Durga, identified as Adi Parashakti, is a principal and popular form of Hindu Goddess. She is the warrior goddess, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace and dharma of the good, she is the fierce form of the protective mother goddess, willing to unleash her anger against wrong, violence for liberation and destruction to empower creation. Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon defeating Mahishasura; the three principle forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi, of the combined power and form of Saraswati and Parvati and of Chamunda, a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda. Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda and Katyayani. Bhadrakali Durga is worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga, she is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman.
One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe. Estimated to have been composed between 400 and 600 CE, this text is considered by Shakta Hindus to be as important a scripture as the Bhagavad Gita, she has a significant following all over India and Nepal in its eastern states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar. Durga is revered after autumn harvests, specially during the festival of Navratri; the word Durga means "impassable", "invincible, unassailable". It is related to the word Durg which means "fortress, something difficult to defeat or pass". According to Monier Monier-Williams, Durga is derived from the roots gam. According to Alain Daniélou, Durga means "beyond defeat"; the word Durga, related terms appear in the Vedic literature, such as in the Rigveda hymns 4.28, 5.34, 8.27, 8.47, 8.93 and 10.127, in sections 10.1 and 12.4 of the Atharvaveda.
A deity named Durgi appears in section 10.1.7 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka. While the Vedic literature uses the word Durga, the description therein lacks the legendary details about her, found in Hindu literature; the word is found in ancient post-Vedic Sanskrit texts such as in section 2.451 of the Mahabharata and section 4.27.16 of the Ramayana. These usages are in different contexts. For example, Durg is the name of an Asura who had become invincible to gods, Durga is the goddess who intervenes and slays him. Durga and its derivatives are found in sections 4.1.99 and 6.3.63 of the Ashtadhyayi by Pāṇini, the ancient Sanskrit grammarian, in the commentary of Nirukta by Yaska. Durga as a demon-slaying goddess was well established by the time the classic Hindu text called Devi Mahatmya was composed, which scholars variously estimate to between 400 and 600 CE; the Devi Mahatmya and other mythologies describe the nature of demonic forces symbolised by Mahishasura as shape-shifting and adapting in nature and strategy to create difficulties and achieve their evil ends, while Durga calmly understands and counters the evil in order to achieve her solemn goals.
There are many epithets for Durga in Shaktism and her nine appellations are: Shailaputri, Chandraghanta, Skandamata, Kaalratri and Siddhidatri. A list of 108 names of the goddess are recited in order to worship her and is popularly known as the "Ashtottarshat Namavali of Goddess Durga". One of the earliest evidence of reverence for Devi – the feminine nature of God, appears in chapter 10.125 of the Rig Veda, one of the scriptures of Hinduism. This hymn is called the Devi Suktam hymn: – Devi Sukta, Rigveda 10.125.3 – 10.125.8, Devi's epithets synonymous with Durga appear in Upanishadic literature, such as Kali in verse 1.2.4 of the Mundaka Upanishad dated to about the 5th century BCE. This single mention describes Kali as "terrible yet swift as thought" red and smoky colored manifestation of the divine with a fire-like flickering tongue, before the text begins presenting its thesis that one must seek self-knowledge and the knowledge of the eternal Brahman. Durga, in her various forms, appears as an independent deity in the Epics period of ancient India, the centuries around the start of the common era.
Both Yudhisthira and Arjuna characters of the Mahabharata invoke hymns to Durga. She appears in Harivamsa in the form of Vishnu's eulogy, in Pradyumna prayer. Various Puranas from the early to late 1st millennium CE dedicate chapters of inconsistent mythologies associated with Durga. Of these, the Markandeya Purana and the Devi-Bhagavata Purana are the most significant texts on Durga; the Devi Upanishad and other Shakta Upanishads dated to have been composed in or after the 9th century, present the philosophical and mystical speculations related to Durga as Devi and other epithets, identifying her to be the same as the Brahman and Atman. The historian Ramaprasad Chanda stated in 1916 that Durga evolved over time in the Indian subcontinent. A primitive form of Durga, according to Chanda, was the result of "syncretism of a mountain-goddess worshiped by the dwellers of the Himalaya and the Vindhyas", a deity of the Abhiras conceptualized as a war-goddess. Durga transformed into Kali as the personification of the all-destroying time, while aspects of her emerged as the primordial energy integrated into the samsara concept and this idea was built
Kama means "desire, longing" in Hindu and Buddhist literature. Kama connotes sexual desire and longing in contemporary literature, but the concept more broadly refers to any desire, passion, pleasure of the senses, desire for, longing to and after, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, enjoyment of love is with or without enjoyment of sexual and erotic desire, may be without sexual connotations. Kama is one of the four goals of human life in Hindu traditions, it is considered an essential and healthy goal of human life when pursued without sacrificing the other three goals: Dharma and Moksha. Together, these four aims of life are called Puruṣārtha. Kama means "desire, wish or longing". In contemporary literature, kama refers to sexual desire. However, the term refers to any sensory enjoyment, emotional attraction and aesthetic pleasure such as from arts, music, painting and nature; the concept kama is found in some of the earliest known verses in the Vedas. For example, Book 10 of the Rig Veda describes the creation of the universe from nothing by the great heat.
There in hymn 129, it states: The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest Upanishads of Hinduism, uses the term kama in a broader sense, to refer to any desire: Ancient Indian literature such as the Epics, which followed the Upanishads and explain the concept of kama together with Artha and Dharma. The Mahabharata, for example, provides one of the expansive definitions of kama; the Epic claims kama to be any agreeable and desirable experience generated by the interaction of one or more of the five senses with anything congenial to that sense and while the mind is concurrently in harmony with the other goals of human life. Kama implies the short form of the word kamana. Kama, however, is more than kamana. Kama is an experience that includes the discovery of an object, learning about the object, emotional connection, the process of enjoyment and the resulting feeling of well-being before and after the experience. Vatsyayana, the author of the Kamasutra, describes kama as happiness, a manasa vyapara.
Just like the Mahabharata, Vatsyayana's Kamasutra defines kama as pleasure an individual experiences from the world, with one or more senses: ̨hearing, tasting and feeling—in harmony with one's mind and soul. Experiencing harmonious music is kama, as is being inspired by natural beauty, the aesthetic appreciation of a work of art, admiring with joy something created by another human being. Kama Sutra, in its discourse on kama, describes many forms of art and music, along with sex, as the means to pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure enhances ourself appreciation of incense, candle’s, scented oil, yoga stretching and meditation, the experience of the heart chakra. Negativity and hesitation blocks the heart chakra, openness is impaired while attached to desires. Kamala in the heart chakra, is considered to be a seat of devotional worship. Opening the heart chakra is awareness of a divine communion and joy for communion with deities and the self. John Lochtefeld explains kama as desire, noting that it refers to sexual desire in contemporary literature, but in ancient Indian literature kāma includes any kind of attraction and pleasure such as those deriving from the arts.
Karl Potter describes kama as an capacity. A little girl who hugs her teddy bear with a smile is experiencing kama, as are two lovers in embrace. During these experiences, the person connects and identifies the beloved as part of oneself and feels more complete and whole by experiencing that connection and nearness. This, in the Indian perspective, is kāma. Hindery notes the diverse expositions of kama in various ancient texts of India; some texts, such as the Epic Ramayana, paint kama through the desire of Rama for Sita — a desire that transcends the physical and marital into a love, spiritual, something that gives Rama his meaning of life, his reason to live. Sita and Rama both express their unwillingness and inability to live without the other; this romantic and spiritual view of kama in the Ramayana by Valmiki is quite different, claim Hindery and others, than the normative and dry description of kama in the law codes of smriti by Manu for example. Gavin Flood explains kama as "love" without violating dharma and one's journey towards moksha.
In Hinduism, kama is regarded as one of the four proper and necessary goals of human life, the others being Dharma and Moksha. Ancient Indian literature emphasizes that dharma is essential. If dharma is ignored and kama lead to social chaos. Vatsyayana in Kama Sutra recognizes relative value of three goals as follows: artha precedes kama, while dharma precedes both kama and artha. Vatsyayana, in Chapter 2 of Kama Sutra, presents a series of philosophical objections argued against kama and offers his answers to refute those objections. For example, one objection to kama, acknowledges Vatsyayana, is this concern that kāma is an obstacle to moral and ethical life, to religious pursuits, to hard work, to productive pursuit of prosperity and wealth; the pursuit of pleasure, claim objectors, encourages individuals to commit unrighteous deeds, bring distress
Hindu denominations are traditions within Hinduism centered on one or more gods or goddesses, such as Shiva and Brahma. Sometimes the term is used for sampradayas led by a particular guru with a particular philosophy. Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination or tradition. Four major traditions are, used in scholarly studies: Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism; these are sometimes referred to as the denominations of Hinduism, they differ in the primary deity at the centre of the tradition. A notable feature of Hindu denominations is that they do not deny other concepts of the divine or deity, celebrate the other as henotheistic equivalent; the denominations of Hinduism, states Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals practising more than one, he suggests the term "Hindu polycentrism". Although Hinduism contains many denominations and philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites and the questioning of authority.
Hindus subscribe to a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but have no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book. Hinduism as it is known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six darsanas, two schools and Yoga, are the most prominent. Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism; these deity-centered denominations feature a synthesis of various philosophies such as Samkhya and Vedanta, as well as shared spiritual concepts such as moksha, karma, ethical precepts such as ahimsa, ritual grammar and rites of passage. McDaniel distinguishes six generic types of Hinduism, in an attempt to accommodate a variety of views on a rather complex subject: Folk Hinduism, based on local traditions and cults of local deities and extending back to prehistoric times, or at least prior to written Vedas. Shrauta or "Vedic" Hinduism as practised by traditionalist brahmins.
Vedantic Hinduism, including Advaita Vedanta, based on the philosophical approach of the Upanishads. Yogic Hinduism the sect based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. "Dharmic" Hinduism or "daily morality", based on Karma and upon societal norms such as Vivāha. Bhakti or devotionalist practices In Hinduism, a sampradaya is a denomination; these are teaching traditions with autonomous practices and monastic centers, with a guru lineage, with ideas developed and transmitted and reviewed by each successive generation of followers. A particular guru lineage is called parampara. By receiving diksha into the parampara of a living guru, one belongs to its proper sampradaya. Vaishnavism is a devotional sect of Hinduism; as well as Vishnu himself, followers of the sect worship Vishnu's ten incarnations. The two most-worshipped incarnations of Vishnu are Krishna and Rama, whose stories are told in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana respectively; the adherents of this sect are non-ascetic and devoted to meditative practice and ecstatic chanting.
Vaishnavites are devotional. Their religion is rich in saints and scriptures; the Vaishnava sampradayas include: Ramanandi Sampradaya known as the Ramayat Sampradaya or the Ramavat Sampradaya adheres to the teachings of the Advaita scholar Ramananda. This is the largest monastic group within Hinduism and in Asia, these Vaishnava monks are known as Ramanandis, Vairagis or Bairagis. Vishistadvaita includes Udhava Sampradaya to which the Swaminarayan Sampradaya belongs, they adhere to the teachings of Vishistadvaita scholar Ramanuja. Srivaishnavism /Srivaishnava/Sri Sampradaya/Iyengar is associated with Lakshmi; the principal acharyas are Vedanta Desikan. Swaminarayan Hinduism or Swaminarayanism, based on the teachings of Swaminarayan. Brahma Sampradaya is associated with Vishnu, the Para-Brahma, not to be confused with the Brahma deity; the founder of this sampradaya was the Dvaita Vedanta philosopher Madhvacharya. Gaudiya Vaishnavism is associated with Brahma Sampradaya, is associated with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness belongs to this sampradaya. Krishnaism or Bhagavatism. Rudra Sampradaya; the principal acharya is Vallabhacharya. Kumara Sampradaya is the tradition associated with Four Kumaras; the principal acharya is Nimbarka, hence Nimbarka Sampradaya. Other Vaishnava schools and the principal teachers connected with them are: Manavala Mamunigal's sect is the oldest Vaishnava sect in India; this sampraday was followed by Vyasa, Bodhayana. The lineage of Acharya is Lord Narayana, next Lakshmi and Vishweksenar, Nathamuni, Manakal Nambi, Periya Nambi and Vedanta Desikan as per the Vadagalai sampradaya. Thenacharya Sampradaya Vaikhanasa Sampradaya; the principal acharya is Vaikhanasa. Ekasaranism or Asomiya Vaishnavism, adheres to the teachings of Srimanta Sankaradeva. Krishna Pranami Sampradaya, adheres to the teachings of Devachandra Maharaj. Varkari Sampradaya, teaching of bhakti s
Parvati or Gauri is the Hindu goddess of fertility, beauty, marriage and devotion. Known by many other names, she is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Supreme Hindu goddess Adi Parashakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect, she is the Mother goddess in Hinduism, has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India. Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector, the destroyer and regenerator of the universe and all life, she is the daughter of the mountain king queen Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha, Ashokasundari; the Puranas referenced her to be the sister of the preserver god Vishnu. She is the divine energy between a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti, she is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.
With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha, she is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia. Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain". King Parvat is considered the personification of the Himalayas. Parvati is known by many names in Hindu literature. Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja, Adrija or Nagajaa or Shailaputri, Devi Maheshwari, Girija or Girirajaputri, she is called Narayani because she is the sister of Narayana. The Lalita sahasranama contains a listing of 1,000 names of Parvati. Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Aparna; the name Uma is used for Sati in earlier texts, but in the Ramayana, it is used as a synonym for Parvati.
In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna and addressed as Uma, dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā. She is Ambika, Mataji, Durga, Bhavani, Urvi or Renu, many hundreds of others. Parvati is the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi; the apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the golden one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, as a calm and placid wife Parvati mentioned as Gauri and as a goddess who destroys evil she is Kali. Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri's complexion. In parts of India, Gauri's skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and of fertility; the word Parvati does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature. Instead, Ambika and others are found in the Rigveda; the verse 3.12 of the Kena Upanishad dated to mid 1st millennium BCE contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati, a common alternate name for Parvati. Sayana's commentary in Anuvaka, identifies Parvati in the Kena Upanishad, suggesting her to be the same as Uma and Ambika in the Upanishad, referring to Parvati is thus an embodiment of divine knowledge and the mother of the world.
She appears as essential power, of the Supreme Brahman. Her primary role is as a mediator who reveals the knowledge of Brahman to the Vedic trinity of Agni and Varuna, who were boasting about their recent defeat of a group of demons, but Kinsley notes: "it is little more than conjecture to identify her with the goddess Satī-Pārvatī, although texts that extol Śiva and Pārvatī retell the episode in such a way to leave no doubt that it was Śiva's spouse.." Sati-Parvati appears in the epic period, as both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata present Parvati as Shiva's wife. However, it is not until the plays of Kalidasa and the Puranas that the stories of Sati-Parvati and Shiva acquire more comprehensive details. Kinsley adds that Parvati may have emerged from legends of non-aryan goddesses that lived in mountains. While the word Uma appears in earlier Upanisads, Hopkins notes that the earliest known explicit use of the name Pārvatī occurs in late Hamsa Upanishad. Weber suggests that just like Shiva is a combination of various Vedic gods Rudra and Agni, Parvati in Puranas text is a combination of wives of Rudra and Agni.
In other words, the symbolism and characteristics of Parvati evolved over time fusing Uma, Ambika in one aspect and the more ferocious, destructive Kali, Nirriti in another aspect. Tate suggests Parvati is a mixture of the Vedic goddesses Aditi and Nirriti, being a mountain goddess herself, was associated with other mountain goddesses like Durga and Kali in traditions. Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is represented as fair and benevolent, she wears a red dress (
Brahmin is a varna in Hinduism specialising as priests and protectors of sacred learning across generations. The traditional occupation of Brahmins was that of priesthood at the Hindu temples or at socio-religious ceremonies and rite of passage rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers. Theoretically, the Brahmins were the highest ranking of the four social classes. In practice, Indian texts suggest that Brahmins were agriculturalists, warriors and have held a variety of other occupations in the Indian subcontinent; the earliest inferred reference to "Brahmin" as a possible social class is in the Rigveda, occurs once, the hymn is called Purusha Sukta. According to this hymn in Mandala 10, Brahmins are described as having emerged from the mouth of Purusha, being that part of the body from which words emerge; this Purusha Sukta varna verse is now considered to have been inserted at a date into the Vedic text as a charter myth. Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton, a professor of Sanskrit and Religious studies, state, "there is no evidence in the Rigveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided and overarching caste system", "the varna system seems to be embryonic in the Rigveda and, both and a social ideal rather than a social reality".
Ancient texts describing community-oriented Vedic yajna rituals mention four to five priests: the hotar, the adhvaryu, the udgatar, the Brahmin and sometimes the ritvij. The functions associated with the priests were: The Hotri recites invocations and litanies drawn from the Rigveda; the Adhvaryu is the priest's assistant and is in charge of the physical details of the ritual like measuring the ground, building the altar explained in the Yajurveda. The adhvaryu offers oblations; the Udgatri is the chanter of hymns set to melodies and music drawn from the Samaveda. The udgatar, like the hotar, chants the introductory and benediction hymns; the Brahmin recites from the Atharvaveda. The Ritvij is the chief operating priest. According to Kulkarni, the Grhya-sutras state that Yajna, dana pratigraha are the "peculiar duties and privileges of brahmins"; the term Brahmin in Indian texts has signified someone, good and virtuous, not just someone of priestly class. Both Buddhist and Brahmanical literature, states Patrick Olivelle define "Brahmin" not in terms of family of birth, but in terms of personal qualities.
These virtues and characteristics mirror the values cherished in Hinduism during the Sannyasa stage of life, or the life of renunciation for spiritual pursuits. Brahmins, states Olivelle, were the social class; the Dharmasutras and Dharmasatras text of Hinduism describe the expectations and role of Brahmins. The rules and duties in these Dharma texts of Hinduism, are directed at Brahmins; the Gautama's Dharmasutra, the oldest of surviving Hindu Dharmasutras, for example, states in verse 9.54–9.55 that a Brahmin should not participate or perform a ritual unless he is invited to do so, but he may attend. Gautama outlines the following rules of conduct for a Brahmin, in Chapters 8 and 9: Be always truthful Teach his art only to virtuous men Follow rules of ritual purification Study Vedas with delight Never hurt any living creature Be gentle but steadfast Have self-control Be kind, liberal towards everyoneChapter 8 of the Dharmasutra, states Olivelle, asserts the functions of a Brahmin to be to learn the Vedas, the secular sciences, the Vedic supplements, the dialogues, the epics and the Puranas.
The text lists eight virtues that a Brahmin must inculcate: compassion, lack of envy, tranquility, auspicious disposition and lack of greed, asserts in verse 9.24–9.25, that it is more important to lead a virtuous life than perform rites and rituals, because virtue leads to achieving liberation. The Dharma texts of Hinduism such as Baudhayana Dharmasutra add charity, refraining from anger and never being arrogant as duties of a Brahmin; the Vasistha Dharmasutra in verse 6.23 lists discipline, self-control, truthfulness, Vedic learning, erudition and religious faith as characteristics of a Brahmin. In 13.55, the Vasistha text states that a Brahmin must not accept weapons, poison or liquor as gifts. The Dharmasastras such as Manusmriti, like Dharmsutras, are codes focussed on how a Brahmin must live his life, their relationship with a king and warrior class. Manusmriti dedicates 1,034 verses, the largest portion, on laws for and expected virtues of Brahmins, it asserts, for example, A well disciplined Brahmin, although he knows just the Savitri verse, is far better than an undisciplined one who eats all types of food and deals in all types of merchandise though he may know all three Vedas.
John Bussanich states that the ethical precepts set for Brahmins, in ancient Indian texts, are similar to Greek virtue-ethics, that "Manu's dharmic Brahmin can be compared to Aristotle's man of practical wisdom", that "the virtuous Brahmin is not unlike the Platonic-Aristotelian philosopher" with the difference that the latter was not sacerdotal. According to Abraham Eraly, "Brahmin as a varna hardly had any presence in historical records before the Gupta Empire era", when Buddhism dominated the land. "No Brahmin, no sacrifice, no ritualistic act of any kind even once, is referred to" in any Indian texts between third century BCE and
Shaktism is a major tradition of Hinduism, wherein the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically feminine and Adi Parashakti is supreme. It includes a variety of Goddesses, all considered aspects of the same supreme Goddess. Shaktism has different sub-traditions, ranging from those focused on gracious Gauri to fierce Kali, some Shakti sub-traditions associate their Goddess with Shiva or Brahma or Vishnu; the Sruti and Smriti texts of Hinduism are an important historical framework of the Shaktism tradition. In addition, it reveres the texts Devi Mahatmya, the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Mahabhagwata Purana and Shakta Upanishads such as the Devi Upanishad; the Devi Mahatmya in particular, is considered in Shaktism to be as important as the Bhagavad Gita. Shaktism is known for its various sub-traditions of Tantra, as well as a galaxy of Goddesses with respective systems, it consists of the Kulamārga. The pantheon of Goddesses in Shaktism grew after the decline of Buddhism in India, wherein Hindu and Buddhist Goddesses were combined to form the Mahavidya, a list of ten Goddesses.
The most common aspects of Devi found in Shaktism include Durga, Amba, Lakshmi and Tripurasundari. The Goddess-focused tradition is popular in West Bengal, Assam, Kumaon and Nepal and the neighboring regions, which it celebrates through festivals such as the Durga puja. Shaktism's ideas have influenced Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions, with the Goddess considered the Shakti of Vishnu and Shiva and revered prominently in numerous Hindu temples and festivals. One of the earliest evidence of reverence for the feminine aspect of God in Hinduism appears in chapter 10.125 of the Rig Veda called the Devi Suktam hymn: –Devi Sukta, Rigveda 10.125.3 – 10.125.8, The Vedic literature reveres various Goddesses, but far less than Gods Indra and Soma. Yet, they are declared equivalent aspects of gender neutral Brahman, of Purusha; the Goddesses mentioned in the Vedic layers of text include the Ushas, Sarasvati, Nirriti, Shraddha. Goddesses such as Uma appear in the Upanishads as another aspect of Brahman and the knower of ultimate knowledge, such as in section 3 and 4 of the ancient Kena Upanishad.
Hymns to Goddesses are in the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata in the added Harivamsa section of it. The archaeological and textual evidence implies, states Thomas Coburn, that the Goddess had become as much a part of the Hindu tradition, as God, by about the third or fourth century; the literature on Shakti theology grew in ancient India, climaxing in one of the most important texts of Shaktism called the Devi Mahatmya. This text, states C. Mackenzie Brown – a professor of Religion, is both a culmination of centuries of Indian ideas about the divine feminine, as well as a foundation for the literature and spirituality focussed on the feminine transcendence in centuries that followed; the Devi-Mahatmya is not the earliest literary fragment attesting to the existence of devotion to a Goddess figure, states Thomas B. Coburn – a professor of Religious Studies, but "it is the earliest in which the object of worship is conceptualized as Goddess, with a capital G". Other important texts of Shaktism include the Shakta Upanishads, as well as Shakta-oriented Upa Puranic literature such as the Devi Purana and Kalika Purana, the Lalita Sahasranama.
The Tripura Upanishad is the most complete introduction to Shakta Tantrism, distilling into its 16 verses every important topic in Shakta Tantra tradition. Along with the Tripura Upanishad, the Tripuratapini Upanishad has attracted scholarly bhasya in the second half of 2nd-millennium, such as by Bhaskararaya, by Ramanand; these texts link the Shakti Tantra tradition as a Vedic attribute, however this link has been contested by scholars. Shaktas conceive the Goddess as the supreme, eternal reality of all existence, or same as the Brahman concept of Hinduism, she is considered to be the source of all creation, its embodiment and the energy that animates and governs it, that into which everything will dissolve. According to V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar – a professor of Indian history, in Shaktism theology "Brahman is static Shakti and Shakti is dynamic Brahman."Shaktism views the Devi as the source and substance of everything in creation. Its texts such as the Devi-Bhagavata Purana states: I am Manifest Divinity, Unmanifest Divinity, Transcendent Divinity.
I am Brahma and Shiva, as well as Saraswati and Parvati. I am the Sun and I am the Stars, I am the Moon. I am all animals and birds, I am the outcaste as well, the thief. I am the low person of dreadful deeds, the great person of excellent deeds. I am Female, I am Male in the form of Shiva. Shaktism's focus on the Divine Feminine does not imply a rejection of masculine, it rejects soul-body, transcendent-immanent dualism, considering nature as divine. Devi is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy and soul, the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe, yet in Shaktism, states C. MacKenzie Brown, the masculine and the feminine are aspects of the transcendent reality. In Hindu iconography, the cosmic dynamic of masculine-feminine interdependence and equivalence, is expressed in the half-Shakti, half-Shiva deity known as Ardhanari; the philosophical premises in many Shakta texts, states June McDaniel – a professor of Religious Studies, is syncretism of Sam
Vaishnavism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism along with Shaivism and Smarthism. It is called Vishnuism, its followers are called Vaishnavas, it considers Vishnu as the Supreme Lord; the tradition is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Krishna is revered in one of many distinct incarnations. Of these, ten avatars of Vishnu are the most studied. Rama, Narayana, Hari, Kesava, Govinda, Sri Nathji and Jagannath are among the popular names used for the same supreme being; the tradition has traceable roots to the 1st millennium BCE, as Bhagavatism called Krishnaism. Developments led by Ramananda created a Rama-oriented movement, now the largest monastic group in Asia; the Vaishnava tradition has many sampradayas ranging from the medieval era Dvaita school of Madhvacharya to Vishishtadvaita school of Ramanuja. The tradition is known for the loving devotion to an avatar of Vishnu, it has been key to the spread of the Bhakti movement in South Asia in the 2nd millennium CE. Key texts in Vaishnavism include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pancaratra texts and the Bhagavata Purana.
Vaishnavism originates in the latest centuries BCE and the early centuries CE, as an amalgam of the heroic Krishna Vasudeva, the "divine child" Bala Krishna of the Gopala traditions, syncretism of these non-Vedic traditions with the Mahabharata canon, thus affiliating itself with Vedism in order to become acceptable to the orthodox establishment. Krishnaism becomes associated with bhakti yoga in the medieval period. Although Vishnu was a Vedic solar deity, he is mentioned more compared to Agni and other Vedic deities, thereby suggesting that he had a major position in the Vedic religion. Other scholars state that there are other Vedic deities, such as water deity Nara, who together form the historical roots of Vaishnavism. In the late-Vedic texts, the concept of a metaphysical Brahman grows in prominence, the Vaishnavism tradition considered Vishnu to be identical to Brahman, just like Shaivism and Shaktism consider Shiva and Devi to be Brahman respectively; the ancient emergence of Vaishnavism is unclear, the evidence inconsistent and scanty.
According to Dalal, the origins may be in Vedic deity Bhaga. According to Preciado-Solís, the Vedic deities Nara and Narayana form one of the Vedic roots of Vaishnavism. According to Dandekar, Vaishnavism may have emerged from merger of several ancient theistic traditions, where the various deities were integrated as different avatars of the same god. In Dandekar theory, Vaishnavism emerged at the end of the Vedic period before the second urbanisation of northern India, in the 7th to 4th century BCE. Vasudeva and Krishna, "the deified tribal hero and religious leader of the Yadavas," gained prominence, merged into Bhagavan Vasudeva-Krishna, due to the close relation between the Vrsnis and the Yadavas; this was followed by a merger with the cult of Gopala-Krishna of the cowherd community of the Abhıras at the 4th century CE. The character of Gopala Krishna is considered to be non-Vedic. According to Dandekar, such mergers consolidated the position of Krishnaism between the heterodox sramana movement and the orthodox Vedic religion.
The "Greater Krsnaism", states Dandekar merged with the Rigvedic Vishnu. Syncretism of various traditions and Vedism resulted in Vaishnavism. At this stage that Vishnu of the Rig Veda was assimilated into non-Vedic Krishnaism and became the equivalent of the Supreme God; the appearance of Krishna as one of the Avatars of Vishnu dates to the period of the Sanskrit epics in the early centuries CE. The Bhagavad Gita was incorporated into the Mahabharata as a key text for Krishnaism; the Narayana-cult was included, which further brahmanized Vaishnavism. The Nara-Narayana cult may have originated in Badari, a northern ridge of the Hindu Kush, absorbed into the Vedic orthodoxy as Purusa Narayana. Purusa Narayana may have been turned into Arjuna and Krsna; this complex history is reflected in the two main historical denominations of Vishnavism. The Bhagavats, worship Vasudeva-Krsna, are followers of brahmanic Vaishnavism, while the Pacaratrins regard Narayana as their founder, are followers of Tantric Vaishnavism.
According to Hardy, there is evidence of early "southern Krishnaism," despite the tendency to allocate the Krishna-traditions to the Northern traditions. South Indian texts show close parallel with the Sanskrit traditions of Krishna and his gopi companions, so ubiquitous in North Indian text and imagery. Early writings in Dravidian culture such as Manimekalai and the Cilappatikaram present Krishna, his brother, favourite female companions in the similar terms. Hardy argues that the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana is a Sanskrit "translation" of the bhakti of the Tamil alvars. Devotion to southern Indian Mal may be an early form of Krishnaism, since Mal appears as a divine figure like Krishna with some elements of Vishnu; the Alvars, whose name can be translated "sages" or "saints", were devotees of Mal. Their poems show a pronounced orientation to the Vaishnava, Krishna, side of Mal, but they do not make the distinction between Krishna and Vishnu on the basis of the concept of the Avatars. Yet, according to Hardy the term "Mayonism" should be used instead of "Krishnaism" when referring to Mal or Mayon.
Most of the Gupta kings, beginning with Chandragupta II were known as Parama Bhagavatas or Bhagavata Vaishnavas. After the Gupta age, Krishnaism rose to a major current of Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism developed into various sects and subsects