Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes bathing (snapana) which is Chapter 21 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 21 - Bathing (snapana)


1. For Mukunda (Viṣṇu) thus installed, what are the ceremonies ordained for the three days (of interval). At the end of this interval in what manner is worship to be performed? These be pleased to explain.


2. Having installed God in the manner described, and having performed the Parihomam, the Ācārya should first of all have food, drink and money gifts distributed freely.

3. All should have food scattered outside in all public places where roads meet. When the three days should have passed he should do the needful for the bathing (snapana) of the image.

4. Between the two doorways of the temple, make a low platform each way four hands in length spread all over with sand and provided with a canopy.

5. On the platform let the ācārya place new water-pots of gold, silver, copper or earth decorated, for all dravyas (things used for the bathing).

6-8. On the platform lay a cloth spread over and place the pots on it. Having placed them upside down and having made the water by rubbing over it with a pavitra (a ring with a tail made of kuśa grass,) again set the pots erect and sprinkle water thrice over with the parameṣṭhi-mantra. Then let the ācārya fill in these vessels with the things to be used for the bath, filtered through cloth and carefully examined; having got the pots to be brought over by the mūrtipas, five in order should be filled first of all, with pañcagatya with the incantation of pañcopaniṣad-mantra.

9-10. Then again, one pot should be filled with these all together. Another pot should be filled with water and ends. Honey, gingelly-oil, sugar-cane juice, clean water should each be filled in one pot separately. Another vessel should be filled with earth brought from one of the following: bathing-ghats, in holy places, from hills, caverns of wild hogs and rats, ant-hills, earth dug up by the horns of bulls.

11. Having filled these pots as above, fill them over again with flowers, leaves, sandal, gems and garlands, according to means.

12. Other articles wanted for worship, and placed away from the Vedi (platform), should be brought in and cleaned by servants initiated for the purpose.

13. Then, having gone up to the sanctum, let him open the door with the Vāyu-mantra, removing the covering of the God with the Viśva-mantra.

14. First of all putting the God out of the image, and removing all the dress and decorations, let the then bathe the image getting the things prepared for the bath by duly initiated servants.

15. For the purpose of purifying the image of God, let the ācārya perform the bathing of the image (snapana) with all that is ready placed on the platform for the purpose, by taking them up one after the other in order.

16. First of all he should bathe the image with pañcagavya with the pañcopaniṣad-mantra in regular order; then with honey etc. uttering the guṇa-mantra, and then again with the juices of two plants.

17. Then with the eight, other articles (dravyas), the five subtle elements (tanmātras), and the three, namely, mind, individuation and understanding (manasahaṅkāra and buddhi). These eight are the mantra.

18. If the bathing be with six articles (dravyas) the six, the three egotisms and the three qualities arising from rajas and tamas, then constitute the mantra.

19. One who knows the mantra should first of all bathe the image slightly (by sprinkling), and, then having invoked the deity into it, let him bathe the God with all the things collected for the ablution.

20. Then let him do the propitiatory rite with the holy water first, and then, with water containing sandal, flowers etc. Finally let him perform the highest rite of propitiation with water containing (ratna).

21-22A. Let the accesssary deities be also similarly bathed in water and other things. Having bathed the gods in this manner, let the ācārya proceed in the course of worship as before, ending in the fire-rite.

22B-23A. Let him have food cooked another time for the giving of the bali offering to the Bhūtas (evil spirits about) in another secular fire, without any mantra. This is what is called outer offering (bāhya-bali).

23B-24A. Let the worship be offered in the manner prescribed, and, according to one’s own means, with the materials for the pūjā and pleasing to the mind and with the fire-rite duly performed.

24B-25A. Let the eatables, and other presentations including sandal and flowers, be of excellent quality when offered to the Supreme God on the occasion of the bath. At the end of this, make the bali offering as prescribed,

26-32. Then bringing a round vessel of gold, silver or copper, having placed it on the sacrificial altar, and, sprinkling over it by means of the bundled bunch of kuśa (pavitra), make a seat but of the second cooked food in it. Then let the ācārya place the image of the Supreme God on it. The image would be clean if made of gold, gem or silver. Then having performed acceptable worship of Him, with sandal and flowers, let the place the vessel on the head of one of the initiates. Let him fill another vessel with the unused remainder of the cooked food so as to be floating on water. Let the remaining initiates carry the incense-carrier, flag and umbrella. Then, having circumaṃbulated the sanctum, with the conch and drum sounding, let the scatter with his hand the bali at the place where the deity is to be installed. In the same manner going round the bali altars round the temple itself and outside the procession pathway round the temple (prākāra), let him scatter the food on the altars, saying “Worship to the Bhūtas”.

33. Circumambulating again, and then entering the sanctum, place the image in one part of the platform for worship.

34. Let also the outer deities be gratified by the gift of these offerings, three times a day (morning, noon and evening); there should however be no transgression in this.

35. Where, after the installation of Hari (Viṣṇu), the bali offering cases to be made in that Viṣṇu temple, one ought not to take food even if occasion arises for doing so,

36. Whichever men are low enough to obstruct the bali offering, they acquire such a load of sin as accrues by killing cows.

37. For Deva (God), duly installed, worship should be made ending in bali offering, and this should not be given up. On occasions arising, the bathing (snapana) of the image should also be performed to the extent of one’s ability.

38-41. On the fourth day after installation, on the twelfth day, on the days of viṣuvat (equinoxial days, first days of Caitra and Tulā months), at the end of journeys, on days of eclipses, on days of evil omen, when epidemic diseases prevail, or famine or molestation by enemies occurs, when a festival is but half gone through (and not carried to completion), and when worship had been suspended for long, when the image had been defiled by touch of thieves, sinners of a grave character, or reprehensible people, when death takes place within the bounds of the temple, or when something inglorious occurs; when evil happenings such as these supervene, then let the ablution of the God of Gods be performed as ordained.

42. This ablution averts all evil and destroys all sin; this ablution of Padmanābha (Viṣṇu) should be performed by all desiring welfare.

43. Let all the vessels, cloths etc. be presented to the ācārya; whatever may be available otherwise may be presented to the Vaiṣṇavas as dakṣiṇa (fees).

44. From the fourth day of installation onwards let Hari be offered worship daily. Let the fire-rites also be performed as well as the bali offerings by the Deśika (officiating priest).

45. Where Hari is daily worshipped by those devoted to him there occurs no troubles from Piśācas, Grāhas (other evil spirits) and Rākṣsas.

46. Where Hari is daily worshipped with clean articles of worship, people there flourish with everything desirable and free from all disease.

47. If people devoted to Viṣṇu, suffering from illness, go to those places they get free from disease as if from medicine.

48. Let the God, duly installed be not, exposed to the view always. Except on occasions of worship, such exposure is not pleasing to Hari.

49. Exclude from the temple of Viṣṇu any collection of things unclean, and the collecting of unclean people; also things in daily use by people should be kept out.

50 Let the devotee of Viṣṇu keep the articles with great care. Whenever he wishes to go out let him keep the temple door shut.

51. Let the Vaiṣṇava install the deity (Viṣṇu) in the temple, in accordance with the rules laid down. So long as he does not first deviate from the prescribed course of worship, he keeps free from all calamity destructive of his wealth and welfare.

52. If there be many people anxious to build temples the benefits arising from the act will be greater in proportion.

53. In this manner I have explained to you all about the institution of a temple for worship. Hereafter I shall expound the festivals connected therewith.

In Parmasaṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra the Chapter XXI entitled (snapana) Bathing.