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Vishnu Home -› Hindu Trinity -› The Preserver -› Vishnu
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Vishnu and Sheshnag
The Discus or wheel (CHAKRA) of Vishnu named SUDARSHANA has six spokes and symbolizes six-petal lotus. It represents the limitless controlling all the six seasons and is the fearful weapon that cuts off the heads of all demons.

The Lotus of Vishnu is named PADMA. It is the symbol of purity and represents the unfolding of creation. It is the truth (SATHYA). The element from which emerge the rules of conduct (DHARMA) and knowledge (JNANA).

The Mace (GADA) of Vishnu is named KAUMODAKI. It represents the elemental force, from which all physical and mental powers are derived.

In some images where in place of Mace, the Bow, Arrows and Quiver are shown, the symbols represent as follows. The bow called SARANGA represents the ego, origin of sensorial perception which means that it is the symbol of the divine power of illusion (Maya), while the numerous Arrows of Vishnu are the senses, the fields of activity of the intellect and the Quiver is the store-house of actions.

The worshippers of Vishnu, known as VAISHNAVAS, recognize in him the Supreme Being, out of whom emerge Brahma, the active creator; Vishnu himself the preserver; and Shiva or Rudra, the destructor.

Vishnu's preserving, restoring and protecting powers have been manifested to the world in a variety of forms, called, 'Avatars', in which one or more portions of his divine attributes were embodied in the shape of a human being or an animal or a human-animal combined form, possessing great and sometimes supernatural powers. All these Avatars of Vishnu appeared in the world either to correct some great evil or to affect some great good on the earth. These incarnations are ten in number, though Bhagvata Purana increases them to twenty-two and tells further that they are innumerable.

However out of the ten universally recognized incarnations, nine are said to have appeared in the world while the tenth is yet to descend here.

matsyaThe first of these is MATSYA (fish) incarnation. According to Hindu mythology the universe is subject to a cycle of periodical destruction and thereafter-new creation. Before the latest creation of the present universe, the four Vedas (the holy books from the mouth of the Supreme-Deity) remained drowned in the waters. It was necessary to get hold of them to instruct Brahma about the work of creation. Vishnu was therefore appointed to bring up the Vedas from the deep. He took the form of a fish (Matsya), descended into the waters and brought-up these sacred books.

kurmaThe second is KACHYUP or KURMA (tortoise) incarnation. In this Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise and took the newly created earth upon his back in order to render this trembling globe a stability. The belief is held that to this hour the earth is supported on the back of this tortoise.

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