What are Lord Vishnu characteristics (Lakshanas)

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How can someone can know about the characteristics of Lord Vishnu. Can we know about Lord Vishnu from our parents? Can we know about Lord Vishnu from our Guru?

Can we know about Lord Vishnu by reading the Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, Upanishads, etc.

Can we know about Lord Vishnu by seeing his deities in Tirupati (Srinivas, Venkatesh), Pandarpur (Panduranga, Vittala), Udupi (Sri Udupi Krishna), Dwarka (Dwarkadhish), Badrinath (Badri Narayan), Mathura (Sri Krishna), Srirangam (Sri Ranganatha), Puri (Sri Jagannath), etc.

Can we know about Lord Vishnu in our dreams, or how can we know about Lord Vishnu?

Our Shastras like Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, Upanishads, etc. tell that, we can know about Lord Vishnu by knowing his characteristics, by knowing his attributes, by knowing his qualities.

This is the best means of understanding, endearing, loving Lord Vishnu.

The everlasting, real and precise devotion in Lord Vishnu only comes from knowing him as he is, that is, if we know his characteristics, qualities, attributes, then we are indeed started to know about him.

Lord Vishnu’s characteristics, qualities, attributes are an important source of his knowledge.

There are mainly two kinds of characteristics, qualities, attributes about Lord Vishnu:

1. The characteristics, qualities, attributes that are present only in Lord Vishnu, and

2. The characteristics, qualities, attributes that are present in Lord Vishnu more than anybody else in the unlimited Universes.

The first classification are called Lakshanas (characteristics, qualities, attributes).

One of the great saints of Sri Madhvarcharya Ji lineage called Sri Teekagudpadacharya Ji (Sri Tikacharya Ji) says:

|| न च लक्षणेन विना निर्धारणम् ||

|| ನ ಚ ಲಕ್ಷಣೇನ ವಿನಾ ನಿರ್ಧಾರಣಮ್ ||

|| na ca lakṣaṇēna vinā nirdhāraṇam ||

Meaning of the above shloka : One cannot undeniably identify a personality from the rest, without differentiating the characteristics.

Thus we should always know about the characteristics, qualities, attributes (Lakshanas). For this reason, let us start by knowing the characteristics, qualities, attributes (Lakshanas) of Lord Vishnu.

They are also called asadharana (असाधारण / ಅಸಾಧಾರಣ / asādhāraṇa) characteristics, qualities, attributes (lakshanas), as these are only present in Lord Vishnu and not at all in others.

List of Lord Vishnu characteristics (lakshanas) are as given below:

Sarvottama (सर्वोत्तम / Supreme)

Sarvajna (सर्वज्ञ / Knower of all knowledge)

Sarva shakta (सर्व शाक्त / Most powerful)

Sarva Svatantra (सर्व स्वतन्त्र / Full independent)

Sarva karta (सर्व कर्त / Doer of anything and everything)

Ananta Kalyana Gunapoorna (अनंत गन कल्याण परिपूर्ण / Possessor of infinite auspicious attributes)

Sadgamaika Vijneya (सद्गमैक विज्ञेय)

Sarva swami (सर्व स्वामि)

Sarva Veda Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व वेद मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य)

Sarva Itihasa Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व इतिहास मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य)

Sarva Purana Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व पुराण मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य)

Pancharatra Mukhya Pratipadya (पंचरात्र मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य)

Sarva Dosha Vivarjita (सर्व दोष विवर्जित)

Para Ananda (पर आनंद)

Sarva Adhara (सर्व आधार)

Sarva Ashraya (सर्व आश्रय)

Sarva Shabda Vachya (सर्व शब्द वाच्य)

Sarva Vyapta (सर्व व्याप्त)

Sarva Antaryami (सर्व अंतर्यामी)

And many many more…

Now, let us know the meaning of the above:

Sarvottama (सर्वोत्तम / Supreme) – Lord Vishnu is the Sarvottama (Supreme)

Sarvajna (सर्वज्ञ / Knower of all knowledge) – Lord Vishnu is the knower of anything and everything, that is, of all the unlimited universes (Omniscient)

Sarva shakta (सर्व शाक्त / Most powerful) – Lord Vishnu is the most powerful than anyone or anything in the unlimited universes. He is capable of everything.

Sarva Svatantra (सर्व स्वतन्त्र / Full independent) – Lord Vishnu is independent and doesn’t needs anyone’s support, help, etc. for anything.

Sarva karta (सर्व कर्त / Doer of anything and everything) : Lord Vishnu can do anything on his own and he doesn’t need someone to help him.

Ananta Kalyana Gunapoorna (अनंत गन कल्याण परिपूर्ण / Possessor of infinite auspicious attributes) : Lord Vishnu possesses all (infinite) auspicious characteristics, qualities, attributes.

Sadgamaika Vijneya (सद्गमैक विज्ञेय) : Lord Vishnu is the one who can only be known well from sadagama.

Sarva swami (सर्व स्वामि) : Lord Vishnu is the master of anything and everything of the multiverses.

Sarva Veda Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व वेद मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य) : Main God propounded by all the Vedas is Lord Vishnu.

Sarva Itihasa Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व इतिहास मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य) : Main God propounded by all the Itihasas is Lord Vishnu.

Sarva Purana Mukhya Pratipadya (सर्व पुराण मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य) : Main God propounded by all the Puranas is Lord Vishnu.

Pancharatra Mukhya Pratipadya (पंचरात्र मुख्य प्रतिपाद्य) : Main God propounded by Pancharatra is Lord Vishnu

Sarva Dosha Vivarjita (सर्व दोष विवर्जित) : Lord Vishnu is completely defect free. He can’t be harmed in anyway by anyone or anything.

Para Ananda (पर आनंद) : Lord Vishnu is always filled with the highest bliss.

Sarva Adhara (सर्व आधार) : Lord Vishnu is the one who is the main shelter provider to all. All are completely dependent on him.

Sarva Ashraya (सर्व आश्रय) : Lord Vishnu is the helper and supporter for everybody. Without Lord Vishnu wish, we can’t even move a step in any direction.

Sarva Shabda Vachya (सर्व शब्द वाच्य) : Lord Vishnu is the one who is addressed by every alphabet, every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, every book, etc.

Sarva Vyapta (सर्व व्याप्त) : Lord Vishnu is omni-present. There is no place where Lord Vishnu is not present in this multiverses.

Sarva Antaryami (सर्व अंतर्यामी) : Lord Vishnu is the indweller of anything and everything.

And many many more…

But, we can get a question here, how can we belief that Lord Vishnu is having all the above characteristics, qualities, attributes as said above? Answer is as given below:

1. सर्वं विशतीति विष्णुः (sarvaṁ viśatīti viṣṇuḥ) : Lord Vishnu is the only one who has pervaded everything that exists in this multiverses.

By this, Lord Vishnu pervades the infinitesimal space of our heart and resides within the soul too.

Lord Vishnu has pervaded the 3 Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda), 3 times (past, present and future), 3 worlds (i.e., 14 worlds), 3 gunas (and hence gunAtita) and posseses all gunas in their fullest manner never present in others or elsewhere.

2. Gita Tatparya (गीत तात्पर्य) : The Great Vaishnava Saint Sri Madhvacharya Ji provides a small list of Lord Vishnu’s distinguishing characteristics in Gita Tatparya (Commentary on Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Sri Madhvacharya Ji):

परमत्वं स्वतंत्रत्वं सर्वशक्तित्वमेव च ।
सर्वज्ञत्वं परानंदः सर्वस्य तदधीनता ।

ಪರಮತ್ವಂ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರತ್ವಂ ಸರ್ವಶಕ್ತಿತ್ವಮೇವ ಚ ।
ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞತ್ವಂ ಪರಾನಂದಃ ಸರ್ವಸ್ಯ ತದಧೀನತಾ ।

paramatvaṁ svatantratvaṁ sarvaśaktitvamēva ca।
sarvajñatvaṁ parānandaḥ sarvasya tadadhīnatā।

Meaning of the above shloka : Lord Vishnu (Paramatma) is svatantra (fully independent), sarvashakti (ompotent), sarvajna (omniscient), Parananda (Always blissful), and present in everything and everywhere.

In the above shloka, the highest Supremacy, highest Independence, most Capable, all knower-ship, highest height of bliss are listed.

The explanation of highest supremacy is as given in all the Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, Upanishads, etc.

Here the hierarchy (Taratamya) is clearly mentioned. The name Paramatma also stems from this Supreme nature of Lord Vishnu and is तत्रैव प्रसिद्ध (ತತ್ರೈವ ಪ್ರಸಿದ್ಧ / tatraiva prasid’dha) word, that is, most popular and well-known word.

Someone who is not at all dependent on others (living and non-living) for his / her intrinsic nature (स्वरूप) , knowledge (प्रमिति) and action (प्रवृत्ति) is called ‘सर्वतंत्र स्ववतंत्र / ಸರ್ವತತ್ರ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ / sarvatatra svatantra’, that is, completely free and independent.

The highest capacity of Lord Vishnu is merely a rewording of the veerya / samarthya (Heroism / Capability) listed under the 6 qualities collectively called bhaga and thus, the name Bhagavan – For this reason, Lord Vishnu is known as Bhagavan).

Sarvajnatva (सर्वज्ञत्व / ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞತ್ವ / sarvajñatva) or omniscience is also a quality not even found in Goddess Lakshmi, even though she is called as ‘nitya mukte’ (नित्य मुक्ते / ನಿತ್ಯ ಮುಕ್ತೆ / nitya mukte – She is completely free, but completely dependent on Lord Vishnu).

Goddess Lakshmi might know all about the multiverses and a lot about Lord Vishnu, but she knows only part, but much greater than any other Devata (Demigod).

Only Lord Vishnu knows all (anything and everything), that is, he knows about him very well than any other Devata (Demigod).

Para Ananda (पर आनंद / ಪರ ಆನಂದ / para ānanda) is the nature of highest bliss. This highest bliss is present only in Lord Vishnu.

While all other Devatas (Demigods) and all who has received moksha (liberation) atmas / souls possess certain amount of bliss, but it is finite and within the realms of our speech thought.

Lord Vishnu’s bliss alone is beyond such limits and totally indescribable and indecipherable. Same thing is said in Taittiriya Upanishat as given below.

3. Aitareya Upanishat : Aitareya Upanishat says, णकारो बलं ष्कार प्राण आत्मा || ಣಕಾರೋ ಬಲಂ ಷ್ಕಾರ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಆತ್ಮಾ || ṇakārō balaṁ ṣkāra prāṇa ātmā ||

Meaning of the above shloka : The बलं consists of the jnana (knowledge) and kriya bala. It is also a part of such capability. He (Lord Vishnu) alone can make anything possible.

4. Sadagamaika Vijneyam (सदागमैक विज्ञेयं) : Now, many may have the question, if Lord Vishnu is such all-capable personality, then how do we know him?

There are unlimited resources that denigrate the supremacy of Lord Vishnu and attributing it to other deities.

But, for all these answer is provided by the great Vaishnava Saint Sri Madhvacharya Ji as, सदागमैक विज्ञेयं.

That is, Lord Vishnu’s nature can only be known only from sat-agamas, that is, the good agamas only and nothing else.

5. सर्व वेद प्रतिपाद्य and सर्व शद्ब वाच्य (Sarva veda pratipadya and Sarva shabda vachya) : All the great Vedas eulogizes Lord Vishnu primarily as a concept that has been stressed out well earlier.

With this all the alphabets, all the words, all the syllables, all the vowels, their join-points (sandhis), manmade sounds and in nature all extoll Lord Vishnu himself.

The roaring sound of ocean, the thunder sound, the rain drops sound, the noises by various beings, etc. etc. etc. are all in fact extolling Lord Vishnu himself.

6. सर्व कर्त (Sarva karta) : All the eight fold doer-ship, that is, of creation, sustenance, destruction, control, knowledge, lack of it, bondage and liberation are all caused by Lord Vishnu himself and not by Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva. Goddes Durga, etc. as popularly misunderstood by many.

7. Possession of auspicious attributes : Only Lord Vishnu possesses all the auspicious characteristics, qualities, attributes and does not have even 1% of defects in him.

In fact, Lord Vishnu is the owner and controller of the defects in others (living and non-living beings).

How can then Lord Vishnu possess them in him?

|| नारायणं गुणैः सर्वरुदीर्णं दोषवर्जितं ||

|| ನಾರಾಯಣಂ ಗುಣೈಃ ಸರ್ವರುದೀರ್ಣಂ ದೋಷವರ್ಜಿತಂ ||

|| nārāyaṇaṁ guṇaiḥ sarvarudīrṇaṁ dōṣavarjitaṁ ||

Meaning of the above shloka : Lord Narayana (Vishnu) has all the unlimited gunas (qualities) and he not at all has even a single error (blot) within him.

All such characteristics, qualities, attributes possessed by Lord Vishnu are of aprAkruta (completely independent) in nature and beyond the prakrutik trigunas, that is, Sattva, Rajasika, and Tamasika.

Thus, very naturally incomprehensible by us. But nonetheless they exist. And he is not nirguna (with any qualities) as said by advaitis (Mayavadis).

We should always introspect and meditate on these great, unique, distinguishing characteristics, qualities, attributes of  Lord Vishnu and gain his blessings and finally the divine moksha.

More information will be added to this on regular basis. Please visit after some time.

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