Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Vishnu - The Protector


Vishnu is the protective aspect of the supreme trinity. He is the entity that is most often involved in mortal affairs. Some say he was created by Shiva, others say that he arose out of the cosmic void. Laxmi is his consort. His abode is Vaikunta. He is usually depicted as resting on a giant snake, Adisesha, which is itself floating in an ocean of milk.

He has undertaken ten avatars(incarnations), each to achieve a specific purpose, to avert a specific calamity facing either mankind or the Devas. There are more than ten incarnations attributed to him, but only ten of them are considered major. The list of such avatars varies a bit in different sources. For more about his incarnations, see 'Incarnations of Vishnu'.

He is called the 'brother of Indra', since he was born as a son of Aditi in his Vamana avatar. He is described as being ever desirous of helping the Devas, and an enemy of their half-brothers, the Asuras. He is dark-colored, with mega-varnam (cloud-hued), being one of his epithets. He is generally depicted as having four arms, holding a Sudharshana Chakra (discus), conch, lotus and a mace respectively.

His consort is Laxmi, who is said to have arisen from the ocean of milk in Vaikunta, when it was churned by the Devas and Asuras to obtain Amrit. His followers are known as Vaishnavaite, and many of them wear the 'namam' on their forehead.

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Last Modified At: Sun Aug 14 08:54:08 2005