Lord Vishnu is the creator and saviour of the Universe. The God who cannot tolerate ego, lands on the earth in any of his 10 incarnations when disorder increases. With his peaceful and calm attitude he handles even the difficult responsibility with ease. Read the below featured article to know all about the Lord.
Vishnu describes himself as: “The world rests as the lotus in the palm of my hand, the cosmos revolves around my finger like a discus. I blow the music of life through my conch and wield my mace to protect all creatures.”
Appearance of the Lord
The God is often pictured with his consort, Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lord Vishnu has four arms which represent the four Vedas and the four castes. In each of his hands is an emblem of his divinity: the discus (chakra), conch (shankh), mace and lotus. He wears Kaustubha (jewel) around his neck and is usually represented with a dark complexion. Lord Vishnu never sleeps and awaits the next annihilation and reconstruction of the universe.
To know importance of worshipping Lord Vishnu during Kartika month, click here- Worship Lord Vishnu During Kartik
10 Avatars (Incarnations) of the Lord
Vishnu has ten avatars (incarnations), who appears when there is disorder in the universe. The two most popular incarnations of Lord Vishnu are Rama and Krishna, whose stories are featured in the Epics and the Puranas. The ten incarnations of the God are:
- Matsya (Fish)
- Kurma (Tortoise)
- Varaha (Boar)
- Narasimha (Half man half lion)
- Vamana (Dwarf)
- Parashurama (Rama with the exe)
- Rama (Prince of Ayodhya)
- Balarama (Elder brother of Krishna)
- Krishna (Eighth son of Devaki and Vasudev)
- Kalki (horseman, who has not yet appeared)
Significance of His Four Arms
The four hands of Vishnu shows control over the four directions of the world. These four hands also represent the four stages of human life (also known as the four ashrams).
1) The inquisition for knowledge (Brahamacharya)
2) Retreat into the Forest (Vana-Prastha)
3) Family Life (Grihastha)
4) Renunciation (Sannyasa)
They further symbolize the four aims of life (Purusharthas):
a) Responsibilities and morality (Dharma)
b) Material Goods, wealth, prosperity and success (Artha)
c) Sexuality, pleasure and Enjoyment (Kama)
d) Liberation (Moksha)
Significance of Lord Vishnu’s Conch, Discus, Lotus and Mace
Conch: Conch is one of the most important devices of Vishnu. The blowing of it, symbolizes the fundamental creative voice. Indian spiritualists link it to the sacred sound of ‘OM’, which is believed to be the breath of Vishnu. The voice of the conch increases travelling from one point to the other and denotes eternity.
Discus: Vishnu Purana identifies the chakra with the human mind. When used as a weapon, the chakra returns back to the hand of the one who throws it pointing the cyclic nature of survival (existence).
Lotus: Lotus is a symbol of fertility and creation. The lotus carried by Lord Vishnu denotes his wife and consonant companion, Goddess Lakshmi. Vishnu derives all his power from the Lotus held in one of his hands.
Mace: Mace symbolizes the power of time. Conquering the mace is as impossible as it is to conquer the time. It destroys those who oppose it.
Reason behind Lord Vishnu resting on Sheshnag
Responsibilities and duties toward family, society and economy are a part of everyone’s life. Lots of efforts and courage are needed to face some of the important responsibilities which are as scary as a Kalrupi Sheshnag. Vishnu’s quiet face while resting on the kings of serpents inspires people to be patient and calm in difficult situations. All problems can be solved with a quiet attitude.
Vishnu as explained in Rig Veda
Earliest mentions of Lord Vishnu are explained in the most ancient book of the world, Rig Veda. In this book he appears as a solar God who is a sign of light. His head was separated from his body by a trick of Gods. It is this head which became the sun. In the Veda, he is depicted as a friend and companion of Lord Indra who is the God of rain, storm and thunder. Together, they take on the devil, Vritra (who causes drought) and are known as Vritraharan (the killer of Vritra).