Vishnu (Sanskrit: m., विष्णु Viṣṇu, "the all-pervader") is one of the most important forms of the divine in Hinduism, but already occurs in the Vedas. In Vishnuism or Vaishnavism (from Sanskrit: वैष्णव Vaiṣṇava "belonging to Vishnu"), he is considered the manifestation of the Supreme. His Shakti, the feminine side of the divine, is the goddess Lakshmi, who is considered his consort.
Vishnu as part of the Trimurti
Vishnu is part of the Trimurti, a very well-known concept of the "three figures" in Hinduism. This consists of three aspects of the divine, which are related to the fundamental principles of the cosmos:
„For Brahmanism, the Divine divides into three aspects, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is rightly called the great builder of the world, who brings about order and harmony in the world. Vishnu is called a kind of redeemer, liberator, awakener of the slumbering life, and Shiva is the one who blesses the slumbering life awakened by Vishnu and raises it to the heights to which it can be raised at all. A kind of festival time was dedicated to Vishnu. He was said to fall asleep at the time of the year when we celebrate Christmas and to awaken at the time of Easter. Those who call themselves his servants celebrate this whole time in a significant way: they then abstain from certain foods and drinks and from meat. Thus they prepare themselves to have an understanding of what is going on when the resurrection is celebrated at the Vishnu festival, the awakening of all nature.“ (Lit.:GA 54, p. 451f)
According to Rudolf Steiner, Vishnu corresponds to the Christ.
„As long as the human I, which has its physical expression in the blood, was not seized by an impulse on earth, the religions could not teach what is called the power of self-redemption of the human I. Thus we are told how the great spiritual beings, the great avatars, descend and embody themselves from time to time in human bodies when people need help. They are beings who do not need to descend into a human body for their own evolution, for they had completed their human evolution in an earlier world cycle. They descend because they want to help human beings. Thus, from time to time, when humanity needs help, the great god Vishnu descends into earthly existence. One of the embodiments of Vishnu, Krishna, speaks of himself, clearly stating what an avatar's being is. He himself speaks of what he is in the divine song, the Bhagavad Gita. In it we have the glorious words that Krishna, in whom Vishnu lives as Avatar, pronounces of himself: "I am the spirit of creation, its beginning, its middle, its end; I am the sun among the stars, the fire among the elements, the sea among the waters, the eternal serpent among the serpents. I am the foundation of the world."
One cannot proclaim the all-powerful divinity more beautifully, more gloriously, than it has been done in these words. The divinity that Moses sees in the element of fire, which not only weaves and undulates through the world as a macrocosmic divinity, is also to be found within man. That is why the Krishna essence lives in everything that wears a human face, as a great ideal towards which the human germ develops from within. And if, as the wisdom of antiquity aspired, the breath of man can be spiritualised by the impulse we take up within us from the Mystery of Golgotha, we have the principle of salvation through that which lives within ourselves. All the Avatars have redeemed humanity through power from above, through that which they have beamed down to Earth from spiritual heights. The Avatar Christ, however, has redeemed humanity through that which he has taken from the forces of humanity itself, and he has shown us how the forces of redemption, the forces for the conquest of matter by the spirit can be found in ourselves.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 100f)
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Welträtsel und die Anthroposophie, GA 54 (1983), ISBN 3-7274-0540-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Über die astrale Welt und das Devachan, GA 88 (1999), ISBN 3-7274-0880-4 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Prinzip der spirituellen Ökonomie im Zusammenhang mit Wiederverkörperungsfragen, GA 109 (2000), ISBN 3-7274-1090-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.