Bhagwan Vishnu is one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon and, along with Brahma and Shiva, is considered a member of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism.
He is the most important god of Vaishnaism, the largest Hindu sect. Indeed, to illustrate Bhagwan Vishnu’s superior status, Brahma is, in some accounts, considered to have been born from a lotus flower which grew from Bhagwan Vishnu’s naval.
A complex character, Bhagwan Vishnu is the Preserver and guardian of men (Narayana), he protects the order of things (dharma) and, when necessary, he appears on earth in various incarnations or avatars to fight demons and fierce creatures and so maintain cosmic harmony.
Bhagwan Vishnu was married to Lakshmi, Sarawati and Ganga. However, unable to live with the quarrels between his three wives, Bhagwan Vishnu eventually sent Ganga to Shiva and Sarawati to Brahma.
In some accounts, another wife of Bhagwan Vishnu’s is Bhumi-Devi (goddess of the Earth).
He is considered to live in the city of Vaikuntha on Mt. Meru, where everything is made of shining gold and fabulous jewels and where there are lakes resplendent with lotus flowers.
Bhagwan Vishnu has ten avatars or worldly appearances, which are people, animals or a mix of both.
He is Buddha, Krishna, Rama and Parashurama, Nara-Simha or Narasimba (the man-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Matsya (the fish), Kurma (the tortoise), Varaha (the boar) and finally he will be Kalki, who will appear when the world ends, riding a white horse and heralding the start of a new golden age.