Lord Vishnu

Vishnu is the all-pervasive Lord who expands into everything. He is the maintainer of the universe and the complete cosmic creation. He is called Vishnu because he overcomes all. he represents sattva-guna, or the mode of goodness by which everything is sustained. He is also called Narayana, which means the shelter, resting place or ultimate goal of all living entities. It also means the one whose abode is the causal waters[1], and one who lives in the hearts of all living beings. It is this sattva nature which gives the living beings the tendency to grow toward a higher truth, the light, a more cohesive and intense reality. In this sense, Lord Vishnu is also called Hari, or one who removes the darkness of illusion. This illusion ultimately means the idea that the living beings live separate from, or without connection to, the Lord.[2]

Ten Avatars

Vishnu’s earthly incarnations have many avatars. His ten avatars are 'Matsyavatara'[3], 'Koorma'[4], 'Varaaha'[5], 'Narasimha'[6], 'Vamana'[7], 'Parasurama'[8], 'Lord Rama'[9], 'Lord Balarama'[10], 'Lord Krishna'[11], and the yet to appear 10th incarnation called the 'Kalki' avatar. Some sources consider 'Buddha' as one of the avatars of Vishnu. This is a much later addition done at a time when the concept of 'Dashavatara' was already developed.[12]

Sankha, Chakra, Gada, Padma

On one of the backhands he holds the milky white conch shell or ‘Sankha’ that spreads the primordial sound of Om, and on the other a discuss or ‘Chakra’ - a reminder of the cycle of time - which is also a lethal weapon that he uses against blasphemy. It is the famous Sudarshana Chakra that is seen whirling on his index finger. The other hands hold a lotus or ‘Padma’, which stands for a glorious existence, and a mace or ‘Gada’ that indicates punishment for indiscipline.

The Lord of Truth

Out of his navel blossoms a lotus, known as Padmanabham. The flower holds Brahma, the God of Creation and the embodiment of royal virtues or ‘Rajoguna’. Thus, the peaceful form of Lord Vishnu discards the royal virtues through his navel and makes the Sheshnag snake that stands for the vices of darkness or ‘Tamoguna’, his seat. Therefore Vishnu is the Lord of ‘Satoguna’ - the virtues of the truth.

Garuda, the Vehicle

The vehicle of Vishnu is the Garuda eagle, the king of the birds. Empowered with the courage and speed to spread the knowledge of the Vedas, Garuda is an assurance of fearlessness at the time of calamity.

Thousand names of Vishnu

Vishnu's many names and followers are collected in the 'Vishnusahasranama' (Vishnu's thousand names), one well-known version of which is found in the Mahabharata. The character Bhishma recites the names before Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, praising Vishnu as the supreme god. These sahasranama are regarded as the essence of all Vedas by followers of Vaishnavism, who believe sincere chanting of Vishnusahasranama results in spiritual well-being and greater awareness of God.


  1. Karana Ocean
  2. Lord Vishnu (English)। Retrieved : 29 April, 2016।
  3. fish
  4. tortoise
  5. boar
  6. the man lion
  7. the dwarf
  8. the angry man
  9. the perfect human of the 'Ramayana'
  10. Krishna's brother
  11. the divine diplomat and statesman
  12. An Introduction to Lord Vishnu (English)। Retrieved : 30 April, 2016।

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