Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes dharma (way of life) which is Chapter 12 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 12 - Dharma (way of life)


1. O, God of Gods, what is the way of life (dharma) which is considered the best for those devotees of Viṣṇu; what are the prescribed courses of atonement for error, as also the course of conduct to be adopted on occasions of a special character.

2. What is the prescribed dharma for those desiring emancipation, and what, for those who desire worldly good according to accepted opinion. Pray explain these to me as, in regard to these, I am in great doubt.


3. By what deed of man, the Lord God of the Universe, is pleased to do him good that indeed is dharma without doubt.

4. I have explained that already to you as of three kinds by its association respectively with (Mana), speech (Vāk) and work (Karma). Among these I shall now explain the (dharma) of the mind.

5. Interest (śraddhā), firmness (dhṛti), tranquility (prasāda) these three are of the mind. All the other activities of the mind are considered on the basis of these three divisions.

6. One who is interested acquires knowledge; he is acceptable to the good; he is regarded as the proper man, and he is acceptable even to God.

7. By firmness one does not fall from the right path (dharma); by firmness one ceases to be bound by sorrow; by firmness one is not deluded by happiness; by firmness one is not worried by anxiety.

8. Being tranquil, one does not trouble others; being tranquil, one does not become jealous; being tranquil, one does not become greedy; being tranquil, one is always happy.

9. When these qualities are found in a man either as being natural, or acquired by him by his own effort as a permanent habit of his mind, God is pleased with him.

10. Association with people possessing these qualities, or hearing of those great one’s having much knowledge of these, becomes the means of gaining these qualities.

11. Whatever is opposed to these is called adharma. Those addicted to qualities opposed to these, come to grief in all their lives present and future even.

12. Therefore a devotee of Viṣṇu desiring to attain the accomplishment of his object (attaining to emancipation) should discipline his mind in the practice of these three qualities.

13. If the mind is brought under control, all the faculties are brought under control. Therefore a man must gain control over his mind.

14. If the mind is put into the path of right thinking, speech remains in the right. Whatever is decided in the mind before, is what the speech actually publishes afterwards.

15. Truth, love and goodness, these three are the divisions of the nature of speech (Vāk). Making his words serve these three qualities a man accomplishes his ends.

16. In every speech concerning wealth, in speaking one’s qualities at all places, and primarily in speech relating to dharma, speak the truth straight on.

17. Whenever occasion offers, speak what would please your preceptors and the revered ones, to those that are learned and to children; as also to the aged and the suffering.

18. To those near you, to your friends and pupils, to your servants, to charitable people and to the devoted to God, say that which is good, suitable to occasions.

19. Speech is disciplined into the right path, by observing the usage of elders, by the study of the holy Śāstras, and by practice spread over a long time.

20 The speech organ is difficult of control except by discipline and long effort. Therefore silence is better.

21. To a man of the world, silence is not recommended as right; and therefore a devotee of Viṣṇu, firm in the pursuit of Vaiṣṇava discipline, should always keep guard over his tongue.

22. If speech is undisciplined by these three, then she becomes for man the cause of suffering and sorrow, and should be understood as making for unrighteousness.

23. Service, cleanliness, graciousness, these three are regarded as being the normal functions of the body. By these a man gains his higher ends.

24. For the purpose of pleasing God, if one undergoes bodily fatigue, by practice of austerity, by expenditure of money or by bodily effort, these acts of his are regarded as service (paricarya).

25-26. O, Lotus-seated (Brahma)! three baths a day, lying on the floor, religious study and restraint (brahmacarya), observing of silence, food without salt and spice, steady sitting (vīrāsana) by night, the giving up of sleep by day, pilgrimage to holy places, these are the austerities (vratas) recommended.

27. The collection of the articles of worship by oneself, and cleaning them himself though fatigued, these acts are called service (paricarya).

28. Removal of all dirt from one’s body must be understood as bodily cleanliness. There is much in the human body which is unclean, and, by their removal, one makes himself clean.

29. These are urine, semen, excreta, phlegm, transformed blood, sweat, tears, nails, hair, and various other exudations.

30. These are not impure when within the body; but outside, they bring about uncleanliness. These impurities arise each in its time, in the bodies of all men.

31. The cleaning of these is by earth, and by washing with water. If one should touch dirt thrown out of another’s body, he should bathe to clean himself.

32. Contact with the dead, confinement-pollution, conversation with people in sorrow or mourning, the emission of the white (semen), vomitting; when these occur, the only way to clean oneself is by a bath.

33. If one should touch the excrements of one’s own body after they have separated from it, a bath is prescribed for gaining purity, except in the case of sweat, tears, etc.

34-36. Even in these cases take a holy sip (ācamana). Do not sleep all the time. Whatever serves the need of one’s own bodily requirements, becomes unacceptable to him if others use it. O, Pitāmaha! Similarly, O, Pitāmaha! whatever serves for the worship of God, and even the place of worship, becomes polluted by being put to human use.

36B-37A. Articles of worship once used in worship by a worshipper become known as nirmālya, and must be regarded unfit for use for any other purpose.

37B-38. Gold, gems, cloths, etc. the fire-altar, the spoons used in sacrifice, the vessels and representations of God, become clean by washing. Even by washing out the dirt, secular (laukikī) cleanliness is attained.

39-40A. Worship of God, the bath, and the cleansing of the body daily, as prescribed courses of cleanliness by popular usage and the dharma-śāstras, must be accepted by a wise devotee of Viṣṇu.

40B-42. Whoever, by encouragement or by grant of money, makes the best efforts to help guests, preceptors, servants in grief, the great ones who are guardians of dharma, temples of Gods, ascetics living by alms, cows. Vaiṣṇavas in large numbers; this is helping others—the best among the good that one can do by his body.

43. Among animals, cows are worthy of respect, men are more worthy of it than these; Brahmans among them deserve more respect than other men; more than Brahmans, mendicant ascetics; more deserving of respect than these ascetics are Yogins (those who habitually contemplate on the Supreme).

44-45. More than even Yogi are those desiring emancipation in complete serenity of mind. Gift of food is the best form of charity; as also the giving of money in all ways, as well as the giving, of bedding and seats to devotees of Viṣṇu and ascetics. The gift of knowledge (vidyā) is the highest; other gifts however large are not as good.

46. The gift of land, mounts, vehicles, houses and other wealth, bring one great fame; but, are middling in respect of real merit.

47. Gifts made on occasions of suffering, from interest that a fit recipient presents himself on particularly propitious occasions, or because of access of wealth, each of these brings its own merit which is regarded as of many kinds.

48-49. Whatever is done with a view to securing mere fame, or praise, or for being talked about, meets with the disapprobation of the good—the more so, in the case of a devotee of Viṣṇu. The gift of lands, etc., is commendable, if the motives are other than these, such as length of life, health, children, etc., in order. Examine beforehand the things to be gifted, the time and place, and the worthiness of the donees as well.

50-52. Whatever is done after careful investigation, brings its fruit. If a man of good mind gives away whatever has to be given, in the name of the God of Gods, the fame of it will follow as a matter of course. The service of the great One mentioned above is in its nature a supreme gift. When rendered with unalloyed devotion the fruit will follow for certain, not otherwise. In this manner has been expounded to you the three kinds of dharma arising from the possession of the body.

53. Since what can be done has been detailed in full, now listen to what has to be abstained from. Whatever is opposed to the righteous conduct (dharma) described above, that is described as adharma.

54. Desisting by thought, speech and act, is to be understood as nivṛtti dharma (refraining from doing what is prohibited), which destroys sin.

55. In this manner has been expounded to you, O Brahman! the three kinds of dharma arising from mind, speech, and body—the more particularly of a devotee of Viṣṇu.

56-57. To a wise man, with full control over his senses, the three kinds of dharma connected with the mind are the best. To an ordinary man who is a devotee, the three kinds of dharma connected with the body are the best. To all other middling ones, the dharma of speech is regarded the best.


58. You have explained to me the three kinds of dharma, O Puruṣottama! Do people under the guidance of the senses, get rid of the Saṃsāra (life in this world) by them alone.


59. Dharma is regarded as of the form of deeds, and it was described again as in the form of knowledge. Knowledge gains release, but works purify knowledge.

60 The knowledge purified by works cannot be destroyed by anything else.

61. Knowledge by itself alone, and without the aid of Karma, makes no one in the bonds of life, pure in the least.

62. Therefore, by worshipping the God of Gods by service, and getting over obstacles in the way, a devotee of Viṣṇu gains his ends, by His grace,

63. God, worshipped by service in due form, protects one even in coming lives, pushes aside afflictions and grants wealth.

64. Without the grace of God it is not possible to control even one of the senses by one’s own power. Therefore place yourself under His protection.

65. In the unreleased state, there is difference between Jīva (individual) and Parā (the Supreme). When released there is no difference, as what causes it ceases to exist.

66. Therefore wishing for release, render your service from day to day to Vishñu by the work of mind, tongue, and body, givṃg up the fruit of your acts.

67. Thereafter by his grace, One’s knowledge increases, and by that increase of knowledge on the other hand, the fruits of previous deeds, are diminished. On the extinction of Karma, one becomes pure of soul and attains Supreme Bliss.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra the Twelfth Chapter, entitled Dharma.