Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes the bhagavad-gita and 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

The Bhagavad-gītā and the Pāñcarātra

The next point for consideration is the position that the Gītā occupies in the development of this school. The Gītā has been for long the subject of study both in the East and in the West, and has received much attention at the hands of critical scholars. Various theories had been advanced in regard to its character, and its position in the Mahābhārata as a whole. It is hardly necessary for us to traverse the whole ground here. Now that we have a handbook of the Pāñcarātra of the general character of the Paramasaṃhitā, we are in a far better position to compare the Gītā as a whole with the Bhāgavata-Pāñcarātraic teaching incorporated in this work, and arrive at important conclusions. Even a very cursory reading would show similarity of teaching between the two, too close to be neglected and regarded as accidental. The nature of the teaching as well as the details point to the affiliation of the one with the other. The interesting question would arise as to which of the two might be regarded as the original, the general Pāñcarātraic teaching, or the Bhagavad Gītā. By general Pāñcarātraic teaching we do not mean what is actually stated in any text of the Pāñcarātra, but the actual general principles underlying the teaching. As in the case of most departments of Indian literature, there must have been a body of Pāñcarātraic teaching probably handed down from teacher to pupil and practised more or less generally by the people before the teaching gets to be formulated in handbooks for the teaching of this system. So whether the Pāñcarātra books which have become available to us be later or earlier will not affect the antiquity of the Pāñcarātra ic teaching. What is material to our purpose is the antiquity of the Pāñcarātra in general, and not the actual age of any particular text book. The question then reduces itself to determining whether the Gītā follows the Pāñcarātra teaching, or the Pāñcarātra follows the Gītā teaching.