Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit "nt"-stem "IAST|bhaga-vant-" (nominative/vocative _sa. भगवान् "IAST|Bhagavān") literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" (from the noun "IAST|bhaga", meaning "fortune, wealth", cognate to Slavic " _sl. bog" "god"), and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc. [ Macdonell Sanskrit-English dictionary] ]

In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to indicate the Supreme Being or Absolute Truth, but with specific reference to that Supreme Being as possessing a personality (a personal God) [ [ Who is Krishna?] "God the person, or Bhagavan"] . This "personal" feature indicated in Bhagavan differentiates its usage from other similar terms [ [ Bhag-P 1.2.11] "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan"] such as Brahman, the "Supreme Spirit" or "spirit", and thus, in this usage, Bhagavan is in many ways analogous to the general Christian conception of God.

Bhagavan used as a title of veneration is often translated as "Lord", as in "Bhagavan Krishna", "Bhagavan Shiva", "Bhagavan Swaminarayan", etc. In Buddhism and Jainism, Gautama Buddha, Mahavira and other Tirthankaras, Buddhas and bodhisattvas are also venerated with this title. The feminine of Bhagavat is Bhagawatī and is an epithet of Durga and other goddesses.

The title is also used as a respectful form of address for a number of contemporary spiritual teachers in India.


In the Vishnu Purana (6.5.79) the personality named Parashara Rishi defines six bhagas as follows:

:"IAST|aiśvaryasya samagrasya vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ":"IAST|jñāna-vairāgyayoś caiva ṣannāḥ bhaga itīṇganā"

Jiva Gosvami explains the verse in his Gopala Champu (Pūrva 15.73) and Bhagavata Sandarbha 46.10:

:"IAST|jñāna-śakti-balaiśvarya-vīrya-tejā aśeṣataḥ":"IAST|bhagavac-chabda-vācyāni vinā heyair guṇādibhiḥ"

:"The substantives of the word bhagavat (IAST|bhagavat-śabda-vācyāni) are unlimited (IAST|aśes.atah.) knowledge (jñāna), energies (śakti), strength (bala), opulence (aiśvarya), heroism (vīrya), splendor (tejas), without (vinā) objectionable (heyair) qualities (IAST|guṇādibhiḥ)."

Early epigraphical evidence


The Bhāgavat religion of early Hinduism is documented epigraphically from around 100 BCE, such as in the inscriptions of the Heliodorus pillar, in which Heliodorus, an Indo-Greek ambassador from Taxila to the court of a Sunga king, describes himself as a Bhagavata ("Heliodorena bhagavatena"):

:"Devadevasa Va [sude] vasa Garudadhvajo ayam:"karito i [a] Heliodorena bhaga- :"vatena Diyasa putrena Takhasilakena:"Yonadatena agatena maharajasa:"Amtalikitasa upa [m] ta samkasam-rano :"Kasiput [r] asa [Bh] agabhadrasa tratarasa:"vasena [chatu] dasena rajena vadhamanasa"

:"This Garuda-standard of Vasudeva (Vishnu), the God of Gods:was erected here by the Bhagavata Heliodoros,:the son of Dion, a man of Taxila,:sent by the Great Greek (Yona) King :Antialcidas, as ambassador to:King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior:son of the princess from Benares, in the fourteenth year of his reign." :(Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908-1909))

In Buddhism

The word "Bhagavat" has also been used to describe the Buddha in the earliest Pali texts. The term "Bhagava" has been used in Anussati or recollections as one of the terms that describes the "Tathagatha".

("Sakamunisa bhagavato"), is recorded in the kharoshthi dedication of a vase placed in a Buddhist stupa by the Greek meridarch (civil governor of a province) named Theodorus (Tarn, p391):

:"Theudorena meridarkhena pratithavida ime sarira sakamunisa bhagavato bahu-jana-stitiye": :"The meridarch Theodorus has enshrined relics of Lord Shakyamuni, for the welfare of the mass of the people" :(Swāt relic vase inscription of the Meridarkh Theodoros [] )

ee also

* Bhagavata Purana
* Bhagavad Gita
* Brahman
* Ishvara
* Paramatma
* Om Tat Sat
* Turiya



* "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
* "Buddhism in Central Asia" by B.N. Puri (Motilal Banarsidass Pub, January 1, 2000) ISBN 81-208-0372-8
* "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.

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