Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes preliminary ceremonies to consecration (adhivasana) which is Chapter 18 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 18 - Preliminary ceremonies to consecration (adhivāsana)


1-2. There are people who are possessed of wealth, devotion to god and enthusiasm, but have not the knowledge to understand the Supreme; to them what is the course of life that is proper? In them the ability is wanting to worship the supreme God by works, by thought, or even by words. Therefore please tell me what is the supreme good for them?


3. To those men who are unlearned, but devoted and wealthy, the supreme achievement is in the institution of the worship of the God of Gods.

4. Even to the best among the learned who are desirous of benefits, the founding of institutions of worship of the Supreme One, is of the highest benefit.

5-7. Whichever of kings institutes the worship of the Lord of Gods in temples, in accordance with prescribed rites, these become overlords of kings. Else they would be born men of learning, and long lived in high families of great people, of good character, full of excellent qualities. Or else they attain the desired end (siddhi) without any doubt. Having founded places of worship of God, there is no man who gains no benefit.

8. O, Pitāmaha! Consider as materials of worship of God, such things as bricks, timber and stone collected for building God’s House.

9. The services of those who make an effort therefore, to the extent of their ability, for building a temple, are regarded as worship offered by them.

10. Merit accrues even to those who assist by labour, or render useful advice by words, from the institution of worship


11. How is it that the Supreme One gets established by men, like a worldly man, or a man rearing a family, always attached to the house?


12. That God is neither established, nor protected by anyone. For the purposes of worship alone, He lends himself, by an act of grace, to His devotees.

13-14. Those men who had attained to the results of contemplation (yogasiddhi), by holy conduct and occupy various positions of service, each according to his place separately by His grace, God himself puts them in their respective places in the House of worship as an act of mercy to His devotees.

15. Pleased with their worship God, Creator of all things, confers boons upon men, in due accordance with their conduct and good qualities.

16. Therefore I shall tell you the proper order in the in stitution of worship, as a Vaiṣṇava gains the highly beneficial beatitude by worship (yajña).

17. Places of worship are of two classes, namely Prāsāda and Bhavana; duly installed therein God bestows grace upon men.

18. Having been installed for worship in a Prāsāda (palace, or large temple), God bestows His grace upon all worshippers; but installed in a Bhavana (a house for worship) His grace extends only to the family of the person instituting the worship.

19. Build the house of God with bricks, wood or stone, and, in the middle of it, construct the sanctum (garbhagṛha) and set up in it God Viṣṇu (Mādhava).

20. Temples are of various forms as described by experts in the art of building; four-sided, or round, according as the sides are regular or irregular.

21. O, Brahma! the permanent ones among them should be regarded as dhruva (ever-lasting) and are very strong; others are called middling, and inferior, according to the time they are likely to last.

22. Wood, burnt bricks, and heavy stone last long in a growing measure in the above order, and the merit of building these vary accordingly.

23. Having got an image made of beautiful features, set it up, when the auspicious time arrives, for gaining the merit of the deed.

24. The materials for making the image are gold, silver, copper, wood, stone and earth, the greater suitability for the purpose being in the order of statement.

25. The wise builder should first of all get the surroundings built with the proper ornamentation, and then build a shrine, to Garuḍa in the front (or in the east).

26. He should get the pavilion for “the mothers” in the south, and the stone seats for the guardians of the directions each in his own direction.

27. Let him build a pavilion for Viṣvaksena between the points of the compass Īśāna (North-east) and Soma (North). Then let him get the surrounding pathway and wall, made with entrance towers (gopuras) at the doorways.

28-29. He should then nominate the officiating priest, of good conduct and expert in the Tantra (Śāstra or hand book of ritual of temple-worship). Having done all this in the prescribed manner, and, having selected the official priests to assist, then he should go on to consult for an auspicious day with good asterisms and the proper houses of planets which would bring good to the yajamāna (the chief organiser).

30-33 A. In such an auspicious time let the (the Vaiṣṇava who is the leading or chief priest) begin the preliminary work of preparing (adhivāsana) for worship. In case the founders are many, who assist in establishing the institution for worship, fix the auspicious hour in accordance with their horoscopes. The division of day (Rāsi) should be so chosen as to have the houses of the Zodiac occupied by planets auspiciously in the ascendant. The day should be free from Viṣṭi and Riktā and the asterisms must be unmoving. One should first of all examine the signs, the omens and the spoken words, and make sure of their being auspicious, and then take over with gift of money, the image with beautiful features.

33B-35 A. Make the pavilion for the temporary residence of the image (adhivāsana-maṇḍapa) in the front part of the temple. It must be made auspicious all over, furnished with a platform for bath. For leaving the image plunged in water, a separate place should be appointed, surrounded by pots full of water.

35B-36 A. The plunging in water could be done as prescribed, in rivers, natural water-tanks, in artificial reservoirs, mountain-streams, and deep pools in rivers wherever available.

36B-37 A. The measure of the image should be in keeping with the size of the front gateways of the temple. A wise man can also build the temple to suit the size of the image.

37B-38. Twelve, eight or four Vaiṣṇavas, being Brahmans of good qualities and faithful in carrying out the directions of the directing priest (Ācārya) should be appointed protectors of the image (Mūrtipās). To each one of these provide the things necessary for the fire-oblation.

39. Having done all this in the manner above prescribed, leave the image in water (jalāvāsa) for three days, or at least one whole day to begin with.

40. The officiating priest, along with the guardians of the image, being dressed and decorated with ornaments, should fast on the day previous to the installation of the image.

41-42A. When the after-noon has arrived, having washed the image with water and having carefully examined it to be sure that it has all features intact, let the officiating priest have Brahmans recite the mantra svastivācana (to make the place holy), and then have the image wrapped all round with a newly-woven cloth.

42B-44. Taking the image to the place of immersion in water, himself with the assistance of the guardians of the image, having performed ātmanyāsa (invocation of the deity into the image), and then making it full-featured (sakalīkaraṇa), placing the guardian-deities of the compass, each in its place, outside the spot marked for jalādhivāsana, place the image in river water in the manner of saṃhāra mārga (withdrawing of the physical organs). Let him then protect the image all round by means of the Pañca Mantra in due form.

45. When the night has passed, let him have the pavilion (manḍapa) decorated with festoons (toraṇa) in the four directions with all the auspicious accompaniments of music mantras etc.

46. Let him have full water-pots, painted with leaf ornaments, placed at the side of the doorways, with the Vāri-mantra (water-incantation).

47-48 A. With the Vāyu mantra let him place flags upon poles and small flags at suitable points. Having done all this, let the image be taken out of the water and placed in the bath-pavilion to the accompaniment of music and band.

48B-49. Having then placed the image on a bed, head to the east, the officiating priest should first of all open the eye with a sharp needle. After this an expert architect, having been propitiated, should open the eyes with instruments.

50. Having fully opened the eyes with the application of ghee and honey, and performed worship, let him then bathe the image in the water.

51. Let the priest, standing with his face northwards, bathe the image, placed on the bathing-seat facing east, with white mustard, rice, flour and the mixture of the five products of the cow (pañcagavya).

52A. Afterwards let the image be covered with cloth and bathed again with the pañca-mantra all round.

52B-54. Let (the Guru) have the image painted over with the earth, brought over from holy bathing-place s on rivers, or from the tops of hills, or earth from an anthill, or earth dug up by bulls’ horns, or the tusks of a boar or elephants, or, in the absence of these, with the mantra of the tan-mātra (subtile element) and then bathed in water with the Salila-vidyā (water-mantra). After this have it bathed in water mixed with sandal-paste with the mantra of the earth (Kṣiti-vidyā).

55-56. Then, having bathed the image with water brought from the holy bathing-places, and again with water made holy with the mantras of TejasVāyu and Ākāśa, and then again having bathed it and worshipping it with the auspicious fresh sandal, present the image with a pair of cloths with the Sparśa-mantra and then the Yajñopavīta (the sacrificial thread).

57. Then give the image the ornaments and ungents, uttering the Puruṣa-mantra; then the garland, uttering the Viśva-mantra; then the cloak uttering the Guṇa-mantra.

58-60A. Then let the lamp be presented with the Tejo-mantra, the umbrella with the Kṣiti-mantra, the canopy and the fly-whisks with the Vāyu-mantra. Having done all this as described above, let the Guru bring the image to the adhivāsa-manḍapa (the pavilion in the bathing-hall) furnished with a soft bed and lamps and incense, and brilliant with materials for worship and Vaiṣṇavas (for conducting it).

60B-62. Then, placing the image on the bed facing south, let the mantra-nyāsa (invocation of the deity) be done incorporating in it the destruction (of the physical body) and the creation (of spiritual body), in due order of causes and consequences as ordained; as also the Māyā (Lakṣmī) who gives the appearance of satisfaction with all the mantras prescribed, making also the weapons- the conch, the disc, the mace, and lotus- by means of symbols (mudrā).

63. Then, with hands folded before him, and, uttering the Pañca-mantra, let him invoke the full presence of Viṣṇu, and then praying for his perpetual presence, worship him—

64. Having then given water—for washing hands and feet, and food, and then, in the prescribed manner, having offered worship, let the Guru set about performing fire-oblations all round.

65. Having made three fire-pits and having placed the Mūrtipas at the points of the compass let the oblations be offered. It is best to have twelve of these; else eight and the least four.

66. The fire-pits may be round or square in all places. Then have the fire-pit made in the centre. All of them sitting round let the Ācārya again offer the oblations in it.

67. Having spread the kuśa grass (Poa cynosuroides) and having placed the sacrificial vessels in the prescribed order, and then having prepared the cooked oblation (havis) and ghee for the sacrifice, they shall offer the oblations to all the gods (devatā).

68. The sides are the places ordained for offerings to the twelve mūrtipālas; while in the middle the oblations are offered with the mantra to the God of Gods (of 12, 8 or 6 letters).

69-70. What has to be done for all of these is similar except that, for each particular direction there is some variation out of regard to the Dig-devatā (the guardian deity of the direction). Contemplating a large lotus with petals in the centre of the fire, and contemplating again that the deity is placed in it, let the Brahmans offer the oblations. All of them should face the east, must wear their upper cloth, and be undistracted in the contemplation of the deity.

71. When the fire-oblation has come to an end give the mūrtipās the fees for their services (dakṣiṇā). Then, having offered water for washing hands to the God, cover the God over with a clean and handsome cloth-covering.

72. Providing at the same time a good canopy overhead and a screen all round to shut off from view, offer worship to the seat and the holy stone (Brahma Śilā) under it, keep the image out of use (adhivāsayet).

73. Let all these keep awake all night with dance, music etc., and let the whole of the adivāsana pavilion be made secure all round and well guarded.

74. The ācārya however should spend the night, fasting at the side of God.

75. I have thus far explained everything connected with the adhivāsana (preparing the image for worship). I shall henceforward explain the installation of the image in accordance with the accepted ordinances.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra Chapter XVIII, entitled Adhivāsana (Preliminary Ceremonies to Consecration).