Pancharatra Agama

Definition - What does Pancharatra Agama mean?

The "Pancharatra Agama" is one of the religious texts that describe practical and theoretical concepts for those who follow the Hindu school of philosophy known as Vaishnavism. Although there are believed to be more than 200 Vaisnava agamas, the "Pancharatra Agama" is thought to be the most authoritative by many scholars.

The term, which is sometimes used to refer to the Vaisnava Agamas in general, comes from the Sanskrit, pancha, meaning “five”; ratra, meaning “nights”; and agama, meaning “tradition.”

Yogapedia explains Pancharatra Agama

All agamas cover these areas: knowledge, yoga, rituals and worship. The "Pancharatra Agama" is a vast collection of works called samhitas, only a relatively small number of which have ever been printed.

"Jayakhya Samhita" is considered one of the central works within the "Pancharatra Agama." It covers such topics as creation, yoga, mantras, rituals and codes of conduct, among other topics. It also details the following philosophy:

  • Only knowledge (jnana) of God or the highest Reality can lead to moksha (freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth).
  • Paratattva (God) is pure consciousness and is Brahman as mentioned in the Upanishads and Vedas.
  • Religious disciplines such as sacrifices, study of the scriptures and donations are useful but alone do not lead to liberation.

The "Pancharatra Agama" depicts two types of yoga: mantradhyana (meditation on God with form and repetition of mantras) and yogabhyasa (same as the eight-fold path of Patanjali).

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