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Srimahavishnu – His holy Traits

vishnu-desibantu

Lord Vishnu is one of the Holy Trinity (Brahma {the creator}, Vishnu {the preserver} and Siva {the destroyer}) representing Saulabhya (easy accessibility), Sauhitya (benign condescension) and Vaatsalya (tender solicitude). He is thoroughly described in all the four vedas (Riga Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvanan Veda) and represents Sattvaguna and is the centripetal force responsible for sustenance, protection and maintenance of the universe. Vishnu means “one who pervades” ie., one who is to be seen in everything. He is therefore Immanent and Transcendent.

Hari, Narayana and Ranganatha are considered popular among the myriad names of Vishnu

Hari : There is a verse in the purana which says that the name of Hari has such power to wipe out sins, that even the most sinful man cannot commit enough sins which cannot be wiped out by the mere utterance of the word Hari! The said verse goes as follows:

“ namno’sti yavati saktih

Papanirharane hareh,

Tavat-kartum na saknoti

Patakam Pataki janah”.

In Brihannaradiya – Purana (I, x1i,15) there is a verse which reads as follows:

“Harer-namaiva namaiva

Namaiva mama jivanam,

Kalau nastyeva nastyeva

Nastyeva gatir-anyatha”

Translated this means, “The Name of Hari, the Name , verily the Name, is my life; in Kali there is no other means, no other , indeed no other”.

Vishnu Sahasranama also says that Hari alone is storam (681). He is the act of changing (stutih – 682) as also the one who chants (sloka 683) and the one who is praised in the chant (stavyah 679) and is also said to be fond of the praise/chant (stave-priyah 680). It means that Hari is everything and that the sure solace in this world is to chant His holy name.

Narayana:

Vishnu is also known as Narayana. The word is a combination of the words, Nara and Ayana. It means one who has made the causal waters, ‘His abode’ and one who is the abode of all human beings and one who is the final goal of all human beings.

Vishnu is described as Nilameghasyama (dark blue hue like that of a rain bearing cloud). Also, the infinite space appears as deep blue in colour. It is therefore apt that the Lord who is the cosmic power is also depcted as blue in colour.

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Ranganatha:

Lord Vishnu ia also known as Ranganatha. ‘Ranga’ refers to the arena , the stage, the theatre. ‘Natha’ means the Lord, the master, the controller. Thus , the word Ranganatha conveys beautifully the meaning that the lord is the Sutradhari, who controls this world. The Lord is the universe which He has Himself created and which He manipulates as per His pre-ordained decisions. Thus , the word Ranganatha conveys the cosmic reality as personified by the Lord.

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Sriman Narayana (Vishnu), the Supreme Lord is said to be all pervading, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is all powerful and at the same time all merciful. Usually, He has five different aspects. They are:

  • Paratva (Supreme)
  • Vyuha (emanation)
  • Vibhava (incarnation)
  • Archa (icon) and
  • Antaryami (in-dweller).

Paratva (Supreme) : Paratva refers to Sri Vaikuntham where the Lord is present as Para Vasudeva with His inseparable consort Sri Mahalakshmi and nityasuris like Ananta, Garuda, Visvaksena etc.

Vyuha (emanation): In the Vyuha, He manifests Himself in four forms for the well being of mankind. These four forms are known as Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Anirudha. Srikrishna is Vasudeva, His brother Balarama is Sankarshana and Pradyuumna and Aniruddha are His son and grandson respectively. Later on these 4 vyuhas went up to 24. Iconographically, all these vyuhas are identical except for the manner in which the four emblems / weapons (1. Sankha, 2. Chakra, 3. Gada and 4. Padma are arranged).

The table below shows the different arrangements of these weapons in the four hands of the 24 vyuha images of Vishnu as per the description found in the patala khanda of Padma purana.

No.24 Vyuhas of
Srimahavishnu
Upper Right handUpper Left handLower Left handLower Right hand
1Kesava | केशवSankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

2Narayana | नारायणPadmam | पदमं

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

3Madhava | माधव

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

Gada | गदा

4Govinda | गोविन्द Gada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

5Vishnu | विष्णुPadmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

6Madhusudana | मधुसूदनSankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

7Trivikrama | त्रिविक्रम

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

8Vamana | त्रिविक्रम Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

9Sridhara | श्रीधरChakr | चक्र

Padmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

10Hrishikesa | हृषीकेश

Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

Sankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

11Padmanabha | पद्मनाभPadmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

12Damodara | दामोदर
13Samkarshana | संकर्षणSankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

14Vasudeva | वसुदेव

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

15Pradyumna | प्रद्युम्नSankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

Gada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

16Aniruddha | अनिरुद्धGada | गदा

Sankh | संख

Padmam | पदमं

Chakr | चक्र

17Purushottama | पुरुषोत्तमPadmam | पदमं

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

18Adhokshaja | अधोक्षजGada | गदा

Sankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

Padmam | पदमं

19Nrisimha | नरसिंहPadmam | पदमं

Gada | गदा

Sankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

20Achyuta | अछ्युतPadmam | पदमं

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

21Janardana | जनार्दनPadmam | पदमं

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

22Upendra | उपेन्द्र

Sankh | संख

Gada | गदा

Chakr | चक्र

Padmam | पदमं

23Hari | हरिSankh | संख

Chakr | चक्र

Padmam | पदमं

Gada | गदा

24Sri Krishna | श्री कृष्णGada | गदा

Padmam | पदमं

Chakr | चक्र

Sankh | संख

Vibhava (incarnation): Apart from the Vyuhas the Lord is said to assume various manifestations, from time to time, to protect the virtuous, punish the evil-doers(wicked) and re-establish Dharma. These manifestations are called Vibhavas, more popularly Avataras or descents into the world. The theory of Avatara finds a place in the Vedas eg. “ajayamano bahudha vijayate”(one who does not have birth at all., but appears or is born as several)”ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti”(the reality is one, but the wise call it by various names).

The well known avataras are 10 in number:
Mathsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisimha, Vamana, (fish, tortise, boar, man-lion, dwarf), Parasurama, Sri Rama and Balarama , Sri Krishna and Kalki. (matsyah, kurma varahasca narasimhasca vamanah, ramo ramasca krsnah kalki janardanah).
Srimad Bhagavatam mentions numerous avataras which include also other principal avataras like Kapila, Rahujit, Dattatreya, Nara-Narayana, Hari, Purusottama, Hayagriva etc

Archa (icon): Arcavatara or Image manifestation, is very easily accessible and visible to all. Since we cannot worship Para, Vyuha, Vibhava and Antaryami forms which can be only imagined or meditated upon and since they are beyond our reach, the Acaryas point out that Arcavatara alone suits us the most. In Arca form the Lord receives prayers from devotees and grants their prayers and blesses them; Saranagati or Prapatti or surrender is done to the Lord in the Arca form only. Though installed and made by human beings or sometimes existing from time immemorial(revealed by God Himself), the Image form of the Lord become divine, the moment it is installed or worshipped by the Acharyas, according to the rules laid down in the Agamas.

The Arca forms can be classified as follows :
Svyamvakta – Arca forms revealed by God himself and not made by man; Egs: Lord Srinivasa at Tirupati, Lord Badrinarayana at Badrinath , Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam, Lord Boovarahaa at SriMusnam, Lord Thotadrinatha at Vanamaamalai., Lord Srihari at Salagramam., Lord Devaraja at Naimisaranyam, Lord Narayana at Puskaram.

Antaryami (in-dweller): Antaryami or “Suksma Vasudeva” is the form in which the ultimate reality Lord Vishnu exists in a very subtle from, in the hearts of all living beings. Invisible and full of bliss, the Antaryami form is said to have two hands with crystal-like complexion dressed in yellow robes. “Antaryami” literally means one who controls from inside. Smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest , the Lord resides both inside and outside of every individual or thing in the universe.

Since the Antaryami form (aspect) of the Lord resides in the heart and yogis realise Him seated there, the form is also called “harda”. As Antaryami, the Lord accepts manasika puja of the devotees, such as meditation, mental offering of sacred water, fruits, food etc. and mental salutations(Mangalsasanam). Such worship to the Antaryami form can be done by anyone at any place and at any time. Although residing in every being , the Antaryami has no relation or link with the actions or fruits thereof undertaken by these beings. At the time of the death of a person, Antaryami helps the souls to come out of the body through murdhanya nadi (top of the head) and escorts the soul to the Lords Abode viz. SriVaikuntham.

Bhagavata refers to 9 types of devotion.  They are:

  1. Sravana – listening to the expositions of the Glory of God and hearing His divine names mentioned by others.
  2. Kirtana – where the God is praised through hymns and chants.
  3. Smarana – where the lord is enjoyed by remembering Him, thinking of Him and contemplating His effulgence and divine grace through ur minds.
  4. Padaseva – His lotus feet is worshiped as the only salvation to swim through this samsara sagara.
  5. Archana – in this method, flowers are offered to the Lord along with chanting of His names.
  6. Vandana – offer obeisance to the divinity.
  7. Dasya – refers to the unquestioning attitude of servitude like that of the slave to the master.
  8. Sakhya – a devotee claims friendship with the Lord and wants to enjoy and command all the rights that one can exercise with a true friend.
  9. Atma-nivedana – Ultimate in bhakti when one offers their own self to the Lord.

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One Response to Srimahavishnu – His holy Traits

  1. Swathi December 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Hello, Thanks for bringing great information to light. it appears this page is incomplete., there is no info on •Archa (icon) and
    •Antaryami (in-dweller).

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