From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

The Bhāgavata and the Pāñcarātra tradition worships Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa. It explains that the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu has four aspects of manifestation:

  1. Para or the supreme - This form manifests Para which is the Supreme. It means it exists in everything.
  2. Vyūha or the emanation - These are four in number and also referred to as caturvyūha
  3. Vibhava or the incarnation - This form represents the incarnations.
  4. Arca or the murti - This form is the descent of the Lord into an after it is ceremonially installed and worshiped in the temples and thereby transforming it into a murti.

Caturvyuhas as Caturmurtis[edit]

The Vyūhas or emanations are four in number and hence also called caturmūrtis. They are:

  1. Vāsudeva - Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Vāsudeva.
  2. Śankarṣaṇa - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's brother Balarāma is Saṅkarṣaṇa.
  3. Pradyumna - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's son is Pradyumna.
  4. Aniruddha - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's grand son is Aniruddha.

Caturvyuhas Symbolically[edit]

Caturvyuhas represent cosmic psychological evolution. It symbolically refers the following:

  1. Vāsudeva represents Citta (mind-stuff).
  2. Saṅkarṣaṇa stands for Ahaṅkāra (egoity)
  3. Pradyumna stands for Buddhi (intellect).
  4. Aniruddha stands for Manas (mind).

Caturvyuhas Iconographically[edit]

Gradually these Vyūhas were increased to twenty-four. Iconographically all these Vyūhas are identical in appearance except for the arrangement of the four emblems. These emblems are:

  1. Śaṅkha
  2. Cakra
  3. Gadā
  4. Padma

The Pāñcarātra theology often adds another aspect of the manifestation which is the Antaryāmin (the indweller). This aspect cannot be represented iconographically.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore