Ishta Devta Vishnu

In order to achieve the four main goals of existence – i.e. dharma (religion), artha (economy), kama (desires) and moksha (liberation) – every Hindu is advised to worship Ishta Devata. The term Ishta Devata literally means ‘the main deity’ – the one who leads us towards moksha (salvation).

The main benefit behind propitiating Ishta Devata is not only that the deity protects his devotee from hindrances and untoward incidents in everyday life, but also leads him towards liberation from the excruciating cycle of life and death.

Lord Vishnu as Ishta Devata

Lord Vishnu – one amongst the Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) – carries Sudarshan Chakra (spinning disk) as his astra (weapon). This weapon alone has the power to liberate people gyrated in the cycle of life and death. It is said that if one gets hit by the Sudarshan Chakra, then and there he achieves salvation. Hence, the worship of an appropriate Vishnu avatar has been recommended to every Hindu.

Lord Vishnu appears in different grahas (planets) in his various avatars. As per one’s suitable graha (planet) the appropriate avatar should be worshiped as Ishta Devata.

Various Lord Vishnu incarnations and associated planets as mentioned in the text Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra chapter 2, verses 5-7 are as follows –

Planets Avatar
Surya or Sun Lord Rama
Chandra or Moon Lord Krishna
Mangal or Mars Lord Narasimha
Buddha or Mercury Lord Gautama Buddha
Guru or Bṛhaspati or Jupiter Lord Vamana
Shukra or Venus Lord Parashurama
Shani or Saturn Lord Kurma
Rahu or North Lunar Node Lord Varaha
Ketu or South Lunar Node Lord Meena

Lord Vishnu as a Medium of Salvation

As stated in many scriptures, many a time it may so happen that one is an ardent devotee of deities like Lord Shiva or goddess Durga, and in such a situation moksha (salvation) is achieved with Lord Vishnu playing as a medium in the process using his indomitable Sudarshan Chakra.

For instance, in the great epic Ramayana, the invincible Ravana gets killed by Lord Rama (Vishnu avatar). Ravana was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He was blessed by Shiva and no man or weapon in this world could destroy him. Shiva granted him this boon with a purpose that he wanted his devotee to attain liberation. Ultimately, Ravana attained it when he got killed by the Sudarshan Chakra thrown upon him by Lord Rama.

Just like Lord Vishnu resides in different planets in his various incarnations, other deities with their corresponding planets as mentioned by Sage Parashara in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, chapter Karakamsa are as follows. The same list is also present in Upadesha Sutras (1.2.72–79) compiled by Sage Jaimini.




Planets Avatar
Surya or Sun


Lord Shiva
Chandra or Moon Goddess Gouri (Parvati)
Mangal or Mars Lord Skanda
Buddha or Mercury Lord Vishnu
Guru or Bṛhaspati or Jupiter Samba Shiva
Shukra or Venus Goddess Lakshmi
Shani or Saturn Lord Vishnu
Rahu or North Lunar Node Goddess Durga or Tamasi
Ketu or South Lunar Node Lord Ganesha

How to Find Ishta Devata in a Birth Chart?

To know one’s Ishta Devata we have to look at one’s Atma Karaka in Navamsa Vargha in his birth chart. To understand the concept better –

Atma Karaka à  it is a planet with the highest longitude.

Navamsa à It is the 9th house or division in the chart that signifies dharma. It defines God’s blessings onto the native and the way he communicates with God. Navamsa is also popularly called dharma-amsa.

Jivanmuktam à The twelth house form the Lagna karakamsa is known as Jivanmuktam that releases one from the bondage of life and death. This house helps one find out his Ishta Devata. In case of multiple planets, the one that puts the strongest emphasis is chosen. In case of absence of the planet in Jivanmuktam, its Lord is considered as Ishta Devata.







Following example will make the concept clearer –

The chart portrays Shri Krishna as Ishta Devata. Shukra or Venus Karakamsa is in Kanya or Virgo. Simha (Leo) Rasi housing Chandra (Moon) is twelfth from Karakamsa and hence called jivanmuktamsa.

Chanting DwadasakshariMantra

Dwadasakshari Mantra is an integral part of worshiping Ishta Devata. Along with chanting of this mantra, it is expected from a devotee to perform Pancha Upachara Puja to bear more accurate results.

The meaning – ‘Dwadasakshari Mantra’ literally means ‘the twelve syllable mantra’. In Vishnu Purana, Sage Parashara has given an exemplary Dwadasakshari Mantra defining Lord Vishnu as Ishta Devata. The Ugra Madhusudana Mantra as mentioned by Sage Parashara in the text is as follows –

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya

This is one of the most famous and widely used mantra chanted by Hindus, especially the Vaishnavites. This is a mukti or liberation mantra and is revered as a spiritual formula that helps the devotee attaining freedom. Chanting this holy mantra, a devotee thus requests Lord Vishnu to pick up his Sudarshan Chakra and liberate him. Be it any Lord Vishnu avatar, the mantra bhoga of this mantra is liberation and hence should be chanted by everyone aiming towards spiritual progress and final liberation.

Various Vishnu Avatars and their Appropriate Mantras

Ideally, there are different Dwadasakshari Mantras for propitiating various Lord Vishnu avatars and these are discussed in the following paragraphs. Each avatar has been defined with a short description and its appropriate Dwadasakshari Mantra. It is always better for a devotee to consider his guru before practicing the Dwadasakshari Mantra.

Avatar Role Glory DwadasakshariMantra
Lord Rama


(epic Ramayana)

Son of King Dashratha of the Ikshvaku dynasty
  • Broke Shiva’s Haradhnu and married Sita
  • Killed Lanka’s demon King Ravana
Om Namo Bhagavate Ramachandraya


Lord Shri Krishna


(epic Mahabharata)


(the speaker of Bhagavad-gita)

Son of Vasudava and Devaki. Raised by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda.
  • Killed his demon maternal uncle Kansa
  • Guided Arjuna on the battle field of Kurukshatra in order to eradicate evils from the earth
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya


Lord Narasimha


(epic Bhagvata Purana, Agni Purana)


(References also found in the Vedas)

Half-man/half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu.  Torso and lower body – humanlike;

Face and claws – Lion like.

  • Revered as the ‘Great Protector’
  • Protects and defends all his worshipers in the time of need
  • Saved Lord Vishnu devotee Prahalad, the son of demon King Hiranyakashipu
Om Namo Bhagavate Narasimhaya


Lord Buddha


(Gandharan Buddhist texts and Tripitaka scriptures)



Records say that Lord Buddha was born to the Kashtriya chief Suddhodana and his wife Maha Maya.
  • Lived amid 500-400 BC, Gautama Buddha appeared in this world to eradicate sins perpetrated by those misusing the powers of Vedic authority


  • Preached basic dharmic principles based on his own Buddhist philosophy
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya


(Since Mercury is also the planet of Lord Vishnu, Vishnu mantra is chanted as Buddha mantra)


Lord Vamana or  Vamanadeva




(Epic Puranas)


Son of Sage Kashyap and Aditi. Overall fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, yet the first one to have incarnated in the Treta yuga. Lord Vamana took the form of a short Brahmin and asked for only three steps of land from Mahibali during the sacrificial arena. He took three steps in this process –


  • First, from heaven to earth
  • Second, from earth to netherworld
  • To fulfil his promise Mahabali put forward his head for the third step and for showing this humility Mahabali achieved salvation from Lord Vamana
Om Namo Bhagavate Trivikramaya
Lord Parshurama


(Epic Ramayanaand Mahabharata)



Son of Sage Jamadagni and Renuka who lived during the Treta yuga.
  • After the potent King Kartavirya killed his father, Parshurama killed the whole Kashtriya clan for 21 times.
  • Due to Parshurama’s ardent devotion for Lord Shiva, he was gifted a trident by Shiva which he gave to Sita’s father Janaka while conducting her swayamvar (self choosing of husband)


  • In Mahabharata, he played the mentor of Bhisma, Drona and Karna.


Om Namo Bhagavate Hrishikeshaya


Lord Kurma


(The Puranas)

The second avatar of Lord Vishnu who lived during the Satya yuga.


Succeeded by Matsya and preceded by Varaha.

  • Lord incarnated as a tortoise in order to act as a base of the Mandara mountain.
  • This mountain was used by the gods and demons while churning of the milk ocean.
Om Namo Bhagavate Akuparaya
Lord Varaha


(Texts Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana)

Lord Vishnu’s third incarnation was called Varaha.


Lord appeared here in his famous boar avatar.



  • The demon Hiranyaksha stole and hid the earth amidst the Garbhodaka ocean.


  • The Lord killed the demon and also saved the earth from drowning into the primordial waters.



Om Namo Bhagavate Shrivarahaya
Lord Matsya


(Text Shatapatha Brahmana)

First in the list of Dashavataras (ten incarnations) of Lord Vishnu.


Lord appears half in human body (torso) and rest in the form of a fish.

  • Rescued the first ever man on earth, Manu, from the downpour.


  • Lord Vishnu incarnated as Matsya during the Svayambhuva Manu era to save the Vedas from the demons who were trying to steal it from Lord Brahma
Om Namo Bhagavate Mahamatsyaya


Based on an article written by Pawel Leszczak (Guru and Guide – Rafal Gendarz)