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1 A term widely applied to Vaiṣṇavas (i.e. devotees of Viṣṇu and Kṛṣṇa) of all traditions.

2 The name of those devoted to the worship of Nārāyaṇa, Vāsudeva (= Kṛṣṇa), and Saṃkarṣaṇa (= Balarāma)—a tradition sometimes referred to as ‘Bhāgavatism’—originating in western India around 150 bce or earlier. The earliest known use of the term occurs on inscriptions from this period (often on Garuḍa pillars) bearing witness to a Bhāgavata cult patronized by local rulers, and apparently combining temple worship with Vedic rituals. The association of aristocrats with Bhāgavatism seems to have persisted in some form until the 8th century ce, but the extent of the cult is unclear from the scanty evidence available. Some have attempted to connect the Bhagavadgītā with this tradition. The term ‘Bhāgavata’ also occurs in 5th and 6th century ce sources to designate the priests responsible for the installation and worship of Viṣṇu images (mūrti) in some Indian and Southeast Asian temples, and again in relation to a group of smārta brahmins, aligned to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and seemingly active in South India into the 20th century.

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