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Development of Vaishnavite Heresy

         

History of Vaishnavism is difficult to trace because of the complicated syncretization with several tribal

cultures and movements through the ages.

 

It can not be traced  back to the Vedic period nor has it in anyway connected to Vedism.

Evidently 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.

They worshipped 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

material things. 

 

 They were praised as Kings were praised by people to get favors. 

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 the

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 

Christ. 

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.

 “After 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 in Vaishnavism.

                                   

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).

If 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 'Harihara'.

                          

   

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. Concerning Dionusos.16,3)

In 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 saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of Krishna. 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
Krishna.  Ahiras carried off many of the men,women, and children as slaves. He reached Hastinapur only with a small remnant.”

But the cult  of Vaishnavism became very strong and conquered as far as Kerala and practically destroyed all Thomas Churches from the Northern India.   

Modern Vaishnavism

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 Shri Rangam, 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 India, bringing waves of devotional sentiment.

'In between 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 formed'.  J.N. Farquhar, An Outline of the Religious lliterature of India, Motilal Banarsidass,Delhi 7, F.Ed. 1920,    

The Puranas, 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 further developed".  Susmita Pande,

Since Saivism 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".

Monier williams states: "Vaishnavism has more common ground with Christianity than any other form of non-Christian faith"

'Pandita 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. ……

'Christ of the history has reincarnated in the mythological India and He has become the Nishkalank Avatar (Sinless incarnation), Jivanmuktha, Sachidananda and Karmayogi'

Fr. Reymond 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

Development of Vaishnavism by Nathamuni, Yamunacharya and Ramanuja, the three eminent acharyas of Vaishnavism saw a major upheaval in the belief and practice of Vaishnavism.

Therefore, in 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 Yogarahasya.

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.