“Worship of Lord Vishnu is extremely essential for those who wish to receive the supreme salvation.” (Purana 1.3.1)
This is, for me, the first time that these Puranas have taken a path that reads like one of the Abrahamic faiths. This is the first time that the reader is told there is one, mandated, path to salvation, and it is through the worship of a particular deity. Therefore, Vishnu is now the deity I feel I want to know the best, the deity in whose worship, salvation lies.
The description of Vishnu starts from here with a statement I find troublesome, “Lord Vishnu gives his virtues through physical appearance.” (Purana 1.3.1) Perhaps there are other meanings, but I struggle with the suspicion that this is meant to tell me that inner virtue, comes from outer appearance, rather than that virtue is more important than appearance. This seems to backed up in Purana 1.3.3 “The first virtue of Lord Vishnu is his peaceful appearance.” The first virtue, the first thing to be mentioned about this god, the god you must worship to receive supreme salvation, is his appearance.
The rest of his description doesn’t bring me more ease. He has thrown away all his worldly status and is the feeder of the world, but he also holds a wheel and punishes those who go against his will, and uses his conch shell to remind his followers to stay on his path.
This isn’t that different than other religions, with one clear path to salvation, but it is also something I find myself struggling with as I debate how exactly one worships the unknowable, and how one learns to know these mysteries.
Image found here.