Viṣṇu (Biographical details)

Viṣṇu (deity; Hindu; Male)

Also known as

Viṣṇu; Vishnu; Visnu; Kṛṣṇa; Krsna; Krishna; Narasimha; Kūrma; Kurma; Sri Lakṣmī Narayan; Sri Lakshmi Narayan; Vamana; Trivikrama; Sri Ranganathaswamy; Vithoba; Matsya; Hayagriva; Halayudha; Rāma; Vāmana; Varāha; Varaha; Narayana; Varadaraja; Panduranga; Paraśurāma; Janardana; Ekapadaśiva; Ekapadashiva; Anantasayana; Anantasayin; Venkateśvara; Venkateshvara; Venkateshwara; Buddha; Narasiṁha; Prithu; Dasavatara; Yoga Nārāyaṇa

Biography

Originally a minor Vedic deity and described as having traversed the universe in three strides (Trivikrama), he later became an aspect of the Hindu trinity with Siva and Brahma: Viṣṇu (the Preserver), Śiva (the Destroyer) and Brahma (the Creator). He is the god of multitudinous forms (the avataras) and, as such, assumes different forms descending to earth at opportune moments to redress the balance between good and evil. Thus is he known as the Preserver. The usual listing of the ten avataras referred to as Daśāvatāra are the ten reincarnations of Visnu: Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Narasiṁha, Vāmana, Balarāma, Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Buddha and Kalki (Paraśurama sometimes replaces the Buddha).
Viṣṇu's attributes are the discus (representing speed and thought); the conch (a symbol of the five existential elements); the lotus (representing the power of illusion) and a mace (symbolising power and knowledge).