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HINDUISM MYTHOLOGY
 
 

Lord Vishnu

God Vishnu

The peace-loving deity of the Hindu Trinity, Vishnu is the Preserver or Sustainer of life with his steadfast principles of order, righteousness and truth. When these values are under threat, Vishnu emerges out of his transcendence to restore peace and order on earth.

 

Whenever Dharma, or the situation of law and order, is endangered on this world, I shall incarnate onto this world to re-establish Dharma, law and order, and to protect the good people and to destroy the evil elements of the society."

Vishnu is the name given to the protector and sustainer of the universe. Lord Vishnu has incarnated in various life forms through different Yugas (ages or eons) in situations where Dharma was in danger, because of certain evil elements in the world. There are ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. These incarnations are termed as the 'avatars' of Lord Vishnu. Each avatar of Lord Vishnu shall be presented below with appropriate details of the situation under which the lord was compelled to appear on the earth.

 

Vishnu is a main Vedic God (including His different avataras and/or expansions), venerated as the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism. He is also commonly known as Narayana or Hari. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God. The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. This illustrates the omnipresent characteristic of Vishnu. Vishnu governs the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called "Preserver of the universe".
In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine colour of water filled clouds, four-armed, holding a lotus, mace, shankha (conch) and chakra (wheel). Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a 'Universal Form' (Vishvarupa) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.
His eternal or permanent abode beyond the material universe is Vaikuntha which is a realm of eternal bliss and happiness. It is also known as Paramdhama, which means final or highest place for liberated souls, where they enjoy eternal bliss and happiness. Vaikuntha is situated beyond the material universe and hence, can not be perceived or measured by material science and logics.
His other abode within the material universe is Ksheera Sagara, where he reclines and rests on Shesha. It is known to be the topmost realm in the material universe, even higher than Satyaloka where Brahma resides. Vishnu manages and sustains the universe from there. Hence, Ksheera Sagara is also sometimes known as local Vaikuntha of the material universe, which is approachable by demigods in order to meet the lord in case of any emergency or disturbance in universal balance.
In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten avatara, most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna. The Puranabharti describes each of these Dasavatara of Vishnu. Among the ten principal Avatara described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future, at the end of Kali Yuga. These incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales, the avatars and their stories show that gods are indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and unbelievable. The Bhagavad Gita mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma and vanquish negative forces, the forces of evil that threaten Dharma, as also to display His divine nature in front of the conditioned/fallen souls.
The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer." These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or the "Great Trinity". Of the three members of the Trimurti, the Bhagavata Purana, which espouses the Vaishnavite viewpoint, explains that the greatest benefit can be had from Vishnu.

Relations with other deities

Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi , the goddess of wealth. Maya is the samvit (the primary intelligence)dark matter of the universe is Vishnu, while the other five attributes emerge from this samvit and hence Maya or dark energy of the universe is Lakshmi is his ahamata, activity, or Vishnu's Power. This power of God, Maya or Shakti, is personified and is called Shree or Lakshmi, Maya, Vishnumaya , or Mahamaya, and She is said to manifest Herself in, 1) kriyashakti, (Creative Activity) and 2) bhütishakti (Creation) of Universe. Hence this world cannot part with his creativity i.e., dark energy of universe, which is a feminine form which in its feminine form is called Shree or Lakshmi or Maya. He therefore needs consort Goddess Lakshmi to be with Him always. Thus goddess Lakshmi has to accompany Vishnu in all His incarnations. Her various avatars as Lord Vishnu's consort are -

 

Varahavataram - Bhudevi

Ramavataram - Vedavati & Sita

Krishnavataram - Radha & Rukmini

Venkateswara - Padmavathi

Vishnu's vehicle is Garuda , the eagle, and he is commonly depicted as riding on his shoulders. Another name of him is "Veda-Atma" or The Soul of the Vedas and Vedic truth.

 

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. 

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: 

 

 

10 Avatars of Vishnu Bhagwan

1. MATSYA (Fish) Avatar : ( Satya Yuga ). During the deluge before the latest re-creation of the universe, the four Vedas (the holy scriptures) which were required by Brahma for the re-creation, were drowned deep in the waters. Vishnu took the form of a fish to retrieve the sacred scriptures. Another legend has it that Vishnu in his Matsya Avatar instructed Manu (the progenitor of mankind in each creation) to build a huge boat and gather samples of all species in it. The Matsya then pulled the ark to safety through the deluge and floods to enable Brahma to start the work of re-creation.

2. KACHYUP or KURMA (Tortoise) Avatar: ( Satya Yuga ). The gods ( Devas ), suddenly lost their immortality due to the curse of a sage, soon after the new creation of the universe. Afraid of the Asuras (Demons), they turned for help to Vishnu who advised them to churn the ocean to obtain Amrita (Ambrosia), which would restore their power. The churning had to be done with the Mandara Mountain as the churning stick. Vishnu then assumed the form of a Kachyup (tortoise) to hold up the mountain on his back to enable the churning to be done. The help of Vishnu in restoration of immortality of the Devas is another example of the upholding of the dominance of Dharma .

3. VARAHA (Boar) Avatar: ( Satya Yuga ). The earth ( prithvi or goddess Bhudevi ) was swamped deep under the cosmic ocean at the end of the deluge before the re-creation of the present universe. At this time, Hiranyaksha , an Asura (demon) who had attained extraordinary powers through penance, was wreaking havoc among the Devas (gods). On the request of Brahma , who needed the earth for his work of recreation, and of the Devas , who needed succor from Hiranyaksha , Vishnu assumed the form of a Varaha (boar). He carried the earth from the bottom of the ocean on his tusks in this Avatar ; also slaying the rampaging Asura in the process.  

4. NARASIMHA (half-man half-lion) Avatar : ( Satya Yuga ). Hiranyakashipu , a demon king and a tyrant, had through severe penance, obtained a boon from Brahma that no natural-born man or animal could kill him; nor could he be killed in heaven or earth, by any weapon, either during day or night. He started considering himself as the supreme God and banned the worship of gods; even trying to kill his own son Prahlada, who was a Vishnu devotee. Vishnu assumed the form of Narasimha (neither man nor animal); emerged from a pillar (not natural born); during evening (neither day nor night); laid the demon-king across his thighs (neither heaven nor earth) and tore his entrails out with bare claws (no weapon). 

5. VAMANA (Dwarf) Avatar: ( Treta Yuga ). The legend associated with this Avatar has it that the valorous demon- king Bali , a descendant of Hiranyakashipu , empowered by severe penance, defeated Indra , the king of the Devas and conquered the whole world. Fearing that he would overcome all three worlds ( Swarga , Marta and Patala or heaven, earth and the nether worlds), the Devas appealed to Vishnu . Taking birth in a Brahmin family and growing up to be a dwarf, Vishnu approached Bali for alms when the latter was performing a religious sacrifice. Bali, in an expansive mood promised him whatever he wanted - which was as much land as he could cover in three strides. Vishnu then covered heaven and earth in two strides to emancipate the Devas and banished Bali to the nether world.

6. PARASHURAM Avatar : (end of Satya Yuga or in the Treta Yuga as per different scholars). Vishnu took birth as a Brahman (priest) in this Avatar to free the Brahmans from the depredations of the Kshatriyas (warrior caste) who had become arrogant oppressors of the Brahmans . His name derives from the axe-like weapon ( Parsu ) he carried - a gift from Shiva . He annihilated the Kshatriyas in battles twenty-one times. Parashuram and Rama , the seventh Avatar , are generally depicted as living at the same time even though the former is said to have appeared in this world before Rama .

7. RAMA Avatar : ( Treta Yuga ). Vishnu , in this Avatar , incarnates himself as Rama , the Kshatriya king central to the Ramayana epic. By far one of the most popular heroes (along with Krishna ) of Hindu mythology, Rama exemplifies the ideal, son, king, father and man. The legend, on the one hand, is a romantic exploit of good triumphing over evil (the slaying of Ravana , the demon-king, by Rama ). On another plane, it is a complex dissertation on love, war, brotherhood, fidelity, societal customs and traditions etc. 

8. BALARAMA Avatar: ( Dwapara Yuga ). Balarama is the eighth Avatar according to Puranic ( Puranas are part of Vedic scriptures) view. Balarama was the elder brother of Krishna and is said to have ably supported the latter in his fight with the evil king Kamsa whom Krishna killed. Balarama also killed the feared Asura (demon) Dhenuka , among others, thus upholding righteousness over evil. His principal weapon was the plough ( Hal ).  

9. KRISHNA Avatar : ( Dwapara Yuga ). Vishnu , in this Avatar , incarnates himself as Krishna , one of the central figures in the epic Mahabharata . The epic, while being a tale of two warring clans of cousins, the Pandava s and the Kaurava s, is also a discerning study of human nature, human weaknesses, statesmanship, war and politics. Krishna is also the friend, philosopher and guide to Arjuna , the Pandava prince in the Kurukshetra war in the epic. His philosophical discourse to Arjuna on the eve of the war, in response to the latter's reluctance to wage war on his own kin, is revered as a sacred Hindu scripture - the Bhagavad Gita .  

 

BUDDHA Avatar : ( Kali Yuga ). Certain schools of thought hold the view that Balaram is not an Avatar of Vishnu but that of Shesh Nag on whom Vishnu reclines. These schools consider Gautama Buddha , the founder of the Buddhist religion to be the ninth incarnation of Vishnu .  

10. KALKI Avatar is the tenth and final Avatar of Vishnu . This Avatar is yet to appear. As per prophesy, this Avatar will manifest itself at the end of the present Kali Yuga which will also be the end of the current Mahayuga . He will ride a white winged horse and have a blazing sword in his hand. He will preside over the destruction of this world and all the evil-doers in it for the next cycle of re-creation.

 



 
 


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