Krishnaism, is a term that is often used to describe a number of Hindu religious traditions, that are among the Hindu denominations centered on devotion to Radha Krishna or other forms of Krishna, or Vishnu in a sentiment of Krishna. [ [ SPREADING THE GOSPEL AT HARVARD] The New York Times May 22, 1988 Retrieved on 5-21-2008] And it is based on didactics of Bhagavad Gita, which is called sometimes the "Bible of Krishnaism" [James Mulhern (1959) A History of Education: A Social Interpretation p. 93] [Franklin Edgerton (1925) The Bhagavad Gita: Or, Song of the Blessed One, India's Favorite Bible [ pp. 87-91] ] [ Charlotte Vaudeville has said, [ it is the 'real Bible of Krsnaism'] . Quoted in: Matchett, 2000] Out of many deities Krishna is particularly important, and traditions of Vaishnava lines, are generally centered either on Vishnu or on Krishna, as supreme. The term Krishnaism has been used to describe the cults of Krishna, reserving term "Vaishnavism" for cults focusing on Vishnu in which Krishna is an avatara, rather then a transcended being. [Flood,(1996) p. 117]

Era in which Krishnaism triumphed is placed historically prior to the historical struggles associated with the start of Buddhism in India, [cite book |author=Mauss, Marcel |title=The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies |publisher=W.W. Norton & Company |location=New York |year=2000 |chapter=note 71 |isbn=0-393-32043-X |pages=p. 148] and is earlier then Christianity, while some historians suggested that both cults have evolved from the common source of the savior-God religion. [cite book |author=Jackson, John |title=Christianity Before Christ |publisher=American Atheist Press |location= |year=1985 |pages=p. 166 |isbn=0-910309-20-5|quote=John M. Robertson wrote a learned treatise entitled Christ and Krishna, and in that work he argued that there was no direct contact between Krishnaism and Christianity; but that both cults were derived from an earlier common source.] "Greater Krishnaism" corresponds to the second and dominant phase of Vaishnavism, revolving around the cults of Vasudeva, Krishna, and Gopala of late Vedic period. [ [ Vaishnava] University of Cumbria website Retrieved on 5-21-2008] The principal basis of emotional Krishna bhakti 'in separation' is when Krishna abandoned his earthly mistresses, gopis who then spent their days of separation anxious for his return. This powerful theme found expression not only in myth, but also in the devotion and poetry of a religious culture which evolved in South India and was documented in a work called "Viraha-bhakti" by Friedhelm Hardy. In this work the author styles this type of Krishnaism, imbued the theme of separation with ecstatic features and claiming that it evolved as one of the highlights of Indian religion and culture. The work is a detailed analysis of the history of Krishnaism specifically all pre-11 century sources starting with the stories of Krishna and the gopi, milkmaids in Northern Literature, including Mayon mysticism of the Vaishnava Tamil saints, Sangam Tamil literature and Alvars' Krishna-centered devotion in the rasa of the emotional union and the dating and history of the Bhagavata Purana.cite book |author=Hardy, Friedhelm |title=Viraha-Bhakti: The Early History of Krsna Devotion in South India (Oxford University South Asian Studies Series) |publisher=Oxford University Press, USA |location= |year=2001 |pages= |isbn=0-19-564916-8] [cite web
title=Book review - FRIEDHELM HARDY, Viraha Bhakti: The Early History of Krishna Devotion in South India. Oxford University Press, Nagaswamy 23 (4): 443 -- Indian Economic & Social History Review
] Neo-Krishnaism is sometimes being presented as the viable alternative to Christianity.cite book |author=Walls, Andrew F. |title=The cross-cultural process in Christian history: studies in the transmission and appropriation of faith |publisher=Orbis Books |location=Maryknoll, N.Y |year=2002 |pages=p. 270 |isbn=1-57075-373-3] And today this faith with this ancient history has a significant following outside of India as well with a number of celebrities, such as George Harrison publicly proclaiming this following.cite book |author=Giuliano, Geoffrey |title=Dark horse: the life and art of George Harrison |publisher=Da Capo Press |location=New York |year=1997 |pages=p. 12 |isbn=0-306-80747-5] cite book
author=Graham M. Schweig
title=Dance of Divine Love: The Rڄasa Lڄilڄa of Krishna from the Bhڄagavata Purڄa. na, India's classic sacred love story
publisher=Princeton University Press
location=Princeton, N.J
pages=Front Matter


Vaishnavism is a monotheism, or sometimes described as 'polymorphic monotheism', with implication that there are many forms of one original deity, defined as belief in a single unitary deity who takes many forms. In Krishnaism this deity is Krishna, sometimes referred as intimate deity - as compared with the numerous four-armed forms of Narayana or Vishnu. [Scheweig, (2004) pp. 13-17] While in common language the term is not often used as many prefers a wider term "Vaishnavism", which appeared to relate to Vishnu (more specifically as Vishnu-ism), there are a few theories as to the origins and the definitions of the Krishnaism.

There was some academic debate as to the relationship of Krishnaism and Christianity in the 19th century. Albrecht Weber was the first to make a serious attempt to support this view. On the other hand one of the main opponents of Weber, Auguste Barth, considers that the essence of Krishnaism is no different from that of "any religion which reaches the stage of monotheism". Based on historical evidence even supporters of Weber never denied that the essence of Krishnaism, bhakti or the principle of "God is love", was pre-Christian.cite book
author = Dahlaquist, A.
year = 1996
title = Megasthenes and Indian Religion: A Study in Motives and Types
publisher = Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
isbn =

pp.9-17] That certainly goes against the definition of Krishnaism as "worship of Krishna the 8th avatar of Vishnu".

On the other hand, despite Weber's claims on the closeness of the two traditions, some missionaries after experiencing India define it almost categorically as "Krishnaism is deified lust. Many of the Puranic legends are unfit to he read." [ OBSERVATIONS OF AN ITINERANT, A Brief Exposition of some Missionary Problems, Methods and Results. [ REV. J. E. SCOTT, PH.D. , S.T.D.,] 1905]

This view can be contrasted with the views of Count Volney, who supported the idea that the story of Jesus of the New Testament, was directly derived from the biography of Krishna, John M. Robertson on the other hand in his treatise entitled "Christ and Krishna" argued that there was no direct contact between Krishnaism and Christianity but both cults derived from an earlier common source.cite book
author=Jackson, John
title=Christianity Before Christ
publisher=American Atheist Press

In the early 20th century Krishnaism was sometimes contrasted with Christianity and "clearly neo-Krishnaism was being presented as the alternative to Christianity."cite book
author=WALLS, Andrew F.
title=The cross-cultural process in Christian history: studies in the transmission and appropriation of faith
publisher=Orbis Books
location=Maryknoll, N.Y

Within Vaishnavism, Krishnaim contrasts with "Vishnuism". Vishnuism believes in Vishnu as the supreme being, manifested himself as Krishna, while Krishnaism accepts Krishna to be Svayam bhagavan or "authentic", that manifested himself as Vishnu. As such Krishnaism is believed to be one of the early attempts to make philosophical Hinduism appealing to the masses.cite book
author=Wilson, Bill; McDowell, Josh
title=The best of Josh McDowell: a ready defense
publisher=T. Nelson

Historically, it was Caitanya Mahaprabhu who founded Krishnaism in the early 1500s after becoming a sannyasi.

A notable event happened in the recent history of Krishnaism as in the 1930s, Abhay Charan (who would later become known as Swami Prabhupada) was initiated into this particular faith and founded the ISKCON.cite book
author=RIDENOUR, Fritz
title=So What's the Difference?
publisher=Gospel Light Publications

The object

Krishna is a deity of Krishnaism that is also worshiped across many other traditions of Hinduism. Krishna is often described as having the appearance of a dark-skinned person and is depicted as a young cowherd boy playing a flute or as a youthful prince giving philosophical direction and guidance, as in the Bhagavad Gita.cite book
author = Elkman, S.M.
coauthors = Gosvami, J.
year = 1986
title = Jiva Gosvamin's Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Movement
publisher = Motilal Banarsidass Pub
isbn =


Krishna and the stories associated with him appear across a broad spectrum of different Hindu philosophical and theological traditions, where its believed that God appears to his devoted worshippers in many different forms, depending on their particular desires. These forms include the different avataras of Krishna described in traditional Vaishnava texts, but they are not limited to these. Indeed, it is said that the different expansions of the Svayam bhagavan are uncountable and they cannot be fully described in the finite scriptures of any one religious community. [ [ Chaitanya Charitamrita "Madhya" 20.165] ] cite journal
author = Richard Thompson, Ph. D.
year = December 1994
title = Reflections on the Relation Between Religion and Modern Rationalism
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-12
] Many of the Hindu scriptures sometimes differ in details reflecting the concerns of a particular tradition, while some core features of the view on Krishna are shared by all.cite journal| author = Mahony, W.K. | year = 1987 | title = Perspectives on Krsna's Various Personalities | journal = History of Religions | volume = 26| issue = 3 | pages = 333-335 | url =


Main traditions


;NorthernGopala Krsna of Krishnaism is often contrasted with Vedism especially based on the story appearing in the Bhagavata Purana when Krishna asks his followers to desist from Vedic demigod, Indra worship. Thus the character of Gopala Krishna is often considered to be non-Vedic, while it can also be based on the popular understanding or rather misunderstanding of the Rigvedic texts. [cite book |author= Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Ramchandra Narayan Dandekar |title= Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar as an Indologist: A Symposium |publisher= Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute|location=India |year= 1976 |pages= p. 38-40]

Krishnaism appears to emerge as early as the 4th century BC, based on evidence in Megasthenes and the and in the Arthasastra of Kautilya. Worship of Krishna, the deified tribal hero and religious leader of the Yadavas, took sectarian form as the Pancaratra and earlier as Bhagavata religions. This sect has at a later stage merged with the cult of Narayana.

Early Krishnaism thus consist of an amalgamation of the heroic Krishna Vasudeva, the "divine child" Bala Krishna and the Gopala traditions.

While some believe it being of non-Vedic origin, it is accepted that at the later stage of Vedic period Krishnaism began to affiliate itself with Vedism in order to become acceptable to orthodoxy, in particular aligning itself with Rigvedic Vishnu. By the Early Medieval period, Krishnaism had risen to a major current of Vaishnavism.cite book
author = KLOSTERMAIER, Klaus K.
pages = p.206
year = 2005
title = A Survey of Hinduism
publisher = State University of New York Press; 3 edition
isbn = 0791470814
quote = Present day Krishna worship is an amalgam of various elements. According to historical testimonies Krishna-Vasudeva worship already flourished in and around Mathura several centuries before Christ. A second important element is the cult of Krishna Govinda. Still later is the worship of Bala-Krishna, the Divine Child Krishna - a quite prominent feature of modern Krishnaism. The last element seems to have been Krishna Gopijanavallabha, Krishna the lover of the Gopis, among whom Radha occupies a special position. In some books Krishna is presented as the founder and first teacher of the Bhagavata religion.

;SouthernAccording to Hardy's study of the various connections between records and traditions there is evidence of early "southern Krishnaism", even there is a tendency to allocate this tradition to the Northern traditions. There is a narrative context in which the early writings in Dravidian culture such as "Manimekalai" and the "Cilappatikaram" present Krishna, his brother, and favorite female companions in the similar terms. Fred Hardy argues that the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana is essentially a Sanskrit "translation" of the bhakti of the Tamil alvars. [Norman Cutler (1987) "Songs of Experience: The Poetics of Tamil Devotion", [ p. 13] ] Whether to accept this radical suggestion, it an accepted view that South Indian texts illustrate close parallels to the Sanskrit traditions of Krishna and his gopi companions, so ubiquitous in later North Indian text and imagery.MONIUS, Anne E.: "Dance Before Doom. Krishna In The Non-Hindu Literature of Early Medieval South India." In: Beck, Guy L., ed. "Alternative Krishnas. Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity". Albany: State University of New York Press 2005; Ch. 8. pp. 139-149.]

While some refer to devotion to indigenous Mal (Tirumal) as early forms of Krishnaism, since Mal appears as a divine figure, largely like Krishna with some elements of Vishnu.cite web
title=Devotion to Mal (Mayon)
] It has been suggested by Hardy that the term "Mayonism" should be used instead of "Krishnaism" when referring to Mal or Mayon. On the other hand another prominent early evidence gathered from the poetry of Alvars, whose name can be translated "sages" or "saints", is that they were devotees of Mal. In their poems there comes a pronounced orientation to the Vaishnava and often Krishna side of Mal. Its is however important to note that they do not make the distinction between Krishna and Vishnu on the basis of the concept or theory of the avataras.

Early and medieval traditions

Vaishnavism in the 8th century came into contact with the Advaita doctrine of Adi Shankara.There were counter-movements in South India to Shankara's theory of Brahman in particular, Ramanuja in the 11th century and Madhva in the 15th, building on the devotional tradition of the Alvars (Shri Vaishnavas).

The Bhakti movement of late medieval Hinduism emerges in the 9th or 10th century, and is based on the Bhagavata Purana. On opinion of others it is Bhagavad Gita that may be said to constitute the gospel of Krishnaism. It is believed to be the most seminal of all Hindu scriptures.cite book |author=G. Widengren |title=Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions - Religions of the Present |publisher=Brill Academic Publishers |location=Boston |year=1997 |pages=p.270 |isbn=90-04-02598-7 |oclc= |url= |accessdate=]

In North India, Krishnaism gave rise to various late Medieval movements: Nimbarka and Ramananda in the 14th century, Kabir in the 15th and Vallabha and Caitanya in the 16th.

South Indian traditions and evidence
* Alvars
*"Manimekalai" descriptions
*"Cilappatikaram" descriptions
*Tirumal worship

Radha Krishna traditions
* Nimbarka Sampradaya
* Rudra Sampradaya
* Vallabhacharya
* Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Krishna worship alone w/o Radha
* Srimanta Sankardeva

Krishna worship as an avatar
* Ramanuja
* Madhvacharya

Mixed modes traditions
* Vithoba-centric Varkari sect

Radha Krishna

A number of interpretations according to traditions possess a common root of personalism in the understanding of worship. Some proclaiming the supremacy of Krishna and the reality and eternality of individual selves. [Harvnb|Valpey|2006|p=110]

One of the middle ages Kings of Manipur, Gareeb Nivaz ruling from 1709 to 1748 and he was initiated into Krishnaism and practiced this religion for nearly twenty years.cite book |author= |title=Medieval Indian Literature: An Anthology |publisher=Sahitya Akademi |location=New Delhi |year=1997 |pages= |isbn=81-260-0365-0 |oclc= |doi= |accessdate= [ p.327] ] Since that period of time Manipuri Vaishnavas do not worship Krishna alone, but Radha-Krishna. [ [ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature - p. 4290] , Amaresh Datta, Mohan Lal,1994] With the spread of the worship of Krishna and Radha, it becomes the dominant form in the Manipur region.cite book |author=Shanti Swarup |title=5000 Years of Arts and Crafts in India and Pakistan |publisher= [ D. B. Taraporevala] |location=New Delhi |year=1968 |pages=272 |isbn= |oclc= |doi= |accessdate= [ p.183] ]

Charlotte Vaudeville, in the article ‘"Evolution of Love Symbolism in Bhagavatism"’ draws some parallel to Nappinnai, appearing in Godha’s magnum opus Thiruppavai and also in Nammalwar’s references to Nappinnani, the daughter-in-law of Nandagopa. Nappinnai is believed to be the source of Radha’s conception in Prakrit and Sanskrit literature although their characteristic relations with Krishna are different.

Yasastilaka Champukavya (AD 959) makes references to Radha and Krishna well before Jayadeva's period. There are elaborate references to Radha in Brahma vaivarta and Padma Puranas. [ [ Musical Saints of India]]

Early Bengali literature gives a vivid description of the depiction and evolution of understanding of Radha and Krishna.cite journal
author = Chatterji, S.K.
year =
title = Purana Legends and the Prakrit Tradition in New Indo-Aryan
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-15
literary study of their lyric literature of Bengal Vaishnavism, has given a usefulconspectus of the "Historical Development of the Radha-Krsna Legend"] However the source of Jayadeva Goswamis heroine in his poem Gita Govinda remains a puzzle in Sanskrit Literature.cite journal
author = Miller, S.B.S.
year = 1975
title = Radha: Consort of Krsna's Vernal Passion
journal = Journal of the American Oriental Society
volume = 95
issue = 4
pages = 655-671
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-15

In Caitanya Vaishnavism metaphysical status and Radha-worship is considered to be established by Krsnadasa in his Caitanya Caritamrta where he represents the doctrine that prevailed among the Vrindavan Caitanyaites following Caitanya's demise in 1533. It is believed that Krishna desired to experience fully what it is like to love Krishna as Radha does has appeared as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And what Radha (appearing as Caitanya) does in her longing for Krishna is to chant his names. [Harvnb|Valpey|2006|pp=30-31]

One of the self manifested Deities established by Gopala Bhatta Goswami is called Radharamana, it is not surprising that Radharamana is seen as not only Krishna but also as Radha-Krishna. [Harvnb|Valpey|2006|p=52] A

The adepts and followers of the Nimbarka Sampradaya worship the youthful Krishna, alone or with his consort Radha are representing the earliest of the second wave of Greater Krishnaism, dating at least to the 12th century, matching and extending beyond tradition of the Rudra Sampradaya does. [The penny cyclopædia [ed. by G. Long] . 1843, p.390 [,M1] ] According to Nimbarka, Radha was the eternal consort of Vishnu-Krishna and there is also

a suggestion, though not a clear statement, that she became the wife of her beloved Krishna. [Sharda Arya, Sudesh Narang, "Religion and Philosophy of the Padma-purāṇa: Dharmaśāstra." Miranda House (University of Delhi). Dept. of Sanskrit, India University Grants Commission, 1988. 547, p.30]

Vallabhacharya introduced the worship of Radha Krishna, where according to some sects, for example, the devotees identify mainly with the female companion ("sakhi") of Radha who is privileged to witness the Radha-Krsna private relationship.cite journal
author = White, C.S.J.
year = 1990
title = Vallabhacarya on the Love Games of Krsna
journal = Journal of the American Oriental Society
volume = 110
issue = 2
pages = 373-374
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-15

In Swaminarayan Faith new-Hinduism, spreading very rapidly thought the world, Radha Krishna Dev has a special place as Swaminarayan himself made a reference to Radha Krishna in the Shikshapatri he wrote. [cite web | url = | title= Shikshapatri, verse 109 by Bhagwan Swaminarayan]

Holy places

Vrindavana is often considered to be a holy place by majority of traditions of Krishnaism. Its a center of Krishna worship and the area is including places like Govardhana and Gokula 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. cite book
author = KLOSTERMAIER, Klaus K.
pages = p.204
year = 2007
title = A Survey of Hinduism
publisher = State University of New York Press; 3 edition
isbn = 0791470814
quote = ..Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana, certainly the most popular religious books in the whole of India. 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


Common scriptures of Krishnaism

While every tradition of Krishnaism has its own canon, in all Krishna is accepted as a teacher of the path in the early scriptures of Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana, certainly the most popular religious books in the whole of India.

As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, establishing the basis of Krishnaism himself:

* "And of all yogins, he who full of faith worships Me, with his inner self abiding in Me, him, I hold to be the most attuned (to me in Yoga)." [Radhakrishan(1970), ninth edition, Blackie and son India Ltd., p.211, Verse 6.47]

* "After attaining Me, the great souls do not incur rebirth in this miserable transitory world, because they have attained the highest perfection." [cite web
last = A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
title = Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 8.15
work =
publisher = Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON)
date =
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-14

[cite book
author = Gupta, Ravi M.
coauthors =
year = 2007
title = Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami
publisher = Routledge
isbn = 0415405483
] ] In Gaudiya Vaishnava, Vallabha Sampradaya Nimbarka sampradaya and the old Bhagavat school, Krishna believed to be fully represented in his original form in the Bhagavata Purana, that at the end of the list of "avataras" concludes with the following text:Harvnb|Matchett|2000|p=153Bhag. Purana 1.3.28: "IAST|ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam" :"IAST|indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge"] Quotation|All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead ("Svayam Bhagavan"). [ [ 1.3.28] cite web
title=Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1 Chapter 3 Verse 28
publisher=Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
last=Swami Prabhupada
first=A.C. Bhaktivedanta

Not all commentators on the Bhagavata Purana stress this verse, however a majority of Krishna-centered and contemporary commentaries highlight this verse as a significant statement. [cite web
title=Sri Krishna
] Jiva Goswami has called it "Paribhasa-sutra", the “thesis statement” upon which the entire book or even theology is based. [cite book
author=Dhanurdhara Swami
title=Waves of Devotion
publisher=Bhagavat Books
- cite web
title=Waves of Devotion
In Hari-namamr†a-vyakarana, Jiva Gosvami defines paribhasa-sutra as "aniyame niyama-karini paribhasa": “A "paribhasa-sutra" implies a rule or theme where it is not explicitly stated.” In other words, it gives the context in which to understand a series of apparently unrelated statements in a book.

In another place of the Bhagavata Purana 10.83.5-43 those who are named as wives of Krishna all explain to Uraupadi how the 'Lord himself' ("Svayam Bhagavan", Bhagavata Purana 10.83.7) came to marry them. As they relate these episodes, several of the wives speak of themselves as Krishna's devotees.Harvnb|Matchett|2000|p=141] In the tenth canto of The Bhagavata Purana describes "svayam bhagavans" Krishna's childhood pastimes as that of a much-loved child raised by cowherds in Vrindavan, near to the Yamuna River. The young Krishna enjoys numerous pleasures, such as thieving balls of butter or playing in the forest with his cowherd friends. He also endures episodes of carefree bravery protecting the town from demons. More importantly, however, he steals the hearts of the cowherd girls (Gopis). Through his magical ways, he multiplies himself to give each the attention needed to allow her to be so much in love with Krishna that she feels at one with him and only desires to serve him. This love, represented by the grief they feel when Krishna is called away on a heroic mission and their intense longing for him, is presented as models of the way of extreme devotion (bhakti) to the Supreme Lord.Harvnb|Matchett|2000|loc=10th canto transl.]

ectarian scriptures

Each particular tradition or Krishna-centered sampradayas has a specific set of scriptural written body:

In the warkari movement

In warkari movement following scriptures are considered sacred in addition to general body of the common writing:
# Dyaneshawri;
# Tukaram-Gatha;
# Sopandevi;

# Namdev-Gatha;
# Eknathi-Bhagwat;

# Dasbodh;

In the Chaitanya movement

# Sad Sandarbhas
# Brahma Samhita

Relationship to other traditions in Hinduism

thumb|320px|The_first_inscription_of_the_Heliodorus pillar that was made by Heliodorus 110 BCE after his conversion to Bhagavata Monotheism.] While some consider Vishnu to be the primary deity in the traditions, this view is believed by some academics to be a recent addition as there is some evidence that worship of Vasudeva and not Vishnu came at the beginning of Vaishnavism. This earliest phase was 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. Since then this term "Vasudeva" has been interpreted by by much later Adi Shankara, using the earlier Vishnu Purana as a support, as meaning the 'supreme self' or Vishnu, dwelling everywhere and in all things.Ganguli translation of Mahabharata, [ Ch.148] ] Many other schools of Indian thought has a different interpretation of this key concept. However the primary meaning remains enshrined in the inscription of the Heliodorus pillar 110 BCE.

There is also evidence that cult which flourished with the decline of Vedism was centred on Krishna, the deified tribal hero and religious leader of the Yadavas.cite web
] It is believed that at a later stage Krishnaism started to align with Vedism so that the orthodoxy would find it acceptable. It is also believed that at this stage that Vishnu of the Rig Veda was assimilated into Krishnaism and became the equivalent of the supreme God. While there is a considerable debate as to Shivaism versus Vishnuism, and foisting of Krishnaism upon a dummy Vishnu to be passed as a Vedic deity, some consider that, "stated in this way, such scarcely can have been the case". [Hopkins,"The Religions of India",ISBN 160303143X, p.645]

However, such views distinguishing Vishnu from Krishna are believed to be without basis by some. For example, the Mahabharata itself, is believed by some to predate the BhagavatamFact|date=July 2008 and in the interpretations of Vishnu sahasranama composed by Bhishma in glorification of Krishna, where Krishna according to some commentators, is identified as an avatar of Vishnu [Vishnu Sahasranama, with Sankara's commentary, by Swami Tapasyananda, Ramakrishna Press, p. 177] and worship of Krishna was seen as identical to worship of Vishnu.

Notably, in the 149th chapter of "Anushāsanaparva" in the epic Mahabharata, Bhisma states, with Krishna present, that mankind will be free from all sorrows by chanting the "Vishnu sahasranama"' which are the thousand names of the all-pervading supreme being Vishnu, who is the master of all the worlds, supreme over the "devas" and who is one with Brahman. This seems to indicate that Krishna is identical with Vishnu. Indeed, Krishna himself said, "Arjuna, one may be desirous of praising by reciting the thousand names. But, on my part, I feel praised by one shloka. There is no doubt about it.” [ [ Srivaishnavism ] ]

ee also



*cite book
author = MULLICK, Bulloram
coauthors =
year = 1898
title = Krishna and Krishnaism
publisher = S.K. Lahiri & Co
isbn =

*HARDY, Friedhelm E.: "Krsnaism". In: The Encyclopedia of Religion 8 (Ed. Mircea Eliade) (1987) 387/2 - 392/1
*CLÉMENTIN-OJHA, Catherine: "La renaissance du Nimbarka Sampradaya au XVI"e siècle". Contribution à l'étude d'une secte Krsnaïte. Journal asiatique 278 (1990) 327-376.
*cite journal
author = BRZEZINSKI, J.K.
year = 1992
title = Prabodhananda, Hita Harivamsa and the Radharasasudhanidhi
journal = Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
volume = 55
issue = 3
pages = 472-497
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-04

*cite book
author = FLOOD, G.D.
year = 1996
title = An Introduction to Hinduism
publisher = Cambridge University Press
isbn = 0521438780

*cite book
title=Krishna: The Living God of Braj
publisher=Abhinav Pubns

*GUY, John: "New evidence for the Jagannatha cult in seventeenth century Nepal". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society [3rd Ser.] 2 (1992) 213-230.
*REDINGTON, James D.: "Elements of a Vallabhite Bhakti-synthesis". Journal of the American Oriental Society 112 (1992) 287-294.
*HUDSON D. (1993). "Vasudeva Krsna in Theology and Architecture: A Background to Srivaisnavism". "Journal of Vaisnava Studies" (2).
*CHATTERJEE, Asoke: "Srimadbhagavata and Caitanya-Sampradaya". Journal of the Asiatic Society 37/4 (1995)1-14.
*ROSENSTEIN, Ludmila L.: "The Devotional Poetry of Svami Haridas". A Study of Early Braj Bhasa Verse. (Groningen Oriental Studies 12). Groningen 1997
*SINHA, K.P.: "A critique of A.C.Bhaktivedanta". Calcutta 1997.
*MISHRA, Baba: "Radha and her contour in Orissan culture". In: Orissan history, culture and archaeology. In Felicitation of Prof. P.K. Mishra. Ed. by S. Pradhan. (Reconstructing Indian History & Culture 16). New Delhi 1999; pp. 243-259.
*cite book
author=MATCHETT, Freda
title=Krsna, Lord or Avatara? the relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana

*PAUWELS, Heidi: "Paradise Found, Paradise Lost: Hariram Vyas's Love for Vrindaban and what Hagiographers made of it". In: Pilgrims, Patrons, and Place: Localizing Sanctity in Asian Religions. Ed. by Phyllis Granoff and Koichi Shinohara. (Asian Religions and Society Series). Vancouver, Toronto 2003; pp. 124-180.
*BECK, Guy L., ed. "Alternative Krishnas. Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity". Albany: State University of New York Press 2005.
*MONIUS, Anne E.: "Dance Before Doom. Krishna In The Non-Hindu Literature of Early Medieval South India." In: Beck, Guy L., ed. "Alternative Krishnas. Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity". Albany: State University of New York Press 2005; pp. 139-149.
*PATEL, Gautam: "Concept of God According to Vallabhacarya". In: Encyclopaedia of Indian Wisdom. Prof. Satya Vrat Shastri Felicitation Volume. Vol. 2. Editor: Ramkaran Sharma. Delhi, Varanasi 2005, pp. 127-136.
*SCHWEIG, G.M. (2005). "Dance of divine love: The Rasa Lila of Krishna from the Bhagavata Purana, India's classic sacred love story". Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ; Oxford. ISBN 0691114463.
*COUTURE, André: "The emergence of a group of four characters (Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha) in the Harivamsa: points for consideration". Journal of Indian Philosophy 34,6 (2006) 571-585.
*HAWLEY, John Stratton: "Three Bhakti Voices. Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in Their Time and Ours". 2nd impression. Oxford 2006.
*KLOSTERMAIER, Klaus K. (2007). "A Survey of Hinduism". State University of New York Press; 3 edition, p.204." ISBN 0791470814

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