Language is symbolic. We use words to suggest meaning about the thoughts we want to convey. Your inner dialog also moves in a similar and powerful way. What your inner language tells you, will affect how you live.
In Yoga, we look at the gods not as deities apart from us rather as representations of us. They are you when you live from your highest potential. By studying their iconography, you get clues about how to live in your highest Self.
In his book, “The Universal Search for Peace”, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati says, “Man communicates with symbols all the time. Language and imagery are the realm of symbols. You move about in the world with your (thinking) mind, which is full of symbol. It is your connection with the mind that causes you to live in the world of symbols.”
Lord Vishnu acts as a foundational element in both Hindu mythology and Yoga philosophy. We find references to Lord Vishnu as early as the Rg Veda. His mythology, when understood from a Yogic perspective, unveils deeper layers of the symbolic aspects of OM, life and spiritual light.
The Symbolism of Vishnu
How can you work with the symbolism of Vishnu?
Water and Growth
When you see Vishnu’s iconography, you are receiving important visual clues that teach you about your highest Self.
Vishnu lives in water. In the iconography, he is associated with water. Water is life giving. In Sanskrit, there are many words for water. The Sanskrit root jiv means to be alive and the word Jivanam means life, but it also means water. Water is both life and growth and Lord Vishnu’s association with it signifies that he is life sustaining and a part of growth, as well.
The OM Cycle
Vishnu possesses four arms. Three of them represent the vocal aspect A – U – M. They represent all things in manifestation. For example, anything that is born (A) must grow (U) and eventually complete its cycle of manifestation (M). Vishnu’s last last arm represents the fourth state, which is yogic silence.
According to the Rishis, this cycle continues again and again: Create, Sustain, Complete. Create, Sustain, Complete. By chanting OM, you integrate the understanding that underlying everything is this cycle. It’s here that you come to the fourth arm of Vishnu, the soundless sound, vibration and yogic silence.
Vishnu: Light, Meditation and Clarity:
If you want to understand, then you have to be ready to get jiggy, so to speak because when looking at symbolism among the gods, terms over lap and merge. For example, while Vishnu’s arms signify OM, the word Vishnu in Sanskrit, means protection, order, light and knowledge. He is the incarnation of God (highest aspect of us all). He restores order and grants protection. The more you focus on Lord Vishnu through imagery and mantra, the more his principles merge in you. Vishnu is truth; he is light as knowledge, protection and right perception. In Yoga, you learn that real knowledge, which is understanding of your true Self, protects you from suffering.
Powerful knowledge that lays hidden in the principles and iconography of Vishnu reveals itself to you the more you meditate. It is through this focus on Vishnu, whether it be through mantra, attention of his iconography or by meditating on his principles, that you feel connected with what he ultimately symbolizes, eternality and freedom.
Luminous Soul Meditation on Yoga Sutra:
• Sit in a comfortable position
• Take three deep breaths…
• Withdraw your attention from the outer universe
• Feel a connection with Lord Vishnu, the energy of life, growth, and the OM cycle.
• Repeat Patanjali’s sutra: Tasya Vacakah Pranavah 1.27 P.Y.S
• Allow this sutra to permeate your consciousness. Feel the light in your heart region.
• Close your eyes… begin your daily practice using Manorama’s guided Meditation on the Yoga Sutra
Use this Pre-Meditation Ritual and Manorama’s Luminous Soul guided meditation 3 times each week this month. Watch your practice blossom…
© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama