
Shaunkadi Rishis! You all are truly blessed and fortunate to be blessed with selfless and true devotion towards Lord Sri Krishna, which saves one from the fearsome cycle of birth and death, in this life full of obstacles and illusions. Lord Ved Vyas ji has composed this highly blissful scripture ‘Bhagvad Mahapuran’, which briefly covers all the scriptures and contains the great glories of the Lord. He imparted this highly divine scripture to his own son, Shukdeva, who had already attained self- realization, for the ultimate welfare of all the beings. Shukdeva narrated this to King Parikshit, who had taken the vow of fasting till death, surrounded by many great sages. At the time, when Lord Sri Krishna returned to his abode along with dharma (righteousness) and wisdom, the Lord himself manifested this Purana (scripture) for the welfare of those people who will be under the influence of Kaliyuga, driven by illusions and sufferings. Shaunkadi Rishis! When Shukdeva ji was narrating this Purana to king Parikshit, I (Sut ji) was also present there. With his (Shukdeva ji) permission and blessings, I listened to this with complete devotion and sincerity, and now I will narrate it to all of you to the best of my ability and understanding.