Lord Vishnu is one of the three Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara (Shiva). While Brahma is responsible for the creation of the universe and Shiva for destruction for re-creation, Lord Vishnu is the preserver of the Universe.
Meaning of Vishnu
The name Vishnu is taken from the word “Vish” which means to spread in all directions and therefore he comprises the entire Universe which is ever-expanding. The word Vishnu means ‘one who pervades, one who has entered into everything’.
A concise picture of the Vishnu-image is presented in Gopala-uttara-tapini-upanishad (45-48): His feet bear the auspicious signs of a celestial standard, a royal parasol. His chest is adorned with srivatsa locks of hair, the brilliantly shining kaustubha gem and rows of forest-flower garlands (vanamala). His four hands hold shankha (conch), chakra (discus), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus). He is adorned with armlets, garlands, jewels, diadem, and earrings shaped like Makara the sea monster (makara-kundala). (The Iconography of Lord Vishnu – Symbols of Lord Vishnu)
Attributes of Lord Vishnu
The Vishu Purana talks about the six divine attributes that are present in the Husband of Goddess Lakshmi collectively called Ṣaḍ-aiśvaryas. They are:
- Jñāna (knowledge): The Lord has complete knowledge of each and everything in existence. His knowledge is not limited by space or time. He is always aware of everything in the past, present, and future.
- Bala (strength): The Lord possesses unparalleled strength. He can lift mountains just by a mere thought.
- Aiśvarya (command): He has full command over His entire creation. Everything happens according to His will, without any hindrance whatsoever.
- Vīrya (valour): The Lord is Vīra, a hero of unmatched valour. No one can defeat Him in a duel, except Himself. [Vīrya can also be understood as a tendency to be unaffected by external factors].
- Śakti (ability): The Lord is Sarva-śaktimān. He is fully capable of doing everything that others can do. At the same time, He can also do that which others cannot.
- Tējas (independence): The Lord is independent of everything other than Him. He does not need the assistance of someone other than Himself for doing anything.
Avatars of Vishnu
Lord Vishnu has taken many Avatars for different purposes. His ten avatar (Dashavatara) is popular among Hindus around the world.
10 avatars of Vishnu
- Matsya – The Fish
- Kurma – The Tortoise
- Varaha – The Boar
- Narasimha – The Lion Man
- Vamana – The Dwarf
- Parashurama – The Lumberjack
- Lord Rama – King of Ayodhya
- Lord Krishna – Most important Avatar of Vishnu
- Lord Buddha – Siddhartha Gautama, later known as Buddha
- Kalki – Yet to born
Bhagavata Purana lists 24 Avatars of Sri Vishnu. Even though there are innumerable incarnations of the Lord Vishnu, some of the important ones are mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1 chapter 3.
अवतारा हि असङ्ख्येया हरेः सत्त्व-निधेर् द्विजाः
यथाविदासिनः कुल्याः सरसः स्युः सहस्रशः
avatārā hi asaṅkhyeyā hareḥ sattva-nidher dvijāḥ
yathāvidāsinaḥ kulyāḥ sarasaḥ syuḥ sahasraśaḥ
O brāhmaṇas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.
Vishnu Mentioned in Vedas
Rig Veda (1.22.20) – makes it very clear that it is Vishnu who empowers all the heavenly Devas extolled and glorified in the Vedas.
Rig Veda 1.22.20 – Vishnu occupies a paramount position. All the other deities look always to His feet.
Rig Veda 10.113.2 – Vishnu is glorified because of who and what He intrinsically is. Indra, on the other hand, is only glorious circumstantially.
Rig Veda 1.156.2 – Vishnu is the most ancient of all, yet also the most recent. Nothing and no one creates Vishnu, yet Vishnu creates everyone and everything.
Vishnu Mangalam Mantra,
मङ्गलम् भगवान विष्णुः, मङ्गलम् गरुणध्वजः।
मङ्गलम् पुण्डरी काक्षः, मङ्गलाय तनो हरिः॥
Mangalam Bhagwan Vishnuh, Mangalam Garunadhwajah।
Mangalam Pundari Kakshah, Mangalaya Tano Harih॥
ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya।।
and Mula Mantra,
ॐ नमो नारायण
Om Namo Narayanaya।।
- Lord Brahma was born from the navel of Lord Vishnu
- Mohini – Female Avatar of Lord Vishnu
- Lord Vishnu was once Cursed by Bhrigu
- There is an asteroid name after Lord Vishnu
- There are a total of 24 Vishnu Avatars
- There are 108 Divya Desam, Sacred sites of Vishnu