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Vaishvanism - Theistic devotionalism

The Indian religion of Vishnu, or Bhagavan, fared rather better than Brahmism.  Vaishnism is a devotional theistic religion, not unlike Christianity.  That  is, it sees God, the supreme being (usually referred to by the title of "Bhagavan"), as having a personal relationship with the  devotee, and incarnating in human form for the sake of beings on Earth.  Unlike the Christian God, and in keeping with the Indian  doctrine of cycles, the Vaishnuite God does not incarnate just  once, but any number of times, (a doctrine known as avatar - "descent")  the last two incarnations being  Rama and Krishna.  The Vaishnuite goal, like the Catholic Christian, is to attain heaven, or the spiritual world, which means  nearness to God.  The mythological stories of the incarnations of  Vishnu are presented in various texts such as the Puranas and  the two great Epics, the Ramayana, which tells of Rama, and the Mahabharata, concerning Krishna.  An extract from the last-named,  the Bhagavad Gita is the greatest of the Vaishnuite texts; perhaps even the greatest of the sacred writings ever to come out of the Indian subcontinent.  A prominent, but historically very recent, Vaishnuite sect is the Hare Krishna movement or "Krishna  Consciousness" founded by A. C. Prabhupada, which inverts the relationship between Vishnu and  Krishna by having the latter as the supreme God.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev 1998-2003
page created 25 November 1998; last modified 23 March 2003

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