Pronunciation: (vish'nOO), [key]
1. (in later Hinduism) “the Preserver,” the second member of the Trimurti, along with Brahma the Creator and Shiva the Destroyer.
2. (in popular Hinduism) a deity believed to have descended from heaven to earth in several incarnations, or avatars, varying in number from nine to twenty-two, but always including animals. His most important human incarnation is the Krishna of the Bhagavad-Gita.
3. “the Pervader,” one of a half-dozen solar deities in the Rig-Veda, daily traversing the sky in three strides, morning, afternoon, and night.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.