by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words
This page describes pancaratra, god-given and not of human origin 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 claim is made in the Mahābhārata that the Pāñcarātra is of equal authority with the Veda as being apauruṣeya (God-given and not man made) unlike the other systems with which it is brought into comparison. Whatever interpretation the modem critic may put upon this supra-human character of the teaching, the teaching goes back undoubtedly to the times of the Upaniṣads, the oldest among them, and therefore anterior to Buddhism certainly and Jainism as well. The teaching of ahiṃsā of the Pāñcarātrins is much more emphatic than that of the Buddha, although in origin both perhaps sprang from a natural objection to the immolation of victims in sacrifices conducted in the name of religion. While Buddhism perhaps remained content with prohibiting it only so far, Jainism and Pāñcāratraism prohibit killing absolutely. The antiquity of the Pāñcarātra therefore gets established as beyond a doubt on traditional Indian evidence. Whatever the actual form of the teaching, it had established itself in vogue, perhaps in the days of the Brāhmaṇas, and is clearly in evidence in the Upaniṣads; and perhaps it got to be formulated in text books, it. may be, in the age of the Sūtras. Hence the name Bhakti Sutras given to the teachings of Nārada and Śāṇḍilya, the two principal exponents of this school of religious thought.