Who can be called a Vaishnava?

Hare Krishna Devotees

What is the definition of a Vaishnav?

What are the criteria's to become a Vaishnava?

Only initiated devotees are called Vaishnava?

All who accept supremacy of Lord Krishna/Vishnu can be called Vaishnava?

My mother believes and accept the supremacy of Lord Vishnu , she accepts that only Lord vishnu can provide liberation,but she says that only if I am allowed to worship Lord Shiva by my guru then only she will become an initiated  Vaishnava. She follows pretty much all the rules and regulations of Vaishnava including fasting on ekadashi.

On the other hand few people like me( I am not initiated) would follow most of the rules and regulations a vaishnava follows including chanting . But I don't do ekadashi( for health reasons) though I believe in it.

I still haven't got that full faith and love for spiritual master, though I believe in most of it.

But I love Lord Krishna and try to make him happy the best I can.

I eat onion/garlic when I am eating outside and I feel I might not be able to stop that forever in my life since I go out with family for lunch/dinner. So does that stop me from being called a vaishnava?.

In one of the sunday lecture , the prabhuji told that we have to spent at least 4 hours in remembering/worshipping/chanting/reading BG for  Lord Krishna. Does that make a person Vaishnava?

Well! In haste without thinking much I raised my hand :)

Anyway so ultimately the question is when can a person be called a Vaishnava?

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  • Hare Krishna Sudipta prabhuji. Dandavat Pranam

    Just trying to summarize your reply.

    "One who is initiated into the Vaishnava mantra and who is devoted to worshipping Lord Vishnu/Krishna is a Vaishnava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava. (quote from Hari-bhakti-vilas,11, quoted from Padma Purana)

    As per your reply(quotes from Chaitanya Charitramrta) , it seems to me that only devotees who are initiated into the mantra can be called vaishnava at first place i.e the least or the minimum criteria to be called a vaishnava. Then its up-to the so called vaishnava to follow the rules and  regulations and decide whether he/she is really a vaishnava based on his/her present karma and devotion unto Lord Vishu (after initiation).

    So what about those people who are dedicated to worshiping/chanting Vishnu/Krishna (are in KC to some extent) but never been initiated. Technically as per the scriptures, these kind of people can never be called "Vaishnava".

    Is my understanding correct? incorrect?

    It doesn't matter to me whether someone calls me a "vaishnava" or a "non  vaishnava" but I have to give an answer to somebody else, can you please clarify if "Initiation into mantra by some guru is a must and the minimum requirement to be called a Vaishnava"

    Thank you

    Hare Krishna

    • Volunteer

      Hare Krishna Mataji. Dandavat Pranam. All glories to Srila Prabhupada

      Technically yes as per scriptures who are not initiated can't be designated as Vaishnava but Logically NO. Logically whoever is inclined to worship Krishna/Vishnu with love and devotion can be called a Vaishnava. Because it is not something like designation in material world (like software engg,doctor,manager whatever). So the thing is whoever is aspiring from heart to dedicate his whole life to serve Vishnu and his devotees eternally can be called a Vaishnava (may he be intitiated or not doesn't matter). Because sometimes it happens that after initiation also people fall down from the goal and purpose, so we can't claim them vaishnava that moment, but a person who is not initiated but still rigoriously practise all the rules and regulation of Shastras and his aspiring Guru is a Vaishnava.

      So in short whoever is wholeheartedly serving Krishna and his devotees is Vaishnava. Initiation is the Official conduct only to follow the rules more sincerely and strictly without any deviation. So to take initiation we have to make ourself eligible first and also we have to have the determination that we can continue the same endeavour after initiation also.

      Hope this will help

      Your aspiring Servant

      Hari Bol

      • Hare Krishna Sudipta prabhuji

        Thank you for your kind reply. That helps and makes sense to me.

        Jai shree gokulesh.

        • vaishnava is a very elevated devotee,According to Saraswati takura ,a vaishnava is a worshiper of lord vishnu or krishna.....Karsna means a worshiper of krishna,and a gaudiya means a worshiper of radharani !......

          In the Padma Purana, it is said:

          aradhananam sarvesam
          visnor aradhanam param
          tasmat parataram devi
          tadiyanam samarcanam

          Once, Parvati-devi asked Lord Siva, "Of all kinds of worship, whose worship is best?" Then, Lord Siva told her plainly, "The worship and devotional service of Lord Narayana, Visnu, is the highest." Then Parvati became a little mortified and disappointed, thinking, "But I am serving Siva, so I hold a lower position." Then the next line came, tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarcanam. "But higher than the worship of Narayana is worship of the devotees of Lord Narayana. That is even greater than devotion to the Lord Himself." Then, Parvati smiled, thinking, "Then I am serving the devotee of the Lord. Siva is a devotee: vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh. So, I am doing the best thing."...


          • Volunteer

            Hare Krishna Prabhuji. Dandavat Pranam. All Glories To Srila Prabhupada

            Yes very true, If Srimati Radharani accepts us then only we can reach to Goloka.

            Your aspiring servant

            Hari Bol

  • Sevak

    Hare Krishna. PAMHO. AGTSP.

    There are 4 stages of a Vaisanava:

    1. Vaishnava-praya: Kanishtha-vaishnava who chants in namabhasa without much faith in the
    Name and sadhu-sanga.
    2. Vaishnava: Between kanishtha and madhyama-vaishnava, who regularly chants the Name
    without offenses.
    3. Madhyama: Intermediate stage when one constantly chants the Names without offense.
    4. Uttama: Perfected stage when one chants the pure Name in love of God and simply by whose
    presence others start chanting the pure Name. This is very rare according to Thakura Bhaktivinoda.

  • Mata jee,

    Hari Bol!

    I do not know much. But my image of a Vaishnava is tolerant and kind, not abusive ever. What I have seen on forums is that it is contrary and chanting gives enough right to mock at others and showing ego.

    Your servant,


  • Volunteer

     Hare Krishna Mataji. Dandavat Pranam. All glories to Krishna

    Very nice question, it is a question to be ask to one's own self also to check whether we really worth to be called a Vaishnava. Let us see what Scriptures says regrading this. (quotes are from Chaitanya Charitramrta, Padma Puran)

    Who is a Vaishnava?

    grhitaivisnudiksako visnu-pujaparo narah
    vaisnavo 'bhihito 'bhijnairitaro 'smadavaisnavah

    "One who is initiated into the Vaishnava mantra and who is devoted to worshipping Lord Vishnu/Krishna is a Vaishnava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava. (quote from Hari-bhakti-vilas,11, quoted from Padma Purana)

    Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains three stages of Vaishnavas:

    An Ordinary Vaishnava (kanistha Adhikary):

    prabhu-kare, 'yanra mukhe suni eka-bara
    krsna-nama, sei pujya, srestha sabakara

    "Who chants the holy name of Krishna just once may be considered a Vaishnava. Such a person is worshipable and is the topmost human being." (CC. Mad.15.106)

    A Superior Vaishnava (Madhyma Adhikari),

    krsna-nama nirantara yanhara vadane
    se vaisnava-srestha, bhaja tanhara carane

    "A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Krishna is a superior Vaishnava and your duty is to serve his lotus feet." (CC. Mad.16.72)

    The Topmost Vaishnava (Uttama Adhikari),

    yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama
    tanhare janiha tumi vaisnava-pradhana

    "The topmost Vaishnava is he/she whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krishna. Such a Vaishnava is superior to all others!" (CC. Mad.16.74)

    The heart of a Vaishnava is by nature softened due to the touch of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. By nature a Vaishnava is Paraduhki-duhki, that is, he feels pain when he sees the suffering of others.

    mahad-vicalanam nrnam grhinam dina-cetasam
    nihsre yasaya bhagavan kalpate nanyatha kvacit

    "O Narada, great persons like you visit the homes of family men, not to profit from them but simply to bestow eternal auspiciousness upon them, even though they are often reluctant to hear anything for their spiritual benefit, being too materialistic. Otherwise you have no need to travel from one place to the next." (Bhag.10.8.4)

    your aspiring servant

    Hari Bol

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