“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
God is more than just a concept. Not merely an abstract to be studied in an academic setting, there is a genuine identity, with locations of residence, and accordingly, personal, tangible, visible forms. These are not the same as the combinations of body and spirit we see around us.
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)
The nature is changeless and supreme. The distinction between visible and invisible, vyakta and avyakta, is for our understanding only. God is always around, accomplished easily through the expansion known as Supersoul.
He can break the limits of logic and reasoning, as well. He can literally be in two places at once. Going up to Him, asking for something, hearing a response – this interaction does not limit His association. In a far away place, another person can be interacting with Him in a similar manner, though the visible manifestation may be different.
He descends to this earth in a personal form every now and then, and there are two main purposes. He punishes the miscreants, the bad guys. He protects the pious, the good people. Both activities are equally auspicious and equally pleasing to the ear of those who can’t get enough of the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There is the transcendental form of God known as Vishnu. This is God worshiped in the mood of awe and reverence. The image is real; the individual can be found in the Vaikuntha realm, which is also known as the spiritual world.
Simultaneously there is symbolism, significance beyond words, to every aspect of God’s image and His activities. In the vision of Shri Vishnu, the objects in the four hands symbolically represent the two types of mercy He bestows.
1. The club
This is a weapon. Punishment shouldn’t be necessary if everyone is behaving according to the laws of the higher authorities. You typically don’t require violent weapons when overseeing children of a young age. This is because there is not much harm they can do.
In adulthood the freedom of action inherent to living can go in many directions. Not everyone is respectful. Not every person is willing to abide by the laws. In order to protect the pious, weapons are necessary. This punishes the miscreants and keeps them in check.
2. The disc
Known as the sudarshana-chakra, this amazing-looking spinning wheel can travel far and wide. The club does its damage while within the hand. The wielder of the club fights with a combatant who is close by. Perhaps the club is also used as a shield against incoming weapons, originating from afar.
The disc does not fail to reach its intended target. One time it chased an offending Durvasa Muni all across the universe. Only until pardon was sought from the victim of the original offense, Maharaja Ambarisha, did Durvasa get relief.
Another time the disc flew and quickly severed the head of a wicked character named Shishupala. He was fond of insulting Vishnu’s incarnation of Krishna. The Lord tolerated so many insults, until there was one too many. To avert a calamitous situation at the time of an auspicious sacrifice performed by King Yudhishthira, the sudarshana-chakra finally did away with Shishupala.
3. The lotus flower
A universal symbol of peace, the lotus flower is associated with different aspects of the Supreme Lord’s body. His eyes, His hands, His feet and His navel are like the lotus. He is beautiful in every way, and He is pure. Though the lotus floats on top of water, it does not become contaminated by the contact.
Vishnu is also soft like a flower. He can be extremely violent with the club, and at the same time He is most forgiving when dealing with His devotees. He is kindness personified, like the time He took no offense from Bhrigu Muni kicking His chest.
4. The conchshell
This auspicious object signals the presence of the Supreme Lord. It was blown by Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, indicating to everyone assembled that the chariot of Arjuna would emerge victorious. This is because that Pandava brother had the guidance and association of Shri Krishna.
The conchshell is also blown during a formal worship in temples and temple-like settings. It is an auspicious article meant to evoke memories and consciousness of Shri Vishnu. The conch also holds different liquids used in abhisheka ceremonies of deities of Vishnu.
For devotees auspiciousness untold,
The four articles Vishnu to hold.
Two objects for punishment to give,
Other two as peaceful to live.
Club for hand combat winning,
For distant attack disc spinning.
Flower soft like the lotus feet,
Conch for important sound to reach.
Categories: the four