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Re: Agamas

Ramanbil_at_aol.com
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 15:40:37 PST

Dear Bhagavatas
The following is an excerpt from SDDS Volume 01.014 dated 26th October 1996 
archived at www.srivaishnava.org/sgati which gives a brief introduction on 
Agamas as part of "Sources of knowledge" from my book "HInduism 
Rediscovered". I am presenting this only as a supplement to the discussions 
on the subject.
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
============================================================
3.4. AAGAMAS 
The word `Aagama' means `that which comes down' (i.e.) Traditional teachings 
contained in NON-VEDIC Texts as distinct from `Nigama" which is based on the 
Vedas. In fact, Nigama means Vedas while Agama means Non Vedic tradition.. 
The Agamas prescribe idol worship in the place of rituals mentioned in the 
Vedas. They prescribe methods of worship, plans and rules for the 
construction of temples and consecration of deities and performance of pujas. 

They are 3 in number. 
1.SAIVA : Containing 92 Agamas including 10 on Siva, 18 on Rudra , 64 on 
Bhairava, Pasupata and Kapalika besides 108 upa agamas. 
2.SAKTHA : Containing 77 Agamas or Tantras. 
3.VAISHNAVA: Containing 108 major collections on Vasudeva Viz., The Vaishnava 
Pancharatra Agama was advised by Lord Narayana himself 
- for 5 Rishis 
- in 5 nights. 
in which 5 monotheistic philosophies converged in Vishnu.
- This is also known as "Pancharatha": 5 ways) 

The chief disciple being NARADA through whom `Pancharatra' was propagated, it 
is also known as `Narada Pancharatra' containing 
i.. `Bhagavat' means one showering grace and wealth and as such applied 
especially to Lord Vishnu. 
ii.`Narayaniya' of Purusha - Sukta (Rig10.90) refers to Lord Vishnu as the 
cosmic soul. 
iii.`Ekantika' - `solitary presence' referred to Vishnu as the primal 
existence. 
iv.`Sarvata' - specializes in ceremonial branding characteristic of Sri 
Vaishnavam.. 
v. Vaikhanasa Contributing to temple worship and iconography of Vishnu 

There are several. collections called Samhitas of Pancharatra  (not to be 
confused with Veda Samhitas) but the more important ones are:- 
Ahirbudnya, Garuda, Jayakhya, Laksmitantra, Narayana, Padma, Parameswara, 
Paushkara , Sarvajna, Saatvita, Uthara and Vishvaksena. ( Vide Vangipuram 
Swami's commentary on Abhaya Pradhaana SAram in Swami Desikan's Chillarai 
Rahasyangal- p.449) 

Pancharatra is said to of 5 angas also because of various other reasons 
(e.g.) 
i. It deals with Brahmam, Mukti, Bhogam, Yogam and Prapancham. 
ii. It deals with the 5 Yagnas a Grihasta is expected to perform also called 
Pancha Maha Yagnas. 
iii. It deals with the 5 rituals contained in Nitya Tiruvaradhana 
iv. It deals with the evolution of Lord Narayana as Vasudeva (Paramatman), 
Samkarshana (Jivan), Prdhyumna (Mahat), Aniruddha (Ahamkara) and Prakriti 
(Bhutas)- 

BUT, THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC OF PANCHARATRA LIES IN ITS 
INTEGRATION OF THE PARA, VYUHA AND VIBHAVA WITH THE ARCHA MURTIS IN TEMPLES, 
HEARTHS AND HOMES. 

VAIKHANASA - is believed to have been advised at Naimisaranya by RISHI. This 
is different from the Vaikhanasa mentioned at (v) above.
 VAIKHANAS considered an incarnation of Lord Narayana emphasizing on purity 
of conduct (as held by Kalidasa) and serves as a guide to Vanaprastas (as 
held by Baudayana). Vishnu with Sri is prime. 

In the beginning, no importance was given to Alwars and Acharyas; no 
importance was given to Divya Prabhandams; no equal status was given to Andal 
with Mahalakshmi; no Sannidhis erected for Alwars and Acharyas; and, there 
was no insistence on Pundra dharanam even. 

In Vaikhanasa, the Archa murtis are named Vishnu, Purusha, Satyan, Achyutan 
etc. (Vide Tirukkallam Swami's commentary on Verse 32 of Saranagathi Deepikai 
(p.341 of Desika Prabandham- Part I). 

But, in course of time all this has changed and the distinctions have become 
less pronounced, if not completely abrogated. 
=============================================================




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