Symbols of Vishnu:
Vishnu always carries his four symbols white conch shell, rotating disk, golden mace, and lotus flower with four arms, the symbol of watery elements sitting or standing on a lotus flower or on water.
About the four arms of Vishnu, GOPAL-UTTARTAPANI Upanishad says:
“In my lower right hand, which represents the revolving or creative tendency, I hold the conch, symbol of the five elements.
In the upper right hand, which represents the cohesive tendency I hold the discus, shining like an infant sun, symbol of the mind.
In the upper left hand, which represents the tendency towards dispersion and liberation, I hold the lotus, symbol of the causal power of illusion, from which the universe rises.
In my lower left hand, which represents the notion of individual existence, is the mace, symbol of primeval knowledge.”
The Conch (SHANKH) named PANCHJANYA is the fountain that evolves the five elements, i.e., water, fire, air, earth and sky or space. When blown it produces a sound that is associated with primeval sound from which creation developed.
The Discus or wheel (CHAKRA) of Vishnu named SUDARSHANA has six spokes and symbolizes six-petal lotus. It represents the limitless controlling all the six seasons and is the fearful weapon that cuts off the heads of all demons.
The Lotus of Vishnu is named PADMA. It is the symbol of purity and represents the unfolding of creation. It is the truth (SATHYA). The element from which emerge the rules of conduct (DHARMA) and knowledge (GNANA).
The Mace (GADA) of Vishnu is named KAUMODAKI. It represents the elemental force, from which all physical and mental powers are derived.
Purpose of outer Senses:
The five heads of Sesha represent the five outer senses of man:-
The eyes wish only to see sensual beauties
The ears crave only for nice songs and praises
The tongue overloads the digestive system with highly flavoured foods & often speaks ill of others
The nose searches for fragrances and scents
The sense of touch seeks softness in silk and velvet
We must master our senses and direct them in more positive channels:-
The eyes for reading the words of God
The ears hearing the stories of God & songs of God
The tongue tasting sathwic food and the name of God
The nose discovering fragrance in everything that recalls the glory of God
The sense of touch to reach out to and comfort those in need of help
The ocean of milk is the anthakarana (our inner subtle body). The Lord resides in this “ksheerasagara” or the ocean of milk (pure white consciousness in man). Man can only become aware of his inner subtle body by the process by curbing negative tendencies, controlling of senses and by the practice of namasmarana, service and meditation.
Vishnu is depicted with a blue skin. The colour blue symbolises the infinite expansion of the blue sky and the blue ocean. Vishnu holds a conch or sankha which symbolises sounds of creation. In another hand, he holds the cakra or the wheel of time. Sometimes the cakra is called Sudarsana Cakra. “Su” means good and “darshan” means vision. This signifies that when a devotee looks towards God with a sense of surrender, God will turn towards him. Thus the cakra is a weapon with a mission to destroy ego and grant “darshan”.
Vishnu also holds the gada or mace which signifies strength – all the strength is in God´s hands. His hand is held in Abhaya (blessing) and confers protection and grace. Vishnu´s abode is “vaikunta” which signifies ” a place where there is no shadow of grief. When God manifests in your heart, all is full and free.