Vishnu-Paratvam in Purva bhaag of Vedas

VISHNU’S UNPARALLED SUPREMACY is the verdict of Vedas without any second thought. All the devtas like Indra are subservient to him.

It’s a very common misconception that Vedas support polytheistic worship of devatas. Can there be Airs? No. Similarly, there can be only one God. Vedas declare that God is all-pervading. He is everywhere and in everytime. He is inside every aatman and outside too.

Q: Most of the mantras are dedicated to Indra, so Indra is greatest and Vishnu, Rudra are minor diety in Vedas.

Ans: This is height of ignorance. Does mentioning more number of times makes someone greatest? Suppose there are two persons. I tell one person 10,000 times, “You are great”. Then I move to 2nd person and tell, “You are greatest. Everyone merge from you. Your abode is the goal of seekers”. Now, common sense would say whom I want to say greatest.

For, though Vishnu is cosmic in nature, he dwells (jivase) in each being as its essence, spirit and strength (RV 1.155.04)



MEANING: Sri and lakshmi are your wives.

Meaning explained by Ramanuj: Here 2nd cha is used for Bhu devi and 3rd cha is for Nila devi.

i.e. Sri who is Lakshmi and Bhu are your wives, so is Nila.

What’s the reason behind saying so?

Sri-Sukt, Bhu-Sukta, Nila-Sukta of Vedas; all the three suktas have words VISHNU-PATNI in them. In fact Nila-Sukta is called Vishnu-patni Sukta


Tattriya Aranyaka (3.12,13)

hrīśca’ te lakṣmīśca patnyau” |

Hri (Bhu) and Lakshmi are your wives.



Let’s take some pramanas:

  1. Aitareya Brahmana 1.1.1 –

agnirvai devanamavamo vishnuh paramah tadantara sarva devatah

Agni is the lowest and Vishnu is the highest among devas. All other gods occupy positions that are in between.”

Futhur, It is said the Devas derive their ower (shakthi), pervasion (vyapthi) and position (pada) from Vishnu, as he is the very source of all gods. He is the Supreme God


Let’s see the Sayan’s commentry on the verse:

//devaanpeshyaagneh praathmyam vishno ati uttamam cha yuktam| ‘tadantaren’ tayoh prathamottamaragnaah vishnormadhye tatmattvam …… ‘anyaah’ indrvaadayah ‘sarvaah’ pradhaan devataah vartante| ………..rakshakvatavasthitaan agnaan vishnuh prashastavityarthah//


Agni is the ‘prathama’/first devata; Vishnu is the ‘atyuttama’/foremost devata; In between both of them comes Indra, vayu and other pradhaan devataas. Even for the agni and other devatas; only Vishnu is the protector.

Agneh prathaman: Agni is the first

Vishnoh uttamatvam: Vishnu is foremost

TadantareNa: In between

Sarvapratipaadayah…indrvaayavaadi devataaha vartante: All other devatas headed by Indra and vayu come in between these two. Lowest/first being Agni.

tasmaat sarvadevata mubhayato rakshakvat avasthita..vishnu: All other devatas (Indra, Som, Vayu etc) are important but only Vishnu is the protector (rakshaka).

rakshakvatavasthitaan agnaan vishnuh : even other devataas including Agni, only Vishnu is tha protector/ rakshaka.

prashatavityarthah: That’s the meaning of the sruti.

Undoubtably, Vedas place Vishnu to be supreme and protector of all devatas headed by INDRA and VAYU. Vishnu is the only protector of all the devas.



Aitareya Brahmana (1.30.19)

devanam dvarapah, Vishnu mukhah vai devaha


Aitareya Brahmanas 1.15.4; Taittiriya Brahman 2.1.83

yajno vai Vishnuhuh:…

All yajnas are offering to Vishnu only. Vishnu is the Yajna Purusha.

Taittriya Brahmana says, “He is the protector and preserver of the yajna. He is the Yajna pathi(master of yajna) whom all the sacrifices are meant to please“.

Thus, Vishnu is Yajna, Vishnu is the protector of yajna and Vishnu is the goal of the Yajna. 


Taittiriya Samhita 5.5.1 –

aniravamo devatAnAM viShNuH paramaH

Vishnu is the supreme amongst devatas.


5. Satpath Brahmana

tadviṣṇuḥ prathamaḥ prāpa sa devānāṃ śreṣṭho’bhavattasmādāhurviṣṇurdevānāṃ śreṣṭha

Vishnu as the best and the foremost (sresta) among all the gods.

4. The verses of Rig Veda 1.154 is called Vishnu Sukta(RV 1.154) . The first six riks of Vishnu Sukta (RV 1.154) revealed to sage Medhaatithi son of sage Kanva is the first Sukta in Rig Veda to be addressed entirely to Vishnu.

The Sukta states that Vishnu is the very source of all gods and the savior of all existence. 

Yaska_charya explains, the term Vishnu is derived from the root “vishair” which brings forth the sense of pervasion (paryaptha). Vishnu literally means that which pervades (vyapad vishnuhuh). He explains, the essence of the term Vishnu is its brilliance, universal pervasion and omnipresence. That essential nature of Vishnu is brought forth through several expressions: Vishnu is ‘Vishnu vishateh ‘ one who enters everywhere; he is veveshti vyapnoti vishvam yah, the one who enters and covers the whole universe, or is omnipresent; and ‘yad vishito bhavati tad vishnurbhavati, that which is free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu.’ In other words, Vishnu is not limited by space, time or substance.

The Vishnu Sukta thus elevates Vishnu to sublime heights and regards him as the omnipresent dimension of the Supreme Lord.


Sayan Bhasya for Vishnu-Sookta:

Meaning: Vishnu is the all pervading Parmeshwar. His abode is most sublime and place of non-extincting pleasure. On achieving that abode of Vishnu, one doesn’t return. Here ‘hii’ word means that Vishnu is glorified in Sruti, Smriti and Purans.

सर्व श्रुति स्मृति पुरानादि प्रसिद्धद्योतानार्थ: – Famous and well depicted in Shruti, smriti and Purans.

Poor logic of opponents that Vishnu here is not Lakshmipati, 4 armed Vishnu is rubbed aside by Sayana bhasya.

Meaning: ‘Gaavah’ is interpreted by Nirukta as ‘rays’. ‘vrishah’ means having all the desire fulfilled. Such is the supreme abode of Vishnu which is glorified in Vedas and Purans. Vishnu’s abode is effulgent, light emitting and people have all their desires fulfilled.



Rig Veda 1.155.6

caturbhiḥ sākaṃ navatiṃ ca nāmabhiś cakraṃ na vṛttaṃ vyatīṃr avīvipat |
bṛhaccharīro vimimāna ṛkvabhir yuvākumāraḥ praty ety āhavam

Vishnu set in motion the wheel of time (kaala chakra), consisting ninety-four elements : Samvathsara (year-1);Aayana (Half-year: 2);Ritu (seasons -5);Maasa (months-12); Paksha (fortnights-24);Aho-ratri (solar days-30);Yama( roughly hours or parts of the day- 8); and Lagnas in each day(12).

The chakra in the hands of Vishnu is also regarded as the solar splendor (RV 5-63-4). It also denotes the cyclical nature of time (sūryo jyotiś carati citram āyudham).

With the identification of Vishnu with Surya, Vishnu is hailed as the soul (atman) of the universe. The virtues and powers of Surya merged with that of Vishnu.


Rig-Veda 1.156.5:

A yo vivAya sachathAya daivya indrAya viShNuH sukR^ite sukR^ittaraH |
vedhA ajinvat triShadhastha AryaM R^itasya bhAge yajamAnamAbhajat.h ||

Indra, who does auspicious deeds, has Vishnu, who does exceedingly
auspicious acts, as his highest Lord (indrAya daivya). He (Vishnu) is
the sustainer and nourishes (these 3 worlds). He, who lives in the 3
places such as shvetadvIpa, in his vAmAna form protected the
ashvamedha yaj~na performed by his elder brother Indra and created
objects of pleasure for Indra, and secured a part of the yaj~naphala
for Indra.

A Brief proof of Taaratamya as given in RgbhAShya


As per Rig Veda 7.99; Vishnu is declared highest by the known and he created both the world (Heaven and mortal) and other devtas:

1. MEN come not nigh thy majesty who growest beyond all bound and measure with thy body.
Both thy two regions of the earth, O Viṣṇu, we know: thou God, knowest the highest also.
None who is born or being born, God Viṣṇu, hath reached the utmost limit of thy grandeur.
The vast high vault of heaven hast thou supported, and fixed earth’s eastern pinnacle securely.
3 Both these worlds, Viṣṇu, hast thou stayed asunder, and firmly fixed the earth with pegs around it.
4 Ye have made spacious room for sacrificing by generating Sūrya, Dawn, and Agni.
O Heroes, ye have conquered in your battles even the bull-jawed Dāsa’s wiles and magic.
5 Ye have destroyed, thou, Indra, and thou Viṣṇu, Śambara’s nine-and-ninety fenced castles.
6 This is the lofty hymn of praise, exalting the Lords of Mighty Stride, the strong and lofty.
I laud you in the solemn synods, Viṣṇu: pour ye food on us in our camps, O Indra.…



Rig Veda 1. 22.20

//tad vishnoh paramam padam, sada pasyanti suryah//

Here, Vishnu’s abode is said to be most sublime. Common sense says that one, whose is abode is most sublime, he is the supreme.


Meaning: Sayan says, “ The most famous, highest above (परमम् उत्कृष्टं) abode of Vishnu is always meditated by Wise Rishis. (सूरयः विद्वांस ऋषि) Suri here means Vidwan rishis.

Griffith’s translation:

19 Look ye on Viṣṇu’s works, whereby the Friend of Indra, close-allied,
Hath let his holy ways be seen.
20 The princes evermore behold that loftiest place where Viṣṇu is,
Laid as it were an eye in heaven.
21 This, Vishnu’s station most sublime, the singers, ever vigilant,
Lovers of holy song, light up.

HYMN XXII. Aśvins and Others


Here, Vishnu’s Parampadam is described as place of long horned cows

RV_1,154.06a tā vāṃ vāstūny uśmasi gamadhyai yatra gāvo bhūriśṛṅgā ayāsaḥ |
RV_1,154.06c atrāha tad urugāyasya vṛṣṇaḥ paramam padam ava bhāti bhūri ||

5 May I attain to that his well-loved mansion where men devoted to the Gods are happy.
For there springs, close akin to the Wide-Strider, the well of meath in Viṣṇu’s highest footstep.
6 Fain would we go unto your dwelling-places where there are many-horned and nimble oxen,
For mightily, there, shineth down upon us the widely-striding Bull’s sublimest mansion.



According to Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.11, “Indra” and “Rudra” are one of the kṣatriya devatas projected forth by Brahman.

ब्रह्म वा इदमग्र आसीदेकमेव । तदेकँ सन्न व्यभवत् तच्छ्रेयो
रूपमत्यसृजत क्षत्रं यान्येतानि देवत्रा क्षत्राणीन्द्रो वरुणः सोमो
रुद्रः पर्जन्यो यमो मृत्युरीशान इति । तस्मात्क्षत्रात्परं नास्ति
तस्माद्ब्राह्मणः क्षत्रियमधस्तादुपास्ते राजसूये । क्षत्र एव तद्यशो
दधाति सैषा क्षत्रस्य योनिर्यद्ब्रह्म । तस्माद्यद्यपि राजा परमतां
गच्छति ब्रह्मैवान्तत उपनिश्रयति स्वां योनिम् । य उ एनँ हिनस्ति
स्वाँ स योनिमृच्छति । स पापीयान्भवति यथा श्रेयाँसँ
हिँसित्वा ॥ बृ.उ. १.४.११ ॥


In the beginning this (the Kṣatriya and other castes) was indeed Brahman, one only. Being one, he did not flourish. He specially projected an excellent form, the Kṣatriya – those who are Kṣatriyas among the gods: Indra, Varuṇa, the moon, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Death, and Īśāna. Therefore there is none higher than the Kṣatriya. Hence the Brāhmaṇa worships the Kṣatriya from a lower position in the Rājasūya sacrifice. He imparts that glory to the Kṣatriya. The Brāhmaṇa is the source of the Kṣatriya. Therefore, although the king attains supremacy (in the sacrifice), at the end of it he resorts to the Brāhmaṇa, his source. He who slights the Brāhmaṇa, strikes at his own source. He becomes more wicked, as one is by slighting one’s superior.” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.11) [translated by Swami Madhavananda]


Vishnu superior to Rudra:

Vishnu is described as one who gave ‘Rudriyam’ to Rudra:

“asya devasya mīḷhuṣo vayā viṣṇoreṣasya prabhṛthe havirbhiḥ |
vide hi rudro rudriyaṃ mahitvaṃ yāsiṣṭaṃ vartiraśvināvirāvat |” (Rig Veda 7.40.5)

अस्य देवस्य मीळ्हुषो वया विष्णोरेषस्य परभ्र्थे हविर्भिः |

विदे हि रुद्रो रुद्रियं महित्वं यासिष्टं वर्तिरश्विनाविरावत ||


“With offerings I propitiate the branches of this swift-moving God, the bounteous Viṣṇu. Hence Rudra gained his Rudra-strength“.


Furthur, a verse has been popularised by wrongly translating with use of poor grammer. Here, we are providing the correct translation:

(Rig Veda 9.96.5)

somaH pavate janitA matInAM janitA divo janitA pR^ithivyAH |

janitAgnerjanitA sUryasya janitendrasya janitota viShNoH ||


The Lord who is like nectar on account of his auspicious attributes (sOmaH), purifies (as) the producer of intellect in the wise, the producer of in srI vaikunta (diva), the producer of (bliss for the mummukshus like prahlAda) in samsAra mandalaM (pRithvi), the producer (ie, the cause of glory to) Agnideva, the producer (cause of glory to) Suryadeva, the producer (ie, the cause of glory to) Indradeva, the producer (ie, from whom is manifested) vishNu deva.

Remember, Somah is one the names of Vishnu as been interpreted by all the commentators including Shankar as Vishnu having divine nectar of auspicious qualities.

Poor people translating SOMAH as (Sa+ Umaa) becomes joke-worthy.

Vishnu superior to Surya:

Madhyandini Brahman of yajurVed 3.7.9

य आदित्ये तिष्ठन्। आदित्यादन्तरो यमादित्यो न वेद यस्यादित्यः शरीरं य आदित्यमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः

Meaning: He who is dwelling in the SUN, is within the SUN, whom Sun doesn’t know, whose body is the SUN, Who internally rules the Sun.

Quite clearly, Brahman is one who rules Surya, being inside Surya. So, Surya can’t be Brahman.

All the names belongs to Vishnu

Vedas declare that Indra, Mitra, and all other names are names of Brahman.

Rig Veda 1.164.46

इन्द्रं मित्रं वरुणमग्निमाहुरथो दिव्यः स सुपर्णो गरुत्मान् ।

एकं सद् विप्रा बहुधा वदन्त्यग्निं यमं मातरिश्वानमाहुः ॥ ऋ.वे. १.१६४.४६ ॥

“They have styled him, Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is the celestial, well-winged Garutmat, for learned priests call one by many name as they speak of Agni, Yama, Mataṛṣvan.” (Ṛg Veda Saṃhitā 1.164.46)

And, Brahman is their name giving father:

Brahman who has all these names is the give of names to the other devas:

Rig Veda 10.82.3

यो नः पिता जनिता यो विधाता धामानि वेद भुवनानिविश्वा ।

यो देवानां नामधा एक एव तं सम्प्रश्नम्भुवना यन्त्यन्या ॥ ऋ.वे. १०.८२.३ ॥

“He Who is our preserver, our parent, the creator (of all), Who knows our abodes (and knows) all beings, Who is the name-giver of the gods – He is one; other beings come to Him to inquire.” (Ṛg Veda Saṃhitā 10.82.3) [translated by H.H. Wilson/Ravi Prakash Arya/K.L. Joshi according to Bhāṣya of Sāyaṇācārya]

In his bhāṣya, Sāyaṇācārya says that the other devas come to Him to inquire about their specific duties.


Vishnu as antaryaami of all the devatas and all the bhutas:

Satpatha Brahmana

योऽग्नौ तिष्ठन्। अग्नेरन्तरो यमग्निर्न वेद यस्याग्निः शरीरं योऽग्निमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – १४.६.७.[९]

य आकाशे तिष्ठन्। आकाशादन्तरो यमाकाशो न वेद यस्याकाशः शरीरं य आकाशमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – १४.६.७.[१०]

यो वायौ तिष्ठन्। वायोरन्तरो यं वायुर्न वेद यस्य वायुः शरीरं यो वायुमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – १४.६.७.[११]

य आदित्ये तिष्ठन्। आदित्यादन्तरो यमादित्यो न वेद यस्यादित्यः शरीरं य आदित्यमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – १४.६.७.[१२]

यश्चन्द्रतारके तिष्ठन्। चन्द्रतारकादन्तरो यं चन्द्रतारकं न वेद यस्य चन्द्रतारकं शरीरं यश्चन्द्रतारकमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – १४.६.७.[१३]

Meaning: He who, dwelling in the Agni is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self’. (

He who, dwelling in the Vayu is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self’ (

He who, dwelling in the Aditya is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self (

He who, dwelling in the Indra is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self’’ (

शतपथब्राह्मणम्/काण्डम् १४/अध्यायः ६/ब्राह्मणम् ०७



Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

9 thoughts on “Vishnu-Paratvam in Purva bhaag of Vedas”

  1. Thanks for the great post. I agree that lord vishnu supremecy is mentioned in vedas as the ultimate verdict,but my doubt is …in the verses of vedas praising other gods like lord shivaa,indra,karthikeya and saraswathi,ganapathi…Are their any verses which said they are the supreme most of all while describing the section of the glories of that respective gods?To be precise,Are vedas just like purana which are contardaiciting and different purana claim different gods to be the supreme most and source of gods,simlarly different verses claim different gods as the most supreme?I just want to make sure about the point Vishnu is the supreme personality of God head according to vedas and vaishnavites are not selecting only those parts from the vedas which glorify vishnu as the supreme most just as it is done with puranaa.I hope there are no other verses in vedas which claim any other other God to be the supreme most and we are neglecting it ,as i believe unlike purana every verse of veda is supreme truth and should be considered. I apologise if my language is conveyed in any way other than surrendering my self and asking the doubt’s of out jigyasu to understand the supreme truth.
    Jai shriman Narayana


    1. //Are vedas just like purana which are contardaiciting and different purana claim different gods to be the supreme most and source of gods,//

      Vedas can’t be contradictory. Purans are explainatory texts and accepted only till they follow Vedas.

      //Are their any verses which said they are the supreme most of all while describing the section of the glories of that respective gods?//

      These confusions are resolved in ‘samanaadhikarana’. There is a detailed discussion in Brahma-Sutra over various topics on which seems to be self-contradictory. At some places Indra is said to be creator of all, in one Upanishad (Svetaswara Upanishada), Rudra is said to be supreme. However, in satpath Brahman, (; birth of Rudra is described who is not cleared of his sins. Indra is said to be subservient to Vishnu in Rig-Veda. How to resolve these contradictions?

      Ramanuja and Madhva addressed it. As per ‘Chaag Pashu Nyaay’; Every common noun means Specific noun if both are used in same context. All the deities, Rudra, Indra etc. are said to be born from Narayana. Nowhere, Narayana or Vishnu is said to be born from any source. Thus, Indra, Rudra etc. means Narayana only if they are said to be jagat-kaaranam. These are the various names of narayana. As the story from satpatha Brahman too indicates, Rudra name was given to ajeevatma by Brahma. (

      Later Acharyas like Vedant Desika and contemporary madhva acharyas debated against APPAYA DIKSHITA that Narayana is a proper noun as Panini’s vyakaran (8.4.2). All other names are coomon nouns only. As history says, Appaya Dikshita was defeated.

      Thanks for this question. I may come with a detailed article on it.


    2. Adiyen wants a small help pls. I don’t know sanskrit. Apparently, KS Varadacharya swami has written a commentary on Vedanta Desika’s tattva mukta kalapa called sarvankasha. Could you pls read pages 363 to 385 of that book and summarize these pages in simple english pls. Here is the link:
      I don’t understand sanskrit. Can you tell me if the author accepts Narayana Paratva or not??? The commentator is the same as the one who wrote Srikantha Samalochana criticizing appaya dikshita.


  2. Swami please explain rigveda (9:96:5) “producer of vishnu deva” As you have explained soma is bhagvan’s name ,but what should we understand from “producer of vishnu deva”?
    Please elaborate on this ,thank you!


    1. “sOma” has three meanings – “One who is like nectar” or “sa-uma” – “One who is associated with splendor (uma)”. Note that Narasimha is referred to as “umApati” in the nrsimha tApanIya Upanishad. ShrI ranga rAmAnuja muni interprets “sOmaH” as “sOti utpAdatiti sOmaH”.

      vishNu is an avatAra of the parama-puruSha in the material world. This is reteirated by the shAstra as follows:

      gatiSca nastvam pUrvajo jagatah prabhuh | rakshArtham sarva-bhUtAnAm vishNustvam upajagmivAn || (MB Udyoga 12.11)

      “You are our refuge; You are the first-born amongst the gods. You are the Lord of the Universe. You have assumed the role of vishNu for the protection of all the worlds.”

      srisHtistHityantakaraNI brahmavishnushivAtmikAm | sa sangyAm yAti bhagavAnEka eva janArdanah |” (Vishnu Purana 1:2:66)

      Meaning: “That god Janardana alone assumes the forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra for the tasks of creation, maintenance and destruction”.


  3. Are there any mantras for vishnu (normal ones or showing him supreme) in vajasaneyi samhita of shukla yajur veda?


  4. Is it true that in present times we don’t have entire Vedas available. Also, can you shed some light on approval of deity worship in Vedas. Followers of Arya Samaj say deity worship is not mentioned in Vedas. In other sense, they don’t accept Pancharatra agamas and Vaikhanasa.


  5. Please Watch the Sri Bhashyam lectures on They are saying that there is NO pramana for Narayana Paratva. It is very messed up. The acharya teaching Sri Bhashyam on is confusing me very much. He is saying that we are also simply saying without pramana like the Shaivites. Please help me.

    Adiyen wants a small help pls. I don’t know sanskrit. Apparently, KS Varadacharya swami has written a commentary on Vedanta Desika’s tattva mukta kalapa called sarvankasha. Could you pls read pages 363 to 385 of that book and summarize these pages in simple english pls. Here is the link:
    This commentator on Vedanta Desika’s work is the same as the person who wrote Srikantha Samalochana. This KSVaradacharya is the teacher of the instructor teaching Sri Bhashyam on Youtube Channel.

    Kindly Help ME BY TAKING A LOOK AT IT.


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