Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes ishvara (the lord god) which is Chapter 17 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 17 - Īśvara (the Lord God)


1. If a king, or king’s officers of State, whose conduct falls short of good and who are served by bad people, wish to gain consecration or initiation as a Vaiṣṇava, what is it that they should do to become pure (or achieve their purpose).

2. To them there is no convenience for the performance of any penance; nor is the special consecration of devotion to Viṣṇu to be given to people touched by sin.


3. To a wise man of position and wealth, who is a devotee of Viṣṇu, purificatory rites are prescribed from his birth onwards for entry into consecration.

4. At an auspicious time, and by command of Brahmans, let a man of merit have two large golden vessels (kaṭāha) of equal size made.

5-7. Having filled one of these with curds, honey and ghee, in a place free from people and furnished with all auspicious things, the teacher, taking by the hand, the lordly officiant after his ceremonial bath and having mentally destroyed his physical body in the manner prescribed, make him enter the golden womb (hemagarbha) contemplating him the while as desiring life, and cover him over with the other vessel.

8-9. Afterwards the guru (teacher), considering that the officiant had again gained the state of nature, and then taking his seat, and having destroyed his physical body as prescribed, and then creating it again by himself, he should create the body of the subject by means of mantras in the manner prescribed, and then, in due course, raise him from the vessel and bring him back.

10. In this birth, as if created by God he becomes, fit for the use of mantras. Then perform for him all the rites from that of birth onwards.

11-12 A. A new name should be given to him, which should be that of some God suitable to his birth and character, with the permission of the devotees of Viṣṇu, and then get through the rites of shaving and initiating into Veda-study (upanayana) in the prescribed form.

12 B and 13 A. Then make over the hiraṇya-garbha vessels to Brahmans who are Vaiṣṇavas and, among them, men of learning. In the case of those belonging to the three Varṇas (BrāhmaṇaKṣatriya and Vaiśya) have the rites done with the mantras prescribed for each varṇa.

14. For the Śūdra the mantras used should be those prescribed in the Tantras, and give them names ending in dāsa. Give them the holy thread (upavīta) and the upper cloth reciting the Guṇa-mantra.

15. These two, the upper cloth and the thread, should be used by the Śūdras only on occasions of worship, and not at other times. To the Sūdra do not teach the highest bīja-mantra (praṇava) either for secret muttering (japa), or contemplation (dhyāna).

16A. There is no sin in reciting mantras in his hearing, nor is the practice of Karma-Yoga by him a fault.

16B-20 A. If a Sūdra be an enthusiastic devotee, eager for learning and good conduct, and withal clean, even though he be a Śūdra permit him to take part in everything provided he is not liable to err. Even such a one, do not admit to the position of Gam (teacher) in the granting of consecration, and in the establishment of images; nor admit him to equal association in dining or performing a sacrifice, either on his own account, or for another. A Śūdra should offer worship to God by the agency of another, a Vaiṣṇava. He must serve at the worship in pūjā (worship). Having got worship performed in this manner daily for 12 years, let him then set up to offer the worship himself. Then it will not be blameworthy.

20B and 21. A teacher should then consecrate (give dīkṣā to) a man of wealth who had received initiation into Vedic study and who is interested, after teaching him as prescribed, everything relating to worship. In all cases use the requite vessels to be made of gold or silver.

22-25A. Having again prepared him let him mount one scale of the balance; fill up the other scale to balance his own weight with gold of high quality. Having distributed the gold among the learned, he becomes pure in everything. The learned Ācārya should then consecrate him (grant him dīkṣā) and instruct him in the (words to be muttered) and mudrā (mystic figure-formation). Give him the instruction and the course of conduct befitting the community. Whatever was wanting in the course of ritual, make up by the gift of money. In the case of occasional rituals make up deficiencies by means of great gifts (mahādāna).

25B-28A. Whichever man of wealth makes the Tulābhāra every year, that man enjoys union with Viṣṇu after a period of years. Make a devotee who is strong, take his bath on the twelfth tithi every month, and then take his seat facing east on the deer skin; black antelope for the Brahman, the tiger skin for the Kṣatriya and that of reindeer for the Vaiśya, as well as for the Śūdra.

28B-29A. Make him sit on the skin, give him the bath himself (guru) with the water contained in pots of gold set with jewels.

29B-30. Having first destroyed, then recreate him by means of Sarvamantra in due order; and then with the Mūrti-mantra in due course give him the ceremonial bath always, and then dress and decorate him by means of mantras.

31. Seating him comfortably, the teacher (Ācārya) should first instruct him (as follows). “You are a Vaiṣṇava, and therefore devote yourself to Viṣṇu with singleness of purpose.

32. With the greatest interest, praise his qualities as it is not possible for you to destroy your sins by austere contemplation (tapas.)

33-35. If you are incapable of even giving, you will sink in irredeemable darkness. Whatever you give to the disciplined good, and whatever of your earnings you have enjoyed, are known to you. You will protect the rest also by giving in the prescribed manner to learned Brahmans on occasions of worship (havana). Consider these as flower offerings directly at the feet of Viṣṇu. Even cherishing children, wives and wealth, is not necessary for you to do.

36. Yours is the duty to pin your affection to the feet of God (Puruṣottama) whether you are in sleep or wake ful, when you are awake as in sleep, in prosperity as in distress.

37-38A. I see no saviour for you except him, Puruṣottama. Therefore even in distress, do not give up the tenets, practices, rites, discipline, and the mode of worship of Vaiṣṇavas.

38B-39. Having been thus addressed, the lordly man, bowing in reverence with folded hands, should intimate the Guru “I shall do all as directed above”. He should also propitiate the Guru by giving him money and by showing him respect.

40. In all work (of religion) place him at the head and treat him otherwise generally with respect. Even his other disciples should be treated as if they were one’s own helpmates.

41-42A. Those of the Vaiṣṇavas who are eminent by worth, you should make enquiries of, even when at a distance. To those that go to you, give satisfaction by providing them with food and clothing. Whatever they have to say to you, listen to with affection and make them accept from you whatever may please them.

42B-44. Always mutter to yourself the Supreme mantra of Viṣṇu in a sequestered place. If the lordly person be able to do so, let him offer worship by himself alone; if he had received consecration, making an image of gold, with beautiful features and making appurtenant vessels of gold, or conch, or pearl for the purpose. Let him only appoint consecrated persons to assist him in acts of worship.

45. At the end of worship let a monarch make daily gifts of gold, food, drinks, betel and nut, and clothing.

46-47. If one is unable to do so himself let him get another to offer worship to God. At the end of worship the worshipper should be paid; else the good result of worship goes to the worshipper. In the service of Viṣṇu one ought to cause materials for worship being supplied.

48-50 A. Being ever eager to put an end to evil doing, protect carefully what is granted for God’s use. If for any reason one makes a vow at the feet of Viṣṇu, he should never cherish another wish till the vow already taken is fulfilled. In the daily or occasional rites of worship if one knows of any omission, he must make the expiatory gifts prescribed by teachers (ācāryas) and complete the rite.

50-52. One gets rid of sin by proper gifts, gains health by the same means, as well as the good will of his teacher (Ācārya). It is by gifts that one pleases the Supreme. A king, or one like him conducting himself daily in this manner shines in the Heaven of Viṣṇu after enjoying the happiness of this world.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra Chapter XVII, entitled Īśvara (The Lord God).