King Janamejaya enquired of Maharshi Veda Vyasa about the Incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the connected links of persons figuring in the respective Avataras.While in the ‘Chakshusa’ Manvantara of ‘Kritha’ Yuga, the Incarnation of Vishnu was of Dharma and the sons were Nara and Narayana, the Vaivasvata Manvantara of the same Yuga witnessed the Incarnation of Dattatreya, the son of Sage Atri and Anasuya; The Trinity were born to Anasuya as Soma from Brahma, Dattatreya from Vishnu, and Durvasa from Eswara. In the last phase of KritaYuga was born ‘Narasimha’, destroyed Hiranya Kasipu, saved Prahlada and re-established Dharma. As in the case of Hiranyaksha when Lord Vishnu took the Incarnation of a Boar, the links were clear in that the Sanaka Brothers – Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanath Kumara-gave a curse to Jaya and Vijaya-the Gate Keepers of Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu- that they be born as cruel as Kings in three successive births as Hiranya Brothers, as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and as Sisupala and Dantavarka. In Treta Yuga, Lord Vishnu’s Incarnations were of ‘Vamana’ to curb the power of King Bali, as Parasu Rama the destroyer of the erring and arrogant Kshatriyas, and Rama as the ‘Maryada Puroshottama’ (Ideal and Virtuous Paradigm Human Being). In Dvapara Yuga, the Incarnations were repeats of Narayana and Nara as Krishna and Arjuna. After Sage Bhrigu’s curse, Lord Vishnu’s Avataras were indeed born and as humans to go through the travails of pregnancy and delivery, where as the earlier Avataras of Matsya, Kurma and Narasimha were Svayambhus. Besides Lord Vishnu several players enacting the dramas related to the Avataras too had links with their previous births according to their own ‘Sanchita’ or ‘Prarabdha Karma’.
With special reference to Krishna Avatar, King Janamejaya explained that he had already got the answer in the previous pages as to how Lord Krishna had sixteen thousand and eight wives of whom eight were accounted for as Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Satya and Bhadra, apart from the rest who were the Apsaras who were sent to Nara and Narayana Sages by Indra. But he had a barrage of other questions which deluded answers for him: Why were Vasudeva and Devaki chosen as the parents of Krishna and Balarama; why were the six infants killed as soon as given birth to; why were Krishna and Balarama grown at Gokula and how did Balarama get transferred to Yashoda’s pregnancy from that of Devaki; why did Krishna shift to Dvaraka overnight from Mathura if it were not out of fear of Jarasandha and how could the residents of Mathura were convinced; why were the good Pandavas subjected by fate to untold miseries, especially by Draupadi; How was it that Draupadi was the wife of five brothers which was considered as incest in any civilised Society; why did a Maharshi Veda Vyasa agree to a procedure of begetting children to two widows and a Dasi, simply because Bhishma took a vow not to marry and become a King again; how come an intelligent King like Dharmaraja yielded to the temptation of playing a ‘friendly’ game of chess, being fully conscious of the implication of losing it at a ridiculously high stake of Aranyavasa for twelve years and a year long Ajnatavasa, that too by involving his wife and brothers; why did the highly virtuous and brave persons like Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Drupada and so on failed to control the Evil Forces and save the Great Battle; how was it that Asvathama a great Warrior and the son of Drona Acharya himself resorted to the meanest act of killing the five sons of Pandavas while in sleep; and why did the Great Munis curse the entire Yadu Vamsa for a casual prank played by Yadu boys for displaying a boy as a pregnant woman knowing fully well that Lords Krishna and Balarama too belonged to the same Vamsa and so on. The spate of doubts expressed by King Janamejaya as above could be dealt with by convincing explanations in the pages ahead, keeping in view the colossal role played by Maha Maya (The Grand Illusion) or Maha Devi Bhagavati.