Vishnu. One of the Trimurti (the holy trinity of Hindu gods), Vishnu is the Preserver, protecting the world. When needed, Vishnu descends to Earth as an avatar, or incarnation. Nine have appeared so far: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varah (boar), Narasimha (man-lion), Vamana (dwarf), Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, and Buddha. A tenth, Kalki, will appear with a flaming sword to save humans from the darkness. Some cult followers worship Vishnu as Narayana, the primal being.