Monday, January 17, 2011


Vishnu represents that aspect of the divine reality
that maintains and sustains the creation. The endless creative force of Brahma gives life to all beings, and Vishnu's infinite sustaining force protects this life.

Just as the feminine Supreme Energy,
Vishnu has a "thousands names" which symbolize in fact just as many of his aspects. The daily repetition of Vishnu's thousand names is a living proof of his devotee's faith and ardor.

Vishnu's blue body is often depicted in blue.
The color blue symbolizes the infinite. Vishnu is represented as an infinite force. He has no form, no name, and he is incommensurable.

The garland of flowers around Vishnu's neck is a
symbol of God's worship. The precious stone decorating his neck indicates that Vishnu fulfills his worshiper's desires and the crown is a symbol of the Divine's power and supreme authority. His two earrings stand for the dual nature of creation.

Vishnu wears yellow clothing.
The yellow color is associated with the terrestrial life. The dress of Vishnu, therefore, symbolizes his incarnations as a man, fighting for justice and destruction of the evil.
"Vishnu, the Preserver, sustains the whole creation
and has the power of manifesting himself under
numerous forms. In the great Cosmic Ocean,
He sustains both the sun of the infinite and
the eternal spirit of existence, which is the
master of the universe."
Vishnu Purana

Vishnu the Preserver, is often depicted
as lying on Ananta, a many-headed serpent.
He lives on Meru with his wife Lakshmi.
Vishnu usually rides through the heavens
on Garuda, a man-bird, endowed with
highly unusual powers, which spreads
courage and Vedic knowledge.
His first incarnation was a fish,Matsya;
the second a turtle, Kurma; the third a wild boar, Varaha;
 the fourth a lion; the fifth a dwarf, Vamana;
 the sixth a warrior, Parasurama; the seventh a hero, Rama;
 the eighth Krishna; the ninth Buddhah.
Very often, Vishnu appears under the form
of a young, very handsome man, with four arms
(several arms is an indication of the divine,
showing that they can perform several
functions in the same time).

In his hands, Vishnu is shown holding
a shell, a disk, a lotus, and a scepter.
The symbolism of the shell is two-folded:
on one hand it represents Vishnu's relationship
with the primordial waters and its use
as a musical instrument, reminiscent of the
primordial waters, and on the other hand
the shell represents the five elements,
and consequently the origin of manifestation.

The lotus is a symbol of the spiritual
development and cosmic harmony.
It also signifies the appearance of life on
the neutral immensity of the primordial waters.

The opening of the lotus bud represents
the realization of the possibilities contained
in the "seed" of the human being.
The scepter is a symbol of power and authority.

The disk is a solar symbol,
and the classical image of Vishnu, the ascendant,
unifying, intellectual tendency of a human being.
It represents the power that destroys the
ignorance and the darkness, just as it is a symbol
of a killing weapon, and of the sun. It destroys
the evil through the process of illumination.

Vishnu is more a god of love.
For a Vaishnavite, salvation is usually won
by bhakti, a loving devotion to God as preserver.
Vishnu is considered the guardian of mankind
and the keeper of the Dharma.
He preserves the order in the universe.
Every time the humanity decays, Vishnu takes on
the form of an avatar, a divine model coming
on earth, to show people new paths for spiritual
development. He has taken nine incarnations.
Vishnu's tenth incarnation, Kalki,is supposed to come about
 at the end of this age, Kali Yuga. He is said to be
the cosmic rider of Apocalypse, who will take on the role of
 destroyer of what is evil on earth.
The most important incarnations of Vishnu are Rama and Krishna.
To Hindus, Rama, who is nearly always noble and righteous, is the ideal man. Sita, incarnation of Lakshmi and his loyal wife, is the ideal woman. All sects reverence Rama. No name is more commonly given to Hindu children, and all Hindus would like to die with his name on their lips. When Mahatma Gandhi fell, mortally wounded by a fanatic assassin, he murmured "Ai Ram, Ai Ram" (O Rama, O Rama).

Krishna, even more popular and lovable, is the subject of countless stories and legends. As a youth Krishna flirts with the Gopi milk maidens and has an affair with one, Radha. These erotic experiences are interpreted symbolically. Individual souls are drawn to God as the milkmaidens were attracted to Krishna, and one should give one's self to God in complete surrender as Radha did to Krishna.
 From the Hinduism Infocenter at


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