Vishnuism or Vaishnavism (from the Sanskrit "vaishnava" वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) is one of the largest traditions of Hinduism, which has absorbed a large number of directions and schools that worship Lord Vishnu as the supreme deity, as well as his numerous incarnations, such as Krishna, Rama, Narasimha.

A characteristic feature of Vaishnavism is the teaching of bhakti and the concept of dashavatara. Tamil poets, the Alvars, had a great influence on the bhakti movement as a whole. Vaishnavism has its roots deep in the days of the ancient cult of Vasudeva-Narayana, later shaped by the teachings of the Bhagavats and Pancharatrins. In their spiritual practices, Vaishnavas pay special attention to bhakti-yoga, devotional service to ishtadevata and the Guru, as well as nama-kirtana, i.e. chanting the sacred names of God. According to the traditional classification, there are six Vishnu Puranas: "Vishnu Purana", "Narada Purana", "Bhagavata Purana", "Garuda Purana", "Padma Purana", and "Varaha Purana", the most popular sacred texts are: "Bhagavad Gita", "Mahabharata", and "Ramayana". The most popular holidays for most Vaishnavas are Jamnashtami, Ramnav, Ratha Yatra, Holi, Divali, etc.

Among the authoritative movements in Vaishnavism, 4 sampradayas can be distinguished, each of which has its own philosophical base and ways of worship:

  1. Rudra sampradaya was founded by Shrila Vishnusvami, who was said to have had Shiva's darshan and was blessed to develop his own lineage. The followers of the school worship Krishna in the form of Shrinathaji. The philosophical basis for this direction is vishuddhadvaita (pure non-duality). Vishnu Swami is often identified with the famous Vaishnava philosopher Guru Vallabhacharya.

  2. Brahma sampradaya, a dualistic direction founded by Madhavacharya, subsequently received its continuation in a separate stream of Gaudiya Vaishnavism or Krishnaism, the founder of which is the Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is known that under the influence of Sri Chaitanya in Bengal there was tantric teaching of Vaishnava-sahajiya.

  3. Lakshmi sampradaya or Sri Sampradaya, the followers of this school are also called Ramanuja after its founder, Guru Ramanuja. The basis of the cult is the worship of Rama and his wife Sita. Later, the line of Swami Ramananda or the tradition of the Ramanandins arose separately from it, as well as his famous students who brought "fresh blood" into the teachings of bhakti: Kabir, Tulsidas, Ravidas, Dhanna Bhagat.

  4. Kumara sampradaya or Nimbarka, founded by the Vaishnava Brahmin Sri Nimbarkacharya, the school adheres to the philosophy of dvaita-advaita. The followers of the sampradaya attach great importance to the worship of Krishna's wife, Radha, who is regarded as the primordial divine shakti.

Connection with Nathas tradition

In Nath sampradaya, there are different directions – panthas, so in one of them – Ram-panth, yoga practice is based on the worship of Vishnu in the form of Santoshnath. In the Nathas list of Chaurasi-siddhas, one can find the names of Nath-Vishnuites:

Also well known is Guru Jnaneshwar Nath (brother and disciple of Nivrittinath), who is considered the founder of the Vaishnava Varkari tradition in the state of Maharashtra. He compiled commentaries on "Bhagavad Gita" (Jnaneshwari) in the Marathi language. Jnaneshwar commented on Gita not only from the position of bhakti, but also in the context of yoga. It is impossible not to recall the legendary Nath Gheranda, the author of the classic yoga text "Gheranda Samhita", who was also a Bengali Vaishnava.

Nathas often define Gorakshanath as Narayana or God in the form of a man. So the cult of Nathas Narayans was most developed in the south of India. For example, "Go"-"raksha" is interpreted as the protector of cows and living beings, which is sometimes considered as the identity of Maha Yogi Gorakshanath and Sri Krishna Govinda.