Vishnu (Sanskrit: विष्णु) is a main Vedic god, venerated as the Supreme Being in Vaishnava traditions of Hinduism, who manifests in numerous avatars or incarnations. Also commonly known as Narayana or Hari, Vishnu is sometimes grouped with Brahma and Shiva in the Trimurti of Brahman. In the Smartha traditions, he is venerated as one of the five primary forms of God. The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu the Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of — and beyond — the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. This illustrates the omnipresent characteristic of Vishnu. Vishnu governs the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called "Preserver of the universe".
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- Oh, never star
Was lost here, but it rose afar!
Look East, where whole new thousands are!
In Vishnu-land what Avatar?
- Robert Browning, in "Waring" (1842)
- O ye who wish to gain realization of the Supreme Truth, utter the name of "Vishnu" at least once in the steadfast faith that it will lead you to such realization.
- Rig Veda, V.I.15b.3
- Just as the sun's rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the abode of Lord Vishnu.
- Rig Veda, V.I.22.20
- Let me now sing the heroic deeds of Viṣṇu who has measured apart the realms of the earth, who propped up the upper dwelling-place, striding far as he stepped forth three times.
They praise for his heroic deeds Viṣṇu who lurks in the mountains, wandering like a ferocious wild beast, in whose three wide strides all creatures dwell.
- Rig Veda, V.1.154.1 - 2, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226
- Alone, he supports threefold the earth and the sky — all creatures.
Would that I might reach his dear place of refuge, where men who love the gods rejoice. For their one draws close to the wide-striding Viṣṇu; there, in his highest footstep, is the fountain of honey.
- Rig Veda, V.1.154.4 - 5, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226
- The gods were my superheroes growing up. Hanuman, the monkey god, lifting an entire mountain to save his friend Lakshman. Ganesh the elephant headed, risking his life to save the honor of his mother Pārvati. Vishnu, the Supreme Soul. The Soul of all things. Vishnu sleeps, floating on the shoreless cosmic ocean, and we are the stuff of his dreams.