Also called Vishnuism, this form of Hinduism believes that Vishnu is the manifestation of brahman (supreme existence or absolute reality). Through his various incarnations – the most prominent of which are Krishna and Rama – Vishnu defends dharma (universal truth or moral law).
The various sects and groups within Vaishnavism differ in their worship of Vishnu. For some, the goal of bhakti (religious devotion) is moksha (liberation from the life-death cycle, or samsara). For others, the goal is prosperity and health.
Most Vaishnavas believe in the concept of a life of eternity with Vishnu after death. Some sects believe that the phenomenal world is not real. Others believe that Vishnu and the soul are separate entities. But one group, the Gaudiya sect, asserts that the relationship between Vishnu and the world is completely beyond comprehension.
Vaishnavas' beliefs in the concepts of bhakti and Bhakti yoga are founded largely on the sacred writings in the Upanishads. Bhakti yoga requires practicing devotion to the Supreme deity that's based on a sincere desire to please, rather than the hope of reward or the fear of punishment. This form of yoga is a path to spiritual liberation, or oneness with Vishnu.