Vishnu, whose name means "All-Pervading,' is the protector of the world and the restorer of moral order (dharma). He is peaceful, merciful, and compassionate. To Vaisnavites, Vishnu is the Supreme Lord.

Vishnu is often pictured with his consort, Lakshmi (also called Sri), and usually has four arms. Each hand holds an emblem of his divinity: the conch, discus, club, and lotus. A curl of hair on his chest signifies his immortality, and he wears the jewel Kaustubha around his neck. He is usually depicted with a dark complexion, as are his incarnations. Vishnu is often shown reclining or asleep as he awaits the next annihilation and renewal of the world. Vishnu, whose name means "All-Pervading,' is the protector of the world

Vishnu is best known through his ten avatars (incarnations), which appear on earth when there is disorder in the world. Rama and Krishna, whose stories are told in the Epics and the Puranas, are the most popular incarnations of Vishnu by far. 

The ten incarnations of Vishnu are:

1.     Matsya (fish)

2.     Kurma (turtle)

3.     Varaha (boar)

4.     Narasimha (man-lion)

5.     Vamana (dwarf)

6.     Parashurama (warrior-priest)

7.     Rama (prince)

8.     Krishna (cow-herd)

9.     Buddha (sage)

10.   Kalki (horseman, who has not yet appeared)