Vishnu-The Epitome of Effulgence
According to Vaishnavism, Lord Vishnu represents the Saatvik (pure, good and merciful) aspect of the Soul. Vishnu means bright light. >From this point of view, Lord Vishnu is the all-pervading light.
It is believed that Vishnu rests in the ocean of milk (Ksheerasagar) on the back of a serpent called Ananta. This state of rest is called Yoganidra (sleep meditation). Godess Lakshmi, in the form of Mayadevi, sits near Him. The effulgent energy of Vishnu and the illusory power manifested in Devi creates the world.
Ananta (without beginning or end) represents infinity, or Time). The Lord with His attribute of Satva rests on infinite Time. The Ocean of Milk represents the ocean of Sat-chit-ananda (eternal Bliss). It is improper to call this ocean as salty. Hence it is called the Ocean of Milk.
Ananta not only forms the bed for Vishnu but also guarding Him with the hoods spread over Vishnu’s head. Snake is the guardian of Dharma in hindu symbolism.
Vaikunda, (paradise of Vishnu) and Ksheerasagar are synonymous. ‘Kunditham’ means sorrow. Vaikunda means a place devoid of sorrow. Sat-chit-ananda is a state without any sorrow and only Eternal Bliss.
Vaikunda represents the 4th state (Turiya) beyond Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupti (waking, dream and deep sleep states). Hence Kailasa and Vaikunta represent the same principle of a place of eternal Bliss.
Vishnu, in His divine form, is depicted with four hands. These hands carry a conch (Panjajanya), a divine disc (Sdarshana-chakra), a lotus (Padma) and a club (Kaumudiki). From the sound of the conch, creation takes place. This is the primal sound AUM, as mentioned in the Upanishads.
The Chakra (discus) is the Dharmachakra. It is used to establish Dharma, by destroying those who are against it. This is called ‘the Turning of the Wheel of Law’.
The club represents power. The all-powerful God rules the world through His power. The lotus is a representation of both beauty and softness. Vishnu has both these attributes. These attributes should also exist in His devotees.
Lord Brahma sits on a lotus, that has sprung from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Brahma is Antakarana (inner organs, instruments). Antakarana has four components- namely- Manas (mind), Budhi (intellect), Chitam (dealing with memory) and Ahankar (egoism). Thus Brahma is shown with four faces. Saraswati (wisdom) is the consort of Brahma (Antakarana).
The Garuda (golden eagle) has been chosen as the vehicle of Vishnu, since divine light travels fast. The soul (Paramatma) is situated within the vehicle (body).
As a symbol for worship, Vishnu is the most appropriate for kings and householders. Students should worship Saraswati and the soldiers should worship Kaali.