In Hinduism a Bhagavata (a vrddhi formation from Bhagavanta, meaning "devotee of Bhagavanta", the Lord, i.e. God), is a devotee, worshipper or follower of Bhagavanta namely God in his personal aspect. The form of worship is called bhakti which has the meaning of 'adoration'. In Sanskrit language 'Bhaga' stands for desire, 'antha' stands for the end. Hence Bhagavanta or Bhagavan means 'the one beyond desire or rebirth', whereas Bhagavata indicates a worshiper of this purified and persistent entity. Bhaga'vat is also thought to mean "one possessing welfare, fortune or majesty".
Historically, Bhagavatism corresponds to the development of a popular theistic movement in India, departing from the elitist sacrifical rites of Vedism, and initially focusing on the worship of the Vrishni hero Vāsudeva in the region of Mathura. It later assimilated into the concept of Narayana 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Second Early Stage
The association of the Sun-bird Garuda with the "Devadeva" ("God of Gods") Vāsudeva in the Heliodorus pillar (115 CE) suggests that the Bhagavat cult of human deities had already absorbed the Sun-god Vishnu, an ancient Vedic deity. Slightly later, the Nagari inscription also shows the incorporation of the Brahmanical deity Narayana into the heroe-cult of Bhagavatism. Vishnu would much later become prominent in this construct, so that by the middle of the 5th century CE, during the Gupta period, the term Vaishnava would replace the term Bhagavata to describe the followers of this cult, and Vishnu would now be more popular then Vāsudeva.
Some relate absorption by Brahmanism to be the characteristic of the second stage of the development of the Bhagavata tradition. It is believed that at this stage Krishna-Vāsudeva was identified with the deity of Vishnu, that according to some belonged to the pantheon of Brahmanism.
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.
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. and by the time of composition of the redaction of Mahabharata that survives till today.
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). 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."
It is also a common greeting among the followers of Ramanujacharya and other yoga sects.
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.
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 one's own Sampat-Bhakti-Punya Karma-Knowledge. This is actual Bhagavata.
- Bhagavata Purana
- Svayam bhagavan
- Bhagavad Gita
- Heliodorus pillar
- Nava rasas
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