Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes fire-rite (agnikarya) which is Chapter 20 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 20 - Fire-rite (agnikārya)


1. O Puruṣottama! Please expound to me the rules regulating the fire-rite which is done on all occasions. Further explain the connection between this and the rite of worship, as also what is wanted for performing the fire-rite.


2. O Pitāmaha! I shall expound the fire-rite for general purposes first; then in the same manner I shall explain the fire-rites on occasions of initiation, inauguration of teṃple-worship, as a daily rite, and as a rite performed on occasions for particular purposes.

3-4. Vessel for ghee, the cooking-pot, water-pot for sprinkling water, dried sticks of wood, kuśa-grass (Poa cynosuroides), sand, rice, clean water, spoons, the sticks to be laid all round, sacrificial ladles, fire, fan, kuśa bound together (kūrca), dried fire-wood, a spoon or stick for stirring sandal and flowers etc., these constitute the material requirements for the fire-rite.

5. Having brought together these things near to the place of fire, the officiating priest should begin the worship of Hari (Viṣṇu) in the manner prescribed in the tantra (Pāñcarātra text).

6-7. Having invoked the deity, and given him water for washing hands, and then the tāmbūla (mukhāvāsa lit. mouth-scenter), and, thus having obtained his permission, and turning back and going to the right of God, set up the place for fire, beautiful and in front of God. For purposes of Dīkṣā (initiation) make the fire-place round, and of the measure of the hand.

8-9. In another place, let him make, with sand, a foursided altar. Raising the altar thus made with the astrā-mantra, and having sprinkled it over with clean water, let him spread out sand in all directions, making it all one level. Then, having written the ahaṅkāra-mantra first, write out from the North the Guṇa-mantra.

10. Then having washed his hands with water, and having brought the fire with the Tejo-mantra let him light the fire uttering the Vāyu-mantra with the wood already laid on the earth.

11. Having taken water in the hand, sprinkle it round the fire, and with Vāsudeva and other mantras; place kuśa in all the directions.

12. Having placed the kuśa utterring the Sparśa-mantra place all the collected material brought in pairs.

13. Put the vessel containing the cooked oblation in its place, and so the darvī (the palāśa leaves with which ghee oblations are made), spoon, the vessel for ghee, the sticks of wood, flowers, rice and the stirring stick (mekṣaṇa). Having got these in pairs, place them separately, as also the(sacrificial drinking vessels). Place the kūrca (a bunch of kūśa) to the south of the fire, uttering the Brahma-mantra.

15-16. Placing to the North of the fire, the full waterpot uttering the nivṛtti-mantra, and, having made a ring with two blades of kuśa with the tips undamaged, place it on the water-pot. Having poured water into the pot, and having made it pure by drawing it three times on it, turn over all the vessels and let them be sprinkled with water.

17. Bringing the vessel of cooked oblation, throw four handfuls of rice with the mantra beginning Dharma (DharmaJñānaVairāgya, and Aiśvarya), having sprinkled water over it with the hand.

18-19. Having placed it on the. fire with the appropriate mantra, fan the fire into flame. Having poured ghee, into its. vessel with the pavitra, repeating the Tejo-mantra, and haying placed it to the North of the fire, touch with darbha grass with its end lighted. Place also in the ghee, the ends of two blades of kuśa grass uttering the Parameṣṭi-mantra.

20-22. Again lighting it up with the Tejo-mantra, take it round the two oblations. Then, throw the burnt kuśa, into the fire, purifying three times with the pavitra; than throw it untied into the fire, uttering the Then showing in the fire darvīsruva, (flat spoons of wood) and the ends of kuśa grass, and rubbing over the darvi both inside and out, uttering the Sparśa-mantra and washing the sruva also similarly, throw the kuśa grass into the fire.

23. Dropping a little ghee with the sruva, on the caru, place the caru to the North of the fire. Even there take steps to prevent interruption of the rite all round.

24. Then getting near to God, begin the course of rites constituting the worship. Having presented water with the cāmas, then give God the tooth stick.

25. Giving the water again by the same camas, order away the gandhāmalaka (gandhāmala = wild lemon), imagining those as having been cast off to the side of

26. Then, having raised the image of the God of gods from the seat, and, taking Him with His sandals to the bathing place, the officiating priest should bathe Him mentally.

27. With the Tejo-mantra bathe the God, present the dress with the Śakti-mantra, with the Tamo-mantra present the over garment smelling sweet.

28. Having again bathed the image with water from twelve other pots, perform the propitiatory rite five times with the Pañca-mantra.

29-30. Presenting water for washing feet and for taking the holy sip throw it into the pratigraha-pātra (receptacle for water). Then, having bathed the image well again with eight pots of water, and then, having performed the propitiatory rites with the three Mūla-mantras a hundred and four times (or sixteen times), then cover the image over completely with cloth with the Sparśa-mantra.

31. After this present the image with upavīta (holy thread) made up of three threads each of three strands; then give the uttarīya (upper cloth) of yellow colour, with the Sparśa-mantra.

32. Having given water for washing feet etc., rub over the head with fragrant oil; then having poured water over the body, rub it over with aṅga-rāga (cosmetic) for the body.

33-34. Then again washing the image, present two new cloths again as before. Then present the jewel canna-vīra (garland of Victory) of gold and of three threads, drops for the ear, karṇa-mudrā, belt, epaulets, bangles, kaṭakas (ornamented bangles) and finger rings.

35. Belt over the stomach, anklets, bāhubandha (armlets), hair-binder (śikhāmaṇi), head-gear and then the thread for fastening the cloth at the waist.

36. Then flowers, garlands, for the head, and for the shoulders. All these should be presented with the mantra; then the jewels Śrīvatsa (image of Lakṣmī), tubha, and the ever present Vanamālā (garland of lotus-beads).

37. In the same manner present conch and disc, in the forms of signs, mentally; and then with Rūpa-mantra, mirror and collyrium for the eyes,

38. Then present Him with incense and lamps as also water for washing the feet and rinsing the mouth. Giving Him the sandals, again take Him up to the place where the pedestal is set.

39-40. Giving Him water again for washing the feet, and for the holy sip in the prescribed manner, present, with both your hands, and with the rasa-mantra, madhu-parka (honey mixture) made of a good mixture of honey, sugar, ghee, curds, and milk.

41-43. Then, having given water in a new vessel made clean by rubbing with ghee, bring a third part of the cooked food, and, pouring ghee, offer it to God. Having given water again in other separate vessels, present as before cooked eatables and fruits ripening by time. Then a wise man will keep for a while, muttering the Pañcopaniṣad-mantra; and, then having given water from another vessel, he will present betel-nut etc. (mukhāvāsa).

44-45. Having uttered a laud of praise, and, having bowed in reverence to him in the direction of the image, then going ceremoniously round the image, treat Puruṣottama as a king and show him honour, as if in fear; then, obtaining his permission with the satva-mantra, protect yourself with the Astra-mantra.

45b-47A. Getting near the vessel containing the sacrificial fire, and, having again sought permission in the prescribed form, place with the guṇa-mantra the three sticks (called paridhi), one on the ground near to the officiant and one each North and South; then, having offered sandal and flowers by way of decoration, to the Brāhmaṇas nominated as the guardians of the directions, and being seated there, seek their permission, after prostrating before them twice.

47B-48A. Having taken twenty-five sacrificial sticks together and dipping their ends in ghee, throw them together into the fire pronouncing the aṣṭākṣara-mantra ending with svāha.

48B-49. Having made three oblations of ghee with the three ahaṅkāras, and, sprinkling water round the fire with the guṇa-mantra, and then, imagining a lotus with its pericarp in the fire thus alit, then invoke in it the Supreme God in the manner instructed before.

50. Having mentally presented water for the hand, offer ghee oblation with the spoon (sruva) pronouncing the pīṭha-mantra ending in svāha.

51. Then wiping out the darvi (a spoon or a Butea frondosa leaf) and placing upon it a bolus of cooked food and putting a little ghee over it; offer it into the fire unshaken with the mantra (following).

52. With the same mantra (Vāsudeva) offer twelve oblations with the sruva, and similarly eight times with the mantra aṣṭākṣara (Nārāyaṇa).

53. Again offer the oblation of a bolus of cooked food with ghee, with the Rudra mantra. Put aside the darvi after washing it.

54-56. Having placed one sacrificial stick, offer oblations of ghee with the sruva separately for each, with the mantrasmūktiśakti etc. ending with the guardians of the directions, leaving only the cakra-mantra; but the cakra should be included in case of fire-oblations for dīkṣā (imitation).

56. Then again offer oblations in expiation with the Pañcopaniṣad-mantra five times; at the end of this, offer ghee in one continuous stream.

57. This kind of fire-ceremony, a learned Brahman is entitled to perform. It may be performed by a Kṣatriya of good qualities, or even by a Vaiśya of much information.

58. No Śudra should perform the fire ceremony–above described even though he be a learned man. An initiate, a wise man, and a man of learning among them, should really get another competent person to do it for him.

59. Even a Brāhmaṇa if of bad conduct, and a Kṣatriya of the same kind run the greatest risk if they attempt to perform the fire-rites.

60. In ceremonies, ordained to be performed on special occasions in ceremonies intended to gain cherished objects, in those meant for purposes of initiation and for instituting places of worship, fire-rites may be performed; not on other occasion unless one is entitled to do it.

61. In all cases, this is the accepted rule in regard to the performance of fire-rites. For the guardians of the directions offer ghee oblations in their names.

62. Initiate Brahmans only shall perform fire-rites called pari-homa. They must have attained to the position of Ācārya (acknowledged teacher), and be gratified with the presentation of gifts.

63. They alone shall assist by service who are selected by the Ācārya in the rites of initiation (for any holy rite), or in the institution of places of worship, and none other as they are not acceptable to the Tantra (Pāñcarātra Śāstra).

64. A worshipper, by always performing the fire-rite in the mannar ordained, destroys sins, and attains to the eight great achievements (siddhi).

In the Paramasaṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra the twentieth Chapter entitled agnikārya (Fire-rite)