Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes the order of creation (srishti-krama) which is Chapter 2 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

Chapter 2 - The order of creation (sṛṣṭi-krama)

1. O, Bhagavan! the Lord God of Gods, Lord of the lotus eyes! All religious observances have You alone, the Lord of all creation, for their objective, I ween.

2. Whoever should wish to devote himself to your worship, according to prescribed forms, please tell me how they should prosecute the worship. In what place and in what manner should they please you?


3. Whatever is my sport be it in creation or destruction, that you contemplate in due order, and with devotion.

4. The primary origin of all created things (Bhavas) is Prakṛti, otherwise called Dravya; the same thing is also described as Avyākrita (unchanged) and Avidyā (unknown, nonknowledge). That alone is described as Vyakta also.

5-6. AvyaktaBuddhiAhaṅkāraBhūta and Mātra, these five, the eleven Indriyas, the five Mahābhūtas (material elements), Kṣetra (abode) in two forms, material and etherial, and Kṣetrajña who is the Supreme One. That these are the Tattvas (the primary elements) you have been already told, Holy One!

7. All created things, are associated with three found in Prakṛti. These fall into three classes, the superior, the middle and the inferior.

8. Where Sattva (goodness) dominates, it is superior; where a desire (Rajas) predominates, it is middle, and where Tamas (darkness or ignorance) prevails, it is inferior. Their action also is quite similar.

9. The service that pleases me best is that which is full of goodness (Sattva). Service rendered with desire (Rajas) results in bringing enjoyment. Service offered in ignorance (Tamas) results in delusive attachment.

10. Therefore one who wishes to please me by service, should render service in the Sāttvic (disinterested) form, having destroyed in due order every wish arising from desire and darkness or ignorance (Rajas and Tamas).

11. Adopting the course of destruction (Saṃhāra, involution) proceed to destroy all desire and darkness. Adopting the course of creation, evolutionised recreation must be brought about.

12. In this process of evolution and involution of all created things in one order, it must be understood that the processes reach up to me. Otherwise there will be no fulfilment.


13. Wherefrom is the birth for things and where do they reach their end according to common acceptance. Have both of these processes an end, please tell me.


14. Prakṛti (Nature) gives birth to things. Prakṛti: it is that which swallows them again. With Brahma’s coming into existence is creation, his end brings destruction.

15. The day and the night alike of Brahma are of the measure of one thousand Yugas. By that measure Brahma’s life is a hundred years.

16. O Pitāmaha (Brahman)! In this manner, by the measure of Brahma’s life the cycle of creation and destruction keeps going on by My direction.


17. What îs the form of that Prakṛti. and in what manner does she bring things into existence? What is the connection between her and the Supreme Puruṣa?


18. The form of Prakṛti is described as unanimated, immeasurable, eternal, always changing; as possessed of the three qualities, and as providing body for those who act (Karmiṇa).

19. The relation between Puruṣa and Prakṛti is universal pervasion (vyāpti), as He, in very truth, is without beginning and without end.

20. As sound pervades all this ākāśa (space), so, in the same manner the Supreme Soul (Paramātma) pervades all Prakṛti.

21. As viscidity in milk, as taste in water, so in the process of transformation these two attain to the position the pervaded and the pervader.

22. In this condition that which is the pervading agent, is the Superior Pumān or Viṣayī; while the unformed Prakṛti (Avyākṛta), becomes the object of pervasion, that is, Viṣaya and thus inferior.

23. Since Sat and Asat cannot be separated one from the other and seen apart, in the same manner the pervader cannot be regarded as distinct from the pervaded. Hence Puruṣa is regarded as the pervader of all.

24. In this, avyākṛta (Prakṛti) s Achit (inanimate); Chit (the active principle) is held to be superior. The two combined is different from either, and exist as if they were one.


25. How did all that we see—the three worlds—arise from this? Of what kind are men who are placed in earthly life (Saṃsāra).


26. By direction of the Supreme Puruṣa alone, Prakṛti (nature) keeps constantly creating all living creatures and destroys them in the end.

27. Prakṛti being an inactive principle does not create otherwise (than by my direction). Therefore the Supreme Puruṣa does the work of both creation and destruction.

28. O, Brahman! hear attentively first of all the story of this present creation; after this I shall give you an account of existence and destruction.

29. The powers characteristic of the Supreme Soul are said to be five. By means of these, it is that the Supreme God remains in the highest Heaven.

30. These five are (1) Parameṣṭi, (2) Pumān, (3) Viśva, (4) Nivṛtti, (5) Saṛva. These are said to be His Five powers. (Śaktis) and are named Pañcopaniṣad (five secrets).

31. The supreme Soul, Lord of the Universe, in full possession of these five powers, enjoys knowledge in five ways by the accession of the five organs of sense.

32-33. In enjoying sound (Śabda or Ākāśa) He is Parameṣṭi; in case of touch He is Puruṣa; in case of light He is Viśvātma; in the case of taste (rasaNivṛtti; in the case of smell SatvātmaParaḥ Puruṣa is the subject in each case. These are regarded as Pañcātma and are described as of etherial form (Sūkṣamarūpa);

34. Incapable of realization in worldly life, comprehensible by concentration (Yoga), and eternal, this etherial form (Sūkṣma Śarīra) is said to be the means of emancipation (Mukti).

35. This etherial form (Sūkṣma) in combination with Prakṛti assumes fifteen forms in order. These fifteen fall into three groups of five each and become the source of the three Guṇas (qualities).

36. JyeṣṭaVidyāKāntiŚānti, Śraddhā, these five uncontaminated (nirmalā)powers form the source of Sattva (goodness).

37. VāgiśvaniKṛyāKīrtiLakṣmī, Sṛṣṭi, these five, being slightly contaminated, are regarded as the source of Rajas, the active principle.

38. MohinīAvidyā Tamovati, MṛtyuMāya and Malinā these, being fully contaminated, constitute the source of Tamas (ignorance, darkness).

39. Among these understand Sattva as that which gives light, Rajas as that which produces activity while Tamas has to be understood as that which hides from view. These are the characteristics of the Guṇas (qualities).

40. It is by these Gūṇas alone that the whole creation, animate and inanimate, assumes surprisingly varied forms by process of combination and separation.

41-42. Buddhi formed of the three guṇas falls into eight classes according to variation in qualities. From Sattva springs that which constitutes happiness, from Rajas what constitutes sorrow; and from Tamas what constitutes delusion or ignorance (Moha). I shall now detail the different forms of these if you will listen. The Sātvika forms are four, while the Rājasi is but one.

43-44. The Tāmasic forms are three. The names of these I shall now give in detail. DharmaJñānaVairāgya and Aiśvarya are the four from Sattva. From Rajas springs the opposite of Vairāgya. Consider that the opposite qualities to the other three, Dharma, Jñāna and Aiśvarya, are from Tamas.

45. From Buddhi arises Ahaṅkāra of three kinds, by association with the three guṇas. It is by reason of this Ahaṅkāra that man (jantu) regards, as possessed of soul, things without it.

46. From association with Sattvaguṇa, it is called Vaikārika Ahaṅkāra; with Rajas, it is called Taijasa with Tamas it is called Bhūtādi Ahaṅkāra, thus making three kinds of Ahaṅkāra.

47. From the Vaikārika Ahaṅkāra the five organs of knowledge (buddhīndriyas or jñānendriyas) arise; it is from these that man gains his knowledge in this world.

48. From Taijasa Ahaṅkāra arise the five karmendriyas, the five organs of action; from this Taijasa Ahaṅkāra arises mind (manas) in two forms which are the means of volition (saṅkalpa).

49. From the same taijasa Ahaṅkāra arises Kāla (time) having its own characteristics. From Kāla arises Diśā (space or direction) counting in order from the east.

50-51. From Bhūtādi arise the five Tanmātras in the regular order as follows; first Śabda-Tanmātra, the second Sparśa, the third Rūpa, the fourth Rasa and the fifth Gandha in order to form the subtle body (Sūkṣma Vigraha).

52-53. The five Tanmātras, Space (Diśā), Time (Kāla), Manas (Mind), Individuation (Ahaṅkāra), Intellect (Buddhi) Nature (Prakṛti) and the Yoga-body (Yoga-Śarira); these twelve are said to constitute the form of the Supreme One (Paramātma). Setting Him up in Vāsudeva form those wishing to attain Siddhi (emancipation, etc.,) worship Him.

54. From the Tanmātras arise the five bhūtas (elements): Ākāśa (ether), Vāyu (air), Tejas (fire,) Jala (water) and Pṛthivi (earth) as the fifth.

55. From these five arise the gross body (Sthūla Śarīra) of embodied soul, (man); the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue, the nose, these constitute the five Buddhīndriyas (organs of intellect).

56. The five Karmendriyas (organs of action) are the tougue the hands, the sexual organs, the excretary organs, and legs. The body constituted of these is called Sthūla (gross) because of its action and constitution.

57. In this manner, creation of body and soul, O Brahman, has been described by me to you down to the formation of the body, in both the subtle and the gross (sūkṣma and sthūla) forms. I shall now proceed to the embodied.

58. The powers (śaktīs) of that same Supreme Puruṣa, in their unembodied form, exist, as if in distinct forms, by their origin, name and form.

59. Having attained to the physical body (Bhautika Śarīra) these beings by the influence of their previously acquired karma (works), wander for a long time in worldly existence (Saṃsarā). These form the people bound to worldly life.

60. If of pure good deeds, they proceed upward to the attainment of higher existence. If of bad deeds they similarly attain to a lower state of existence.

61. These even though men (pumāṃsa) and being, even by themselves, capable of understanding, become incapable of knowing the Supreme (as distinct from self) from the delusion of mind brought about by the abode.

62. To those embodied souls, the evils of attachment and hatred arising, from their very nature (Prakṛti) are seen only in worldly life. What else can these do for them?

63. By the excellence of their qualities, and by their own deeds, good and bad, the embodied ones attain to high, middle and low conditions of life.

64. To those in whom the good (Sattva) quality is found in high measure, godly nature is considered the end; for those of Rājasa, human life is the prescribed reward; in the same manner, to those excelling in Tāmasa, animal life is the prescribed reward.

65. In this manner all embodied souls attain to their varied goals. Mounted on the wheel of time they keep rotating by the illusion of ignorance.


66. O God of Gods, What is it that you called Kāla-Chakram. If I can hear it, noble one, I should like to know its true form (svarūpam).


67. Time creates the elements (bhūtāni); Time destroys things born. Time is ever wakeful. Time cannot be transgressed.

68. Time distinguishes all human ends, worldly as well as other worldly. The Past, the Present and the Future, all these take their course in Time.

69. The movements of the Planets, the stars and the zodiac in their orbits is due to Time likewise. Thus the division of time is made in many ways.

70-71. Time is said to be of twelve different divisions. Ayana (half-year), Ṛtu (season of 2 months), month, fortnight, day (tithi); Savana (third of a day), Yāma (sixth of a day), Muhūrta (16th of a day), Nāḍi (one sixtieth of a day); Kalā (1 minute or 48 seconds), Vināḍi (sixtieth of a nāḍi) and Prāṇa (time for a single breath) these make up the twelve.

72. The lord of these, is Saṃvatsara (year), the embodiment of time, and the offspring of light. The two ayanas form its two wheels.

73. The three seasons are described as the hubs. The months constitute the spokes; the fortnights, the elements, O, the Lotus-born.

74. Ṛtus are six in number like the six organs of action beginning feet, etc. The Muhūrtas are stated to constitute the fingers and the toes.

75. The Nāḍis are said to be blood vessels; and Kalās constitute the hair; Vināḍis form the roots of hair on the body; prāṇas are the breath.

76. In this manner, the universe of moving and unmoving creation, rises and sets as do the planets and stars;

77. The Supreme Being (Puruṣa), O, Brahman! having become Kāla,sits and turns the wheel of time perpetually.

78. In this manner keeping the universe going round through the illusion of his Guṇas, the eternal God remains busily doing, as if in play.

79. O, Kamalāsana (lotus-seater), the twelve Śaktis (powers) sprang in regular order from those twelve forms which are described to be his:

80-81. YogeśvarīSukhāPrajñaPuṣṭiSmṛtiDīptī, Rāgā, Vāk, NītiKāntiAmṛtāand Śakti make 12 Śaktis. These having come to the earth remain for ever there.

82. From these again sprang the twelve Mūrtipālas; they are known in the world here by their respective Śaktis.

83-86. The same Mūrtipālas are to be understood as lords of the months, O Brahma. The first is Viṣṇu in the month MadhuMadhusūdana in Mādhava Trivikrama in Śukra in Vāmana in Śuci; Śridhara in Nabhas; Hṛṣīkesa in Nābhasya; Padmanābha in Iṣa; Dāmodara in VṛjaKeśava in SahasNārāyaṇa in Sahasi; Mādhava in TapasGovinda in Tāpasya. In this way the twelve guardians of the months are designated one for each month.

87. In this order they are counted as of great valour and great virtue. The self-same Glorious Bright one, the Supreme, the Highest Soul, manifests Himself in different forms in various classes of beings, Devatā and other.

88-90A. In what manner that a crystal bead, by the proximity of things of different colours, is seen in different colours, in that same manner, the Supreme Puruṣa, though ever One Himself, assumes in this world of ours, different forms according to the ingredient qualities, and thus becomes the bound ones and the released.

90B-92. The Self-same Supreme becomes what He does; by pleasing, He becomes the moon; by control, Yama; by fortitude, Śaka; by blowing, Vāyu; by bearing, Fire; by destroying, Hara; by Brahman deeds, Brahma; in this manner the differences in kind of the Devatās are to be understood as different manifestations of his Śakti.

93. Since the Supreme is in all forms (vaiśvarūpyāt) it is impossible to count the Śaktis of the Great One; among these three are counted the principal ones (pradhāna) in all the three worlds.

94-95. The first Puruṣas are said to be Brahma, Śiva (Go) and Viṣṇu. Among them Viṣṇu stands the highest (1) because of His Sāttivic action, (2) because of his protecting the universe and (3) by his capacity to bestow the highest bliss (apavarga); in this manner He is superior to the other two.

96. As being the cause of all that is good he is called Puruṣottama. Eternal Well-being and worldly Prosperity alike are declared to be Nārāyaṇa Himself.

97. In the dispensing of these He is alone capable; hence He is Nārāyaṇa. Inasmuch as He is in all embodied beings, he is Vāsavā.

98. Being the common God of all these, He is called Vāsudeva. By reason of His pervading all creation (jagat) He is called Viṣṇu.

99. He is called Hari as he destroys sorrow. Such a glorious Being pervades the Universe in four Vyūhas (emanations).

100. For the good of all, Vāsudeva is regarded as having attained to the highest perfection in Dharma, etc. Saṅkarṣaṇa is regarded as Jñāna.

101-102A. Similarly Pradhyumna is Mokṣa, and Aniruddha is all-Īśvara. Wherever these four qualities appear clearly, the four Devas, above mentioned, are there to bless, being full of love to their devotees.

102B-103A. Whosoever has the four evils, opposites of Dharma, etc., existing in him, these four Devas punish him and plunge him in calamities.

103B-105A. These four controlling deities of the universe make the four divisions of the VedaĀśramaVarṇa and the cardinal directions. I have so far explained to you, desirous of knowing the highest ends,[1] the method of creation, more detailed description being impossible owing to its vastness.

105B. The opposite of creation is counted the equal of destruction (pralaya).

106. When, however, the process of destruction is complete, the Supreme Being (Paraḥ Pumān), ceases to be active: He remains, devoid of activity, a mere mass of intelligence, in the highest Heaven (Parama-Vyoma).

107. O Brahman, know thou that, that Being (Puruṣa), Viṣṇu to be myself, lying on the bed of Śeṣa in the “Ocean of Milk” as if in sleep (Māya).

108-109. It is Me alone that all men please by sacrifices of all kinds. It is again Me that the masters of all senses, contemplate,praise in prayers and worship in devotion. It is Me again that the Upaniṣads of all the branches of the Vedas discuss.

110. Being in all the worlds as their Soul, I am the Supreme Soul, controlling all; all the worlds exist in Me, I am therefore the Lord of all.

111. Whoever among men are devoted to me, and resign themselves in my hands, they become Siddhas (Seers) without doubt, having attained their object.

112. In regard to creatures two wishes arise in me, O Brahman. They are affection and neglect; I am eternally possessed of both.

113. Those devoted to me, doing good deeds, I favour by the first of these; those not so devoted and given to doing evil, I punish them by the other.

114. Having attained to a body by which one could accomplish all, the embodied ones should do good deeds to please me.

115. When I am pleased, O Brahman, life in Heaven and Final Emancipation alike, are attainable to all men without doubt.

116. I have told you thus far, O Brahman, the essence of everything (worth knowing). This is to be maintained as a secret from common people. What else do you wish to know?

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra, the second chapter entitled “the Order of Creation” (sṛṣṭi-krama).

Footnotes and references:


In śloka 105, the MSŚ, reads Bhūta-Kāmasya; the reading adopted is Bhūti.