What is Vaishnavism?
- Vaishnavism is a major branch of Hinduism, which considers Lord Vishnu as the supreme deity. It is one of the most widely practiced Hindu denominations, with its followers predominantly found in India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia. The followers of Vaishnavism are called Vaishnavas or Vaishnavites.
- Vaishnavism has its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita, which contains the teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna. The philosophy of Vaishnavism stresses the importance of devotion, surrender, and faith in Lord Vishnu or his incarnations, such as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. The ultimate goal of Vaishnavism is to attain moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death by merging with the divine.
- Vaishnavism has given rise to several sub-traditions and schools of thought, such as the Sri Vaishnava, the Madhva, and the Gaudiya Vaishnava traditions. The Sri Vaishnava tradition, founded by Ramanujacharya, emphasizes the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita, which means qualified non-dualism. The Madhva tradition, founded by Madhvacharya, emphasizes the philosophy of Dvaita, which means dualism. The Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, emphasizes the practice of devotional service or bhakti yoga.
- Vaishnavism is known for its rich literature, which includes the Bhagavata Purana, the Vishnu Purana, and the Ramayana. The followers of Vaishnavism also celebrate several festivals, such as Janmashtami (the birth of Lord Krishna), Rama Navami (the birth of Lord Rama), and Diwali (the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana).