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Re: aagamA-s

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 11:34:27 PST

sampath kumar writes:
> In very simple terms, agamA-sAstra is knowledge,
> sciece or doctrine dealing with ritual, iconography,
> construction of temples, 'yantra-s' and so on.
> 
> Agamas are said to be found in the 'samhita' portions
> of the Vedas and they are generically called
> 'agama-samhita'.

Sri Sampath Kumar,

This is *completely wrong*, and I urge you to do your
research before propagating utterly incorrect information.

The "Agamas" are most definitely *not* part of the Vedas.
They are a completely separate body of texts. The Vedas
are generally known as "nigama", and these texts that
describe iconography, certain esoteric rituals, yoga,
etc., are known as "Agama".

According to traditional belief, while the Vedas are considered
eternal and unauthored (apaurusheya), the Agama texts are
considered authored by Lord Narayana Himself. As such, they
are not eternal and are of a totally different category
from the Vedas.

This is obvious from the first sloka of Sri Desika's
"Yatiraja Saptati":

   kam apy Adyam vande kamalA-gRhamedhinam
   pravaktA chandasAm vaktA pancarAtrasya ya: svayam 

   I first pay homage to the indescribable husband of Kamala (Lakshmi),
   who is the propagator of the Vedas (chandas) and who
   himself authored the Pancaratra Agama.

Desika cleanly makes a distinction between *propagation* of
an eternal text such as the Vedas, and *authorship* of the
Agamas.

Your confusion lies in the fact that the first "mantra" section
of the Vedas is known as "samhita". Therefore, we have Rg Veda
samhita, Yajur Veda samhita, Sama Veda samhita, etc., with their
various branches (Taittiriya Samhita, Vajasaneya Samhita, etc.)
All these are *collections* (samhita) of Vedic mantras, and
are yet considered eternal and of absolute authority and
significance.

The Vaishnava Agamas are also known as "samhita". We therefore
have "Sri Sattvata Samhita", "Jayakhya Samhita", "Ahirbudhnya
Samhita", etc. But these texts are in no way part of the Vedic
corpus.

In the Saiva and Sakta traditions, for example, the Agamas bear
the title "Agama" or "Tantra" in their name. Yet these are also
considered authored texts, and are not part of the eternal Veda.

As far as the various Vaishnava Agama texts are concerned, other
members have already pointed out articles by Sri Krishnamachari
which detail their contents.

adiyen ramanuja dasan,
Mani

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