Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes festival (yatra) which is Chapter 22 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 22 - Festival (yātrā)

1. O Brahman! now listen to the ordinances regulating the festivals (yātrā) to the God, already installed in temples, their legitimate occasions and the indications therefor.

2. O Kamalodbhava (lotus-born)! these festivals to God are of two kinds: the first for the purpose of a holy ablution, and the second for consecration of the temple.

3. When the lotus-eyed Viṣṇu is installed by people in a temple intended for Viṣṇu, the deity should be carried for the bath to where there is a flowing river if there should be one.

4. Even though well installed, the Supreme God is pleased only when festivals are celebrated, ablutions are given at the end of these, and the deity is brought back to the temple; not otherwise, O Padmasambhava!

5. Beginning with taking out the deity to the bathing place up to the going to the final bath, the worship conducted, in accordance with the ordinances therefor, constitutes Viṣṇu worship.

6. First of all, cause a festival (yātrā) of twelve days to be celebrated with dancing and music; if desired, the duration may be longer.

7. Having listened to casual words spoken, having consulted omens, and having understood the indications of other signs, make the commencement of the festival.

8-9. When the day, the presiding asterism and the hour chosen happen to be auspicious, at a moment when all round in the immediate vicinity of the patron, auspicious indications appear, then begin the festival to Viṣṇu Śārṅgin (carrying the bow).

10. When the nakṣatra, in which all these qualities combine, is found, celebrate an elaborate festival on the day previous.

11. Adorn the directions with pennons, held aloft at the end of sticks, festoons and lamps on posts.

12. Worship deities all over, specially those of the directions, with bali offered of cooked food and other articles.

13. That evening offer a great bali offering at the outskirts of the village, to the sound of conch and drum, and, with the assistance of the inhabitants of the village (mahājana).

14. Scatter round, in all the pathways, food and drink of all kinds, as also in groves, on the borders of forests and temples.

15. Having thus offered the great bali offering, and having celebrated overnight a great festival, the ācārya, getting up early in the morning and having bathed, should offer worship to God.

16-17. At the end of all this, bring out the image of God for the purpose of yātra (jātra or festival). For this purpose the image ought to be of gold, silver or copper, and no other material is acceptable for this purpose. It must be small of body, beautiful in features, and provided with conch and discus. Bring also a car or elephant, as the vehicle for God for this festival.

18-21A. The Guru, at an auspicious hour, having brought together experts in various musical instruments, a large number of body servants, umbrellas, flags and canopies, various kinds of drummers using drums, tabours and cymbals, artisans (śilpis), servants, dancing-women and women-servants of the temple, with four of his disciples accompanying him, should obtain the permission of the excellent Brahmans assembled; and then, going round the image of God and placing himself in front of the image, he should announce slowly let the yātra (journey to the bathing place) be performed.

21B-23A. Then, having destroyed the material body of the image, and having created it anew as prescribed, invoke the deity into it as was explained for occasions for worship. Then, contemplating the deity thus invoked, and, having presented water for washing in the manner prescribed, cover the image with a large piece of cloth with new-cut ends.

23B-26. Let him himself bear in his right hand the image, keeping himself silent as he does so, and, accompanied by the four disciples, let him go out of the sanctum; let one of the disciples; carry a water-pot, one an umbrella opened out, another, the things required for worship, and the fourth, the cooked food (havis). Going out with band playing but himself silent, and, having reached the place where the car or elephant is waiting, let him place the Garuḍa on this (car or elephant), get up himself with the other four without fear.

27. All of them being silent, wearing their upper garments and otherwise decorated, and, surrounded by the people (mahājana), let them proceed to where the river is.

28. Having made first of all a round of the village outside it, saying the dig-mantra, let them go out of it (to the river) within a distance of one yojana (7½ miles). Beyond that, one should not go (for the-river).

29. In between make festival with band playing, music, dance, and other sounds, carrying the deity on various vehicles for the gratification of God.

30. Having got near the water, make first of all an altar. Having got down the image from the vehicle, place it on the altar.

31. In a place free from people, offer cooked food and sweet gruel to God; and then, water for washing the feet and for the holy sip, and then present water for washing the hands.

32-33. Having remounted the image on the elephant saying the sarva-mantra, take it into the river; then, having, with the vāri-mantra, invoked all the holy waters, all round the God in the river, and, taking hold of the image, let him take three dips in the water pronouncing the mantra-parameṣṭhi. Having approached the altar, offer to the God water for washing the feet and for taking the holy sip.

34-36. Taking the kuśa-bunch in the hand sprinkle water over the God with senses under control, pronouncing the pañca-mantra. Then again, taking the image into the water, and having got the Brahmans to recite the mantra-aghamarṣaṇa, let him bathe, with all the people. Getting on to the bank of the river and bringing the image back, let him offer worship with sandal and flowers, having offered water for washing feet and hands, and presented offerings in the prescribed manner. Having come to the end of this, bring the image back to the vehicle as before.

37-38A. Having mounted the image of Hari, as before, let him return without delay, reaching the temple the same day, as else great evil will befall the officiating

38B-39A. Having returned by the same way and then having entered the sanctum, let the Supreme God enter the main-image (mūla-bimba), by reciting the sarva-mantra.

39B-41. Having invoked God into water, containing sandal and flowers with the mantra proper, let him bathe, with that water, that image (bimba) at the end of festival as at the beginning of the water-journey (yātrādau). Having done all

this and having offered worship, let him present water for washing, and then, having made obeisance, let him close the sanctum and go out as he pleases. Let him then gratify Brahmans outside with food and drink.

42-44A. Let him ask the Brahmans, thus pleased with food and drink, to recite. Vediç verses invoking blessings. Even then let the ācārya, along with his disciples, be dismissed after the presentation of dakṣiṇa (fees). I have in this manner described to you the festival of bathing in holy water. I shall also describe now, the second, kind of festival of Śārṅgin (Viṣṇu with the bow), which, as already said before, was in connection with the construction of the temple.

44B-45A. When the temple becomes dilapidated, or when the sanctum of Hari needs repairs, or the image has broken or decayed by age, the yātrā festival to God must be performed.

45B-46. With new wood of auspicious trees, having constructed, to the East or North, a square house with well protected entrance, place in the middle of it a wooden seat.

47. On the seat, place a small metallic image, with four hands and artistically made, fix it to the seat so as to be unshakeable.

48-51. Then, on the auspicious day arriving, having gratified Brahmans of excellent character, and, having performed a propitiatory ceremony at the end of the recital of (mantra for a holy day) for making the place pure, get first of all a big vessel of gold, silver or copper, and place in it gold and jewels to the extent of your ability); then make the sandal and flowers etc., and all around pure by clean water; and then decorate all round; and then offer worship to God most elaborately. At the end of the worship let the ācārya proceed to the new built-house.

52. Having adorned it all round with sandal, flowers and shoots of plants, and then, having entered inside, let him contemplate upon his own soul.

53-56A. Having then contemplated the seat of yoga, and the image on it, in the manner described already, and, invoking the deity first of all and then made arrangements for protection, then let him go out. Going to the doorway, of the temple, the officiating ācārya should ask to know, from the architect staff, how long the, God should reside with difficulty; in the temporary structure. This the learned should wish to hear. Then he should not fix a time nearer than what they, estimate. The time however should be fixed by those men if it is over a month. If shorter than that, nothing is wanted.

56B-58. Then taking the vessel with him and entering; the sanctum, let him invoke God Puruṣottama into it, by pronouncing the sarva-mantra;then, contemplating the time fixed by them, and then, carrying on his head carefully the large vessel, and going round the sanctum, right-wise, let him proceed to the new home for God.

59-62. Having gone round this as well, let him enter- the shrine with his senses under control. Having then intimated to the Brahmans the time fixed, and having obtained their permission, then let him contemplate Hari with the pañcopaniṣad-mantra first, and then with the sarva-mantra. Having prayed for His presence, and, presenting water as before for washing, let him do the other ceremonies, with the appropriate mantras, along with the fire-rite. At the end of all this, provide every one assembled with food as also money gifts, according to means, getting them to pronounce their benedictions. The placing of gems, stones etc. under the seat of the, image, should not be done in this ease by one who claims knowledge of the mantra.

63-64A. What is important in this case is the placing in the manner detailed above; therefore, With minor accessory things and without the burying of gems etc., let the installation be made as if in a place of residence without conveniences, for the accomplishment of one’s object.

64B-65A. When the temple or sanctum is again ready, let the image be placed in the water-vessel, carried back and duly installed in its former place.

65B-68. If the image should have decayed, then the ācārya having obtained the permission of the Brahmans, placing himself face-eastward and imagining himself to be Viṣvaksena (the guardian-deity), proceed near the image and pull it out with the assistance of servants. Let him take charge of all the mūla-ratnas (gems etc. buried under the image). Carrying the image in a vehicle to a great body of water, let it be deposited in the middle of it contemplating the while Vishvaksena.

68A-69. Having got another new image made with all its features beautiful (as before), let the ācārya get through all the rites prescribed in the tantra (Pāñcarātra) beginning with the placing in the water and stopping short of invoking the deity, into it.

70. Having done this, let the platform be made, having buried under it three gems to be placed there. Then again place the image on the platform and make it fast.

71. Having then contemplated the seat of God, as also the image, invoke into the water-vessel the God in the outhouse.

72-74. When the auspicious hour has arrived, let that image be not washed. In case, however, the main image is not lost or damaged, let him get the building constructed all round, and, having it purified with pañcagavya etc., and calling up the God from the water-vessel let him invoke Him into the image. In case of images broken or decayed, or otherwise made unfit by contact with dirt, reject it altogether; otherwise do not pull it out.

75. In this manner I have explained to you the two kinds of procession festivals to God in the proper order. What else would you wish to hear from me?

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra Chapter XXII, entitled Yātrā (Festival).