Vishnu is a Hindu god. He is the second god of the Trimurthi (also called the Hindu Trinity, all came from an egg laid by Ammavaru), along with Brahma and Shiva. The triumvirate signify the cycle of life: Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the protector, and Shiva is the destroyer. He is a life-death-rebirth deity. In later belief, he was attented to by the vasu. In later times, he has been identified with Bhumiya.
Vishnu is the all-inclusive deity, known as purusha or mahä purusha, paramätma [Supreme Soul,] antaryämi [In-dweller] and He is the shèshin [Totality] in whom all souls are contained. He is Bhagavat where bhâga is Divine Glory.
Vishnu possesses six such divine glories, namely, 1. jñäna [Omniscient] 2. aishvarya [Sovereign] 3.shakti [Potent] 4. bala [Energetic] 5. vërya [Immutable] 6.tèjas [Resplandant.]
Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Shakti is the samvit [the primary intelligence] of god, while the other five attributes emerge from this samvid and hence Shakti is the god's ahamata [personality and activity. ] Thus this Shakti of god is personified in mythological lore and is called Shri or Lakshmi, and She is said to manifest herself in, 1] kriyäshakti, [Creative Activity] and 2] bhütishakti [Creation] of god. Hence Vishnu can not part with His own personality or creativity i.e., ahamta, which in its feminine form is called Sri or Lakshmi. He therefore needs consort Goddess Lakshmi to be with Him always, untouched by any. Thus goddess Lakshmi has to accompany Vishnu in all His incarnations.
It is believed that he manifested himself as a human being in ten Avatars. His avatars are said to be
- Matsya, the fish
- Kurma, the tortoise
- Varaha, the boar
- Narasimha, the Man-Lion (Nara = man, simha = lion)
- Vamana, the Dwarf
- Krishna (meaning "dark" or "black")
- varies by sect: Siddhartha Gautama, Chaitanya, Balarama and others
- Kalki ("time"), who is yet to be manifested: an apocalyptic figure
Vishnu is the chief god of Vaishnavism.
It is not clearly known when or how the worship of Vishnu began. In the Vedas, and the information on Aryan beliefs, Vishnu is listed as a lesser god, strongly associated with Indra. It was only later in Hindu history that he became a member of the Trimurti and one of the most important deities of the religion.