Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes explanation of the name pancaratra 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

Explanation of the name Pāñcarātra

The name Pāñcarātra is explained in a variety of ways. It is taken to have reference to the plainest meaning of the words that it contains, meaning five nights. This is accounted for as being due to the fact that the Páñcarātra had been explained by the original expounder in five (successive nights).[1] This is so stated in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa as having been narrated in five nights of a Satra.[2] The Paramasaṃhitā text itself gives its own definition, which is characteristic of the work: The name is said to be due to the five qualities of mahābhūta, namely, the five gross elements (bhūta), the five subtle dements (tanmātras),egoistry or individuation (ahaṅkāra), and thought (buddid), and the formless original matter (avyakta). These five constitute the or gifts of Puruṣa.[3] Hence the Tantra or the Śāstra which treats of these gifts gets to be called Pāñcarātra.[4] The treatment of these in Pāñcarátra or the Yoga-tantra may be regarded as distinct from, and, we may say even peculiar to, the Pāñcarátra as distinguished from the Sāñkhyas so-called. Hence the name Pāñcarātra for this class of works.

Footnotes and references:


Paramasaṃhitā XXXI.19.




Paramasaṃhitā. 1.39-40.


Ibid. 33.