known 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.

vishnu is always to be depicted holding the four attributes associated with him, being:

a conch shell or shankhya, named "panchajanya", held by the lower right hand, which represents creativity.

the 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.

a 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 is derived.

a 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.

the 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.

this grand depiction is the representation of his essence being magnified to contain the entire cosmos.

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