Vaishnavism: Brief Insight Into One Of The Main Branches Of Hinduism

2322 words - 10 pages

Vaishnavism is one of the major branches of Hinduism. The followers of Vaishnavism worship Vishnu and his incarnations or Avatars and are known as Vaishnavites, Rama and Krishna being the most popular amongst the incarnations. It is monotheism in which worship of a personal god is the focus. Vaishnavites believe that Vishnu is the Supreme god and he is the one who simultaneously permeates all creation and exists beyond it. Vishnu’s consort is believed to be Lakshmi, the auspicious one.

The Vaikuntha form of Vishnu first originated from Pancaratrins in the 9th century. It was installed in a new temple at Avantipura. The Vaikuntha form of Vishnu consists of a crowned human face alongside Varaha and Narasimha. A face is seen at the back of this image which is generally known as Kapilamuni. The faces of Varaha and Narasimha are depicted outward and not inwards to create a clear angular dimension. Surprisingly, Varaha is depicted as ferocious as Narasimha in the icons found at Avantipura. Towards this stage of Vaikuntha iconography there are three stages.They are Bija Mantra, 18 syllabled Murti Mantra and Dhyana Mantra.The Vaikuntha cult spread from the Ganga-Jamuna plain to present Bangladesh. The Vaikuntha form of Vishnu is a complex form of Vishnu and is also known as Vaikuntha Chaturmurthi. In the “Vishnudharmottara Purana” the Vaikuntha Chaturmurthi is depicted four-faced and eight-armed with Varaha on the left and Narasimha on the right. The Kapilamuni is a halo demonic, grimacing face with fangs and a third vertical eye on the forehead. Towards his left is a small attendant known as Chakrapurusha, symbolizing the personification of the war discus, and towards his right is the originally balanced Gadadevi, symbolizing the female personification of Vishnu’s battle mace. Between his legs stands the upper half of Prithvi, the earth goddess. This Vaikuntha form of Vishnu portrays him as the progenitor of the universe. The Vaikuntha form of Vishnu was the most important cult icon in Kashmir from the 8th century to the 10th century. Vaikuntha Chaturmurthi is generally depicted standing. He is shown wearing rich clothes and many ornaments like necklaces, chains, crowns etc., symbolizing royalty. He is also shown wearing the Yagnopavita, the sacred thread. He is depicted carrying a mace, sword, arrow and the Sudharsan Chakra in his left hand and Shankha(conch), shield, bow and a lotus in his right hands. However, he is depicted four-armed in sculptures. He may also be depicted as riding his vahana or vehicle which is Garuda. In the iconography of Kashmir, during the 8th and 9th century, the Hindu trinity gods(Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are depicted with three heads. The Lakshmana temple of Khajuraho is dedicated to Vaikuntha Chaturmurthi. Although it is three-faced, an inscription in the temple suggests that it should be considered four-faced. The legend that revolves around here is that Kapila and other demons conjoined together and were blessed by...

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