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Vishnu (Sanskrit: ??????

) is a Vedic Supreme God[2][3] (including his different avatars) in Hinduism,and is venerated as the Supreme Being in Vaishnavism. He is also known as Narayana or Hari and is venerated as Purushottama or Supreme Puru sha in Vedic sacred texts like the Bhagavad Gita[4], the Vedas and the Puranas. He is the Supreme Purusha of Purusha Sukta.The Vishnu Sahasranama of the Mahabha rata declares Vishnu as Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God) . It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of an d beyond the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences , one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develop s all elements within. Vaishnavism sees Vishnu as the Supreme God[5], venerated as the Supreme Being. S marta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as just one of th e five primary forms of God, namely Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya and Ganesha; who are all seen as equal reflections of the one Brahman, rather than as distinct be ings.[6]His supreme status is declared in Hindu sacred texts like the Yajurveda, the Rigveda the Bhagavad Gita, The Bhagavata Purana and other Sattva Puranas wh ich all declare Vishnu as Supreme God.[7] Vishnu incarnates on planet Earth from time to time to eradicate evil forces, to restore the Dharma and to liberate th e worthy ones or devotees from the cycle of births and deaths.[8] In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine blue colour of water-fi lled clouds and as having four arms. He is depicted as holding a padma or lotus flower in the lower left hand, a gada or mace in the lower right hand, a shankha or conch in the upper left hand and a Sudarshana Chakra or discus weapon in the upper right hand. Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a 'Un iversal Form' (Vishvarupa or Viraat Purusha) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.[9] Vishnu's eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is called Vaikun tha, which is also known as Paramdhama, the realm of eternal bliss and happiness , for the final or highest place for liberated souls. Vaikuntha is situated beyo nd the material universe and hence, cannot be perceived or measured by material science and logic.[10]Vishnu's other abode within the material universe is Kshee ra Sagara (the ocean of milk), where he reclines and rests on Ananta Shesha. It is the topmost realm in the material universe, even higher than Satyaloka where Brahma resides. Vishnu manages and sustains the universe from there. Hence, Kshe era Sagara is also sometimes known as local Vaikuntha of the material universe, which is approachable by demigods or devas in order to meet the lord in case of any emergency or disturbance in universal balance. In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in th e form of his ten avatars, the most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna.[11] The Puranabharti, an ancient text, describes these as the dasavatara, or the ten av atars of Vishnu. Among the ten described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future, at the end of Kali Yuga. These incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales, the avatars and their stories show that go ds are indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and inconceivable. The Bhagavad Gita men tions their purpose as being to rejuvenate dharma[12] to vanquish those negative forces of evil that threaten dharma, and also to display His divine nature in f ront of the conditioned/fallen souls. The Trimurti ( three forms ), is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic function s of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brah ma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or t ransformer."[13][14] These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad"[15] or the "Great Trinity".[16] Of the three members of the Trimurti, the Bhagavata Purana, which espouses the Vaishnavite viewpoint, explains that the greatest ben efit can be had from Vishnu.[17] Contents

1 Name 2 Characteristics 3 Sacred texts - Smriti and Sruti 3.1 Vedas 3.1.1 Vaishnava canon 3.1.2 Rigveda 3.1.3 Three steps 3.2 Brahmanas 3.3 Vishnu Smrti 4 Theological attributes 4.1 Five forms 5 Relations with Deities 5.1 Shiva 5.2 Lakshmi 5.3 Garuda 6 Iconography 7 Avatars 8 Thousand names of Vishnu 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links Name A 13th-century Cambodian statue of Vishnu At Chennakesava Temple at Belur, Karnataka India A 4th 6th century CE Sardonyx seal representing Vishnu with a worshipper. The insc ription in cursive Bactrian reads: "Mihira, Vishnu (left) and Shiva". 12th century stone sculpture of God Vishnu flanked by two apsaras one with a fan (left) and the other with Tambura(right). The traditional explanation of the name Vi??u involves the root vis, meaning "to settle" (cognate with Latin vicus, English -wich "village", Slavic: vas -ves, o r also (in the Rigveda) "to enter into, to pervade", glossing the name as "the A ll-Pervading One".[citation needed] An early commentator on the Vedas, Yaska, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as vishnu vishateh "one who enters everywhere", and yad vishito bhavati tad vishnurbhavati, "that which is free from fetters and bo ndages is Vishnu".[citation needed] Vishnu itself is the second name in the Vishnu Sahasranama, the thousand names o f Vishnu. Adi Sankara in his commentary on the Sahasranama states derivation fro m vis, with a meaning "presence everywhere" ("As he pervades everything, vevesti , he is called Vishnu",). Adi Sankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana, 3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe. The root vis me ans 'enter into.'" Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu sahasranama further elaborates on that verse: "The root Vis means to enter. The entire worl d of things and beings is pervaded by Him and the Upanishad emphatically insists in its mantra 'whatever that is there is the world of change.' Hence, it means that He is not limited by space, time or substance. Chinmayananda states that th at which pervades everything is Vishnu."[18] The female form or avatar of Vishnu is Mohini. Characteristics The number of auspicious qualities of Vishnu as the supreme god are countless, w ith the following six qualities being the most important: Jana (Omniscience), defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneou sly Aishvarya (Sovereignty), derived from the word Ishvara, which consists in un

challenged rule over all Shakti (Energy), or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible poss ible Bala (Strength), which is the capacity to support everything by will and wit hout any fatigue Virya (Vigor), which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the supr eme being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations Tejas (Splendor), which expresses His self-sufficiency and the capacity to o verpower everything by His spiritual effulgence[19] Sacred texts - Smriti and Sruti Sruti is considered to be solely of divine origin. It is preserved as a whole, i nstead of verse by verse. It includes the four Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samave da and Atharvaveda) the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads with commentaries on them. Smriti includes all the knowledge derived and inculcated after Sruti had been re ceived. Smriti is not 'divine' in origin, but was 'remembered' by later Rishis ( seers) by transcendental means and passed down though their followers. The Bhagavata Purana and the Vishnu Purana which are Sattva Puranas,[7] declare Vishnu as Para Brahman Supreme Lord who creates unlimited universes and enters e ach one of them as Lord of Universe.[20] Vishnu engages in creation of 14 worlds within the universe as Brahma when he deliberately accepts rajas guna. Vishnu s ustains, maintains and preserves the universe as Vishnu when he accepts sattva g una and annihilates the universe at the end of maha-kalpa as Shiva or Rudra when he accepts tamas guna.[21][22][23] According to this reference, the holy Trimur ti is not different from Vishnu. Vishnu is also venerated as Mukunda[24] which means Supreme God who is the giver of mukti or moksha or liberation from the cycle of deaths and births to his dev otees or the worthy ones who deserve salvation from the material world. Vedas The Vaishnava canon presents Vishnu as the supreme being, rather than another na me for the Sun God, who also bore the name Suryanarayana and is considered as a form of Vishnu only. Vaishnava canon In the Yajurveda, Taittiryia Aranyaka (10-13-1), Narayana sukta, Lord Narayana i s mentioned as the supreme being. The first verse of Narayana sukta mentions the words "paramam padam" which literally means "highest post" and may be understoo d as the "supreme abode for all souls". Rigveda 1:22:20a also mentions the same "paramam padam". This special status is not given to any deity in the Vedas apar t from Lord Vishnu and Lord Narayana.[citation needed] This perhaps is an indica tion that Narayana and Vishnu are alternate names for the same god, establishing his supremacy. Narayana is also one of the thousand names of Vishnu as mentione d in the Vishnu Sahasranama[25] It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of and beyond the past, present and future, one who suppo rts, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. This illustrates the omnipresent characteristic of Vishnu. Vishnu govern s the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called "Pr eserver of the universe". Vishnu is the Supreme God who takes manifest forms or avatars across various age s or periods to save humanity from evil beings, who became powerful after receiv ing boons from Brahma and Shiva. Following the defeat of Indra and his displacement as the Lord of Heaven or Swar

ga, Vishnu takes his incarnations or avatars to earth to save mankind, thus taki ng the place of the Supreme God, winning recognition by Shaivites and Smarthas. In the Puranas, Indra frequently appears proud and haughty. These attributes inc ur his creator's (Brahma) wrath, who along with Shiva, start by giving boons to demons or Asuras such as Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashyapu and Ravana, who are able t o defeat Indra in wars between the Devas and Asuras. These received boons made t he demonic Asuras virtually indestructible. Vishnu outwits them by appearing bef ore them as half-human,half-animal. Indra has no option but to seek help from Vishnu. Indra prays before Vishnu for protection and the Supreme Lord obliges him by taking avatars and generating him self on Earth in various forms, first as a water-dweller, (Matsya, fish), then a s an amphibious creature, (Koorma avatar or Tortoise), then half-man/half-animal (Varaha the Pig-faced/human-bodied Lord and Narasimha the Lord with Lion face a nd claws and human body). Later Vishnu appears as human beings (Vamana the short -heighted person), Parashuram, Ram, Krishna, Balarama or Buddha and finally as K alki avatar for performing his task of protecting his devotees from the Asuras o r anti-God, anti-religious entities. Ravana is the greatest of Shiva's devotees, but is slain by Vishnu, who appears before him as Lord Rama, the son of Dashara tha.[26] Vishnu's supremacy is attested by his victories over those very powerful entitie s who are themselves devotees of other Gods such as Brahma or Shiva. It is furth er attested by the accepted iconography and sculptures of Vishnu in reclining po sition as producing Brahma emerging from his navel. Brahma the creator is thus c reated in turn by Vishnu out of his own person. Next, Shiva is the Son of Brahma as per Bhagavata Purana. Instead Vishnu takes various avatars to slay or defeat those demons. Since Shiva and Brahma cannot distinguish between good and evil b eings, they have to entrust this responsibility to Vishnu. Finally Vishnu never grants a wish to evil beings.[26] Vishnu's actions lowered Indra's ranking among Hindu deities and led to the asce ndancy of Vishnu.[26] Few temples are dedicated to the Sun or Suryanarayana, nor indeed Indra, nor doe s Indra figure largely in the Hindu religion. Indra was almost completely absent from the deities considered as the chief or m ost important deity. Suryanarayana, a minor deity, was also absent. Rigveda In the Rigveda, Vishnu is mentioned 93 times. He is frequently invoked alongside other deities, especially Indra, whom he helps in killing Vritra and with whom he drinks soma. His distinguishing characteristic in the Vedas is his associatio n with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 are dedicated to Vishnu. In 7.99, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. The Rigveda describes Vishnu as subordinate to Indra. In Vaishnava canon the 'Vi shnu' who is subordinate to Indra is identified as Vamana, who is Vishnu's Avata r, and who is different from the Supreme God[citation needed] who is referred to as Vishnu by Vaishnavites.[26][27] Vishnu is not a mere sacrificial deity; he i s a God who lives in the highest celestial region, compared with those who live in the atmospheric or terrestrial regions. Vishnu is content with mere prayer, u nlike almost all of the other gods who receive sacrificial offerings such as hav is which is clarified butter or ghee, or soma.[27] The general view[citation needed] is that Vedas place Indra in a superior positi on to Vishnu's Avatar of Vamana. Vamana helps Indra by restoring his Kingdom as

mentioned in the Vamana Purana. An alternate translation is provided by Wilson[28] according to Sayana: When Thy (younger brother) Vi??u (Vamana) by (his) strength stepped his thre e paces, then verily thy beloved horses bore thee. (Rigveda 8:12:27)[28] Wilson mentions Griffith's possible translation as a footnote. However the follo wing verse from Rigveda renders the above translation by Wilson more probable. Him whose three places that are filled with sweetness, imperishable, joy as it may list them, Who verily alone upholds the threefold, the earth, the heaven, and all living creatures.(Rigveda 1:154:4)[29] Wilson offers an alternate translation for Rigveda 10:113:2:[30] Vi??u offering the portion of Soma, glorifies by his own vigor that greatnes s of his. Indra, the lord of wealth, with the associated gods having slain Vr.tr a, became deserving of honour. (Rigveda 10:113:2) This verse sees Vi??u as one who is glorified by his own strength, while Indra b ecame deserving of honor after having slain Vrtra only in association with other gods. However Vi?h?u's praise for other gods does not imply worship. Wilson translates : Vi??u, the mighty giver of dwellings praises thee, and Mitra and Varuna; the company of Maruts imitates thee in exhilaration. (Rigveda 8:15:9) (page 280)[28 ] The following verses show categorically Vi??u as distinguished from other gods i n Rigveda. He who presents (offering) to Vi??u, the ancient, the creator, the recent, t he self-born; he who celebrates the great birth of that mighty one; he verily po ssessed of abundance, attains (the station) that is to be sought (by all). (Rigv eda 1:156:2) (page 98)[31] No being that is or that has been born, divine Vi??u, has attained the utmos t limit of thy magnitude, by which thou hast upheld the vast and beautiful heave n, and sustained the eastern horizon of Earth.(Rigveda 7:99:2) (page 196)[28] The divine Vi??u, the best of the doers of good deeds, who came to the pious instituter of rite (Indra), to assist (at its celebration), knowing (the desire s of the worshiper), and present at the three connected period (of worship), sho ws favor to the Arya, and admits the author of the ceremony to a share of the sa crifice. (Rigveda 1:156:5) (page 99)[31] Jan Gonda, the late Indologist, states that Vishnu, although remaining in the ba ckground of Indra's exploits, contributes by his presence, or is key to Indra's success. Vishnu is more than a mere companion, equal in rank or power to Indra, or sometime the one who made Indra's success possible. Descriptions of Vishnu as subordinate to Indra are found in only the hymns to In dra, but in a kathenotheistic religion like that of the Rigveda, each god, for a time, is supreme in the mind of the devotee. Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi resting on Shesha Nag from The Atha Naradiyamaha puranam. The Naradeya Purana describes the mechanics of the cosmos. Narada and B rahma are also pictured.

In the Rig Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is the Sun God, w ho also bore the name Suryanarayana. By contrast he 'Vishnu' referred to in 'Vis hnu Puranam', 'Vishnu Sahasranamam' and 'Purusha Sooktham' is Sreeman Narayana ( the Lord/Consort of Sree or Lakshmi). The Vaishnavites make a further distinctio n by extolling the qualities of Vishnu by highlighting his differences from othe r deities such as Siva,[citation needed] Brahma or Surya.[26] Three steps Hymn 7.100 refers to the celebrated 'three steps' of Vishnu by which he strode o ver the universe and in three places planted his step. The 'Vishnu Sukta' (RV 1. 154) says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to men and the third is in the heights of heaven (sky ). This last place is described as Vishnu's supreme abode in RV 1.22.20: The princes evermore behold / that loftiest place where Vishnu is / Laid as it were an eye in heaven.(trans. Griffith) Griffith's "princes" are the suri, either "inciters" or lords of a sacrifice, or priests charged with pressing the Soma. The verse is quoted as expressing Vishn u's supremacy by Vaishnavites. Though such solar aspects have been associated with Vishnu by tradition as well as modern-scholarship,[citation needed] he was not just the representation of th e sun, as he moves both vertically and horizontally. In hymns 1.22.17, 1.154.3, 1.154.4 he strides across the earth with three steps, in 6.49.13, 7.100.3 strides across the earth three times and in 1.154.1, 1.155. 5,7.29.7 he strides vertically, with the final step in the heavens. The same Ved a also says he strode wide and created space in the cosmos for Indra to fight Vr itra. By his stride he made dwelling for men possible, the three forming a symbo lic representation of the dwelling's all-encompassing nature. This nature and be nevolence to men were Vishnu's enduring attributes. As the triple-strider he is known as Tri-vikrama and as Uru-krama, for the strides were wide. Brahmanas Four-armed Vishnu, Pandya Dynasty, 8 9th century CE. Elsewhere in the Rigveda, Shakala shakha: Aitareya Brahmana Verse 1 : agnir vai devanam avamo vi??u? paramas, tadantare?a sarva anya devata declares that Agni i s the lowest or youngest god and Vishnu is the greatest and the oldest God. The Brahmanas assert the supremacy of Lord Vishnu, addressing him as "Yajnapati" , the one whom all sacrifices are meant to please. Lord Vishnu accepts all sacri fices to the demigods and allots the respective fruits to the performer. In one incident a demonic person performs a sacrifice by abducting the rishis (Sanskrit name for sages who meditate by constantly chanting God's name). The sacrifice w as meant to destroy Indra. But the rishis, who worshipped Indra as a demigod, al tered one pronunciation of the ved-mantra, reversing the purpose of the sacrific e. When the fruit of the sacrifice was given and the demon was on the verge of d ying, he calls to Vishnu, whom he addresses as Supreme Godhead and "the father o f all living entities including himself". Aitareya Brahmana 1:1:1 mentions Vishnu as the Supreme God. But in the Vaishnava canon, in different ages, with Vishnu in different forms, his relationship with the 'asuras' or evil-beings was always adversarial. The asuras always caused ha rm, while the sages and 'devas' (celestial beings) did penance and called to Vis hnu for protection. Vishnu always obliges by taking avatarams to vanquish the as uras. In the Vaishnava canon, Vishnu never gave or granted any boons to the asur as, distinguishing him from gods such as Shiva and Brahma, who did. He is the on ly God called upon to save good beings by defeating or killing those asuras.[26]

Vishnu belongs to Satriyan group and is not a Brahmana. Sayana writes that Aitareya Brahmana 1:1:1 agnir vai devanam avamo vi??u? parama s,tadantare?a sarva anya devata does not indicate any hierarchy among gods. Even in Rigveda Samhita, where avama and parama are not applied to denote rank and d ignity, but only to mark place and locality. In Rigveda 1:108:9,: yadindraghni avamasya? p?thivya? madhyamasya? paramasyamuta stha? | i.e., in the lowest place, the middle (place), and the highest (place). Agni, the fire, has, among the gods, the lowest place; for he resides with man on the earth; while the other gods are either in the air, or in the sky. Vishnu occupies the highest place, representing the sun. The words avama and parama are understood as 'First' and 'Last' respectively. To support this claim, Sayana ad duces the mantra (1,4. As'val. Sr. S. 4, 2), agnir mukham prathamo devatanam sam gathanam uttamo vishnur asit, i.e., Agni was the first of the deities assembled, (and) Vishnu the last. In the Kausitaki Brahmana (7.1) Agni is called avarardhya (instead of avama), an d Visnu parardhya(instead of parama),i.e., belonging to the lower and higher hal ves (or forming the lower and higher halves).[32] The Vishnu Purana gives tremen dous importance to the worship of Vishnu and mentions that sacrifices are to beg in only with both the lighting of fire or 'Agni', pouring of sacrificial offerin gs to Vishnu in 'Agni' so that those offerings reach and are accepted by Vishnu. Worship of Vishnu through Yagnyas (or Homams) and other rituals, will not achie ve the desired result if 'Agnis role is neglected.[26] Muller says "Although the gods are sometimes distinctly invoked as the great and the small, the young and the old (Rigveda 1:27:13), this is only an attempt to find the most comprehensive expression for the divine powers, and nowhere is any of the gods represented as the slave of others. It would be easy to find, in th e numerous hymns of the Veda, passages in which almost every single god is repre sented as supreme and absolute."[33] However this notion is not completely correct as per the following verses, which shows Rigveda describe one or more gods as subject to other god(s). Him whose high law not Varuna nor Indra, not Mitra, Aryaman, nor Rudra break eth, Nor evil-hearted fiends, here for my welfare him I invoke, God Savitar, wit h worship. (Rigveda 2.038.09)[34][35] I invite to this place, with reverential salutations, for my good, that divi ne Savita, whose functions neither Indra, nor Varun.a, nor Mitra nor Aryaman nor Rudra nor the enemies (of the gods), impede. (Rigveda 2.038.09)[36][37] The following verse suggests Rudra gaining his strength from worship of Vi??u. With offerings I propitiate the branches of this swift-moving God, the bount eous Visnu. Hence Rudra gained his Rudra-strength: O Asvins, ye sought the house that hath celestial viands. (Rigveda 7.040.05)[38][39] Vishnu Smrti Vishnu and Lakshmi riding on Vishnu's Vahana Garuda di, c.1730 (in Los Angeles County Museum of Art ) Painting from Rajasthan, Bun

The Vishnu Smrti, Vi??u Sm?ti (700-1000AD) is one of the latest books of the Dha rmasastra tradition of Hinduism and the only one that focuses on the bhakti trad ition and the required daily puja to Vi?h?u, rather than the means of knowing dh arma. It is also known for its handling of the controversial subject of the prac tice of sati (the burning of a widow on her husband s funeral pyre).[40] The text was composed by an individual or group writing much after Vishnu's death. The au

thor(s) created a collection of the commonly known legal maxims that were attrib uted to Vishnu into one book, as Indian oral culture began to be recorded more f ormally.[41] Theological attributes Main article: Vaishnavism An article related to Hinduism Om.svg Hindu History Deities[show] Scriptures[show] Practices[show] Philosophers[show] Other topics[show] Portal icon Hinduism portal Portal icon Hindu Mythology portal v t e Vishnu is the only Bhagavan as declared in the Bhagavata 1:2:11 in the verse: va danti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate, translated as "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Tr uth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan."[42] In the Vishnu Purana (6:5:79) the personality named Parashara Rishi defines six bhagas: aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasa? sriya? jana-vairagyayos caiva ?anna? bhaga iti?gana Jiva Gosvami explains the verse in Gopala Champu (Purva 15:73) and Bhagavata San darbha 46:10: jana-sakti-balaisvarya-virya-tejam.sy ase? ata? bhagavac-chabda-vacyani vina heyair gu?adibhi? "The substantives of the word bhagavat (bhagavat-sabda-vacyani) are unlimite d (ase s.atah.) knowledge (jana), energies (sakti), strength (bala), opulence (aisv arya), heroism (virya), splendor (tejas), without (vina) objectionable (heyair) qualities (gu?adibhi?)." The actual number of Vishnu's auspicious qualities is countless, although his si x most-important "divine glories" are: Jana Omniscient; to know about all beings simultaneously; Aishvarya Opulence, the unchallenged rule over all; Shakti Energy, the capacity to make the impossible possible; Bala Strength, the capacity to support everything by his will and without fa tigue; Virya Vigour, or valour, the power to retain immateriality as the Supreme Sp irit or Being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations; Tjas Resplendent, or Splendour, which expresses self-sufficiency and the capa city to overpower everything by spiritual effulgence; cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyananda.

Other important qualities attributed to Vishnu are Gambhirya (inestimatable gran deur), Audarya (generosity), and Karunya (compassion). Natya Shastra lists Vishn u as the presiding deity of the Sringara rasa. The Rigveda says: Vishnu can travel in three strides. The first stride is the Ea rth. The second stride is the visible sky. The third stride cannot be seen by me n and is the heaven where the gods and the righteous dead live. (This feature of three strides also appears in the story of his avatar Vamana called Trivikrama. ) The Sanskrit for "to stride" is the root kram; its reduplicated perfect is cha kram (guna grade) or chakra (zero-grade), and in the Rigveda he is called by epi thets such as vi-chakra-manas = "he who has made 3 strides". The Sanskrit word c hakra also means "wheel". That may have suggested the idea of Vishnu carrying a chakra. Vishnu (Beikthano in Burmese) on his mount, the garuda, in the traditional Burme se depiction. Five forms In Sri Vaishnavism, another school, Vishnu assumes five forms: In the Para Form, Para is the highest form of Vishnu found only in Sri Vaiku nta also called Moksha, along with his consort Lakshmi, (and Bhuma Devi and Nila devi, avatars of Lakshmi) and surrounded by liberated souls like Ananta, Garuda , and a host of Muktas (liberated souls). In the Vyuha form, Vishnu assumes four forms, which exercise different cosmi c functions and controls activities of living beings. In the Vibhava form, Vishnu assumes various manifestations, called Vibhavas, more popularly known as Avataras from time to time, to protect the virtuous, pu nish evil-doers and re-establish righteousness. In the Antaryami; "Dwelling within" or "Suksma Vasudeva" form, Vishnu exists within the souls of all living beings and in every substance.[43] In the Arcavatara or Image manifestation, Vishnu is visible and therefore ea sily approachable by devotees since Para, Vyuha, Vibhava and Antaryami forms can only be imagined or meditated upon because they are beyond our reach. Such imag es can be revealed by Vishnu, for example, a self-manifested (Swayambhu) icon (mur ti), e.g. The Mahavishnu Temple at Tirunelli, The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, The Tirumala Venkateswara Temple etc.; or installed by devas or celestial beings such as such as Guruvayur Temple installed by Vayu; or installed by humans, and consecrated according to Vaishnava Agama shastr as or scriptures such as Lord Jagannath of Jagannath Temple (Puri) at Puri.[44] See also Pacaratra Relations with Deities Shiva Rama with Sita coronation ceremony after return from Lanka Rama with Sita on the throne, their children Lava and Kusha on their laps. Behin d the throne, Lakshamana, Bharata and Shatrughna stand. Hanuman bows to Rama bef ore the throne. Valmiki to the left The Trimurti are inseparable and in complete harmony in view of their common vis ion and universal good. They complement each other. Vishnu is the brother of Shi va's consort, the mother goddess Parvati. Vishnu formalized the wedding of Shiva and Parvati and acted as Parvati's brother in all the ceremonies and performed 'Kanya Daan', while Brahma officiated. Parvati is referred to as his sister in s acred hymns 'Narayani' in Devi Stotram, 'Vaishnavi' in Ambashtakam and as 'Padma nabha Sahodari' in Lalita Sahasranama Stotram. Parvati and Vishnu (as his avatar Krishna) were born as brother and sister in Krishnavatar in Dwapara Yuga Durga takes Yasoda's womb as 'Yogamaya', and Krishna takes Devaki's womb; both are int

erchanged. When Kansa tries to kill the baby, it skips out of his hands and tran sforms into Yogamaya, who laughs aloud and informs him, "You fool! Your nemesis is born elsewhere. Your end is near." Yogamaya then vanishes. There is no concept of disagreement among the gods, and they are ideal in all re spects. However, ordinary men and sectarian groups, not knowing this equilibrium and their sacred relationship, in later ages wove stories in vernacular present ing their preferred deity as Supreme and as 'sthala puranas' for the multitude o f temples. These have nothing to do with the recognised original Puranas and oth er ancient Scriptures. Their equilibrium is best manifested in Gajasurasamhara followed by the Battle a gainst Vinayaka. Samudra manthan's episode and Hanuman's part in the entire Rama yana are other examples of synergy between the two gods. The Rakshasa, (demon king) Gajasura, was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He und erwent penance for many years to receive special boons. Shiva, who was moved by Gajasura's devotion, offered to fulfill a request. Gajasura asked Shiva to resid e in his belly, and Shiva instantly agreed. Meanwhile on Mount Kailash, Parvati was anxious to know her husband's whereabouts and finally approached Vishnu for help. Vishnu and Brahma disguised themselves as street players, and along with S hiva's bull carrier Nandi, they set out in search of Shiva. Vishnu staged a smal l play. He transformed Nandi into a dancing bull and directed him to dance in fr ont of Gajasura, with himself and Brahma playing musical instruments. The bull's performance sends the demon into ecstasies, and he asked the flutist to tell hi m what he desired. The flutist asks for Shiva to be liberated. Hearing this, Gaj asura realises that the entertainer is Vishnu himself and that his end is near. He also realises that Shiva cannot be made to live in his stomach forever becaus e the whole world would become disordered. Gajasura then prays to Shiva that he should be allowed to be immortal in the memories of the people, to which Shiva a greed. Nandi makes a dent in Gajasura's stomach and amid pitched chanting and pr ayers, Shiva emerges, ripping through Gajasura's skin. To fulfill his wish, Shiv a severs Gajasura's head and frees him from the cycle of birth and death. Gajasu ra's head was subsequently used for Vinayaka, and thus he became immortal, with the world adoring Ganesha. Although their names were mentioned in the Vedas, during the pure Vedic period, both Vishnu and Shiva (as identified with Rudra) played relatively minor roles, but by the time of the Brahmanas (c. 1000 700 BCE), both were gaining ascendance.[ 45] By the Puranic period, both deities had major sects of devotees, creating a schism.[46] Both Brahma and Shiva played supportive roles in this story by keeping company o f Vishnu in his incarnated forms. Hanuman is the vanara who is completely dedica ted to Rama. He gives Vishnu company and obeys his command, while playing an imp ortant part in Rama's life. He is regarded in Vaishnava canon as Shiva, because it is through Shiva's blessings that Hanuman is born. Thus, Hanuman, Vishnu's co nstant consort, with his idol appearing temples of Rama, Krishna and Narasimha, i.e. all of Vishnu's avatarams, is considered by Vaishnavas to be Shiva.[47] Syn cretic forces produced stories in which the two deities were shown in cooperativ e relationships and combined forms. Harihara is the name of a combined deity for m of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara).[48] This dual form, which is also call ed Harirudra, is mentioned in the Mahabharata.[49] Lakshmi Question book-new.svg This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improv e this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may b e challenged and removed. (May 2009) Vishnu with Lakshmi (Lakshmi-Narayana) at Halebidu.

Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Maya is the samvit (the prim ary intelligence) dark matter of the universe is Vishnu, while the other five at tributes emerge from this samvit and hence Maya or dark energy of the universe i s Lakshmi is his ahamata, activity, or Vishnu's Power.[clarification needed] Thi s power of God, Maya or Shakti, is personified and has multiple names: Shree, La kshmi, Maya, Vishnumaya or Mahamaya. She is said to manifest as kriyashakti, (Cr eative Activity) and bhutishakti (Creation). This world requires Vishnu's creati vity. He therefore needs Lakshmi to always be with Him. Her various avatars as L ord Vishnu's consort are Varahavataram (Bhudevi), Ramavataram Sita, Krishnavatar am (Radha and Rukmini) and Venkateswara (Padmavathi Vedavati). Garuda Vishnu's vehicle is Garuda, the eagle. Vishnu is commonly depicted as riding on his shoulders. Another name of Vishnu is Veda-Atma, or The Soul of the Vedas and Vedic truth. Iconography Question book-new.svg This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improv e this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may b e challenged and removed. (May 2009) The 11th century Javan statue of Vishnu mounting Garuda, mortuary deified depict ion of King Airlangga According to various Purana, Vishnu is the ultimate omnipresent reality and is s hapeless and omnipresent. However, a strict iconography governs his representati on, whether in pictures, icons, or idols: He has four-arms and is male: The four arms indicate his all-powerful and al l-pervasive nature. His physical existence is represented by the two arms in the front, while the two arms at the back represent his presence in the spiritual w orld. The Upanishad Gopal Uttartapani describes the four arms. The srivatsa mark is on his chest, symbolising his consort Lakshmi. He wears the auspicious "Kaustubha" jewel around his neck and a garland of f lowers (vanamaalaa). Lakshmi dwells in this jewel, on Vishnu's chest. A crown adorns his head: The crown symbolizes his supreme authority. This cr own sometimes includes a peacock feather, borrowing from his Krishna avatar. He wears two earrings: The earrings represent inherent opposites in creation knowledge and ignorance; happiness and unhappiness; pleasure and pain. He rests on Ananta, the immortal and infinite snake. Vishnu holding Panchajanya in his upper left hand Vishnu reclining on the Shesha Naga with his consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Vishnu is always to be depicted holding four attributes: A conch shell or Shankha, named Panchajanya, is held by the upper left hand. It represents Vishnu's power to create and maintain the universe. Panchajanya r epresents the five elements or Panchabhoota water, fire, air, earth and sky or s pace. It also represents the five airs or Pranas that are within the body and mi nd. The conch symbolizes that Vishnu is the primeval Divine sound of creation an d continuity. It also represented as Om. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna avatara s tates that of sound vibrations, 'He is Om'. The chakra, a sharp-spinning discus-like weapon, named "Sudarshana", is held by the upper right hand. It symbolizes the purified spiritualized mind. The nam e Sudarshana is derived from two words Su, which means good, superior, and Darsh an, which means vision or Sight; together, it is "Superior Vision". The chakra r epresents destruction of ego in the awakening and realization of the soul's orig inal nature and god, burning away spiritual ignorance and illusion, and developi ng higher spiritual vision and insight to realize god. A mace or Gada, named "Kaumodaki",[50] is held by the lower right hand. It s

ymbolizes that Vishnu's divine power is the source all spiritual, mental and phy sical strength. It also signifies Vishnu's power to destroy materialistic or dem onic tendencies (anarthas) that prevents people from reaching god. Vishnu's mace is the power of the Divine within us to spiritually purify and uplift us from o ur materialistic bonds. A lotus flower or Padma is held by the lower left hand. It represents spirit ual liberation, Divine perfection, purity and the unfolding of Spiritual conscio usness within the individual. The lotus opening its petals in the light of the S un is indicative of the expansion and awakening of our long dormant, original sp iritual consciousness in the light of god. The lotus symbolizes that god is the power and source from which the universe and the individual soul emerges. It als o represents Divine Truth or Satya, the originator of the rules of conduct or Dh arma, and Divine Vedic knowledge or jnana. The lotus also symbolizes that Vishnu is the embodiment of spiritual perfection and purity and that He is the wellspr ing of these qualities and that the individual soul must seek to awaken these in trinsic Divine qualities from Vishnu by surrendering to and linking with Him. A statue in Bangkok, Thailand depicting Vishnu mounted on his vahana Garuda, the eagle To this may be added, conventionally, the vanamaala flower garland, Vishnu's bow (Shaarnga) and his sword Nandaka. A verse of the Vishnu Sahasranama stotram sta tes;vanamali gadhi sharngi shanki chakri cha nandaki / shriman narayano visno va sudevo abhiraksatu//; translation: Protect us Oh Lord Narayana who wears the for est garland,who has the mace, conch, sword and the wheel. And who is called Vish nu and the Vasudeva. In general, Vishnu's body is depicted in one of the following three ways: Standing on a lotus flower, often with Lakshmi, his consort, beside him on a similar pedestal. Reclining on the coiled-up thousand-hooded Shesha Naga, with Lakshmi seated at his feet; the assemblage rests on the "Kshira Sagar" (ocean of milk). In this representation, Brahma is depicted as sitting on a lotus that grows out of Vish nu's navel. Riding on the back of his eagle mount, known as Garuda. Another name for Gar uda is "Veda atma"; Soul of the Vedas. The flapping of his wings symbolizes the power of the Divine Truth of Vedic wisdom. Also the eagle represents the soul. G aruda carrying Vishnu symbolizes the soul or jiva atma carrying the Super soul o r Param atma within it. Avatars Main article: Avatars of Vishnu See also: Dashavatara Ten avatars of Vishnu (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Krishna, Kalki, Buddha, Pa rshurama, Rama and Narasimha). Painting from Jaipur, now at the Victoria and Alb ert Museum Ten avatars (dashavatara) of Vishnu are the most prominent:[51] Matsya, the fish that kills Damanaka to save the vedas and saves mankind. Kurma, the turtle that helps the Devas and Asuras churn the ocean for the ne ctar of immortality. Varaha, the boar that rescues the Earth and kills Hiranyaksha Narasimha, the half-lion half human, who defeats the demon Hiranyakashapu (N ara = man, simha = lion). Vamana, the dwarf that grows into a giant to save the world from King Bali. Parashurama, A Sage, Rama with the axe, who appeared in the Treta Yuga. He k illed Kartavirya Arjuna's army and clan and then killed all the ksatriyas 21 tim es.

Rama, Sri Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya who killed Demon King Raavana. Krishna, (meaning 'dark coloured' or 'all attractive' or the Existence of Bl iss) who played a major role in Mahabharata. Buddha, Founder of Buddhism Kalki, "Eternity", or "timeless", destroyer of time or "The Destroyer of fou lness", who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in wh ich we currently exist. Some versions of the above list include Hayagriva among the Dashavataras. Anothe r 22 avatars are given in Chapter 3, Canto 1 of the Bhagavata Purana, although i t states that "the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowi ng from inexhaustible sources of water". Thousand names of Vishnu Question book-new.svg This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improv e this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may b e challenged and removed. (May 2009) Main article: Vishnu sahasranama Vishnu sahasranama manuscript, ca. 1690. Vishnu's many names and followers are collected in the Vishnu sahasranama, (Vish nu's thousand names) from within the larger work Mahabharata. The character Bhis hma recites the names before Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, praising him (Vishnu) as the supreme god. These Sahasranama are regarded as the essence of all Vedas by followers of Vaishnavism, who believe sincere chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama results in spiritual well-being and a greater awareness of God. The names are generally derived from the anantakalyanagunas (meaning: infinite a uspicious attributes). Some names are: The template below (Columns-list) is being considered for merging. See templates for discussion to help reach a consensus. 2 According to the Siddhartha-samhita there are twenty-four forms of Lord Vishnu. The twenty-four forms are The template below (Columns-list) is being considered for merging. See templates for discussion to help reach a consensus. Vasudeva Sankarshana Pradyumna Anirudha Keshava Narayana Madhava Govinda Vishnu Madhusudana Trivikrama Vamana Sridhara Hrishikesha Padmanabha Damodara Purushottama Achyuta Nrisimha Janardana Hari

Krishna Adhokshaja Upendra