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Vishnu (IAST: , Devanagari: ) is the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God. He is exalted as the highest God in Hindu sacred texts like the Taittiriya Samhita and the Bhagavad Gita. He is the Guru Kshethram, representing Bṛhaspati, or Jupiter, in the Navagraha, or nine cosmic influences.

The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu Paramatma (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, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.

In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine color of clouds (dark-blue), four-armed, holding a lotus, mace, 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.

The Puranas also describe each of the Dasavatara of Vishnu. Among these ten principal avatars described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future, at the end of Kali Yuga. In the commentary of creator Brahma in Vishnu Sahasranamam, he refers to Vishnu as "Sahasrakoti Yuga Dharine", which means that these incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales. The Bhagavad Gita mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma and vanquish negative forces as also to display His divine pastimes in front of the conditioned/fallen souls. In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshiped directly or in the form of his ten avatars, such as Rama and Krishna.

The Trimurti ( ; Sanskrit: ) 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 explains that the greatest benefit can be had from Vishnu.

Etymology

The traditional Sanskrit explanation of the name involves the root , meaning "to settle, to enter", or also (in the Rigveda) "to pervade", and a suffix , translating to approximately "the All-Pervading One". An early commentator on the Vedas, Yaska, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as 'vishnu vishateh; one who enters everywhere', and 'yad vishito bhavati tad vishnurbhavati; that which is free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu.'

Adi Sankara in his commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama states derivation from this root, with a meaning "presence everywhere" ("As he pervades everything, vevesti, he is called Visnu"). Adi Sankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana, 3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe. The root means 'enter into.'" Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu sahasranama further elaborates on that verse: The root Vis means to enter. The entire world of things and beings is pervaded by Him and the Upanishad emphatically insists in its mantra "whatever that is there is the world of change." Hence, it means that He is not limited by space, time or substance. Chinmayananda states that which pervades everything is Vishnu.

Vishnu in Smriti and Shruti

In the Vedas

In the Rigveda, Vishnu is mentioned 93 times. He is frequently invoked alongside other deities, especially Indra, who he helps in killing Vritra, and with whom he drinks Soma. His companionship with Indra is reflected by his later titles Indrānuja and "Upendra", both referring to Vishnu as being the brother of Indra. Vishnu is called Upendra because he appeared in the family of Aditi (Indra's mother) in one of his incarnations, Vamana. His distinguishing characteristic in the Vedas is his association with light. This association is found because the lord is indifferent from the Divine Bhramjyoti, which is the cause of material as well as spiritual effulgence.

One celebrated act of Vishnu in the Rigveda is the 'three steps' by which he strode over the universe and in three places planted his step. The 'Vishnu Sukta' of the Rig Veda (1.154) says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to men and the third is in the heights of heaven (sky). This last place is described as Vishnu's supreme abode in RV 1.22.20:
The princes evermore behold / that loftiest place where Visnu is / Laid as it were an eye in heaven. (trans. Griffith)


Griffith's "princes" are the sūri, either "inciters" or lords of a sacrifice, or priests charged with pressing the Soma. The verse is quoted as expressing Vishnu's supremacy by Vaishnavites.

Though such solar aspects have been associated with Vishnu by tradition as well as modern-scholarship, he was not just the representation of the sun, as he traverses in his strides both vertically and horizontally.

In hymns I.22.17, 1.154.3, 1.154.4 he strides across the earth with three steps, in VI.49.13 , VII.100.3 strides across the earth three times and in I.154.1,I.155.5,VII.29.7 he strides vertically, with the final step in the heavens. The same Veda also says he strode wide and created space in the cosmos for Indra to fight Vritra. By his stride he said to have made dwelling for men possible, the three being a symbolic representation of its all-encompassing nature. This all-enveloping nature and benevolence to men were to remain the enduring attributes of Vishnu. As the triple-strider he is known as Tri-vikrama and as Uru-krama for the strides were wide.

In some Rigvedic hymns, Indra seeks the help of Vishnu in destroying Vritra, indicating that he is not sufficient to accomplish it on his own. This is further supported in the Skanda purana by Atreya Rsi that Vishnu is the sole godhead and the other demigods are just his different energies.

In another interpretation, the characteristic of Vishnu as the supreme God appeared much earlier in the Vedic texts. For example, the following Vedic hymns express that point of view:

  • Rig Veda (7.99.1-7 and 7.100.1-7)
  • 10.082.06: The waters verily first retained the embryo in which all the gods were aggregated, single deposited on the navel of the unborn (creator), in which all beings abide. The reference to the navel of the unborn is an indication of reference to Vishnu.
  • The Rig Veda (1.22.20) states, : "Those who are entirely devoted to lord Vishnu,after death,go to the supreme spiritual planet, where they lead eternal lives under the thralldom of His superior, internal energy."


The foreword of P. Sankaranarayan's translation of Vishnu sahasranama, Bhavan's Book University, cites Rig Veda V.I.15b.3, for the importance of chanting Vishnu's name, "O ye who wish to gain realization of the supreme truth, utter the name of Vishnu at least once in the steadfast faith that it will lead you to such realization."

In the Brahmanas

In the Rigveda, Shakala shakha: Aitareya Brahmana Verse 1 : "Agnir vai devānām avamo Viṣṇuḥ paramas, tadantareṇa sarvā anyā devatā" declares that Agni is the lowest or youngest god and Vishnu is the greatest and the oldest God.In the Brahmanas, the supremacy of Lord Vishnu is clearly announced. Here He is repeatedly addressed as "Yajnapati" or the one whom all the sacrifices are meant to please. Even if the sacrifices are offered to the demigods, Lord Vishnu is the one who accepts the sacrifice and allots the respective fruits to the performer. There is mention of one such incident where a demoniac person performs a sacrifice by abducting the rsis forcefully. The sacrifice was meant to bring about the destruction of Indra. But the rsis,who used to worship indra as a demigod were intelligent enough to alter a single pronunciation of the ved-mantra. The purpose of the entire sacrifice was reversed. When the fruit of the sacrifice was given, as in when the demon was on the verge of dying, he clearly calls out to lord Vishnu,whom he addresses as Supreme Godhead and "the father of all living entities including himself". Aitareya Brahmana: 1:1:1 mentions Vishnu as the Supreme God.

In the Upanishads

The oldest of the Upanishads, that form the philosophical culmination of the Vedas, are dated to the 7th or 8th centuries BCE. The upanishads,right from Gopal tapani upanishad to the Brhad ranya upanishad state His Godhood.The Katha-upanishad, describes Vishnu in supremacy -

He who has no understanding, who is unmindful and always impure, never reaches that place, but enters into the round of births. But he who has understanding, who is mindful and always pure, reaches indeed that place, from whence he is not born again. But he who has understanding for his charioteer (intellect), and who holds the reins of the mind, he reaches the end of his journey, and that is the highest place of Vishnu.

In the Bhagavad Gita

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, teaches Arjuna the nature of the Supreme being and the different processes of Yoga, ultimately culminating in devotional surrender, similar to that of the catursloki of the Bhagavata Purana.

  • "I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed."
  • "But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe."
  • "If hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise at once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form."
  • "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not despair."


In the Viṣṇu Smṛti

The Viṣṇu Smṛti (700-1000CE) is one of the latest books of the Dharmaśāstra tradition of Hinduism and also the only one which does not deal directly with the means of knowing dharma, focusing instead on the bhakti tradition and requiring daily puja to the god Viṣṇu. It is also known for its handling of the controversial subject of the practice of sati (the burning of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre). The text was not actually composed by the sage Viṣṇu himself, but rather by an individual or group writing much after his death. This group brought together a collection of all of the commonly known legal maxims which were attributed to the sage Viṣṇu into one book as the Indian oral culture began to be recorded more formally.

Theological attributes

Vishnu takes form as an all-inclusive deity, known as Purusha or , [Supreme Soul], [In-dweller], and he is the Sheshin [Totality] in whom all souls are contained.

Vishnu is the only Bhagavan (which in Sanskrit means "possessing Divine Glory"), as declared in the Bhagavata 1.2.11 in the verse: "vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate". The meaning of the verse is as follows: "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.

In the Vishnu Purana (6.5.79) the personality named Parashara Rishi defines six bhagas as follows:



Jiva Gosvami explains the verse in his Gopala Champu (Pūrva 15.73) and Bhagavata Sandarbha 46.10:



"The substantives of the word bhagavat ( ) are unlimited ( ) knowledge (jñāna), energies (śakti), strength (bala), opulence (aiśvarya), heroism (vīrya), splendor (tejas), without (vinā) objectionable (heyair) qualities ( )."


Vishnu possesses six such divine glories, namely,
  • Omniscient; defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously;
  • Aishvarya Sovereignty, which persist in unchallenged rule over all;
  • Shakti Energy, or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible;
  • Bala Strength, which is the capacity to support everything by his will and without any fatigue;
  • Virya Vigour, or valour which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the Supreme Spirit or Being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations;
  • Resplendent, or Splendour, which expresses his self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by his spiritual effulgence; cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyananda.


However, the actual number of auspicious qualities of Vishnu is countless, with the above-mentioned six qualities being the most important. Other important qualities attributed to Vishnu are Gambhirya (inestimatable grandeur), Audarya (generosity), and Karunya (compassion). Natya Shastra lists Vishnu as the presiding deity of the Sringara rasa.

The Rigveda says: Vishnu can travel in three strides. The first stride is the Earth. The second stride is the visible sky. The third stride cannot be seen by men and is the heaven where the gods and the righteous dead live. (This feature of three strides also appears in the story of his avatar Vamana called Trivikrama.) The Sanskrit for "to stride" is the root kram; its reduplicated perfect tense is chakram ( grade) or chakra (zero-grade), and in the Rigveda he is called by epithets such as = "he who has made 3 strides". The Sanskrit word chakra also means "wheel". That may have suggested the idea of Vishnu carrying a chakra.

Three forms

In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a school of Vaishnavism, the Satvata-tantra describes three different forms, or aspects, of Vishnu as Maha Vishnu, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu and Kshirodakasayi Vishnu, with each form having a different role in the maintenance of the Universe and its inhabitants:

"For material creation, Lord Krishna's plenary expansion assumes three Vishnus. The first one, Maha-Vishnu, creates the total material energy, known as the mahat-tattva. The second, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, enters into all the universes to create diversities in each of them. The third, Kshirodakasayi Vishnu, is diffused as the all-pervading Supersoul in all the universes and is known as Paramatma. He is present even within the atoms. Anyone who knows these three Vishnus can be liberated from material entanglement."

Five forms

In Sri Vaishnavism, another school, Vishnu assumes five forms:
  1. In the Para Form, Para is the highest form of Vishnu found only in Sri Vaikunta also called Moksha, along with his consort Lakshmi, (and Bhuma Devi and Nila devi, avatars of Lakshmi) and surrounded by liberated souls like Ananta, Garuda, and a host of Muktas (liberated souls).
  2. In the Vyuha form which itself divides into four, Vishnu assumes four forms, which exercise different cosmic functions and controls activities of living beings.
  3. In the Vibhava form, Vishnu assume various manifestations, called Vibhavas, more popularly known as Avataras from time to time, in order to protect the virtuous, punish the evil-doers and re-establish righteousness.
  4. In the Antaryami; "Dwelling within" or "Suksma Vasudeva" form, Vishnu exists within the souls of all living beings and in every atom of matter.
  5. In the Arcavatara or Image manifestation, the Lord is easily approachable to the devotees since they cannot worship Para, Vyuha, Vibhava and Antaryami forms directly, which can only be imagined or meditated upon because they are beyond our reach. Such images can be
    1. revealed by the Lord himself, for example, a self-manifested (Swayambhu) icon (murti), e.g. The Mahavishnu Temple at Tirunellimarker, The Sri Ranganathaswamy Templemarker at Srirangammarker, The Tirumala Venkateswara Templemarker etc; or
    2. installed by devas or celestial beings such as The Guruvayur Templemarker installed by Vayu; or
    3. installed by humans, and consecrated according to Vaishnava Agama shastras or scriptures such as Lord Jagannath of Jagannath Temple marker at Purimarker.


See also Pañcaratra

Relationship to Lord Shiva



During the Vedic period, both Vishnu and Shiva (as identified with Rudra) played relatively minor roles, but by the time of the Brahmanas (c. 1000-700 BCE), both were gaining ascendance. By the Puranic period, both deities had major sects that competed with one another for devotees. Many stories developed showing different types of relationships between these two important deities.

Sectarian groups each presented their own preferred deity as supreme. Vishnu in his myths "becomes" Shiva. The Vishnu Purana (4th c. CE) shows Vishnu awakening and becoming both to create the world and Shiva to destroy it. Shiva also is viewed as a manifestation of Vishnu in the Bhagavata Purana. In Shaivite myths, on the other hand, Shiva comes to the fore and acts independently and alone to create, preserve, and destroy the world. In one Shaivite myth of the origin of the lingam, both Vishnu and are revealed as emanations from Shiva's manifestation as a towering pillar of flame. The Śatarudrīya, a Shaivite hymn, says that Shiva is "of the form of Vishnu". Differences in viewpoints between the two sects are apparent in the story of (also spelled "Sharabha"), the name of Shiva's incarnation in the composite form of man, bird, and beast. Shiva assumed that unusual form to chastise Vishnu in his hybrid form as Narasimha, the man-lion, who killed Hiranyakashipu, an ardent devotee of Shiva.

Syncretic forces produced stories in which the two deities were shown in cooperative relationships and combined forms. Harihara is the name of a combined deity form of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara). This dual form, which is also called Harirudra, is mentioned in the Mahabharata. An example of a collaboration story is one given to explain Shiva's epithet , "lord of great strength" (Maha = "great", Bala = "strength", = "lord"). This name refers to a story in which was given a linga as a boon by Shiva on the condition that he carry it always. During his travels, he stopped near the present Deogharmarker in Jharkhandmarker to purify himself and asked Narada, a devotee of Vishnu in the guise of a Brahmin, to hold the linga for him, but after some time, Narada put it down on the ground and vanished. When Ravana returned, he could not move the linga, and it is said to remain there ever since.The story of Gokarna in Karnataka is also similar in that Ravana, on the way to Lanka from Kailasa, gave the lingam to Ganesha to keep until he bathes, but Ganesha fits it in the earth, so the lingam is called Mahabaleshwara.

As one story goes, Shiva is enticed by the beauty and charm of Mohini, Vishnu's female avatar, and procreates with her. As a result of this union, Ayyappa or Shasta identified with Ayyanar is born.

Relations with other Deities

Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Maya is the samvit (the primary intelligence) of Vishnu, while the other five attributes emerge from this samvit and hence Maya is his ahamata, activity, or Vishnu's Power. This power of god, Maya or Shakti, is personified and is called Shri or Lakshmi, Maya, Vishnumaya, or Mahamaya, and She is said to manifest Herself in, 1) kriyāshakti, (Creative Activity) and 2) bhütishakti (Creation) of Universe. Hence this world cannot part with his creativity i.e., ahamta, which is a feminine form which in its feminine form is called Shri or Lakshmi or Maya. He therefore needs consort Goddess Lakshmi to be with Him always, untouched by any. Thus goddess Lakshmi has to accompany Vishnu in all His incarnations.

Vishnu is also associated with Bhudevi or Prithvi, the earth goddess; Tulsi; Ganga, goddess of river Gangesmarker and also Saraswati, goddess of learning. In the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, verses 2.6.13-95 it is described that Vishnu has three wives, who constantly quarrel with each other, so that eventually, he keeps only Lakshmi, giving Gangamarker to Shiva and Saraswati to Brahma.

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.

As Guru Kshethram, the guru of the devas, he is the arch-enemy of Shukra, the guru of the Asuras.

Iconography

According to various Purana, Vishnu is the ultimate omnipresent reality, is shapeless and omnipresent. However, a strict iconography governs his representation, whether in pictures, icons, or idols:

  • He is to be depicted as a four-armed male-form: The four arms indicate his all-powerful and all-pervasive nature. The physical existence of Vishnu is represented by the two arms in the front while the two arms at the back represent his presence in the spiritual world. The Upanishad titled Gopal Uttartapani describes the four arms of Vishnu.
  • The color of his skin has to be new-cloud-like-blue: The blue color indicates his all-pervasive nature, blue being the color of the infinite space as well as the infinite ocean on which he resides.
  • He has the mark of sage Bhrigu's feet on his chest.
  • Also on his chest is the srivatsa mark, symbolising his consort Lakshmi. It is on the chest of Vishnu, where Lakshmi resides.
  • Around his neck, he wears the auspicious "Kaustubha" jewel, and a garland of flowers (vanamaalaa). It is in this jewel, on Vishnu's chest that Lakshmi dwells.
  • A crown should adorn his head: The crown symbolizes his supreme authority. This crown is sometimes depicted having a peacock feather, borrowing the iconography from image of his Krishna avataar.
  • He is to shown wearing two earrings: The earrings represent inherent opposites in creation — knowledge and ignorance; happiness and unhappiness; pleasure and pain.
  • He rests on Ananta: the immortal and infinite snake


Vishnu is always to be depicted holding the four attributes associated with him, being:
  1. A conch shell or Shankha, named "Panchajanya", held by the upper left hand, which represents Vishnu's power to create and maintain the universe. The Panchajanya represents the five elements or Panchabhoota - water, fire, air, earth and sky or space. It also represents the five airs or Pranas that are within the body and mind. The conch symbolizes that Vishnu is the primeval Divine sound of creation and universal maintenance. it also represented as Om. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna avatara states that of sound vibrations, 'He is Om'.
  2. The chakra, a sharp-spinning discus-like weapon, named "Sudarshana", held by the upper right hand, which symbolizes the purified spiritualized mind. The name Sudarshana is derived from two words - Su, which means good, superior, and Darshan, which means vision or Sight; together, it is "Superior Vision". The chakra represents destruction of one's ego in the awakening and realization of the souls original nature and god, burning away of spiritual ignorance and illusion, and developing the higher spiritual vision and insight to realize god.
  3. A mace or Gada, named "Kaumodaki", held by the lower left hand, symbolizes Vishnu's divine power is the source all spiritual, mental and physical strength. It also signifies Vishnu's power to destroy materialistic or demoniac tendencies called anarthas; within the person's consciousness that hinders them from reaching god. Vishnu's mace is the power of the Divine within us to spiritually purify and uplift us from our materialistic bonds.
  4. A lotus flower or Padma, held by the lower right hand, represents spiritual liberation, Divine perfection, purity and the unfolding of Spiritual consciousness within the individual. The lotus opening its petals in the light of the Sun is indicative of the expansion and awakening of our long dormant, original spiritual consciousness in the light of god. The lotus in Vishnu's hand symbolizes that god is the power and source from which the universe and the individual soul emerges. It represents Divine Truth or Satya, the originator of the rules of conduct or Dharma, and Divine Vedic knowledge or jnana. The lotus also symbolizes that Vishnu is the embodiment of spiritual perfection and purity. Also that He is the wellspring of these qualities and that the individual soul must seek to awaken these intrinsic Divine qualities from Vishnu by surrendering to and linking with Him.


To this may be added, conventionally, the vanamaala flower garland and Vishnu's bow, the Shaarnga, and his sword Nandaka. A verse of the Vishnu Sahasranama stotram states;"vanamālī gadhī shārngī shanki chakri cha nandaki / shrīmān nārāyaņo vişņo vāsudevo abhirakşatu//"; translation: Protect us Oh Lord Narayana who wears the forest garland,who has the mace, conch , sword and the wheel. And who is called Vishnu and the Vasudeva.

In general, Vishnu is depicted in one of the following three ways:
  1. Standing upright on a lotus flower, often with Lakshmi, his consort, beside him on a similar pedestal;
  2. Reclining on the coiled-up thousand-hooded Shesha Naga, with his consort Lakshmi, seated at his feet; the assemblage rests on the "Kshira Sagar" (ocean of Milk). In this representation, Brahma is depicted as sitting on a lotus that grows out of Vishnu's navel.
  3. Riding on the back of his eagle mount, known as Garuda. Another name for Garuda is "Veda atma"; Soul of the Vedas. The flapping of his wings symbolizes the power of the Divine Truth of Vedic wisdom. Also the eagle represents the soul. Garuda carrying Vishnu symbolizes the soul or jiva atma carrying the Super soul or Param atma within it.


Avataras

There are ten avatars of Vishnu (dashavatara) commonly considered as the most prominent:

  1. Matsya, the fish.
  2. Kurma, the turtle.
  3. Varaha, the boar.
  4. Narasimha, the Man-Lion (Nara = man, simha = lion).
  5. Vamana, the Dwarf Brahmin (priest).
  6. Parashurama, A Sage,Rama with the axe, who appeared in the Treta Yuga.
  7. Rama, Sri Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhyamarker.
  8. Krishna (meaning 'dark coloured' or 'all attractive' or the Existence of Bliss, ), appeared in the Dwapara Yuga along with his brother Balarama. Balarama is included as the eighth Dasavatara which list Krishna as the source of all avatars, svayam bhagavan (this viewpoint is specific to Bhagavata, Gaudiya, Vallabhacarya and Nimbarka sampradayas) .
  9. Buddha, the thinker. (See Gautama Buddha in Hinduism)
  10. Kalki ("Eternity", or "timeless",destroyer of time or "The Destroyer of foulness"), who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist.


Some versions of the above list include Hayagriva amongst the Dasavataras. Apart from the above mentioned ten principal avatars, another 22 avatars are also given in Chapter 3, Canto 1 of the Bhagavata Purana. Following this list the Bhagavatam states that as well as these avatars "the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water".

Thousand names of Lord Vishnu



Vishnu has a large number of names and followers that are collected in the Vishnu sahasranama ("Vishnu's thousand names") from within the larger work Mahabharata. The character Bhishma recites the names before Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetramarker, praising him (Vishnu) as the supreme god. These Sahasranama are regarded as essence of all Vedas by followers of Vaishnavism who believe sincere chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama results in spiritual well-being and a greater awareness of God.

The names are generally derived from the anantakalyanagunas (meaning: infinite auspicious attributes). Some names are:

  • Achintya (Incomprehensible, beyond understanding)
  • Acyutah (infallible)
  • Ananta (endless, eternal, infinite)
  • Balaji (another name of Vishnu)
  • Damodara (having a rope (dama) around his belly (udara): a name of Krishna)
  • Govinda (protector of the cows & brahmins; master of the senses: a name of Krishna)
  • Hari (one who takes away)
  • Hayagriva (giver of knowledge)
  • Jagannatha (Owner/Ruler of the world/universe)
  • Janardana (One who is worshiped by people for Wealth)
  • Kesava (slayer of Keshi, having long or much or handsome hair, from Atharvaveda viii , 6 , 23)
  • Krishna (born during the third epoch or yuga, his deeds range from cow protection (go rakshya) to absolving the earth of load of sins)
  • Madhava (relating to the season of spring)
  • Madhusudana (he who destroyed the demon called Madhu)
  • Narayana (said to mean "he who is the abode of nār (= ether)", i.e., the whole universe's shelter. Also means "The supreme Man who is the foundation of all men". Another meaning is "He who lays in the water".
  • Padmanabha (lotus-naveled one, from whose navel sprang the lotus which contained Brahma, who created the universe)
  • Perumal Name he is known in Tamil
  • Purushottama - The Supreme Eternal Being
  • Rama (born during the second epoch or Yuga, his deeds primarily established the ideal living principles for a man)
  • Hrishikeshmarker (Lord of the senses or Lord within the heart; "hri" root meaning the heart)
  • Satyanarayana (a combination of satya and Narayana meaning 'protector of truth')
  • Shikhandee: He who wears a peacock feather.
  • Souryarayan (the one who destroys the evil/sins and who comforts us) described in Vishnu kautuvam.
  • Sridhara (consort of Sri = Laxmi or Ultimate wealth)
  • Siddhartha (one who attains perfection, birth name of Buddha avatar in the last epoch of Kali Yuga)
  • Sriman (the pride of Shri or Lakshmi); Often Sriman is combined with the name, Narayana , to form a compound word, Sriman Narayana.
  • Srinivasa (the abode of Shri) (also specifically referring to his form in the temple at Tirupatimarker). Also the form of Vishnu at Tirupati is well-known as Venkateswara.
  • Trivikrama (Conqueror of the three worlds, as in Vamana avatara).
  • Vishal (Immense, The Unstoppable One).
  • Vamana (dwarfish, small or short in stature, a dwarf brahmana)
  • Vāsudeva ( "All-Pervading god", with the long vowel A; it also means "the son of Vasudeva", i.e Krishna)
  • Shreesh (Husband of Goddess Lakshmi).
  • Guruvayurappan Lord of Guruvayur(Temple made by Guru(Brihaspati) & Vayu deva)
  • Jaganath is the south eastern name of vishu. it literary means juggernaut or the mightiest
  • Sohama means the most intelligent, it is strongest form of Vishnu with a thousand brains and hands


Footnotes

References

  • Patrick Olivelle. "The Date and Provenance of the Viṣṇnu Smṛti." Indologica Taurinensia, 33 (2007): 149-163.


External links




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