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Tantra Agama Part One Tantra

sreenivasarao s / 2 yrs ago /
Tantra - Agama: Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra
Part One: Tantra
[For Shri Ramakrishna Deekshitulu Archakam ; Hereditar Tem!le
Priest; Sri"ari Tem!le; Tirumala Hills# Shri Deekshitulu is a mem$er o%
the Sulekha communit#&
[This article is !rimaril a$out Agama# Since Agama is closel aligned to
Tantra' let(s $rie%l talk a$out Tantra $e%ore )e re"ert to a discussion on
*#*# The term Agama' !rimaril' signi%ies tradition; it is a )a o% li%e#
Agama re!resents the !re"iousl ordained !ractices generall held in
esteem +Agama loka-dharmanaam maryada purva-nirmita - ,$h -#*./#0*1#
Agama is also that )hich hel!s to understand things correctl and
com!rehensi"el' in attaining the highest o$2ecti"e o% ,an +aa jna vastu
samantaccha gamyat ith agamo matah: Pingala-matha1# Agama' according
to 3aa-mangala' is a )ell ascertained +siddam siddau pramanaustu1
trust)orth kno)ledge +shastra aptanam1 that contri$utes to our )el%are
+hitam1 here +vaa tra1 and herea%ter +para tra cha1# 4ts authoritati"e
traditions' )hich command %aith' !rescri$e !ractices %or da-to-da
ritualistic li%e; and' in !articular' %or a )ell disci!lined course o% right
conduct and !ur!ose%ul )orshi! 5 actions to $e %ollo)ed at each stage o%
one(s !ursuit %or attaining his6her ideal o% 7od#
*#8# Agamas +the term Agama literall means )isdom traditionall !assed
on1 ha"e come do)n to us %rom the distant !ast through oral traditions#
The are re"ered as re"elations; $ut' are not essentiall treated as !art o%
the Vedas# The Agamas do not deri"e their authorit directl %rom the
Vedas# 9et; the are Vedic in s!irit and character; !er%orm 9a2nas in the
Vedic mode; and make use o% Vedic mantras )hile !er%orming the ser"ice#
*#:# 4t is also true that Vedas and Agamas are intimatel related# The
re!resent t)o as!ects o% a %undamental ;uestion: ho) to reali<e the Truth#
Veda' it is said' in its !rimar sense is =no)ledge )hich li$erates# Agama
is a traditional doctrine gras!ed in %aith# Agama de"elo!ed the esoteric
teaching and !ractice o% the Vedas into e>ternal %orms suita$le %or the
changing needs o% times#
8#*# The argument o% the Agamas is that mere kno)ledge and discussion
a$out That +tat1 or the Truth or the Su!reme ?eing )ill achie"e nothing
s!irituall; and )ill not li$erate' unless it is su!!orted $ !ur!ose%ul
action# 4t !oints out that 2ust talking a$out s!iritual e>!erience is rather
!ur!oseless: @mere )ords cannot chase a)a the delusion o% the
)andering; darkness is not dis!elled $ mention o% the )ord lamp(# Ahat
is o% !rime essence is the actual' direct immediate e>!erience +Sakshatkara1
o% the Su!reme# And' Truth has to $e reali<ed and $rought into ones
e>!erience# That is not !ossi$le unless there is a de%inite' determined and
sustained action +Sadhana kriya1 to attain ones ideal o% Truth# All must act'
)ho ha"e not achie"ed#
8#8# The claim o% the Agama is that it !ro"ides such means o% action' as also
the techni;ue %or reali<ing and e>!eriencing the su$lime ideals eulogi<ed
$ the Vedas and its associate scri!tures o% kno)ledge# Agama assures; its
)ell de%ined and time-tested methods o% Sadhana are indeed the !ractical
a!!lications o% the teaching o% the Vedas and Vedanta# Here again' it is
e>!lained' a single ritual act !er%ormed routinel in dail li%e is rather
shallo)# ?ut Sadhana' on the other hand' is an intimate s!iritual disci!line
com!rising set o% coordinated !ractices o% %aith o% )hich rituals %orm
!art#Agamika - Sadhana is more com!rehensi"e; it is a sustained and a
determined endea"our to reali<e ones ideal o% Truth# Agama' there%ore'
a!tl calls itsel% "ariedl as Pratyaksha Shastra, Sadhana
Shastra and Upasana Shastra.
8#:# The Agamas !romise that i% ou %ollo) their direction ou )ill
achie"e Siddhi# The assert; to e>!erience a thing in its ultimate sense is to
$e that "er thing# 4t is %or this reason the ancient %aith o% Agama has
!rescri$ed rituals' )hich are $oth sm$olic and suggesti"e' as also a set o%
disci!lines that ensure )holesome' health li"ing in $od' mind and s!irit#
8#.# The Agama is thus a !hiloso!h )hich not merel argues $ut acts and
e>!eriments# Agama is !ractical !hiloso!h +prayoga shastra1 addressed to
ardent as!irants# 4t com$ines in itsel% the e>!osition o% s!iritual doctrine as
also the means to reali<e its teachings# Agama !ro"ides %orm and
su$stance to ones %aith and to its ;uest#

Tantra 5 Agama
:#*# 4t is !erha!s $ecause Agama is unit o% a sstem o% thought +or %aith1
and a $od o% !ractices; it has come to $e "er closel connected )ith
Tantra# 4t is said; Agama is essentiall a tradition' and Tantra is its
techni;ue +prayoga1# 9ou cannot think o% the one )ithout thinking o% the
other# Agama is the Sadhana !art o% Tantra# Tantra and Agama cite same
set o% te>ts# 4% Tantra is said to $e in greater use in Borth' Agama is used in
South# The Agama te>ts in South o%ten include the term Tantra in their
:#8# The t)o terms are o%ten used interchangea$l# For instance;
an Agamika is also called Tantri# An old Tantric te>t Pingalamata sas that
Tantras are Agama )ith characteristics o% Chhandas +that is Vedas1# The
Agama-Tantra )a is as im!ortant and as authentic as the Vedic tradition#
The encclo!aedic dictionar Shabda- kalpa – druma o% Ra2a Radha
=anta De"ae>!lains: since Agama tries to !rotect the delicate $alance in
creation' the learned ones name it as Tantra+tanuth trayath nithyam
tantra mithi viduhu budhaha!# Tantra is also Siddantha-Agama +tantriko
jnana siddantah1- an esta$lished sstem o% kno)ledge and
!ractices. Tantra is the !rocess +vidhi1 or the regulation +niyama1' )hich
am!li%ies and nurtures kno)ledge +Tanyat vistaryat jnanam anna iti
tantram!" it $reathes li%e into %orms o% kno)ledge and de"ises methods to
reali<e its aims#
Tantra 5 )hat isC
.#*# #amikagama e>!lains Tantra as a sstem )hich e>!ands +vipula1 on
matters relating to essence +arthan1 o% !hiloso!h +tattva! and mantra that
hel! to attain li$eration +tanoti vipula – arthaan tattva – mantra
samanvitam" tantram cha kurut yasmad tantram ity abhidhiyat!# Tattva is
the stud o% the A$solute !rinci!le# Tantra $rings the reali<ation
o% tattva +tat D That1 )ithin ones e>!erience' )ith the hel! o% mantra -
Sadhana# Tantra is there%ore an intuitional )isdom that li$erates +tatra ya
ayat tarayt yastu sa tantra parikirtitah1# At the same time' it is said'
de"otion and com!lete surrender is the secret o% Tantra –Sadhana# And' itis
characteri<ed $ high regard' im!licit o$edience and un;uestioned %aith in
the guru#
.#8# Tantra is understood as a sstem )hich leads to gro)th o% one(s
a)areness' higher %acult o% reasoning and intuiti"e !o)er leading to the
!ath o% sel%-reali<ation# 4n !ractice' Tantra is a dnamic !hiloso!h )hich
su!!orts li%e' action' as!iration' kno)ledge' ;uest %or truth' a !ath )hich
unshackles the !otential o% the human mind and hel!s one to reali<e the
essential unit o% all e>istence#
.#:# Tantra also stands %or ritual' in general' )here"er there is the conce!t
o% dualit# The ritual might $e e>ternal or internal $ )a o% intros!ection#
Ritual is the $od tanu in )hich the s!irit o% Tantra mani%ests. Ritual' in
%act' is the art o% Tantra# 4t in"ol"es ela$orate initiation +diksha1 ritual; use
o% sm$olic 9antras' mantras and mudra-s +suggesti"e gestures1; and
secreti"e Sadhana# The rituals' here' are sm$olic acti"ities )hich
strengthen the as!irant(s con"iction and hel! him to achie"e a harmonious
relation )ith his en"ironment in the $roadest sense# All these are meant to
%ructi% in direct e>!erience o% his ideal' )hich indeed is the aim o% Tantra
as also its 2usti%ication#
.#.# Another %eature o% Tantra is the im!ortance it assigns to s!eech and its
!o)er# 4n the Vedic conte>t s!eech vak )as in"ested )ith di"ine ;ualit#
Tantra )ent a ste! %urther and lent the s!eech energ and !o)er# 4ts
mantras are in"aria$le accom!anied $ slla$ic $ija mantras )hich are
!otent )ith inherent Shakthi# The $ija mantras o% Tantric nature are
su$tle sounds o% a$stract language )hich attem!t to "isuali<e the un-
di%%erentiated di"ine !rinci!le#
.#/# Tantra is a "ast and all com!rehensi"e set o% disci!lines' $elie%s
sstems and !ractices# 4n the )ords o% Sir 3ohn Aoodro%%e: Etantra' %rom
its "er nature is an encclo!aedic science### not )eighed do)n $ the
limitation o% )ords# 4t is !ractical; lights the torch and sho)s the )a#( @###
Tantra is neither religion nor msticism $ut is $ased u!on human
e>!erience in the "er act o% li"ing' as a source o% the am!li%ication o%
consciousness### The Tantra )a has $een a$sor$ed as a cultural $eha"iour
"alid %or e"erone and not merel to an e>clusi"e grou! or sect(

Tantra 5 a snthesis
/#*# Tantra is not a single coherent sstem# 4t is an accumulation o% ideas
and !ractices dating $ack to !re-historic times# The Tantra snthesi<es the
"arious insights o% karma' 2nana' $hakthi and oga %or the $ene%it o% the
ardent !ractitioner in his endea"our to reali<e his ideal# The Tantra )orks
acce!t the "alidit o% Vedic rituals; the%rame)ork o% the Fni"erse
com!osed $ the dual elements o% !ure consciousness +Purusha' Shi"a1 and
Prakrti +Shakthi1 as !ut %or)ard $ Samkha; the )isdom +vivka1 and
detachment +vairagya1 o% the F!anishads; the !uri%ing disci!lines o% Ra2a
oga; as also the !assionate lo"e %or the Di"ine as sung in the Puranas#
The e>hort the as!irant' Sadhaka' to e>ercise his6her )ill and stri"e e"en
as the !ractise sel%-surrender' !raing %or di"ine grace#
/#8# 4n addition' Tantra em!los numerous techni;ues )hich include
mantras; 9antras; !ostures and gestures +nyasas and mudras1;o%%erings o%
%lo)ers' incense and ritual ingredients; $reath control +pranayama1; ogic
!ractices +asana, dhyana, dharana1 etc# The Tantra !romises its
%ollo)ers$hukthi and %ukthi: )ell$eing in the !resent )orld and ultimate
li$eration %rom sorro)s o% the )orld# Tantra' thus aims to attain !lural
o$2ecti"es +anka-muddisya sakrt pravrttis-tantrata!#

Tantra Outlook
0#*# Tantra $elie"es that the culmination o% all learning is sakshatkara the
direct e>!erience o% one(s cherished ideal# 4t asserts that Truth cannot $e
attained $ mere kno)ing a$out it# And' that i% the Truth has to $e reali<ed
and $rought into ones e>!erience' it surel needs Sadhana# Tantra claims it
!ro"ides the means and the techni;ue +upasana-prakriya1 %or reali<ing and
e>!eriencing that Truth# 4t is !roudl calls itsel% Sadhana
Shastra orPrayoga Shastra, the shastra distinguished $ s!rit o% enter!rise
and ad"enture#
0#8# Gentral to Tantra-%aith is the conce!t o% dualit that culminates in
unit# Shi"a the !ure consciousness and Shakthi its creati"e !o)er are
eternall con2oined; the one cannot $e di%%erentiated %rom the other# The
are essentiall t)o as!ects o% One !rinci!le# 4n realit' the )hole o%
e>istence' the range o% mani%old e>!eriences in the )orld are $ut the
e>!ressions o% Shi"a-Shakthi com$ine# Shi"a +Purusha1 does not act $
himsel%' $ut is inse!ara$l associated )ith 5 and in%luences through 5 his
Shakthi +Prakrti1' the dnamic !rimal energ that mani%ests' animates'
sustains and %inall re-a$sor$s the uni"erse into itsel%# This Shakthi is all
!o)er%ul and in%inite# 4t is onl in the relati"e !lane that Shi"a-Shakti
might a!!ear as se!arate entities# ?ut' the Realit is unit' an indi"isi$le
0#:# At the core o% the Tantra ideolog is the %aith in @upasaka-upasya-
abhdha-bhava&' )here the )orshi!!er and the )orshi!!ed are united# The
Tantra mode o% !ractice +upasana –prakriya!' it is claimed' leads to the
summit o% its !hiloso!h )here the upasaka comes to identi% her6himsel%
)ith her6his upasya-dvata.
Tantra 5 ,an
H#*# The indi"idual' according to Tantra' is not isolated $ut is integrated
into the entire cosmic scheme# And' his limited e>!erience is not se!arated
%rom the A$solute e>!erience# The indi"idual is a miniature Fni"erse# The
$od is a microcosm o% the uni"erse +$rahmand y gunah santi t
tishthanti kalvar!; and @)hat is here is else)here; and )hat is not here is
no)here +yadihasti tadanyatra yannhasti natatkvachit1#
H#8# Tantra %irml $elie"es; the %orces that o!erate the )orld are dormant
)ithin the !erson; $ut' %unctioning at a di%%erent le"el# 4t asserts; ,an is a
s!iritual $eing; and he reali<es his %ull !otential )hen he is a)akened# The
!rocess o% reali<ation is sel%-disco"er' )hich culminates in true
understanding o% the sel%# The !ur!ose o% Tantra is a)akening the hidden
!otential in ,an to ena$le him to reali<e this Realit#
H#:# Tantra regards human $od as a mandala 5 a matri> o% energ; and as
a con%iguration o% "ital currents +prana-shakthi1# 4t asks the indi"idual to
res!ect his $eing %or it is 'sha-para the cit )here Shi"a d)ells; to stri"e
%or sel% im!ro"ement; and' to kee! $od and mind health#
H#.# Tantra is the cult o% householders# 4t does not encourage renunciation
+sanyasa1; $ut at the same time las em!hasis on internal !urit and
detachment# The "ie) o% the Tantra is that no reali<ation is !ossi$le $
negation or $ esca!e %rom the )orld# Tantra asks the as!irants to acce!t
the )orld as it e>ists; and not get in"ol"ed in %ar-%etched assum!tions#

Tantra- )orld
-#*# Tantra $elie"es and sas; the tangi$le )orld o% actual e>!eriences is
real; and' it is not in con%lict )ith the @other(# Tantra(s a!!roach is thus
!ractical; and' it attem!ts to $e %ree %rom con"entional !er%ectionist
clichIs# Tantra is not @other-)orldl( in its outlook# 4t is against e>treme
asceticism; and is also against arid s!eculations#
-#8# Tantra stri"es to sho) a )a to li$eration here in this li%e )hilst in this
$od and in this )orld: jivanmukthi# And' that is not achie"ed $ denial o%
the )orld' $ut $ sustained disci!line and !ractice )hile still $eing in the
)orld' amidst its !leasures# 4t assures that the tangi$le )orld o% da-to-
da e>!eriences is real; and is rele"ant in its o)n conte>t# This )orld is a
!assage to)ards !er%ection; the "isi$le leading to the in"isi$le# There is no
con%lict $et)een this )orld and the @other )orld(# 4t does not intend to
sacri%ice the !resent )orld to the @other )orld(' $ut aims to someho)
integrate the t)o into the %rame)ork o% li$eration# Tantra
!romises $hukthi and %ukthi: )ell$eing in the !resent )orld and
li$eration %rom sorro)s o% the )orld#
Tantra 5 a!!roach
J#*# 4n the conte>t o% its times' the Tantra- a!!roach )as more o!en and
radical# Tantra o"erlooked the arti%icial restrictions im!osed $ caste and
gender discrimination# And' it )illingl admitted into its common %old
+samanya1 the )omen and sudras hitherto ke!t outside the !ale o% religious
!ractices# The (autamiya Tantra declares: KThe Tantra is %or all men' o%
)hate"er caste' and %or all )omenK +Sarva – varna- adhikaraschcha
naarinam yogya va cha1#
J#8# Tantra a!!eals to the common as!irations; and recogni<es the urge o%
natural human desires# 4t admits the e"er ongoing con%lict $et)een %lesh
and s!irit# Tantra ideolog e>!lains; e"er human e>!erience $ears a
su$2ect-o$2ect relation' the en2oer and the en2oed# 4t is not %easi$le either
to destro or to su$2ugate the o$2ect altogether; %or an such attem!t $inds
one into a "icious circle %rom )hich there is no esca!e# On the other hand'
it is )iser to trans%orm the disintegrating %orces into integrating ones#
Tantra makes an ama<ing statement: e"en as the o$2ect can $e o"ercome
onl $ the o$2ect' the desire can $e o"ercome $ desire# Hence the Tantra
dictum: Ethat $ )hich one %alls is also that $ )hich one risesE +)atraiva
patanam dravyaih, siddhis-tatirva1# And' Sri Auro$indo there%ore remarks:
@tantra turns the "er o$stacles to s!iritual realisation into ste!!ing
stones#( This is a trul distincti"e %eature o% Tantra#
J#:# The essence o% Tantra is direct e>!erience# Tantra sets out its a!!roach
through direct action' in contrast to Vedic rituals !er%ormed indirectl
through the !riests# 4t sas: @understanding Tantra is $ doing it(# Tantra
cautions: @There is no sal"ation $ !ro>; and de%initel not through hired
!riests# Lach as!irant has to stri"e to reali<e the true nature o% sel% and
attain sal"ation(#
Veda and Tantra
*M#*# Veda and Tantra are t)o li%e-streams o% 4ndian heritage; are the )ar!
and )oo% o% the 4ndian culture and traditions# Veda is kno)ledge and
Tantra is cult that aims at li$eration# The ha"e enriched our li"es in
countless )as# Though Tantra is more "isi$le in our da-to-da !ractices'
there cannot $e a religious ceremon )ithout the recitation o% Vedic
mantras# And' hardl an as!ect o% 4ndian thought and usage is outside the
sco!e o% all em$racing t)in- in%luence# The t)o most ancient might ri"ers
o% tradition could not ha"e arisen in isolation nor could the ha"e
%lourished )ithout one in%luencing the other#
*M#8# 9et; in the general !erce!tion' the Veda and Tantra are distinct
currents o% 4ndia(s s!iritual' cultural and intellectual li%e# A!!arentl' the
t)o are not onl mutuall e>clusi"e $ut also are o!!osed to each other#
And' the orthodo> %ollo)ers o% Vedic tradition tried to distance themsel"es
%rom Tantric ideologies and stress that Tantra is not a !roduct o% Vedic
*M#:# Though the Vedic and Tantra traditions are o%ten considered as
!arallel streams or e"en as intert)ined' their mutual relations o"er the
centuries ha"e not al)as $een com%orta$le# 4t is rather com!le>#
*M#.# The traditional "ie) is that Tantra and Veda are t)o distinct strands
o% 4ndian cultural %a$ric# The orthodo> assert: @Tantra is cult and Veda is
enlightened !hiloso!h( #Tantra' on the other hand' !ut %orth their o)n
**#*# 4n the Vedic tradition' much attention is gi"en to kno)ledge 5 the
kno)ledge o% gods' o% the 9a2nas# 4ts a!!roach to gods is o% collecti"e
character' in"ol"ing a num$er o% !riests and ade!ts s!eciali<ed in each
!art o% the 9a2na# The 9a2nas are occasions o% great cele$ration )here a
large num$ers !artici!ate enthusiasticall#
**#8# The Tantra' in shar! contrast' is highl indi"idualistic in its
a!!roach# The Tantric as!irant stri"es to communicate directl )ith o$2ect
o% her6his )orshi!; )ithout the mediation o% !riests# Tantra is upasana-
prakriya $ased in sm$olic re!resentations +sankta prakriya!. The Tantra
ideolog is' o%ten descri$ed as @sm$olic )isdom' directl communicated
through the teacher +sanktha-vidya guru-vakthra – gamya1#
Tantra is origin o% Vedas
*8#*# There are other assertions that tr to $ind the t)o traditions together
$ saing that Veda and Tantra are $raches o% a single sstem# For
instance; =ulluka ?hatta +*/
centur1' one o% the commentators
o% %anava-*harmasastra +8#*1 states that Sruti or the re"ealed )ord is
t)o%old: Vaidiki and Tantriki +vaidiki tantriki caiva dvividha sruti kirtita1#
*8#8# There is another saing )hich declares that Veda is' indeed' a $ranch
o% Tantra# The Agama te>ts state that the disci!line kno)n as Tantra is
t)o%old in nature: Agama and Bigama +agamam nigamam chaiva tantra-
sastram dvividha matham1# Here' Bigama stands %or Veda and Agama is a
sstem o% !ractices ins!ired $ Tantra ideolog#
*:#*# Some Tantra-te>ts go a ste! %urther and assert that Vedas originated
%rom Tantra ideolog #For instance; +arayaniya-tantra claims that the
Vedas )ere deri"ed %rom the Tantra-sources: Rig Veda %rom ,udra
yamala; 9a2ur Veda %rom -ishnu )amala; Sama Veda %rom $rahma
)amala; and Athar"a Veda %rom Shakthi )amala#
*:#8# The assertions that the Vedas come )ithin the sco!e o% Tantra or that
the Vedas originated %rom Tantra are rather intriguing; and it is "er
unlikel# +arayaniya-tantra' mentioned a$o"e' is o% recent origin +c#*.th
centur1; and it might ha"e o"erstated its !osition in order to ele"ate the
Tantra School# 4t is "er unlikel that Veda originated %rom Tantra#
Tantra !erha!s de"elo!ed largel outside the esta$lishment and in the
!rocess de"elo!ed its o)n outlook and a!!roach to li%e' a)a %rom the
con"entional !urist clichIs#
Tantra 5 Veda 5 com!ati$le
*.#*# Some te>ts o% Tantra ackno)ledge that Vedas are o% great anti;uit
and are highl re"ered# Tantra acce!ts the authorit o% the Vedas; and
assures it is not in con%lict )ith Veda or an other recogni<ed Shastra# For
instance; #ularnava Tantra sas +8# -/'*.M'*.*1 that #uladharma is $ased
on and is ins!ired $ the Truth o% Veda +tasmat vdatmakam shastram
viddhi kaulatmakam priy!.
*.#8# The Tantra School e>!lains that i% one gets the im!ression that Tantra
is o!!osed to Vedas' it is !artl $ecause its a!!roach is di%%erent' and also
!artl $ecause o% it attem!ts to gi"e a ne) inter!retation to Vedic
elements# Tantra argues; it essentiall teaches the same tenets as the
Vedas# 4t is' in %act' the culmination o% the !hiloso!hies o% Vedanta and
Samkha# The di%%erence o% Tantra lies in its method and certain su$tle
!oints o% !hiloso!h#
*.#:# Tantra calls itsel% the dri"ing %orce s!reading the light o% kno)ledge
+Veda1: @Tanyat, vistaryat j.anam anna, iti Tantram(# The Tantra School
!oints out that the Samhitas +mantra !ortion o% Vedas1 and the 9a2na-
rituals are ent)ined# The mantras o% Rig Veda and Sama Veda are
concerned )ith o%%ering 9a2nas to "arious deities# The hmns o% 9a2ur
Veda' in the main' are a$out the actual !er%ormance o% the 9a2na# A$o"e
all' the Athar"a Veda along )ith its mstic in"ocations is also a$out the
!ractices kno)n as abhicara the !ractical a!!lications %or medicinal'
magical and other !ur!oses# The Samhita associated )ith the !ractical
as!ects 9a2nas )as ela$orated in the later ?rahmana te>ts# 4t is there%ore
argued that the ?rahmanas are' in %act' the Tantra o% the Vedas#
*/#*# The tantra ideolog !ro2ects itsel% as the natural e"olution o% the
thought !rocess# The F!anishads are a!!endices to the ?rahmanas )hich'
as alread said' constitute the tantra or techni;ue o% the Vedas# The older
F!anishads' it said' ado!ted the Vedic deities and conce!ts %or !ur!oses o%
esoteric meditation# ?ut soon' the later F!anishads took u! to %antra
shastra or -arna sadhana, oga and 9a2na# Gharacteristicall' a $ulk o%
them is attached to the Athar"a Veda ha"ing direct a%%init )ith the
Tantra' in aim and content and e"en in %orm# The Tantra School argued
that Tantra-ideolog is thus at the core o% the Vedas# Pranatoshini
tantra claims: @Veda is an e>tension o% Tantra(#
*/#8# Vedas ma not ha"e originated %rom Tantra# ?ut' there a!!ears to $e
some su$stance in other arguments o% Tantra School# O"er the centuries'
the mo"ement o% all thought !rocess has $een %rom the general to the
!articular' %rom esoteric to the more e>!licit# 4t is the !rogression %rom
!rinci!les and theories to their !ractical a!!lications; simulating the
relation $et)een science and technolog# 4n the 4ndian conte>t' the Veda in
the distant !ast )as highl ideali<ed !oetr ins!ired $ a)e and )onder o%
the surrounding nature and a earning %or a true understanding o% the
msteries o% the Fni"erse# The F!anishads that %ollo)ed took u! the germ
ideas hidden in the !hiloso!hical hmns o% the Vedas and e>!anded them
into series o% discussions# The Puranas conser"ed and !ro!agated the
e>oteric ritualistic as!ects o% the Vedas through the medium o%
)onder%ull delight%ul legends that common !eo!le could relate to and
The Tantra $rought into its %old the esoteric teaching and !ractice o% the
Vedic mstics; the techni;ues o% 9oga; and the sense o% a$solute surrender
and intense de"otion to ones ideal as e>tolled in the Puranas #4t snthesi<ed
all those adora$le elements and turned them into %orms o% )orshi!-
!ractices +archa1 designed to satis% the needs and as!irations o% ordinar
men and )omen o% the )orld' in their o)n conte>t# The gro)th and
de"elo!ment o% 4ndian thought resem$les the imager o% the in"erted tree
5 o% )hich our ancients )ere "er %ond - )ith its roots in the sk and its
%ruit-laden $ranches s!reading do)n to)ards the earth#
*/#:# 4t is said; the Vedas re!resent distant !ast; the Smrti-te>ts re!resent
middle-times; and' the Puranas re!resent mthical !ast# And toda' it is
the Tantra and Agamas that are most rele"ant# Some Tantra-te>ts e"en
remark that Vedas had $ecome too distant and rather outdated $ecause o%
their e>treme +viparita1 age# 4ts roots are lost in the distant anti;uit; its
intent is not easil understood; and' its gods and its rites are almost relics
o% the !ast# The men o% the !resent age no longer ha"e the ca!acit'
longe"it and moral strength necessar to carr out -dic-karma-kanda#
And' there%ore Tantra' sas' it !rescri$es a s!ecial sadhana or means o% its
o)n' to ena$le common !eo!le to attain the o$2ecti"es o% Shastra#
There%ore' Tantra claimed' it arri"ed to re2u"enate the Vedic te>ts and also
to rescue men %rom the de!ths o% de!ra"it#
Tantra 5 Veda - ra!!roachment
*0#*# Although Tantra and Vedic traditions started on di"ergent a!!roach'
in course o% time there )as ra!!roachment $et)een the t)o; and the t)o
came closer# Tantra called itsel% the culmination o% esoteric kno)ledge o%
Vedanta; and' came to $e kno)n as a s!ecial $ranch o% Veda: Sruti-
shakha-vishsha# 4t e"en said; the Vedic religion in its essence has sur"i"ed
and s!read to common !eo!le through Tantra# The Tantra te>ts assert that
the Tantra-Sadhaka must $e a !ure !erson +shuddhatma1' a true $elie"er
+astika1' and must ha"e %aith in the Vedas#
*0#8# Tantra dre) man details %rom Vedic and 9oga traditions and
ado!ted man more )ith suita$le additions and alterations# 4ts originalit
lies in the manner it organi<ed "arious com!onents into a creati"e'
imaginati"e !attern# The Tantra in general sim!li%ied the Vedic rituals and
made greater use o% esoteric sm$ols#For instance; although the cele$rated
7aatri mantra +:#08#*M1 o% Rig Veda is dedicated to the Vedic solar deit
Sa"itr' it )as ado!ted $ Tantra as the re!resentation o% the ,other
7oddess# The *hyana-slokas !ortra the !icture o% a goddess# The
re!etition o% the 7aatri is !receded $ mstic slla$les kno)n
as -yahritis )hich are similar to the $ija-aksharas o% Tantric meditation#
*0#:# Similarl the hmn o% $enediction %rom Rig Veda +*#-J#01 )as
ado!ted %or )orshi! o% Shakthi# =aula rites )ere inter!reted through the
imageries o% the 9a2na# Tantra de"elo!ed te>ts in the mode o% Vedic
scri!tures# For the )orshi! o% gods 5 7anesha' =arthikea and Vishnu 5
theSama--idhana-$rahmana !rescri$ed the collection o% hmns kno)n
as -inayaka Samhita /S. -. .# /# :# :1' Skanda-Samhita /S. -. 0. 8# l# .1 and
the -ishnu-Samhita /S. -. :# l# :# J1' res!ecti"el# Some sa; Vedic elements
)ere introduced into Tantra te>ts to lend them greater acce!tance' an air
o% authenticit and res!ecta$ilit#
*H#*# 4n a like manner' the Vedic tradition admitted )ithin its %old the
Samkha and 9oga Schools aligned to Tantra ideolog# The orthodo> te>ts
accommodated the conce!ts trans%ormed %rom Tantra# For instance; the
ancient Vedic mantra Sa"itri )as acce!ted as the ,other - goddess +asya
maata Savitri: ,anu#8#*HM1# And' Ghandoga F!anishad +:#*81 glori%ied
7aatri as $eing that )hich e>ists right here' that )hich sings +gayati 1 and
sa"es +trayati1 all things in their Realit# Further' man o% the later
F!anishads o% sectarian character are a$out Tantric su$2ects# The recital
o% Vedic hmns no) accom!anies the "arious )orshi!-rituals o% Tantric
nature# There cannot a religious ceremon )ithout the recitation o% Vedic
mantras #And' the Vedic rituals are !receded $ !uri%ication rituals
like achamana' pranayama etc )hich are ado!ted %rom Tantra and 9oga#

Tantra - 4m!act
*-#*# The li"ing religion o% Hindus' as !racticed toda' is almost entirel
Tantric in nature# The Tantra doctrine and )orshi!- rituals )o"en into
4ndian culture are no) an integral !art o% 4ndian religions# The Hindu'
?uddhist and 3ain ideas' $elie%s' and !ractices o% )orshi! are !ermeated
)ith Tantra# The Tantra ideolog continues to %orm a !art' in one %orm or
other' o% all 4ndian s!iritual !ractices# The common )orshi! !ractices -
%rom the lo)est to the most ad"anced - $oth at home or in tem!les is'
almost entirel' $ased in the Tantra !hiloso!h o% dualit' in its outlook
and in its a!!roach to god# L>ce!t %or Vedic 9a2nas' e"er religious sect in
4ndia uses tantric modes o% )orshi! %or its rituals and s!iritual !ractices -
$oth e>ternal and internal#
*-#8# 4n toda(s )orld' it is the Tantra that has greater im!act on socio
religious cultural !ractices than the Vedas# Des!ite its $lemishes and the
a$uses it recei"ed' Tantra is the most !o!ular mode o% )orshi! conducted
at homes and in tem!les# 4t !ro"ides com%ort to the de"otees through its
ritualistic' !hiloso!hical' and mstic as!ects# The scholars hold the "ie):
)hat )e toda ha"e come to a!!reciate as 4ndian culture and religion is
more in%luenced $ the su$tle character o% Tantra than the Vedas#
*J#*# The reasons %or gro)ing in%luence o% Tantra are not %ar to seek# 4ts
im!ortance is heightened mainl $ecause o% the %ading in%luence o% the
ancient Vedic te>ts#The !rece!ts o% the Vedas +sa' maintaining "arious
ritual %ires at home1 ha"e $ecome too di%%icult %or our age# The sti!ulations
%or conduct o% Vedic 9a2nas ha"e $ecome rather im!ractical in the !resent
conte>t# The li%e-stles !rescri$ed %or Vedic !ractitioners ha"e also $ecome
outdated; and are di%%icult to %ollo)# The Vedic ideals' its gods and its "ie)
o% the !ros!ects in a%ter- li%e seem too distant# The idealism o% F!anishads
and its contem!lati"e !hiloso!h are ethereal; and are $eond the ken o%
common !eo!le# The legends "i"idl narrated $ the Puranas sound
%antasticall unrealistic#
*J#8# The common !eo!le earn %or a relation )ith the o$2ect o% their
)orshi!# The need a god to lo"e' to de"ote' to highl res!ect' to su$mit or
e"en to %ear# The look u! to a god )ho lo"es and rescues %rom di%%iculties;
!rotects the good; and !unishes the e"il# The de"otee !ras %or ha!!iness'
success and en2oment in the )orld# At the same time she6he also has a
resol"e +sankalpa1 %or mukthi' the ultimate-good#
Peo!le need something concrete' sim!le' and et attracti"e to )orshi! and
to address their !raers# Tantra !ractices lead men and )omen to seek the
di"ine )ith the hel! o% bra' murti and other %orms )hose sha!e is
sm$olic# Tantra' in its sim!le %orm' )ith its dualistic a!!roach; its sense
o% de"otion' dedication and com!lete su$mission to the chosen deit +ishta-
dvata1 %ul%ils the dee!est desire o% all# Tantra seems an easier cult )ith
easier doctrine# At another le"el' it lends "arious ritual !ractices 5 mental
and !hsical- meditation' "isuali<ation' in"oking the !resence o% the deit
in one(s $od +nyasa1' mantras and mudras all aiming to achie"e
identi%ication )ith the o$2ect o% their )orshi!#

Summing u!
8M#*# Sir 3ohn Aoodro%%e' the greatest e>!onent o% Tantra-"ida in recent
times' in his lectures on @Tantra Shastra and -da&, summed it u!
e>cellentl )ith a remarka$le statement: The a!!lication o% Tantric
!rinci!les in )orshi!-rituals is a ;uestion o% %orm# And' all %orms do
change )ith the !assage o% time# Accordingl' the structure and content o%
)orshi!-rituals are conte>t-sensiti"e# And' the "ar %rom region to region
and %rom time to time to satis% the needs o% the age and the as!irations o%
)orshi!!ers in accordance )ith the degree o% s!iritual ad"ancement o%
the $od o% men )ho !ractice it#
Tantra and its rituals might there%ore undergo changes o"er a !eriod# ?ut'
the ancient and sturd %oundations o% Veda and Vedanta on )hich Tantra
rests )ill remain unaltered and una%%ected#(
8M#8# The Agama 5Tantra tradition is as im!ortant and as authentic as the
Vedic tradition# Tantra des!ite' its "ariations' is a s!eci%ic sstem )ithin
the general sstem o% Hinduism# The rele"ance o% Tantra in the li%e o%
common !eo!le o% toda is mainl through )orshi! !ractices carried out
at homes and tem!les %ollo)ing the !rocedures laid do)n $ Agamas#
Agama is the Sadhana !art o% Tantra# The t)o !ermeate the religious li%e
o% most Hindus#
Net(s talk o% Agamas in the ne>t !art#

Gontinued in !art t)o

Re%erences and Sources
1. A Companion to Tantra by S C Banerji
Abhinav Publications 2!!"#
2. Tantra$ its mystic an% scienti&ic basis by 'alan Prasa% Singh
Concept Publishing Company 1(")#
*. Tribal roots o& +in%uism by S, Ti-ari
Sarup . Sons 2!!2#
/. The Tantric -ay by Ajit 0u1herjee an% 0a%hu ,hanna
Thames . +u%son 1(""#
2. Agama ,osha by Pro&. S, 3amachan%ra 3ao
,alpataru 3esearch Aca%emy 1((/#
). The Perspective o& the Tantras By ,. 4uru 5utt
". Tantra Shastra an% 7e%a by Sir ;ohn :oo%ro&&e
8. The Tantras$ An >vervie- by S-ami Samarpananan%a
(. 8volution o& Tantra by 9itin Sri%har

Post a Gomment
All Gomments
sreeni"asarao s / / 2 yrs ago
5ear Suresh 3ao ?Than1 you &or the visit an% the appreciation. The other three
parts are alrea%y poste%. Please chec1 them too.3egar%s
sreeni"asarao s / / 2 yrs ago
5ear Shri 3ama1rishna 5ee1shitulu ? 6 am %elighte%. Appreciation coming
&rom a revere% person li1e you is truly very valuable.Please chec1 the other
articles also? particularly the ones on 7ai1hanasa Agama. 3espects an% Pranams
Suresh Rao / / 2 yrs ago
srinivasa rao
7ery -ell -ritten. 'earn a lot rea%ing about the basic %i&&erence bet-een Tantra
. Agamas an% their conte=t in 7e%as. Than1s &or %etaile% %iscussion o&
Tantras@ loo1 &or-ar% to %iscussion o& Agamas.
Suresh 3ao
Ramakrishna Deekshitulu Archakam / / 2 yrs ago
5ear Srinivasa 3ao garu
This &irst part is very nice an% the comple= hi%%en meanings o& Agama an%
Tantra -ere e=plaine% in a luci% yet highly in&ormative mannerA 4reat article
an% must be save% &or all enthusiasts an% &ollo-ers o& Sanatana 5harmaA
8specially the para is 2.1 is -on%er&ul an% e&&ective? -ill give more
un%erstan%ing &or many people about Agamas true purposeA
:ill try to go thru other sections soonA
Than1s &or -riting? these e=cellent 1no-le%ge treasures on Sanathana 5harmaA
sreeni"asarao s / / 2 yrs ago
5ear Sribilash ?Than1 you.That -as very interesting. 6 %i% not 1no- o&
Amoghavarsha an% his Tantric e=ploits in China.
Please rea% Part T-o o& this series<Agamas < -here 6 ma%e a very brie&
re&erence to China Agama.
>bviously? the interaction bet-een the the t-o nations -as more &reBuent an%
%eep %uring the ol% perio%s.
sri$ilash / / 2 yrs ago
Crom 0anasa Tarangini
0ay not belong here but -ante% to %ra- your attention
A note on the Tantric state among the ch6na<s an% recovery o& a lost vainAya1a
6n "!2 C8? amoghavajra -as born in Samar1an% to a brAhma9a teacher &rom
either Prayag or ,ashi an% his 6ranian -i&e. +is &ather %ie% -hen he -as 1!
years ol% an% he move% to the ch6na%esha -ith his mother an% uncle. There he
became a stu%ent o& the great nAsti1a tAntri1a vajrabo%hi? a brAhma9a &rom
,anchipuram? -ho settle% in ch6na%esha a&ter a long journey in the east. Crom
,erala? vajrabo%hi ha% gone to Shrilan1a an% &rom there he -ent to the 9icobar
islan%s. Crom there he -ent to Sumatra an% &inally reache% ,-angcho-? -here
he became a guru o& the ch6na princess Tu<1u<1uei<&ei. Along -ith
amoghavajra an% his ,orean stu%ent +yecho prajDnAvi1rama he taught several
aspects o& the tAntri1a lore to numerous ch6na stu%ents. 6n "*!s amoghavajra
succee%e% vajrabo%hi as the guru o& the realm. 6n "/1 C8 the nationalist
legalistic +an &action ha% an e%ict passe% to 1ic1 out all 6n%ian an% ,orean
guru<s an% stu%ents &rom China. 6n this perio% amoghavajra -ent to ;ava an%
then to 6n%ia to learn un%er %i&&erent AchAryas in the high universities o&
bhAratavarSha. 6n "/) C8 he -as calle% bac1 to ch6na%esha to per&orm
tAntri1a rituals &or the emperor o& all ch6na<s Euan<Fong an% the princess +ua<
yang -as ma%e his a%opte% %aughter. 6n "21 C8 the ch6na army at pea1 o& its
military glory came to &ace to &ace -ith the 6slamic jiha% at Talas. The result
-as %isastrous &or the &ormer an% the Tang -ar machine met one o& its -orst
%e&eats in a long time. This -as Buic1ly &ollo-e% by another %rubbing at the
han%s o& the GarluB Tur1s le% by their yabghu Tun Bilge. >n the other si%e o&
the ch6na -orl%? the Tang generals attempte% an% invasion o& Thailan% an% met
yet another crushing %e&eat at the han%s o& the rAjA o& Thailan%. This shoo1 the
Tang empire paving the -ay &or the eventual rebellion o& the 6rano<0ongolian
ro1Shana An 'u<shan#. 6n course o& these events the %e&ense o& the Tang
bor%er Fones came un%er prince :umin o& Eiping? -ho invite% amoghavajra to
per&orm abhichAri1a rituals. Cearing his tAntri1a rites? in course o& his
ta1eover o& the ch6na throne? ro1ShanaHs capture% amoghavajra? -hile he -as
translating the tattva<sa0graha? a yoga tantra. SubseBuently? his patron prince
:umin -as also capture% an% 1ille% by ro1ShanaHs son. But in "2" C8 the
ch6na &orces %e&eate% the son o& ro1Shana an% 1ille% him to restore Tang po-er?
giving a chance &or amoghavajra to escape. +o-ever? shortly therea&ter the
ch6na<s su&&ere% a %e&eat at the han% o& the Iighur Tur1s an% &ace% an attac1
&rom the Tibetans. At this point the Tang emperor Su<Fong calle% upon
amoghavajra to per&orm great tAntri1a rituals to puri&y the palace o& the
emperor an% a jayAbhishe1a &or the survival o& the Tang empire. 6n these
rituals he %eploye% secret mantra<s to the vinAya1a yAmala to prevent vighna<s
&rom a&&licting the ch6na<s. A&ter the Tang revive% their &ortunes in ")! C8?
amoghavajra per&orme% a comple= tAntri1a ritual in -hich he cro-ne% Su<
Fong as the cha1ravartin sArvabhauma. Shortly therea&ter? he -as joine% by a
brAhma9a &rom ,ashmir name% prajDnAcha1ra? -hom he initiate% into a
secret ritual o& the chatur<vinAya1a<ma95ala. 6n ")2 C8 he is suppose% to
have per&orme% a long abhichAra rite on behal& o& Su<Fong right using the
maDnjushr6 1umArabhIta mantra to 1ill the Iighur ,haH1han. Thus?
amoghavajra became a highly regar%e% tAntri1a an% -as %eclare% minister o&
the realm o& the ch6na<s? an% -as %eclare% prajDnA1osha or the treasury o&
1no-le%ge by the ch6na emperor. Both amoghavajra an% his successor
prajDnAcha1ra -ere rAja<guru<s &or Su<Fong an% his successor 5ai<Fong on
-hose behal& amoghavajra ha% per&orme% apotropaic rites -hen he -as a
general %uring the ro1Shana rebellion#.
>ne o& the secret vi%yA<s that he promulgate% -ere a set o& rituals to ga9apati
an% his sha1ti -hose originals appear to have been lost in 6n%ia. But they are o&
greatest signi&icance in un%erstan%ing the gA9apatya ritual@ hence -e %escribe
them here. An account o& the ch6na +anguang mentions that he receive% %61Sha
in the secret sA%hana o& ga9apati an% his sha1ti &rom amoghavajra in "/" C8.
+e mentions that the prayoga -as so secret that neither the mantra<s nor the
ma95ala an% rites -ere recor%e%. The says the rites covere% puShTi1a?
shAnti1a? vash61ara9a? abhichAri1a? A1arSha9a? an% Ayuvar%hana? i.e. a
particular ShaT1arman encompassing both apotropaic? li&espan increasing an%
attac1ing rituals. +e only brie&ly elaborates on the root b6ja o& vinAya1a being
ga+ a nAsti1a &orm o& the original ga0 &rom the Asti1a tra%ition#. +e then
tries to provi%e a bau%%ha overlay to e=plain the nature o& vinAya1a J he
claims that both vinAya1a an% avalo1iteshvara emerge% as emanations &rom the
%harma1Aya the pervasive bo%y# o& the cosmic bu%%ha vairochana the %eity
in vairochanAbhisa0bo%hi tantra#. Then avalo1iteshvara trans&orme% into a
&emale an% became the sha1ti o& vinAya1a to paci&y him. +ence? they are
-orshipe% as a couple. ;ing<se in his vi%hi provi%es a &e- &urther %etails o& the
transmission o& amoghavajra$ +e says that the vinAya1a<s might be -orshipe%
as$ 1# the vinAya1a yAmala J -here vinAya1a is conjoine% -ith his sha1ti. 6n
this %epiction his sha1ti is clearly %epicte% in a proboscicephalic &orm. 6t is
clear &rom the navAr9a mIlamantra o& the original gA9apatya tra%ition
promulgate% by the great AchArya herambhasuta in 6n%ia the element
KhastipishAchi li1heL# that this is -hat -as originally inten%e%? although in the
later perio% in 6n%ia an entirely anthropomorphic sha1ti became the norm.
2# the Sha5bhuja vinAya1a J this &orm is %epicte% above &rom the original
%ra-ing o& vajrabo%hi or a copy there o&. Tra%ition hol%s that vajrabo%hi -as a
s1ill&ul iconographic artist.
*./# are chaturbhuja vinAya1a<s.
2# The / seiFing vinAya1a<s as or%aine% by the parishiShTha o& the atharvave%a
an% the mAnava g3Mihya sItra o& the maitrAya96ya tra%ition. This -as alrea%y
ta1en up by the nAsti1a<s an% incorporate% into the subAhu<parip3MichCha? a
te=t &rom the 1riyA tantra layer.
6t is regar%ing this last version o& the / vinAya1a<s that prajDnAcha1ra the
stu%ent o& amoghavajra recor%s a remar1able ritual.This ritual is terme% the
ritual o& the magical plates &or the %eva Amo%a sIrya vinAya1a#. +e &irst
ma1es the circular heaven plate about *</ aD9gula<s in %iameter an% then the
sBuare earth plate -ith its si%e " aD9gula<s &rom a -hite &ragrant -oo% on an
auspicious %ay. +e avoi%s seeing evil<%oers -hen he is preparing an% painting
this yantra. +e &i=es t-o han%les to the heaven plate an% connects the t-o
plates -ith an a=ial pin. >n the heaven plate &acing east he -rites the b6ja A0
in a lea& an% visualiFes a re% Amo%a<vinAya1a on a ja%e seat -ith a re% bo%y
an% -rath&ul &ace. +e is surroun%e% by many troops an% hol%s a vai5Irya
stone an% a spi1e. To the south in a lea& he -rites the 1ITa j6 an% visualiFes
Amo%a 1Ama vinAya1a hol%ing a mo%a1a an% a ra%ish? seate% on a ruby
throne. +e is surroun%e% by 18 crore hor%es yelling li1e jac1als. To the -est in
a lea& he inscribes hr6+ an% conceives Amo%a soma vinAya1a -ith 1!/
thousan% crore troops. +e is seate% on a tiger s1in seat an% is 1no-n as
e1a%anta. >n the northern si%e in a lea& the 1ITa mA is inscribe% an%
vAg6shvara ga9esha is conceive% seate% on a an% o& the blue green color -ith
his han%s sho-ing the asi<mu%ra seate% on a blac1 stone throne -ith 1oTi<
ayuta ga9a<s aroun% him. 6n the center o& this plate he may place an image o&
ru%ra. >n the earth plate in the %irections the &ollo-ing %eities are inscribe%
in%ra 8#@ agni S8#@ yama S#@ nir3Mit6 S:#@ varu9a :#@ vAyu 9:#@
vaishrava9a 9#@ ru%ra 98#. These are surroun%e% by the 28 na1Shatra<s an%
*) animals. +e then %isplays the special vinAya1a mu%ra to call the &or
vinAya1a<s. Then he invites the / seiFing vinAya1a<s -ith the mantra K>0
va1ratu95A%ipatye svAhA NNL. Then he %eploys a certain va1ratu95a mAlA
mantra an% %isplays a the vishva mu%ra. Then he sho-s the tejorAsh6 mu%ra
an% invo1es the %eva<s in the earth plate an% utters the incantation K>0
shatrupramar%ine svAhA NNL#. +e then sho-s the 1u95a<mu%ra an% invo1es the
na1Shatra<s an% the *) animals -ith a mantra that -e are unable to %ecipher. 6n
the ch6na transliteration it goes$ K>0 chi<ri<an<gi<ru<ni<ye svAhA NNL. +e then
sho-s the vajra mu%ra an% invo1es the multitu%e o& ga9a<s o& vinAya1a -ith a
mAlA mantra. Then he sho-s the bha1ti mu%ra.
+e per&orms a %igban%ha by tying a boun%ary threa% all aroun% the ritual area
an% uttering the mantra$ K>0 1i ye ye ye hu0 NNL. To %eploy the yantra he
rotates the vinAya1a on the heaven plate to coinci%e -ith a %eva on the earth
plate. Then he casts an% incantation &or that particular prayoga. This mantra is
not entirely %ecipherable an% en%s in hu0 hu0 1ili 1ili hum phaT svAhA NN. 6t
is accompanie% by a %isplay o& the aD91usha an% 1ha5ga mu%ra.
<6& he see1s to rise in stature then he may unites the sIrya vinAya1a -ith in%ra.
<6& he see1s to per&orm an abhichAra to cause &ever to a shatru then he may
unite the sIrya vinAya1a -ith agni.
<6& he see1s to get -ealth then he may unite the soma vinAya1a -ith
<6& he -ants to in%uce a person to love him he unites the soma vinAya1a -ith
vaishrava9a an% invo1es the na1Shatra<s therea&ter
<6& he see1s to -in a -ar then he unites the sIrya vinAya1a -ith ru%ra an%
invo1es the hor%es o& ru%ra.
<6& one -ants goo% crops he unites vAg6shvara vinAya1a -ith in%ra.
<6& he -ants to remove ba% %reams he unites sIrya vinAya1a -ith yama.
Thus? there are numerous prayoga<s &or %i&&erent purposes. 6t is sai% that it -as
transmitte% &rom 6n%ia to China. The mantra manual en%s -ith an eBuation o&
the ga9apati<s on the heaven plate -ith the / seiFing vinAya1a<s.
This te=t -as also subseBuently transmitte% to ;apan -hich ha% vigorous
gA9apatya tra%ition.
The recovery o& this ritual &rom ch6na sources is important because it belongs
to the class o& te=ts associate% -ith the transition &rom the seiFing vinAya1a<s
to the classical vinAya1a<s. 6t is o& interest to note that the te=t %escribes the /
vinAya1a<s o& being o& the same basic substance. This is reminiscent o& the the
yAjDnavAl1ya ritual stating that the / or ) seiFing vinAya1a<s are essential
mani&estation o& a single vinAya1a? umAsuta.
sreeni"asarao s / / 2 yrs ago
5ear Shri Sampath ? 6 am gla% you rea% this@ an% &oun% it a Olittle clearO
6 am posting a series o& articles on Tantra an% Agama ? -ith particular re&erence
to 7ai1hanasa Agama . That is because ? these articles -ere prompte% by Shri
3ama1rishna 5ee1shitulu Archa1am . Shri 5ee1shitulu -ho is a member o& the
Sule1ha community is a here%itary 7ai1hanasa scholar an% priest in the service
o& the 'or% at Tirumala .
Please %o chec1 the ne=t part on Agama @ an% let me 1no- i& it rea%s >,.
Tantra Agama Part T)o Agama
sreenivasarao s / 2 yrs ago /

Tantra 5Agama: Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra - Part T)o
[Prom!ted $ Shri Ramakrishna Deekshitulu Archakam ; Hereditar
Tem!le Priest; Sri"ari Tem!le; Tirumala Hills# Shri Deekshitulu is a
mem$er o% the Sulekha communit#&
Gontinued %rom Part One
Agama - Histor
8*#*# Agamas are a set o% ancient te>ts and are the guardians o% tradition#
The are o% uncertain anti;uit# And ' there are man legends associated
)ith their origins# Dr# Surendranath 7u!ta sas OThe date o% the Agamas
cannot $e de%initel %i>ed# 4t ma$e suggested that the earliest o% them
)ere )ritten sometime in the second or third centur A#D# and these must
ha"e $een continued till the thirteenth or %ourteenth centurP#
8*#8# The Agamas ha"e come do)n to us' o"er the centuries' in oral
traditions' %rom master to disci!le# The are o% !ractical a!!lications in
da-to-da )orshi! !ractices associated' mainl' )ith tem!le-)orshi!# 4t
is likel that' o"er the centuries' some changes or modi%ications might ha"e
cre!t into the !ristine lore to suit the changing needs o% times according to
the local conte>ts# 4t is' there%ore' ;uite !ossi$le the original te>ts $ecame
elastic and ne) ideas entered into its !rocedural as!ects# Ae ma not $e
sure that the !resent "ersions o% the agama are e>actl those )hich e>isted
at that ancient !ast#
88#*# Ahat )e no) kno) as Agama shastra had its roots in the #alpa-
sutras' the su!!lementar te>ts a!!ended to the main di"ision o% each
Veda# Lach o% the %our Vedas has its o)n s!ecial #alpa sutra# The are
meant to guide the dail li%e and conduct o% those a%%iliated to its di"ision#
7enerall' the set o% =al!a sutra te>ts include: (rihya-sutra +relating to
domestic rituals1; Srauta-sutra +relating to %ormal a2nas1; *harma-
sutra +relating to code o% conduct and ethics1; and Sulba-sutra +relating to
mathematical calculations in"ol"ed in construction o% 9a2na altars +vdi,
chiti1 and !lat%orms1; and s!eci%ication o% the im!lements used in 9a2na
88#8# The initial set o% ritual- te>ts dated around third centur' $ased'
mainl' in (rihya-sutra and Srauta-sutra did not call themsel"es
Agamas# ?ut' at a later !eriod' the came into !rominence as Agama
Shastra %ollo)ing the emergence o% tem!le culture# The )ere rendered
into )ritten %orm as !alm 5lea%-te>ts rather ;uite late# L"en these te>ts
)ere not easil accessi$le outside the !riestl class# According to one
"ersion' $ around 0-H
centuries' as the Tem!le-culture gathered strength'
se"eral Agamas )ere com!iled into )ritten te>ts as manuals %or tem!le
construction and "aastu; as also %or deit )orshi! +sakala-radhana1#
88#8# The Agama tradition $egan to %lourish $ a$out the *M
or the
centur )ith the ad"ent o% the ?hakthi School ha"ing strong %aith in
)orshi! o% icons installed in homes and tem!les#
88#:# ?ut' the histor o% the Agamas $et)een the !eriod o% earl te>ts
or .
centur1 and the !eriod )hen the $egan to come into
!rominence +sa *M
or **
centur1 is rather ha<# Bo signi%icant
de"elo!ment seems to ha"e taken !lace during the inter"ening !eriod#
Agama is o% !ost *arshana !eriod
8:#*# ,ost o% the ritual-)orshi! se;uences that are %ollo)ed during the
!resent-da seem to ha"e de"elo!ed a%ter the esta$lishment o% the si>
orthodo> schools o% 4ndian !hiloso!h +darshanas1# The changes in
religious rituals %rom the Vedic to the Aagamic %ind an echo in the themes
ela$orated in the si> orthodo> sstems#
8:#8# A "er signi%icant change is the integration o% Samkha ideologies
and 9oga !ractices into )orshi!-rituals )hich someho) are 2u>ta!osed
)ith Vedic mantras# The "er act o% )orshi!!ing an idol is $ased in the
Samkha conce!t o% dualit' )hile at the same time' !ercei"ing their
essential unit# The )orshi!!er initiall regards the idol' the most re"ered
o$2ect' as se!arate %rom him6her' )hate"er is the non-dual !hiloso!hical
doctrines to )hich he6she might $e intellectuall attracted to# ?ut'
the Sadhaka is also a)are that the aim and the culmination o% his6her
)orshi! !ractises is to attain the @ upasaka-upasya-abhdha-bhava&, the
su$lime state )here theupasaka comes to identi% her6himsel% )ith
her6his upasya-dvata. The summit o% the Sadhana is )hen the )orshi!!er
and the )orshi!!ed are united as One# The )orshi! o% the murti is in the
manner o% the "isi$le leading to in"isi$le#
8:#:# As regards the elements o% 9oga' %our o% its eight stages are an
integral !art o% )orshi! se;uences' "i<# !osture' +aasana1' $reath +li%e
%orce1-control' +praanayaama1' !lacing or in"oking the di"ine as!ects in
sel% +nyaasa or dhaaranaa or atma-nikshpa 1' and dee! concentration
and contem!lation +dhyaana1# There is also the !rocess o% trans%erring
ones !rana into the )orshi!-image +dhruva-bra1; and identi%ing the sel%
)ith thearcha image# The o$2ect is the union +oga1 o% the indi"idual )ith
the a$solute#

Agama - Glassi%ication
8.#*# The )orshi! o% the deities ma ha"e $een the immediate cause %or the
emergence o% Agama literature# The )orshi! o% god in a !articular %orm
that is dearer to ones heart $ecame the !rime concern# The Agama
therea%ter $ranched into sects; each sect a%%iliated to its chosen god +ishta-
dvata!# Lach $ranch' each sect and su$ sect o% Agamas created its o)n set
o% te>ts and commentaries descri$ing the "irtues and !o)ers sm$oli<ed
$ its deit; the as!ects o% its mani%estations; and the !articular )as to
)orshi! its chosen god#
8.#8# 4t is said; the Agamas' in truth' are countless# ?ut' generall' ele"en
$ranches o% the Agamas are mentioned; each $ranch ha"ing se"eral te>ts
associated )ith it# The ele"en are : +i1 Vaishna"a;+ii1 Shai"a; +iii1 Shaktha ;
+i"1 Saura; +"1 7ana!atha; +"i1 S"am$hu"a +?rahma1; +"ii1 Ghandra ;
+"iii1 Pashu!atha ; +i>1 =alamukha; +>1 3ina; and +>i1 Gina#
The %irst %i"e $ranches %ollo) the panchayatana tradition o% the Smartas
#O% these' Saura and 7ana!atha are no) not in common use# And the
!ractices o% Pashu!athas and =alamukha sects are not in the o!en# The
Agama te>ts relating to ?rahma and Ghandra are deemed lost# The Ghina
Agama is !resumed to $e in Ghina' Ti$et or Be!al# And' 3ina Agama has a
"er long histor; and' is still in !ractice among the 3ains#
Thus' the three !rominent $ranches o% Agama shastra in !ractice during
the !resent times are: the Shai"a' the Shaktha and Vaishna"a# And' each
o% these in turn has numerous sects )ithin it#
8.#:# Shabda-kalpa-druma integrates the three $ranches o% the tradition
and e>!lains: @4t has come %rom Him )ho has %i"e mouths; and' it is in the
mouth o% Her )ho is $orn %rom the mountains# And' )hat else' it is
recogni<ed $ Vasude"a himsel%; and' that is )h it is Agama( +Agatam
panchavaktrat tu gatam cha (irijanan" matam cha -asudvasya tasmad
agamam utchyat1#
8/#*# The term Agama is more o%ten used %or the Shai"a and Vasishna"a
traditions; and the Shaktha cult is termed as Tantric# ?ut' there is an
element o% Tantra in Agama )orshi! too#
8/#8# The Shai"a $ranch o% the Agama deals )ith the )orshi! o% the deit
in the %orm o% Shi"a# The Shai"as recogni<e t)ent-eight Agama te>ts' o%
)hich the #amica –agama is $etter kno)n# And' each Agama has
su$sidiar te>ts +Upa-agama1# Shai"a5agama has gi"en rise to Shai"a
Siddantha and Veerashai"a o% the South; and the Pratha$i2nana School
o% =ashmir Shai"isim )hich leans to)ards Ad"aita# The Shai"a-agamas' in
general' regard Shi"a as the Su!reme Gonscious Princi!le o% the Fni"erse'
)hile Shakthi is the Prakrti or the natural !rinci!le )ho is the cause o%
$ondage as also o% li$eration# The union o% Shakthi )ith Si"a leads to the
%reedom o% the pasu +inner Sel%1 %rom the Pasa or the attachment#
8/#:# The Shaktha Agama te>ts +also called Tantras1 !rescri$e the rules
and tantric rituals %or )orshi! o% Shakthi' De"i the di"ine ,other o% all
Fni"erses' the Su!reme Sel%' in her "arious %orms# She is $oth the cause o%
delusion +maya1 and the li$eration# 4t is said; there are as man as se"ent-
se"en Shaktha-agama te>ts# ,ost o% these te>ts are in the %orm o% dialogues
$et)een Shi"a and Par"athi# 4n some o% these' Shi"a ans)ers the ;uestions
!ut $ Par"athi' and in others' Par"athi e>!lains to Shi"a# Among the
Shaktha-agama te>ts' the $etter kno)n are: %ahanirvana, #ularnava,
#ulasara, Prapanchasara, Tantraraja, ,udra-)amala, $rahma-)amala,
-ishnu-)amala and Todala Tantra#
8/#.# The third one' the Vaishana"a Agama adores 7od as Vishnu the
!rotector' the Su!reme Nord o% the Fni"erse# 4t em!hasi<es that )orshi!'
ser"ice +archa1 and com!lete surrender +prapatti1 to Vishnu )ith de"otion
is the onl sure !ath to li$eration# Vaishana"a Agama has %our ma2or
di"isions Vaikhanasa' Pancharatra' Pratishthasara' and
Vi2nanalalita#Pancharatra in turn is said to ha"e se"en $ranches: ?rahma'
Sai"a' =aumara' Vasishtha' =a!ila' 7autamia and the Baradia# An
o%%shoot o% Pancharatra called Tantra Sara is %ollo)ed mainl $ the
D"aita sect +,adh)as1#
The Vaishna"a5agama has the largest num$er o% te>ts' sa ' a$out t)o
hundred and %i%teen #Among these , 'svara, Ahirbudhnya, Paushkara,
Parama, Sattvata, $rihad-$rahma and 1nanamritasara Samhitas are the
im!ortant ones# The Baradia section o% the Shanti-Par"a o% the
,aha$harata is one o% the earlier re%erences to Pancharatra#
O% the Vaishna"a Agamas' the Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra are most
im!ortant# According to one o!inion' the Vaikhanasa Agama is the most
im!ortant and the most ancient Agama; and all other Agamas %ollo) it#
8/#/# All Agamas or Tantras o% )hate"er grou!' share certain common
ideas' outlook and !ractice# The also di%%er on certain issues de!ending on
the 'shta-dvata the )orshi!!ed#

Agama - Gontent
80#*# Agamas are a set o% ancient te>ts; and are the guardians o% tradition#
Ho)e"er' the are not treatises on Philoso!h' although the %ollo) and
e>!ound a !articular theor o% li%e and its goal# The are
essentiall Sadhana Shastras +!ractical Scri!tures1 !rimaril addressed to
ardent as!irants# The' among other things' !rescri$e the means to attain
ones ideal o% 7od through )orshi!' de"otion and su$mission' aided $ set
o% !rescri$ed disci!lines# The Agama manuals ser"e as im!ortant
guide$ooks %or deit )orshi! $ the de"otees o% all a%%iliations: Sai"a'
Vaishna"as and Shaktas# And each o% those has its o)n set o% Agamas#
80#8# According to -arahi Tantra +;uoted in Shabda-kalpadruma1 : Agama
is characteri<ed $ se"en @marks( +sapthabhir lakshana-yuktam tva-
agamam1: creation +shrusti1' dissolution +laya1' )orshi! o% gods +dva-
archanam1' s!iritual !ractices +sadhana1' re!etition and "isuali<ation o%
mantras +purascarana1' set o% si> magical !ractices +shad-karma-sadhana1'
and contem!lati"e techni;ues +dhyana yoga1#
80#:# The si> goals +shad-karma-sadhana1 that Agama stri"e to achie"e are
said to $e:+i1 utchatana - "ertical integration o% natural energies'
maintaining the $alance in nature; +ii1 sthambhana - increase energ and
holding ca!a$ilities o% a !articular !lace; +iii1 maarana- destro the
negati"e energ in%luences o"er a !articular area; +i"1 bhdana - s!lit
di%%erent energies )ithin a gi"en area to maintain $alance o% nature; +"1
shanthi - maintaining the $alance o% nature )ith social !rogress; and'
+"i1 pushti - nourishing the nature and s!ecies so that e"olution !rogresses#
8H#*# Agamas )hich also mean Eac;uisition o% kno)ledgeE' Etraditional
doctrineE' EscienceE etc dra) their theor and !ractices %rom man sources'
including Tantra# Agamas also dra) u!on Vedic kno)ledge' 9ogic
disci!lines' Tantra techni;ues as also mantras' 9antras and other modes o%
)orshi! em!loed in the tem!les#
8H#8# Lach Agama consists o% %our !arts +paada1# These $roadl deal
)ith jnana or vidya –paada +kno)ledge1' )oga-
paada +meditation1' #riya +rituals1 and Charya-paada +)as o% )orshi!1#
[The ?uddhist and the 3aina traditions too %ollo) this %our-%old
classi%ication; and )ith similar details&
4t is said; each paada has e>ternal +bahir-yajnam1 and internal +antar-
yajnam1 inter!retations# The %ormer is a$out the )a o% doing things; )hile
the latter e>!lains the esoteric or s!iritual signi%icance o% the rituals
+i1 The %irst !art +jnana paada1 includes the !hiloso!hical !rinci!les'
theoretical %rame)ork %or e>!laining the ultimate realit' its
mani%estations; the nature o% the uni"erse' creation and dissolution; and
the nature o% sel%' $ondage and li$eration#
+ii1 The second !art +)oga-paada! co"ers the si>-lim$ed oga +sadanga2
asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana and samadhi1 as also the
as!ects o% the !hsical +bahiranga1 and mental +antaranga1 disci!lines and
the essential !urit in li"ing and thinking +shuddhi1# The as!ect
o% dhyanarecei"es detailed treatment in man o% the Agama te>ts#
+iii1 The third segment #riya 5 paada +rituals1 articulates )ith !recision'
the !rinci!les and !ractices o% deit )orshi! 5 the mantras' mandalas'
mudras etc; the mental disci!lines re;uired %or the )orshi!; the initiation
+diksha1 !rocess' the role o% the !rece!tor +acharya1 'the rules %or
constructing tem!les and scul!ting the images# The also s!eci% the
conduct o% other )orshi! ser"ices' rites' rituals and %esti"als#
+i"1 The %ourth one' Charya-paada, deals )ith !riestl conduct and other
related as!ects; as also the austerit' !urit in conduct; and de"otion to
one(s o)n Agama in outlook and in !ractice#
8H#:# 4t is usuall the last t)o segments o% the Agama te>ts
5 #riya and Charya paadas 5 )hich deal directl )ith tem!le or )orshi!#
These recei"e greater em!hasis $ecause o% their a!!lication in the da-to-
da )orshi! !ractices# These are the segments that are in greater use $
the !riestl class %ollo)ing the Vaishna"a-agama 5 tradition +paddathi1 in
their da-to-da o$ser"ances# This seems ;uite natural' considering that
the Agamas in the !resent-da are mainl related to the tem!le and its
)orshi! !ractices# [The Shai"a Agamas' in contrast' seem to attach
greater im!ortance to the %irst paada +jnana1 than to the other
three paadas&#
8H#.# The %our paadas com!lement each other; and the all contri$ute
to)ards the same o$2ecti"e# The all aim at the t)in re)ards
+viniyoga orphala1 o% li$eration %rom $onds o% samsara +mukthi1; and
!ros!erit and )ell$eing in )orldl li%e +bhukthi1#The Agama te>ts !oint
out that the t)o as!ects are e;uall im!ortant# The decr a !erson
seeking sal"ation %or sel% )ithout discharging his duties and res!onsi$ilities
to)ards his %amil and %ello)men# And' the there%ore !raise the "irtuous
li%e o% a householder as the %oundation )hich su!!orts the other three
stages o% li%e; and as the $est among the %our stages#
8-#*# The Agama !rescri!tions %orm the $asis %or )orshi! !ractices at
home or at Tem!les' as it e>ists toda# The' in %act' co"er the entire gamut
o% acti"ities associated )ith tem!les' its %unctions and its !ur!ose# These
include ' among other things' the training manuals meant %or the
!er%orming !riests' their initiation into )orshi!-ser"ice; the )orshi!
attitudes and !rocedures s!eciall designed %or each t!e o% deit; the
details o% dail rituals' occasional cele$rations' %esti"als etc#
8-#8# The Agama te>ts also gi"e ela$orate details a$out the theories o%
creation' ontolog' cosmolog' nature o% the uni"erse' the relations that
e>ists $et)een god-)orld- man' o$ser"ances o% religious rites' rituals' and
%esti"als as also the rules +grihya-sutra1 o% domestic rites ' household li%e'
communit li"ing ' and cele$ration o% !u$lic %esti"als +uthsava1#

Agama- Tantra
8J#*# Agamas and Tantras are a "ast collection o% kno)ledge and %orm a
ma2or !ortion o% religious literature and !ractices# The t)o are o% similar
nature; and share common ideolog# ?oth are dualistic in their outlook and
a!!roach# 4t is the sort o% dualit that aims at unit# Agamas and Tantra
are $ased in the %aith that e"er e>!erience in this )orld $ears su$2ect-
o$2ect relation; this )orld is a !assage to)ards !er%ection; and the "isi$le
is the )a to the in"isi$le# ?oth address the %undamental ;uestion: ho) to
gain the direct e>!erience +sakshatkara1 o% the highest# And' $oth are
!rimaril concerned )ith de"ising !ractical means o% dedicated- action to
attain the goal# ?oth ideali<e the %aith o% a !erson seeking unit )ith ones
ideal o% 7od or the Su!reme )hose grace alone can sa"e her6him
%rom samasara the miser o% )orldl in"ol"ements# De"otion and im!licit
surrender is the ke to their Sadhana# Aithout surrender there is no
!ossi$ilit o% success#
8J#8# Agama and Tantra te>ts deal )ith same su$2ects; ado!t the same
!rinci!les; and ;uote same set o% authorities# 4t is said; Agama is
essentiall a tradition and Tantra is techni;ue# ?ut' Agama is )ider in its
sco!e; and contains as!ects o% theor' discussion and s!eculation a$out a
range o% issues# Agamas co"er "arious other su$2ects )ith !articular
re%erence to )orshi! o% the deit installed in the tem!le# 4n that conte>t'
Agamas discus the minute details o% a!!ro!riate )orshi! ser"ices to $e
conducted at the tem!le during each !art o% the da; ogic disci!lines and
mental attitudes re;uired o% the )orshi!!er# The also indirectl co"er
"arious other %ields o% kno)ledge such as grammar' etmolog' chandas'
astrological signi%icances' conduct o% a de"otee' ethical "alues in li%e '
o$ser"ances o% religious rites' rituals' and %esti"als etc# The other
im!ortant as!ect addressed $ the Agamas is the *valaya – vastu-
shilpa, tem!le architecture#
Agama -Shil!a
:M#*# The Agama te>ts state that i% an image has to $e )orshi!!ed it has to
$e )orshi! - )orth# The rituals and se;uences o% )orshi! are rele"ant
onl in the conte>t o% an adora$le icon installed in the heart o% the shrine#
And the icon is meaning%ul )hen its shrine a!tl re%lects its glor# The
tem!le should $e in harmon )ith the essential character o% its !residing
deit; and the tem!le com!le> should also trul re%lect the attri$utes o% its
associate gods and goddesses# The )orshi! ser"ices are' there%ore'
structured $ Agama te>ts ha"ing in "ie) the nature o% the deit and o% the
shrine in )hich it resides#
:M#8# 4t is in this conte>t that Agama te>ts %orge a s!ecial relationshi! )ith
Shil!a shastra )hich is $asic to iconogra!h; and' in !articular'
)ithdvalaya-vastu-shilpa the tem!le architecture and design# The
in"ol"ement o% the Agamas )ith tem!le architecture is $ased in the %aith
that the tem!le' in truth' is the e>!ansion or outgro)th o% its !residing
deit installed in the innermost sanctum o% the shrine# And' it $elie"es that
the tem!le must $e $uilt %or the idol' and not an idol got read %or a tem!le
alread $uilt' %or the tem!le "eril is the e>!anded re%lection o% the icon#
:M#:# The Agamas thus get related to icons and tem!le structures' rather
circuitousl# And' this is ho) the Agama literature makes its !resence %elt
in the Shilpa-Sastra#
:*#*# The Shilpa as!ects o% the Agamas co"er in ela$orate detail the
!rinci!al elements o% dvalaya-vastu-shilpa' tem!le architecture such as:
the suita$le re;uirements o% the tem!le site +sthala1' tem!le tank +trtha1
and the idol +murthy1; dimensions' directions and orientations o% the
tem!le structures; the suita$le $uilding materials; the s!eci%ications' the
scul!ting and car"ing details o% the image o% the deit to $e installed; as
also the !lacement and orientation o% su!!lementar deities )ithin the
tem!le com!le> etc#
Thus' the icon and its %orm; the tem!le and its structure; and the rituals
and their details' are all meaning%ull interrelated#
:*#8# 4n due course' each $ranch o% Agama tended to create set o% its o)n
te>ts# That ga"e rise to a ne) class o% te>ts and rituals# And that coincided
)ith the emergence o% the large tem!les# 4t is not there%ore sur!rising that
to)n-!lanning' ci"il constructions and the arts occu! the interest o% earl

Agama - a!!roach
:8#*# The Agama Shastras are $ased in the $elie% that the di"init can $e
a!!roached in t)o )as# 4t can $e "ie)ed as nishkala' %ormless 5 a$solute;
or as sakala ha"ing s!eci%ic as!ects#
+ishkala is all-!er"asi"e and is neither e>!licit nor is it "isi$le# 4t is
analogues' as the Agama te>ts e>!lain' to the oil in the sesame-seed' %ire in
the %uel' $utter in milk' and scent in %lo)er# 4t is in human as antaryamin'
the inner guide# 4t has no %orm and is not a!!rehended $ sense organs'
)hich includes mind#
Sakala' on the other hand' is e>!licit energ like the %ire that has emerged
out o% the %uel' oil e>tracted out o% the seed' $utter that %loated to the
sur%ace a%ter churning milk or like the %ragrance that s!reads and delights
all# That energ can mani%est itsel% in di%%erent %orms and humans can
a!!roach those %orms through a!!ro!riate means# The Agamas recogni<e
that means as the archa' the )orshi! methods uni;ue to each %orm o%
energ-mani%estation or di"init#
:8#8# The F!anishads ideali<e the 7odhead as %ormless' attri$ute-less
a$solute# The 7od here is the most su$lime conce!t# 9et; one has to
concede that concrete re!resentation o% such a 7od is theoreticall
im!ossi$le# The human mind )ith its limitations cannot easil com!rehend
7od in a$solute# 4t tries to gras! the di"ine s!irit; $esto) a %orm to the
%ormless ++a cha rupam vina dvo dyatum knapi sakyat2 -ishnu
Samhita 8J# /*1# The )orshi! through image hel!s the de"otee : to
"isuali<e the incom!rehensi$le di"init in chosen %orm and attri$utes; to
gi"e su$stance to one(s notion o% 7od so that he de"otee ma d)ell on it
and engage himsel% in a certain ser"ice ; and' reali<e her6his as!irations #
Llse' the mind o% an ordinar !erson might la!se into dro)siness or
his6her attention ma )ither a)a#
:8#:# The )orshi!!er %ollo)ing Agama tradition %ull a!!reciates the Vedic
monism and its ideal o% %ormless ?rahman that !er"ades all e>istence# 9et'
he %inds com%ort in the dualit o% Tantra and Agama rituals# The
)orshi!!er is a)are' all the )hile' that the %orms +murti1' sounds +mantras1
and diagrams +mandalas1 em!loed in )orshi! are 2ust human
a!!ro>imations and are inade;uate re!resentations o% 7od +prathima
svalpa buddhinaam1# 9et' he tries to %ind through them an a!!roach to the
:8#.# He )ould argue: 4t is not "er im!ortant )hether the medium o%
)orshi! ou choose is either Agni or something else; $ut it is
the archa )ith de"otion and sincerit o% !ur!ose that trul matters# Here'
%aith is more signi%icant than !rece!ts; !rocedures more signi%icant than
conce!ts and sm$olism more rele"ant than !rocedures#
::#*# The most )ides!read rituals o% )orshi! toda are o% the Agamic
"ariet )hich includes elements o% Tantra# The Agama methods are
)orshi! o% images o% 7od through rituals +Tantra1' sm$olic charts
+)antra1 and "er$al sm$ols +%antra1# The sm$olism $ehind this method
o% )orshi! is that 7od !er"ades the uni"erse and that the entire creation is
his mani%estation in mriad )as# All the %orms o% his mani%estation are
$ut as!ects +vibhuthi1 o% the Di"ine #There can e>ist no o$2ect' no %orm o%
an sort )hich is not di"ine in its nature# An name' an %orm that a!!eals
to the heart o% the )orshi!!er is grace%ull acce!ted as a re!resentation or
mani%estation o% the Di"ine#
::#8# Follo)ing that' one(s chosen %orm o% the di"ine +ishta-dvata1 is
regarded as a concrete and a s!eci%ic e>!ression o% the %ormless# -ishnu
Purana +8#*.#:81 o%%ers a $eauti%ul analog to e>!lain the conce!t o% the
idol that one lo"es to )orshi!# 4t com!ares the )orshi!-images %ashioned
according to one(s heart-desire +mano-kamana1 to the notes o% the %lute# 4t
sas; the air that %ills the !laer' the air that %lo)s through the column o%
the %lute' and the air that %lies out o% the holes o% the %lute' are $ut di%%erent
as!ects o% the same air that %ills the )hole em!tiness o% e>istence# ?ut' it is
the s!eci%ic "i$rations' the modalities and the !atterns o% relations o% the
air that %lo)s in and out o% the %lute that creates the s)eetness o% the
melodious musical notes# From an a$solute !oint o% "ie)' all the air that
%lo)s in and around the )orld is $ut one# ?ut' the same air in its relati"e
%orm and )ith its delicate di%%erences creates cogni<a$le sounds and
melodies that are en2oa$le# Similarl' the all-!er"ading di"ine essence can
$e $etter gras!ed )hen gi"en s!eci%ic %orms through human ingenuit'
imagination and lo"e#
:.#*# Agama regards de"otion and com!lete su$mission to the deit as
%undamental to !ursuit o% its aim; and ho!es that )isdom' enlightenment
+jnana! )ould %ollo)' e"entuall' $ the grace o% the )orshi!!ed deit# The
Agama is $asicall dualistic' seeking grace' merc and lo"e o% the Su!reme
7od' re!resented $ the !ersonal deit' %or li$eration %rom earthl
attachments +moksha1#
:.#8# The Agama te>ts hold the "ie) that japa +recitation o% mantra as
initiated $ the 7uru1' homa +o$lations o%%ered in Agni accom!anied $
a!!ro!riate hmns1' dhyana +meditation on the as!ects o% di"init1
and archa are the %our methods o% a!!roaching the di"ine# And' o% these'
thearcha +)orshi! o% the icon1 is the most com!rehensi"e method# 4t is
e>!lained; the %irst a!!roach +japa1 is through a !attern o% sounds
+nada3shabda1' )hile the second +homa1 is through the medium o% Agni#
,editation +dhana1 is' o% course' inde!endent o% concrete re!resentations#
All these three are indi"idual a!!roaches# 4t is archa' the )orshi! o% a deit
indi"iduall and in communion )ith the gathering o% de"otees that is
easiest# Further' thearcha includes in itsel% the essentials o% the other three
a!!roaches as )ell# Archana in tem!les is an integrated mosaic o%
indi"idual and congregational )orshi!; and is the most acce!ted a!!roach#
This is the %aith on )hich the Agama shastra is $ased# The Agama shastra
is $asicall concerned )ith the attitudes' !rocedure and rituals o% deit
)orshi! in the tem!les#

Agama -Bigama
:/#*# 4t is said; Agama is distinct %rom Bigama' 2ust as Tantra is distinct
%rom Veda# Agama is closel linked to Tantra; )hile Bigama is snonm
%or Veda# 4% Veda is taken to mean kno)ledge' Bigama is that $ )hich one
learns' one kno)s +nigamyat jnayat anna iti nigamah2 Sabda – kalpa
-druma1# There%ore' Bigama' since Panini +0#:#*#*:1' has come to mean
Vedas# And' e"en during the later times the t)o terms )ere used
interchangea$l# For instance; Sri Vedantadeshika is also addressed' at
times' as Bigamantadeshika#
:/#8# Agama' generall' stands %or Tantra# The Agama-Tantra tradition is
as im!ortant and as authentic as the Vedic tradition# Vedas and Agamas
are intimatel related# The Agama claims that it !ro"ides the !ractical
a!!lication and the means o% action %or reali<ing the teaching o% the Vedas
and Vedanta#
:0#*# The t)o traditions' ho)e"er' hold di"ergent "ie)s on matters such as
7od; relationshi! $et)een man and 7od; the )as o% )orshi!; and !ath to
sal"ation etc #The Vedic conce!t o% 7od is omniscient' omni!otent' a
%ormless a$solute entit mani%esting itsel% in !henomenal )orld o% names
and %orms# The Agama )hich is allied to Tantra regards 7od as a !ersonal
deit )ith recogni<a$le %orms and attri$utes#
:0#8# The Vedas do not discuss a$out "enerating the icons; though the icons
+prathima or prathika1 )ere kno)n to $e in use# Their !reoccu!ation )as
more )ith the nature' a$stract di"inities and not so much )ith their
!hsical re!resentations# The Vedas did ho)e"er em!lo a num$er o%
sm$ols' such as the )heel' um$rella' s!ear' noose' %oot-!rints' lotus' goad
and "ehicles etc# These sm$ols' in the later ages' $ecame a !art o% the
"oca$ular o% the iconogra!h#
:0#:# The idea o% multi!le %orms o% di"init )as in the Vedas #The s!oke
a$out thirt-three di"inities classi%ied into those o% the earth' hea"en and
intermediate regions# Those com!rised t)el"e Aditas' as!ects o% energ
and li%e; ele"en Rudras' as!ects %erocious nature; eight Vasus' the
directional %orces; in addition to the earth and the s!ace#
:0#.# The as!ects o% the thirt-three di"inities )ere later condensed to three
"i<# Agni' the as!ect o% %ire' energ and li%e on earth; Vau' the as!ect o%
s!ace' mo"ement and air in the mid-region; and Sura the uni"ersal
energ and li%e that sustains and go"erns all e>istence' in the hea"enl
region' the s!ace# This !ro"ided the $asis %or the e"olution o% the classic
4ndian trinit' the ?rahma' Shi"a and Vishnu#
:H#*# Rig Veda at man !laces talks in terms o% saguna' the su!reme
di"init )ith attri$utes# The Vedanta ideals o% the a$solute' attri$ute- less
and limit-less uni"ersal consciousness )ere e"ol"ed during later times as
re%inements o% those Vedic conce!ts# The F!anishads are the !innacles o%
idealism that o"ersee all hori<ons# ?ut' in !ractice' common !eo!le
)orshi! "ariet o% gods in "ariet o% )as %or "ariet o% reasons# The
)orshi! rendered are rele"ant in the conte>t o% each ones idea o% god;
needs and as!irations; %ears and ho!es; sa%et and !ros!erit; and' the
!leasures and !ains o% li%e#
:H#8# Vedic )orshi! is centred on the %ire +the )ajna1 the "isi$le
re!resentation o% the di"ine' certain religious and domestic rituals'
+shrauta sutraas and griyha sutraas1' and the sacraments' +samskaara!. 4n
this tradition' the gods and their descri!tions are' mostl' sm$olic; and
not !resented as icons %or )orshi!# The hmns o% the Rig Veda are the
ins!ired out!ourings o% 2o and re"elations through su$lime !oetr# The
9a2ur and Sama Vedas do re%er to conduct o% 9a2nas; $ut the also suggest
certain esoteric sm$olic meaning# And' "er %e) o% Vedic rituals are in
common !ractice toda#
Vedic a!!roach to di"init is collecti"e in character in"ol"ing a num$er o%
!riests s!eciali<ed in their $ranch o% learning and ha"ing s!eci%ic roles to
!la in the conduct o% the 9a2na## The 9a2nas al)as take !lace in !u$lic
!laces and are o% congregational nature# The 9a2nas are cele$rations'
!er%ormed )ith e>u$erance in !resence and "ie) o% large num$er o%
!ersons !artici!ating )ith gaiet and enthusiasm#
:H#:# As com!ared to 9a2nas' the tantric rites are conducted in ;uiet
!ri"ac )ithin secret enclosures or in secluded s!ots# TheTantra or Agamic
)orshi! is indi"idualistic in its orientation; and' calls %or ;uiet
contem!lation' intensit and sel%-disci!line as demanded $ its te>ts#
Tantra 5 Agama regards its rituals as a sort o% direct communication
$et)een the )orshi!!er +upasaka1 and his or her !ersonal deit +upasana-
dvata1#4ts ultimate as!iration is the unit o% the )orshi!!er and
The aim o% Agamika' the ardent as!irant' %ollo)ing the Agamas is'
there%ore' to gain' on his o)n' a direct e>!erience +sakshatkara1o% his
highest ideal# The Agamas !ro"ide )ell de%ined and time tested !ractices
leading to)ards that ideal# 4t is %or this reason the Agamas are
called pratyaksha Shastra+the science o% real e>!erience1' Sadhana
Shastra +the science o% s!iritual !ractice1 and Upasana Shastra#
:-#*# Ahile the Vedic rituals la a great em!hasis on %ire rituals and the
sacri%ices' the Agamas recommend )orshi! o% images o% gods as the
e%%icient means to sal"ation# 4ts )a is through rituals +tantra1 em!loing
)ord sm$ols +mantra1 and charts +yantra1# These sm$olic acti"ities
strengthen the indi"idual(s con"iction and hel! her6him to $ind a
harmonious relation )ith the o$2ect o% )orshi!# The a!!roach o% Agama is
dualistic: that o% a man seeking 7od the Su!reme )hose grace alone can
sa"e him %rom samasara the miser o% )orldl in"ol"ements#
:-#8# The F!asaka )orshi!s the di"ine through the medium
o% bra' murthi' archana )hose sha!e is sm$olic# Agamas $elie"e that the
)orshi!!er must identi% himsel% )ith the o$2ect o% his )orshi!: na dvo
dvam archayt + one cannot )orshi! a deit unless one $ecomes that
deit1 #Hence the "arious ritual !ractices 5 mental and !hsical-
meditation ' "isuali<ation' in"oking the !resence o% the deit in one(s $od
+nyasa1' mantras and mudras are em!loed; all aiming to achie"e this
:J#*# 4n the Bigama tradition greater attention is !aid to the kno)ledge o%
the gods' though such kno)ledge is not sstemati<ed# The Agama te>ts no
dou$t e>tol kno)ledge; $ut the also em!hasi<e that )ithout ritualistic
action mere kno)ing is ine%%ecti"e and rather !ointless# Agama te>ts'
ho)e"er' clari% that )orshi!-action +karma1 and li$erating )isdom are
secondar to dee! de"otion#
:J#8# The most distincti"e %eature o% Agamas is immense de"otion
+?hakthi1 and su$mission to the )ill o% god +prapatthi1#The t)o "irtues are
regarded the !rimar re;uisites %or attaining )isdom or enlightenment
+jnana1 leading to the !ath o% sal"ation# 4t is this element o% de"otion that
has gi"en rise to tem!le-)orshi! and the ritual-culture associated )ith it#
:J#:# To !ut it in another )a'the Agama te>ts no dou$t e>tol kno)ledge;
$ut the also em!hasi<e that )ithout ritualistic action rendered )ith
de"otion' an sort o% kno)ledge is ine%%ecti"e and is rather !ointless# 4n the
Agama conte>t' de"otion is understood as intense in"ol"ement in )orshi!
o% the deit +pujadi sva anugraha bhaktih1#

Agama 5 Bigama ra!!rochement
.M#*# Although Agama and Bigama traditions started on di"ergent
a!!roach' in course o% time there )as re!roachment $et)een the t)o#
Tantra-Agama $arro)ed man details %rom Vedic tradition and ado!ted
man more# And' 4n due course the Agama came to $e acce!ted as a
su$sidiar culture +-danga1 )ithin the Vedic %rame)ork#
.M#8# The tem!le )orshi!' !er se' is guided $ its related Agama te>ts
)hich in"aria$l $orro) the mantras %rom the Vedic traditions and the
ritualistic details %rom Tantric traditions# This has the ad"antage o%
claiming im!ressi"e "alidit %rom Bigama' the Vedas; and at the same
time' carring out !o!ular methods o% )orshi!#
.M#:# L"en in !er%ormance o% rituals' the Agama harmoni<ed )ithin itsel%
the elements o% Veda and Tantra# For instance' the $odhayana shsha
sutraand -ishhnu-pratishtha kalpa outline certain rite %or the installation o%
an image o% Vishnu and %or conducting other ser"ices# The Agama te>ts
com$ined the rules o% the (rihya sutras )ith the Tantric !ractices and
%ormed their o)n set o% rules#
Further' )hile installing the image o% the deit' the (rihya Sutras do not
en"isage Prana-prathistapana ritual +trans%erring li%e into the idol $
$reathing li%e into it1; $ut the Agamas $orro)ed this !ractice %rom the
Tantra school and com$ined it )ith the Vedic ceremon o% Oo!ening the
ees o% the deit )ith a needleP#
Ahile rendering )orshi!-ser"ices to the deit' in o!en' the Agamas
reduced the use o% Tantric mantras; and instead ado!ted Vedic mantras %or
ser"ices such as o%%ering ceremonial $ath' )a"ing lights etc# though such
!ractices )ere not a !art o% the Vedic mode o% )orshi!#
.M#.# The Agamas' largel' ado!ted the Vedic stle homas and 9a2nas# ?ut'
the did not re2ect the Tantric rituals and Tantric mantras altogether#
Agama 5 Tem!le )orshi!
.*#*# The )orshi! o% deities in !u$lic or at home might $e the immediate
cause %or emergence o% Agama traditions#
The Agamas in the !resent da %ind their %ull e>!ression in tem!le-
)orshi!# The %orm the $asis %or )orshi! !ractices at tem!les' as it e>ists
toda# The !rescri$e the structure and architecture o% "arious kinds o%
tem!les' the customs to $e %ollo)ed' the rituals to $e !er%ormed and the
%esti"als to $e cele$rated# The in %act co"er the entire gamut o% acti"ities
associated )ith tem!les' its acti"ities and its !ur!ose#
.*#8# The Agamas deal )ith all t!es o% )orshi! !ractices %ollo)ed either
in tem!les or at home; either in communities or in !ri"ate; either through
image or %ormless %ire or other)ise# The )orshi! in a tem!le has to satis%
the needs o% indi"iduals as also o% the communit# Agamas accommodate
collecti"e )orshi! along )ith indi"idual )orshi! that is characteristicall
!ri"ate )hen !er%ormed at home# The )orshi!s that take !lace in the
sanctum and )ithin the tem!le !remises are im!ortant; so are the %esti"als
and occasional !rocessions that in"ol"e direct !artici!ation o% the entire
communit# The com!lement each other# Ahile the )orshi! o% the deit
in the sanctum might $e an indi"idual(s s!iritual or religious need ; the
%esti"al s are the e>!ression o% a communit(s 2o ' e>u$erance ' de"otion '
!ride and are also an idiom o% a communit(s cohesi"eness #
.*#:# The tem!le )orshi! ritual has t)o other distinct as!ects; the
sm$olic and the actual )hich is secondar# The %ormer is the inner
)orshi! +manasa puja or antar yajna1 o% the antaryamin +the inner $eing1
residing in ones heart; and the latter is e>ternal )orshi! characteri<ed $
s!lendour' s!ectacle and an o"er%lo) o% religious %er"our#
The inner )orshi! in"ol"ing Tantric rituals that takes !lace in the !ri"ac
o% the sanctum is more signi%icant than the e>ternal )orshi! These are in a
se;uence such as shudhi +!uri%ication o% elements1' mudras +assum!tion o%
a!!ro!riate and e%%ecti"e gestures1' pranayama +regulation o% $reath to
ena$le contem!lation o% the
di"init1' dhyana +contem!lation1' soham4bhava +identit o% the
)orshi!!er )ith the )orshi!!ed1' mantra +)ords to hel! reali<e the deit
in )orshi!!er(s heart1 and mandala +diagrams re!resenting as!ects o%
di"init1# 4n manasa puja' 7od is the )orshi!!er(s innermost s!irit# The
)orshi!!er "isuali<es and contem!lates on the res!lendent %orm o% the
deit as a$iding in his o)n heart#
As regards the e>ternal )orshi! it in"ol"es se"eral kinds o% ser"ice
se;uences +Shodasha Upachara1 su$mitted' in %ull "ie) o% the )orshi!!ing
de"otees' to the !ersoni%ied god )ho is re"ered as the most "enerated guest
and as the Nord o% Nords )ho !resides o"er the uni"erse +lokadyaksha1#
The ser"ices are rendered )ith gratitude' lo"e and de"otion to the
accom!animent o% chanting o% !assages and mantras taken %rom Vedas#
The )orshi! routine is rendered more colour%ul and attracti"e $
!resentations o% music' dance' drama and other !er%orming arts# These
also ensure larger !artici!ation o% the enthusiastic de"otees#
Thus' at the tem!le' $oth the Agama )orshi!-se;uences and the sm$olic
Tantric rituals take !lace; $ut each in its s!here#
.*#.# The )orshi! !ractices that are %ollo)ed in the tem!les are trul an
amalgam o% dissimilar streams o% ideologies and !ractices# The rituals here
are a com$ination o% conce!ts' !rocedures and sm$olism# Lach o% these
%inds its rele"ance in its o)n conte>t' )ithout con%lict or contradiction# The
tem!le and iconic )orshi! ma a!!ear like tantric# Ho)e"er' in !ractice
the )orshi! at tem!les in"ol"es $oth homa and archa rituals# The Agama
mode o% )orshi! in"aria$l $orro)s the mantras %rom the Vedic traditions
along )ith ritualistic details %rom Tantric traditions# Vedic mantras are
chanted in traditional manner )hile !er%orming ser"ices such as
ceremonial $ath' adoring the deit )ith %lo)ers' or )a"ing lights# A!art
%rom that' the Agama !ractices com$ine in themsel"es the elements %rom
oga' !urana and 1anapada the !o!ular cele$rations )here all segments o%
the communit 2oousl !artici!ate )ith great enthusiasm and de"otion#
The 1anapada includes !eriodic Utsavas' !rocessions' singing' dancing'
!laacting' colour%ul lighting' s!ectacular %ire)orks ' o%%erings o% "arious
kinds etc#; as also "arious %orms o% !hsical austerities accom!anied $
sincere !raers#
.*#/# 9ou %ind that tem!le )orshi! is 2udicious mi> +misra1 o%: the Vedic
mantras and its "ision o% the di"ine; the tantric rituals )ith their ela$orate
sm$olisms; the Agamic )orshi! !ractices' attitudes and de"otion; the
disci!line o% 9oga and its sm$olic !uri%ication gestures; and' the
e>u$erance and gaiet o% %olk %esti"als' !rocessions and cele$rations in
)hich the entire communit !artici!ates )ith great enthusiasm# All these
elements com$ine harmoniousl in the ser"ice o% the deit and create an
integrated Tem!le 5culture#
.8#*# That is so %ar as Agama in general is concerned# 4n the su$se;uent
!arts let(s talk a$out s!eci%ic $ranches o% the Agama# 4n ne>t lets touch
u!on Vaikhanasa Agama a ma2or $ranch o% the Vaishna"a Agama#

Gontinued in Part Three
Please click here %or Vaikhanasa Agama -Q

References and Sources
1. A Companion to Tantra by S C Banerji
Abhinav Publications (2007
2. Tantra! its mystic an" scienti#ic basis by $alan Prasa" Sin%h
Concept Publishin% Company (1&7'
(. Tribal roots o# )in"uism by S* Ti+ari
Sarup , Sons (2002
-. The Tantric +ay by Ajit .u/herjee an" .a"hu *hanna
Thames , )u"son (1&77
0. A%ama *osha by Pro#. S* 1amachan"ra 1ao
*alpataru 1esearch Aca"emy (1&&-
'. The Perspective o# the Tantras By *. 2uru 3utt
7. Tantra Shastra an" 6e"a by Sir :ohn 9oo"ro##e
=. The Tantras! An >vervie+ by S+ami Samarpananan"a
&. 7volution o# Tantra by 8itin Sri"har