Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is considered the Supreme God within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Vishnu is known as “The Preserver” within the Hindu Trimurti (trinity), along with Brahma “The Creator” and Shiva “The Destroyer”. Vishnu is regarded as the supreme being who takes mortal avatars or incarnations to save the world from evil and restore balance. Some of Vishnu’s most famous avatars include Rama, Krishna, Narasimha, and Buddha. Given his supreme status, an important question to examine is: who is considered the god of Vishnu himself?
Vishnu’s Origins in Hindu Mythology
To understand who might be considered Vishnu’s own god, it is helpful to examine Vishnu’s origins within Hindu mythology and scriptures:
- In early Vedic literature, Vishnu is a minor god and associated with the Vedic solar deity Surya.
- Over time, Vishnu rises to prominence and by the Puranic period is one of the principal deities.
- According to the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu is the supreme being and the source of all avatars including Brahma and Shiva.
- The Vedas describe Vishnu as all-pervading, omniscient, and omnipotent.
- In texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu is described as the supreme personal Lord, God, and source of all.
So in early Hindu mythology, Vishnu has origins as a relatively minor solar deity before rising to become one of the most important gods. The Puranas and other later texts establish Vishnu as the supreme being and source of all other major Hindu gods.
Vishnu and Brahma
Given his elevated status, two gods are most frequently associated as being possible candidates for the ‘god of Vishnu’:
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti with Vishnu and Shiva. In some Puranic texts, Vishnu is described as creating Brahma to serve as the creator god and fashion the existing universe. However, most sects view Vishnu as transcending even Brahma and worship Vishnu as the foremost and most important deity. So while Brahma may have been ‘created’ by Vishnu conceptually, he is not viewed as Vishnu’s own controlling god.
Vishnu and Krishna
More debated is the relationship between Vishnu and his avatar Krishna. The Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism views Krishna as the supreme god, with Vishnu being simply an avatar of Krishna. In this tradition, Krishna is the source of all other avatars including Vishnu. Other Hindu sects challenge this notion and maintain that Vishnu remains supreme with Krishna as simply one of his key avatars. This ongoing debate continues today within Hindu theology.
Vishnu and Self-Origination
Perhaps the predominant view in Hinduism is that Vishnu has no definitive ‘god’ that created or lords over him. As the supreme being, he is described as svayambhu or self-manifested. He origins are wholly divine and transcendental.
Some supporting concepts:
- He is supreme and paramount deity with no creator god above him.
- He is eternal and has no origins or creator.
- All other gods and creation arise from and are sustained by him.
- He oversees all reality during cycles of creation and destruction.
In this sense, Hindu scriptures establish Vishnu as supreme above all other gods, transcending time and space. He has no singular god as his own creator or origin.
Philosophically, some reasons are commonly cited as to why Vishnu has no definitive ‘god’ of his own:
- An infinite regress problem – If Vishnu has a god, who is the god of that god, and so on endlessly.
- Something supreme must exist without origin – That prime uncreated mover is defined as Vishnu.
- Something omnipotent, omniscient cannot arise from something lesser.
- True divinity must be eternal and self-existent – contingent beings cannot create it.
These philosophical arguments further establish Vishnu as definitive supreme being without need for his own god or creator. He transcends such casual chains.
In summary, while Vishnu has origins as a relatively minor Vedic solar deity, he rises to supremacy in later Hindu theology. Brahma may have been created by Vishnu, but is not his supreme god. Krishna and Vishnu have a debated relationship, but neither is definitively established as higher. The predominant conception in Hinduism is that Vishnu is paramount and svayambhu – self-originated without need of another god to create him. He transcends regress problems, contingency, and limitations – the singular uncreated creator of all.