Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
0
 
\
o
\
00
o
 
Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
o
o
Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
o
o
o
-HR 201.04
The Sacred Books Given to us by the Divine through our Sages
The Divine words explaining the Principles and Philosophy of Dharma
-~ Level - 2 ~
o
00
\    
\
0
 
\
-
Lesson - 59 :
Agamas, Prayers and Saguna Brahmam
Evolution of rules for various forms of Worship
Please see below
for Lesson - 60
--
\
 
 

Agamas are texts given to the sages, who obtained them by their intuitive powers of meditation. They explain the various aspects of the Ultimate reality, who takes the form of Saguna Brahmam so that the common masses can comprehend and develop the mental powers to elevate themselves to understand the Almighty and practice the faith. It is the first step of the faith before knowing the philosophy, after the stages of rituals and recitations of Manthras. It gives the Devotional forms of worship or the Bhakthi Marga, while the Vedas and Smrithis give the Karma, Upasana and Jnana Pathways.

Agamas are independent of Vedas in their authority even though the teachings are similar and they both are based on each other. As we have already noted, worship of totemic markers and likeness of figurines, as 'God' in various forms, have existed in the most ancient period of history of the so-called 'Pre-Aryan' India. They also had rituals of Vedic type for Natural forces. At this time, worship of 'Siva', 'Vasudeva', and 'Kaali' or 'Sakthi' in a structure built up like a Temple was popular. There was also worship of 'Maal', 'Varuna' and 'Muruga' in the fields. All these got amalgamated with Vedic prayers.

Agamas gives all the rules of worship of the `Formed Deities' or Saguna Brahmam for the benefit of the masses. They explain the principles and rules of a particular aspect of the Nirguna Brahmam who takes the form of Saguna Brahmam. They give detailed rules of Temple building and worship to the Deities. While most Vedic rituals were in Sanskrit, understood only by the elite and educated, Agamas reached the illiterate and the devout masses.

They had prayers in all the languages of the masses and had simple stories and rituals for an image that the masses can see and visualize the Supreme reality in its various aspects. They explain the external worship of God and give us Jnana or Knowledge, Yoga or concentration, Kriya or esoteric ritual and Charya or esoteric worship. They helped in bringing the religion to the hearts of the common people who were able to understand the true meaning of the philosophy and maintain a devotional attachment to the faith.

 
 
\ \  
-
Lesson - 60 :
God in Various Forms and Temple Worship
Saiva, Saaktha and Vaishnava Agamas and Smartha Sects
--
 
\    

Saiva Agama, which glorifies Saguna Brahmam as Siva, has given rise to Saivite aspect of Hindu thoughts and philosophy and several types of Saivite practice. Kashmir Saivam of the Pratyabhijna system, Veera Saiva forms of Karnataka and an important school of philosophy called Saiva Siddhantha are all formed on the basis of Saiva Agama as their authority and show a distinct leaning to Advaitam. There are Twenty- eight Agamas, of which one of the chief Agama is Kamikam. There were about 207 Upa-Agamas, of which only fragmentary texts of Twenty are available.

Saaktha Agama, including Thanthra, glorifies God as Sakthi or one of many names of `Devi' and as the Supreme and Mother of Universe. There are Seventy-seven Agamas. They are in the form of dialogues between Sakthi and Siva. They also teach several occult practices some of them confer special powers while others bestow knowledge. Sakthi is the creative power of Siva. Saaktham is considered to be a supplement to Saivam.

Vaishnava Agama glorifies God as Vishnu, and their teachings lean towards Visishta-advaitam. There are two hundred and fifteen Vaishnava Agamas. They are of four kinds: Pancharathra, Vaikhanasa, Prathishthasara and Vijnanalalitha. Brahma, Saiva Kumara, Vasishtha, Kapila, Gauthamiya and Naradiya are the seven groups of Pancharathra which are regarded as the most authoritative of the Vaishnava Agamas. Thus the Agamas were written for the three main forms of Deities, Siva, Vishnu and Sakthi, the three main divisions of the practice of Hinduism.

The fourth division is the ritualistic Smartha Sampradaya, the followers of the Smrithi, who also accept Agama rules for six forms of Deity and Temple worship as established by Sri Adi Sankara. Each one of the three Agamas considers that their form of God as the ultimate creator and protector of all Universe, worlds and all life forms therein. It must be understood that in spite of the intense diversity of the teachings and methods of worship, the Agamas are all similar to Vedas in their spirit and message and their teachings are considered as equally authoritative.

 
0    
0    
0
\
.
\
 
0

 

 
 
o
 
\
o
 
Chapter - 4 - The Scriptures and The Sacred Works - Lessons 59 & 60
o
 
 
0
Go to Lessons: - :~: 49 & 50 :~: 51 & 52 :~: 53 & 54 :~: 55 & 56 :~: 57 & 58 :~: 59 & 60 :~: 61 & 62 :~: 63 & 64 :
 
 
o
 

00