As I discuss in this question, one of the early movements that was important to the development of Vaishnavism was the ancient Pancharatra movement, whose sacred texts consisted of detailed procedures to worship the sage Narayana, ancient incarnation of Vishnu who was the son of Yama god of death and twin brother of the sage Nara. (Nara and Narayana were the previous births of Arjuna and Krishna respectively.) One of the key doctrines articulated in the Pancharatra texts is the Vyuha doctrine, according to which Vishnu has four main forms or manifestations: Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. These are (not coincidentally) also the names of Vishnu's incarnation Krishna, Krishna's brother Balarama, Krishna's son Pradyumna, and Krishna's grandson Aniruddha.

But my question is about Aniruddha. For those who don't know, he is a Sahasrashirsha (thousand-armed) form of Vishnu who gave birth to Brahma. (I discuss the birth of Brahma in my answer here.) In any case, the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, in the Narayaniya section which I discuss here, describes how the sage Narada once went to a White Island in the middle of Vishnu's ocean of milk and prayed to Vishnu there. As a result, Vishnu appeared before him in his Aniruddha form. Here is how Aniruddha's appearance is described:

Thus hymned with names that were not known to others, the Divine Narayana having the universe for his form showed himself to the ascetic Narada. His form was somewhat purer than the moon and differed from the moon in some respects. He somewhat resembled a blazing fire in complexion. The puissant Lord was somewhat of the form of Vishti. He resembled in some respects the feathers of the parrot, and in some a mass of pure crystal. He resembled in some respects a hill of antimony and in some a mass of pure gold. His complexion somewhat resembled the coral when first formed, and was somewhat white. In some respects that complexion resembled the hue of gold and in some that of the lapis lazuli. In some respects it resembled the hue of the blue lapis lazuli and in some that of sapphire. In some respects it resembled the hue of the peacock's neck, and in some that of a string of pearls. Bearing these diverse kinds of hues on his person, the eternal Deity appeared before Narada. He had a thousand eyes and was possessed of great beauty. He had a hundred heads and a hundred feet. He had a thousand stomachs and a thousand arms. He seemed to be still inconceivable to the mind. With one of his mouths he uttered the syllable Om and then the Gayatri following Om. With mind under complete control, the great Deity, called by the names of Hari and Narayana, by his other mouths, multitudinous in number, uttered many mantras from the four Vedas which are known by the name of Aranyaka. The Lord of all the deities, the great God who is adorned in sacrifices, held in his hands a sacrificial altar, a Kamandalu, few white gems, a pair of sandal, a bundle of Kusa blades, a deer-skin, a toothstick, and a little blazing fire.

I'm interested in the last sentence of the description. The items listed are the traditional things a Brahmachari (celibate student) carries around when he's in an ashram, in order to perform Yagnas (fire-rituals). So my question is, why does Vishnu carry the accoutrements of a Brahmachari in his Aniruddha form? What special connection does Aniruddha have to these things?

Does anyone know if any other scriptures describe this aspect of Aniruddha's appearance and/or explain the reason for it?

  • @TheDestroyer No, I don't think there's any connection between the Aniruddha form and the Sudarshana Chakra. The Ainiruddha form is the form of Vishnu described in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig Veda. What made you think of the Sudarshana Chakra? – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 5 '16 at 14:12
  • Here's the question you're referring to: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/8518/36 I'm not sure whether there's any connection between Aniruddha's thousand arms and Sudarshana's thousand arms. Perhaps Sudarshana is an incarnation of Vishnu, so he has some attributes similar to Vishnu. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 5 '16 at 14:38

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