Bhagavata: Wikis


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Bhagavata, with the literal meaning of that which comes from Bhagavan or the Lord, signifies in the context of Hinduism. In this context bhakti has the primary meaning of 'adoration', while Bhagavat means 'the Adorable One', and Bhagavata is a worshiper of the Adorable One. [1] It also refers to a tradition devoted to worship of Krishna, later assimilated into the concept of Narayana[2] or original form svayam bhagavan. According to some historical scholars, worship of Krishna emerged sometime during the 1st century BC. However, Vaishnava traditionalists assert that the tradition is far more ancient and place it in 4th century BC.[3] Despite relative silence of the earlier Vedic sources, the features of Bhagavatism and principles of monotheism of Bhagavata school unfolding described in the Bhagavad Gita as viewed as an example of the belief that Vasudeva-Krishna is not an avatara of the Vedic Vishnu, but is the Supreme.[4]



Founder of this religious tradition is believed to be Krishna, who is the son of Vasudeva, thus his name is Vāsudeva, he is belonged to be historically part of the Satvata tribe, and his followers called themselves Bhagavatas, according to the opinion of others, the religion was largely formed by the 4th century BC where Vāsudeva was worshiped as supreme Deity in a strongly monotheistic format, where the supreme Being was perfect, eternal and full of grace.[3]

Definition of Krishnaism

In the ninth century the Bhagavatism was already at least millennium old and many separated groups, all following Bhagavata Purana were found. These Gopala-worshipers grew in various lines, and now precise reference requires the names of their denominations. However a usefulness remains in the single vague term Krishnaism, which recognizes a certain unity in them all. Today the faith has a significant following outside of India as well.[5] Many places of Vrindavana associated with Krishna from the time immemorial. Many millions of bhaktas or devotees of Krishna visit these paces of pilgimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishnas life on Earth. Some believe that early Bhagavatism was enriched and transformed with powerful and popular Krishna tradition with a strong "human" element to it.[6]

Initial History of Bhagavata tradition

Its believed that Bhagavatas borrowed or shared the attribute or title Purusa of their monotheistic deity from the philosophy of Sankhya. The philosophy was formulated by the end of 4th century BC and as time went other names such as Narayana were applied to the main deity of Krishna-Vāsudeva.[7]

Second Early Stage

Some relate absorption by Brahmanism to be the characteristic of the second stage of the development of the Bhagavata tradition. Its believed that at this stage Krishna-Vāsudeva was identified with the deity of Vishnu, that according to some belonged to the pantheon of Brahmanism. [7]

Rulers onwards from Chandragupta II, Vikramaditya were known as parama Bhagavatas, or Bhagavata Vaishnavas. The Bhagavata Purana entails the fully developed tenets and philosophy of the Bhagavata cult whereis Krishna gets fused with Vasudeva and transcends Vedic Vishnu and cosmic Hari to be turned into the ultimate object of bhakti.[8]

Similarity to other monotheistic traditions

Important to note that in early Christianity there was the same remarkable reverence for spiritual teachers that we have observed in this tradition. [9]

Literary references

References to Vāsudeva also occur in early Sanskrit literature. Taittiriya Aranyaka (X,i,6) identifies him with Narayana and Vishnu. Panini, ca. 4th century BCE, in his Ashtadhyayi explains the word "Vāsudevaka" as a Bhakta (devotee) of Vāsudeva. At some stage during the Vedic period, Vasudeva and Krishna became one deity or three distinct deities Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, all become identified with Vishnu. [10] and by the time of composition of the redaction of Mahabharata that survives till today.

A Gupta period research makes a "clear mention of Vasudeva as the exclusive object of worship of a group of people," who are referred as bhagavatas.[11]

According to an opinion of some scholars in Patanjali's time identification of Krishna with Vasudeva is an established fact as is surmised from a passage of the Mahabhasya - (jaghana kamsam kila vasudevah).[12] This "supposed earliest phase is though to have been established from the sixth to the fifth centuries BCE at the time of Panini, who in his Astadhyayi explained the word vasudevaka as a bhakta, devotee, of Vasudeva and its believed that Bhagavata religion with the worship od Vasudeva Krishna were at the root of the Vaishnavism in Indian history."[13][14]

Historical finds

In the 4th century BCE, Megasthenes the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya says that the Sourasenoi (Surasena), who lived in the region of Mathura worshipped Herakles. This Herakles is usually identified with Krishna [15] due to the regions mentioned by Megasthenes as well as similarities between some of the herioc acts of the two. Megasthenes also mentions that his daughter Pandaia ruled in south India. The south indeed had the kingdom of the Pandyas with the capital at Madhura (Madurai), which some researchers have claimed to relate to the kingdom of the Pandavas, and the city of Mathura[16] Panini is accepted as one of the most ancient records.[17]

Greek ruler Agathocles issued coins bearing the images of Krishna and Balarama in around 180-165 BCE.[15] Krishna images were worshipped at many places. Quoting Curtius, Dr. D.C. Sircar says that an image of Herakles (i.e. Vasudeva-Krishna) was being carried in front of the Paurava army, as it advanced against the Greeks led by Alexander the Great (The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. 4. p. 115) An interesting terracotta palgue showing Vasudeva carrying the infant Krishna over his head across the flooded Yamuna river, belonging to c. first century is housed in the Mathura Museum. A Mora stone insciption of about the same time refers to some images of Bhagavata Vrshni Panchaviras, Sankarshana, Vasudeva, Pradyumna, Samba and Aniruddha - whch were very beautifully carved in stone.[18]

At Ghosundi, near the town of Udaipur, is an inscription by a devotee mentioning Vasudeva and Narayana engraved around 150 BCE.[15] In the 1st century BCE, Heliodorus from Greece erected the Heliodorus pillar at Besnagar near Bhilsa[15] with the inscription:

This Garuda-column of Vāsudeva the god of gods was erected here by Heliodorus, a worshipper of the Lord Bhagavata, the son of Diya Greek Dion and an inhabitant of Taxila, who came as ambassador of the Greeks from the Great King Amtalikita [Greek Antialcidas] to King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra the saviour, who was flourishing in the fourteenth year of his reign… [missing text]… three immortal steps… [missing text]… when practiced, lead to heaven—self-control, charity, and diligence.

Another 1st century BCE inscription from Mathura records the building of a part of a sanctuary to Vāsudeva by the great satrap Sodasa.

The renowned grammar scholar Patanjali, who wrote his commentary on Panini's grammar rules around 150 BCE (known as the Mahabhashya), quotes a verse: May the might of Krishna accompanied by Samkarshana increase!

Other verses are mentioned. One verse speaks of Janardana with himself as fourth (Krishna with three companions, the three possibly being Samkarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha). Another verse mentions musical instruments being played at meetings in the temples of Rama (Balarama) and Kesava (Krishna). Patanjali also describes dramatic and mimetic performances (Krishna-Kamsopacharam) representing the killing of Kamsa by Vasudeva.

Also in the 1st century BCE, there seems to be evidence for a worship of five Vrishni heroes (Balarama, Krishna, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Samba) for an inscription has been found at Mora near Mathura, which apparently mentions a son of the great satrap Raj Uvula, probably the satrap Sodasa, and an image of Vrishni, "probably Vasudeva, and of the "Five Warriors".[19] Brahmi inscription on the Mora stone slab, now in the Mathura Museum. [20][21]

Many inscriptions and references to worship of Krishna can be found from the early centuries of the Common Era.

The religious tradition of Bhagavatas[10] is similar to Gaudiya Vaishnavism in that both are devoted to worship of Krishna as the original form of God, and that both practice bhakti. Certain Vaishnava traditions such as Orthodox Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[22] the Vallabha Sampradaya, and the Nimbarka Sampradaya, accept Krishna to be the source of all other avatars including Vishnu.[23] A distinguishing feature of the Vaishnava teachings is that God, Krishna or Vishnu,is a real person and His creation is also real.[24]

In the above-mentioned Vaishnava traditions, Krishna worship and understanding as the Supreme is believed to have occurred since the existence of the creatures began. Brahma was believed to be the first Vaishnava. Shiva Mahadeva is also believed to be an early Vaishnava. The ancient Prajapaties are all believed to be Vaishnavas. Narada who is the born child of Brahma, is a Vaishnava. The pure monotheistic Vaishnava religion is believed to have begun with the beginning of history.[24] In " the recent times man arrived once again at the instinctive monotheism of the Aryans and Vaishnavas."[25]

Other meanings

In the recent times this often refer to a particular sect of Vaishnavas in West India, referring to themselves as 'Bhagavata-sampradaya'.[26][27]

It is also a common greeting among the followers of Ramanujacharya and other yoga sects.[28] It can also be spelled 'Bhagavats' and refer to a Buddhist concept..[29][30]

It may also refer to 'pure devotee' or 'God', as in Bhagavata Purana.[31]


  1. ^ Hastings 2003, p. 540
  2. ^ Beck, G. (2005). "Krishna as Loving Husband of God". Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity. Retrieved 2008-04-28.   Vishnu was by then assimilated with Narayana
  3. ^ a b Hastings 2003, p. 540-42
  4. ^ Srinivasan, Doris (1997). Many heads, arms, and eyes: origin, meaning, and form of multiplicity in Indian art. Leiden: Brill. p. 134. ISBN 90-04-10758-4.  
  5. ^ Graham M. Schweig (2005). Dance of Divine Love: The Rڄasa Lڄilڄa of Krishna from the Bhڄagavata Purڄa. na, India's classic sacred love story. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. Front Matter. ISBN 0-691-11446-3.  
  6. ^ KLOSTERMAIER, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism. State University of New York Press; 3 edition. p. 204. ISBN 0791470814. "Not only was Krsnaism influenced by the identification of Krsna with Vishnu, but also Vaishnavism as a whole was partly transformed and reinvented in the light of the popular and powerful Krishna religion. Bhagavatism may have brought an element of cosmic religion into Krishna worship; Krishna has certainly brought a strongly human element into Bhagavatism. ... The center of Krishna-worship has been for a long time Brajbhumi, the district of Mathura that embraces also Vrindavana, Govardhana, and Gokula, associated with Krishna from the time immemorial. Many millions of Krishna bhaktas visit these places ever year and participate in the numerous festivals that reenact scenes from Krshnas life on Earth"  
  7. ^ a b Hastings 2003, p. 540
  8. ^ Kalyan Kumar Ganguli: (1988). Sraddh njali, Studies in Ancient Indian History: D.C. Sircar Commemoration: Puranic tradition of Krishna. Sundeep Prakashan. ISBN 8185067104.  p.36
  9. ^ Hastings 2003, p. 550
  10. ^ a b Flood, Gavin D. (1996) (in Engl.). An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 341. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.,M1. Retrieved 2008-04-21.  "Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."
  11. ^ Banerjea, 1966, page 20
  12. ^ A Corpus of Indian Studies: Essays in Honour of Professor Gaurinath Sastri, Page 150, 1980 - 416 pages.
  13. ^ Page 76 of 386 pages: The Bhagavata religion with the worship of Vasudeva Krishna as the ... of Vasudeva Krishna and they are the direct forerunners of Vaisnavism in India.Ehrenfels, U.R. (1953). "The University Of Gauhati". Dr. B. Kakati Commemoration Volume.  
  14. ^ Page 98: In the Mahabharata, Vasudeva-Krishna is identified with the highest God.Mishra, Y.K. (1977). Socio-economic and Political History of Eastern India. Distributed by DK Publishers' Distributors.  
  15. ^ a b c d Rosen, Steven (2006). Essential Hinduism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 126. ISBN 0275990060.  
  16. ^ bhaktiḥ | 4.3.96 acittāt adeśakālāt ṭhak | 4.3.97 mahārājāt ṭhañ | 4.3.98 vāsudeva arjunābhyāṁ vun | Panini 4.3.95
  17. ^ Page 10: Panini, the fifth-century BC Sanskrit grammarian also refers to the term Vaasudevaka, explained by the second century B.C commentator Patanjali, as referring to "the follower of Vasudeva, God of gods." Singh, R.R. (2007). Bhakti And Philosophy. Lexington Books. ISBN 0739114247.  
  18. ^ Chapter: Krishna and His Cult. Krishna Theatre in India By M.L. Varalpande, p.6; 2002. ISBN 8170171512
  19. ^ Hindu Gods and Heroes: Studies in the History of the Religion of India Lionel David Barnett, 1922, Page 93
  20. ^ Puri, B.N. (1968). India in the Time of Patanjali. Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan.  Page 51: The coins of Raj uvula have been recovered from the Sultanpur District.. the Brahmi inscription on the Mora stone slab, now in the Mathura Museum,
  21. ^ Hindu Gods and Heroes: Studies in the History of the Religion of India Lionel David Barnett, 1922, Page 92
  22. ^ Kennedy, M.T. (1925). The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of the Vaishnavism of Bengal. H. Milford, Oxford university press.  
  23. ^ Bhag 1.3.28 "All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead."
  24. ^ a b Richard Thompson, Ph. D. (December 1994). Reflections on the Relation Between Religion and Modern Rationalism. Retrieved 2008-04-12.  
  25. ^ Dalmia-luderitz, V. (1992). "Hariscandra of Banaras and the reassessment of Vaishnava bhakti in the late nineteenth century". Devotional Literature in South Asia: Current Research, 1985-8. Retrieved 2008-04-12.  
  26. ^ General, A. (1920). "I. The Bhagavata Sampradaya". An Outline of the Religious Literature of India.  
  27. ^ Singhal, G.D. (1978). "The Cultural Evolution of Hindu Gaya, the Vishnu Dham". The Heritage of India: LN Mishra Commemoration Volume.  
  28. ^ BHAKTI YOGA 19 Feb 2008 by ANKARALI INC Constant Satsanga with devotees and Bhagavatas, repetition of His Name, Sri Ram, Sita Ram, Hari Om, etc., constant remembrance of the Lord, prayer, study of religious books such as the Ramayana, the Bhagavata, Hari Kirtan, service of ... Yoga -
  29. ^ ,. The Newly Discovered Three Sets Of Svetaka Gangacopper Plates. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  
  30. ^ Kielhorn, F. (1908). "Bhagavats, Tatrabhavat, and Devanampriya". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 502–505. Retrieved 2008-04-20.  
  31. ^ Bhagavata Purana (1.2.18) purp. There are two types of Bhāgavatas, namely the book Bhāgavata and the devotee Bhāgavata. Both the Bhāgavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhāgavata is as good as the book Bhāgavata because the devotee Bhāgavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhāgavata and the book Bhāgavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhāgavatas. Bhāgavata book and person are identical. The devotee Bhāgavata is a direct representative of Bhagavān, the Personality of Godhead. So by pleasing the devotee Bhāgavata one can receive the benefit of the book Bhāgavata. Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee Bhāgavata or the book Bhāgavata one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion.

Further reading

See also



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