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:
- Para or the supreme - This form manifests Para which is the Supreme. It means it exists in everything.
- Vyūha or the emanation - These are four in number and also referred to as caturvyūha
- Vibhava or the incarnation - This form represents the incarnations.
- 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
The Vyūhas or emanations are four in number and hence also called caturmūrtis. They are:
- Vāsudeva - Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Vāsudeva.
- Śankarṣaṇa - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's brother Balarāma is Saṅkarṣaṇa.
- Pradyumna - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's son is Pradyumna.
- Aniruddha - Śrī Kṛṣṇa's grand son is Aniruddha.
Caturvyuhas represent cosmic psychological evolution. It symbolically refers the following:
- Vāsudeva represents Citta (mind-stuff).
- Saṅkarṣaṇa stands for Ahaṅkāra (egoity)
- Pradyumna stands for Buddhi (intellect).
- Aniruddha stands for Manas (mind).
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:
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