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The incarnation (avatāra) of Viṣṇu in an image or a statue. The god is thought to be physically present in such images, and so permanently available for worship by devotees. According to the theology of the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas (which draws on that of the Pāñcarātrins), such an image—which should represent one of the vyūha or vibhava forms of Viṣṇu, and be installed in a temple or a private pūjā room—contains all six of the divine qualities (guṇas) ascribed to the god. Nevertheless, the presence of Viṣṇu in, or as, the image does not compromise or localize in any way his supreme power.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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