Among the Hindu Trinity, Brahma is revered for initiating life and guiding its evolution to a Creation that we recognize. When evil infuses the Universe, Shiva destroys and obliterates it, and prepares for life’s recreation. It is thus Vishnu who protects all life as Caretaker of the Universe, making him devotionally prominent.
As Paramatman – the eternal, all encompassing soul of the Universe, Vishnu is formless, yet all powerful. In the accompanying prayer, we recount how easily he supports the cosmos, and how limitless is his beauty. To such a divine, what is the trivial task of expelling our fears and bringing peace to the Universe?
Vishnu – the All Pervading One, is always in action. When the foundations of dharma are weakened, and evil threatens to overpower good; when devotees raise their anguished voices to God and seek refuge in his grace, Vishnu does not ignore their prayers. For the welfare of his devotees and the protection of dharma, Vishnu takes a physical form (avataar) and descends to this world.
The divine has no form and is unbounded by time and space. Yet out of concern for his devotees, Vishnu the Almighty relinquishes these qualities and appears in time and space, suffering the same indignities of the ordinary fleshy life.
Our sages reveal that it is for the love of his devotees that God appears in our midst, in a form we can visualize and comprehend. To set an example for our lives, and guide us back onto the path of dharma.
Rama – hero of the Ramayana, and Krishna – enchanting strategist of the Mahabharata, are two of Vishnu’s most popular avataars. It is through such physical manifestations that Vishnu comes to the aid of his devotees in their struggle against evil, and is adored as a benign protector.
Serene on the undulating serpent
Supporting the cosmos.
Limitless as the sky
Colored by clouds his graceful form
Lakshmi’s beloved, Lotus-eyed
On Thee, Sages meditate
Banisher of all fear
I pray to this Vishnu!
One God of all!