Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes discipline (vinaya) which is Chapter 3 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 3 - Discipline (vinaya)


1. As you have stated that the Supreme God (Deva) is the cause of all creation, how is he to be worshipped by men? How is he to be contemplated by them?

2. Is He not indescribable, by any means, in terms? His form has not been defined by direction, location, time or shape.

3. Therefore how is He to be worshipped by one wishing to win his grace? O, God of Gods! tell me the proper method to attain that supreme good.


4. What you ask is a great secret; but with a view to the good of all, listen; I shall expound to you in what manner to render worship to the God of Gods.

5. He is to be worshipped only in visible form; except in such form, worship ought not to be conducted. His forms, thus made for worship, are for the good of all.

6. Hence, men attain the highest ends, by making images of Him in the form of man, and worshipping Him with the utmost devotion.

7. If the Lord of Gods is not set up in definite form, neither worship, nor contemplation, nor even prayer is possible for men; so let those worship Him embodied in definite shape.

8. The worship or contemplation or prayer offered to His image ṃ the form prescribed in ordinances therefor, is the same as worship etc., offered to Him direct.

9. The God of Gods, drawn to them by the sincere devotion of sages, graciously assumes human form with four arms, for their benefit.

10. Therefore offer your worship to the God of Gods in the image form, alone. His worship however is prescribed in two forms in the Śāstras, due to difference in the resulting benefit.

11. The first fruit is prosperity in life; the other is eternal happiness (nirvāṇa). Accordingly therefore, God Himself assumes two forms, apara (worldly), and para (other worldly).

12-13. For prosperity the aparā form is to be worshipped; for eternal happiness, however, the Parama Puruṣa. One wishing for prosperity should worship God’s image with eight hands, well mounted, with all arms and attendants; the image must be of sky blue; colour, of lotus eyes and dressed in cloth of gold.

14. The time prescribed for worship is morning, and it must be continuously performed for at least a year. The worship should be continuous and unbroken till the fruit is obtained.

15. I have told you the method of worship for those desiring great prosperity; I shall, O Brahman, now proceed to expound the worship prescribed for those wishing salvation (niśreyas).

16. The Supreme God should be of the colour of clear crystal, carrying the Conch, the Disc, the Club, and the Lotus in his four arms.

17. The Lotus conveys the seeds of creation, the Disc is for maintenance of order, the Club for the work of destruction and the Conch for providing salvation

18. The prescribed time for worship is noon; the worship prescribed is according to means. In regard to fruit the absence of desire to gain anything; worship to be life long.

19. This method of worship involving control of organs, senses, etc. (saṃhāra mārga), is prescribed for those possessed of all the essential principles (tattva). In this way I have expounded to you the method of worship for one desiring salvation (mokṣa).

20. As between these two, the latter is undoubtedly better, as gaining the highest object to-be wished for;.the other being of the opposite character is nothing like so good.

21. The result oî deeds done cannot be destroyed even in a hundred births. Each new birth only adds to the result, and will not avail to change the result.

22-23. Salvation is unparallelled happiness; without sorrow, without end. Therefore, for gaining salvation worship Vāsudeva, without indifference, without desire for prosperity, and whole heartedly. Three are the modes of worshipping Him; by deeds, by words and by thought.

24-26A. These result in greater and greater good ultimately; offering unguents, flowers and things accepted as pure by the good, with due mantras (mystic prayers) is described as sacrifice by deed (Karma Yajña). Being pure and becoming calm, the uttering of prayers and mantras with devotion, constitutes sacrifice by word.

26B-27. Giving up all out of one’s self, worship, offered according to prescription (of the Śāstras), exclusively mentally is declared to be worship by the mind O Brahman! Each of these is regarded as of three kinds according to the power it calls forth.

28. These three are SāttvikīRājasī, and Tāmasī, the worship where the good predominates (Sāttvikī) is for attaining salvation. Sacrifice (where the dominating quality is energy) is for attaining wordly ends.

29 and 30 (A). Worship dominated by passion is for doing evil to others. These three are in the order of merit, the preceding being superior to that which follows. Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya, Śūdra and even women should offer worship to God according to their natural disposition, and with devotion.

30 (B) and 31. The wealthy, the poor, the young and the old, the learned and even the saintly, all alike should offer worship to God. There is nothing that will bring higher good than worship at the. feet of Hari (the evil-destroying Viṣṇu).

32. Therefore a man must, by every effort, be a devotee of Viṣṇu. Leaving aside Puruṣottama, there is no one in all the Universe to give salvation.

33-34. Action as well as its fruit are alike the outcome of His grace. In the accumulation of wealth, as well as in the averting of calamities there is no one else capable (of doing good). Therefore place yourself at the service of (Vāsudeva).


35. How is the God of Gods to be worshipped? What should be the kind of man to worship Him? What is the prescribed manner of worship? What is the result to be obtained by such worship?


36. How a devotee of Bhāgavān (Bhāgavata) offers worship to Bhāgavān Hariḥ, that I shall describe with all attention, for your benefit, O Brahman, as also the prescribed manner of it.

37. Eight are the prescribed ways: Samaya (agreement), is the first; and then Samācāra (approved practice), Svādhyāya (holy reading), Dravyasaṃgraha (collecting materials for worship), Śuddhi (purifying), Yoga (worship), Stuti (prayer), Dhyāna (contemplation).

38. He who performs worship in the manner prescribed is called Bhāgavata. It is by past good deeds that a man is born a Bhāgavata.

39. Men fall into two classes; Dīkṣita (initiated) and Adīkṣita (uninitiated). The initiated man is entitled to worship in the full form prescribed above, while the uninitiated can only offer partial worship.

40. Community of belief (Samaya) is alike common to the two; so the initiated and the uninitiated should alike act up to this. Our Lord, Bhagavān alone is fit for our worship, and no other, as He is the cause of all.

41-42. Read constantly literature dealing with Bhāgavān, as our Lord, our teacher and our friend; listen with attention to a recital of his qualities; love those devoted to Him by deed, thought and word; and appreciate the good in regard to things, deeds and qualities of those who are Sātvikas.

43. Never apply your mind to practice of other systems of ritual worship. If there is a temple near, circumambulate both the God and the temple.

44. Never walk over used articles of worship, nor use them, nor even touch them; do not give them to any one, nor even smell them; but you must protect them (against ill use?).

45. Making yourself pure, keep repeating constantly prayers, by yourself in the temple, in the evening, in the morning and at mid-day, contemplating Lord Nārāyaṇa.

46. Having got up from sleep, while walking, prostrating and even when falling, while taking and giving, keep reciting the mantra of the mystic sight syllables (the name Nārāyaṇa).

47. Never touch nor even speak to men of heretical persuasions (avaidika); those making their living by temple service; non-believers and evil doers held in contempt generally.

48. Do not use a seat, bed or vehicle if it is of the form of a disc (chakra or discus of Viṣṇu); nor put your feet where there is a figure of Hari.

49. Give careful ear to recital of places sacred to Viṣṇu and holy bathing places. Treat devotees of Viṣṇu and His Saints always as your own relations (with affection and respect).

50. Do not eat anything obtained by unclean means; nor that which is acquired by evil-minded people. So also avoid eating meat and drink, and things much to the taste of druṅkards.

51. The initiate should give up food offered to the departed, food given in charitable feeding houses and in places under birth pollution. Do not be unclean, but be always a brave devotee of Bhāgavān (Viṣṇu).

52. If ever you have any doubt as to what you should do, always, apply to devotees of Viṣṇu, expert in right conduct and those well read in Pāñcarātra.

53. Do not say anything before you are asked to, nor answer questions put to you unless it be from honest ignorance. Even if you know, you would be a wise man to conduct yourself in the world like an ignorant man.

54. When attacked by disease, or at the approach of fear, make a daily incantation of the mantra of the eight or twelve syllables, (the names, Nārayāṇa or Vāsudeva).

55. When a breach of rule happens either by accident or by error, make expiation by repetition (of these mystic syllables) a thousand times, or a hundred.

56. I have thus expounded to you roughly the “rule of the community” (Samaya). O Brahman! Whatever else may be inculcated in Vaiṣṇava Dharma must also be conformed to.

57. I shall propound Ācāra (course of conduct) to be always adopted by a devotee of Viṣṇu (Bhāgavāta). Ācāra is what one has to act up to from day to day as laid down in the Śāstras.

58-59. Early in the morning vacate the stomach, and wash in silence; thus clean, take the ceremonial sip (ācamana) and at break of day repeat the mantrapañcopaniṣad a hundred times, a thousand times, or at least ten times in emergency; (pray) to the sun with the kāla mantra; and to the cardinal points, each with the appropriate mantra.

60. Performing obeisance and making yourself pure, mutter in due form, either the Aṣṭākṣara or the Dvādaśākṣara,suitable to the circumstances each day.

61-62. After muttering lauds or prayer, contemplate at the close the God of Gods. Conversing with devotees, even better with Brahmans, do your daily round of duties, as also what is prescribed in the Dharma Śāstra. Keep hearing mantras of appeal to Viṣṇu and stories relating to Him, the hearing of which effectively destroys sins.

63-64. Keep in the company of devotees of Viṣṇu, and do not get into argument with them. Thrice a day, or at least once, according to your ability, devoutly worship the God of Gods, purifying yourself with a bath and without the slightest relaxation in your daily duties; at the appointed periods of the year, and on the 12th day of the fortnight more particularly.

65-66. In holy places, and in sacred bathing places, offer your worship more elaborately and fully. Worship forms of Viṣṇu. Look upon other forms of God as Viṣṇu himself even by strong effort; worship offered to the various other deities, ultimately reach Him. At the feet of God’s image never assert falsehood as truth.

67. Even on occasions of calamity never turn back from devotion to God’s image; a firm-minded man should speak, but little and with humility of those devoted to Him.

68. Where there is compelling reason not to speak, decline to speak on the ground that what you know is not fit for utterance. Before breaking fast give a handful of grass to a cow,

69-71. Without obtaining permission of Sanyāsins (ascetics) and Bhāgavātas (devotees of Viṣṇu) do not take your food. I shall now explain to you the right course of conduct for the initiated, O, Brahman! as by that means, devotees of Bhagavān (Viṣṇu) obtain eternal emancipation. Getting up early in the morning, and silently muttering to himself the Sarva-mantralet one put his left foot down with a view to going towards the east. Let the left foot be put forward uttering the mantra Nivṛttyātmā.

72. Washing after evacuation, with earth wet with water as prescribed in the Śāstras, take clean water uttering the mantra Viśvātma, and take the holy sip with the mantra Puruṣātmā.

73-75. Sprinkle water either over your head or your whole body, with the mantra Parameṣṭyātmā. Performing the Sandhyā worship according to prescription, mutter the prayers in due form, contemplating the indestructible Supreme Soul by means of Mano-mantra, and, touching each of your organs of action separately with the Ahaṅkāra mantra, touch a cow, speckled black and white, after due obeisance with the Buddhi mantra. Begin your daily round of work bearing in mind Parama mantra.

76. Making gifts to God and Brahmans with the Gandhamātra, wash your hands clean with earth taken with the incantation of the same mantra.

77. Take such medicaments as you need with the incantation Rasa-mātra (mantra); with the mantra, see flowers, ornaments, etc.

78. Muttering Sparśa mantra, use auspicious dress and take seat; with Śabda mātra (mantra), hear auspicious words spoken.

79-81. When you come into touch with the great elements, do so with the respective mātra (mantra) in your mind; in case of contact with things impure, in partaking of unclean food and when one has been compelled to do things objectionable, a man must purify himself by taking collecting in a clean vessel, in due order and with the pañcopaniṣad mantra, the urine, excreta, ghee, curds, and milk of a cow, making up five in all and taking the mixture muttering the parameṣṭi,etc., mantra, pass your hands over your body muttering the same mantra.

82-83. When one has done this he becomes freed of sin and his body becomes purified. Taking your bath by means of the mantras prescribed, offer your daily worship to Vāsudeva in the form of an image made by the mantras of Vāsudeva, having placed yourself under due protection against evil. Having bathed first for becoming clean then perform the mantra-snānafor purification.

84. Bring earth with the use of Sarva-mantra make the water clean with Nivṛtti mantra; by means of Viśva-mantra invoke the Tīrthas (holy waters), rub over your body with Puruṣa-mantra.

85. Take your bath with the mantra Parameṣṭyātmā, and take the holy sip in prescribed form. Then again purify the whole of your body by the Pañcopaniṣād mantra.

86-88. Having got into the water, mutter the Pañca-mantra in due form, and performing, in all humility, the Prāṇāyāma thrice, twice or even once, finish your bath and put on your clothes. Having taken the holy sip, stand looking eastwards, alert and all organs under control, mutter the Paramahaṃsa mantra, and then the Praṇava of three mātras (syllables). Similarly, mutter a thousand or a hundred times, the mantra of eight or twelve syllables.

89-90. Having let down a handful of water, contemplate upon the Sun. At the time appointed, with hands held aloft in worship, contemplate, by the same mantra, the Supreme Lord in the centre of the sun’s Orb, in form minute and all brilliant; and then propitiate the Gods by offerings of water in the manner prescribed.

91-92. They are Indra and others beginning with Viṣṇu, Vāsudeva, etc,, the twelve forms (mūrtis), the twelve powers (Śakti) and the Paramātma (Supreme Soul), the five elements beginning with the earth, the Ṛṣis and the Pitṛs (manes). This should be done with the names of these in the accusative at the beginning and the word tarpayāmi (I give you satisfaction) at the end.

93-94. This is the mantra prescribed in truth for the giving of satisfaction to the Gods, the Sages and the Manes. Having performed the tarpaṇa (water oblation) to satisfy these, take the holy sip again and go to the place appointed for worship where by worshipping the Supreme One in the prescribed form, and partaking of what was offered to God, a Vaiṣṇava attains to the highest siddhi in a short time.

In the holy Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra, Chapter III by name Vinaya (discipline).

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