In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the distinction is made between Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣnu (Mahaviṣnu), Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣnu on a cosmological level as the Paramātmā for the metacosm, the Paramātmā for an individual brahmāṇḍa (universe) and the Paramātmā who is immanent within all living beings, respectively. Furthermore it is believed that the aforementioned forms are expensions of the Chatur-vyūha - the fourfold manifestation of Bhagavan in Vaikuntha, being expensions Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, in that order. Is this understanding in line with Sri Vaishnava theology?

  • Its a part of tye Pancharatra tradition I think.Somall following the Pancharatras will have such classifications like Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradumnya, Aniruddha etc etc
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 12:02
  • Possible duplicate of What are the various forms of Vishnu according to Pancharatra?
    – Pandya
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 13:50
  • @Pandya I edited my answer as it previously lacked precision
    – Sahadev
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 19:36
  • Sri Vaishnavas don't recognise the three distinct forms of Vishnu in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
    – user9969
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 19:44
  • @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury thanks for the input. Are there any source where the Gaudiya view is opposed or are the three distinct forms never discussed in the Sri Vaishnava tradition in the first place?
    – Sahadev
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


In the SriVaishnava tradition, as user Surya Kanta Bose mentioned, we do not recognise the forms Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

Instead, we have five categories of forms of the Lord, which are Para, Vyūha, Vibhava, Arca and Antaryamin.

Para refers to the supreme form of the Lord Sriman Nārāyaṇa in Paramapadam (SriVaikuntam).

Vyūha refers to the fourfold manifestation of the Lord as Vyūha Vāsudeva, Vyūha Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vyūha Pradyumna and Vyūha Aniruddha.

Vibhava refers to the different Avatāras of the Lord such as Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, and Nṛsiṁha

Arca refers to the forms of the Lord enshrined in temples such as the images of the Lord in the Divya Desams and other holy sites.

Antaryāmin refers to the form of the Lord as the Supersoul, swayed within the heart of all creatures.

Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu who is the Supersoul of all beings in the Gaudiya Tradition can be compared to Antaryāmin, the Supersoul of all beings in the SriVaishnava Traditon. But there is no form in SriVaishnavaism which can be compared to the other two-Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

  • You exclude Archa and Vibhava, and they are almost the same concepts.
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 13:05
  • @commonman No! Arca and Vibhava are very different concepts indeed! The enshrined images of the Lord are Arca, while the Avatāras of the Lord are Vibhava. For example, the Vigraha of Krsna at Vrndavana is Arca and not Vibhava, but Krsna himself is Vibhava and not Arca.
    – user15963
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 13:12
  • Yes, thats why i told to exclude these two and compare the rest with the concepts in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 13:14
  • @HayagreevRam thanks for your answer. I‘m still left with doubts however. Sri Vaishnavas must recognize that there is a Vishnu in each universe, no? If this is indeed so, then which of the five categories mentioned above does this particular Vishnu pertain to?
    – Sahadev
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 18:29
  • @HayagreevRam shall I clarify the question above?
    – Sahadev
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 21:09

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