VISHNU

Real Name: Vishnu

Identity/Class: Hindu god

Occupation: God of Heaven and Creation

Group Membership: The Daevas (Hindu gods), the Trimurti (Ruling Council of the gods)

Affiliations: Thor, Living Tribunal, many heroes from Earth

Enemies: Ravanna, the Rakshasas, Thanos

Known Relatives: Ammavaru (mother), Brahma, Shiva (brothers), Lakshmi (wife), Parvati, Sarasvati, Ganga (sisters-in-law), Padma (daughter), Kama (son), Ratri (daughter-in-law), Jambavati (son by Ganga), Himavat (father-in-law), Mena (mother-in-law)

Aliases: Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki (possible future avatar) (mortal avatars)

Base of Operations: Vaikuntha in the dimension of Nirvana

First Appearance: Marvel Classic Comics#23: The Moonstone (1977); (in the mainstream Marvel Universe) Thor I#300 (October 1980)

 

Powers: Vishnu possesses greater than normal powers than any other Hindu god.  Equal to Brahma or Shiva, he has superhuman strength (Class 100+), stamina, and resistance to harm plus considerable power to manipulate energies on cosmic scales.  In ancient times, he could send his mind and body through various successive mortal incarnations known as avatars.  He also tends to travel by means of two mounts, Garuda the bird god, or by Vasuki, the cobra-god, son of Vritra.

History: (Hindu Myth) - Vishnu is the son of the ancient earth-goddess Ammavaru.  She laid a great egg from which sprang Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva.  According to Hindu belief, the top of the egg was used to create the sky and the bottom half the earth itself.  In his youth, Vishnu was the best friend of the old Vedic thunder-god Indra, but their friendship became estranged after Indra slew Vritra, a Naga, who was preventing rain to fall on Earth.  Since Vritra and his family were allies of the gods against the Rakshasas and gods of the underworld, Indra was punished by having Airavata, his elephant-mount, sacrificed so that it's immortal life force could be used to return Shiva's son, Ganesha, to life.  (According to the myth, Airavata's head was given to replace that of Ganehsa's.)

The Rakshasas apparently used this incident to force their king, Ravanna, into godhood, and the demonic king placed all the Vedic gods into subservient roles with Vishnu becoming a mere steward.  Vishnu, however, learned how to reincarnate himself and sent himself through several animal and mortal forms.  While in each form, he chipped away at Ravanna's power and extent of influence until it was at its lowest.  Returning to godhood, Vishnu slew Ravanna and replaced the old Vedic Pantheon with Hinduism with Brahma, Shiva and himself at the head of this new order.

(Thor I#300 [fb]) - Sometime around 1000 AD, Vishnu met with the ruling gods of Earth's pantheons to discuss the threat of the Third Host of the Celestials.  With Zeus and Odin, they met the Celestials, who threatened to sever the dimensional passages of their realms to Earth unless they promised not to interfere with their plans to judge humanity's worthiness.  The three of them bowed to the superior power of the Celestials, but Odin began planning to deal with the Fourth Host of the Celestials by creating the nigh-indestructible automaton, the Destroyer.

(Thor I#301) - After the Fourth Host of the Celestials arrived, Odin and the life-forces of the Asgardians animated the Destroyer to combat the Celestials but were destroyed with it.  Vishnu was visited by Thor seeking the necessary life energies to resuscitate the Asgardians, but after putting the proposal to a vote, Vishnu and his brothers turned down the aid to Thor which caused a confrontation between Shiva and Thor which ended when Shiva realized how passionate Thor was to his cause.

(Thor Annual#10) - Odin called upon Vishnu to send a champion to battle the Demogorge, which had been  released by seven gods of the dead.
Vishnu sent--Indra (See Comments).

(Thor I#398) - Vishnu and Shiva overheard the Enchantress scream over the death of Heimdall following the Egyptian god Seth's conquest of Asgard.

(Thor II#61) - Thor was called before the Council Elite to be tested for worthiness to join them as a replacement for Odin.  Vishnu was present at this meeting in which Thor was judged as having failed the test.

(Marvel Universe: The End#5) - Alongside various Earth heroes, Abstractions, and other gods, Vishnu was summoned by the Living Tribunal to oppose the mad Titan Thanos, who had usurped true omnipotence in the Marvel Universe. 

Comments: Adapted by Don McGregor and Dino Castrillo for Marvel Classic Comics, by Mark Gruenwald, Ralph Macchio and Keith Pollard for Thor.

Vinshu appears in Marvel Classic Comics#23 in an adaptation of the Wilkie Collins detective novel The Moonstone.  As Marvel Classic Comics do not necessarily tie-in with the mainstream Marvel Universe, this appearance is summarized here.

(Marvel Classic Comics#23: The Moonstone [fb]) <1100's> A yellow diamond was set in the head of a statue of the four-handed Hindu good of the moon.  This diamond came to be called the Moonstone.  When Muslims invaded India, the Moonstone was removed and taken to the second most holy city in India, Benares.  A new shrine to the moon god was set up.  On the night when the shrine was completed, Vishnu appeared to three brahmas (Hindu priests) in a dream. Vishnu commanded that the Moonstone be guarded by the three priests day and night, till the end of the human race. Vishnu predicted certain calamity to the presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the Moonstone and to all of his house and name who received it after him.

 

The use of the Hindu Gods and Shiva, one of the major gods of Hindu belief, and his defeat and/or reconciliation with Thor, did not sit well with numerous Hindu-Americans and the Hindu gods in the Marvel Universe were reduced to cameo roles to prevent further embarrassment or possibly offending more Hindus.  Shiva's consequent appearance in Thor I Annual#10 was ret-conned into the Vedic thunder-god Indra without changing the character's appearance to match the mythological golden-skinned Indra.
It is thus Will's assertion that, in Thor Annual#10, it was Shiva, who heeded the call in his role as the destroyer-god and passed himself as Indra.
  This is not how Marvel portrayed the events. They named the character as Indra, and said that it was Indra who had posed as Shiva in Thor#301--Snood.

See the comments on Shiva for Pranshu B. Saxena's take on these events.

Hindu religion also does not provide very much in the sense of relatives and family ties as say Western myth does. Hence, Vishnu's relatives comes from the Vedic description of the character.  Ammavaru is a very ancient deity from north of Madras in India who was credited with being the mother of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva.

In Balinese Hinduism, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu were three aspects of one god named Sang Hyang Wasa, a being so great that he could not grasp a human form.

by Will Uchtman

Profile updated/edited by Kyle Sims

Clarifications:
Not to be confused with:


 

 

 

(What If II#38) - In an alternate reality where Seth conquered Asgard, Vishnu met with Zeus, Izanagi, Buluku, Yu Huang and Osiris to discuss Seth's threat to their perspective realms.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Appearances:
Marvel Classic Comics#23 (1977) - Don McGregor (writer), Dino Castrillo (artist), John Warner (editor)
Thor I#300-301 (October-November, 1980) - Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio (writers), Keith Pollard (pencils), Gene Day (#300) & Chic Stone (#301) (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Thor Annual#10 (1982) - Mark Gruenwald & Alan Zelenetz (writers), Bob Hall (pencils), Rick Bryant, Andy Myshynsky, Al Gordon & Kevin Dzuban (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Thor I#398 (December, 1988) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Ron Frenz (pencils), Don Heck (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
What If? II#38 (June, 1992) - Roy Thomas, Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier (writers), Marshall Rogers & M.C. Wyman (pencils), Sam De La Rosa & Rod Ramos (inks), Craig Anderson (editor)
Thor II#61 (May, 2003) - Dan Jurgens (writer), Ben Lai (pencils), Ray Lai (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvel Universe: The End#5 (July, 2003) - Jim Starlin (writer/pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Last updated: 06/06/03

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