The Trimurti 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 the greatest
benefit can be had from Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu is
considered as the chief god in Hindu religion and Indian mythology.
The Hindu God Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the world and
restorer of dharma (moral order). To understand the concept of
Vishnu being the preserver of the world, one has to understand the
two beliefs of Hinduism. The first is that men attain salvation by
faithfully following predetermined paths of duty. The Second is that
powers of good and evil (gods and demons) are in regular controversy
to rule over the world. It is believed that whenever evil prevails
over good in order to win, Vishnu comes down to earth in some mortal
form to save righteousness. As per the Puranas, Vishnu is not
allowed to interfere in the situations directly. So, he takes form
as a different avatar and acts in a manner that will re-establish
proper balance between good and evil. Vishnu is known chiefly
through his avatars
(incarnations), particularly Rama,
Buddha. In theory,
Vishnu manifests a portion of himself anytime he is needed to fight
evil, and his appearances are innumerable; but in practice, ten
incarnations are most commonly recognized.
one of the largest Hindu groups, are the devotees of
Vishnu as Ishvara, the
Supreme Being, worshipped in the forms of his manifestations or
incarnations. Because of his enveloping presence, images as the
focus of worship are of great importance, as are temple architecture
The Hindu God
Vishnu’s skin color is blue which indicates his all-pervasive
nature, blue being the color of the infinite sky as well as the
infinite ocean on which he resides. Vishnu has the mark of sage
Bhrigu's feet and the srivatsa mark, symbolizing his consort
Lakshmi, on his chest. Most often, the Hindu God Vishnu is shown
with four attributes or weapons. In one hand Vishnu holds the conch
or Sankha. The second hand of Vishnu holds the discus or Vaijra. The
third hand of Vishnu holds the club and in the fourth hand Vishnu
holds the lotus or Padma. Vishnu also has a bow called Sarnga and a
sword called Nandaka. Vishnu is also commonly shown with or resting
on the serpent Shesha. Also many times he will be with His consort
Avatars of Vishnu
Lord Vishnu has
ten avatars that are commonly considered to be the most prominent. The
avatars appear in order to balance the effect of good and evil upon the
earth. It is believed that nine avatars have already descended, three in
non human form, one in hybrid form and five in human form. Of the ten
universally recognized avatars, nine have already appeared whereas the
tenth is yet to appear. These ten avatars are also known by the name of
Dasha Avatar of Vishnu.
fish - Before the latest creation of the present universe, the
four Vedas (the holy books delivered from the mouth of the
Supreme-God) remained drowned in the waters. It was necessary to get
hold of them to instruct Brahma about the work of creation. Vishnu
was therefore appointed to bring up the Vedas from the deep. He took
the form of a fish, descended into the waters and brought up these
sacred books. Through this avatar, he saved humanity and the sacred
Veda text from the flood.
turtle – The second avatar, Kurma, was taken in the Satyuga
(last age) to help the Devas and to obtain the amrut (nectar) of
immortality which was also sought after by the Asuras (demons).
Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise and took the newly
created earth on his back in order to render stability to the
trembling globe. It is believed that even to this day the earth is
supported on the back of this tortoise.
boar – The third avatar, Varaha, was taken at the end of the
last flood in the Satyuga, when Bhoomi Devi (Earth Mother) sank to
the bottom of the ocean. A demon Hiranyaksha, had prayed for Lord
Brahma and got awarded a boon that no beast nor man nor god could
kill him. But somehow from the list of beasts the name of boar was
missing. This proved to be his lacunae. He then started a campaign
of plunder across the worlds. He pushed the world to the Pataal
loka, or the under of the sea. He stole the Vedas, the Holy
Scriptures from the Lord Brahma, while he was asleep and performed
huge atrocities. To retrieve the Vedas and to save the world the
Lord Vishnu assumed the role of a boar and brought out the earth
from the under of the ocean, using its two tusks. It then killed
Hiranyaksha and retrieved the Vedas from the asura and brought it
back to the safe custody of the Lord Brahma.
the man-lion – The fourth Avatar, Narsimha, was taken in the
Satyuga (last age) to kill a tyrant demon king, Hiranyakashyap.
Lord Brahma had given him the blessings that no known man or animal
born in the natural process could kill him, that he could not die in
the day or in the night, on earth or in heavens, either by fire,
water or by any weapon. It was to kill such a tyrant and to remove
him from the earth that Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Narasimha
which was neither man nor animal came out of a broken pillar, laid
hold of the demon king by its teeth, put him up on his thighs and
tore him up in the middle by his claws. It was evening time
(twilight) - neither day nor night.
Dwarf (priest) Brahmin- The fifth avatar, Vamana, appeared in
the Tretayuga in order to destroy Bali, the king of demons. The
fourth lineal descendant of Hiranyakashyap, named Bali, through his
devotion and penance defeated Indra, the god of firmament, humbled
other gods and extended his authority over the three worlds. All
the gods appealed to Lord Vishnu for protection and He became
manifest in His Dwarf Avatar of Vaman for the purpose of restraining
Bali. Once when this king was making a great religious offering,
Lord Vishnu in the form of Vaman appeared before him in the company
of other Brahmins. Bali was extremely pleased to see a holy man with
such a diminutive form and promised to give him whatever he should
ask. Lord Vishnu asked only for as much land as he could measure by
three steps. Bali laughingly agreed to grant the boon of three
steps. Lord Vishnu as dwarf stepped over heaven in first stride and
earth in the second stride. Then out of respect to Bali's kindness
and his grandfather Prahlad's great virtues, Lord Vishnu stopped
short and left him in pathal, the subterranean region. Bali's
capital was Mahabalipuram.
Parashurama, Rama with the axe – The sixth avatar, Parshurama,
appeared in the Tretayuga to destroy the warrior caste. Parsu is the
name of an axe-like weapon adopted by this incarnation. Parasuram
was a Brahmin who manifested himself at the close of the satya-yug.
This appearance was for the purpose of defeating the tyranny of the
power-drunk kshatriyas. When the kings of the earth became despotic
and started to harm people and saints in the forest, Vishnu
incarnated as Parshurama and destroyed all the kings who were
harassing the people.
When the Kshatriya kings of the earth and their ministers became
very corrupt and tyrannical, the goddess Prithvi (Mother Earth) went
to Lord Vishnu and prayed for relief. Lord Vishnu answered the
prayer and appeared on the earth as a descendant of the great sage
Brigu. Parasuram avenged the gruesome murder of his father by a
Kshatriya king and freed the earth of oppression perpetrated by the
rulers by clearing the earth of kshatriyas.
prince and kind of Ayodhaya– The seventh avatar, Rama, the
prince and king of Ayodhaya, appeared in the Tretayuga, to rescue
Sita with his loyal servant Hanuman and his brother, Lakshmana, and
killed the demon Ravana. Lord Rama became one of the most popular
gods in the Hindu religion. He is always holding a bow and arrow
indicating his readiness to destroy evils. He is also called “Shri
Rama”. More commonly he is pictured in a family style, with Sita,
Lakshmana, & Hanuman.
– The eighth avatar, Krishna, along with his brother Balarama,
appeared in the Dwaparyuga to kill the demon king, Kansa. Lord
Krishna conveyed the message of love and humanity to the world.
Krishna told the epic poem Bhagavad-Gita. Gita to the warrior
Arjuna, in which he acclaimed: ''Whenever Dharma, or the situation
of law and order, is endangered on this world, I incarnate onto this
world to re establish Dharma, law and order, and to protect the
Sadhus or saints and to destroy the evil elements of the society.''
– The ninth avatar, Buddha, appeared in the Kalyuga, to teach the
lesson of following a middle path in life in which he offered a
balanced, harmonious way of life, steering between two extremes of
self-indulgence and total abstinence. ''Buddha'' means 'the
enlightened one'. Buddhism rests upon four Noble Truths: Suffering
is universal, it is caused by desire and yearning, Suffering can be
prevented and overcome and Eradication of desires can lead to
removal of suffering. To prevent suffering one has to conquer
craving and desire and this conquest leads to the attainment of
nirvana or complete enlightenment.
The tenth and the last avatar of Vishnu, Kalki, is yet to appear.
Kalki will appear at the end of the Kalyuga. This avatar will appear
seated on a white horse with a drawn sword blazing like a comet. He
shall come finally to destroy the wicked, to restart the new
creation and to restore the purity of conduct in people's lives.