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Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Vakils, Freffer & Simons
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187111127
This is an attempt to understand the meaning of Vishnu worship in our time. Written in simple narrative style, it takes us through Vaishnava imagery, philosophy, beliefs, customs, history, folklore and myth.
This book brings together legends and lores from written and oral traditions of India to give an account of the heritage inspired by Vishnu.
In the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Vishnu is the protector of the cosmos who preserves life, making sure that all creatures enjoy a meaningful existence.
Respected by gods, feared by demons and adored by humans, Vishnu sits in the highest heaven Vaikuntha, instituting and maintaining the sacred, moral and ethical order of dharama to ensure harmony in the three worlds.
Whenever these laws are broken, whenever chaos and evil threaten the universe, Vishnu takes the form of man or beast to fight the forces of disorder and to reestablish dharma. Through these incarnations, or avatars, he maintains the integrity of the cosmic fabric.
This book reaches out to young and old alike, retelling familiar legends of Rama and Krishna as well as unfamiliar ones like those of Vishnu's consort and son. Also included are tales of his lesser known incarnations such as Prithu, Hamsa, Hayagriva and Mandhata.
Based on his mythological studies, the author has tried to assimilate the various strands - mythology, sociology, philosophy - that have gone in the making of a god of the Hindu pantheon - Vishnu - into his present day acceptance as an object of devout worship and a symbol of sublime art.
Highlights include lucid explanations and a pictorial key to numerous symbols associated with Vaishnava customs and rituals, a map showing important Vishnu temples, a bibliography for those interested in learning more and over 200 illustrations of which many are in color.