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A Dictionary: English and Sanskrit | en  sa |   | 
VISHNU , s.विष्णुः. The second person of the Hindū triad, and the most celebrated and popular of all the Indian deities. He is the personification of the preserving power, and became incarnate in nine different forms, for the preservation of mankind in various emergencies. Before the creation of the universe, and after its tem- porary annihilation, he is supposed to sleep on the waters, floating on the serpent Śeṣa, and is then identi- fied with Nārāyana. Brahmā, the creator, is fabled to spring at that time from a lotus which grows from his navel, whilst thus asleep. Viṣṇu's wife is called Lak- ṣmī, and the vehicle on which he rides, Garuḍa. SeeLAKSHMI, GARUḌA. His ten avatārs or incarnations are: 1. The Matsya, or Fish. In this avatār Viṣṇu descended in the form of a fish to save the pious king Satyavrata, who with the seven Ṛiṣis and their wives had taken refuge in the ark to escape the deluge which then destroyed the earth. 2. The Kūrma, or Tortoise. In this he descended in the form of a tortoise, for the pur- pose of restoring to man some of the comforts lost dur- ing the flood. To this end he stationed himself at the bottom of the ocean, and allowed the point of the great mountain Mandara to be placed upon his back, which served as a hard axis, whereon the gods and demons, with the serpent Vāsuki twisted round the mountain for a rope, churned the waters for the recovery of the amṛta or nectar, and fourteen other sacred things, seeOCEAN. 3. The Varāha, or Boar. In this he descended in the form of a boar to rescue the earth from the power of a demon called
‘golden-eyed,’ Hiraṇyākṣa. This demon had seized on the earth and carried it with him into the depths of the ocean. Viṣṇu dived into the abyss, and, after a contest of a thousand years, slew the monster. 4. The Narasinha, or Man-lion. In this monstrous shape of a creature half-man, half-lion, Viṣṇu delivered the earth from the tyranny of an insolent demon called Hiraṇyakaśipu. 5. Vāmana, or Dwarf. This avatār happened in the second age of the Hindūs or Tretā yug, the four preceding are said to have occurred in the first or Satya yug; the object of this avatar was to trick Bali out of the dominion of the three worlds. Assuming the form of a wretched dwarf he appeared before the king, and asked, as a boon, as much land as he could pace in three steps. This was granted; and Viṣṇu, immediately expanding himself till he filled the world, deprived Bali at two steps of heaven and earth, but in consideration of some merit, left Pātāla still in his dominion. 6. Paraśurāma. 7. Rāmachandra; for an account of both these, see RĀMA. 8. Kṛṣna, or, accord- ing to some, Balarama, see KṚISHNA, RĀMA. 9. Buddha. In this avatār Viṣṇu descended in the form of a sage, for the purpose of making some reform in the religion of the Brahmins, and especially to reclaim them from their proneness to animal sacrifice. Many of the Hindūs will not allow this to have been an incarnation of their favourite god. 10. Kalki, or White Horse. This is yet to come. Viṣṇu, mounted on a white horse, with a drawn scimitar, blazing like a comet, will, according to prophecy, end this present age, viz. the fourth or Kali yug, by destroying the world, and then renovating creation by an era of purity. Many of the names of Vishnu correspond with those of Kṛṣna, who is by many identified with Viṣṇu, see KRISHNA. Some of his other names are here given. —
(Supporter of the universe) विश्वम्भरः. —
(Mover on the waters) नारायणः. — (From whose navel comes the lotus from which Brahmā springs) पद्मनाभः, पद्मनाभिःm.
(Sleeper on a lotus) पद्मेशयः,नलिनेशयः. —
(The best male) पुरुषोत्तमः. —
(The four-armed) चतुर्भुजः. —
(Holder of the conch-shell) शङ्खीm.
(Discus- handed) चक्रपाणिःm.
(Holding a bow made of horn) शार्ङ्गीm.
(The seizer) हरिःm.
(Foe of the demons) दैत्यारिःm.
(Having ten incarnations) दशावतारः. — (Taker of three strides, under the 5th or Dwarf avatār) त्रिविक्रमः, त्रिपाद्
(Destroyer of Bali) बलिध्वंसीm. — (Husband of Lakṣmī, or attended by her as the goddess of fortune) लक्ष्मीपतिःm., लक्ष्मीशः, श्रीपतिःm., श्रीधरः, श्रीनिकेतनः, श्रीनिवासः, श्रीकान्तः. —
(Possessing the paradise called Vaikuntha) वैकुण्ठः. —
(Having Garuda as a vehicle) गरुडध्वजः, तार्क्ष्यध्वजः, तार्क्ष्य-नायकः. — (Decapitator of Rāhu) राहुमूर्द्धभिद्m., राहुभेदीm., see RĀHU. —
(Having spreading ears) विष्ठरश्रवाःm.
(Destroyer of the demon Kaitabha) कैटभजित्
(Supporting the earth) कुस्तुभः. —
(Present to such as have brought under their passions) अधोक्षजः. —
(Lotus-eyed) पुण्डरीकाक्षः. —
(Self-born) स्वभूःm.
(Whose armies are everywhere) विष्वक्सेनः. Other names are हरित्, जन्मकीलः, मालः, वासुःm., शौरिःm., विधुःm. A worshipper of Vishnu is called वैष्णवः.

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