For these vedas contain different poems, mantras and

For centuries people have struggled to understand the faith and spirituality that is Hinduism. A religion with substantially diverse beliefs, practises and ways to worship and perform different rituals to honor the multiple gods and their faith. The beliefs and rituals performed are practises based on the religious texts and vedas that were composed around 1500 – 1000 BCE. The religious texts, also known as vedas are divided into four different parts. These vedas are written in sanskrit which is the most common language in hinduism to perform rituals and prayers in, these vedas contain different poems, mantras and other spiritual knowledge that consider all aspects of life. Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Shaivism and Smartism are the four major prominent sub-religions that are being practised within Hinduism as each of these comprises different relationships between the individual and god. Vaishnavism is a sub-religion within hinduism where the god vishnu or one of his incarnations is considered to be the supreme god. Out of the 10 descendents of Vishnu, Krishna or Rama are his most usual incarnations.The various sects of worshippers of Vishnu pray to him in different ways. For some, the goal of religious devotion (bhakti) to Vishnu is liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (samsara). For others, it is health and prosperity in life, good crops, success in business, or thriving children. (britannica) Most Vaishnavas hope to spend eternity in Vishnu’s presence after their death. Vaishnavism has influenced society through dance, music, theater and art where Vishnu is depicted together with his spouse Sita. These sacred texts and scriptures are Krishna’s teachings in the ancient text Bhagavad-gita which is a part of the ancient indian epic Mahabharata. Vaishnavas have a similar outlook on societal life as others who follow Hinduism, they consider marriage and family as important social institutions. Although the prevalence of extended families living together has declined in recent decades, however, the practice remains common. This means that as the parents of the children has cared for them all their life and provided them with necessities, education and love, the children are expected to return the favour and care for their parents as they grow older. It is very common that the parents stay with the eldest son in the family even if he has built a new family of his own. Procreation is held to be an important reason for marriage, and sexual relations outside of marriage are not condoned and getting a divorce is shunned, however, in modern society, both of these are starting to get more acceptable but according to tradition, one should respect and follow these regulations. According to Hinduism, the female was created by Brahman as part of the duality in creation, to provide company to men and facilitate procreation, progeny and continuation of family lineage. Hinduism and Vaishnavism are similar to other large religions in the sense that they are both male dominated religions and the women play a secondary role (V). The Vedas suggest that the women are primarily supposed to support their husbands and continue his family tradition as well as giving birth to his children and then proceed to take care of the family and the household. At certain ages in the past, some women acted as teachers and enjoyed freedom and held high administrative posts and participated in public discussions and debates, however, this was for the most part common for women of higher caste or wealthy families. Overall, the men received greater responsibilities and duties and regardless of caste and place on the social ladder, a woman’s primary duty was to help fulfill and perform the duties their husbands had been assigned. The respect these women had earned was dependent on the man, as they were either daughter’s, wives or mothers and if the husbands passed away, they would lose their social status and status within the family and suffer from many disabilities such as lack of respect from society and independence. (V) However, the religion does have many female superiors and many female deities that they worship, for example, Lakshmi and Parvati. In terms of the husband’s role in the household, his primary duty is to not only take care of the household in the economic region, but he is also expected to protect his wife in a caring way and harassing or neglecting her is prohibited, in the same way as he must care for his elderly mother or daughter. This is why marriage and family is highly respected and valued within Hinduism-Vaishnavism till this day, as the pledge of marriage confirms this behaviour and therefore these rules must be followed. Vaishnava traditions celebrate the importance of community. Devotees frequently sing or compose poems that express their longing to live with other devotees. Such a life with other devotees is considered to be the “real” society (satsang)—that is, the ideal society in which one should aspire to live. There is much respect and reverence given to devotees of Vishnu and frequently, more respect is given to such devotion than to age, caste, or gender. For centuries Vaishnava beliefs have been passed on through the performing arts rather than through books or ceremonies. Whether it is a simple bhajan (devotional song) or a complex dance performance, the power of the narratives is expressed through emotion. The glory of the various incarnations of Vishnu, as well as the soul’s longing for union with the divine, is frequently portrayed in classical dances. In such performances, the dancer takes on the role of a young woman aching for her lover in an allegory for the soul’s longing for union with God. Folk songs and dances reenact events from the previous life of Krishna. The various hand gestures adopted by dancers are also seen in these performances. Vishnu icons are abundant in South and Southeast Asia, with some seen in southern India and in Cambodia as well. Vishnu can be portrayed as standing, sitting, reclining, or striding and there are hundreds of ways in which Rama, Krishna or the other manifestations are portrayed as well. Taking part of these dances is rather common in not only India, but in other countries where people follow the traditions of Vaishnavism. Families tend to bring their extended families together where, usually, the younger kids or teenagers then put on a small performance to show their appreciation and respect for their culture. Not only are the performances shown at home, but in schools and open grounds, academies and local village groups perform scenes from Krishna’s life or create a choreography accordingly to the sacred songs playing, in which people can then come and watch and take part in the event as well. Culture and tradition then becomes a big part of the individual’s life which in itself provides the people with pride and respect for their culture which reflects upon their outlook on life and themselves and the people around them as family values are well respected in comparison to the western world where once you have built your own family, one tends to become more distant towards one’s extended family whereas in indian culture, the families become closer. Vaishnava musical composers are particularly well known and admired all throughout India. The compositions of the late 15th-century composers Annamacharya (1408–1503) and Purandara Dasa (1484–1564) are still sung by supporters of Carnatic music in southern India. Perhaps the best-known Vaishnava musician is Tyagaraja (1767–1847), whose compositions to Rama are honored every year in India with the annual Tyagaraja festival where people gather to pay their respects as music and playing traditional instruments such as tabla or sitar is till this day a very big part of the traditional Hindu culture. Vaishnava themes, especially stories relating to the life of Krishna, have been the focus of miniature painting for the last four centuries in northern India. Some events depicted in the paintings are seen as expressive of particular modes of music transformed from the aural to the visual. This is because of the liveliness that is the Bhagavad-Gita and the Mahabharata, visuality is rather essential to perceive a better understanding of the countries history. While there is no persecution or oppression against Vaishnavas today, there have been occasional historical cases of struggle between Vaishnavas, Shaivites, and Jains in southern India. In general, a sense of religious pluralism among Hindus has prevailed in most communities in India and elsewhere. In addition to this, most Vaishnavas see their tradition as nonsectarian and universal, meaning that they view all religions as just alternate forms or subbranches of their own Vaishnava heritage. One may be born into a Vaishnava family or become a Vaishnava by choice. Most frequently, the person who becomes a Vaishnava does so by simply accepting Vishnu as the supreme being and perhaps by following some of the dietary and ritual practices. However, those who seek a formal ritual to become a Vaishnava, may get initiated into a particular Vaishnava tradition by one of the many spiritual teachers. The initiation ceremony may involve the accepting of a mantra, a name that articulates the devotee’s new status and perhaps the marking of the upper arms with the signs of Vishnu, the conch, and the discus. If one were to compare Hinduism-Vaishnavism with Islam one can find some similarities and differences between the two religions. Vaishnavism accepts the fact that there are more than one god although they consider Vishnu to be the supreme god, however, Islam, denies all denominations and believes that there is only one supreme god and that is Allah, along with the prophet Muhammad. As Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, one is allowed to worship or believe in god in whichever shape or form that one wants in comparison to Islam which is a monotheistic religion, thus, contradicting the concept of Vaishnavism which accepts the idea of the existence of multiple gods and religious beliefs. Islam share traits with the abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Christianity as they all believe god revealed himself to the prophet Abraham. However, Hinduism-Vaishnavism share traits and are on common terms with the dharmic religions, I.e, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism as they all believe in the Bhagavad-gita and Mahabharata in contradiction to Islam where the people are encouraged to follow the Quran. One of the main differences is that those following any of the dharmic religions does not have a scripture that includes any form of rules that they need to follow, the religions and the sub-religions are only encouraged to learn and respect the historical past of their gods in terms of the holy scriptures, in addition to this, the ancient scriptures include guidelines on how to live a happy and prosperous life. The Quran is essentially divided into five parts, the five pillars, which are basic rules that a muslim should follow. Furthermore, the Quran contains directions and descriptions of how the relationship between man and God should be like. One can argue that this is a similarity between the vedas and the Quran as both of these texts include descriptions of their superiors, Muhammad being the one for Islam and the multiple gods, specifically Vishnu, for the Vaishnavas and Hindus. Another similarity is that both of these religions are in certain aspects rather male dominated, the women are traditionally dependent on their husbands and their primary duty is to be a supporting pillar for them and to work within the household and take care of the family. However, in modern society, India and those following Hinduism or Vaishnavism have immensely developed as a country when it comes to women’s power in society and those following this religion outside of the country also encourage women to work and be a member of the society outside of just household duties. However, some countries in the middle east where Islam is a prominent religion, the same developments has not yet been made to the same extent. In conclusion, one can see that Hinduism is an umbrella term for the many sub-religion that falls under its category even though in simple terms these sub-religions all base off of the same religious faith and beliefs. Vaishnavism is one of the four major sub-religions within Hinduism where Vishnu is considered to be the supreme god. For some devotees of Vaishnavism, their goal is to be freed from the cycle of birth and death while for others their goal is to live a healthy and prosperous life. The religion is based on the ancient sacred scriptures in which one can see poetry, hymns and Krishna’s teachings in the Bhagavad-Gita from the ancient epic the Mahabharata. The tradition of preserving family values has always been a prominent factor in indian society and within Hinduism and Vaishnavism is no exception, marriage and keeping the family together is a big part of the culture. Male dominance is also rather prevalent within the religion, meaning, the women’s primary duty is to help her husband in every way that she can and to also carry on his bloodline and have his children and take care of the household. Although the women is the main caretaker in the house, the man is responsible for taking care of his wife and family and to stay loyal to them. Dance, art and music plays a big role in Hindu-Vaishnava society as hymns and singing traditional songs is a way to show respect to their superiors and these hymns are also being sung at home and in temples. Music is also a way to bring the people around you together which is why playing traditional instruments is very popular till this day. People also create shows where they depict and show events from Krishna’s life to show appreciation and solidarity for their culture. One can compare Vaishnavism to a rather different religion such as Islam and still find some similarities and differences between the two cultures. For example, the presence of male dominance in society being one of the similarities and Vaishnavism being more liberal when it comes to who and what one should believe in as it is a polytheistic religion, as one of the differences.  

Written by