Lord Vishnu (The Preserver & Sustainer of life) is the second member of the Hindu Trinity along with Lord Brahma (The Creator) and Lord Shiva (The Destroyer). According to Hindu mythology the Universe was created by Brahma, is maintained by Vishnu and destroyed by Shiva.
Lord Vishnu represents the principles of order, righteousness and truth. When these values are under threat, Lord Vishnu emerges out of his transcendence to restore peace and order on earth.
Lord Vishnu is known my other names, such as Vasudeva, Narayana and Hari. The devout followers of Lord Vishnu are known as the Vaishnavas. Goddess Laskhmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty is Lord Vishnu's consort. Lord Vishnu is generally depicted in a human body form with four arms, with a dark complexion.
In His hands, he carried a Conch (shankha), a Mace (gada), a Discus (chakra) and a Lotus (padma).
The Conch Shell, held in the top left hand, spreads the sound of 'Om' and is the tool by which the Lord communicates with his devotees to live in this world with kindness, compassion and love with all living beings.
The discus, held in the top right hand, is used as a weapon to protect his devotees from evil. The discus, also known as the Sudarshan chakra, is released from the right index finger, is also a reminder of the cycle of time and a weapon used against blasphemy.
The lower left hand holds the padma, which stands for a glorious existence and is used to bestow grace upon his devotees.
The lower right hand holds the mace that denotes energy and is used to punish indiscipline.
Lord Vishnu wears a crown, two earrings, a garland (mala) of flowers, and a gem around the neck.
The Lord is usually shown standing or seated on a thousand-headed snake (named Shesha Nag), and the snake has its hoods open over the head of the Lord. The thousand heads of the snake signify innumerable desires and passions of an individual. Just as a snake destroys its victim by its venom, an uncontrolled mind destroys the world by the venom of its possessiveness. The Lord has controlled all desires, and this is symbolized by showing Him seated on the two coils of the snake. When a sincere devotee of the Lord controls his desires, the Lord fulfills the devotee's genuine desires and helps him on his path.
The blue sky in the background of the Lord suggests that He pervades the entire universe. The blue color symbolizes infinity. The blue body of the Lord signifies that He has infinite attributes. He is nameless, formless, and immeasurable. The color yellow is associated with earthly existence and the yellow clothes of the Lord signify that He incarnates Himself on this earth to uphold righteousness and destroy evil and unrighteousness.
A flower garland around the Lord's neck is a symbol of the devotee's adoration for the Lord. A gem decorating His neck signifies that the Lord fulfills all genuine desires of His devotees and provides for their needs. The crown is a symbol of the Lord's supreme power and authority. The two earrings signify the dual nature of creation, such as knowledge and ignorance, happiness and unhappiness, and pleasure and pain.
Out of His navel blossoms a lotus, known as Padmanabham. The flower holds Brahma, the God of Creation and the embodiment of royal virtues or 'Rajoguna'. Thus, the peaceful form of Lord Vishnu discards the royal virtues through his navel and makes the Sheshnag snake that stands for the vices of darkness or 'Tamoguna', his seat. Therefore Vishnu is the Lord of 'Satoguna' - the virtues of the truth.
Vishnu is often depicted as reclining on a Sheshanaga – the coiled, many-headed snake floating on cosmic waters that represents the peaceful Universe. This pose symbolizes the calm and patience in the face of fear and worries that the poisonous snake represents. The message here is that you should not let fear overpower you and disturb your peace.
The vehicle of Vishnu is the Garuda eagle, the king of the birds. Empowered with the courage and speed to spread the knowledge of the Vedas, Garuda is an assurance of fearlessness at the time of calamity.
According to the Matsya Purana, the king of pre-ancient Dravida and a devotee of Vishnu, Satyavrata who later was known as Manu was washing his hands in a river when a little fish swam into his hands and pleaded with him to save its life. He put it in a jar, which it soon outgrew. He then moved it to a tank, a river and then finally the ocean but to no avail. The fish then revealed himself to be Vishnu and told him that a deluge would occur within seven days that would destroy all life. Therefore, Satyavrata was instructed to take "all medicinal herbs, all the varieties of seeds, and accompanied by the seven saints" along with the serpent Vasuki and other animals.
Matsya is generally represented as a four-armed figure with the upper torso of a man and the lower of a fish
During Samudra manthan, when churning process started mount Mandara started to sink, so Lord Vishnu took Tortoise's form and bore the entire weight of the mountain on his back.
brings the earth back from the bottom of the ocean where it was dragged down by a demon, known as Hiranyaksha; Varaha kills the demon.
kills the demon King Hiranyakashipu, who was planning to kill his own son Prahalad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
the first human incarnation of the Lord, kills the demon King Mahabhali, who had deprived the gods of their possessions.
saves Brahmins from the tyranny of the arrogant Kshatriyas.
kills Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
the most popular incarnation; Krishna's contributions throughout his life include the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.
Hindus consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and accept his teachings, but do not directly worship him.
this incarnation is yet to come and will mark the end of all evil in the world.
The following gods are also considered to be incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Lord Jagannath of Puri in Orissa
Lord Rangnatha of Kanchipuram
Lord Venkateswar or Tirupati Balaji of Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh
Lord Pandurang Vithala or Vithoba of Pandharpur, Maharashtra
Lord Varadraja of Kanchipuram
Lord Shrinivas of Srirangam in Tamilnadu
Lord Satya Narayan, the Lord Of truth and very popular. Genraly worshiped in household during specific occasions.