Flow chart showing the growth of Bhagavatism

In Hinduism a Bhagavata (a vrddhi formation from Bhagavan, meaning "devotee of Bhagavan" , the Lord, i.e. God), is a devotee, worshipper or follower of Bhagavan namely God in His personal aspect. The form of worship is called bhakti which has the meaning of 'adoration'. Bhagavat or Bhagavan means 'the Adorable One', whereas Bhagavata indicates 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] where Krishna is conceived as svayam bhagavan. According to some historical scholars, worship of Krishna emerged in the 1st century BC. However, Vaishnava traditionalists place it in the 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 avatar of the Vedic Vishnu, but is the Supreme.[4][5]


  • Definition of Krishnaism 1
  • Initial History of Bhagavata tradition 2
  • Second Early Stage 3
  • Literary references 4
  • Other meanings 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8

Definition of Krishnaism

In the ninth century CE Bhagavatism was already at least a millennium old and many disparate groups, all following the Bhagavata Purana could be found. Various lineages of Gopala worshipers developed into identifiable denominations. However, the unity that exists among these groups in belief and practice has given rise to the general term Krishnaism. Today the faith has a significant following outside of India as well.[6] Many places associated with Krishna such as Vrindavan attract millions of pilgrims each year who participate in religious festivals that recreate scenes from Krishna's 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.[7]

Initial History of Bhagavata tradition

It is 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 the 4th century BC and as time went other names such as Narayana were applied to the main deity of Krishna-Vāsudeva.[8]

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. [8]

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.[9]

Literary references

References to Vāsudeva also occur in early Sanskrit literature. Taittiriya Aranyaka (X,i,6) identifies him with Narayana and Vishnu. Pāṇini, 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 Pāṇini, 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]

Other meanings

In the recent times this often refer to a particular sect of Vaishnavas in West India, referring to themselves as 'Bhagavata-sampradaya'.[15][16]

It is also a common greeting among the followers of Ramanujacharya and other yoga sects.[17]

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 ... It can also be spelled 'Bhagavats' and refer to a Buddhist concept.[18][19]

Bhagavata Sampradaaya is a very old vedic tradition that respects all the darshana shastras & siddantas. It is neutral to any particular practices like only Vaishnava, Smarta, Shakta, Gaanapatya, Saura etc., And instructs to practice the rituals that is in accordance with Vedas. Some of the practices of this Sampradaaya are continuous study of Vedas, all time chanting of Gayatri, Nitya Agni Upaasana, Atiti Satkaara, Vaishwadeva, Pancha Yagnas, Daana-Dharma, Simpleness, humbleness, socially accepted life style, Sachitdananda Dhyana, leaving egotism, Sarva samarpana Bhaava of ones own Sampat-Bhakti-Punya Karma-Knowledge. This is actual Bhagavata.

See also


  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.   Vishnu was by then assimilated with Narayana
  3. ^ Hastings 2003, pp. 540–42
  4. ^ Srinivasan, Doris (1997). Many heads, arms, and eyes: origin, meaning, and form of multiplicity in Indian art. Leiden: Brill. p. 134.  
  5. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 76. 
  6. ^ Schweig, Graham M. (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.  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ a b Hastings 2003, p. 540
  9. ^ Kalyan Kumar Ganguli (1988). Sraddh njali, Studies in Ancient Indian History: D.C. Sircar Commemoration: Puranic tradition of Krishna. Sundeep Prakashan.  p.36
  10. ^ Flood, Gavin D. (1996). An introduction to Hinduism (in Engl.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 341.   "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. ^ General, A. (1920). "I. The Bhagavata Sampradaya". An Outline of the Religious Literature of India. 
  16. ^ Singhal, G.D. (1978). "The Cultural Evolution of Hindu Gaya, the Vishnu Dham". The Heritage of India: LN Mishra Commemoration Volume. 
  17. ^ BHAKTI YOGA 19 February 2008 by ANKARALI INC
  18. ^ "The Newly Discovered Three Sets of Svetaka Gangacopper Plates" (PDF). Retrieved 20 April 2008. 
  19. ^ Kielhorn, F. (1908). "Bhagavats, Tatrabhavat, and Devanampriya". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 502–505. Retrieved 20 April 2008. 

Further reading

  • Dahmen-Dallapiccola, Anna Libera; Dallapiccola, Anna L. Dictionary of Hindu lore and legend. London: Thames & Hudson.  
  • Thompson, Richard, PhD (December 1994). "Reflections on the Relation Between Religion and Modern Rationalism". Retrieved 12 April 2008. 
  • Gupta, Ravi M. (2004). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta: Acintyabhedabheda in Jiva Gosvami's Catursutri tika. University of Oxford. 
  • Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of  
  • Ganguli, K.M. (1883–1896). The  
  • Ganguli, K.M. (1896).  
  • Wilson, H.H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana, a System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition: Translated from the Original Sanscrit and Illustrated by Notes Derived Chiefly from Other Puranas. Printed for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. 
  • Kaviraja, K.;  
  • Garuda Pillar of Besnagar, Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908–1909). Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1912, 129.
  • Rowland, B., Jr. (1935). "Notes on Ionic Architecture in the East". American Journal of Archaeology 39 (4): 489–496.  
  • Delmonico, N. (2004). "The History of Indic Monotheism And Modern Chaitanya Vaishnavism". The Hare Krishna Movement: the Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant.  
  • Mahony, W.K. (1987). "Perspectives on Krsna's Various Personalities". History of Religions 26 (3): 333–335.