Lord Vishnu

The Preserver of the Universe

Lord Vishnu, one of the major gods in Hinduism, is the second member of the Holy Trinity. He is regarded as the preserver of dharma in the universe. Hari, which means the remover, is one among his many names. Lord Vishnu is also hailed by the names Lord Venkateshwara and Narayana.

Vishnu has four hands, each holding a sankha (conch shell), chakra (the discus that destroys evil), gada (mace) and padma (lotus) respectively. Garuda, the mighty eagle that disseminates Vedic knowledge, is his vehicle. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is Vishnu's consort. He is always represented as dark in color, lying on Adisesha or Anantha, the huge serpent, which indicates sleeping universe. Lord Vishnu is also hailed by the name Anantha Padmanabha. The avtars (incarnations) Vishnu adopted for the destruction of evil are Matsya (fish), Kurma (turtle), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (the man-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Parashurama (the warrior-priest), Rama (the prince), Krishna (the cowherd), Buddha-Mayamoha (the sage) and Kalki (the horseman). Instead of Buddha-Mayamoha, sometimes Balarama is also considered an incarnation.

The tradition of Vishnu worship (Vaishnavism) has been prevalent in India since very early times. Jayadeva and Surdas were two major Vaishnavite saints.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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