Development of Vaishnavite Heresy
History of Vaishnavism is difficult to trace
because of the complicated syncretization with
cultures and movements through the ages.
It can not be
traced back to the Vedic period nor has it in
anyway connected to Vedism.
Vishnu of Vedas did not give rise to Vaishnavism. The
name “Vishnu” is mentioned in the
Rig Veda as a
minor god – a younger brother of Indra or deputy
of Indra -Upendara.
minor gods and goddesses of patheism,
henotheism and the forces of nature.
Even then they
were never worshipped as gods but as creatures
who could trade and barter with
praised as Kings were praised by people to get
Vaishnavism actually started, elaborated and
developed in Upanishads, the Puranas, the Agamas
and the epics of the Mahabharata and the
Ramayana all of which are written in Sanskrit in
Post Christian Period.
Tamil Bhakti movement had given birth to the origin and development of Sixfold religion
which includes Saivism and Vaishnavism. Tamil Bhakti Movement was the outcome of the
propagation of the doctrine of avatar and salvific message of Christ by St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus
Vishnu – Derivation
he name Vishnu is derived from the Tamil word “Vin” meaning the sky. The letter ‘U’ is
suffixed with the primary word “Vin” and normally pronounced as “Vinnu” in the spoken language.
This word was pronounced with the Sanskrit sound and the outcome is “Vishnu”.
This type of phonological development have been pointed out by linguists like Devaneyan (Paavaanar)
Vin > Vinnu > Vindu > Vishnu
The early possible starting point of
Vaishanavism probably was due to an attempt to
represent the Trinity in new understanding.
Here is how Dr. Devakala explain it.
Christianity started developing in
India, the doctrine of trinity was envisioned in
different angles in myths. When the trinity was
explained as Father, Holy Spirit and Son, some
envisioned the Holy Spirit in a female form.
According to this group, in a family, if there
is a father and a son, naturally there would be
a mother in between them. So, they envisioned
the Holy Spirit as mother or Sakthi or Power and
they explained the trinity as Appan (father),
Ammai (mother-Sakthi) and Makan (Son). They also
explained Siva (which means love), Sakthi and
Kumarakkadavul (son of God) as Somaskanda.
Somaskanda is a Sanskrit word (Sa+Uma+Skanda)
which means God who is with Uma (Mother) and
Skanda (Son). This is known as Saivism.
When the Holy Spirit was envisioned in female
form by a school of thought, naturally there
would be opposition and another school of
thought emerged. According to it, since a virgin
gave birth to a Son by the Holy Spirit, the Holy
Spirit must be a male form, and it was
envisioned in a male form. They explained all
the three in the trinity in male forms. (Father
in male form, Holy spirit in male form and Son
in male form). This is developed as Mummoorthy
While Saivism denoted Holy Spirit as Sakthi
(female form); Vaishnavism denoted Holy Spirit
as Vishnu (male form). The root word for Vishnu
is Vinn. Vinn and Vaan to the sky or firmament.
The word 'Vishnu' is the Sanskritised form of
Vinn. Trinity is explained in Vaishnavism as
Siva, Vishnu and Brahma that is Mummoorthy. This
is known as Vaishnavism. Both the Saivite and
Vaishnavite mythical explanations refer to God
the father as one and the same person, Siva. God
the Holy Spirit is in two forms, one is in
female form that is Sakthi (Saivism) and the
other is in male form that is Vishnu (Vaishnavism).
the left half of Siva's body is portrayed in
female form (Sakthi), it is known as 'Arthanarieswara'
and if the same left half of Siva's body is
portrayed in male form (Vishnu), it is known as
Since the left half of Siva's body is portrayed
in male form as well as in female form, it
clearly shows that the left half of Siva's (God
the father) body is the metaphorism of Holy
Spirit in two different angles.
The envisioning of the Holy Spirit in a female
form has developed into Saivism and the
envisioning of the Holy Spirit in a male form
has developed into Vaishnavism.”
However after its inception several movements
got syncretised. Among them were the Bhagavata
Cult, Tantric cult and several Hero worshipping
tribal cults. These brought in several occult
factors such as Magic, Mantra, Tantra and Yantra.
This developed a corrupt corality as seen in
Gita and a corrupt society based on Porn. This
led to the formation of the Kingdom of Krishna
in Dwaraka. The sin of the Yadavas led them to
self destruction and finally a tsunami swallwed
the whole Island Kingdom of Krishan.
“The Yadavas, then, with their wives, proceeded
to Prabhasa and took up their residence there,
each in the (temporary) habitation that was
assigned to him, and all having an abundance of
provisions consisting of edibles and drink. The
Vrishnis, mixing with wine the food that had
been cooked for high-souled Brahmanas, gave it
away unto monkeys and apes. Those heroes of
fierce energy then began their high revels, of
which drinking formed the chief feature, at
Prabhasa. Then a dispute arose between Satyaki
and Kritavarman on the wrongs they did in the
Kurukshetra War. This dispute turned into a
great massacre, in which all the Yadava heroes
were slain. (Megasthenes:
Indika I FRAGM. I.B.Diod. III. 63.
Mahabharata, there is a specific account
about the submerging of Dwaraka by the sea,
which reads thus:
“The sea, which had been beating against the
shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was
imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the
city. It coursed through the streets of the
beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in
the city. Even as they were all looking, Arjuna
beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by
one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of
It was soon covered by the sea. In a matter of a
few moments it was all over. The sea had now
become as placid as a lake. There was no trace
of the beautiful city which had been the
favourite haunt of all the Pandavas. Dwaraka was
just a name; just a memory.”
Arjuna took the surviving Yadavas men and women
to Hastinapur. A number of Ahiras, armed only
with lathis, attacked his party. But Arjuna lost
the power of his mighty arm and his unrivalled
skill as an archer which killed his teachers and
brothers in Kurushetra and could not defend
Yadavas who were left in his care by
carried off many of the men,women, and children
as slaves. He reached Hastinapur only with a
But the cult of Vaishnavism became very strong
and conquered as far as Kerala and practically
destroyed all Thomas Churches from the Northern
Vaishnavism as we know today emerged more
recently between the 6th and 9th centuries. The
sexual and tantric connections were removed and
an attempt was made to reform it based on the
Bhakthi towards God as primacy factor. The
twelve Alvars (poet-mystics) laid the
foundations for the Shri Vaishnavas based in
South India. Their founder-theologian is
Ramanuja (1017–1137). After him emerged three
other sampradayas headed by Nimbarka
(1125–1162), Vishnuswami (1200–1250) and Madhva
(1238–1317). From the twelfth century onwards a
bhakti renaissance swept across
bringing waves of devotional sentiment.
200 B.C. and 200 A.D Rama and Krishna became
divine Avatars. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna
became the full Avatar of Vishnu. In the
Upanisads he became an eternal Brahma. Mahayana
Buddhism was formed and Buddha became an eternal
God. Though it seemed that there were no changes
taking place in the Vedas, new Upanisads were
Farquhar, An Outline of the Religious
Motilal Banarsidass,Delhi 7, F.Ed. 1920,
which were originally bardic compilations, were
recast in the Kusana and Gupta periods as
veritable popular expositions seeking to present
a Syncretic and theistic religion. The doctrine
of Trimurti was one of their greatest triumphs
and the idea of incarnation was taken up and
and Vaishnavism are the offshoots of Early
Indian Christianity, many scholars find
similarities between these religions (Early
Indian Christianity) and Christianity (Europeonised
Indian Christianity). The following statements
of different scholars would enlighten this idea.
Susmita Pande in
her thesis 'Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions
and Art' says; "It has even been held that
the development of the true religion of the
heart of bhakti really belongs to Medieval
India, presumably owing its effervescence to the
fertilizing influences of Islam, if not
Christianity" ……"that the concept of
BHAKTI and God's grace in the above account (Vaishnavism)
shows the influence of Christian doctrines".
states: "Vaishnavism has more common ground
with Christianity than any other form of
Ramabai felt that by becoming a follower of
Christ, she had not betrayed her ancient culture
and tradition. But on the other hand, she learnt
that her ancient religion become more meaningful
and enriched only with her experience in Christ.
the history has reincarnated in the mythological
India and He has become the Nishkalank Avatar
(Sinless incarnation), Jivanmuktha, Sachidananda
Panickar in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras
says; "That from which the world comes forth
and to which it returns and by which it is
sustained, that "that" is Christ".
Raymond Panikkar, The Unknown Christ of
Hinduism,Darton, Longman and Todd, P.131
of Vaishnavism by Nathamuni, Yamunacharya and
Ramanuja, the three eminent acharyas of
Vaishnavism saw a major upheaval in the belief
and practice of Vaishnavism.
order to uphold the teachings of Vaishnavism as
against other rival religious creeds, there was
felt the need to consolidate and systematise the
Vaishnavite thoughts found in the various
religious works. There was an urgent need to
propagate the religion. This task was fulfilled
to a large extent by Ramanuja and his
forerunners, Nathamuni and Yamunacharya. Though
all the three acharyas are the exponents of
Vaishnavism, major credit goes to Ramanuja in
terms of the contribution made by written works
and propagation of the religion through a large
number of well qualified apostles.
Nathamuni, the first pontiff of
Srivaishnavism, was born in AD 824. He
wrote two works, namely Nyayatattva and
Yamunacharya, also known as Alavandar, was the
grandson of Nathamuni. He was born in A.D. 916.
All these have helped Ramanuja to systematise
Visistadvaita Religion and Philosophy. Visistadvaita
Ramanuja was born in AD 1017.