or the Vedic literature which prescribed the
Satvatas thus made an attempt to introduce a religious reform on more
conservative principles than Buddhism and Jainism did. The repudiation of
the slaughter of animals, and the inefficacy of sacrificial worship and
austerities are common to this religious reform with Buddhism. But that the
supreme Lord Hari is to be worshipped with devotion, and that the words of
the Aranyakas are not to be rejected are doctrines which are peculiar to it.
Vasudeva Krishna and His Teachings
Religious reform received a impetus from Vasudeva Krishna, son of Devaki,
of the Vrishni clan, which was probably another name of the Satvatas. He
gave a definite shape to the reformed doctrine by promulgating its
philosophical teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. This led to the regular growth
of an independent sect, and before long Vasudeva was looked upon as the
supreme deity.
    A passage in the Chhandogya Upanishad refers to sage Krishna, son of
Devaki, as a disciple of Rishi Ghora Angirasa, and gives us some insight into
the doctrines taught by the latter. He preaches such moral virtues as dana
(charity), arjava (piety), ahimsa (non-injury), and satya-vachana
(truthfulness), lays stress on tapas (meditation), and deprecates yajna
(sacrifice). As all these are also emphasised by Krishna in the Gila, he has
been identified with the disciple of Ghora, and the beginnings of
Bhagavatism have been traced to the teachings of the latter.
    In its ultimate form, as developed in the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatism
stood out prominently for two things. First, it counteracted tendencies to look
upon ascetic life as a sine qua non of religious elevation by emphasising the
supreme importance of doing one’s worldly duties according to one’s status
in society. Secondly, it sought to turn men’s minds away from dry moral
discourses which were unassociated with a theistic faith. Theistic ideas were,
no doubt, scattered in the Upanishads, but it was the Bhagavad Gita which
worked it up into a system of redemption, capable of being easily grasped.
    Thus, Vasudeva Krishna laid emphasis on a combined pursuit of bhakti,
karma andjnana margas to achieve moksha. The important characteristics of
early Bhagavatism were, therefore, devotion, action, knowledge and self-
sacrifice (tyaga).