Sanskrit: विष्णु, viṣṇu
Lord Vishnu is the all-pervading, omnipresent, Supreme Divinity of Creation. Viṣ means the universe, and ṇu means who pervades or embodies. Vishnu is He who pervades the universe or embodies the universe.
Lord Vishnu, also known as Nārāyaṇa or Hari, is the Preserver and Sustainer of the Hindu trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). Together with His consort, Lakshmi, Vishnu creates and protects the circumstances of all beings in creation.
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata
abhutthānamadharmasya tadātmānaṃ sṛjāmyaham
“For whenever the Ideals of Perfection decline, Descendant of the Light of Wisdom (Arjuna), and there is a corresponding increase in selfish conduct, in derogation to the Ideal, then I make myself manifest.”
The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu
Scripture tells us that Vishnu has ten incarnations, called daśāvatāra (das is ten, and avatara is an incarnation of God).
Two of his most well-known incarnations are Krishna and Rama, but all of His manifestations have beautiful stories to enlighten the mind and brighten the spirit. These incarnations are:
- Matsya (the fish)
- Kurma (the turtle)
- Varaha (the boar)
- Narasimha (half-lion, half-man)
- Vamana (the dwarf)
- Parashurama (Rama with the axe)
- Rama (Lord Rama of the Ramayana)
- Balarama (elder brother of Lord Krishna) or Lord Buddha, depending upon the tradition
- Krishna (eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva, beloved Lord of the Gopis, who spoke the great words of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra)
- Kalki (Vishnu’s final incarnation, who, it is said, will appear at the end of the Kali Yuga)
Worship and its Benefits
While stories sing the glories of Vishnu’s specific manifestations, as the eternal and all-pervasive Consciousness of creation, Vishnu is everywhere at all times. There is nowhere He is not, and that is why we worship Him.
We worship Vishnu by paying attention. We focus our attention to the exclusion of the wandering mind, and therefore attain to efficiency in our every thought and action. In doing so, we become aware of Vishnu’s presence in all of our daily activities, and every activity becomes a form of worship.
The holy people of India are known as sadhus. Sadhu actually means “one who is efficient.” Sadhus practice sadhana, a spiritual discipline designed to bring them to every-growing states of efficiency.
One type of spiritual discipline is called pūjā. Pū means merit, and jā means birth. Pūjā is the activity which gives birth to the highest merit: the privilege to sit in the presence of God.
What is Vishnu Puja?
On one level, pūjā is a form of worship performed at the altar. It is a guided meditation in which we offer devotion to our chosen deity with Sanskrit mantras, flowers, milk, water, honey, yogurt, ghee, and other offerings.
However, pūjā is not something that is only performed in the temple. To be true worship, it must pertain to all life. It is an attitude of respect that we carry with us at all times.
Ultimately, our pūjā is the attainment of complete absorption, complete surrender, and complete efficiency in every action that we perform for God. Because Vishnu lives everywhere and in everything, there is no action that we can perform that is not for God, in one form or another. That remembrance is our pūjā.
So we start by worshiping Vishnu at the alter – we chant His mantras, perform His puja, and sing the Vishnu Sahasranam (the One Thousand Names of Vishnu). We then gradually we come into the awareness that every name for everything is but another name for Vishnu.
Om Klīṃ Viṣṇave Namaḥ!
Worship and Celebrations at the Devi Mandir
At the Devi Mandir, God is worshiped every day in so many forms. Vishnu’s worship is performed daily as part of the Cosmic Pūjā.
Satya Nārāyaṇa Vrat video classes by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Shree Maa.
Viṣṇu Sahasranāma sung by Shree Maa.