In majority of the images, Vishnu is flanked by Goddess Lakshmi and occasionally by Bhu Devi or Bhumi (earth goddess).
The conch shell used by Vishnu is the Panchajanaya and he blows it before entering into battle with demons. The discus is known as the Sudarshana Chakra and is the weapon identified with Vishnu. The mace is known as Kaumodaki. Most images depict Vishnu carrying a single lotus (Padma) but in some pictures he is shown as wearing a garland of lotus.
In highly detailed drawings, on Vishnu’s breast he has a peculiar mark known as ‘Srivatsa.’ It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi resides here. On his wrist, he wears the Syamantaka jewel and on his chest he wears the Kaustabha gem.
Vishnu is mainly depicted in three postures:
- Sthanaka – the standing posture
- Asana, seated on a lotus
- Sayana or Ananta Shayanam – reclining on seven-hooded snake Ananta on the ocean.
In some paintings of Ananta Sayana, a lotus grows out of Vishnu’s navel and Brahma is shown seated on the lotus.
Although there are no written rules regarding drawing the image of Vishnu, there are clear indications of it in the Puranas. But artists no longer refer to the Puranas or epics and draw from their imagination and thereby making several deletions and additions to the images mentioned in the epics and the Puranas.