Lord Vishnu is the Preserver - Brush up your Mythology

The central and major deity of the Hindu Trinity, Vishnu the Preserver, is said to be all-powerful, all knowing and all pervading.

The two most commonly seen representations of Vishnu show him either sleeping comfortably in the coils of Shesh Nag, the king of the serpents, as he floats on the waves of the ocean or as standing on the waves. In his four hands he holds his chief attributes: The conch, symbolic of the five elements; the discus; the lotus and the mace which is a symbol of primeval knowledge.

Now let us take a closer look at what exactly these four attributes really symbolise. As mentioned above the conch is a sign of the five elements which are water, fire, air, earth and sky. The discus or wheel, which is called the Sudarshan Chakra has six spokes and represents the limitless control the God has over all the seasons. It is also a weapon that dismembers evil. The lotus referred to as Padma is a symbol of purity and represents the birth of creation while the mace is representative of the elemental force from which all powers are derived.

Vishnu’s power of preserving and protect ing manifest themselves in a variety of forms called avatars in which his divine attributes are embodied in various shapes: some as man, some as beast and others as half man and half beast. The avatars appear when evil has to be corrected or when some good has to be affected.

Of the ten recognised incarnations, legend has it that nine have already appeared before us while the tenth is yet to descend. When this happens the world will finally be rid of all evil.

Vishnu’s wives are Laxmi, the Goddess of fortune and Prithvi, the Goddess of the Earth and his vahan or chariot is the great bird Garuda.


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