as the preserver, he is most famously identified with his
avatars, or incarnations of god, most especially krishna and
rama. vishnu incarnates periodically for the establishment
and protection of righteousness, good dharma and destruction
of evil adharma.
is always to be depicted holding the four attributes associated
with him, being:
conch shell or shankhya, named "panchajanya", held by the
lower right hand, which represents creativity.
chakra as a weapon thus indicates the necessity of destroying
one's ego and illusory self-existence and developing the vision
to identify the eternal truth.
mace or gada, named "kaumodaki", held by the lower left hand,
which represents individual existence. the mace symbolizes
the primeval force from which all mental and physical strength
lotus flower or padma, held by the upper left hand, which
represents liberation or dispersion. the lotus symbolizes
the power from which the universe emerges.
vishwaroop depiction shows vishnu as having seven heads on
each of his left and right. each of these has its own cosmic
function or represents an aspect of the cosmos.
grand depiction is the representation of his essence being
magnified to contain the entire cosmos.