Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes duties undetailed (karma-shesha) which is Chapter 29 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 29 - Duties undetailed (karma-śeṣa)


1. In this work (Tantra), if there should be any acts of worship which you have not so far expounded, kindly expound them now as I am anxious to know them.


2. Then, as arising from your question, I shall explain to you what has been omitted of the works one has to do, in their actual relation to those already described, O, Pitāmaha!

3-5. When the pedestal or seating for God is not available, make the lotus-seat by mystic signs (mudrā), placing the various Śaktis (powers or attendant deities) and their garland of lotuses in the petals and the stamens of this central lotus; and then, placing mentally also the guardians of the directions on the outskirts of the lotus, and then again placing the two cardinal letters (bīja akṣaras) in their respective places in the name of the Devatas and in the mūla-mantra, proceed to offer worship with this arrangement. The mūla-mantra is completed, when one’s own desired object is declared, as it is in his mind.

6. The principal devotee alone should be placed in the heart etc. This is the rule of worship, conducted to gain one’s wish, for the purpose of effectuating ṣaḍaṅga-nyāsa.

7. This nyāsa should be performed at the beginning of worship, in places of fear, in the midst of forests, in rivers, and at junctures when life itself is in danger.

8-9. One should keep silent, even by main effort, on the following occasions: in offering worship, while at food, in prayer, while bathing, in taking the holy sip, in performing the fire-rite, in passing urine, in throwing off excreta, in the performance of worship morning and evening, in the mystical surrender of one’s body, in acts of worship, such as prostration before a deity, and in the offering of water-oblations.

9. In making protection for the body, in prostration with the body, and in offering propitiatory worship, remain silent even by an effort, as otherwise one cannot gain the benefit of worship.

10-11A. The spatulas should be of gold, silver, copper or khadira wood (rosewood). Gold brings power, silver fame, copper peace and khadira wood wealth.

11B-18. Its length must be 12 aṅgulas; the circumference of the bottom end should be one aṅgula. The circumference of the handle should be twice as much; at the neck, the ridge should have leaves. The two hollows in the petal should be each one yava in depth, and circular in shape. The margin round the petal should be a quarter less than the viṣkamba[viṣkambha?] (the ridge round the neck), the petal itself being one yava. The handle should be like a cow’s tail in shape, and the spout should be shaped like men’s nose. A knowing man will make the sruca (covering spoon) of equal size with the sruva. The perimeter of it should be twice that of the viṣkamba, while round the neck also it should be twice. Divide the whole into five parts. Two of these shall be the petal, and the rest the measure of the handle. Let the surface of the ladle be lower than the snout and round in shape[1]. Let the end of the snout be of the shape of the two lips in their normal position and serve as passage for the ghee. Let the bottom be one yava in perimeter, and the end half a yava. In offering food etc. of all kinds, one who has control over his senses should first make the ghee offering. Having poured the ghee and covering it with the hand utter the mantra Aṣṭākṣara.

19-23. Uttering the Paramahaṃsa-mantra, place the food in a clean place. Then make the offering of the remaining food in the manner above described. By such service one destroys his sins. Having placed the food, with well prepared condiments, and, having sprinkled water over it, a wise man should make God partake of it, with the Vāyu-mantra,in five offerings for the five Vāyu-mantras: namely PrāṇaApānaVyānaUdānaSamāna. These are to be understood the five Vāyu-mantras by name.

24-25. Having offered the food, let Him be given water to drink with the same mantra, and let Him be then given water for washing hands. Then, having offered worship to the Supreme God daily with undisturbed mind, let him offer the following prayer when the time for it should have arrived.

24-37. Victory to Thee O Lotus-eyed! Reverence unto Thee, the Creator of all.

Let my worship go to Thee, Lord of the senses! the Great One, the First of all. Thou art the common Supreme Deity, alike to the Devas (friends), and Dānavas (enemies).

I always seek protection in the pair of thy feet.

Thou art the one Creator of all the Universe; and so art Thou the sole destroyer.

Surrounded by the Guṇamāya (the qualities), Thou art the Lord of the Universe, as Well as its Guide.

Men of great minds place themselves under Thy protection, and cross the ocean of being-a place of endless suffering.

Possessed of no form or body, neither weapons nor place of residence, Thou appearest yet in the form of Man (Puruṣa) to Thy devotees.

Nothing is unseen by Thee, nor art Thou seen by any. There is nothing unattainable by Thee; nor art Thou attainable by any.

Thou art the first cause of all things created; of words Thou art the highest. For Yogins, Thou art the Supreme attainable, and they know not anything higher.

Affrighted I am, O Lord of Gods! in this fearsome world of being. Protect me, O Lotus-eyed! I know of no. other, through all time, and through all space; and, when the body is left behind, the fear only grows the greater.

Even in other lives, I see nothing other than Thy lotus-feet to bring me that good which assures me my ultimate salvation.

The wisdom thus attained, and the position thus acquired, may I not lose even in other lives of mine.

Even in the worst condition of existence, if only my attachment to Thee is not lost, I shall deem myself to have attained the highest end of existence.

May my mind, uncontaminated by desire and fixed on Thy feet, remain, in all my births, purely Vaiṣṇava in faith, is my sole wish.

34. Praying to God daily, with this, and prayers similar, announce yourself before God that you are His servant.

35. Treat your own body with whatever is left over of the articles of worship, and seat yourself on a mat dose to the platform for worship.

36. In the manner that one would make all efforts to please a man of great eminence, or a teacher par excellence, so should worship be offered to God.

37. O, Padmaja! three things are essential to fire-rites; namely, samidh (dried sticks of wood), havis (cooked food), and ājya (ghee) Offer daily oblations with these.

38. Flowers with sandal, are to be the articles of worship to be used, for Lokapālas (Guardians of the directions) Fire-rite has to be performed on all occasions of worship after offering these.

39. When a special object is sought to be attained, or on occasions of extraordinary character, oblations of cooked food are prescribed.

39B-43. Neither the fire-oblation with the sticks of wood, nor oblation with the sruva (one of the ladles) is prescribed on any other occasion. Taking each stick separately, throw it into the fire, with all the mantras in the prescribed order. Then offer the ghee-oblation with the sruva, and the offering of cooked food with the hand. At the end of the oblation collect the ash mixed with water, and let it be painted over parts of the body, for the protection of oneself and for the destruction of one’s sins, the top-knot of hair, the face, the throat, over the heart, on the arms, on the navel and at the end of the feet. Let this never be done as a mark of decoration—Let this ash-painting be done with the mantra of fire, and in the shape of a mace. This should be of the same form and only one in each place indicated.

44. One should not elect as an ācārya one of inferior birth. One who desires to gain his wish, should not elect one of bad conduct, even though he be a high-born Vaiṣṇava.

45. If the ācārya should have to initiate into the dīkṣā, many at one time, one course of ceremonies will be enough for all.

46. Let the ācārya however go through the initiating dīkṣā of a novice, and that of one of the twelve (assistants) in one process.

47-48A. Let not the mūrtipas offer cooked oblations; let the ācārya do it himself. Let him also offer, in the prescribed manner, ghee oblations to the twelve mūrtis (beginning Keśava), the twelve powers (śaktis), and to Vāsudeva and others.

48B-52. Making the ground level after making it wet, fix the peg without effort. Then let a circle be made on the earth of uniform radial length, of twelve aṅgulas with the mark of a crab in the centre. Then let the peg be fixed in the centre, with equal length of space all round; then mark the end of the shadow cast within the circle. Mark similarly the end of the shadow cast in the afternoon, and then, by casting the thread between the points, mark the directions east and west. Then, by means of the diameter in between them, make the fish mark and by casting the threads across note the directions south and north.

53. In this manner let the directions be marked out always for the house of God (temple). In the drawing of the circle of worship also this measure is held to apply on a smaller scale.

54. Otherwise let a wise man make out the directions on a large scale from the middle space of the picture, or the central portion of the building.

55. A bachelor should offer, with a devoted mind, worship with flowers. If available, naturally ripe fruits may also be offered.

56. If one is a Vanaprastha (retired to the forest in old age) he should offer cooked forest food, that is, root, fruits etc. One who has not become an ascetic should not go from his village to another for the purpose of performing worship.

57. A householder, on the contrary, should perform (secret muttering) at the time, and then offer worship by contemplation. Doing whatever is accessory, to yoga practice, let him visit holy places.

58-60. A man who has become a sannyāsi (ascetic), should spend the four rainy months of the year (cāturmāsysa) in the principal holy bathing places, or in places sacred to Viṣṇu, containing temples to Viṣṇu, making the cakramaṇḍala (the circle of worship). He should make pilgrimage to holy battling places and offer worship there. He should learn from worthy teachers works on Pāñcarātra (tantrāṇi) with their esoteric explanations. When death approaches, he should make efforts even at great pains to attain the place regarded as the most secret.

61-64A. In the course of circumambulating a temple, a Vaiṣṇava should not pass the god who wears the cast off apparel (Viṣvaksena, the guardian deity). Go, as tar as the Viṣvaksena shrine, and. then return to the temple gate. After offering the handful of flowers (Puṣpāñjali) again, and bending a little, uttering “my worship, to Thee” with folded hands, he should offer obeisance, in the same manner, to all the attendant deities round the temple. This is the prescribed, course of conduct for the initiated; others devoted to worship may adopt whatever course pleases them.

64B-65. In all kinds of worship, the Śaktis, yoga and aiśvaṛya, should be placed outside the seat of worship, as in the case of the placing of the Mūrtis in the prescribed order. The guardians of the directions should be placed outside of these in all directions.

66. In the case of initiation ceremonies, the guardians of the compass should be placed outside of these, but each in his own direction. To them worship is to be offered separately with sandal and flowers.

67-68. This is considered mahāyāga (great worship) capable of giving all that one may desire. This elaborate course of ritual ought not to be adopted at all acts of worship. On special occasions, or at great happenings, this elaborate course should be adopted. In worship intended to attain a wish, this elaborate course is recommended to be always adopted.

69. In all these kinds of worship, if one detail should be wanting, the desired object will not be obtained. Invoke the deity by offering arghya (holy water) with devotion, and then offer Him worship.

70A. Arghya should similarly be offered at the time of completing the decoration, and at the end of worship, every day.

70B-71. Any five of the following is called sin-destroying arghya when combined, and they are water, milk, the end of kuśa grass, ghee, powdered gingelly, fruit, sandal-paste, flowers etc., haryāli grass.

72-73. Having taken the arghya from one vessel into another, present it with both your hands. A devoted worshipper of Viṣṇu (Vaiṣṇava) should keep ever muttering the eight letters, or the twelve, daily, even though uninitiated; but one uninitiated should never mutter the Parāmahaṃsa-mantra.

74-75. Ignorant people should mutter the two other mantras without the praṇava. For women, children, the deaf etc., a learned man should always offer worship to God with a happy heart. If it should be offered for them alone, it is then the most auspicious. God, the most inscrutable, will not be pleased soon.

76. The deeds that you do are never destroyed; therefore remain free from anxiety. In the presence of a concourse of people, do not offer worship to the God of Gods.

77A. Do not talk about worship offered, nor recite the lauds loudly.

77B-79. It is not possible for me to detail to you in full karma-śeṣa (the acts of worship undetailed), O Kamalāsana (lotus-seated), owing to the vastness of the subject; I have just given you the general account. Whenever there is any doubt, whatever the high-souled devotees of Viṣṇu, expert in Pāñcrātra, advise should be followed without entertaining any doubt.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra Chapter XXIX, entitled Karmaśeṣa (duties undetailed)

Footnotes and references:


Here there is a lapse; one sloka and three quarters which are found in Chapter XXIII. The translation follows the latter text.