Le Dieu Vishnu
Also called Narayana, it embodies preservation. Like Brahma he has four arms. In one hand he holds a concha (shanka) in which he blows to defeat the demons; in another he holds a disc spinning around his index finger, it is the "spiral of awakening" (sudhdarshan chakra) with which he decapitates the forces of evil. In the third hand is a mass of gold (gadha), symbol of his power, then in the fourth he sometimes holds a lotus flower. He wears yellow clothes.
His mount is the eagle Garuda. It is also accompanied by a snake with several heads (Shesa). His wife is Lakshmi. Vishnu's mission is to preserve the order of the world. When the latter is disturbed, Vishnu incarnates to descend to Earth in the form of an avatar. The sacred texts list ten:
- The MATSYA fish that saved the world from the deluge and recovered the 4 Vedas at the bottom of the ocean
- The KURMA turtle. She lifted Mt. Mandara in the middle of the ocean with her carapace so that the deities could sit on it and thus recover the nectar of immortality
- The wild boar VARAHA who, for 1000 years, fought the demon Hiranyaksha who had plunged the goddess of the Earth, Prithivi, to the bottom of the ocean
- The lion-man NARASIMHA who rid the world of the demon Hiranyakashipu. Brahma, seduced by the offerings of the latter, had granted him invulnerability. He could not be killed either by a man or an animal. It was therefore in a half-human, half-animal form that Vishnu manifested himself
- The dwarf VAMANA. The Bali demon had managed to take control of the Earth, heaven and hell. Vamana stood in front of him and asked Bali to give him as much ground as he could walk in three steps. Bali, amused by this dwarf, agreed. In two steps Vamana covered the Earth and paradise, then, in her great kindness, left hell in Bali. Thus Vamana saved the world
- Parasuram. First human incarnation of Vishnu. A defender of the Brahman caste, he would have fought the Kshatriya caste five times, filling five lakes with their blood
- RAMA, hero of Ramayana, is the son of Dashrata, king of Ayodhya. He fought the tyrant Ravana with the help of the god-ape Hanuman and became an exemplary ruler after 14 years of exile
- KRISHNA. It is the most popular avatar of Vishnu. Krishna is almost regarded as a god in its own right by some Hindus. Krishna appears in the Mahabharata and more particularly in the Bhagavad Gita, alongside the Pandava in their struggle against the Kaurava. He also came to Earth to defeat tyrant Kansa. His childhood and love for his wife Radha inspired poets. Krishna is depicted with blue skin, playing the flute with his legs crossed. Peacocks are at his side. The cow is his pet
- BUDDHA. Founder of Buddhism, Hindus considers him the ninth avatar. Vishnu takes on the role of teacher. Although very different from the teaching of the Brahmans, Buddhism was integrated by the Hindus as part of their culture. Buddha ("the illuminated") is usually represented in golden color, with large lobes of ears, half-closed eyes and dressed in orange clothes
- KALKI. This is Vishnu's last expected incarnation. It will appear on a white horse at the end of the dark times we are going through (kaliyuga). He will destroy all demons to rebuild a new world.