Classification of scriptures
Vishnu is the only Bhagavan as declared in the Bhagavata 1:2:11 in the verse: vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate, translated as "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātma and Bhagavan."
In the Vishnu Purana (6:5:79) the personality named Parashara Rishi defines six bhagas:
- aiśvaryasya samagrasya vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
- jñāna-vairāgyayoś caiva ṣannāḥ bhaga itīṇganā
Jiva Gosvami explains the verse in Gopala Champu (Pūrva 15:73) and Bhagavata Sandarbha 46:10:
- jñāna-śakti-balaiśvarya-vīrya-tejām.sy aśeṣataḥ
- bhagavac-chabda-vācyāni vinā heyair guṇādibhiḥ
- "The substantives of the word bhagavat (bhagavat-śabda-vācyāni) are unlimited (aśes.atah.) knowledge (jñāna), energies (śakti), strength (bala), opulence (aiśvarya), heroism (vīrya), splendor (tejas), without (vinā) objectionable (heyair) qualities (guṇādibhiḥ)."
The actual number of Vishnu's auspicious qualities is countless, although his six most-important "divine glories" are:
- Jnana (Omniscience); to know about all beings simultaneously;
- Aishvarya (Sovereignty), the unchallenged rule over all;
- Shakti (Energy), the capacity to make the impossible possible;
- Bala (Strength), the capacity to support everything by his will and without fatigue;
- Virya (Vigour), the power to retain immateriality as the Supreme Spirit or Being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations;
- Tejas (Splendor), which expresses self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by spiritual effulgence; cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyananda.
Other important qualities attributed to Vishnu are Gambhirya (inestimatable grandeur), Audarya (generosity), and Karunya (compassion). Natya Shastra lists Vishnu as the presiding deity of the Sringara rasa.
The Rigveda says: Vishnu can travel in three strides. The first stride is the Earth. The second stride is the visible sky. The third stride cannot be seen by men and is the heaven where the gods and the righteous dead live. (This feature of three strides also appears in the story of his avatar Vamana called Trivikrama.) The Sanskrit for "to stride" is the root kram; its reduplicated perfect is chakram (guņa grade) or chakra (zero-grade), and in the Rigveda he is called by epithets such as vi-chakra-māņas = "he who has made 3 strides". The Sanskrit word chakra also means "wheel". That may have suggested the idea of Vishnu carrying a chakra.
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