by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words
This page describes poems included the collection paripadal expound the 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
Apart from these stray references, the Tamil classic Paripāḍal, which is a collection of poems of a particular kind of composition, of which 70 poems of what was probably a larger collection, has been recovered and published, contains five poems in description of Viṣṇu. These are intended to describe the character of Viṣṇu as a deity, and have no more definite object of describing the Bhägavata or any other cult as such. Even so, the description of Viṣṇu as given in poems 3 and 4 by one Kaḍuvan Iḷa-Eyinan follows closely the description of Viṣṇu as the Supreme in the Pāñcarātra text books, and the Nārāyaṇiya of the Mahābhārata as well. The inference would be possible that this description is based directly upon some of the Pāñcarātra texts which have come down to us, although this need not be considered absolutely necessary as the whole of the Nārāyaṇiya of the Mahābhārata before us was probably known at the time in the Tamil country.
Whether the Nārāyaṇīya or any Pāñcarātra textbook was the source from which the inspiration was drawn by the Tamil poet, it is clear beyond doubt that the description of Tirumāl, the familiar name for Viṣṇu, is closely analogous to the description that we get of the Supreme Vāsudeva-Viṣṇu in the Pāñcarātra text-books. It therefore becomes obvious that in the distant Tamil country, it was not merely the detail of worship, or mere mention of the names of Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa that are under reference, but something very much more than that, the āgamāic idea of the supreme character of Viṣṇu. The description goes into all the details of the creation as given in the earlier chapters of the Paramasaṃhitā; and definitely refers to the four and the vibhavas.
There is the further statement of the character of immanence (antaryāmitva) clearly made in the poem. Another poem in the same collection, No. 15, makes a specific reference that Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva are the deities installed in Tirumāl Iruṃ Śolai, and that poem is again by an author by name Iḷam-Peruvaludi. The names of these two authors are clearly those of castes other than that of the Brahman. The affix to the first name would indicate the hunter caste, and that of the second some association with the Pāṇḍyan family ruling over Madura. This poem 15 gives in circumstantial detail the features of Vāsudeva-Saṅkarṣaṇa, so fully that it leaves us in little doubt that this worship had established itself in the remote south much earlier than the period to which the poem actually refers.