Discuss the components of bhakti for Vaishnavites.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For Vaishnavites, bhakti is defined as submission to Lord Vishnu.  This will be in the form of Narayana or in another form, such as an avatar like Lord Rama or Lord Krishna.  Vaishnavites do accept the presence of other deities in the Hindu faith, but they tend to believe that they are manifestations or creative results of Lord Vishnu.  Vaishnavites, for the most part, define their own form of bhakti as daily worship of Lord Vishnu in different forms.  The Vishnu Purana, Ramayana, Mahabaratha, and Bhagavad- Gita all are examples of sacred texts for the Vaishnavite.  They are read in a strict and constructionist manner in which what the text says is what it means.  This results in strict dietary restrictions as well as stern rules governing individual conduct as well as daily routines.  For the Vaishnavite, the day usually starts in the morning, before sunrise,  with the cleaning of the puja room in the home as well as the lighting the lamps and morning prayers, typically the Suprabhatham, a morning hymn to Lord Vishnu.

In addition to this, regaling in the songs and writings of the Alwars, Hindu Vaishnavite saints that extolled the glory of Lord Vishnu, is a part of Vaishnavite worship.  Pilgrimages are made primarily to Lord Vishnu temples, houses of worship that are dedicated and have been consecrated to some form of Lord Vishnu.  Of particular note would be the 108 Divya Desams.  These are the 108 sacred Hindu temples that the Alwars sang about and wrote about to which Vaishnavites pledge the need to visit before their life on Earth ends.  There are 106 of these temples all over India, and the other two are other worldly, attainable only when one has received moksha and is delivered to them by Lord Vishnu, himself.  Two of the most famous of these temples are located at Sri Rangam in Trichy and Tirupati locasted in Andhra Pradesh.  For Vaishnavites, it is the daily and almost hourly worship of Lord Vishnu in as many forms as possible that defines the essence of bhakthi.


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