by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words
This page describes the agamas and their number of the English translation of the Parama Samhita, representing a manual of the Pancaratra school of Vaishnavism philosophy. These pages summarize ritualistic worship, initiation and other topics, as contained in the various Agamas belonging to the Pancaratra school
The āgamas presume the existence of God as the “Sole Supreme,” whether the name actually given to that Supreme Being be Śiva., or Viṣṇu, or any other. The most efficient method of attaining salvation is by devoted service to that Supreme, whatever be the form chosen. These āgamas fall into different classes according to the nature of the deity chosen. But three classes stand out: Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva and Śākta. Votaries of other religions and institutions also have their āgamas, but we are not concerned with them at present.
Among the Hindu system of āgamic religion, these three take a prominent place. Āgama teaching generally falls into four sections, (1) conduct (caryā), (2) service (kriyā), (3) knowledge (jñāna), and (4) devotion (yoga). These features are common both to the Saiva and Vaiṣṇava āgamas. Leaving aside the Sākta for the moment, the Vaiṣṇava and Saiva āgamas are generally said to be 108, and 28 in number respectively. Some among these are held to be the most prominent and others are regarded as minor, being devoted more or less to particular forms of the deity worshipped.