|VISHNU AND SHESH NAG
The Discus or wheel (CHAKRA) of
Vishnu named SUDARSHANA has six spokes
and symbolizes six-petal lotus. It represents the limitless
controlling all the six seasons and is the fearful weapon
that cuts off the heads of all demons.
The Lotus of Vishnu is named PADMA.
It is the symbol of purity and represents the unfolding of
creation. It is the truth (SATHYA).
The element from which emerge the rules
of conduct (DHARMA) and knowledge (JNANA).
The Mace (GADA) of Vishnu is named
KAUMODAKI. It represents the elemental
force, from which all physical and mental powers are derived.
In some images where in place of Mace, the Bow, Arrows and
Quiver are shown, the symbols represent as follows. The bow called SARANGA represents
the ego, origin of sensorial perception which means that it
is the symbol of the divine power of illusion
(Maya), while the numerous Arrows of Vishnu are the
senses, the fields of activity of the intellect and the Quiver
is the store-house of actions.
The worshippers of Vishnu, known as VAISHNAVAS, recognize
in him the Supreme Being, out of whom emerge Brahma, the active
creator; Vishnu himself the preserver; and Shiva or Rudra,
Vishnu's preserving, restoring and protecting
powers have been manifested to the world in a variety of forms,
called, 'Avatars', in which one or more portions of
his divine attributes were embodied in the shape of a human
being or an animal or a human-animal combined form, possessing
great and sometimes supernatural powers. All these Avatars
of Vishnu appeared in the world either to correct some great
evil or to affect some great good on the earth. These incarnations
are ten in number, though Bhagvata Purana increases them to
twenty-two and tells further that they are innumerable.
However out of the ten universally recognized incarnations,
nine are said to have appeared in the world while the tenth
is yet to descend here.
The first of these is MATSYA (fish) incarnation.
According to Hindu mythology the universe is subject to a
cycle of periodical destruction and thereafter-new creation.
Before the latest creation of the present universe, the four
Vedas (the holy books from the mouth of the Supreme-Deity)
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 (Matsya), descended into the waters
and brought-up these sacred books.
The second is KACHYUP or KURMA (tortoise)
incarnation. In this Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise
and took the newly created earth upon his back in order to
render this trembling globe a stability. The belief is held
that to this hour the earth is supported on the back of this