Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes the bhagavata cult prevalant all over india at the beginning of the christian era 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 Bhāgavata cult prevalant all over India at the beginning of the Christian era

That this religion had a considerable following is in evidence in the number of references to the worship of Vāsudeva and Baladeva, or Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva, and in a number of other forms. The Besnagar Pillar inscription of the 2nd century before Christ bears evidence to the worship of Vāsudeva in temples. The inscription records the erection of a Garuḍa Pillar in the temple of Vāsudeva and indicates thereby that that worship had been accepted by a foreign Greek ambassador from Taxila[2].

This definitely establishes the practice of the Bhāgavata religion in the period of the Suṅgas. Another inscription at Ghāsuṇḍi[3] of the same Vaiṣṇava character takes us back somewhat earlier. A similar reference has come to notice recently in Muttra[4] in regard to similar worship. That is so far as India north of the Vindhyas is concerned. In the inscription of the Sātavāhana queen Nāganikā[5] found in the heart of the Sātavāhana country, the record begins with an invocation to Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa. Proceeding further South, we come upon references to the worship of Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva in Tamil literature, and numbers of instances could be quoted from the Tamil classics. For a precise reference, the poem 56 in the Puṛanānāṛu collection ascribed to Nakkirar, contemporary of the famous Pāṇḍyan, victor at Talaiyālaṅkānam, solemnly includes Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva, along with Śiva and Subrahmaṇya, as the four controlling deities of the universe.

This irrefutable evidence that, among the Gods commanding worship as Supreme deities, this pair takes rank along with the Śaiva pair, Śiva and his son, Subhramaṇya or Skanda, is indeed of great significance. Numbers of references could be quoted from the Śilapadhikāram for temples to these two deities in the Chola capital at Kaveripaṭṭinam, and in the Pāṇḍya capital at Madura alike.[6] One of the early shrines in the far south is Tirumāl Iruṃ Solai which finds mention in the Śilapadhikāram{GL_NOTE::} along with Sriraṅgam and Tìrupati as places peculiarly holy to Viṣṇu. This place is said to have installed in it Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva as the chief deities in the temple. In times later than these, we have not merely undoubted references, but elaborate descriptions of devotion to the worship of Kṛṣṇa and Bala-deva. These references establish beyond doubt the prevalance of the worship of Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva all over the country, so that we would not be wrong if we state it categorically that the Bhāgavata cult, of which these form the principal features, was prevalent over the whole of the country.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Epi. Indica X, App. p. 63.

2.

Ibid. p. 3.

3.

D. R. Bhandarkar’s. List of Sans. Inscriptions.

4.

Epi. Indica. App. to. Vol. X. p. 121.

5.

Book V. II.169-73, and Book. XIX. II.1-10.

6.

Book XI. II.35-55 and II.90ff.