Gajendra Moksha
circa 1790, Indian School (via Royal Collection Trust)

The young Vishnu (here depicted as Krishna) saves the elephant Gajendra from the clutches of the crocodile Makara. Vishnu has slit Makara’s throat with his, now bloodied, sword and is pulling Gajendra out of the river by his tusk. Vishnu’s vehicle in this episode was the half-eage half-man Garuda, who seems to be symbolised here by the giant pigeon in the sky.

This shell from the 11th century, which was probably used to hold and pour sacred water during religious ceremonies, depicts the god Vishnu who is known for using a conch shell as a war trumpet.

Ritual Water Vessel, c. 11th century or earlier, Artist/maker unknown, Bengali or Orissan


Ritual Water Vessel Conch shell
c. 11th century or earlier. Bengali or Orissan

The god Vishnu uses a conch shell as a war trumpet and it is one of his identifying attributes. Within the rondel on this shell Vishnu is represented in his martial role as protector of the universe. He flies through the sky on his mount, the bird-man Garuda, holding his weapons—the shell-trumpet, the mace, and the discus.
(via Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Growing up as a Hindu I’ve always admired Vishnu for his kindness, charisma, beauty, mysteriousness, and fluidity of gender and expression. I’ve never properly sat down and drawn him, so here he is today, with somewhat of a modern aesthetic twist I suppose.