This is the second part of the History of Vaishnavam article.
Vedas,though there are various deities invoked in them,speak of one Reality,as expressed in the Four Mahavakyas,Four Great Truths,Sayings.
Tatvam Asi,That Thou Art,
Aham Brahmasmi,I am Brahman,
Soham Asmi,He Is That,
Pragyaanam Brahma,Brahman is Consciousness.
This is the Core of the Vedas.
However many deities are mentioned and mantras to worship them are provided.
This type of worship is called Saguna Aradhana, Worship of Personal God.
This is considered as lower knowledge.
Higher knowledge is that which enables one to realise Brahman.
Worship of Brahman,with the purpose of Realising It,as One Beyond Attributes,is called Nirguna Aradhana.
This is higher knowledge.
However one should not consider Saguna Aradhana as Inferior.
One can find in Vishnu Sahasranama and Lalitha Sahasranama both Saguna Aradhana and Nirguna Aradhana are found.
In Lalitha. Sahasranama,these form separate chapters.
It is one level.
Contemplating on Abstract Principle is difficult for the Human Mind.
It needs a point to contemplate,at the initial stages.
Once one continues Saguna Aradhana,one would automatically proceed to Nirguna Aradhana.
One has to keep these points in mind before attempting to understand divisions in Hinduism.
Various systems in Indian philosophy follow these Mahavakyas and the differ in interpreting them.
It is one Perspective….
So technically speaking, there is no authority of the Vedas to call one Shaiva or Vaishnava.
However Smritis have formulated rules for worship.
But Smriti is not the Final Authority.
One who follows Smriti is a Smartha.
He may worship Shiva or Narayana.
This system of worship continued along with Worship of Brahman as Nirguna.
In Saguna Aradhana, Worship of Individual Gods,many forms are found.
Hinduism is highly personalized.
One can worship any God,in any manner so long the spiritual quest is present.
So we have many modes of worship or systems in worshiping one God.
This is true of Vaishnavam as well.
It has many forms.
They are four in number traditionally.
Sri Sampradaya,Brahma Sampradaya,
In South India.
- The Iyengars, who follow the Sri Vaishnava Vishistadvaita philosophy of Asuri Ramanujacharya. The Iyengars are further divided into the Vadakalai-i.e. the northern school, and Thenkalaior southern school. Both these sects adhere to the Pañcaratra agama, in temples.
These two sects evolved about 200 years after Ramanuja and differ on 18 points of doctrine. The founder of the Vadagalai sect is Swami Vedanta Desika, and the Tengalai sect is Manavala Mamuni. But both schools have a common Guru Parampara prior to the division. The Sri Vaishnavas use both the Sanskrit veda as well as the Tamildivyaprabandham in temple worship.
There are other Forms as well.
Rudra Sampradaya is one of four Vaishnava sampradayas, a tradition of disciple succession in the religion. Vaishnavism is distinguished from other schools of Hinduism by its primary worship of deities Vishnu and/or Krishna and their Avatars as the Supreme forms of God. The ascetic Vishnuswami formed the Rudra-Sampradaya,though the sampradaya is believed to have traced its origins to the Hindu deity Shiva, also known as Rudra, who passed on the knowledge imparted to him by Vishnu (or Krishna), on mankind. According to Vaishnavism, Shiva, who has the Shaivismschool dedicated to his worship as the Supreme God, is the first and foremost Vaishnava, or follower of Vishnu. According to the tradition, Vishnuswami was fifteenth in the line of passing of the knowledge from teacher to student. The date of formation of the sampradaya is disputed. While James Hastings dates Vishnuswami to the early 15th century,and Carl Olson dates him to the 13th century, followers of the sampradaya says that Vishnuswami was born 4500 years earlier. Not much about the historical Vishnuswami is known and all his works are thought to have been lost in time. The Sampradaya originated in Sri Kshetra(Odisha) but currently is mainly present in Gujarat/Rajasthan, through the Vallabha sampradaya. The beliefs of the sampradaya was further propagated by Vallabha Acharya(1479–1531).
Rudra sampradaya has two main divisions: Vishnuswamis, that is, followers of Vishnuswami and the Vallabhas or Pushtimarg sect, founded by Vallabha. According to William Deadwyler, the sampradaya has disappeared, except for the Pushtimarg group.
The philosophy of the sampradaya is Shuddhadvaita, or pure monism.
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