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pA'ncarAtra - An Overview - Part 7.

From: Narasimhan Krishnamachari (champakam_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Wed Dec 13 2000 - 15:20:17 PST

				PA'ncarAtra - An Overview - Part 7.

	The vyUha Modes:

	The vyUha mode of the Deity's being emphasizes the differential
manifestations and functions of the six attributes for the purposes of
creation and evolution of the world, for maintenance and protection of
the devotees, and for leading the devotees to salvation.  In other
words, in the vyUha form the attributes become dynamic and express
themselves in the creation, protection and destruction.   
  
	Of the six qualities constituting the body of the Deity in the
transcendental mode, three (j~nAna, aiSvarya, and Sakti) are
functionally in a plane of rest, whereas the other three (bala, vIrya,
and tejas) are in a plane of activity.   The qualities in the two
planes pair with each other resulting in the three vyUha forms (j~nAna
and bala, aiSvarya and vIrya, Sakti and tejas), corresponding to
samkarshaNa, pradyumna, and aniruddha respectively.  Some samhitA-s
talk of four vyUhas including vAsudeva who has all six attributes in
fullness, whereas other samhitA-s, e.g., sAttvata samhitA, only
consider three vyUha forms.  In some texts, distinction is made between
 para-vAsudeva - referring to the transcendental mode of vAsudeva, and
vyUha-vAsudeva, referring to the vyUha mode of vAsudeva.  

	It is noted that in the transcendental mode all six qualities are
equipotent but unmanifest.  In each of the vyUha modes again, all six
qualities are present, but two of these qualities are manifest while
the other four are dormant.  The vyUha forms thus become operative in
the physical and spiritual evolution of beings, and thus become
significant. 

	Different samhitA-s differ on the actual functions assigned to the
vyUha forms.  In general, aniruddha (Sakti) is associated with
creation, pradyumna with preservation (vIrya), and sankarshaNa (bala)
with destruction or with attaining salvation (j~nAna).  vAsudeva is
associated with dharma, the basis for the cosmic order. 

	There is also a notion that the vyUha-s emanate in a sequence,
sankarshaNa from vAsudeva, pradyumna from sankarshaNa, and aniruddha
from pradyumna.  But they do not undergo any change during such
sequential appearance.  The simile given to illustrate this is the
sequential lighting of one lamp from another.  Para-vAsudeva is like
the seed which contains the entire tree, but it manifests over a period
of time.

The viSAkha-yUpa or the brahma-yUpa:

	The concept of the vyUha emanations from para-vAsudeva is related to
the pillar of light resplendently located in SrI vaikuNTham, and said
to be assumed by the Deity for the purpose of meditation by the yogi-s.
 The pillar has four nodes, each facing one of the four principal
directions.  The topmost node is altogether bright light, representing
vyUha-vAsudeva.  Nothing is discernible at this level except Pure
Effulgence.  The next three levels descending downwards respectively
represent samkarshaNa, pradyumna, and aniruddha.  At each level going
down, the node is more and more discernible, representing the
para-vAsudeva assuming forms to make it easier for the devotees to
realize Him.  Thus, samkarshaNa node is red in color like ruby,
pradyumana is yellow like burnished gold, and aniruddha is black like
rain-bearing cloud.  As we descend down the tree, more and more details
are seen in the node including the weapons associated with the form,
the retinue, etc.  The four nodes going from bottom up are also equated
to jAgrat (wakefulness), svapna (dream), deep sleep (sushupti), and
turya (the state beyond it).  

	LakshmI-tantra also identifies samkarshaNa with the individual soul,
pradyumna with individual awareness (buddhi), and aniruddha with the
sense of ego (ahamkAra).  The idea is that sankarshNa provides the
foundation for all the individual souls, pradyumna enters into the
souls, seizes hold of the faculty of awareness and distinguishes
between the subjective and objective frames of reference, and aniruddha
projects the world of multiplicity and differentiations. 
	
	The concept illustrates the idea that the vyUha forms are no different
from the para-vAsudeva form, and also shows how the vyUha forms take
shape.  The concept here is that Deity descends and becomes involved in
the transactional aspects of the world and is also more easily
approached as we go down the tree.  

The vibhava mode:

	The vibhava forms are special manifestations of the Deity on earth,
descending from aniruddha, who represents the bottom-most node of the
viSAkha-yUpa.  For this reason they are called "descents' (avatAra-s)
or appearances on the earth.   Since the viSAkha-yUpa is in
SrIvaikuNTham, and the vyUha modes are part of this pillar in
SrIvaikuNTham, the Deity makes a further descent to appear in this
world in the vibhava mode so as to be accessible to those who are not
accomplished enough to reach Him in SrI vaikuNTham, and are meant to
secure the welfare of all mankind.  

	Three types of vibhava avatAra-s are distinguished - sAkshAt-avatAra
or svarUpa-avatAra - direct manifestation of the Deity's nature,
guNa-avatAra - the Deity's attributes taking possession in divine and
human beings, and amSa-avatAra-s - where some aspect or weapon of the
Deity incarnates itself to carry out the deity's will.  38 vibhava or
incarnatory forms are identified in the sAttvata-samhitA.  Among these
are the common forms which we are familiar with - the daSAvatAra-s,
padma-nAbha, ananta, viSva-rUpa, hamsa, etc.

The arcA mode:

	sAttvata samhitA considers the arcA mode under the vibhava mode. arcA
is the form of the Deity represented by an icon which is transmuted
into the very form of the Deity full of the six divine attributes
through the power of the mantra-s used in the installation as well as
subsequent worship.  Therefore the proper installation of the arcA
mUrti with the prescribed Agama procedures is very essential for the
power of the arcA mUrti, and also the proper subsequent maintenance of
the sanctity through proper ArAdhana-s, utsava-s and other regular and
proper worship.

The antaryAmi mode:

	The antaryAmi mode is the extension of aniruddha in the hearts of all
devotees, without assuming a shape.  As indicated earlier, not all
samhitA-s list the arcA and antaryAmi modes as separate modes.  The
sAttvata samhitA considers the para and vyUha as the ones in SrI
vaikuNTham, and the vibhava as all the forms on this earth.
      
pA'ncarAtra Practice:

	The book by Prof. Ramachandra Rao published by the Kalpatharu Research
Academy contains a chapter with the above title.  I am not including
much of the material covered there, but only a brief overview, followed
by the part relating to the pa'nca samskAra which many of us will be
familiar with.

	PA'ncarAtra, like other Agama-s, specifies worship of the Deity in
concrete forms, and specifies the need for obtaining proper eligibility
for worship.  Worship can be performed in an icon, in fire, in water,
or in one's own heart.  Of these, iconic worship is the easiest.  When
worshipping in one's own heart, procedures like the placement (nyAsa),
visualizing one's own body as the temple of God, and identifying
oneself with the Deity being worshipped, are specified.  The four vyUha
forms, the twleve vyUhAntara forms, and the thirty eight vibhava forms,
each have their own mantra.  While chanting the mantra, the devotee
must visualize the iconic form of the Deity which the mantra
represents.  

	Initiation is of three kinds:  para-dIkshA (ultimately leads to
salvation), vyUha-dIkshA (calculated to accomplish worldly welfare and
salvation), and vibhava-dIkshA (only worldly welfare).   Initiation
involves the following five consecrations (pa'nca samskAra):    

	1. Branding of heated metallic emblems of vishNu (vis. The conch and
the discus) on the arms of the devotee.

	2. the wearing of marks on the forehead signifying devotion to vishNu

	3. the bestowal of one of the names of vishNu (whichever form out of
the thirty-eight vibhava forms appeals to the devotee) - not one of 
the "nambi - pimbi" names (recall the prabandham pASuram in this
context). 

	4. the formal communication of the selected mantra for the above Deity

5.  Fire-rituals.

Of these, the ritualistic branding is considered the most important,
and is a requisite for initiation.  This is what marks a devotee as a
vaishNava (a person belonging entirely to vishNu).

	Later samhitA-s give different definitions for the different types of
initiation, which we are not addressing here.

-To be continued.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

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