Vishnu Statue - Antique Thai Style Standing Bronze Vishnu Statue - 94cm/38"

Vishnu's Divine Attributes: The Symbolism of His Four Hands

Lord Vishnu, one of the principal deities in Hinduism, is often depicted with four hands, each holding specific attributes. These attributes carry profound symbolic meanings and represent the various aspects of Lord Vishnu's role in the cosmic order and the preservation of dharma (righteousness).

Understanding what Vishnu holds in his hands provides insights into his divine qualities and significance in Hindu theology.

1. The Conch (Shankha):

Lord Vishnu can hold a conch shell, known as the Shankha. The Shankha symbolizes the primordial sound of creation, Om, from which the universe emerged. When blown, the conch produces a resonant sound that is believed to dispel negativity and create positive vibrations, signifying the creation and preservation of the cosmos. It also serves as a call to awaken spiritual seekers from their ignorance and guide them towards the path of righteousness.

2. The Discus (Chakra):

Vishnu may also wield a chakra, a circular spinning weapon. This discus, often referred to as the Sudarshana Chakra, represents the cycle of time, the eternal nature of the universe, and the destructive power of divine justice. It symbolizes the ability of Lord Vishnu to remove obstacles, protect his devotees, and maintain cosmic order by eliminating evil and unrighteousness.

Khmer Vishnu

3. The Mace (Gada):

Lord Vishnu can hold a mace, known as the Gada. This powerful weapon signifies his might and strength. The mace represents the authority of divine rulership and the ability to uphold dharma by subduing the forces of chaos and disorder. It serves as a reminder of the consequences of unrighteous actions and the need for discipline and adherence to moral values.

4. The Lotus (Padma):

Vishnu may hold a lotus flower, the Padma. The lotus symbolizes purity, transcendence, and spiritual enlightenment. Its emergence from the mud, yet remaining unstained, represents the potential for spiritual growth and liberation from the material world. Vishnu's holding of the lotus signifies his role as the embodiment of purity, grace, and the source of divine beauty in the universe.

5. The Kalasha:

The kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance and "source of life" in the Vedas. It is referred to as "overflowing full vase" in the Vedas. The Kalasha is believed to contain amrita, the elixir of life, and thus is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom, and immortality.

6. The Four-Armed Form:

The four-armed form of Vishnu represents his omnipotence and multifaceted nature. Each attribute he holds exemplifies a different aspect of his divine character: creation, preservation, destruction of evil, and spiritual liberation. This form reinforces the idea that Lord Vishnu is the ultimate protector and preserver of the cosmos, ensuring its continued existence and balance.

7. The Cosmic Balance:

The combination of these four attributes in Vishnu's four hands illustrates the delicate balance of creation and destruction, righteousness and justice, protection and transformation within the cosmos. It signifies his responsibility for maintaining the cosmic order (dharma) and intervening whenever necessary to restore balance and harmony.

In conclusion, Lord Vishnu's four hands and the attributes he holds in them are profound symbols in Hinduism. They reflect his role as the preserver of the universe, his commitment to upholding dharma, and his divine qualities of purity, strength, and grace. The symbolism of Vishnu's four hands serves as a reminder of the eternal principles that guide the cosmos and inspire devotees to lead righteous and purposeful lives.

Indonesian Vishnu