Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes para-vasudeva the teacher of the pancaratra in the gita itself 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

Para-Vāsudeva the teacher of the Pāñcarātra in the Gītā itself

The references to the name Vāsudeva in the metrical sūtras of Pāṇini, (IV. 3.95-98) and Patañjali’s interpretation likewise, both of them make it clear that these had some conception of a divine Vāsudeva and Vāsudeva-worship apart from Kṛṣṇa-Vāsudeva. Therefore the acceptance of a Para-Vāsudeva as the originator of the Pāñcarātraic teaching as writers of old believed, seems to be a fairly correct position. This is borne out by a statement made by Kṛṣṇa himself in the Bhāgavad Gītā at the beginning of chapter IV, where he makes the reference that He taught this “Yoga of Pāñcarātra” to Vivasvān, the Sun, and that the Sun taught it to Manu and Manu to Ikṣvāku; and then the statement follows that this in course of time had been forgotten. He takes it up in the third śloka that “I am He who now imparts to you that old teaching.” Though the question here is made clear that the person who taught the Sun was an old entity, and that Kṛṣṇa now teaches Arjuna the same teaching, Arjuna does raise the point how it could happen that Kṛṣṇa living in his time could teach this to the Sun who taught Ikṣvāku. This would imply a comparatively large number of generations anterior to Arjuna, and hence the question. Then Kṛṣṇa gives the explanation, or rather, he is driven to the explanation, that “unborn though he be, he does generally come many times into the world according to need”.

That should be held to be decisive that Kṛṣṇa-Devakīputra the friend of Arjuna and the teacher of the Gīta to him, was a person quite different from the Para-Vāsudeva, the originator of the Bhāgavata and the Pāñcarātraic teaching. This idea of a supreme Vāsudeva seems inculcated by Kṛṣṇa in VII, 18 as well. So the evidence of the Gītā itself is to recognise a separate entity, Para-Vāsudeva as distinct from Kṛṣṇa-Vāsudeva often spoken of as Vāsudeva as he was an Avatār of the original Para-Vāsudeva. All the literature of the Pāñcarātra, direct and indirect, speak of the Supreme in the one form or the other, particularly the more general class of writings than the set Pāñcarātraic texts. This position of the Gītā therefore seems confirmatory of what is said in the Nārāyaṇīya section of the Mahābhārata in regard to the Pāñcarātra itself, its origin and the general tenor of its teaching.