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(sometimes Vaishnavism), one of the religious doctrines of Hinduism uniting a number of Vishnuite sects. Although they differ from each other in certain religious dogmas and rituals, all the sects recognize the god Vishnu as the supreme divinity and worship him mainly in the form of two avatars (incarnations)—Rama and Krishna. Vishnu and his avatars are benevolent divinities connected with popular sun cults of fertility. Vishnuism is widespread mainly in northern India. As early as the middle of the first millennium B.C. a monotheistic tendency appeared in Vishnuism, and the doctrine of bhakti was created—a doctrine of personal love and devotion to god denying the necessity of ritual. Since the llth century A.D. sectarian tendencies have been arising in Vishnuism. Several of these sects have protested against class-caste inequality and were closely connected with the bhakti doctrine. The south Indian philosopher and religious reformer Ramanuja (died 1137) preached the bhakti doctrine and founded the Sri Vaishnavas sect, which has remained the major Vishnuite sect until the present time.
REFERENCESBarth, A. Religii Indii. Moscow, 1897. (Translated from French.)
Radhakrishnan, S.Indiiskaiafilosofiia, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1956-57. (Translated from English.)
Bhăndārkar, R. G. Vaisnavism, saivism, and minor religious systems. Strasbourg, 1913.
A. M. OSIPOV