by Pathmarajah Nagalingam

Chapter 3




Hinduism has nothing to do with the Vedas

It may seem hard to believe but Hinduism as it is known and practised today has almost nothing to do with the vedas. Rather, Hinduism is entirely based on the Agamas. Not only that, the Agamas prevailed in India before the rise of vedic rites. The vedas came later.

By extension Hinduism has nothing to do with the puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana too. There are myths in Hinduism but those myths are contained in the Agamas. The Agamas have their own myths about the gods, and do not rely on the puranic myths at all. Agamic myths are different from puranic myths on the same stories. For instance the birth of Lord Ganesha, where it is stated that Lord Siva and Uma took the form of elephants and created Ganesha out of love, which is entirely different from the puranic and Mahabharata version.

None of this is new except that Hindus, educated by english/western books and find it hard to digest the historical truth, but rather keep parroting that the vedas and upanishads are the source and pinnacle of Hinduism. How little they know!

The erroneous, but prevalent popular notion is that the Agamas ultimately derived from the Vedas or are an amplification of it. This is usually said to find comfort.  But the fact is the Agamas preceded the Vedas. It does not derive from the vedas nor does it amplyfy anything from the vedas. The agamas has it's own philosophy. Hinduism, consisting of Saivism, Vaishnavism and Saktism, comprising practically 98% of the Hindus, whether they know it or not, abide by the philosophy of the agamas, and not that of the upanishads.

Where does that leave the vedas, upanishads, puranas, Mahabharata, Bhagavadgita, and Ramayana? At best as unrelated supplemental readings. These supplementary texts have nothing to do with the temples, festivals, sacraments or the philosophy, which is the core of the religious and spiritual life of the Hindu. Along with it, all of its teachings and philosophy, including varna.  For there is no varna in the Agamas!

It is better to hold the view that the Agamas, and the vedas with its related texts the upanishads, puranas, itihasas and comentaries, were two parallel and independent streams with much conformity and similarity, and except that the Veda stream was eventually replaced completely by the Agama stream.  What exists today is the Agama tradition, with the Veda tradition only in name.

Here are excerpts from a book.

History of the Tamils from the earliest times to 600 A.D.

P.T. Srinivasa Iyengar


Chapter 8

Nearly thirty years ago, I pointed out in my Outlines of Indian philosophy that the religion that is practised today by the Hindus is almost entirely based on the Agamas and has little or nothing to do with the Vedas. The vaidika cult began to decay after the war of the Mahabharata and has today almost died out. The greater part of the Srauta karma is entirely gone; only a few elementary rites such as Agni adhana, a much simplified Vajapeya, Garuda cayana and Somayaga are sporadically performed by a handful of people. The Smartha karma is also fast dying out, so that judged by the rule that the family of a brahmana whose members have neglected to tend the holy fire for three generations loses its brahmana status, extremely few families can be regarded as true brahmana ones.

..the Agama is technically the name and the Vedas was well understood in ancient days, when the Agamika cults were the rivals of the Vaidika cults; but as the two have now become amalgamated for several centuries, the distinction between them is not realised by the moderns, all the more so as the theory is now prevalent that the Agamas are ultimately derived from the Vedas and do but contain amplifications of the vedic teachings or rather adaptations of them to suit the modern age.

The Agamika methods of worship being entirely fire-less and not being accompanied by the recitation of Vedic mantras must have been developed from the Dasyu rites. The Dasyu rites certainly prevailed throughout India, in the south and in the north, before the rise of Vedic rites.

Now with regard to the rites. the Vaidika rites are fire rites. For each rite a fire has to be lighted and intensified into a flame and on the flame the oblations have to be poured. The Agamika rites are fire-less; the oblations have to be merely exhibited to the object of worship (icon) and then taken away. In the former the oblations is consumed by the gods, because it is thrown into the fire; in the latter the worshipper loses nothing of his offerings because the god can take up only the subtle and unseen parts, so the worshipper consumes it himself and distributes it to his relations and friends.

But the main part of of the Agamika rites consist in the repetition of the numerous names of the gods worshipped with the phrase 'namah' (I bow) added. The essence of the Vaidika rites is the pouring of oblations, but that of the Agamika is upacara, washing, decking and feeding the god, in fact showing him all the attentions due to a human guest or human king.

Hence in the Vaidika rite no physical representation or representative of the deity worshipped was necessary, visible fire representing all the gods; in the Agamika rites the only deity worshipped had to be represented by some visible emblem being a fetish, a tool, such as a sword or club, a living or dead tree, a stone, a running stream, a linga, a salagrama or above all, a picture, or a statue of the deity in brick and mortar, a stone or metal, made in the shape assigned to him by his worshippers.

The culmination.....of the Vaidika...is Jnana.... 'it is by knowing him that (one) becomes immortal here, there is no other path for going (to him)'. The culmination of the Agama way is Bakti. The worship of the gods is but a copy of the methods of the worship of men - chiefly gurus and kings.



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