Lord Vishnu represents
the aspect of the Supreme Reality that preserves and sustains the universe.
Although there are variations in images and pictures of Lord Vishnu, He
is generally symbolized by a human body with four arms. In His hands He
carries a conch (shankha), a mace (gada), and discus (chakra). He wears
a crown, two earrings, a garland (mala) of flowers, and a gem around the
neck. He has a blue body and wears yellow clothes. The Lord is shown standing
on a thousand-headed snake (named Shesha Nag), and the snake stands with
its hoods open over the head of the Lord.
The four arms indicate Lord's omnipresence and
omnipotence. The two front arms signify the lord's activity in the physical
world and the two back arms signify His activity in the spiritual world.
The right side of the body represents the creative activities of the mind
and the intellect. The left side symbolizes the activities of the heart;
that is, love, kindness, and compassion.
A conch in the upper left hand indicates that
the Lord communicates with His devotees with love and understanding. When
blowing His conch, He reminds his devotes to live in this world with kindness
and compassion towards all living beings. A chakra in His upper right hand
conveys the idea that the Lord uses this weapon to protect His devotees
from evil. The mace denotes energy and a mace in the Lord's left lower
hand signifies that He sustains the manifest world by the energy that He
holds in Himself. His front right hand is depicted bestowing grace on His
The snake denotes the mind and the thousand heads
of the snake signify innumerable desires and passions of an individual.
Just as a snake destroys its victim by its venom, an uncontrolled mind
destroys the world by the venom of its possessiveness. The Lord has controlled
all desires, and this is symbolized by showing Him seated on the two coils
of the snake. When a sincere devotee of the Lord controls his desires,
the Lord fulfills the devotee's genuine desires and helps him on his path.
The blue sky in the background of the Lord suggests
that He pervades the entire universe. The blue color symbolizes infinity.
The blue body of the Lord signifies that He has infinite attributes. He
is nameless, formless, and immeasurable. The color yellow is associated
with earthly existence and the yellow clothes of the Lord signify that
He incarnates Himself on this earth to uphold righteousness and destroy
evil and unrighteousness.
A flower garland around the Lord's neck is a symbol
of the devotee's adoration for the Lord. A gem decorating His neck signifies
that the Lord fulfills all genuine desires of His devotees and provides
for their needs. The crown is a symbol of the Lord's supreme power and
authority. The two earrings signify the dual nature of creation, such as
knowledge and ignorance, happiness and unhappiness, and pleasure and pain.
The worship of Lord Vishnu is very popular among
Hindus, especially among the followers of the Vaishnava tradition (Vaishnavism).
He is the second member of the Hindu Trinity, with Lord Brahma and Lord
Shiva as the other two. Lord Vishnu is also known by other names, such
as Vasudeva and Narayana. The following ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu
are described in Hindu mythology and are popular among Hindus. These incarnations
reveal the help rendered by God during various stages of human evolution.
As shown below, the first two incarnations are in the animal form, the
third one is half-human and half-animal, and the fourth and the subsequent
ones are all in human form. These incarnations relate to human evolution
from aquatic life to human life, and are consistent with the modern theory
of evolution suggested by science:
- Bansi Pandit
Matsya (fish)---saves Sage Manu from floods
and recovers the Vedas from demons.
Kurma (tortoise)---sustains the earth on his
Varaha (boar)---brings the earth back from
the bottom of the ocean where it was dragged down by a demon, known as
Hiranyaksha; Varaha kills the demon.
Narasimha (man-lion)---kills the demon King Hiranyakashipu, who was planning to kill his own son, a devotee of Lord
Vamana (dwarf)---the first human incarnation
of the Lord, kills the demon King Mahabhali, who had deprived the gods
of their possessions.
Parasurama (the warrior with an axe)---saves
Brahmins from the tyranny of the arrogant Kshatriyas.
Rama---kills Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
Sri Krishna---the most popular incarnation;
Krishna's contributions throughout his life include the teachings of the
Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.
Buddha---Hindus consider Buddha as an incarnation
of Lord Vishnu and accept his teachings, but do not directly worship him.
Kalkin (a man on a white horse)---this incarnation
is yet to come and will mark the end of all evil in the world.
Bhagwan Vishnu - the protector