Sri Vaishnavas says Vishnu is antaryami which means He is residing within the soul. But I am unable to get this concept exactly. Do they mean In a particular part of the soul, he is residing, like a center of mass? But what about then other parts in the soul, he is not residing in other parts of the soul? If he is residing in other parts then duality between Vishnu & Jiva ceases to exist. But if he doesn't reside all over the Jivatma then how he is omnipresent?

So keeping above sub queries in mind, can anyone explain what does it mean when we say Lord Vishnu is antaryami?

  • Relationship according to Vishishtadvaita.
    – Pandya
    Oct 2, 2017 at 17:37
  • Yes @Pandya Pls answer keeping above sub questions in the mind. :) Oct 2, 2017 at 17:38
  • 1
    @Pandya That relationship is not the correct relationship. The correct ones are these. Oct 3, 2017 at 3:39
  • antaryami - one who regulates from within i.e. he is the lord and master of the being ; not just a resident of a small part of the being.
    – user1195
    Oct 3, 2017 at 14:02
  • @Rohit. See srivaishnavan.com/upload1/srivaish3.html
    – user9969
    Oct 6, 2017 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


To explain this you need to know that categorically, there isn't one Vishnu. The original progenitor has 3 Purusha Vishnu avataras at each level. Maha Vishnu (Karanodakshayi Vishnu) at the multiversal level, Garbhodakshayi Vishnu at the universal level and Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu at the microcosmic level. The 3 Vishnus combined is no less different than any one Vishnu or even the progenitor Itself.

(Chaitanya Charitāmṛit, Ādi Leela 4.8)[v5]

“Shree Krishna does not directly involve himself in the works of creating, maintaining, and dissolving the material universes.” Shree Krishna’s primary activity is to engage in eternal loving pastimes with the liberated souls in Golok, his divine abode. For the purpose of material creation, he expands himself as Karanodakshayi Vishnu, who is also called Maha Vishnu.

Maha Vishnu is thus the form of the Lord that presides over the material realm, consisting of infinite material universes. Maha Vishnu is also known as Pratham Puruṣh (first expansion of God in the material realm). He resides in the divine water of the kāraṇ (causal) ocean and manifests innumerable material universes from the pores of his body. He then expands himself to reside at the bottom of each universe as Garbhodakshayi Vishnu, who is called Dwitīya Puruṣh (second expansion of God in the material realm).

From Garbhodakshayi Vishnu, Brahma is born. He guides the process of creation—creating the various gross and subtle elements of the universe, the laws of nature, the galaxies and planetary systems, the forms of life residing in them, etc. Hence, Brahma is often referred to as the creator of the universe. However, he is actually the secondary creator.

Garbhodakashayi Vishnu further expands himself as Kshirodakshayi Vishnu, and resides at the top of each universe, in a place called Kṣhīra Sāgar. Kshirodakshayi Vishnu is also known as Tṛitīya Puruṣh (third expansion of God in the material realm). He resides at the top of the universe, but he also resides as the Supreme soul, in the heart of all living beings in the universe, noting their karmas, keeping an account, and giving the results at the appropriate time. He is thus known as the maintainer of the universe.

All the three forms of Lord Vishnu mentioned here are non-different from Shree Krishna. Thus, in this verse, Shree Krishna states that all spiritual and material creation emanate from him. Shree Krishna is also called the Avatārī (the source of all the Avatārs). The Śhrīmad Bhāgvatam states: ete chāṁśha kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛiṣhṇas tu bhagavān svayam (1.3.28)[v6] “All the forms of God are the expansions, or the expansions of the expansions of Shree Krishna, who is the primordial form of God.” And so, the secondary creator Brahma prays to Shree Krishna:

yasyaikaniśhvasita kālamathāvalambya
jīvanti lomavilajā jagadaṇḍanāthāḥ
viṣhṇurmahān saihayasya kalāviśheṣho
govindamādi puruṣaṁ tamahaṁ bhajāmi (Brahma Samhitā 5.48)

“Infinite universes—each having Shankar, Brahma, and Vishnu—manifest from the pores of Maha Vishnu’s body when he breathes in, and again dissolve into him when he breathes out. I worship Shree Krishna of whom Maha Vishnu is an expansion.”

One Vishnu looks after maintenance. But when we get a closer understanding, we come to know about three purusha avatars. Normally whenever the word Vishnu is refer to that does not necessarily refer to Vishnu of spiritual world because we do not have direct contact with Vishnu of spiritual world. The Vishnu whom Brahmaji and devatas go to appeal for protection, when the earth is disturbed that is Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu. There is Maha Vishnu, who is just like the super soul of whole cosmos. The super soul of each universe is Garbhodakshayi Vishnu. The super soul of each living being is Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu.

Garbhodakshayi Vishnu is the source of the lotus on which Brahmaji appears. Now that same Garbhodakshayi Vishnu expands and he has his loka. Brihad Bhagvatam talks about it and Brahmaji worships that particular devata. He is the aradhaya dev. Then beyond this fourteen planetary system, above Brahma loka there is in the vicinity but further away there is ksheerasagar and in beyond that is the abode of Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu.

Normally whenever the devatas are going and praying to Vishnu for protection it is that Vishnu that is being referred. That is Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu. The other forms of Vishnu are not directly accessible to us because Maha Vishnu is completely beyond the universe and even Garbhodakshayi Vishnu at the bottom and generally go at the most to the lower planets or to hell but not below then that. Therefore, in normal conversation Vishnu referred to is Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu and he functions as the maintainer. The same Ksheerodakshayi Vishnu is present in the heart also and he keeps the functioning of the heart and the body going.

  • 4
    1- It doesn't answer the question. 2- I don't have good knowledge of Vaishnavism but it seems you have mixed Gaudiya with Vishishtaadvaita. Oct 4, 2017 at 1:30
  • 3
    Yes, as @Rohit. says everything you're saying is from a Gaudiya Vaishnava perspective. Visistadvaita is the philosophy of the Sri Vaishnava sect, whereas the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect believes in Achintya Bhedabheda. Sri Vaishnavas don't believe in the Gaudiya Vaishnava notion of three Vishnus; we only believe in the Vyuha forms. See my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6923/36 Oct 4, 2017 at 1:43
  • I see. Well, for me I tend to follow the more harmonious version of Vaishnavism by incorporating 3 Vishnus as Purusha Avataras as well as the Vyuha Avataras. I tend to add all those into my own beliefs. By antaryami I tried to explain that even though one Vishnu is limited to one realm, there's still higher Vishnu presiding over a much larger scale, and on it goes into the Vaikuntha Planets where we find the Vyuha incarnations of 4 factorial = 24 planets having 24 incarnations each. Purusha avatars were meant for the material world while Vyuha - spiritual world. Thats what I meant. Thanks.
    – user9072
    Oct 4, 2017 at 13:38
  • And the 3 Vishnus aren't any different or superior or inferior from the Vyuha Vishnus. They are all one. They are collectively one superconscious spirit. They are All-Knowing.
    – user9072
    Oct 4, 2017 at 13:40
  • @ArkaprabhaMajumdar Bro check this out: srivaishnavan.com/upload1/srivaish3.html
    – user9969
    Oct 6, 2017 at 16:10

This is how Sri Ramanujacharyya explains (in commentary of Gita 18/61):

Lord Vasudeva, who is the ruler over all, lives in 'the heart of all beings,' i.e., in the region from which arises all knowledge which is at the root of all secular and spiritual activities. How and doing what does He exist? He exists enabling, by His Maya (power), 'all beings who are mounted, as it were, on the machine Prakrti' in the form of body and senses created by Himself, to act in accordance with their Gunas of Sattva and others. It was already expressed in 'And I am seated in the hearts of all. From Me are memory, knowledge and their removal also' (15.15) and in 'From Me proceed everything' (10.8). The Srutis also proclaim 'He who, dwelling in the self' (Br. U. Madh., 3.7.22). He now explains the way to get rid of the Maya:

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .