Lord Vishnu, major god of Hinduism and Indian mythology, popularly regarded as the preserver of the universe.He is the second member of the Hindu Trinity, with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva as the other two.Vishnu is preserver of the universe and the embodiment of goodness and mercy; of compassion. Vishnu in his various forms is one of the most worshipped gods. His tradition Vaishnavism, constitutes the second largest sect within Hinduism. He is referred to as Narayana, the ever-present and all-prevading.
Lord Vishnu represents the aspect of the Supreme Reality that preserves and sustains the universe.Normally, he is depicted as dark blue with four arms. In His hands he carries a conch (shankha), a mace (gada), and discus (chakra). He wears a crown, two earrings, a garland (mala) of flowers, and a gem around the neck. His vehicle is the swift-flying bird Garuda which can spread the Vedic knowledge with great courage. The dark color of the Lord represents the passive and formless ether, a great quality for a pervading god. He rests on the bed of the powerful, coiled serpent, Seshanag who represents the sleeping universe. His wife is Goddess Lakshmi, goddess of beauty and fortune.
The Bhagavata Purana mentions 22 avatars of Lord Vishnu, but Vishnu is best known through his ten avatars (incarnations), which appear on earth when there is disorder in the world. Whenever Vishnu takes an avatar, he is subject to birth and death just as a human is. The Ten Incarnations of lord Vishnu :
- Matysya (the fish) - In this avatar, he saved the seventh Manu form of the great flood.
- Kurma (tortoise) - Vishnu took this form during the churning of the ocean.
- Varaha (boar) - In this incarnation, Lord Vishnu destroyed the demon Hiranyaksha.
- Narasimha (man-lion) - In the fourth avatar as a half-man and half-lion, he freed the world from a terrible demon Hiranyakashipu.
- Vamana (dwarf) - The fifth avatar Vamana, a dwarf, he tricked the demon king Bali. As a dwarf, he claims the universe for humanity by covering it with three strides.
- Parashurama (the warrior with an axe) - "Rama with the axe", who killed many arrogant barons and warriors. He protected the Brahmins from the tyranny of Kshattriyas.
- Rama - The ideal hero of the epic Ramayana. Rama is said to have taken birth on earth to annihilate the evil forces of the age. The life story of Rama and the main purpose of his incarnation to destroy the demon king Ravana.
- Krishna - As Krishna, he destroyed the wicked, protected the righteous and established a new order. Of all the incarnations, Krishna is revered as a full and complete incanation (purna avatara) of Lord Vishnu.
- Buddha - As a founder of Budhisim.
- Kalki (a man on a white horse) - The future avatar of Vishnu, who is yet to come, that will appear at the end of this world age - "The Age of Darkness."