A Simple Guide to Help Understand Hindu Gods
|Vishnu is portrayed as blue or black shinned and has four hands. The first hand holds a conch shell indicating spread of the divine sound "Om"; one hand holds a discus, a reminder of the wheel of time, and to lead a good life; the third hand holds a lotus which is an example of glorious existence and the fourth hand holds a mace indicating the power and the punishing capacity of the Lord if discipline in life is ignored. Vishnu is described as having the divine color of clouds (dark-blue). The dark color represents the passive and formless ether, a great quality for a god. He rests on the bed of a powerful coiled serpent which represents the sleeping universe.
Unlike Shiva, who often seeks the solitude of the forest to meditate, Vishnu constantly participates in worldly affairs, ensuring that all is well. When order prevails in the universe, Vishnu sleeps on the coils of Sesha (serpent), ruler of the Nagas. As Sesha floats along the cosmic ocean supporting Vishnu, the universe unfolds from Vishnu's dream. But when there is disorder in the universe, Vishnu either mounts Garuda (an eagle), and battles with the forces of chaos, or he sends one of his Avatars (incarnations) to save the world.
The concept of Vishnu being the preserver of the world presumedly sprang from two beliefs: that men attain salvation by faithfully following predetermined paths of duty, and that powers of good and evil (gods and demons) are in contention for domination over the world. When these powers are upset Vishnu, or his avatar, descends to earth to equalized the powers. Further it is thought that ten such incarnations or reincarnations of Vishnu will occur. Nine descents are said to have already occurred. Rama and Krishna were the seventh and eighth. The tenth is yet to come.
In the epic, The Ramayana, he is glorified through the Avatars Rama and Krishna. The story of Rama is very important and the Kings of Thailand have adopted his name. The current King of Thailand is Rama IX.
Lord Vishnu has been reincarnated nine times. The eight time was as Rama. The ninth was as the Buddha, and they are awaiting the tenth reincarntion.The Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. For a summary of the Temple's purpose go to A Basic Guide to Help Understand Hinduism and its Gods
(Editor's note, 19 June 2011: This page is now being construction so come back again.)
For more information about our travels write toBelli.