What does Vishnu mean?


In my quest to build natural structures on this planet, in the hopes of realigning myself with the ecosystems of this planet, i have met a beautifully strange bunch of people living somewhat outside of the normal capitalist, consumer, neo-classical, ultra-competitive, ego-driven system.

They are a vast array of intentional, communal, co-operative, co-housing and Eco-village communities.

I’ve discovered that by the very nature of their conscious living outside of the main-stream they have largely been forced to live off-the grid and construct homes, barns and schools out of bio-regional (local) and natural materials (wood, straw, clay, earth…).


One of these communities is called Saranagati, sanskrit for ‘surrender.’ Surrender to what? Not capitalism, not nationalism, not militarism, not consumerism, not convenience nor material comfort or material wealth; but to the rational concept of God (my words not theirs). The rational concept of God, to me, is to use the words of physics, the infinite field of potentiality. And what a beautiful thing it is and i humbly bow and surrender to it. And when i open my eyes i see a planet that is part of it and i want to serve it and live upon it with glory and no shame.

Vishnu is another word for the supreme God, the highest of all God’s. Every culture has a feeling and sense of this form and formless field of infinite potentiality. Everyone, everything embodies and operates within this field. It can be denied but not escaped or avoided for longer than the average life span.

Vishnu means the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.

This sounds to me like existence. According to the existentialist thinkers of the West, existence precedes all known essences that we can understand the world with. Existence everything that which we draw upon through our veils of perception. Essences are our perceptions, the webs of belief we cling to. But what, if anything precedes existence? What comes before silence? What comes before nothingness and everythingness? One of our oldest cultures on this planet say Brahma. Brh means to grow or expand. Brahma grows from the navel lotus of Naryana. Narayana as far as i can tell is the end of the road. Narayana is that which is neither created nor destroyed but transcends the creation, life and destruction of the universe.

Where were we? Well, i guess this can be understood one of two ways, or both ways, we can fathom this by string theories and confusing equations of abstract thought (physics) or with simple words and metaphors (more of an aural tradition i suppose):

Narayana gives birth to Brahma, who gives birth to Vishnu, who gives birth to Shiva who eventually destroys all of this and gives birth to a new cycle of transformation (evolution).

The following is from the sanskritmantra dot com website and is a good read if one wishes to blow their western mind and expand upon their web of belief that is largely spun to only encompass the end of their nose 🙂

“To further understand the concept of Brahma and his relation to the universe as we know it, it is helpful to view the cosmos through the lens of the Vedic descriptions of the life of the universe as interpreted in human years. Here are cycles of time as recorded in the Vedas and Upanishads.

Small Yuga: 2,000 years. The axis of the earth spends 2,000 years in an astrological sign and the moves on to the next sign, going backwards through the signs of the zodiac. Since we are finishing the Pisceaen cycle, we are ready to enter the Aquarian cycle for the next 2,000 years. We commonly refer to entering Aquarius as the “dawning of the age of Aquarius.”

Complete Cycle of Small Yugas: 24,000 years. This is the amount of time needed for the earth to spend 2,000 years in each sign of the zodiac.

The Great Cycle

In addition to the earth’s axis moving in an arc as it travels through the signs of the zodiac, there is another cycle. This is a cycle which involves the revolution of the entire solar system around the Central Sun of the Galaxy. The orbit is elliptical rather than circular. To make the elliptical movement of the solar system around a great central point more understandable, the analogy of “seasons” is used. This is a useful analogy because changes in overall states of consciousness are represented as “seasons” through which the solar system passes on its journey.

When consciousness is in a high state, it is summer. At this time, 90% of the inhabitants of the earth are enlightened. This is called Satya Yuga, or the Age of Truth. When Fall or Spring are in full swing, the numbers of enlightened beings drops to less than 10%. When Winter comes, far less than 1% of the people on earth are enlightened. However, there are trade offs.

First, it is easier to make progress in the “‘winter of consciousness.” The analogy is often used that if one tries to row one’s boat in air, very little progress will be achieved. But when the oars are placed in water, much more rapid progress can be made. This is because compared to air, the resistance of water is much higher enabling the work of the oars to bear fruit. It is the resistance itself which provides a route to rapid progress. Similarly, in spiritual winter our efforts to achieve spiritual growth produce much faster results than they would in any other age of consciousness because of the great general resistance to things spiritual.

There is no disagreement among all the sages, pundits, gurus and swamis that Kali Yuga, the present spiritual winter, affords an opportunity for more rapid spiritual progress than any other age. Further, the medium for rapid growth is almost universally prescribed by these same classes of spiritual teachers as divine sound through the medium of mantra. Here are the various seasons and ages of the universe as measured in human years.

Winter (Kali Yuga):* 432,000 years

* The year 1998 is 5,090 years from the beginning of Kali Yuga of the long cycle. For the short cycle, winter is ending with the entrance of the planetary axis into Aquarius, which begins the season of Spring for the shorter, 24,000 year cycle.

Spring: (Treta Yuga) 1,296,000 years

Summer (Satya or Krita Yuga) 1,728,000 years

Autumn (Dwapara Yuga) 864,000 years

Total Time for One Cycle or Manvantara: 4,320,000,000 years

This is called “A Day of Brahma” and is followed by a night of equal length.

One complete day and night of Brahma: 8,640,000,000 years

360 of these days is called “One Year of Brahma”: 3,110,400,000,000 years

100 of these years constitute the life of Brahma called a Maha Kalpa: 311,040,000,000,000 years

At the end of a “Maha. Kalpa” or cycle of creation, Shiva manifests his destructive influence and the universe is dissolved. [Actually the entire universe becomes spiritualized, see the chapter on Shiva for discussion of this point.] The ancient texts call this the cosmic dissolution. All the levels of the manifest universe disappear. After a great cosmic rest cycle, another creative cycle begins as a new Brahma emerges out of the navel of Narayana and the universe is created anew.

Another item of importance is that one who has achieved the highest level of conscious realization is said to realize and become one with Brahman. At this point, all individuality as we know it disappears. The individual Jiva, Soul or Atman retums to its source from which it will not return of its own volition. However, for reasons known only to itself, certain souls may return for reasons understood only by Narayana.”

Well, this is stranger than fiction and i Love it! I feel like i’m growing with these ancient seeds of physics and understanding. It came about by a beautiful visit with my small family to Saranagati, a 25 year old intentional community that is transforming into a beautiful Ecovillage.

When they greet each other they say Hari Bol or Hari Krishna. My research has taught me that Hari means Vishnu or the vibration of what we feel to be God. Bol means to speak this truthfully. Krishna means that which everyone finds beautiful about God, the all-attractive One, or eternal bliss. Sounds like a good place to start. It has helped me better understand how to bow humbly and greet the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Sat Nam,


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