In Indian legend the garuda on which Vishnu rides is the king of birds (Benfey, Pantschatantra, iii.
In his character as preserver of men Vishnu has from time to time become incarnate to rid the world of some great evil (see also Brahmanism and Hinduism).
To-day Vishnu is adored by the Vishnavite sects as the equal or even the superior of Brahma, and is styled the Preserver.
He lost much of his supremacy when the triad Brahma, Siva and Vishnu became predominant.
Another still later myth, which occurs in the epic poems, makes Brahma be born from a lotus which grew out of the navel of the god Vishnu whilst floating on the primordial waters.
Whilst the Saiva philosophers do not approve of the notion of incarnations, as being derogatory to the dignity of the deity, the Brahmans have nevertheless thought fit to adopt it as apparently a convenient expedient for bringing certain tendencies of popular worship within the pale of their system, and probably also for counteracting the Buddhist doctrines; and for this purpose Vishnu would obviously offer himself as the most attractive figure in the Brahmanical trinity.
In the older framework of the M ahabharata he appears as a great chieftain and ally of the Pandava brothers; and it is only in the interpolated episode of the Bhagavad-gita that he is identified with Vishnu and becomes the revealer of the doctrine of bhakti or religious devotion.
In Hindu mythology the Maruts, Indra, Agni and Vishnu wage war with the serpent Ahi to deliver the celestial cows or spouses, the waters held captive in the caverns of the clouds.
Both these divine figures have grown out of Vedic conceptions - the genial Vishnu mainly out of a not very prominent solar deity of the same name; whilst the stern Siva, i.e.
One of these portions is dedicated to Brahma, another to Vishnu and the third to Siva.