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Photography - Vishnu - Prambanan Temple 003
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Lord Vishnu :

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the Supreme Being in its Vaishnavism tradition. He is the “preserver” in the Hindu trinity (Trimurti) that includes Brahma and Shiva.

In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as “the preserver, protector” whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces. His avatars most notably include Rama in the Ramayana and Krishna in the Mahabharata. He is also known as Narayana, Jagannath, Vasudeva, Vithoba, and Hari. He is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.

In Hindu iconography, Vishnu is usually depicted as having a dark, or pale blue complexion and having four arms. He holds a padma (lotus flower) in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada (mace) in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha (conch) in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra (discus) in his upper right hand. A traditional depiction is Vishnu reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he “dreams the universe into reality”.

The Origin :

Vishnu is a Vedic deity, but not a prominent one when compared to Indra, Agni and others. Just 5 out of 1028 hymns of the Rig Veda, a 2nd millennium BCE Hindu text, are dedicated to Him, and He finds minor mention in the other hymns. He is mentioned in the Brahmana layer of text in the Vedas, thereafter his profile rises and over the history of Indian mythology, states Jan Gonda, He becomes a divinity of the highest rank, one equivalent to the Supreme Being.

Though a minor mention and with overlapping attributes in the Vedas, He has important characteristics in various hymns of Rig Veda, such as 1.154.5, 1.56.3 and 10.15.3. In these hymns, the Vedic mythology asserts that He resides in that highest home where departed Atman (souls) reside, an assertion that may have been the reason for his increasing emphasis and popularity in Hindu soteriology. He is also described in the Vedic literature as the one who supports heaven and earth.

In the Vedic hymns, Vishnu is invoked alongside other deities, especially Indra, whom he helps in killing the symbol of evil named Vritra. His distinguishing characteristic in Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 refer to Vishnu. In section 7.99 of the Rgveda, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. In the Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is Surya or Savitr (Sun god), who also bears the name Suryanarayana. Again, this link to Surya is a characteristic Vishnu shares with fellow Vedic deities named Mitra and Agni, where in different hymns, they too “bring men together” and cause all living beings to rise up and impel them to go about their daily activities.

In hymn 7.99 of Rigveda, Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun, with the verses asserting that this sun is the source of all energy and light for all. In other hymns of the Rigveda, Vishnu is a close friend of Indra. Elsewhere in Rigveda, Atharvaveda and Upanishadic texts, Vishnu is equivalent to Prajapati, both are described as the protector and preparer of the womb, and according to Klaus Klostermaier, this may be the root behind post-Vedic fusion of all the attributes of the Vedic Prajapati unto the avatars of Vishnu.

In the Yajurveda, Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.13.1), Narayana sukta, Narayana is mentioned as the supreme being. The first verse of Narayana Suktam mentions the words paramam padam, which literally mean highest post and may be understood as the supreme abode for all souls. This is also known as Param Dhama, Paramapadam or Vaikuntha. Rig Veda 1.22.20 also mentions the same paramam padam.

In the Atharvaveda, the mythology of a boar who raises goddess earth from the depths of cosmic ocean appears, but without the word Vishnu or his alternate avatar names. In post-Vedic mythology, this legend becomes one of the basis of many cosmogonic myth called the Varaha legend, with Varaha as an avatar of Vishnu.

More photos of Prambanan Temple here.

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