The great Jaimini is well versed in the teachings of the Mahābhārata, being the pupil of Vyāsa himself, author of the epic. Yet he is perplexed by four issues raised in the text itself. So, in search of answers, he approaches the illustrious sage Mārkaṇḍeya with four noble questions. The first of these questions is most telling—after all, ‘first’ is typically ‘foremost’ in Indian culture, setting the tone for all that follows. He asks: “Why was Janārdana Vāsudeva, who is the cause of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the world, although devoid of [material] qualities, imbued with humanity?” The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa thus, with Jaimini pondering the impetus of Viṣṇu’s divine descent into the world, indeed the very essence of avatāra.
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