The Pancaratra Agamas are an age old tradition widely in practice, the philosophy of which is not much discussed, but simply taken for granted.
The Pancaratra Agamas are one of the most popular Agamas not only ancient but also widely prevalent particularly in the South India to begin with, and now very popular all over.
Of course, Otto Sehrader wrote an introduction to the Pancaratra and Ahirbudya Samhitha in the early weeks on this century. Since then I do not think much has been written of the Philosophy of Pancaratra. It was Prof. Yamunacharya who suggested to me the subject and the title research. “The Philosophy of Pancaratra.” Some time during 1958 in one of his visits to Shimoga since then I took a keen interest in the subject. Prof. Yamunacharya now Director, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi has been a guide and I am very grateful to him for his kind help and guidance in writing this thesis.
I have taken into account all Samhithas published so far whether in Devanagari or Tamil, Telugu scripts Mr. Sehrader has given a synopsis of the Samhitha list and according to his enumeration itself, the number of Samhithas runs to 210. Many more are yet to be discovered. I have not added any bibliographical note to the thesis is almost all the texts consulted are referred to in the body of thesis itself.
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Prof. P. Javaregowda of Mysore University for all the valuable encouragement and help he gave to me for research. I thank all of those who helped me in bringing this thesis successfully.
Late Dr. S. Rangachar, Reader, Bangalore University, Bangalore has written the great valuable and educative book “Philosophy of Pancaratras and other Agamas”. This literature has been widely appreciate throughout our country as well as in other countries. Eminent scholars like Dr. Smith and other philosophers have expressed their appreciation about this book. I had translated this book in Kannada in 1982. The book became very famous and is now out of print. I take great pleasure in publishing this great book through Sridevi Prakashana, Mandya.
It is a well admitted fact that there are three Agamas mainly followed by Hindus from ancient times. They are Vai snava, Saiva and Sakta. The first is divided into two groups namely Pancaratra and Vaikhanasa.
As regards the general contents of Agama literature the subject-matter is generally dealt with under four heads that is Jnana, Yoga, Kriya and Carya.
1. Jnan: Knowledge which leads to release or mukti.
2. Yoga: Concentration or meditation on any subject.
3. Kriya: Action – including all actions from laying the foundation of the temple to the completion of the sacred installation of the images therein.
4. Carya: Performance of daily worship, other rites and festival rituals etc.
In many of the Pancaratra Samhithas the subject matter is divided into two heads only that is Jnana Kanda and Kriya Kanda.
In most of the Agama Samhithas the practical portion namely the Kriya and Carya sections are dealt with in great length.
The present work is a detailed study of the original texts of Pancaratra school of thought. The subject is highly philosophical.
Here the author claims that it is more inclined towards Visistadvaita than Advaita, though some of the doctrines of Pancaratra are suggestive of Advaita.
The landmarks of Pancaratra, the six qualities (gun a), Supreme Brahman is Narayana, the five-fold manifestation viz., Para, Vyuha, VIbhava, Antaryamin and Archa, Evolution of soul and matter, the three realities (Tattvatraya) viz., Cit, Acit and svara and Purusarthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa) are dealt with in detail in this work.
Now I am really glad to write a foreword for this worthy publication – “The Philosophy of The Pancaratra And Other Agamas” being published by M/s Sridevi Prakashana of Mandya.
The editor and publisher Srimathi Sridevi is a wellknown scholar in Kannada, Hindi and Tamil languages. Her publications are more than 20 in Kannada, Hindi and Tamil on social, philosophical and religious themes. She has been honoured by many organizations and individuals for her unique contribution to the society.
As such, this publication is her maiden venture in English.
I hope that this work written on Agama will prove useful to scholars interested in understanding the spiritual philosophy behind the mode of worship of the Almighty. I pray to Lord Tirunarayana to bless the editor-publisher for serving interested scholars in India and abroad by publishing more such useful works in Agama and philosophy in future.
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