Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes installation of the deity in a temple (sthapana) which is Chapter 19 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 19 - Installation of the deity in a temple (sthāpana)


1. How is it that, though God be installed by men in accordance with the prescribed rites, He gives His presence and His blessings (aiśvarya) only in some places and very moderately?


2. The installation of God in the image, gets vitiated by the good or bad qualities of the locality, of the time chosen, of the people concerned, of the structure of the temple, and the character of the image.

3. When the installation is thus vitiated, the whole place gets empty, or is polluted by Rākṣasas.

4. In places full of the evil-minded, or without an ample supply of good water, or infected by various diseases, no wise man would build a temple.

5. Do not install God at night, at a time when an evil planet is in the ascendant, When the day and the asterism are cruel, when the disc of the sun is invisible.

6. No one who is not a family man, one without learning, one who is not a Brahmin, one who is dependant upon another for his living, one who is without, or deprived of an organ of the body, should install an image of the Supreme Puruṣa.

7. One should not install Harī (for worship) in a temple which was otherwise occupied, which is dilapidated, which was served by people of low esteem, and which is full of people of other ways of worship (karmāntara).

8. An image rejected, or broken, or of unprescribed size, or one having an internal defect, or worn out by use, should not be installed for worship; nor if installed, should it be accorded worship.

9. If an image is installed when anyone of the above defects has been noticed, the place becomes the habitation of YakṣasRākṣasas and Piśācas.

10. Whatever natural object is deemed pleasing to the God of Gods, that will become possessed of all desirable qualities, though it may actually contain defects.

11-13. When all these things-place, time, men, house and image-exhibit the desirable qualities, the installing priest should rise early in the morning, and, having bathed and taken the holy sip (ācamya),and clothed in clean garments, should go round the pavilion, keeping it to the right, along with the mūrtipas. Then taking his seat to the south of the image, with his face to the east, he should make the nyāsa on his body. Then he should set about cleaning the temple both inside and out.

14. Set up the festoons, flag-posts and pennons in their respective places; thereafter place water-pots at the gateways all round.

15. Let him bring together things required for worship and for the fire-oblation; as also let him have separately piled up gems, metals and grain.

16-17. Let him then bring together expert musicians, carrying in their hands pipes and other instruments. Having got together all these, having considered the signs and omens, and having offered worship, in the prescribed manner, at the places intended for the gods, let the ācārya, long with the mūrtipas, then begin the rites for the installation of the idol.

18. If evil dreams are experienced, or if inauspicious signs are seen, light up the fire in the pavilion and perform the expiatory ceremonies.

19. With the Pañca-Mantra offer ghee oblations in due order ten, a hundred, or a thousand times as may be needed.

20. With loud proclamation of auspiciousness and success, and with the loud chants of Brahmans, let him make expiation for defects, excesses and deviations.

21. After this, having circumambulated with folded hands the God of gods, and obtained his permission, walk ceremoniously round the temple, keeping it to the right.

22. Having inwardly assured himself that everything is right, in regard to the temple and in regard to the sanctum, let him scatter all over, if need be, akṣatā (rice washed and treated with water) and dhūrva (Agrostis linearies) grass with the astra-mantra.

23. Again let the mūrtipas sweep all over with the Vāyu-mantrā, having made sweeping brushes of Kuśa grass (Poa cynosuroides).

24-25. Having then thrown away the brushes, and having washed their hands with fresh water, let the whole of the temple be rubbed over with a solution of cow-dung in water, brought over by servants specially initiated for the purpose. Then the ācārya himself should sprinkle water all over, having uttered the astra-mantra over it.

26. With the Pañca-śakti-mantra scatter the tips of grass, holy rice, and dhūrva grass; fumigate the whole place with incense, with the Aṣṭākṣara-mantra pronounced over it.

27-30. Let the leading priest show round in all directions a lighted lamp, with the Tejo-mantra: Having done all these in the sanctum itself, and having made the peculiar signs (mudrā) publicly, the guru should light up the fire on the ground overspread with sand to the right of the outer gate, and then make oblations of ghee with the pañca-mantra, a thousand times, or a hundred times, for the permanent propitiation of the presiding deity over the building (Vāstu-Devata). Let him again offer oblations with the sacrificial sticks of Apāmārga (Achyranthes aspera), Śami (Acacia suma) and Khadira (Acacia catechu) trees for propitiating the evil spirits of YakṣasRākṣasas and Piśācas, with the Let him make three supplementary oblations and bring the fire-rite to a close.

31. Then taking up quickly a thread wet with sandal juice (chandanarasa), let him measure out, in the prescribed form, the inner sides of the sanctum.

32. Casting the thread along the main direction and along the minor points of the compass with his assistants, he should throw another across, from between the North and the North-east to a spot between the South and the South-west.

33. Taking the perimeter of the image at one-twenty-fifths of the side of the sanctum, mark off the space away from the point where the strings intersect.

34. Vaiṣṇava people prescribe this manner of establishing as bringing prosperity. If the image be placed at the point where the strings join, the resulting good is middling.

35. If the image be set up with the measurement in excess or falling short, the establishing ācārya will be destroyed, and the patron (yajamāna) will suffer from day to day.

36. Even when the image of God is westward-looking, the image should be installed for worship in the same manner by throwing threads and fixing the place.

37. Having thus determined upon the installation of the image, and having measured the space available and the image to be set up, then determine the place for the images of the exterior deities.

38. Then, having got back near to the image of God, and having made the flower-offering (puṣpāñjali) at the place (or at the feet), let him cause those initiated to bring in the seat, the flat stone, (Brahma-Śila) and the edge round it into the sanctum.

39. Having taken these round the temple first, and then all round the sanctum, let all the articles for use (dravya) be brought in. It is never otherwise in regard to the installation of the image.

40. Placing himself face to the West, let the ācārya have the Brahma-śila (the base-slab) put in its place with the mantra of the three guṇas (Tṛguṇātma).

41. Having offered worship to it with sandal paste etc., let him place the seed-gems himself, in the nine hollows made in the earth, in the eight directions and in the middle.

42. Let the officiating priest place the gems, bringing them by the hand, uttering the mantra appropriate. First of all let him place in all the nine pits bright shining gold.

43-44. Diamond (vajra), ruby (padmarāga), beryl (vaiḍūrya), saphire (nīla), pearl (mauktika), topaz (puṣparāga), conch (śaṅka), emerald (marakata) and crystal (spaṭika), should be placed in order, at the eight points of the compass and in the middle. These should be placed with the eight letters of the Aṣṭākṣara, letter by letter, and all letters together, in order.

45-46. Yellow orpiment (tāla), red arsenic (jana), antimony (añjana), iron sulphate (kāsīsa), mercury (pārada), brass or bell-metal, (saurāṣṭra), a yellow pigment (rocana), another pigment of the colour of honey (makṣipa), and coral (vidruma); so also paddy (vrīhi), black kidney bean (māṣa), wild wheat (gavī), gingely (tila), wheat (godhūma), barley (yava), wild paddy (tṛṇa), panicum seed (priyaṅgu), and green kidney bean (mudga); these two sets must also be similarly deposited in the same order.

47. These deposits should be neither more nor less than what the pits would hold, and should be just up to the level of the slab, for prosperity.

48. For prosperity, some hold that all these should be deposited in the central pit. But no Vaiṣṇava, expert in the Pāñcarātra, will do so.

49. The wild variety of grains is not considered acceptable for depositing in the pits, as, so doing does not conduce to the prosperity of the village, and brings on exile to the forests (to those so doing).

50. Making the place for the pīṭha with stone, or brick, set the seat (pīṭha) evenly, uttering the Pīṭha-mantra in prescribed form.

51-53. Having mentality provided a covering for the floor with the appropriate mantra, having made the channel for the water used for the worship, with its mouth directed towards the North, having offered, to the seat thus placed, worship with sandal etc., having covered with cloth fresh from the loom, and having made arrangements for due protection all round, the installing priest should go along with the Bhāgavatas (Vaiṣṇava assistants) and make worship at the places, intended for the installation of Vigneśa (Gaṇeśa) and Śiva.

54. Let him make their place to the south of the sanctum and place Gaṇeśa to the East, and Śiva to the West; in front of the gateway to the temple and near to it, let him make the place for Garūḍa (the Eagle-mount of Viṣṇu).

55-59A. Behind the shrine let him make the place for Ananta (the great snake Ādi-Śeṣa); then to the south for the divine mothers; and so also for the guardians of the directions, each in the particular direction between the temple and the ambulating pathway round it. Then let him offer worship at these places with sandal-paste and flowers. Between the North (Soma) and the North-east, let him make the place for Viṣvaksena, wearing the cast-off clothing of the God. So also just outside the ambulating path (prākāra) make the Bali-pīṭha for placing the food offering. This should be right in front of the God and on a level with the seat of worship. Having thus appointed places for the Devatas (Parivāra-Devatas or attendant deities), he should return to the presence of God with serene mind. Let him then offer the highest worship.

59B. Having first of all made the spiritual body for himself, let him make the image before him assume the spiritual form.

60. Having treated everything there similarly, and having invoked God’s presence by Mantra, then let him offer worship with grain, sandal, flowers, incense, lamp and ornaments.

61. Having worshipped Hari by presenting food and other articles of presentation in the prescribed form, cover the deity with a soft cloth fresh from the loom.

62-63. Afterwards having made the yantra-figure (mystic figure) of the great God, let him mount it on a palanqueen well-spread with cloth or carpet, and carried by specially initiated mūrtipas,with the permission of those present. Then chanting hymns in praise of God, let him make a round of the temple rightwise.

64-65. Let the festive procession be celebrated with fly-whisks, water-pots, umbrellas, canopies, flag-staves, incense-burners, lamps, and with the music-conches and drums, along with dance, vocal music and other joyous exhibition. The ācārya should silently walk in the procession with his hand on the palanqueen.

66-68. Let those in the service of God be mentally regarded as gods, namely, ĀdityasManusRudrasRibhusAśvinsUragasSiddhas and the deities of the planets, asterisms, and stars. Contemplating thus, and having carried, with due care, the Yantra of Hari round the temple, let him present water, in prescribed form, as soon as the gateway of the temple is reached. Then place before the deity a new pair of sandals by means of Sparśa-vidyā (or mantra).

69. At the entrance to the sanctum present the God with water with the appropriate mantra; and then let the God enter, being carried by the initiated, with the Vyoma-mantra (the mantra relating to Ākāśa).

70. Having turned right-ways round the God’s seat by merely looking at the directions, and having set it down, slowly make the preparation for fixing the Yantra.

71-72A. When the auspicious hour has arrived, the ācārya should place himself at the front, and, with the permission of the Brahmanas, amidst the music of pipes and drums, with presentation of incense and lights, should settle God Hari facing east.

72B-74. In the position in which the pointed root of the image stands in the hollow in the middle of the base (pīṭha), taking the thread up and centring the position of the image, let him fix up the image, and then, making various signs by hand (mudrā) before the image, let him pray for the presence of God for all time, after making the obeisance. Having shown reverence with folded hands, let him then present the garland with the mantra of eight syllables.

75. Then, having presented water for washing feet and hands, let him offer the seat by pointing to it, and then presenting, in the prescribed manner, clean water for washing hands (arghya), present Him mukhāvāsa (something to sweeten the mouth).

76-78A. Then offer the fly-whisk, the canopy and the handful of flowers (puṣpāñjali). Then having gone round right-wise make the gifts desired, namely, articles for worship, ornaments vehicles and lands. One who makes this kind of propitiatory gift (prīti-dāna) to God on the occasion of the installation of Viṣṇu, will gain in the next birth many thousand times (what he gave).

78B-79. Afterwards, leaving the God of Gods covered with fine silk (of differing colour and material), and having screened off the front doorway, the ācārya, along with his initiated assistants, should go around and establish all round the God, His attendant deities.

80. In regard to the Vaiṣṇava deities, Garuḍa and Ananta, he should have their images made and set up in the attitude of bowing at the feet of the Gods.

81. Gāṇapati with elephant-face, and in the Liṅga form should be set up to the south, facing south.

82. All these have to be firmly placed on their seats, all round at the same level. They should be offered worship with sandal, flower-garlands and ornaments.

83. Establish the Guardians of the Directions, each in his own direction, made either of stone, or brick, and clothed in dress, in order, beginning with the east.

84. Having placed Vīrabhadra and Vigna (Gaṇeśa) one on each side of the inner shrine, then install “the mothers” in a line in the prescribed form.

85. Having offered worship to the Bali-pīṭha and having invoked all the remaining deities (Devatās) then let the ācārya instruct the patron (as to what he should do).

86. Gratify Vaiṣṇavas and learned men with gifts pleasing to them. Satisfy people in general with food and eatables of all kinds.

87. Let those who assist in the foundation be gratified by all means at his command by clothes and betel-nut gifts.

88. Let the Yajamāna (the patron-founder) do all that he was directed to do by the ācārya, in great devotion to God, day and night.

89. Having closed the front door, and making provision for adequately guarding it, the officiating priest should go out and get food, drink and money largesses to be distributed.

90. In regard to an image installed in a newly constructed temple, knowing men will not offer worship for three days. On the contrary, distribution of gifts is recommended.

91. If one makes gifts of money with discrimination among the deserving, and provides food and drink for all, he is doing what would please Had (Viṣṇu).

92. If one should install God in a new temple, without giving these various gifts, he is afflicted with disease and his relations cause him fear.

93. Therefore a wise man, for his own prosperity, will instal Acyuta in a new temple, providing a plentiful supply of food and drink, accompanied with money gifts.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra, Chapter XIX Entitled Sthāpana (Installation of the deity in a temple)