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#955 - April 09, 2003 06:12 PM The Agamas
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Posts: 1030
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The Agamas

Due to much obscurity of the Agamas, I have taken some trouble to collect excerpts about
the agamas for our members on this forum.

Please do read and reread (for it is pregnant with meanings, implications and
ramifications), keeping in mind the many mantras and slokas that you have chanted all
your lives in your daily pujas, as it will then bring much clarity about Hinduism, the Vedas,
the meanings of our chants and our goals in this forum.

Nearly every para will strike you deep. In the end you too will claim, like me, that the
Vedas are very clear, not at all ambiguous, as most prefer to believe; and that with the
vedas and agamas we have everything and we need nothing more. Also, no one can truly
claim to be a Hindu scholar if he does not know the agamas.

Hinduism as practiced today is 95% Agamic and only 5% Vedic. This 5% comes about
because they employ vedic mantras only for the stotra part, although the Agamas have
their own mantras for all their kriyas.

This article deals with the 28 Saiva Agamas, considered the original agamas, although now
all agamas are also considered scruti.

The Agamas, though they constitute an equally large body of ancient Sanskrit source
material for a different concept of the same advaita philosophy of Vedanta, have not been
studied by any Orientalist; indeed they have not been studied at all or studied in depth
even by any Indian scholar except perhaps Dr. Surendranatha Das Gupta (October 1885 -
December 1952) of Calcutta, even under the great handicap of the grantha script.

The agamas had existed mostly in South India, in the Tamilnad, in palm leaf manuscript
book form in the homes of the Sivachariyas who had been entrusted with the duty of
organizing and performing the consecration and the congregational worship (parartha
puja) in the Siva temples for probably over two millennia and a half. These Agamas are not
available in north India to the extent they are available in the south, although they had
been responsible for the culture of the whole of India. Dr. Das Gupta has stated that "No
Agama manuscript of any importance is found even in Banaras, the greatest center of
Hindu religion, Sanskrit studies and culture."

Besides, all the Agamas manuscripts are available only in the grantha script, one which had
been invented by the Tamil people for writing their Sanskrit scriptures more than fifteen
hundred years ago. There is also a view that the grantha was the script used when the
Vedas were reduced to writing and that the new nagari script came into vogue when the
Vedic language gave place to classical Sanskrit (Samskrt well constructed); in other words,
grantha script was much earlier than the nagari script. This grantha script was not in use in
the north, and the devanagari script of the north was unknown in the south till the
beginning of the twentieth century. It is too much to expect Western Orientalists first of all
to known of the existence of two scripts for Sanskrit, and then to study two scripts for one
language; their study was confined to the devanagari script which was in use over a much
larger area of India and in the north.

It has been said that the Upanishads and the Agamas branched off from the same stem,
namely the Vedas, and that the two dealt with the theory and the practice of philosophic
thought respectively. The general assumption that the Agamas deal only with temples and
temple worship is wrong. The Agamas consist of four parts of which Kriya dealing with
temple construction and rituals is one, and jnana dealing with philosophy is another. They
are as much philosophic treatises as any other treatises like the Upanishads. The Agamas
are encyclopaedic in their treatment of all subjects pertaining to the religious life of the
worshipper and to the temple.

The Saiva Agamas are some of the earliest books in the Sanskrit language on the Saiva
religion and philosophy, written over a period of several centuries before the Christian era.
They represent an independent class of writing by very early seers who had an inward
experience and enlightenment from the Supreme Being, Siva, and who were also perhaps
influenced by the Vedas in their original form. These seers have to be considered as hailing
from the South and not from the North. But they were essentially representatives of all
India and they reflected in their thoughts, modes of meditation and worship, in their
writing, and in their very lives, the inherent theism of the South.

The theism of the south or rather, the Saivism of the Tamilians, was the growth of an
unbroken tradition, probably from the pre-historic past, and this had three elements fused
into it. These are 1)an external worship of images as the manifest abode of God, both in
the shrines throught the land and in the devotees' own homes, 2)symbolism, and 3)the
inward meditation and realization.

The Agamas claim Vedic authority for their doctrines. The Agama doctrines are indeed
theistic, and such theism is not foreign to the Upanishads. The following Agamic passages
may be seem to affirm the derivation of the Agamas from the Vedas:

"The siddhanta consists of the essence of the Veda. "(Suprabhedagama)

"This tantra is of the essence of the Veda. This siddhanta knowledge which is the
significance of Vedanta is supremely good." (Mukutagama)

The Agamas are deemed to have scriptural authority and are often callled the Veda and the
Fifth Veda. As a matter of fact, the Sanskrit Nighantu (lexicon) names the Veda as the
Nigama, and the Tantra as the Agama. The Veda and the Agama both seem to have been
denoted by the common term sruti up to the 11th century, after which period the above
distinction of Nigama and Agama seems to have been adopted. Swami Prajnanananda,
quoted by Sir John Wooddroffe, has clearly established that the Agamic (tantric) texts, as
we known them today, had for the most part preceded Buddhism, and only the Agamic cult
had been able gradually to swallow up Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent, and
ultimately to banish it altogether from the Indian soil; it was not the Upanishadic
philosophy but the Agamic cult that was responsible for the supplanting of Buddhism and
for the fusion of its salient features into the core of the Hindu religion. This is a very
important and pertinent observation deserving the careful attention of all scholars.

The four parts of the Agamas are likened to the four parts of the Vedas, namely the mantra
part or stotras comparable to charya of the Agamas, the brahmanas dealing with rituals
comparable to kriya, the aranyaka part analogous to the yoga, and the Upanishad or
philosophy part equivalent to the vidya or jnana pada of the Agamas. It should be noted
that the Agamas have their own mantras for all their kriyas. They employ vedic mantras
only for the stotra part. (It is in this sense that one can say Agamas have alsmost
completely replaced the Vedas as the basis of current day Hinduism in India)

Exponents of the Agamas would go further and say that the Supreme of Saivism, Siva, is
mentioned in the Vedic terms such as the following:

Isa vasyam idam sarvam.
Yah parah sa mahesvarah.
Sarve vai Rudrah.
Ambika pataye Umapataye.
Yo vai Rudras sa Bhagavan Bhurbhuvas suvah.
Tasmai namas tasmai tva jushtam
niyurajmi yasmai namas tat Sivah.
Haraya Rudraya Sarvaya Sivaya
Bhavaya Maha devaya Ugraya.

(All the names mentioned in the last lines are the specific mantra names of Siva.)

Pasupataya Rudraya Sankaraya Isanaya Svaha.
Siva ido dhyeyah, Sivam daras sarvam anyat parityajya.
Yada charmavat akasam veshtayishyanti manavah
Tada Sivam avijnaya duhkasyanto bhavishyati.

The Bharga sabda in the Gayatri mantra (Bharhgo devasya dhimahi) is considered to refer
to Siva. Besides, the introduction of Sri Uma in the Kenopanishad explicity enunciates the
Saiva Siddhanta doctrine that ignonance can be dispelled only with the bestowal of Siva's
Grace which is personified as Sakti or Uma.

Sa tasminneva akase striyam ajagama,
bahu sobhamanam Umah, Haimavatim.

The Kaivalyopanishad, one of the early Upanishads, claimed by many to be of the Advaitic
or Vedanta school, has the following lines (sloka 7):

Tam Aadi madhyanta vihinam Ekam Vibhum
Chidanandam Arupam Adbhutam
Uma sahayam Paramesvaram Prabhum
Trilochanam Nilakantham Parsaantam.

The Narada Parivrajakopanishad is a large Upanishad having nine upadesas of which the
eight deals with the Pranava. In the second sloka we find a phrase 'Sarvagamayas-Sivah'.
Though the Upanishad could not have been one of the early Upanishads, yet the mention of
the Agama here as the form of Siva is significant. The terms agama, tantra, siddhanta and
mantra are found used synonymously in many Agamic writtings.

The Saivagama is also a general term applied to four different schools; the Saiva,
Pasupata, Soma and Lakula. Of these, the Saiva is said to have had three branches : Vama,
Dakshina and Siddhanta. Kapala, Kalamukha, Agora are all contained in the Vama branch.
The Dakshina branch includes Kashmir Saiva darshanas, Svachanda Bhairavam, etc.,
making up a total of 18 Agamas. The Siddhanta branch has 28 Agamas, and this article
concerns with these 28 only.

The definition of Siddhanta often quoted by writers may be given here :

"Siddhanta nama yah parikshakaih bahu vitam parikshya
hetubhih sadayitva stapyate nurnayah sa siddhantah"

That which stands many tests andis finally established is the Siddhanta.

Gautama nyaya sutram, 1.26

The 28 Saiva Agamas are said to have been revealed from all the five faces of Siva. The
first four taught five Agamas each, while the last, Isana, gave rise to eight.

The Sadyojata face revealed the Kamika, Yogaja, Cintya, Karana and Ajita. These were
taught to Kausika Rishi.
The Vamadeva face gave rise to Dipta, Sukshuma, Sahasra, Amsumat and Suprabheda, and
taught them to Kasyapa Rishi.
The Aghora face revealed Vijaya, Nisvasa, Svayambhuva, Agneya (or Anala) and Vira, and
gave them to sage Bharadvaja.
The Tatpurusha gave rise to Raurava, Mukata, Vimala, Chandrajnana and Mukhabimba (or
Bimba), and taught them to Sage Gautama.
The Isana face revealed Prodgita, Lalita, siddha, Santana, Sarvokta, Parameswara, Kirana
and Vatula to Sage Agastya.

(Footnote: Manikkavasagar accepts this tradition. He says that Siva revealed the Agamas
from the Mahendra hill from his five faces: Tiruvasagam 2, lines 19, 20.)

(There is another tradition, probably local puranic, that Siva revealed the agamas to
Parvati and Nandi. Parvati in turn revealed it to Lord Muruga. Nandi in turn revealed it to
his 8 disciples; Tirumular, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada, Sanatkumar, Sivayogamuni, Sanakar,
Sanadanar and Sanandanar. The reason I am mentioning this tradition is that it is curious
that Rishi Nandi hailed from the Himalayas (north Indian?), whereas all his disciples were
south Indians, and are vedic rishis themselves.

We are all familiar with the mantras and strotras corresponding with the 5 faces of Siva.
Most importantly, here we see with clarity that the tatpurusha mantras (tatpurushaya
vidmahe...) refer to Siva, and again here we see that the original(tat or 'that') purusha is
Siva., tying Him straight to the Rig Veda, Purusha hymns and the Purusha Sukta. No

In the light of these findings, much of the obscurity of the vedas, vedic mantras and vedic
gods becomes clear. Probably or this reason Tirumular said that the Vedas is general while
the Agamas are specific.

Another equally revealing fact is that these rishis to whom Lord Siva revealed the agamas
are the same vedic rishis too. In other words there is clear indication that the agamas and
vedas have similar authors, and that they could not have been written far apart in time.
Scholars should take note of this in dating texts and temple worship.

The French Institute of Indology, Pondichery, which has been able to gather in whole or in
parts, 28 principle Agamas so far (according to its Editor, Sri N. R. Bhatt) and 45 of the

From the volumn of writing under each head; chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana, it can be
clearly seen that the emphasis of the Agamas was equally on the jnana and the kriya parts;
that is, both the philosophical and the ritualistic aspects. The Agamas accept the Veda and
build upon it. The Vedanta may be termed the basis for the Agamic philosophy.

The kriya pada considers not the individual man alone but considers man in society. It has
a concern and involvement in the community around. The temple is an outward expression
of this concern. Congregational worship, besides festivals, is the one great force that holds
together society without disintegrating and the kriya pada lays down an elaborate code
therefore which is both emotional and artistic, and rational at the same time.

It is this activity that has held together the Hindu society through so may centuries when
alien cultures and religions bombarded it through political and economic impact. The kriya
pada is in essence considered to be parallel to if not identical with the yajnas of the Vedas.

But there are several other equally important subjects which are also dealt with
extensively. As an instance, we may mention temple architecture. The details of temple
construction here given are beyond what an excellent modern architect can dream of.
Other allied subjects dealt with here are sculpture, iconography, construction of the temple
car, geology, horticulture, astronomy, town planning, home science, water supply, health
and hygiene, food and many others. In short, we may say no area of human activity of the
period about 2,000 years back has been left out.

The charya pada deals with the daily observance and the personal discipline of the
worshippers. The purificatory ceremonies for the individual from the time of his birth, the
dikshas (initiations), the ultimate funeral rites and similar other ceremonies are described

India, particularly Tamilnad in South India, has an unbroken tradition in culture, civilization
and religion which has been continuing for several thousand years. India is probably the
only country which has retained the pristine character of its ancient culture and civilization
unbroken to this day. Even here, the North of India has fared badly under successive
onslaughts of invasions and cultures, but it is agreed on all hands that the South has
preserved its culture almost intact; onslaughts have been fewer, less devastating, less
disintegrating and less powerful here. We would say that the Agamas, through their
prescription of spiritual goals for man, have served as the sentinels of the ancient culture.

The publication of 2 Agamas and 3 Upagamas: Raurava and Ajita Agama, and Matanga,
Kalottara and Mrgendra Upagama in the nagari script in the recent years by the French
Institute of Indology, Pondichery, under the able and dedicated guidance of the late Dr..
Filliozat and Professor N. R. Bhat had brought the Agamas again into focus. The rest of the
agamas and upagamas are unpublished and only available in the grantha script.

'The Saivagamas' by M. Arunachalam,
Prof. Tamil University of Tanjavur
Associate, Dharmapuram Aadheenam
Associate, Kasi Mutt

Gandhi Vidyalayam
Tiruchitrambalam, Mayuram Taluk
609 204 India

Kalakshetra Publications Press
Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai

#956 - June 11, 2003 01:31 AM Re: The Agamas
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Originally posted by Dr. Bala Iyer in Navyashastra.

Hindu Dharma is a faith of Unique Diversity with a Unity accepting
all variations as alternate thoughts. As we elevate ourselves from a
Tamasika level to Rajasika level to Saathvika level and then on to
becomne one with True Gnaana the Divine Truth with all Its Glory
will reveal the Self. From the most ancient times. we have two
parallel forms, the Vaidheeha Hindu Dharma and the Agamika Hindu
Dharma. The Vaidheeka has three facets, one of pure theory, the
Vedhanthis, one of pure rituals, the Mimamsakas and the combination
in Smartha Samprathaaya. The Agamika followers have been Saivas,
Vaishnavas and Saakthas, then there is the Tantrika forms. Among
Saivas, we have the Saiva Siddhantha, Karnataka VeeraSaivas, Kashmir
Saivas and also a Small segment of Original Russian Saivafollowers
as well as the Saivas of Eastern India. To say among all these, to
consider the Smero-Tamil Saivism is the "Original Hinduism" and all
others are those who came later, orthat any one Varna is inferior
and to think against them is pure bigotry. Unfortunately, among
ourselves, there are many Brahmins who consider their sect to be
suerior to others, then there are Non-Brahmins who feels anti- to
Brahmins as well as Dalits and then other within the segments of
each of the 30,000 jaathis. It is the unfortunate state that we all
need to wash our thoughts from. If a Vaishnavite Brahmin has a
culture, tradition or Language different from the Smartha Brahmin,
we all should accept and respect both of them. So, also the
Mudaliars, Pillais and Gounders and Chettiars and Chettiars and
Nairs and Ezhavas and Moopanars and Maravars and Thevars and Patels
and Guptas and Rais and Raos and a thousand similar others.

#957 - June 11, 2003 01:33 AM Re: The Agamas
webmaster Offline

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Originally posted by Dr. Bala Iyer in Navyashastra.

Thiru Pathmarajah Asked:
<< Questions for Dr. Bala Iyer;

Are they any pure Vedhantis or followers
of Purva Mimansa today? If
yes, which sampradaya represents them?
Who are the priests of the Saktas?
While the smarthas reluctantly accept
the agamas, they do follow them
meticilously. Why?>>

Dear Thiru Pathmarajah:

Most Swamijis of Ramakrishna-
Vivivekananda orders are Vedhanthis, so
most of the followers ofthese society.
Normally they do not do Vigraha
Pooja. There are many sects who are pure
Vedic Ritualists of Karmakanda
type - including Arya Samaajis. There
are many "Sivachaaryas" who can be
justifiably called Saaktha Priests like
the "Kaligambal Sivaachrayar" who
is probably known to you through Hawaii.
Most Sivaacharyas also are
trained in Thantrikam which is a form of Sakthi worship and several Kerala
Priests are Thanthris and are Saktha Priests.

Smarthas were originally Mimaamsakas, until Adhi Sankara Bhagadpada came
into the scene where He introduced the concept of Shanmatha worship and
Vedantha theories in and Kumarila Bhatta changed Jaimini's theory of
Apoorva bestowing the good to Iswara giving the benefits. Many born in
Smartha family do not necessarily follow all the teachings. There are many
Samarthas. though do not deny a God for worship, do not do such worship or
recitation of prayers but still will do Santhyavandhanam. Such is the
beauty of diversity in Hindu Dharma. There are many Hindus who do not
believe in Re-incarnation or Poorvajanma Karma, but in Yuga Dharma.
But, due to the Thamasika fear of Divine wrath, most Smarthas strictly
follow Agama type of Vigraha worship as given by Sri Sankaracharyas. Also,
Agama Pooja and Bhakthi marga is much easier to follow than Vedhanthas and
Mimaamsaka type of Karma rituals for most of us with very limited
knowledge. Vedhantha is a theory and cannot be practiced as a ritual.
Thank you,

#958 - March 18, 2004 12:17 PM Re: The Agamas
webmaster Offline

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
"P.N.Kumar" <sarabeswar@y...>

There are 28 Sivagamas presently known as listed below. These are the AgamAs as indicated in this Tamil Tantrik text Tirumanthiram:

"anjanamEni arivaiyOr pAkaththan
anjOdirapaththu mUnRuLa Agamam
anjali kUppi aRupath thaRuvarum
anjA mukaththil arumporuL kEttathE"
Thirumanthiram - 57

The Lord that consorts with his blue-hued half Has the Agamas twenty five and three; Bowing low, the six and sixty* heard
His Fifth-Face the Agamas expound.

19.Chandra Jnanam / Kalottaram
20.Mukha Bimbam

In fact the nine Tantras / sections of Tirumanthiram itself are said to be expositions of nine Agamas. This again is confirmed by the following verse:

petranal Agamang kAraNang kAmikam
utranal vIram uyarsindham vAthuLam
matrav viyAmaLa mAkungkA lOththaranth
thutranaR suppiranj sollu makutamE.
Thirumanthiram - 63

The Agamas so received are Karanam, Kamigam,
The Veeram good, the Siddam high and Vadulam
Vyamalam the other and Kalottaram
The Subram pure and Makutam to crown.

Starting from Karanam upto Makutam, the Thirumanthiram is grouped into nine tantras. Of these nine sections, the central one, the fifth, 'vAthuLa Agama' is said to be the life-nerve of the nine. It
is said to expound the principles of Saiva Siddhantha. The preceding four expound the means by which a student of Agamas makes himself fit to gain the Gnosis of the Real, propounded in the fifth section. The last four sections describe the fruits one gains when he has gained
the Gnosis of the Real, the Sivam.

aNNal aruLAl aruLum sivAgamam
eNNili kOdi thokuththidumAyinum
aNNal aRaintha aRivaRiyAvidin
eNNili kOdiyum nIr mEl ezuththE.
Thirumanthiram - 64

Numberless the Sivagamas composed
The Lord by his Grace revealed;
Yet if they know not the wisdom He taught;
Like writing on water, the unnumbered fade.

What is that wisdom ?
"Anbe Sivam!" - Love, indeed is the all pervading God!


#959 - February 11, 2006 11:51 AM Re: The Agamas
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Kamika and Karana Agama

Apparently temple worship(agamic) and yajna worship(vedic) existed peacefully
side by side but over time the the vedic worship was almost completely replaced
and partly incorporated in home sacraments and temple homas. The battle for
supremacy was over nearly two thousand years ago. Sometimes we cry for no

Today the Saivas, Vaishnavas and Shaktas are of (their respective) Agama
Religion. The smartha sampradayas are todays remnants of the Vedic Religion,
although they too follow the agamic tradition but describe themselves as vedic.

Perhaps we should describe ourselves as the 'Agama Religion', rather than the
foreign word 'Hinduism'. After all thats what Vivekananda says.



..the practical and living religion of the Hindus to whatever denomination they
may belong, is governed, as pointed out by Swami Vivekananda, from the
Himalayas to Cape Comorin by the Agamas only.

For the information of the ignorant and the biased it has to be explained here
that in point of chronology the Agamas are as ancient as the Vedas and they are
both acknowledged as Divine Revalation from from the mouth of God.

The vastness of Saivagamas (28 original saiva agamas and 207 upagamas)-their
slokas reckoned traditiolally at many lakhs...

The difference and distinction between the Vedas and the Agamas are that while
the Vedas spoke of many Gods and of one Brahman, the Agamas are out and out
monotheistic and their ontology is no less profound.

Later Saints like Tirumular in his Tirumandram which is considered to be the
essence of the Agamas and Manikavachagar and Nammalvar (both Saiva and
Vaisnava) and scholars like Haradatta, Srikantha, Siva-grayogin Sivajnanaswani
and Appaya Dikshita have looked upon Vedas as common and the Agamas as
specific as the latter are for all irrespective of caste and sex that yearn for
the descent of the Grace of Siva (saktin@iida).

The Saiva Agamas are some of the earliest books in the Sanskrit language on the
Saiva religion and philosophy written over a period of several centuries before
the Christian era.

The agamic (tantric) texts, as we know then and today, had for the most part
preceded Buddhism and only the agamic cult had been able gradually to swallow
up Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent, banish it altogether from the Indian
land ultimately soil.

It was not the Upanisadic philosophy but the agamic cult that was responsible for the supplanting of Buddhism and for the fusion of the salient features into the core of the Hindu religion.

Agamas are common to the three prominent schools and they are called Agama
in Saivism, Samhita in Vaishnavism and Tantra in Saktiism.

The agamas had not been quite popular in North India for the simple reason that
they were all written in palm leaf manuscript in the grantha characters which
were unknown in the north, their script was the nagari.

The great Prof S. N. Dassgupta has stated that not a single manuscript of
inportance is available in Banaras considered the greatest seat of Sanskrit
culture. It therefore goes without saying that the Saivagamas have been a rare
and special preserve of the Sivacharyas in Tamilnad. All temple worship,
festivals, installation, consecration, etc are here done according to the

The thousands of temples in this country are standing monuments to the
prevalence of the agamic cult from the ages past down to the present day.

The agamic cult which was that of the generality of the people and the Vedic
cult which was that of the priestly classes, officiating for themselves or for
others, both indigeneous, they existed and grew up side by side without
extraneous influence from the outside, the distinction between the two was in no
sense racial.

The Theism of the south or rather, the Saivism of tie Tamilians, was the growth
of an unbroken tradition probably from the pre-historic past and this had three
elements fused into it. These are worship of idols and images, both in the
throughout the land and in the devotees own houses, symbolism, and the inward
meditation and realisation. These three were not separate compartments but
basically one harmonious integrated whole.

When the Upanisads were added on to the Vedas in the course of the later
centuries, they could not but be influenced by the religion and philosophy
flourishing around them. These naturally embody a considerable volume of the
thought of the agamic scholars, because some of the early Agamas were earlier
than these later Upanisads in point of time and the Agamas were much more
alive and vibrating with life and activity than the Upanisads, because they
with definite and concrete objects, while the others dealt only with abstract
concepts. The very fact that some later Upanisads came to be written shows
that the followers of the original Upanisads had to take note of agamic thoughts
and, to bring them also into a single common fold, adopted the device of writing
further Upanisads, to embrace fresh thought on the same subject. The Saiva
Upanisads such as Brhadjabala did certainly come into existence a long time
after the Agamas.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited February 11, 2006).]

#960 - April 04, 2006 05:28 PM Re: The Agamas
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
The Agamas Are Caste Free

The agamas are caste-free, and that has been the case since time


"The Saivas recognise twenty-eight Agamas, of which the chief is Kamika....
They are open to all castes and both the sexes."

Swami Sivananda
Divine Life Society

The Agamas Are Pre-Buddhist

....To bring a harmony between these two contesting movements, the
calvinistic doctrine, the doctrine of grace and the Chosen man appears in the
Hindu scene and we come to the age of Agamas. All agamas claim that they
are all God-inspired and all of them claim their origin to God himself. To the
Saivas they are the earliest revealed works in the Sanskrit Language on their
religion and Philosophy. Since Tirumoolar (2nd century A.D.) mention nine
Saiva Agamas by name (Thirumantiram. Samya Ed. 63) we may assume that
those Agamas were written a long time before him. The Pidagagama is the
name giben to the Buddhist Scripture Tripidaga. This came into existence
immediately after the Buddha attained Nirvana. The nomenclature of the
Buddhist religious treatise was obviously taken from the then existing Saiva
treatises. Hence we may conclude that the Saiva Agamas were in existence
before the 6th century B.C.

Former Principal Parameswara College Jaffna.

Here is a sample of sutras from the saiva and shakta agamas:

"It has been laid down by the Lord that there can be no moksha, liberation,
without diksha, initiation; and initiation cannot be there without a teacher.
Hence, it comes down the line of teachers, parampara."
Kularnava Tantra

"Even the incompetant, indeed, should worship, ending with the offering of
the sacrificial food, ending with light. He who does this shall obtain progress
towards the Auspicious."
Karana Agama

(home shrine puja worship is for all.)

Offerings of perfumed substances, flowers, incense, lamps and fresh fruits -
these are the five elements of the traditional puja which culminates with the
offerings of the lamps.
Karana Agama

He should repeat the Siva mantra according to his ability, and (there should
be) circumnambulation, obeisance and surrender of the self.
Karana Agama

Cutting all the stones to be cut, carving all the stones to be carved, boring all
the stones to be bored, such are the three aspects of the silpis art. The
architect and the sutragrahin build the temples and craft the images, but 'it is
with the takshaka that the architect effects the opening of the eyes of these
images', and similar rites.
Suprabheda Agama

(it is the architects, the stapathis, that convert an ordinary stone into a living
diety with eyes, etc)

Let the aspirant for liberation behave in an unselfish way and kind way and
give aid to all, let him undergo penance, and let him study this agama.
Devikalottara Agama

(all shall study the agamas)

One who has recoiled from sensual pleasures and devoted himself to
undefiled, pure wisdom is sure to achieve everlasting moksha, even if he
does not consciously seek it.
Devikalottara Agama

(I mentioned this before that a regular temple goer can obtain moksha just a
day or two before expiry, whether he knows it or not, or whether he is able
to recognise and articulate his last experience to loved ones.)

These worlds, tiered one above the other from the lowest to the highest,
make up the universe of transmigration. Knowers of Reality describe it as a
place of effective experience.
Mrigendra Agama

All these visibles and invisibles, movables and immovables, are prrevaded by
Me. All the worlds existing in the tattvas from Sakti to prithvi (earth) exist in
Me. Whatever is heard of seen, internally or externally, is pervaded by Me.
Sarvajnanottara Agama

Never does a man attain moksha by his own skill; by no means other than
the grace of Siva, the dispeller of evil, is such an attainment possible.
Paushkara Agama

The bodily form of the Almighty, being constituted by powers is not
comparable to ours. Most conspicuous is the absence of anava. His bodily
form, having a head, etc., is composed of five mantras, corresponding to each
of the five activities - Isa, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vama and Aja.
Mrigendra Agama

(indeed the Lord has a form somewhat like a human being with head, arms
etc, and not just as a formless brahman)

Devoid of beginning, duration and ending, by nature immaculate, powerful,
omniscient, supremely perfect - thus is Siva spoken of in the Saiva tradition.
Ajita Agama

Unequalled, free from pain, subtle, all pervading, unending, unchanging,
incapable of decay, sovereign - such is the essence of Siva, Lord of the
summit of all paths.
Svayambhuva Agama

[This message has been edited by Pathmarajah (edited April 04, 2006).]

#961 - April 08, 2006 12:28 PM Re: The Agamas
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Loc: KL
Some Casteist Passages in the Agamas

[The suprabhedagama says(Samakantha backs this up):

"Saiva-brahmana priests worship in the garbagriha. Initiated non-
adisaiva brahmans worship in the entry passage (antarala). Common
brahmans reciting the Vedas worship in the fore pavillion
(ardhamandapa). Sacrificers, ascetics and renouncers worship[ in the
main pavillion (mukhamandapa). Kings and vaishyas worship in the
door pavillion (dvaramandapa). Sudras who have received the common
initiation woeship in the dance pavillion. And inititiates of other
castes should worship at the gopura.

Ramakantha says:

"The worship performed in the sanctum by adisaiva brahmins employs
the Saiva agamas and their disctinctive Saiva mantras as primary
text. Common Brahmans reciting the Vedas and their Vedic mantras
are stationed further out from the center, in the fore-pavilion.
Good sudras are authorized to recite the Tamil hymns (dravidastotra)
in the great pavilion.]

The Kamikagama says :

"A pious adisaiva, best among Brahmans does worship regularly, but
if others should perform this worship other than for their own
behalf alone, the worshippers will be destroyed."

From the authoritative (to Saiva Siddhanta) Kamikagama: 1.111-12

"If uninitiated members of the three twice born castes, persons born in the
sudra class, persons born of mixed parentage such as the savarna group,
architects (silpin), artisans and the like should study the Saiva treatises, the
king and kingdom will quickly be destroyed on account of that sin. So the king
should prevent them."

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited April 08, 2006).]

#962 - March 21, 2007 04:09 PM Re: The Agamas
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
The Saiva Bakti Saints

Biographies and Miracles

#963 - March 23, 2007 05:15 PM Re: The Agamas
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Vaishnava Agamism And their Priesthood

The vaishnavas and their priests, the iyangers, do not remember their
history. Iyengars are iyengars and not brahmins. It would be demeaning
to call an iyengar a brahmin, but those folks carelessly forgot that, and
instead ingratiate themselves and try to climb the caste ladder by calling
themselves brahmins when actually it is climbing down the latter one
notch! Their own agamas says that, which obviously they are not reading.

Vaishnavas should be reminded that their shastra is the vaishnava agamas
and none else, certainly not the ramayana or the mahabharata of gita.
Instead of reading their agamas they delight in quoting from the gita.

Correctly we should call vaishnava priests as iyengars, saiva priests as
kurukkals (or sivacharyas) and smartha priests as aiyer (or simply brahmins).
Both the kurukkals and iyengars derive their authority from the agamas
which is shruti, and second to none.

Prior to Ramanuja there was no such thing as vaishnavism! There were no
vaishnavas. There were only agamists, some of whom preferred the worship
of Siva and some of whom preferred the worship of Tirumal. There were no
exclusive sects like saivas and vaishnavas. The people generally worshipped
both the gods. There were no cleavages between both the groups of

Way before Ramanuja, 500 years before him, the bakti saints battled firstly
the jains and buddhists, and secondly assailed the ascending brahmins after
Shankara's prominence.

By the time Ramanuja arrived, brahmins had ascended to prominence and
Ramanuja tried to ingratiate himself with them the smarthas. That is why he
wrote only in sanskrit and not tamil, afraid he would lose favour with the
brahmins. It is Ramanuja that established the DP as the tamil veda, it is
Ramanuja that established the DP in all temple and domestic rituals, and it
is Ramanuja that established Vaishnavism as a separate and independent
sect, apart from the saivas for the first time in history. Yet he could not
muster the courage to quote even once from his 'tamil veda'. His response
to Shankara's advaita was his Visishadvaita.

He is the founder of the Vaishnavism sect. We have to thank him for this
that eventually pitted the vaishnavas against the saivas.
Whereas the Alwars refused to set Tirumal worshippers as a separate sect.
It would not be too wrong to say that prior to Ramanuja, the 'vaishnavas'
were actually 'saivas' but who preferred to worship Tirumal more often, but
maybe this is too much. But of course once the vaishnavas set themselves
as a separate sect, then they present the saivas with a fait accompli.

Because of his adoration of smartha brahmins, he wrote in sanskrit. The
fallout was vaishavas eventually leaned towards sanskrit and brahmins and
sanskrit works like ramayana and mahabharata. Now this is foolish
because it is smirti, documents of the smarthas. Foolish because they are
neglecting the diamonds (agamas) and seeking the bronze (smirtis). It is
also foolish because if they had read the ramayana and mahabharata
properly it would not escape them that those texts are actually in praise
of Siva as the supreme god. Because of their foolishness it is the
vaishnavas today and in the recent past that are propping up the smartha
brahmins and casteism (varna). Is it not mentioned in their own agamas
that brahmins may not enter a vaishnava garbhagriha as a priest to do

Even in the leanings there was eventually a split leading to the vadakalai
and tenkalai subsects. Serves them right for splitting with the saivas in
the first place - karma returned.

All these events that happened in Tamilnadu set off in motion reverberations
all over India over the next few centuries, eventually leading to the
establishing the Ramcharitmanasa (tulsidas ramayana) as the main shastra
in north India 500 years later. Imagine that, smirthi is now 'shastra' and
we have Ramanuja and the vaishnavas to thank for this. Ignorant people
gloatingly talk about Shankara, Ramanuja, advaita and visishadvaita without
knowing their history, and without knowing which is their shastra.. It is just
that they don't realise. I don't think they are even reading their DP, they just
chant it without thinking, much like the brahmins chant in sanskrit without k
nowing the meanings.

Will someone please remind the sri vaishnavas that their agamas are in
an ancient tamil script (grantha) that their own rishis wrote, dictated
directly from Narayana (Siva that arose from the cosmic waters prior to
creation of the three worlds).

And remind them that if they are agamists, then they are naturally
siddhantins, and not vedantins or anything else.

Iyengars, as a priesthood, derive their authority from the vaishnava
agamas and not the vedas at all. They are duty bound to it and should not touch
any other shastras or quote anything else. If their authority does not derive
from the vedas, then they should not have anything to do with the so called
'vedanta' or upanishads, or the non existent 'Brahma Sutras or Vedanta Sutras'.
They don't derive their authority from Vyasa or whoever. Vyasa had nothing to do
with the vaishnava agamas, and he is no authority over vaishnavas. I hope this
point on being scripturally correct is understood.

I am willing to discuss history and vaishnavism but I want arguments and quotes
from the vaishnava agamas and nothing else. I do not want to hear from Vyasa,
'vedanta sutras', Sri Bhasya of Ramanuja, itihasas or gita. These are not
authorities on vaishnavism anymore than the Dhammapada would be. From where does
Ramanuja's Sri Bhasya derive authority from? Certainly not from the vaishnava
agamas, certainly not from the DP as he did not quote it, so it can be dispensed
with in discussions. If Ramanuja did not quote the Alwars even once, which he
didn't, we just can't give him a place in vaishnava philosophy or any agamic

The agamas had been written by at least 800BCE, and that makes Vyasa very late
by at least 1000 years. Temples were already around and 'vaishnavas' were
already doing pujas and serving the people. Temple worship preceded Vyasa. He
never wrote anything about the vaishnava agamas, or any agama, because he was
not an agamist. So he is no authority on the Vaishnavism of temple worship.

I agree Ramanuja wrote in sanskrit for a nationwide reach. That is not a
problem. Writing in sanskrit is not at all a problem. The question is why did he
not quote the 'tamil veda' which he glorified? Why did he write a commentary on
the 'vedanta sutras' which is itself a commentary. Why not write a commentary on
the DP, or at least an original commentary on the vaishnava agamas?
Did he quote the vaishnava agama at all? I don't think so. Because the smarthas
can't stand the agamas.

Because Ramanuja did not quote the DP, the tamil vedas, it is not known or
quoted outside Tamilnadu or tamils and is a 'forgotten' document. It means his
attempts to hail the DP failed. But he made a name for himself with his
visishadvaita, and succeeded in separating the vaishnavas from the saivas. This
hurts. Same for Madhava and all the rest. It also largely put an end to the
alwar tradition but the saivas continued with Arungirinathar, Tayumanavar and
Ramalingaswami, etc. in an unbroken chain.

As regards Vyasa the compiler of the vedas, it means he was the chief librarian
arranging the books in some order, nothing more. He did not write a single vedic
sutra, so he is not to be quoted. His so called 'vedanta sutra' is just a
commentary, and we don't deal with commentaries. We deal with authoritative
texts as far as philosophies and theological practices, in this case triadism of

<Secondly. all Aiyengars are essentially Smartha Brahmins.>

Smartha brahmins trace their origins to the kalpa sutras and not the vedas.
They are kalpa sutra priests. Vedic priests themselves are another class and
should not be confused with the kalpa sutra priests. Kalpa sutras are one of the
vedangas but is not the veda itself. Are sri vaishnavas now saying that they
trace their origins to the vedangas, and not the veda? One has to be careful as
there is a trap here.

One can't be an agamist as well as a follower of the smirthis (smarthas) at the
same time. It is mutually exclusionary. Agamists are not supposed to touch any
shastra but the agamas and vedas ONLY. The very fact that the nayanmars and
always spoke against varna should tell they were not smarthas or varnashramists.

<At times I wonder why should we waste our time in glorifying the triadism. It
looks to me like proving the obvious. The Dravida Siddantham is Triadism, you
call it Saivism or Vaishnavism. The Saivites call it Pathi, Pasu, Pasam. The
Vaishnavites call it Iswaran, Cit, Acit. Tatuvathrayam (thathuvam + thriyam =
Three philosophies) is the key word in Vaishnava school which you call

Exactly, and I agree. And this means that it has nothing to do with any vedanta
or any philosophies dependent on them. So advaita, Visishtadvaita, dvaita of
Vyasa, Ramanuja Madhava is all out, and 'should' have no place in vaishnavism.

Every child knows the itihasas, but adults like children too make mistakes or
rather overlook conveniently. That's because with every concept thrown in, it is
designed to cover everybody for maximum reach. Here is Vyasa's mahabharata:

Drona Parva Adhyaya 201 Vyasa says:
Narayana performed strenuous tapas when the Highest God of the world, the origin
of the Universe and the parent of the worlds, appeared before Narayana. That God
is Known as Sambhu, Hara or Rudra. He is smaller that Paramanu and greater than
anything. He is the cause of vitality in all the living things. Every thing or
non-living originates from him. He can never be seen by ordinary people. He has
engulfed the whole world. He is the limit of the Time. He has no birth, no
death. He is invisible, unmanifest. He is the soul of the soul. He has no
passion at all.

Drona Parva Adhyaya 202:
"all the gods including Brahma, Visnu and Rudra have originated from him. He is
Citswarupa and is present in all the bodies and controls all the bodies. The
whole universe is His Body. He is the master of all and hence is called as the
Great God, Mahadeva. He is also known as Sthanu. He is the Soul of the
Universe. He is the creator of the Universe and is the Universe Himself. He is
the self-mad (Swayambhu). He is full of the knowledge and can be understood only
by knowledge. He is the source of the light. Everything in the world is his

In the Santi Parva Adhyaya 302 there is a dialogue between Vasistha and Janaka.
Here, Vasistha tells of yugas and says that after the interval of 34,560,000,000
human years, Isana, Jyotirupa, Avyaya, Sambhu (all names of Siva) starts his
work of recreation. First of all this Sambhu creates Hiranyagarbha (or Aja),
also known as Visvarupi or Mahan or Bhootagraja which means the first thing in
the world. Hiranyagarbha prepared all the things forming this world and entered
into it. Thus he himself turned into many forms and hence got the name Visvarupa
and Bahurupa. He generates himself in innumerable forms and becomes visible.
This change from invisible to visible, or unmanifest to manifest is named as
Vidyasarga. Hiranyagarbha gives rise to Ahankara and Virat Prajapati. This
process is called as Avidyasarga. From Ahankara all the microscopic things
evolved. Then arose five Mahabhutas - Akas, Vayu, Teja, Apah, Prthvi, and so on
in creation. Its best to read the original texts.

Here is one quote from the Narada-Pancharatra Agama;

"Everything from Brahman to a blade of grass is Lord Krishna."

Does this sound like vishistadvaita or even dvaita?

No offence and I am not knocking anyone but I am just trying to be shastrically
correct. And I'm still learning. Maybe I'm subconsciously pulling the vaishnavas
from the clutches of the brahmins back to the agamas and saivas. The very fact
there are Saiva Agamas, Shakta Agamas and Vaishnava Agamas should tell them with
whom they should be standing.

Regards and more apologies.


#964 - July 06, 2007 05:15 PM Re: The Agamas
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#965 - November 22, 2007 02:00 PM Re: The Agamas
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Agamas versus Vedas : The Seeking for God

Macrocosm vs Microcosm

SAIVA SIDDHANTA: An Indian School of Mystical Thought

by H.W. Schomerus, translated by Mary Law(2000, 1979)
First Published in 1912 under the German title ‘Der Saiv Siddhanta’

Excerpts (emphasis added):

Do most Saivites base their thinking and feeling and willing on Vedanta, or on Saiva Siddhanta? There is at present no evidence by which to answer this question…….

The author of this book can claim to know only a very small part of the immense store of Indian riches. He has some knowledge of Tamil literature, but not of other non-Sanskrit writings, as a well-founded judgment would require. So he is in no position to decide whether Vedanta is in fact more influential than Saiva Siddhanta. But he would venture to say that for southern India the influence of Saivite Vedanta has been underrated. He is inclined to the view that Saiva Siddhanta is (at least in Tamil-speaking districts) a better key than Vedanta to an understanding of the Saivite mind……

……Saiva Siddhanta is not a single and definite system of thought, but rather a tendency, within Saivism, which includes several distinct systems of thought; just as we might speak of a Vedantic tendency which includes several systems differing on this point or on that…….. (p.4-5)

The Saivagamas, their Main Authority

Like all orthodox Indian schools, the school of Saiva Siddhanta recognizes the authority of the Vedas, but not as the only authority, or even the most important one. The Saivagamas stand next to the Vedas, or even above them, as their scriptural authority. There is no need for us to survey the Vedic writings, as there is a very substantial literature on this in German. The Saivagamas require a more detailed treatment, so as to explain the origin and significance of the Siddhantin schools……. to enable readers to evaluate the statement that the Saivagamas are a scriptural authority for Saiva Siddhanta.

A full treatment of the Agama literature is unfortunately not possible yet, as so little research has been done on it. There seem to be two reasons for this. From a sixth-century manuscript of the Sutasamhita (part of the Skanda Purana) found by Professor Bendall in Nepal, which discusses the relation of the Vedas to the Agamas, we discover that even at that early time many did not recognize the authority of the Agamas, and indeed were hostile to them. Unlike most works, the Agamas do not emphasise the supremacy of the Brahmins, so the Brahmins may well have opposed them, and certainly did see to it that they were not widely known. Many Agamas disappeared, either being destroyed or not copied and circulated; and anyone familiar with the influence of Brahmins on Indian literature will readily suppose that their opposition was responsible.

It is notable that in southern India the guardian of the wisdom of the Agamas was and is a Saivite monastery led by non-Brahmins. The unsympathetic attitude of the Brahmins must, then, have been partly responsible for the Agamic literature being largely unknown even today.

But there is another and more important reason. The theological representatives of Saiva Siddhanta believe that the Agamas, and the Saiva Siddhanta schools based upon them, lead souls to a still higher stage then do the Upanishads and Vedanta; on beyond knowledge to mystical experience. Like most mystics, they think the masses cannot climb that high, or even understand books about it. Only a few elect ones, they think, are capable and worthy of learning what the Agamas teach. According to Indian scholars with an English education, many manuscripts of Agamic works have fallen victim to the fears of monks that these teachings might fall into the hands of the uninitiated. Instead of being read and studied, they have been or will be destroyed by insects, as the monasteries have long ceased to be centres of learning.

A few of the Tamil manuscripts based on the Agamas have now been printed (against opposition) and so made accessible to the public at large. The detailed commentary on the Sivajnanabodha, the most important work of Saiva Siddhanta, was only after long and almost futile efforts allowed to be printed a few years ago, and then only in part (due to ants). A number of manuscripts that can give valuable information about the Agamas and about the systems built on them must still lie hidden in the libraries of monasteries, and there is no immediate hope of their being brought into the light of the day……

….. The word ‘Agama’ means ‘What was handed down’, suggesting that we are dealing with an ancient type of literature.

Legend tells that, after the creation of the world, Siva taught the twenty-eight Agamas by Srikantharudra to Nandiperuman. This revelation is supposed to have taken place in Mount Mahendra, i.e. in the Western Ghats, on the border between Travancore and Tinnevelly districts. D. Savariroyan, Secretary of the Tamil Archaeological Society, is of the opinion that the Agamas represent the oldest productions of Dravidian literature; that they were written in prehistoric times in the Dravidian (Tamil) tongue, that most of them were lost in the great flood which swept away a large area south of what is now Cape Comorin, the chief settlement of the old Dravidians; and that some part only of the old Agama literature was later translated into Sanskrit, and preserved in that form.

This theory is open to question. Perhaps, it is true in this, that the home of the Agamas is to be looked for in the Dravidian lands i.e. in southern India. From the south, they seem to have made their way to the north, and later returned to the south again, where they helped to expel Buddhism and Jainism, which had taken a hold in those parts. However, even if we grant that the Agama literature sprang from Dravidian sources, we must still admit that it fell very early under the influence of Sanskrit literature. The surviving Agamas, and their derivative writings, are clearly Sanskritic in character; for the Agamas themselves are all in Sanskrit, and those derivative systems which are not written in Sanskrit employ Sanskrit terminology…….. (p.6-8)

Significance of the Agamas

As is already clear, the Agama literature is closely connected with the Sakta-, Siva-, and Vaishnava-sects, that is, with the sects most important in India. This suggests that the Agamas may open up a perspective on present-day Hinduism, which study of Vedas and Upanisads has failed to provide. And so many modern Indian scholars would claim.

Thus, P.T. Srinivasa Iyengar writes in the Introduction to his Outlines of Indian Philosophy (Theosophical Publishing Soceity, Benares and London, 1909), regarding the importance of the Agamas:

“Although the Hindu honours the Vedas as eternal, and, with much pride, calls himself a Vedantist, and has recently resolved to carry the light of Vedanta to the West, the living relgion of the Indian today is based on the Agamas, that is, on the Saiva, Sakta- and Vaisnavagamas ……. Although discussion is for preference based on snippets of the Upanishads, the actual opinions and religious beliefs of the Hindu are taken entirely from the Agamas.

In another part of the book he writes:

“The influence of the Agamas or (as they are more usually known) the tantra has become very deep in Indian life. The living religion of the Hindu of today is essentially tantric, from Cape Comorin as far as the furthest corner of Tibet. Even the few genuine Vedic usages that have survived, and which are thought to stem directly from the Vedas, the Sandhya, have been modified by adding tantric usages. The Agamas also influenced considerably the development of Vedanta philosophy. Samkara was a supporter of the Sakta sects, and his advaita interpretation of Vedanta, though clearly independent of the Sakta Agama, is influenced by tantric theories. And Ramanuja, who on Doctor Thibauts’ view presents a less extreme form of Vedanta, though one closer to the ideas of Badarayana, was a Vaishnavite, and regarded the Vaishnava Agama as an authority, although he seldom cites it in support of his exposition. Madhva stands so much under the influence of the Agamas that his Commentary (on the Vedanta Sutra) is just a catena of Agamic texts, with a few words put in here and there to connect them.”

Swami Vivekananda, the representative of Hinduism at the Congress of Religions in Chicago, gave a similar judgment at a Congress held in Madras:

“As to tantra and its influence, the fact is that apart from the srouta and smarta rites, all other rituals being observed from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin are drawn from the tantra, and they dominate the worship of the Saktas, the Saivites and the Vaishnavites and all the others.”

………. We can’t always be sure that a doctrine found in the Agama schools really came from the Agamas themselves. And where we do find similar teaching in the Upanishads, or in Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, etc., we still can’t work out which came earlier…….

Vedic religion is mainly magic. The Vedic minstrels sought to placate the gods (who were personifications of natural forces) by offerings of ghee or soma. The sacrifices were cast into the fire, which they regarded as the mouth of the gods, spiced with mantras or magic incantations. Many of the mantras were hymns of praise to the gods, but others were mere sound-combinations with no meaning, or inarticulate sounds ‘like the sound of the bull’……..

Seeking God in the microcosm
Seeking God in the macrocosm

Seeing gods behind the forces of nature, they saw them also behind the spoken mantra and the powers of the soul, and identified these with the forces of nature, and finally gathered them together into Brahma, which the priest understood as the mantra (prayer) and the philosopher read as the soul of man………. This tendency in the literature of ancient India to seek God in the soul (the microcosm), and to worship him there produced the literature of the Upanishads, and reached its classic conclusion in the school of Vedanta, which sought God identifying the soul with God. But not every Indian thinker went looking for God within himself. Many continued to seek him in the macrocosm, his creation; in the forces of nature, which had led to the notion of gods, and to the idea of God. The attempt to understand all Being as a unity…. meant they could not rest content with the forces of nature, as the Vedic singers did, but drove on to seek an ultimate cause behind the many forces of nature, i.e. a natural force from which all the others derived, as from a mother. This one natural force, called Sakti, they then took for God. But as they did not find him there, any more than in the soul, they either took the Sakti as the immanent aspect of a hidden transcendent God (in myth, as the female aspect of divinity), or else just identified it with God. This tendency to seek God in the macrocosm found expression and champion in the Agama literature, and it lived on in the philosophical schools based on them. And it is here that the real significance of the Agama literature is to be found.

Some Indologists are familiar only with the development from Vedas to Upanishads, and look to understand all of Hindu speculation on that basis. For them Idealism (God in the soul) is the essence of Hinduism, Samkara’s Vedanta is inevitably taken as its classic expression: more they cannot see. But Indian speculation has not all fallen prey to man-defying Idealism, though it is often so represented. Over the last thousand years a great number of sects have developed, sharing one point despite all their differences: they reject out-and-out idealism, and take the macrocosm as their starting-point. Scholars accustomed to tracing all Hindu speculation back to the ideas and initiatives of the Upanishads cannot with the growth of all these sects. Unable to accommodate them as off-shoots of the Upanishads, they treat them as revolts against genuine Hinduism, and brand them as apostate; or else trace them back to non-Indian and even to Christian influences. But this whole puzzle about the development of these anti-Vedantic, (no, anti-idealistic) sects and schools disappears once we bring the Agama literature to bear on our study of Indian thought……. (p.13-17)

HILEO WIARDO SCHOMERUS (1879 – 1945) was Professor of Religions and Mission Studies at Halle University.

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