Smarta tradition is a movement in Hinduism that developed during its classical period around the beginning of the Common Era. It reflects a Hindu synthesis of four philosophical strands: Mimamsa, Advaita and theism; the Smarta tradition rejects theistic sectarianism, it is notable for the domestic worship of five shrines with five deities, all treated as equal – Vishnu, Brahma and Devi. The Smarta tradition contrasted with the older Shrauta tradition, based on elaborate rituals and rites. There has been considerable overlap in the ideas and practices of the Smarta tradition with other significant historic movements within Hinduism, namely Shaivism, Brahmanism and Shaktism; the Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer. Shankara championed the ultimate reality is impersonal and Nirguna and any symbolic god serves the same equivalent purpose. Inspired by this belief, the Smarta tradition followers, along with the five Hindu gods include a sixth impersonal god in their practice.
The tradition has been called by William Jackson as "advaitin, monistic in its outlook". The term Smarta refers to Brahmins who specialize in the Smriti corpus of texts named the Grihya Sutras, in contrast to Shrauta Sutras. Smarta Brahmins with their focus on the Smriti corpus, contrast from Srauta Brahmins who specialize in the Sruti corpus, rituals and ceremonies that follow the Vedas. Smarta स्मार्त is an adjective derived from Smriti; the smriti are a specific body of Hindu texts attributed to an author, traditionally written down but revised, in contrast to Śrutis considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed. Smarta has several meanings: Relating to memory Recorded in or based on the Smriti Based on tradition, prescribed or sanctioned by traditional law Orthodox Brahmin versed in or guided by traditional law and Vedanta doctrineIn Smarta tradition context, the term Smarta means "follower of Smriti". Smarta is specially associated with a "sect founded by Shankaracharya", states Monier Williams.
See Late Middle Kingdoms - The Late-Classical Age and Classical Hinduism The Vedanga texts, states Alf Hiltebeitel, are Smriti texts that were composed in the second half of the Vedic period that ended around 500 BCE. The Vedanga texts include the Kalpa texts consisting of the Srautasutras and Dharmasutras, many of which were revised well past the Vedic period; the Grihyasutras and Dharmasutras, states Hiltebeitel, were composed between 600 BCE and 400 CE, these are sometimes called the Smartasutras, the roots of the Smriti tradition. The Smriti texts accept the knowledge in the Sruti, but they interpret it in a number of ways, which gave rise to six darsanas of Hindu philosophy. Of these, states Hiltebeitel, the Mimamsa and Vedanta have sometimes been called the Smarta schools which emphasize the Vedas with reason and other pramanas, in contrast to Haituka schools which emphasize hetu independent of the Vedas while accepting the authority of the Vedas. Of the two Smarta traditions, Mimamsa focussed on Vedic ritual traditions, while Vedanta focussed on Upanishadic knowledge tradition.
Around the start of the common era, thereafter, a syncretism of Haituka schools, the Smarta schools with ancient theistic ideas gave rise to a growth in traditions such as Shaivism and Shaktism. Hiltebeitel and Flood locate the origins of a revived orthodox Smarta Tradition in the Classical Period of Hinduism with nondualist interpretation of Vedanta, around the time when different Hindu traditions emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions; the revived Smarta Tradition attempted to integrate varied and conflicting devotional practices, with its ideas of nondual experience of Atman as Brahman. The rapprochement included the practice of pancayatana-puja, wherein a Hindu could focus on any saguna deity of choice such as Vishnu, Durga, Surya or Ganesha, as an interim step towards realizing the nirguna Brahman; the growth of this Smarta Tradition began in the Gupta period, was dominated by Dvija classes, in particular the Brahmins, of the early medieval Indian society.
This Smarta Tradition competed with other major traditions of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Shaktism. The ideas of Smarta Tradition were influential, creative with concepts such as of Harihara and Ardhanarishvara, many of the major scholars of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Bhakti movement came out of the Smarta Tradition. Medieval era scholars such as Vedanta Desika and Vallabhacharya recognized Smarta Tradition as competing with Vaishnavism and other traditions. According to Jeffrey Timm, for example, in verse 10 of the Tattvarthadipanibandha, Vallabhacharya states that, "Mutually contradictory conclusions are non-contradictory when they are considered from their respective contexts, like Vaishnava, etc."According to Murray Milner Jr. a professor of Sociology, the Smarta tradition refers to "Hindus who tend toward Brahmanical orthodoxy in both thought and behavior". Smartas are committed to a "relatively unified Hinduism" and they reject extreme forms of sectarian isolationism, reminiscent of the European discourse about church and Christian sects.
The tradition, states Milner, has roots that emerged sometime between 3rd century BCE and 3rd century CE, likel
Shiva known as Mahadeva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Shiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the supreme being who creates and transforms the universe. In the tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power of each, with Parvati the equal complementary partner of Shiva, he is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism. According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Shiva is formless, limitless and unchanging absolute Brahman, the primal Atman of the universe. There are many both fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children and Kartikeya.
In his fierce aspects, he is depicted slaying demons. Shiva is known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts; the iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, the damaru drum. He is worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered by Hindus, in India and Sri Lanka. Shiva is called as Bhramhan which can be said as Parabhramhan. Shiva means nothingness; the word shivoham means the consciousness of one individual, lord says that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, as he is present in the form of one's consciousness. In Tamil, he was called by different names other than Sivan. Nataraaja Rudra and Dhakshinamoorthy. Nataraja is the only form of Shiva worshipped in a human figure format. Elsewhere he is worshipped in Lingam figure. Pancha bootha temples are located in south India. Pancha Bhoota Stalam.
Tamil literature is enriched by Shiva devotees called 63 Nayanmars The Sanskrit word "Śiva" means, states Monier Monier-Williams, "auspicious, gracious, kind, friendly". The roots of Śiva in folk etymology are śī which means "in whom all things lie, pervasiveness" and va which means "embodiment of grace"; the word Shiva is used as an adjective in the Rig Veda, as an epithet for several Rigvedic deities, including Rudra. The term Shiva connotes "liberation, final emancipation" and "the auspicious one", this adjective sense of usage is addressed to many deities in Vedic layers of literature; the term evolved from the Vedic Rudra-Shiva to the noun Shiva in the Epics and the Puranas, as an auspicious deity, the "creator and dissolver". Sharva, sharabha presents another etymology with the Sanskrit root śarv-, which means "to injure" or "to kill", interprets the name to connote "one who can kill the forces of darkness"; the Sanskrit word śaiva means "relating to the god Shiva", this term is the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a member of that sect.
It is used as an adjective to characterize certain practices, such as Shaivism. Some authors associate the name with the Tamil word śivappu meaning "red", noting that Shiva is linked to the Sun and that Rudra is called Babhru in the Rigveda; the Vishnu sahasranama interprets Shiva to have multiple meanings: "The Pure One", "the One, not affected by three Guṇas of Prakṛti". Shiva is known by many names such as Viswanatha, Mahandeo, Mahesha, Shankara, Rudra, Trilochana, Neelakanta, Subhankara and Ghrneshwar; the highest reverence for Shiva in Shaivism is reflected in his epithets Mahādeva, Maheśvara, Parameśvara. Sahasranama are medieval Indian texts that list a thousand names derived from aspects and epithets of a deity. There are at least eight different versions of the Shiva Sahasranama, devotional hymns listing many names of Shiva; the version appearing in Book 13 of the Mahabharata provides one such list. Shiva has Dasha-Sahasranamas that are found in the Mahanyasa; the Shri Rudram Chamakam known as the Śatarudriya, is a devotional hymn to Shiva hailing him by many names.
The Shiva-related tradition is a major part of Hinduism, found all over India, Sri Lanka, Bali. Scholars have interpreted early prehistoric paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters, carbon dated to be from pre-10,000 BCE period, as Shiva dancing, Shiva's trident, his mount Nandi. Rock paintings from Bhimbetka, depicting a figure with a trishul, have been described as Nataraja by Erwin Neumayer, who dates them to the mesolithic. Of several Indus valley seals that show animals, one seal that has attracted attention shows a large central figure, either horned or wearing a horned headdress and ithyphallic, seated in a posture reminiscent of the Lotus position, surrounded by animals; this figure was named by early excavators of Mohenjo-daro as Pashupati (Lord of Animals, Sansk
Makara Sankranti, Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, in reference to deity Surya. It is observed each year in January, it marks the first day of sun's transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. Makara Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals, observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it always falls on the same Gregorian date every year, except in some years when the date shifts by a day for that year; the festivities associated with Makar Sankranti are known by various names such as Maghi by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs, Makara Sankranti in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana, Sukarat in central India, Magh Bihu by Assamese, Thai Pongal by Tamils. Makara Sankranti is observed with social festivities such as colorful decorations, rural children going house to house and asking for treats in some areas, dances, kite flying and feasts.
The Magha Mela, according to Diana L. Eck, is mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata Many go to sacred rivers or lakes and bathe with thanksgiving to the sun; every twelve years, the Hindus observe Makar Sankranti with one of the world's largest mass pilgrimages, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. At this event they say a prayer to the sun and bathe at the Prayaga confluence of the River Ganga and River Yamuna at the Kumbha Mela, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankaracharya. Makara Sankranti is set by the solar cycle of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, is observed on a day which falls on 14 January of Gregorian calendar, but sometimes 15 January, it signifies the arrival of longer days. Makar Sankranti falls in the Hindu calendar solar month of Makara, lunar month of Magha, it marks the end of the month with winter solstice for India and the longest night of the year, a month, called Pausha in lunar calendar and Dhanu in the solar calendar in the Vikrami system. The festival celebrates the first month with longer days.
There are two different systems to calculate the Makara Sankranti date: sayana. The January 14 date is based on the nirayana system, while the sayana system computes to about December 23, per most Siddhanta texts for Hindu calendars; as per the solar calendar, after one year, Sun comes to the same location 20 min. Late every year which means Sun needs to 1 day extra after every 72 years in the sky. That's the reason; this festival is dedicated to Surya. This significance of Surya is traceable to the Vedic texts the Gayatri Mantra, a sacred hymn of Hinduism found in its scripture named the Rigveda; the festival marks the beginning of a six-month auspicious period for Hindus known as Uttarayana. Makara Sankranti is regarded as important for spiritual practices and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers Ganga, Godavari and Kaveri; the bathing is believed to result in absolution of past sins. They pray to the sun and thank for their successes and prosperity. A shared cultural practices found amongst Hindus of various parts of India is making sticky, bound sweets from sesame and a sugar base such as jaggery.
This type of sweet is a symbolism for being together in peace and joyfulness, despite the uniqueness and differences between individuals. For most parts of India, this period is a part of early stages of the Rabi crop and agricultural cycle, where crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is over; the time thus signifies a period of socializing and families enjoying each other's company, taking care of the cattle, celebrating around bonfires, in Maharashtra the festival is celebrated by flying kites. Makara Sankranti is an important pan-Indian solar festival, known by different names though observed on the same date, sometimes for multiple dates around the Makar Sankranti, it is known as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in parts of central and north India, as Makar Sankranti in the west, by other names. In some parts of India it is believed. Makara or Makar Sankranti is celebrated in many parts of Indian subcontinent with some regional variations.
It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the region: Suggi Habba, Makara Sankramana, Makara Sankranti: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Makara Sankranti or Makara Mela and Makara Chaula: Odisha Thai Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal: Tamil Nadu Uttarayan: Gujarat Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu: Assam Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar Poush Sangkranti: West Bengal Tila Sakrait: MithilaIn other countries too the day is celebrated by Hindus, but under different names and in different ways. Nepal: Maghe Sankranti or Maghi- /Khichdi Sankranti Bangladesh: Shakrain/ Poush Sangkranti Pakistan: Tirmoori Sri Lanka: ThaiPongal Malaysia: ThaiPongal It is celebrated differently across the Indian subcontinent. Many people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar Prayag and pray to the Sun God, it is celebrated with pomp in sou
Rama or Ram known as Ramachandra, is a major deity of Hinduism. He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna and Gautama Buddha. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being. Rama was born to Dasharatha in Ayodhya, the ruler of the Kingdom of Kosala, his siblings included Lakshmana and Shatrughna. He married Sita. Though born in a royal family, their life is described in the Hindu texts as one challenged by unexpected changes such as an exile into impoverished and difficult circumstances, ethical questions and moral dilemmas. Of all their travails, the most notable is the kidnapping of Sita by demon-king Ravana, followed by the determined and epic efforts of Rama and Lakshmana to gain her freedom and destroy the evil Ravana against great odds; the entire life story of Rama and their companions allegorically discusses duties and social responsibilities of an individual. It illustrates dharmic living through model characters.
Rama is important to Vaishnavism. He is the central figure of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, a text popular in the South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures, his ancient legends have attracted bhasya and extensive secondary literature and inspired performance arts. Two such texts, for example, are the Adhyatma Ramayana – a spiritual and theological treatise considered foundational by Ramanandi monasteries, the Ramcharitmanas – a popular treatise that inspires thousands of Ramlila festival performances during autumn every year in India. Rama legends are found in the texts of Jainism and Buddhism, though he is sometimes called Pauma or Padma in these texts, their details vary from the Hindu versions. Rāma is a Vedic Sanskrit word with two contextual meanings. In one context as found in Arthavaveda, states Monier Monier-Williams, it means "dark, dark-colored, black" and is related to the term ratri which means night. In another context as found in other Vedic texts, the word means "pleasing, charming, lovely".
The word is sometimes used as a suffix in different Indian languages and religions, such as Pali in Buddhist texts, where -rama adds the sense of "pleasing to the mind, lovely" to the composite word. Rama as a first name appears in the Vedic literature, associated with two patronymic names – Margaveya and Aupatasvini – representing different individuals. A third individual named Rama Jamadagnya is the purported author of hymn 10.110 of the Rigveda in the Hindu tradition. The word Rama appears in ancient literature in reverential terms for three individuals: Parashu-rama, as the sixth avatar of Vishnu, he is linked to the Rama Jamadagnya of the Rigveda fame. Rama-chandra, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu and of the ancient Ramayana fame. Bala-rama called Halayudha, as the elder brother of Krishna both of whom appear in the legends of Hinduism and Jainism; the name Rama appears in Hindu texts, for many different scholars and kings in mythical stories. The word appears in ancient Upanishads and Aranyakas layer of Vedic literature, as well as music and other post-Vedic literature, but in qualifying context of something or someone, "charming, lovely" or "darkness, night".
The Vishnu avatar named Rama is known by other names. He is called Raghava. Additional names of Rama include Ramavijaya, Phreah Ream, Phra Ram, Megat Seri Rama, Raja Bantugan, Ramar. In the Vishnu sahasranama, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In some Advaita Vedanta inspired texts, Rama connotes the metaphysical concept of Supreme Brahman, the eternally blissful spiritual Self in whom yogis delight nondualistically; the root of the word Rama is ram- which means "stop, stand still, rejoice, be pleased". According to Douglas Adams, the Sanskrit word Rama is found in other Indo-European languages such as Tocharian ram, reme, *romo- where it means "support, make still", "witness, make evident"; the sense of "dark, soot" appears in other Indo European languages, such as *remos or Old English romig. This summary is a traditional legendary account, based on literary details from the Ramayana and other historic mythology-containing texts of Buddhism and Jainism. According to Sheldon Pollock, the figure of Rama incorporates more ancient "morphemes of Indian myths", such as the mythical legends of Bali and Namuci.
The ancient sage Valmiki used these morphemes in his Ramayana similes as in sections 3.27, 3.59, 3.73, 5.19 and 29.28. Rama was born on the ninth day of the lunar month Chaitra, a day celebrated across India as Ram Navami; this coincides with one of the four Navratri on the Hindu calendar, in the spring season, namely the Vasantha Navratri. The ancient epic Ramayana states in the Balakhanda that Rama and his brothers were born to Kaushalya and Dasharatha in Ayodhya, a city on the banks of Sarayu River; the Jain versions of the Ramayana, such as the Paumacariya by Vimalasuri mention the details of the early life of Rama. The Jain texts are dated variously, but pre-500 CE, most sometime within the first five centuries of the common era. Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, a part of the solar dynasty of Iksvakus, his mother's name Kaushalya implies that she was from Kosala. The kingdom of Kosala is mentioned in Buddhist and Jaina texts, as one of the sixteen Maha janapadas of ancient India, as an important center of pilgrimage for Jains and Buddhists.
However, there is a schola
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
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
Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, the Supreme Being or absolute truth in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vishnu is the "preserver" in the Hindu triad that includes Shiva. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as "the preserver, protector" whenever the world is threatened with evil and destructive forces, his avatars most notably include Rama in the Krishna in the Mahabharata. He is known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Hari, he is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism. In Hindu iconography, Vishnu is depicted as having a pale or dark blue complexion and having four arms, he holds a padma in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra in his upper right hand. A traditional depiction is Vishnu reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he "dreams the universe into reality".
Yaska, the mid 1st-millennium BCE Vedanga scholar, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as viṣṇur viṣvater vā vyaśnoter vā, "one who enters everywhere". He writes, atha yad viṣito bhavati tad viṣnurbhavati, "that, free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu"; the medieval Indian scholar Medhātithi suggested that the word Vishnu has etymological roots in viś, meaning to pervade, thereby connoting that Vishnu is "one, everything and inside everything". Vishnu means "all pervasive". Vishnu is a Vedic deity, but not a prominent one when compared to Indra and others. Just 5 out of 1028 hymns of the Rigveda, a 2nd millennium BCE Hindu text, are dedicated to Vishnu, he finds minor mention in the other hymns. Vishnu is mentioned in the Brahmana layer of text in the Vedas, thereafter his profile rises and over the history of Indian mythology, states Jan Gonda, Vishnu becomes a divinity of the highest rank, one equivalent to the Supreme Being. Though a minor mention and with overlapping attributes in the Vedas, he has important characteristics in various hymns of Rig Veda, such as 1.154.5, 1.56.3 and 10.15.3.
In these hymns, the Vedic mythology asserts that Vishnu resides in that highest home where departed Atman reside, an assertion that may have been the reason for his increasing emphasis and popularity in Hindu soteriology. He is described in the Vedic literature as the one who supports heaven and earth. In the Vedic hymns, Vishnu is invoked alongside other deities Indra, whom he helps in killing the symbol of evil named Vritra, his distinguishing characteristic in Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 refer to Vishnu. In section 7.99 of the Rgveda, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. In the Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is Surya or Savitr, who bears the name Suryanarayana. Again, this link to Surya is a characteristic Vishnu shares with fellow Vedic deities named Mitra and Agni, where in different hymns, they too "bring men together" and cause all living beings to rise up and impel them to go about their daily activities.
In hymn 7.99 of Rigveda, Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun, with the verses asserting that this sun is the source of all energy and light for all. In other hymns of the Rigveda, Vishnu is a close friend of Indra. Elsewhere in Rigveda and Upanishadic texts, Vishnu is equivalent to Prajapati, both are described as the protector and preparer of the womb, according to Klaus Klostermaier, this may be the root behind post-Vedic fusion of all the attributes of the Vedic Prajapati unto the avatars of Vishnu. In the Yajurveda, Taittiriya Aranyaka, Narayana sukta, Narayana is mentioned as the supreme being; the first verse of Narayana Suktam mentions the words paramam padam, which mean highest post and may be understood as the supreme abode for all souls. This is known as Param Dhama, Paramapadam or Vaikuntha. Rig Veda 1.22.20 mentions the same paramam padam. In the Atharvaveda, the mythology of a boar who raises goddess earth from the depths of cosmic ocean appears, but without the word Vishnu or his alternate avatar names.
In post-Vedic mythology, this legend becomes one of the basis of many cosmogonic myth called the Varaha legend, with Varaha as an avatar of Vishnu. Several hymns of the Rigveda repeat the mighty deed of Vishnu called the Trivikrama, one of the lasting mythologies in Hinduism since the Vedic times, it is an inspiration for ancient artwork in numerous Hindu temples such as at the Ellora Caves, which depict the Trivikrama legend through the Vamana avatar of Vishnu. Trivikrama refers to "three strides" of Vishnu. Starting as a small insignificant looking being, Vishnu undertakes a herculean task of establishing his reach and form with his first step covers the earth, with second the ether, the third entire heaven; the Vishnu Sukta 1.154 of Rigveda says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides are visible to the mortals and the third is the realm of the immortals. The Trivikrama describing hymns integrate salvific themes, stating Vishnu to symbolize that, freedom and life; the Shatapatha Brahmana elaborates this theme of Vishnu, as his herculean effort and sacrifice to create and gain powers that help others, one who realizes and defeats the evil symbolized by the Asuras after they had usurped the three worlds, thus Vishnu is the savior of the mortals and