Vishnu is one of Hinduism’s most important and powerful deities. He is the great Preserver, vanquishing those who seek to destroy the balance of the universe. In Hindu legend, Vishnu descends to earth in many manifestations, known as avatars, to fight powerful demons and to save his devotees. The avatars range in form from Varaha the boar to Parashurama the Brahmin warrior, and in character from Narasimha the ferocious half-man half-lion, to Krishna the charismatic prince-cowherd.
The legends of Vishnu have inspired some of the greatest art, literature, and ritual traditions in India. This catalogue examines the many faces of Vishnu and the ways that the god has been represented, from antiquity to the present. Essays by noted historians of South Asian art delve deeply into the regional and sectarian traditions of Vishnu worship in India. Illustrations and discussions of almost 200 works of art, in a wide range of media and borrowed from collections around the world, reveal the rich diversity of India’s art and religious culture.
About the Authors
Joan Cummins is the Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art at the Brooklyn Museum. She has lectured and published widely on the fields of Indian painting and Hindu temple art.
Doris Meth Srinivasan is a scholar of Indian art and history who has published extensively on Hindu iconography.
Leslie Orr is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Concordia University.
Cynthia Packert is Professor and Chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury College.
Neeraja Poddar is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University.