Religion of India this Section Explains Vaisnavism, Vishnu and Narayana ICMR NET

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Main Features of Vaishnavism

  1. The Lord is the Supreme Person (Purosottam) with personal qualities (Saguna) rather than an abstract absolute (Nirguna)
  2. The Lord is the cause of cosmos; he creates, maintains and destroys it.
  3. The Lord reveals himself through sacred scriptures, temple, icons, in his incarnations and avatars and in saints.
  4. The earliest reference of Vaishnavaism found in Chandogya Upanishad (Book HI) in which Krishna Devkiputra has been mentioned.
  5. The Mora well inscriptions mentions:
  6. Sankarasana: son of Rohini: with symbol Jnana
  7. Pradyummna: son of Rukmini: with symbol Aisvarya
  8. Anniruddha: son of Pradyumanna: with symbol Sakti
  9. Samba: son of Jamhavati
  10. Vasudeva: son of Devaki, with symbol Bala
  11. Ghata Jataka metions Vasudeva of royal family of Madhura or Mathura
  12. Jataka represents him and his brother as the sons of Devagabbha and Upasagara
  13. Uttaradhyayana Sutra - a Jaina text, Vasudeva, also named Kesava was contemporary of Aristatanemi -22nd Jaina.
  14. Panini՚s Asthadhyayi in which Vasudeva and Arjuna are mentioned side by side.
  15. Manuscript of Mahabhay a found reference of Vasudeva as God.
  16. In Indica, Vasudeva is mentioned as Sourasenoi, R. G. Bhandarkar: Herakles identified with Krishna and Sorasenoi as Satvatas.
  17. Mora Well of the time Mahakashatrapa Sodasa (1st AD) refers to the enshrine-ment in a stone temple by a woman named Tosha, of the images of thee five holy Vrishniviras: Bhagawatam, Vrishninam, Panchviranampratima.
  18. JSatapatha Brahaman: Vishnu - the Greatest God.
  19. Adi and Shanti Purana: Vishnu mentioned in Bhisma Purana
    • Krishna = Greek version = Herakles
  20. Besnagar column: to Vasudeva. By end of 2nd B. C. , cult of Vasudeva was receiving support of ruling classes;
    • Later Vasudeva = Visnu = Narayana = Krishna = Parashurama = Rama = Rama
  21. In Gupta times, cult of divine BOAR assimilated to Vishnu; Bhagavat Gita, which gives the first systematic exposition of the Ekantika dharma centring on Krishna Vasudeva; The Taittiriya Aryanaka refers to Narayana, as Hari, “the Deity Eternal, Supreme and Lord.”
  22. Thus, the amalgamation of Narayana՚s worship of Vishnudeva was also a necessary stage in the development of the Bhagavata cult; The cults of Vashudeva, Vishnu and Narayana seem to have been amalgamated sometime before the Christian era; thee developed my-thology of the creed at this period distinctly shows that all these three elements -narayana, Vishnu and Vashudeva Krishna had together built up the concept.
  23. In the gradual transformation of Bhagavatism into Vaishnavism, the avatara doctrine played a prominent role.
  24. In course of time, Vaishnavism and Savism became the most dominant cult. Some lesser cults were Sakta or Sakti; Pashupata, etc.
  25. which were all later, the final evolution of the same cult.


Bhagavatism - known by various names Naraniya, Satvata, Ekantika, Panch-ratra- first developed in Mathura

Elements of Bhagavatism:

(1) Moksa: Salavation

(i) SalokyaMukti,

(ii) Srasta

(iii) Samippya,

(iv) Saruppya

(v) Sammujjya

(2) Incarauntion on the basis of Quality

(i) Purushaavatara,

(ii) Gunaavatara,

(iii) Lilavatara

(3) Panchrupa

(i) Parambraham

(iii) Antaryammi

(iv) Vuyha

(v) Arthavatara

(vi) Vibrava

(4) Believed in Navda-bhakti:

(i) Sravana,

(ii) Kirtana,

(iii) Padasevan,

(iv) Smarana,

(v) Archana,

(vi) Vandana,

(vii) Dasya,

(viii) Sangha,

(ix) Atmanevedana

(5) Believed in four ethics:

(i) Dana (charity) ,

(ii) Ajarva (Piety) ,

(iii) Ahimsa,

(iv) Satyavachana


  • concept first emerged in Sathapatha Era Pancharatrikas were the devotee of the defied sage Narayana
  • According to Matsya Purana: Narayana was the incarnation of Vishnu and it mentions Narayana in the 10 incarnations.
  • During thee Gupta, there was evolution of neo-Vaishnavism from the tribal form of Bhagvatism to Vishnu dominated
  • The Vaishnavism as the name suggests, means the particular theistic religion of which Vishnu is the object of worship and devotion as the Supreme God.
  • The germ of Vishnu՚s later greatness and of sectarian Vaishnavism is traceable even in the Rigveda.
  • It is a moot point whether Bhakti, as a religious doctrine, can be traced in the early Vedic texts
  • The earliest reference to devotion to, and of, a personal god, out of which Vaishnavism arose, may be traced to the Ashtadhyayi of Panini (5th century) which offers the rule the formation of the word “Vasudevaka” in the sense of “a person whose object of Bhakti is Vasudva”