T he religious path known as Vaishnavism can be described as devotion to Krishna, Råma, Vishnu, or any of his divine incarnations. It is seen by its adherents as a type of monotheism in which worship of a
personal God is the focus. In sheer numbers, it prevails as the leading religious system over Shaivism, Shaktism, and the many other paths commonly associated with Hindu dharma.
There are ancient scriptural texts that form the basis of this religion: the Vedas, the Purånas, the Mahåbhårata (including the Bhagavad-gîtå), the Råmåyana, and the writings of the great åcåryas. Some of these texts date back to at least the second century B.C., with an oral tradition that goes back to antiquity. Vaishnavism is known as sanåtana dharma, or “the eternal function of the soul,” and adherents also refer to it as bhakti-yoga, or “the devotional path through which one can link with the Supreme.”