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Revised by V. Krishnamacharya, 2 vols. II, Madras M. Eschmann, H.

Kulkeand G. Galewicz, How to efficiently address a divine consortin a quasi tantric text - a question of strategy? A question of style? Mishra, M. A Comparison,New Delhi T. Gupta, D.

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Second edition published in Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Gupta, Shakti M. Vishnu and His Incarnations. Bombay: Somaiya, Jaiswal, Suvira. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, Mani, Vettam. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login. Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. Their poems, compiled as Divya Prabhandham , developed into an influential scripture for the Vaishnavas.

The Bhagavata Purana 's references to the South Indian Alvar saints, along with its emphasis on bhakti , have led many scholars to give it South Indian origins, though some scholars question whether this evidence excludes the possibility that bhakti movement had parallel developments in other parts of India. Vaishnava bhakti practices involve loving devotion to a Vishnu avatar often Krishna , an emotional connection, a longing and continuous feeling of presence.

Vaishnavas mark their foreheads with tilaka made up of Chandana, either as a daily ritual, or on special occasions.

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The different Vaishnava sampradayas each have their own distinctive style of tilaka , which depicts the siddhanta of their particular lineage. The general tilaka pattern is of a parabolic shape resembling the letter U or two or more connected vertical lines on and another optional line on the nose resembling the letter Y, which usually represents the foot of Vishnu and the centre vertical line symbolizing his manhood. Alternate interpretations suggest that the symbol is representation of male and female parts in union. In tantric traditions of Vaishnavism, during the initiation diksha given by a guru under whom they are trained to understand Vaishnava practices, the initiates accept Vishnu as supreme.

At the time of initiation, the disciple is traditionally given a specific mantra , which the disciple will repeat, either out loud or within the mind, as an act of worship to Vishnu or one of his avatars. The practice of repetitive prayer is known as japa. In the Gaudiya Vaishnava group, one who performs an act of worship with the name of Vishnu or Krishna can be considered a Vaishnava by practice, "Who chants the holy name of Krishna just once may be considered a Vaishnava.

Vrindavana is considered to be a holy place by several traditions of Krishnaism. It is a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokula associated with Krishna from time immemorial. Many millions of bhaktas or devotees of Krishna visit these places of pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishna's life on Earth.

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On the other hand, Goloka is considered the eternal abode of Krishna , Svayam bhagavan according to some Vaishnava schools, including Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the Swaminarayan Sampraday. The scriptural basis for this is taken in Brahma Samhita and Bhagavata Purana. The Vaishnavism traditions may be grouped within four sampradayas , each exemplified by a specific Vedic personality. They have been associated with a specific founder, providing the following scheme: Brahma Sampradaya Madhvacharya , Sri Sampradaya Ramanuja , Rudra Sampradaya Vishnuswami , Vallabhacharya , [] Kumaras sampradaya Nimbarka.

The philosophical systems of Vaishnava sampradayas range from theistic Dvaita of Madhvacharya, to qualified monistic Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja, to pure nondualistic Shuddhadvaita of Vallabhacharya. They all revere an avatar of Vishnu, but have varying theories on the relationship between the soul jiva and Brahman , [] [] on the nature of changing and unchanging reality, methods of worship, as well as on spiritual liberation for the householder stage of life versus sannyasa renunciation stage. Beyond the four major sampradayas, the situation is more complicated, [] with the Vaikhanasas being much older [] than those four sampradayas, and a number of additional traditions and sects which originated later, [] or aligned themselves with one of those four sampradayas.

Vaikhanasas have their own foundational text, the Vaikhanasasmarta Sutra , which describes a mixture of Vedic and non-Vedic ritual worship. The Smarta tradition developed during the early Classical Period of Hinduism around the beginning of the Common Era, when Hinduism emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions.

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Traditionally, Sri Adi Shankaracharya 8th century is regarded as the greatest teacher and reformer of the Smarta. The Alvars, "those immersed in god," were twelve [] Tamil poet-saints of South India who espoused bhakti devotion to the Hindu god Vishnu or his avatar Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service.

The devotional writings of Alvars, composed during the early medieval period of Tamil history , are key texts in the bhakti movement. They praised the Divya Desams , "abodes" temples of the Vaishnava deities. Their Bhakti-poems has contributed to the establishment and sustenance of a culture that opposed the ritual-oriented Vedic religion and rooted itself in devotion as the only path for salvation. Gavin Flood mentions five most important contemporary Vaisnava orders. The most striking difference between Srivaishnavas and other Vaishnava groups lies in their interpretation of Vedas.

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Srivaishnavas have remodelled Pancharatra homas like Sudarshana homa, etc. Sri Vaishnavism developed in Tamil Nadu in the 10th century. Sri Vaishnava includes the ritual and temple life in the tantra traditions of Pancaratra, emotional devotionalism to Vishnu, contemplative form bhakti, in the context of householder social and religious duties. When moksha is reached, the cycle of reincarnation is broken and the soul is united with Vishnu after death, though maintaining their distinctions, in vaikuntha , Vishnu's heaven.

Two hundred years after Ramanuja, the Sri Vaishnava tradition split into the Vadakalai "northern culture" and Tenkalai "southern culture". The Vatakalai relied stronger on the Sanskrit scriptures, and emphasized bhakti by devotion to temple-icons, while the Tenkalai relied more on the Tamil heritage and total surrender.


Its philosophical basis is primarily that of the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana. The focus of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is the devotional worship bhakti of Radha and Krishna , and their many divine incarnations as the supreme forms of God , Svayam Bhagavan. Most popularly, this worship takes the form of singing Radha and Krishna's holy names, such as " Hare ", "Krishna" and " Rama ", most commonly in the form of the Hare Krishna mantra , also known as kirtan.

It sees the many forms of Vishnu or Krishna as expansions or incarnations of the one Supreme God, adipurusha. After its decline in the th century, it was revived in the beginning of the 20th century due to the efforts of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The Varkari-tradition is a non- Brahamanical [] [] tradition which worships Vithoba , also known as Vitthal, who is regarded as a form of Vishnu or Krishna.

Vithoba is often depicted as a dark young boy, standing arms akimbo on a brick, sometimes accompanied by his main consort Rakhumai. The Varkari-tradition is geographically associated with the Indian states of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka. The Varkari movement includes a duty-based approach towards life, emphasizing moral behavior and strict avoidance of alcohol and tobacco , the adoption of a strict lacto-vegetarian diet and fasting on Ekadashi day twice a month , self-restraint brahmacharya during student life, equality and humanity for all rejecting discrimination based on the caste system or wealth, the reading of Hindu texts , the recitation of the Haripath every day and the regular practice of bhajan and kirtan.

The most important festivals of Vithoba are held on the eleventh ekadashi day of the lunar months" Shayani Ekadashi in the month of Ashadha , and Prabodhini Ekadashi in the month of Kartik. The Varkari poet-saints are known for their devotional lyrics, the abhang , dedicated to Vithoba and composed in Marathi. Other devotional literature includes the Kannada hymns of the Haridasa, and Marathi versions of the generic aarti songs associated with rituals of offering light to the deity.