Devī is the Sanskrit word for "goddess". Devi – the feminine form, Deva – the masculine form, mean "heavenly, anything of excellence", are gender specific terms for a deity in Hinduism; the concept and reverence for goddesses appears in the Vedas, which were composed in the 2nd millennium BCE. Goddesses such as Parvati and Durga have continued to be revered into the modern era; the medieval era Puranas witnessed a major expansion in mythology and literature associated with Devi, with texts such as the Devi Mahatmya, wherein she manifests as the ultimate truth and supreme power. She has inspired the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism; the divine feminine has the strongest presence as Devi in Hinduism, among major world religions, from the ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as central in Saiva Hindu traditions. Devi and Deva are Sanskrit terms found in Vedic literature of the 2nd millennium BCE. Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones".
Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Greek thea. When capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism. Deva is referred to as Devatā, Devi as Devika. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological root Dev- means "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus; the Devīsūkta of the Rigveda 10.125.1 through 10.125.8, is among the most studied hymns declaring that the ultimate reality is a goddess: The Vedas includes numerous goddesses including Parvati, Prithvi, Saraswati, Vāc, Nirṛti, Ratri and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Puramdhi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the Rigveda. However, the goddesses are not discussed as as gods. Parvati, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were developed in the Vedic era. All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts in the early medieval era literature, they are seen as aspects or manifestations of one Devi, the Supreme power.
Devi is the supreme being in the Shakta tradition of Hinduism, while in the Smarta Tradition, she is one of the five primary forms of Brahman, revered. In other Hindu traditions, Devi embodies the active energy and power of Deva, they always appear together complementing each other, such as Parvati with Shiva in Shaivism, Saraswati with Brahma in Brahmanism, Lakshmi with Vishnu in Vaishnavism; the Devi-inspired philosophy is propounded in many Hindu texts, such as the Devi Upanishad, which states that Shakti is Brahman, from her arise Prakṛti and Purusha, she is bliss and non-bliss, the Vedas and what is different from it, the born and the unborn, all of the universe. Shakthi is Shiva's wife, she is mentioned as the creative power of Shiva in Tripura Upanishad, Bahvricha Upanishad, Guhyakali Upanishad. Devi identifies herself in the Devi Upanishad as brahman in her reply to the gods stating that she rules the world, blesses devotees with riches, she is the supreme deity to whom all worship is to be offered, that she infuses Ātman in every soul.
Devi asserts that she resides there. Her creation of sky as father, seas as mother is reflected as the "Inner Supreme Self", her creations are not prompted by any Higher being and she resides in all her creations. She is, states Devi, the eternal and infinite consciousness engulfing earth and heaven, "all forms of bliss and non-bliss and ignorance, Brahman and Non-Brahman"; the tantric aspect in Devi Upanishad, states June McDaniel is the usage of the terms yantra, bija, mantra and chakra. Among the major world religions, the concept of goddess in Hinduism as the divine feminine, has had the strongest presence since the ancient times. Parvati is the Hindu goddess of love, purity and devotion, she is considered to be one of the greatest forms of Adi Parashakti. She is the nurturing aspect of Adi Parashakti, she has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu mythologies of India, including the popular name Gauri.
Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Parvati is the wife of Shiva - the destroyer and regenerator of universe and all life, she is the mother of Hindu gods Kartikeya. Rita Gross states, that the view of Parvati only as ideal wife and mother is incomplete symbolism of the power of the feminine in mythology of India. Parvati, along with other goddesses, are involved with the broad range of culturally valued goals and activities, her connection with motherhood and female sexuality does not confine the feminine or exhaust their significance and activities in Hindu literature. She is balanced by Durga, strong and capable without compromising her femaleness, she manifests in every activity, from water to mountains, from arts to inspiring warriors, from agriculture to dance. Parvati's numerous aspects, states Gross, reflects the Hindu belief that the feminine has universal range of activities, her gender is not a limiting condition. In Hindu belief, Parvati is th
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
Brahma is a creator god in Hinduism. He is known as Svayambhu or the creative aspect of Vishnu, Vāgīśa, the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths. Brahma is consort of Saraswati and he is the father of Four Kumaras, Daksha and many more. Brahma is sometimes identified with the Vedic god Prajapati, he is known as Vedanatha, Chaturmukha Svayambhu, etc, as well as linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha, he is more prominently mentioned in the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha. Although, Brahma is part of the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trimurti, ancient Hindu scriptures mention multiple other trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma. Several Puranas describe him as emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu mythology. Brahma, along with other deities, is sometimes viewed as a form of the otherwise formless Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism.
In an alternate version, some Puranas state him to be the father of Prajapatis. According to some, Brahma does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti and Shiva. Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet worshiped as a primary deity in India. Few temples dedicated to him exist in India. Brahma temples are found outside India, such as at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok; the origins of Brahma are uncertain, in part because several related words such as one for Ultimate Reality, priest are found in the Vedic literature. The existence of a distinct deity named. A distinction between spiritual concept of Brahman, deity Brahma, is that the former is a genderless abstract metaphysical concept in Hinduism, while the latter is one of the many masculine gods in Hindu tradition; the spiritual concept of Brahman is far older, some scholars suggest deity Brahma may have emerged as a personal conception and visible icon of the impersonal universal principle called Brahman.
In Sanskrit grammar, the noun stem. Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is Brahma; this singular form is used as the proper name of Brahma. One of the earliest mentions of Brahma with Vishnu and Shiva is in the fifth Prapathaka of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad composed in late 1st millennium BCE. Brahma is first discussed in verse 5,1 called the Kutsayana Hymn, expounded in verse 5,2. In the pantheistic Kutsayana Hymn, the Upanishad asserts that one's Soul is Brahman, this Ultimate Reality, Cosmic Universal or God is within each living being, it equates the Atman within to be Brahma and various alternate manifestations of Brahman, as follows, "Thou art Brahma, thou art Vishnu, thou art Rudra, thou art Agni, Vayu, thou art All."In the verse, Brahma and Shiva are mapped into the theory of Guṇa, qualities and innate tendencies the text describes can be found in all living beings. This chapter of the Maitri Upanishad asserts that the universe emerged from darkness, first as passion characterized by action qua action, which refined and differentiated into purity and goodness.
Of these three qualities, Rajas is mapped to Brahma, as follows: While the Maitri Upanishad maps Brahma with one of the elements of Guṇa theory of Hinduism, the text does not depict him as one of the trifunctional elements of the Hindu Trimurti idea found in Puranic literature. The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism offer multiple theories of cosmogony; these include Sarga and Visarga, ideas related to the Indian thought that there are two levels of reality, one primary, unchanging and other secondary, always changing, that all observed reality of the latter is in an endless repeating cycle of existence, that cosmos and life we experience is continually created, dissolved and re-created. The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with Brahman or Purusha or Devi among the terms used for the primary creator, while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators, in some cases a different god or goddess is the secondary creator at the start of each cosmic cycle.
Brahma is a "secondary creator" as described in the Mahabharata and Puranas, among the most studied and described. Born from a lotus emerging from the navel of Vishnu after emerging on order of Shiva, Brahma creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself. In contrast, the Shiva-focussed Puranas describe Brahma and Vishnu to have been created by Ardhanarishvara, half Shiva and half Parvati, thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma's creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god. In the Bhagavata Purana, Brahma is portrayed several times as the one who rises from the "Ocean of Causes
Sita or Seeta, is the consort of Lord Rama and an avatar of Sri Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess that denotes good character, good fortune, prosperity and happiness. She is esteemed as the paragon of feminine virtues for all women. Sita is one of the central figures in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, she is described as the daughter of the earth goddess, Bhūmi and the adopted daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife, Queen Sunaina. She has a younger sister and the female cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti. Sita is known for her dedication, self-sacrifice and purity. Sita, in her youth, marries the prince of Ayodhya. After marriage, she goes to exile with brother-in-law Lakshmana. While in exile, the trio settle in the Dandaka forest from where she is abducted by Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka, she is imprisoned in Ashoka Vatika in Lanka. After the war, Rama asks Sita to undergo Agni Pariksha by which she proves her purity before she is accepted by Rama, which for the first time makes his brother Lakshmana get angry at him.
In some versions of the epic, the fire-god Agni creates Maya Sita, who takes Sita's place and is abducted by Ravana and suffers his captivity, while the real Sita hides in the fire. During the Agni Pariksha, Maya Sita and the real Sita exchange places again. While some texts say that Maya Sita is destroyed in the flames of Agni Pariksha, others narrate how she is blessed and reborn as the epic heroine Draupadi or the goddess Padmavati; some scriptures mention her previous birth being Vedavati, a woman Ravana tries to molest. After proving her purity and Sita return to Ayodhya, where they are crowned as king and queen. After few months, Sita becomes pregnant. Rama sends Sita away on exile. Lakshmana is the one who leaves Sita in the forests near sage Valmiki's ashrama after Rama banishes her from the kingdom. Years Sita returns to the womb of her mother, the Earth, for release from a cruel world as a testimony of her purity after she reunites her two sons Kusha and Lava with their father Rama; the goddess is derived from the Sanskrit word sīta, furrow.
According to Ramayana, Janaka adopted her. The word Sīta was a poetic term, its imagery redolent of fecundity and the many blessings coming from settled agriculture; the Sita of the Ramayana may have been named after a more ancient Vedic goddess Sita, mentioned once in the Rigveda as an earth goddess who blesses the land with good crops. In the Vedic period, she was one of the goddesses associated with fertility. A Vedic hymn recites: In Harivamsa, Sita is invoked as one of the names of the goddess Arya: The Kausik-sutra and the Paraskara-sutra associate her as the wife of Parjanya and Indra. Sita is known by many epithets, she is called Jānaki as the daughter of Maithili as the princess of Mithila. As the wife of Rama, she is called Ramā, her father Janaka had earned the sobriquet Videha due to his ability to transcend body consciousness. Devi Sita while playing with her sisters in childhood had unknowingly lifted the table over which the bow had been placed; this incident was however observed by Janaka and he decided to make it a backdrop for Swayamvara because he wanted a son-in-law, as strong as his daughter.
The birthplace of Sita is disputed. The Sita Kund pilgrimage site, located in present-day Sitamarhi district,Bihar, India is viewed as the birthplace of Sita. Apart from Sitamarhi, Janakpur, located in the present-day Province No. 2, Nepal, is described as Sita's birthplace. Valmiki's Ramayana: In Valmiki's Ramayana and Kamban's Tamil epic Ramavataram, Sita is said to have been discovered in a furrow in a ploughed field, believed to be Sitamarhi in Mithila region of present-day Bihar, for that reason is regarded as a daughter of Bhūmi Devi, she was discovered and brought up by Janaka, king of Mithila and his wife Sunaina. Ramayana Manjari: In Ramayana Manjari, North-western and Bengal recensions of Valmiki Ramayana, it has been described as on hearing a voice from the sky and seeing Menaka, Janaka expresses his wish to obtain a child and when he finds the child, he hears the same voice again telling him the infant is his spiritual child, born of Menaka. Janka's real daughter: In Ramopkhyana of the Mahabharata and in Paumachariya of Vimala Suri, Sita has been depicted as Janaka's real daughter.
According to Rev. Fr. Camille Bulcke, this motif that Sita was the real daughter of Janaka, as described in Ramopkhyana Mahabharata was based on the authentic version of Valmiki Ramayana; the story of Sita miraculously appearing in a furrow was inserted in Valmiki Ramayana. Reincarnation of Vedavati: Some versions of the Ramayana suggest that Sita was a reincarnation of Vedavati. Ravana tried to molest Vedavati and her chastity was sullied beyond Ravana's redemption when she was performing penance to become consort of Vishnu. Vedavati immolated herself on a pyre to escape Ravana's lust, vowing to return in another age and be the cause of Ravana's destruction, she was duly reborn as Sita. Reincarnation of Manivati: According to Gunabhadra's Uttara Purana of the ninth century BCE, Ravana disturbs the asceticism of Manivati, daughter of Amitavega of Alkapuri and she pledges to take revenge on Ravana. Manivati is reborn as the daughter of Ravana and Mandodari. But, astrolo
Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder; this "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Smṛti; these texts discuss theology, mythology, Vedic yajna, agamic rituals, temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Āgamas.
Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma, Artha and Moksha. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, occasional pilgrimages; some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions engage in lifelong Sannyasa to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others; the four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. Hinduism is the most professed faith in India and Mauritius, it is the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.
Significant numbers of Hindu communities are found in the Caribbean, North America, other countries. The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit root Sindhu; the Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus", more in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I; the term Hindu in these ancient records did not refer to a religion. Among the earliest known records of'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by Xuanzang, 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by'Abd al-Malik Isami. Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn is found in a Sasanian inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.
The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people. This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus"; the term Hindu was used in some Sanskrit texts such as the Rajataranginis of Kashmir and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas or Mlecchas, with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma", it was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious and cultural traditions native to India. Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book.
Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, "a way of life". From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, broader than the Western term religion; the study of India and its cultures and religions, the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by th
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