Vishnu (विष्णु)– The Rajsik – The Preserver - Maintains Balance
Vishnu, the 2nd God of the Hindu Trimurti, is the Preserver of the universe representing mercy and goodness.
Vishnu represents the kingly (rajsik) – dream, thought, action, character, and destiny – way.
He ever takes birth to remove imbalance between good and evil on the earth.
He is the cosmic ocean nara (water) and so is also known as Narayana, or "one who moves on the waters".
Vishnu is represented with four arms holding:
1. a mace (gada) symbolizing power
2. a conch shell (sankha) indicating spread of the divine sound "Om"
3. a discus (Chakra) - a reminder of the wheel of time
4. a lotus (Kamal) - example of glorious existence
He is Pitambara - dressed in yellow. River Ganga originates from Vishnu's feet and he:
• rests on a coiled serpent (Seshnaga or Ananta) - representing the sleeping universe floating on the cosmic ocean
• rides on Garuda (spreading the Vedic knowledge)
• holds the Sudarshana Chakra – discus - his weapon
Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and fortune.
His dark colour represents the passive and formless ether.
He is also known as Hari - the remover.
The two most recent and well known incarnations are Lord Ram and Lord Krishna. The shaanta-kaaram mantra is a prayer in praise of the various attributes of Lord Vishnu, whose many incarnations have graced the earth over the millenia.
शान्ताकारं भुजगशयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं विश्वाधारं गगनसदृश्यं मेघवर्णं शुभाङ्गम्।
लक्ष्मीकान्तं कमलनयनं योगिभिर्ध्यानगम्यं वन्दे विष्णु भवभयहरं सर्वलोकैकनाथम्।
shaanta-kaaram bhujaga-shayanam padma-naabham suresham
vishwa-dhaaram gagana-sadrisham megha-varanam shubhaangam.
lakshmi-kaantam kamala-nayanam yogi-bhi-dhyaana-agamyam
vande vishnum bhava-bhaya-haram sarva-lokaika-naatham.
I bow to Lord Vishnu the One Master of the Universe unquestionably,
Who reclines on the great serpent bed and is peaceful perpetually,
His navel springs the Lotus of the Creative Power - the Supreme Being be,
He supports the entire universe and is all-pervading as the sky undeniably,
He is dark as the clouds with a beautiful Lord of Lakshmi form glowingly,
He the lotus-eyed One, whom the yogis perceive through meditation only,
He is the destroyer of the fear of `Samsar’ and Lord of all `loks’ certainly.