Vishnu and You
According to various Puranas, Vishnu is the ultimate omnipresent reality and one of the most important Gods among the Trinity. He is generally shown either in the standing position or lying on top of the snake Anantha with Lakshmi, his consort serving him at his feet. Let us try to understand the symbolism behind his various forms and how we can benefit from having better understanding of the symbolism.
1. The name Vishnu means all pervading, omnipresent, etc.
2. He is shown with four arms.
3. The colour of his skin is blue: The blue colour indicates his all-pervasive nature, blue being the colour of the infinite space as well as the infinite ocean on which he resides.
4. He has the mark of sage Bhrigu‘s feet on his chest.
5. Also on his chest is the srivatsa mark, symbolising his consort Lakshmi.
6. He is to shown wearing two earrings: The earrings represent inherent opposites in creation — knowledge and ignorance; happiness and unhappiness; pleasure and pain, etc
7. A crown adorns his head symbolizing his supreme authority.
8. His four hands hold a conch shell or Shankha named “Panchajanya”, the chakra, a sharp-spinning discus-like weapon, named “Sudarshana”, a mace or Gada, named “Kaumodaki”, and a lotus flower or Padma.
Now let us try to understand the significance of Vishnu symbolism.
1. Vishnu, the name and the colour signifies all pervading and omnipresent. If you are the CEO or a manager of a company, your presence have to felt across the organization to be effective, irrespective of the fact that your men are working across geographies in different offices and departments. If you are in sales or marketing, your customers must feel yours and your company’s presence all the time and this can be achieved either by smart marketing or by physically covering the market. Only then you and your company can be successful.
2. Have you ever recited this prayer “Karaagre Vasate Lakshmi, Karamuule Saraswati, Karamadhye sthithe Gowri, Prabhaate Kara Darshanam”? This means the front part of the hands (the fingertips) is ascribed to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, the middle part (the palm proper) to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, and the root (the part of hand near the wrist) to Gowri (the Goddess of power). This prayer is to be recited first thing in the morning once you get up and essentially means that only if you work hard you can attain knowledge, wealth and power. Or everything is in your hands. Generally we all work with one hand. The four hands of Vishnu depicts that you have to work much more than an average person to be extremely successful.
3. The conch shell in his hand is called “Panchajanyam”. It has two meanings. The sound from the conch is “Om” and as the first sound (pranavam) is the origin of the entire universe. It also means that which produces the five elements, ether (space), air, fire, water and earth, from which the entire universe is created. You have to produce results to be successful.
4. The disc or chakra is called “Sudarshana” and we think that it is the ultimate weapon used by Vishnu or Krishna to kill the enemies. But the fact is different. Sudarshana means “auspicious vision”. How can you kill a person with auspicious vision? This essentially means that you convert a person who is defocused and not doing what is expected to be done. It could also be someone with negative character doing all the wrong things. By proper advice and guidance you can convert any person to think and behave the way what is appropriate to the society or the circumstances. Once you do that the bad element in that person is killed and goodness is born. That is what Krishna has done with Arjuna. Krishna converted a dejected and de-motivated Arjuna to take up arms and start the war as that was his solemn duty as a Kshatriya in the battle field. Every organization has a vision statement which we all are supposed to follow with total devotion and commitment and do whatever it takes to live the vision and convert every other employee to be committed as well.
5. Vishnu has a crown in his head and mace in his hand and that represents his authority and power. The crown represents his positional authority, generally worn by kings and the mace represents his authority to punish people when they go wrong. In organizations positional authority is depicted by their title (that is why everyone wants a manager’s title). Managers also have the power to reward and punish those who are his direct reports.
6. Lotus flower which Vishnu holds in one of his hands is one of the most popular symbols in Hindu and Buddhist religion and represents purity and non attachment. It grows in mud and lives in water, yet is one of the most beautiful flowers and never gets wet. It is not bothered about the surroundings but blooms and performs its job before vanishing. The ultimate aim of living beings is to perform its karma without bothering about the external factors. Generally we are bothered about everyone else in our job or surroundings and keep complaining about them without focusing on what we are supposed to do. People say that one’s character is defined by his nature and nurture, means the family and environment. What lotus teaches us is that irrespective of our family background and our upbringing, we can lead a life of perfection and attain great achievements if we live like a lotus.
7. On his chest Vishnu has the “srivatsa” mark symbolizing his consort Lakshmi. Does this mean that you have to keep the photo of your wife in your shirt pocket all the time? Or like the fad these days make a tattoo of your wife on your chest? Certainly not. For me this signifies that you should always be thinking and caring about your family, including spouse, even when you are immersed in your professional or personal pursuits.
Therefore let us all try to live the life of Vishnu and be highly successful.