SB 1.3.5

एतन्नानावताराणां निधानं बीजमव्ययम् ।
यस्यांशांशेन सृज्यन्ते देवतिर्यङ्नरादयः ॥५॥


etan nānāvatārāṇāṁ
nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
yasyāṁśāṁśena sṛjyante


etatplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigetat

a person materially conditioned; about this; about this incident; all living entities; all these; all these details; all these events of Dakṣa's sacrifice; all these explanations; all these facts; all these incidents; all these things; all these words about the Yadu family and Vṛṣṇi family; all this; all this flesh; all those; concerning this; creation; here; inquiries; it is; like this; of all this; on this matter; such a thing; such an act; such inquiries; that; that is; the events of Dakṣa's sacrifice; the following; the following words; the mind; their; these; these incidents; these two natures; this (Bhārata-varṣa); this (body); this (form); this (maintaining body and soul together); this; this activity; this body; this body and the material manifestation; this book; this cosmic manifestation; this creation; this departure; this description; this form of Viṣṇu; this incident; this incident of delivering both Aghāsura and Kṛṣṇa's associates from death; this instruction; this is; this kind of; this knowledge; this matter; this much; this narration; this narration of the deliverance of Gajendra; this narrative; this path of liberation; this sacrifice; this science of Godhead; this situation; this universe; thus; what you have said.
—this (form); nānāplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bignānā

different kinds; differently; in various; many; many others; many varieties; maternal grandfather; multifarious; variegated; varieties; varieties of; various; various kinds; variously; with varieties of; with various.
—multifarious; avatārāṇāmplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigavatārāṇām

of the incarnations.
—of the incarnations; nidhānamplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bignidhanam

annihilation; death; demise; destruction; killing; massacre; the death; without end.
—source; bījamplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigbijam

another seed; seed; the cause of the lotus; the seed; the seed that has already fructified; the source.
—seed; avyayamplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigavyayam

being unchangeable; eternal; everlasting; immutable; imperishable; indestructible; inexhaustible; irreproachable; never ending; spiritual; the inexhaustible; the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is inexhaustible; who is the supreme eternal; without diminution; without loss of energy.
—indestructible; yasyaplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigyasya

anyone; anyone with whom; by which; by whom (the Lord); by whom; for the purpose of; for whom; from whom; He of whom; he who; His; in relationship with anyone; of a man; of Him; of him who; of Indra; of Kṛṣṇa; of Lord Śiva; of one who; of one's; of someone; of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who; of which (body); of which; of which lusty desires; of which nectar; of whom (Ambarīṣa Mahārāja); of whom (Avīkṣit); of whom (Bali Mahārāja); of whom (Budha); of whom (Citraratha); of whom (Diviratha); of whom (King Gaya); of whom (Lord Nārāyaṇa); of whom (Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa); of whom (Lord Ṛṣabhadeva); of whom (Mahārāja Ambarīṣa); of whom (of the Supreme Personality of Godhead); of whom (Sudeva); of whom (the Supreme Personality of Godhead); of whom (the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who gives His pure devotees intelligence with which to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement); of whom (the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who gives His pure devotees the intelligence to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement); of whom (Vikṛti); of whom (Śunaka); of whom; one who; one whose; the Lord, of whom; the one from whose; to whom everything belongs; whom; whose (Lord Rāmacandra's); whose; with the body.
—whose; aṁśaplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigamsa

on his shoulder; shoulders.
—plenary portion; aṁśenaplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigaṁśena

by a partial representation; by a plenary portion; by part; by the part; part; part of the plenary portion; partial expansion; partially; with a part (Nara); with all His energies, His parts and parcels; with her different potential factors; with His plenary expansion Baladeva; with parts.
—part of the plenary portion; sṛjyanteplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigsṛjyante

—create; devaplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigdeva

addressing my Lord; against you; among the demigods; as demigods; as good as the demigods; by Kṛṣṇa; by the demigods; by the Lord; celestial; dear Lord; demigod; demigods; living energy; my dear King; my Lord; O demigod; O King; O Lord; O master of the demigods; O my Lord; O Supreme Lord; of all demigods; of all the demigods; of providence; of the demigods; of the Supreme Lord; persons coming from the heavenly planets; the demigod; the demigods; the demigods from other planets; the demigods, or controlling deities; the heavenly planets; the Lord; the Personality of Godhead; the Supreme God; the Supreme Lord; the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Śrī Kṛṣṇa); the Supreme Personality of Godhead; to the demigods; unto the demigods; with the demigods.
—demigods; tiryakplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigtiryak

animal; animal, bird, beast; animals; animals lower than human beings; animals lower than the human beings; bird or beast; by animals; crossways; crosswise; going crosswise; like animals (such as the boar); living entities lower than the human beings; lower animals; lower animals, birds and beasts; other than human beings (animals, birds, etc); subhuman; the animals; the living entities who can move in the air (the birds); the lower animals.
—animals; naraplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bignara

human being; of Nara; the human beings; the inhabitants of the earthly planets.
-ādayaḥplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigādayaḥ

all of them surrounding Lord Indra; all these together; and other creatures; and others; and so on; and such others; etc; headed by; others; such persons.
—human beings and others. 


This form [the second manifestation of the puruṣa] is the source and indestructible seed of multifarious incarnations within the universe. From the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others, are created. 


The puruṣa, after creating innumerable universes in the mahat-tattva, entered in each of them as the second puruṣa, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. When He saw that within the universe there was only darkness and space, without a resting place, He filled half of the universe with water from His own perspiration and laid Himself down on the same water. This water is called Garbhodaka. Then from His navel the stem of the lotus flower sprouted, and on the flower petals the birth of Brahmā, or the master engineer of the universal plan, took place. Brahmā became the engineer of the universe, and the Lord Himself took charge of the maintenance of the universe as Viṣṇu. Brahmā was generated from rajo-guṇa of prakṛti, or the mode of passion in nature, and Viṣṇu became the Lord of the mode of goodness. Viṣṇu, being transcendental to all the modes, is always aloof from materialistic affection. This has already been explained. From Brahmā there is Rudra (Śiva), who is in charge of the mode of ignorance or darkness. He destroys the whole creation by the will of the Lord. Therefore all three, namely Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, are incarnations of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From Brahmā the other demigods like Dakṣa, Marīci, Manu and many others become incarnated to generate living entities within the universe. This Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is glorified in the Vedas in the hymns of Garbha-stuti, which begin with the description of the Lord as having thousands of heads, etc. The Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Lord of the universe, and although He appears to be lying within the universe, He is always transcendental. This also has already been explained. The Viṣṇu who is the plenary portion of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Supersoul of the universal life, and He is known as the maintainer of the universe or Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. So the three features of the original puruṣa are thus understood. And all the incarnations within the universe are emanations from this Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. 

In different millennia there are different incarnations, and they are innumerable, although some of them are very prominent, such as Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana and many others. These incarnations are called līlā incarnations. Then there are qualitative incarnations such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva (or Rudra) who take charge of the different modes of material nature. 

Lord Viṣṇu is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead. Lord Śiva is in the marginal position between the Personality of Godhead and the living entities, or jīvas. Brahmā is always a jīva-tattva. The highest pious living being, or the greatest devotee of the Lord, is empowered with the potency of the Lord for creation, and he is called Brahmā. His power is like the power of the sun reflected in valuable stones and jewels. When there is no such living being to take charge of the post of Brahmā, the Lord Himself becomes a Brahmā and takes charge of the post. 

Lord Śiva is not an ordinary living being. He is the plenary portion of the Lord, but because Lord Śiva is in direct touch with material nature, he is not exactly in the same transcendental position as Lord Viṣṇu. The difference is like that between milk and curd. Curd is nothing but milk, and yet it cannot be used in place of milk. 

The next incarnations are the Manus. Within one day’s duration of the life of Brahmā (which is calculated by our solar year as 4,300,000 x 1,000 years) there are fourteen Manus. Therefore there are 420 Manus in one month of Brahmā and 5,040 Manus in one year of Brahmā. Brahmā lives for one hundred years of his age, and therefore there are 5,040 x 100 or 504,000 Manus in the duration of Brahmā’s life. There are innumerable universes, with one Brahmā in each of them, and all of them are created and annihilated during the breathing time of the puruṣa. Therefore one can simply imagine how many millions of Manus there are during one breath of the puruṣa. 

The Manus who are prominent within this universe are as follows: Yajña as Svāyambhuva Manu, Vibhu as Svārociṣa Manu, Satyasena as Uttama Manu, Hari as Tāmasa Manu, Vaikuṇṭha as Raivata Manu, Ajita as Cākṣuṣa Manu, Vāmana as Vaivasvata Manu (the present age is under the Vaivasvata Manu), Sārvabhauma as Sāvarṇi Manu, Ṛṣabha as Dakṣasāvarṇi Manu, Viṣvaksena as Brahma-sāvarṇi Manu, Dharmasetu as Dharma-sāvarṇi Manu, Sudhāmā as Rudra-sāvarṇi Manu, Yogeśvara as Deva-sāvarṇi Manu, and Bṛhadbhānu as Indra-sāvarṇi Manu. These are the names of one set of fourteen Manus covering 4,300,000,000 solar years as described above. 

Then there are the yugāvatāras, or the incarnations of the millennia. The yugas are known as Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga, Dvāpara-yuga and Kali-yuga. The incarnations of each yuga are of different color. The colors are white, red, black and yellow. In the Dvāpara-yuga, Lord Kṛṣṇa in black color appeared, and in the Kali-yuga Lord Caitanya in yellow color appeared. 

So all the incarnations of the Lord are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is no scope for an imposter to become an incarnation, for an incarnation must be mentioned in the śāstras. An incarnation does not declare Himself to be an incarnation of the Lord, but great sages agree by the symptoms mentioned in the revealed scriptures. The features of the incarnation and the particular type of mission which He has to execute are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. 

Apart from the direct incarnations, there are innumerable empowered incarnations. They are also mentioned in the revealed scriptures. Such incarnations are directly as well as indirectly empowered. When they are directly empowered they are called incarnations, but when they are indirectly empowered they are called vibhūtis. Directly empowered incarnations are the Kumāras, Nārada, Pṛthu, Śeṣa, Ananta, etc. As far as vibhūtis are concerned, they are very explicitly described in the Bhagavad-gītā in the Vibhūti-yoga chapter. And for all these different types of incarnations, the fountainhead is the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.