The Project Gutenberg ebook of Hinduism And Buddhism, Volume II. (of 3)

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India is a literary country and naturally so great a change as the transformation of the old religion into theistic sects preaching salvation by devotion to a particular deity found expression in a long and copious literature. This literature supplements and supersedes the Vedic treatises but without impairing their theoretical authority, and, since it cannot compare with them in antiquity and has not the same historic interest, it has received little attention from Indianists until the present century. But in spite of its defects it is of the highest importance for an understanding of medieval and contemporary Hinduism. Much of it is avowedly based on the principle that in this degenerate age the Veda is difficult to understand,[440] and that therefore God in His mercy has revealed other texts containing a clear compendium of doctrine. Thus the great Vishnuite doctor Râmânuja states authoritatively "The incontrovertible fact then is as follows: The Lord who is known from the Vedânta texts ... recognising that the Vedas are difficult to fathom by all beings other than himself ... with a view to enable his devotees to grasp the true meaning of the Vedas, himself composed the Pâncarâtra-Sâstra."[441]

This later sectarian literature falls into several divisions.

A. Certain episodes of the Mahâbhârata. The most celebrated of these is the Bhagavad-gîtâ, which is probably anterior to the Christian era. Though it is incorporated in the Epic it is frequently spoken of as an independent work. Later and less celebrated but greatly esteemed by Vishnuites is the latter part of book XII, commonly known as Nârâyaṇîya.[442] Both these episodes and others[443] are closely analogous to metrical Upanishads. The Mahâbhârata even styles itself (I. 261) the Veda of Kṛishṇa (Kârshṇa).

The Râmâyaṇa does not contain religious episodes comparable to those mentioned but the story has more than once been re-written in a religious and philosophic form. Of such versions the Adhyâtma-Râmâyaṇa[444] and Yoga-vaśishtḥa-Râmâyaṇa are very popular.

B. Though the Purâṇas[445] are not at all alike, most of them show clear affinity both as literature and as religious thought to the various strata of the Mahâbhârata, and to the Law Books, especially the metrical code of Manu. These all represent a form of orthodoxy which while admitting much that is not found in the Veda is still Brahmanic and traditionalist. The older Purâṇas (e.g. Matsya, Vâyu, Mârkaṇḍeya, Vishṇu), or at least the older parts of them, are the literary expression of that Hindu reaction which gained political power with the accession of the Gupta dynasty. They are less definitely sectarian than later works such as the Nârada and Liṅga Purânas, yet all are more or less sectarian.

The most influential Purâṇa is the Bhâgavata, one of the great scriptures for all sects which worship Kṛishṇa. It is said to have been translated into every language of India and forty versions in Bengali alone are mentioned.[446] It was probably composed in the eighth or ninth century.[447] A free translation of the tenth book into Hindi, called the Prem Sagar or Ocean of Love, is greatly revered in northern India.[448] Other sectarian Purâṇas are frequently read at temple services. Besides the eighteen great Purâṇas there are many others, and in south India at any rate they were sometimes composed in the vernacular, as for instance the Periya Purâṇa (c. 1100 A.D.). These vernacular Purâṇas seem to be collections of strangely fantastic fairy tales.

C. The word Tantra originally meant a manual giving the essentials of a subject but later usage tends to restrict it to works, whether Hindu or Buddhist, inculcating the worship of Śiva's spouse. But there are exceptions to this restriction: the Panca-tantra is a collection of stories and the Lakshmî-tantra is a Vishnuite work.[449]

The fact is that a whole class of Sanskrit religious literature is described by the titles Tantra, Âgama and Saṃhitâ,[450] which taken in a wide sense are practically synonymous, though usage is inclined to apply the first specially to Śâktist works, the second to Śivaite and the third to Vishnuite. The common character of all these productions is that they do not attempt to combine Vedic rites and ideas with sectarian worship, but boldly state that, since the prescriptions of the Veda are too hard for this age, some generous deity has revealed an easier teaching. This teaching naturally varies in detail, but it usually comprises devotion to some special form of the godhead and also a special ceremonial, which commences with initiation and includes the use of mystic formulæ, letters and diagrams. Tantras, Âgamas and Saṃhitâs all treat of their subject-matter in four divisions[451] the first of which relates to the great problems of philosophy, the second to the discipline necessary for uniting the self and God; the third and fourth to ceremonial.

These works have another feature in common, namely that they are little known except to those Hindus who use them for religious purposes and are probably not very anxious to see them published. Though they are numerous, few of them have been printed and those few have not been much studied by European scholars. I shall say something more about them below in treating of the various sects. Some are of respectable antiquity but it is also clear that modern texts pass under ancient names. The Pâncarâtram and Pâśupatam which are Vishnuite and Śivaite Saṃhitâs are mentioned in the Mahâbhârata, and some extant Vishnuite Saṃhitâs were perhaps composed in the fourth century A.D.[452] Râmânuja as quoted above states that the Pâncarâtra-śâstra (apparently the same as the Pâncarâtra-tantra which he also mentions) was composed by Vâsudeva himself and also cites as scripture the Śâttvata, Paushkara and Parama Saṃhitâs. In the same context he speaks of the Mahâbhârata as Bhârata-Saṃhitâ and the whole passage is interesting as being a statement by a high authority of the reasons for accepting a non-Vedic work like the Pâncarâtra as revealed scripture.

As already indicated European usage makes the words Tantra, Tantrism and tantric refer to the worship of goddesses. It would be better to describe this literature and worship as Sâktism and to use Tantrism for a tendency in doctrine and ceremonial which otherwise has no special name. I have been informed by Tamil Pandits that at the present day the ritual in some temples is smârta or according to Smriti, but in the majority according to the Âgamas or tantric. The former which is followed by many well-known shrines (for instance in Benares and in the great temples of south India) conforms to the precepts of the Purâṇas, especially on festival days. The officiants require no special initiation and burnt offerings are presented. But the Âgamic ritual can be performed only by priests who have received initiation, burnt offerings rarely form part of the ceremony and vernacular hymns are freely used.[453]

Such hymns however as well as processions and other forms of worship which appeal directly to the religious emotions are certainly not tantric. Tantrism is a species of religious magic, differing from the Vedic sacrifices in method rather than principle.[454] For all that, it sets aside the old rites and announces itself as the new dispensation for this age. Among its principal features are the following. The Tantras are a scripture for all, and lay little stress on caste: the texts and the ritual which they teach can be understood only after initiation and with the aid of a teacher: the ritual consists largely in the correct use of spells, magical or sacramental syllables and letters, diagrams and gestures: its object is less to beseech than to compel the god to come to the worshipper: another object is to unite the worshipper to the god and in fact transform him into the god: man is a microcosm corresponding to the macrocosm or universe: the spheres and currents of the universe are copied in miniature in the human body and the same powers rule the same parts in the greater and the lesser scheme. Such ideas are widely disseminated in almost all modern sects,[455] though without forming their essential doctrine, but I must repeat that to say all sects are tantric does not mean that they are all Śâktist. But Śâktist sects are fundamentally and thoroughly tantric in their theory and practice.

D. Besides the Sanskrit books mentioned above numerous vernacular works, especially collections of hymns, are accepted as authoritative by various sects, and almost every language has scriptures of its own. In the south two Tamil hymnals, the Devaram of the Śivaites and Nâlâyira Prabandham of the Vishnuites, are recited in temples and are boldly stated to be revelations equivalent to the Veda. In northern India may be mentioned the Hindi Ramayana of Tulsi Das, which is almost universally venerated, the Bhaktamâlâ of Nâbhâ Das,[456] the Sur-sagar of Surdas and the Prem Sagar. In Assam the Nam Gosha of Madhab Deb is honoured with the same homage as a sacred image. The awkwardness of admitting direct inspiration in late times is avoided by the theory of spiritual descent, that is to say of doctrinal transmission from teacher to teacher, the divine revelation having been made to the original teacher at a discreetly remote epoch.


In considering the evolution of modern Hinduism out of the old Vedic religion, three of the many factors responsible for this huge and complicated result deserve special attention. The first is the unusual intensity and prevalence of the religious temperament. This has a double effect, both conservative and alterative: ancient customs receive an unreasonable respect: they are not abolished for their immorality or absurdity; but since real interest implies some measure of constructive power, there is a constant growth of new ideas and reinterpretations resulting in inconsistent combinations. The second is the absence of hierarchy and discipline. The guiding principle of the Brahmans has always been not so much that they have a particular creed to enforce, as that whatever is the creed of India they must be its ministers. Naturally every priest is the champion of his own god or rite, and such zeal may lead to occasional conflicts. But though the antithesis between the ritualism of the older Brahmanism and the faith or philosophy of Śivaism and Vishnuism may remind us of the differences between the Catholic Church and Protestant reformers, yet historically there is no resemblance in the development of the antithesis. To some extent Hinduism showed a united front against Buddhism, but the older Brahmanism had no organization which enabled it to stand as a separate Church in opposition to movements which it disliked. The third factor is the deeply rooted idea, which reappears at frequent intervals from the time of the Upanishads until to-day, that rules and rites and even creeds are somehow part of the lower and temporal order of things which the soul should transcend and leave behind. This idea tinges the whole of Indian philosophy and continually crops up in practice. The founder of a strange sect who declares that nothing is necessary but faith in a particular deity and that all ceremonies and caste observances are superfluous is not in the popular esteem a subverter of Hinduism.

The history of both Śivaism and Vishnuism illustrates these features. Śiva begins as a wild deity of non-moral attributes. As the religious sense develops he is not rejected like the less reputable deities of the Jews and Arabs but remains and collects round himself other strange wild ideas which in time are made philosophical but not ethical. The rites of the new religion are, if not antagonistic, at least alternative to the ancient sacrifices, yet far from being forbidden they are performed by Brahmans and modern Indian writers describe Śiva as peculiarly the Brahman's god. Finally the Śivaite schools of the Tamil country reject in successive stages the grosser and more formal elements until there remains nothing but an ecstatic and mystical monotheism. Similarly among the Vishnuites Kṛishṇa is the centre of legends which have even less of conventional morality. Yet out of them arises a doctrine that the love of God is the one thing needful so similar to Christian teaching that many have supposed it must be borrowed.

The first clear accounts of the worship of Śiva and Vishṇu are contained in the epics and indicate the existence of sectarian religion, that is to say of exclusive devotion to one or other deity. But there is also a tendency to find a place for both, a tendency which culminates in the composite deity Śaṅkara Nârâyaṇa already mentioned. Many of the Purâṇas[457] reflect this view and praise the two deities impartially. The Mahâbhârata not unfrequently does the same but the general impression left by this poem is that the various parts of which it consists have been composed or revised in a sectarian spirit. The body of the work is a narrative of exploits in which the hero Kṛishṇa plays a great part but revised so as to make him appear often as a deity and sometimes as the Supreme Spirit. But much of the didactic matter which has been added, particularly books XII and XIII, breathes an equally distinct Śivaite spirit and in the parts where Kṛishṇa is treated as a mere hero, the principal god appears to be not Vishṇu but Śiva.

The Mahabharata and Puranas contain legends which, though obscure, refer to conflicts of the worshippers of Śiva with those who offered Vedic sacrifices as well as with the votaries of Vishṇu, and to a subsequent reconciliation and blending of the various cults. Among these is the well-known story of Daksha's sacrifice to which Śiva was not invited. Enraged at the omission he violently breaks up the sacrifice either in person or through a being whom he creates for the purpose, assaults the officiants and the gods who are present, and is pacified by receiving a share. Similarly we hear[458] that he once seized a victim at a sacrifice and that the gods in fear allotted to him the choicest portion of the offerings. These stories indicate that at one time Brahmans did not countenance his worship and he is even represented as saying to his wife that according to rule (dharmataḥ) he has no share in the sacrifice.[459] Possibly human victims were immolated in his honour, as they were in Kâlî's until recently, for in the Mahabharata[460] it is related how Kṛishṇa expostulated with Jarâsandha who proposed to offer to Śiva a sacrifice of captive kings. In the Vishṇu-Purâṇa, Kṛishṇa fights with Śiva and burns Benares. But by the time that the Mahabharata was put together these quarrels were not in an acute stage. In several passages[461] Kṛishṇa is made to worship Śiva as the Supreme Spirit and in others[462] vice versa Śiva celebrates the glory of Kṛishṇa. Vishnuites do not disbelieve in Śiva but they regard him as a god of this world, whereas their own deity is cosmic and universal. Many Vishnuite works[463] are said to be revealed by Śiva who acts as an intermediary between us and higher spheres.


In the following sections I shall endeavour to relate the beginnings of sectarianism. The sects which are now most important are relatively modern and arose in the twelfth century or later, but the sectarian spirit can be traced back several centuries before our era. By sectarians I mean worshippers of Śiva or Vishṇu who were neither in complete sympathy with the ancient Brahmanism nor yet excommunicated by it and who had new texts and rites to replace or at least supplement the Vedas and the Vedic sacrifices. It is probable that the different types of early Indian religion had originally different geographical spheres. Brahmanism flourished in what we call the United Provinces: Buddhism arose in the regions to the east of this district and both Vishnuism and Śivaism are first heard of in the west.

The earliest sect of which we have any record is that of the Bhâgavatas, who were or became Vishnuite. At a date which it is impossible to fix but considerably before the epoch of Pâṇini, a tribe named the Yâdavas occupied the country between Muttra and the shores of Gujarat. Sects of this tribe were called Vṛishṇi and Sâttvata. The latter name has passed into theology. Kṛishṇa belonged to this sect and it is probable that this name Vâsudeva was not originally a patronymic but the name of a deity worshipped by it. The hero Kṛishṇa was identified with this god and subsequently when the Brahmans wished to bring this powerful sect within the pale of orthodoxy both were identified with Vishṇu. In the Mahabharata[464] the rule or ritual (vidhi) of the Sâttvatas is treated as equivalent to that of the Bhâgavatas and a work called the Sâttvata Saṃhitâ is still extant. Bhâgavata appears to be the most general name of the sect or sects and means simply of the Lord (Bhâgavat), that is worshippers of the one Lord.[465] Their religion is also called Ekântika dharma, or the religion with one object, that is monotheism.[466]

A considerable literature grew up in this school and the principal treatise is often spoken of as Pâncarâtra because it was revealed by Nârâyaṇa during five nights.[467] The name however appears to be strictly speaking applicable to a system or body of doctrine and the usual term for the books in which this system is expounded is Saṃhitâ. All previous discussions and speculations about these works, of which little was known until recently, are superseded by Schrader's publication of the Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitâ, which appears to be representative of its class.[468] The names of over two hundred are cited and of these more than thirty are known to be extant in MS.[469] The majority were composed in north-western India but the Pâncarâtra doctrine spread to the Dravidian countries and new Saṃhitâs were produced there, the chief of which, the Îśvara Saṃhitâ, can hardly be later than 800 A.D.[470] Of the older works Schrader thinks that the Ahirbudhnya was written in Kashmir[471] between 300 and 800 A.D. and perhaps as early as the fourth century. It mentions the Śâttvata and Jayâkhya, which must therefore be older.

The most remarkable feature of this literature is its elaborate doctrine of evolution and emanation from the Deity, the world process being conceived in the usual Hindu fashion as an alternation of production and destruction. A distinction is drawn between pure and gross creation. What we commonly call the Universe is bounded by the shell of the cosmic egg and there are innumerable such eggs, each with its own heavens and its own tutelary deities such as Brahmâ and Śiva who are sharply distinguished from Vishṇu. But beyond this multitude of worlds are more mysterious and spiritual spheres, the highest heaven or Vaikuṇṭha wherein dwells God in his highest form (Para) with his Śaktis,[472] certain archangels and liberated souls. Evolution commences when at the end of the cosmic night the Śakti of Vishṇu[473] is differentiated from her Lord and assumes the two forms of Force and Matter.[474] He as differentiated from her is Vâsudeva a personal deity with six attributes[475] and is the first emanation, or Vyûha, of the ineffable godhead. From him proceeds Sankarshaṇa, from Sankarshaṇa Pradyumna, and from Pradyumna Aniruddha. These three Vyûhas take part in creation but also correspond to or preside over certain aspects of human personality, namely Sankarshaṇa to the soul that animates all beings, Pradyumna to intelligence and Aniruddha to individuality. Strange to say these seem to be the names of distinguished personages in the Śâttvata or Vṛishṇi clan.[476] Mere deification occurs in many countries but the transformation of heroes into metaphysical or psychological terms could hardly have happened outside India. Next to the Vyûhas come twelve sub-Vyûhas, among whom is Nârâyaṇa,[477] and thirty-nine Avatâras. All these beings are outside the cosmic eggs and our gross creation. As a prelude to this last there takes place the evolution of the aggregates or sources from which individual souls and matter are drawn, of space and of time, and finally of the elements, the process as described seeming to follow an older form of the Sânkhya philosophy than that known to us. The task of human souls is to attain liberation, but though the language of the Saṃhitâs is not entirely consistent, the older view is that they become like to God, not that they are absorbed in him.[478]

Thus it is not incorrect to say that the Bhâgavata religion is monotheistic and recognizes a creator of souls. Indeed Śankara[479] condemns it on the very ground that it makes individual souls originate from Vâsudeva, in which case since they have an origin they must also have an end. But Râmânuja in replying to this criticism seems to depart from the older view, for he says that the Supreme Being voluntarily abides in four forms which include the soul, mind and the principle of individuality. This, if not Pantheism, is very different from European monotheism.[480]

The history of these Bhâgavatas, Pâncarâtras or worshippers of Vishṇu must have begun several centuries before our era, for there are allusions to them in Pâṇini and the Niddesa.[481] The names of Vâsudeva and Sankarshaṇa occur in old inscriptions[482] and the Greek Heliodoros calls himself a Bhâgavata on the column found at Besnagar and supposed to date from the first part of the second century B.C.

The Pâncarâtra was not Brahmanic in origin[483] and the form of the Sânkhya philosophy from which it borrowed was also un-Brahmanic. It seems to have grown up in north-western India in the centuries when Iranian influence was strong and may owe to Zoroastrianism the doctrine of the Vyûhas which finds a parallel in the relation of Ahura Mazda to Spenta Mainyu, his Holy Spirit, and in the Fravashis. It is also remarkable that God is credited with six attributes comparable with the six Amesha Spentas. In other ways the Pâncarâtra seems to have some connection with late Buddhism. Though it lays little stress on the worship of goddesses, yet all the Vyûhas and Avatâras are provided with Śaktis, like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of tantric Buddhism, and in the period of quiescence which follows on the dissolution of the Universe Vishṇu is described under the name of Śûnya or the void. It attaches great importance to the Cakra, the wheel or discus which denotes Vishṇu's will to be,[484] to evolve and maintain the universe, and it may have contributed some ideas to the very late form of Buddhism called Kâlacakra. This very word is used in the Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitâ as the name of one of the many wheels engaged in the work of evolution.

Though the Pâncarâtra is connected with Kṛishṇa in its origin, it gives no prominence to devotion to him under that name as do modern sects and it knows nothing of the pastoral Kṛishṇa.[485] It recommends the worship of the four Vyûhas[486] presiding over the four quarters in much the same way that late Buddhism adores the four Jinas depicted in somewhat similar forms. Similarly the Śivaites say that Śiva has five faces, namely Îśâna or Sadâśiva (the highest, undifferentiated form of the deity) at the top and below Vâmadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha, and Sadyojâta, presiding respectively over the north, south, east and west. It is thus clear that in the early centuries of our era (or perhaps even before it) there was a tendency in Vishnuism, Śivaism and Mahayanist Buddhism alike to represent the ineffable godhead as manifested in four aspects somewhat more intelligible to human minds and producing in their turn many inferior manifestations. Possibly the theory originated among the Vishnuites,[487] but as often happened in India it was adopted by their opponents. None of these theories are of much importance as living beliefs at the present day but their influence can be seen in iconography.

As a sect the Pâncarâtras seem to have been a subdivision of the Bhâgavatas and probably at the present day many Vishnuites would accept the second name but not the first. The Pâncarâtra is studied at only a few places in southern India but its doctrines permeate the popular work called Bhaktamâlâ and in view of the express approbation of Râmânuja and other authorities it can hardly be repudiated by the Śrî-Vaishṇavas. Bhâgavata is sometimes used in the south as a name for Smârtas who practise Vedic rites and worship both Śiva and Vishnu.[488]


In these early times there were strenuous theological struggles now forgotten, though they have left their traces in the legends which tell how the title of Kṛishṇa and others to divine honours was challenged. Amalgamation was the usual method of conciliation. Several gods grew sufficiently important to become in the eyes of their worshippers the supreme spirit and at least four were united in the deity of the Bhâgavatas, namely, Vâsudeva, Kṛishṇa, Vishṇu and Nârâyaṇa. Of the first three I have spoken already. Nârâyaṇa never became like Vishṇu and Kṛishṇa a great mythological figure, but in the late Vedic period he is a personification of the primæval waters from which all things sprang or of the spirit which moved in them.[489] From this he easily became the supreme spirit who animates all the universe and the name was probably acceptable to those who desired a purer and simpler worship because it was connected with comparatively few legends. But there is some confusion in its use, for it is applied not only to the supreme being but to a double incarnation of him called Nara-Nârâyaṇa, and images of the pair may still be seen in Vishnuite temples. They are said to have revealed the true doctrine to Nârada and are invoked at the beginning of each book of the Mahâbhârata.[490] One of the main theses of the Nârâyaṇîya[491] is the identity of Nârâyaṇa and Vâsudeva, the former being a Brahmanic, the latter a non-Brahmanic name for the Deity.

The celebrated Bhagavad-gîtâ[492] which is still held in such respect that, like the New Testament or Koran, it is used in law courts for the administration of oaths, is an early scripture of the Bhâgavata sect. In it the doctrines of Kṛishṇa's divinity, the power of faith and the efficacy of grace are fully established. It is declared to be too hard for flesh and blood to find by meditation their way to the eternal imperceptible spirit, whereas Kṛishṇa comes straightway to those who make him their sole desire. "Set thy heart on me, become my devotee, sacrifice to me and worship thou me. Then shalt thou come to me. Truly I declare to thee thou art dear to me. Leave all (other) religious duties and come to me as thy sole refuge. I will deliver thee from thy sins. Sorrow not." But the evolution of Saṅkarshaṇa, etc., is not mentioned. The poem has perhaps been re-edited and interpolated several times but the strata can hardly be distinguished, for the whole work, if not exactly paradoxical, is eclectic and continually argues that what is apparently highest is not best for a particular person. The Hindus generally regard the contemplative life as the highest, but the Bhagavad-gîtâ is insistent in enjoining unselfish action: it admits that the supreme reality cannot be grasped by the mind or expressed in speech, but it recommends the worship of a personal deity. Even the older parts of the poem appear to be considerably later than Buddhism. But its mythology, if not Vedic, is also hardly Puranic and it knows nothing of the legends about the pastoral Kṛishṇa. It presupposes the Sâṅkhya and Yoga, though in what stage of development it is hard to say, and in many respects its style resembles the later Upanishads. I should suppose that it assumed its present form about the time of the Christian era, rather before than after, and I do not think it owes anything to direct Christian influence. In its original form it may have been considerably older.

The Bhagavad-gîtâ identifies Kṛishṇa with Vâsudeva and with Vishṇu but does not mention Nârâyaṇa and from its general style I should imagine the Nârâyaṇiya to be a later poem. If so, the evolution of Bhâgavata theology will be that Kṛishṇa, a great hero in a tribe lying outside the sphere of Brahmanism, is first identified with Vâsudeva, the god of that tribe, and then both of them with Vishṇu. At this stage the Bhagavad-gîtâ was composed. A later current of speculation added Nârâyaṇa to the already complex figure, and a still later one, not accepted by all sects, brought the pastoral and amorous legends of Kṛishṇa. Thus the history of the Bhâgavatas illustrates the Indian disposition to combine gods and to see in each of them only an aspect of the one. But until a later period the types of divinity known as Vishṇu and Śiva resisted combination. The worshippers of Śiva have in all periods shown less inclination than the Vishnuites to form distinct and separate bodies and the earliest Śivaite sect of which we know anything, the Pâśupatas,[493] arose slightly later than the Bhâgavatas.


Patañjali the grammarian (c. 150 B.C.) mentions devotees of Śiva[494] and also images of Śiva and Skanda. There is thus no reason to doubt that worshippers of Śiva were recognized as a sect from at least 200 B.C. onwards. Further it seems probable that the founder or an early teacher of the sect was an ascetic called Lakulin or Lakulîśa, the club-bearer. The Vâyu Purâṇa[495] makes Śiva say that he will enter an unowned corpse and become incarnate in this form at Kâyârohana, which has been identified with Kârvân in Baroda. Now the Vâyu is believed to be the oldest of the Purâṇas, and it is probable that this Lakulin whom it mentions lived before rather than after our era and was especially connected with the Pâśupata sect. This word is derived from Paśupati, the Lord of cattle, an old title of Rudra afterwards explained to mean the Lord of human souls. In the Sâṅtiparvan[496] five systems of knowledge are mentioned. Sâṅkhya, Yoga, the Vedas, Pâśupatam and Pâncarâtram, promulgated respectively by Kapila, Hiraṇyagarbha, Apântaratamas, Śiva the Lord of spirits and son of Brahmâ, and "The Lord (Bhagavân) himself." The author of these verses, who evidently supported the Pâncarâtra, considered that these five names represented the chief existing or permissible varieties of religious thought. The omission of the Vedânta is remarkable but perhaps it is included under Veda. Hence we may conclude that when this passage was written (that is probably before 400 A.D. and perhaps about the beginning of our era) there were two popular religions ranking in public esteem with the philosophic and ritual doctrines of the Brahmans. The Mahâbhârata contains a hymn[497] which praises Śiva under 1008 names and is not without resemblance to the Bhagavad-gîtâ. It contains a larger number of strange epithets, but Śiva is also extolled as the All-God, who asks for devotion and grants grace. At the close of the hymn Śiva says that he has introduced the Pâśupata religion which partly contradicts and partly agrees with the institutions of caste and the Âśramas, but is blamed by fools.[498]

These last words hint that the Pâśupatas laid themselves open to criticism by their extravagant practices, such as strange sounds and gestures.[499] But in such matters they were outdone by other sects called Kâpâlikas or Kâlâmukhas. These carried skulls and ate the flesh of corpses, and were the fore-runners of the filthy Aghoris, who were frequent in northern India especially near Mount Abu and Girnar a century ago and perhaps are not yet quite extinct. The biographers of Śankara[500] represent him as contending with these demoniac fanatics not merely with the weapons of controversy but as urging the princes who favoured him to exterminate them.

Hindu authorities treat the Pâśupatas as distinct from the Śaivas, or Śivaites, and the distinction was kept up in Camboja in the fourteenth century. The Śaivas appear to be simply worshippers of Śiva, who practice a sane ritual. In different parts of India they have peculiarities of their own but whereas the Vaishṇavas have split up into many sects each revering its own founder and his teaching, the Śaivas, if not a united body, present few well-marked divisions. Such as exist I shall notice below in their geographical or historical connection.[501] Most of them accept a system of theology or philosophy[502] which starts with three principles, all without beginning or end. These are Pati or the Lord, that is Śiva: Paśu, or the individual soul: Pâśa or the fetter, that is matter or Karma.[503] The task of the soul is to get free of its fetters and attain to the state of Śiva. But this final deliverance is not quite the same as the identity with Brahman taught by the Vedânta: the soul becomes a Śiva, equal to the deity in power and knowledge but still dependent on him rather than identical with him.[504]

Peculiar to Śaiva theology is the doctrine of the five kañcukas[505] or envelopes which limit the soul. Spirit in itself is free: it is timeless and knows no restrictions of space, enjoyment, knowledge and power. But when spirit is contracted to individual experience, it can apprehend the universe only as a series of changes in time and place: its enjoyment, knowledge and power are cramped and curtailed by the limits of personality. The terminology of the Śaivas is original but the theory appears to be an elaboration of the Pâncarâtra thesis that the soul is surrounded by the sheath of Mâyâ.

The early literature of the worshippers of Śiva (corresponding to the Saṃhitâs of the Pâncarâtras) appears to have consisted of twenty-eight works composed in Sanskrit and called Âgamas.[506] There is fairly good evidence for their antiquity. Tirumular, one of the earliest Tamil poets who is believed to have lived in the first centuries of our era, speaks of them with enthusiasm and the Buddhist Sanskrit works called Âgamas (corresponding to the Pali Nikâyas) cannot be later than that period. It is highly probable that the same word was in use among both Hindus and Buddhists at the same time. And since the Mahâbhârata mentions the Pâśupatam, there is no difficulty in supposing that expositions of Śivaite doctrine were current in the first century A.D. or even B.C. But unless more texts of the Âgamas come to light the question of their age has little practical importance, for it is said by native scholars that of the twenty-eight primary books there survive only fragments of twenty, which treat of ritual, besides the verses which form the text expounded at length in the Śivañânabotham.[507] There are also said to be 120 Upâgamas of which only two or three have been preserved entire. Of these two have been printed in part, the Mṛigendra and Paushkara.[508] The former is cited in the Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha (about 1330) but does not show any signs of great antiquity. It is thus clear that the Âgamas are not much studied by modern Śivaites but it is unhesitatingly stated that they are a revelation direct from Śiva and equal to the Veda[509] and this affirmation is important, even though the texts so praised are little known, for it testifies to the general feeling that there are other revelations than the Veda. But the Vedas, and the Vedânta Sûtras are not ignored. The latter are read in the light of Nîlakanṭḥa's[510] commentary which is considered by south Indian Pandits to be prior to Śankara.



[440] An attempt was made to adapt the Veda to modern ideas by composing new Upanishads. The inspiration of such works is not denied but they have not the same influence as the literature mentioned below.

[441] Śri Bhâshya, II. 2. 43. So too the Vishṇu Purâṇa, I. 1 describes itself as equal in sanctity to the Vedas. Śankara on Brah. Sûtras, I. 3. 33 says that the Purâṇas are authoritative.

[442] See Grierson in Ind. Ant. 1908, p. 251 and p. 373.

[443] E.g. the Sanatsujatîya and Anugîtâ (both in S.B.E. VIII.). See Deussen, Vier philosophische Texte des Mahâbhâratam.

[444] Forming part of the Brahmâṇḍa Purâṇa.

[445] See for a summary of them Winternitz, Gesch. Ind. Lit. I. pp. 450-483. For the dates see Pargiter Dynasties of the Kali age. He holds that the historical portions of the older Purânas were compiled in Prakrit about 250 A.D. and re-edited in Sanskrit about 350. See also Vincent Smith, Early History, p. 21 and, against Pargiter, Keith in J.R.A.S. 1914, p. 1021. Alberuni (who wrote in 1030) mentions eighteen Purânas and gives two lists of them. Bâṇa (c. 620 A.D.) mentions the recitation of the Vâyu Purâṇa. The commentary on the Śvetâśvatara Upan. ascribed to Śaṇkara quotes the Brahma P., Linga P. and Vishṇu P. as authorities as well as Puranic texts described as Vishṇudharma and Śivadharmottara. But the authorship of this commentary is doubtful. The Puranic literature as we know it probably began with the Gupta dynasty or a century before it, but the word Purâṇa in the sense of an ancient legend which ought to be learnt occurs as early as the Śatapatha Brâhmaṇa (XI. 5. 6. 8) and even in A.V. XI. 7. 24.

[446] See Dinesh Chandra Sen, Hist. Bengali Language and Lit. pp. 220-225.

[447] Pargiter, l.c. pp. xvii, xxviii. It does not belong to the latest class of Purâṇas for it seems to contemplate the performance of Smârta rites not temple ceremonial, but it is not quoted by Râmânuja (twelfth century) though he cites the Vishṇu Purâṇa. Probably he disapproved of it.

[448] It was made as late as 1803 by Lallû Jî Lâl, but is a rendering into Hindi of a version in the Braj dialect, probably made in the sixteenth century.

[449] Another Vishnuite work is cited indifferently as Padma-tantra or Padma-samhîtâ, and the Bhâgavata Purâṇa (I. 3. 8) speaks of the Sâttvatam Tantram, which is apparently the Sâttvata-saṃhitâ. The work edited by Schrader is described as the Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitâ of the Pâncarâtra Âgama.

[450] See for some notices of these works A. Avalon's various publications about Tantra. Srinivasa Iyengar, Outlines of Indian Philosophy, 118-191. Govïndacarya Svâmi on the Vaishnava Samhitâs, J.R.A.S. 1911, pp. 935 ff. Schomerus, Çaiva-Siddhânta, pp. 7 ff. and Schrader's Introduction to the Pâncarâtra. Whereas these works claim to be independent of the Veda, the Sectarian Upanishads (see vol. I. p. 76) are an attempt to connect post-Vedic sects with the Veda.

[451] Jñâna, Yoga, Caryâ, Kriyâ. The same names are used of Buddhist Tantras, except that Anuttara replaces Jñâna.

[452] See Schrader, Introd. to the Pâncarâtra, p. 98. In the Raghuvaṃsa, X. 27. Âgamas are not only mentioned but said to be extremely numerous. But in such passages it is hard to say whether Âgama means the books now so-called or merely tradition. Alberuni seems not to have known of this literature and a Tantra for him is merely a minor treatise on astronomy. He evidently regards the Vedas, Purâṇas, philosophical Darśanas and Epics as constituting the religious literature of India.

[453] Râjagopala Chariar (Vaishnavite Reformers, p. 4) says that in Vishnu temples two rituals are used called Pâncarâtra and Vaikhânasa. The latter is apparently consistent with Smârta usage whereas the Pâncarâtra is not. From Gopinâtha Rao's Elements of Hindu Iconography, pp. 56, 77, 78 it appears that there is a Vaikhânasâgama parallel to the Pâncarâtrâgama. It is frequently quoted by this author, though as yet unpublished. It seems to be the ritual of those Bhâgavatas who worship both Śiva and Vishṇu. It is said to exist in two recensions, prose and metrical, of which the former is perhaps the oldest of the Vaishṇava Âgamas. The Vaikhânasa ritual was once followed at Śrîrangam but Râmânuja substituted the Pâncarâtra for it.

[454] Avalon, Principles of Tantra, p. xxvii describes it as "that development of the Vaidika Karmakâṇḍa which under the name of the Tantra Shâstra is the scripture of the Kali age." This seems to me a correct statement of the tantric theory.

[455] Thus the Gautamîya Tantra which is held in high estimation by Vishnuite householders in Bengal, though not by ascetics, is a complete application of Śâkta worship to the cult of Kṛishṇa. The Vârâhi Tantra is also Vishnuite. See Raj. Mitra, Sanskrit MSS. of Bikaner, p. 583 and Notices of Sk. MSS. III. (1876), p. 99, and I. cclxxxvii. See too the usages of the Nambuthiri Brahmans as described in Cochin Tribes and Castes, II. pp. 229-233. In many ways the Nambuthiris preserve the ancient Vedic practices.

[456] See Grierson's articles Gleanings from the Bhaktamâlâ in J.R.A.S. 1909-1910.

[457] E.g. Mârkaṇḍeya, Vâmana and Varâha. Also the Skanda Upanishad.

[458] Mahâbh. Vanaparvan, 11001 ff. The Bhâgavata Purâṇa, Book IV. sec. 2-7 emphasizes more clearly the objections of the Rishis to Śiva as an enemy of Vedic sacrifices and a patron of unhallowed rites.

[459] Mahâbh. XII. sec. 283. In the same way the worship of Dionysus was once a novelty in Greece and not countenanced by the more conservative and respectable party. See Eur. Bacchae, 45. The Varâha-Purâna relates that the Śivaite scriptures were revealed for the benefit of certain Brahmans whose sins had rendered them incapable of performing Vedic rites. There is probably some truth in this legend in so far as it means that Brahmans who were excommunicated for some fault were disposed to become the ministers of non-Vedic cults.

[460] Mahâbh. II. secs. 16, 22 ff.

[461] Droṇa-p., 2862 ff. Anusâsana-p., 590 ff.

[462] E.g. Anusâsana P., 6806 ff.

[463] E.g. the Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitâ and Adhyâtma Râmâyaṇa.

[464] Śântipar. cccxxxvii, 12711 ff. In the Bhagavad-gîtâ Kṛishṇa says that he is Vâsudeva of the Vṛishṇis, XI. 37.

[465] Cf. the title Bhâgavata Purâṇa.

[466] Ekâyana is mentioned several times in the Chândogya Up. (VII. 1, 2 and afterwards) as a branch of religious or literary knowledge and in connection with Nârada. But it is not represented as the highest or satisfying knowledge.

[467] Even in the Śatapatha Br. Nârâyaṇa is mentioned in connection with a sacrifice lasting five days, XIII. 6. 1.

[468] The Saṃhitâs hitherto best known to orientalists appear to be late and spurious. The Bṛihadbrahma Saṃhitâ published by the Anandasrama Press mentions Râmânuja. The work printed in the Bibliotheca Indica as Nârada Pâncarâtra (although its proper title apparently is Jñânamritasâra) has been analyzed by Roussel in Mélanges Harlez and is apparently a late liturgical compilation of little originality. Schrader's work was published by the Adyar Library in Madras, 1916. Apparently the two forms Pâncarâtra and Pâncarâtra are both found, but that with the long vowel is the more usual. Govindâcârya's article in J.R.A.S. 1911, p. 951 may also be consulted.

[469] The oldest are apparently the Paushkara, Vârâha, Brahma, Sâttvata, Jaya and Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitâs, all quoted as authoritative by either Râmânuja or Vedânta Deśika.

[470] It is quoted as equal to the Vedas by Yâmunâcârya, so it must then have been in existence some centuries.

[471] The story of Śvetadvîpa or White Island in the Śânti-parvan of the Mahâbhârata states definitely that Nârada received the Pâncarâtra there.

[472] There is much diversity of statement as to whether there are one or many Śaktis.

[473] Vishṇu is the name of God in all his aspects, but especially God as the absolute. Vâsudeva is used both of God as the absolute and also as the first emanation (Vyûha).

[474] Kriyâśakti and Bhûtiśakti.

[475] Jñâna, aiśvarya, śakti, bala, vîrya, tejas. These are called guṇas but are not to be confounded with the three ordinary guṇas.

[476] The words seem to have been originally proper names. See the articles in the Petersburg Lexicon.

[477] Nârâyaṇa like Vishṇu is used to designate more than one aspect of God. Sometimes it denotes the Absolute.

[478] The above brief sketch is based on Schrader's Int. to the Pâncarâtra where the reader can find full details.

[479] Comment on Vedânta sûtras, II. 2. 42.

[480] And, as Schrader observes, the evolutionary system of the Pâncarâtra is practically concerned with only one force, the Śakti, which under the name Bhûti is manifested as the Universe and as Kriyâ vitalizes and governs it (p. 31).

[481] On Sutta-nipâta, 790, 792. The doctrine of the Vyûhas is expounded in the Mahâbhârata Śântip. CCCXL. 36 ff., 70 ff.; CCCXLI. 26 ff.

[482] Lüder's List of Brahmi inscriptions, No. 6, supposed not to be later than 200 B.C. and No. 1112 supposed to be of the first century B.C. Sankarshaṇa is also mentioned in the Kauṭilîya Arthaśâstra, XIII. 3.

[483] Some Saṃhitâs emphasize the distinction between the followers of the Veda and the enlightened ones who worship the Lord. See Schrader, Pâncarâtra, p. 97.

[484] Syâm iti Sankalpa, Ahirbudh. Sam. II. 7. In some late Upanishads (e.g. Nâradaparivrâjaka and Bṛihatsannyâsa) Cakrî is used as a synonym for a Pâncarâtra.

[485] The same is true of Râmânuja, who never quotes the Bhâgavata Purâna.

[486] See the quotations from the Sâttvata Saṃhitâ in Schrader, pp. 150-154. As in the Pâncarâtra there is the Para above the four Vyûhas, so some late forms of Buddhism regard Vairocana as the source of four Jinas.

[487] The Manicheans also had groups of five deities (see Chavannes and Pelliot in J.A. 1913, I. pp. 333-338) but they are just as likely to have borrowed from Buddhism as vice versâ.

[488] See Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and Sects, p. 565.

[489] Manu, I. 10-11, identifies him with Brahmâ and says, "The waters are called Nârah because they are produced from Nara, and he is called Nârâyaṇa because they were his place of movement (ayana)." The same statement occurs in the Nârâyaṇîya.

[490] They are said to have been the sons of Dharma (religion or righteousness) and Ahiṃsâ (not-injuring). This is obvious allegory indicating that the Bhâgavata religion rejected animal sacrifices. At the beginning of the Nârâyaṇîya (Śântip. cccxxxv.) it is said that Nârâyaṇa the soul of the universe took birth in a quadruple form as the offspring of Dharma, viz. Nara, Nârâyaṇa, Hari and Kṛishṇa. Nara and Nârâyaṇa are often identified with Arjuna and Vâsudeva. E.g. Udyogap. xxlx. 19.

[491] Mahâbhâr. XII.

[492] It is an episode in Mahâbhâr. VI. and in its present form was doubtless elaborated apart from the rest. But we may surmise that the incident of Kṛishṇa's removing Arjuna's scruples by a discourse appeared in the early versions of the story and also that the discourse was longer and profounder than would seem appropriate to the European reader of a tale of battles. But as the Vedânta philosophy and the doctrine of Kṛishṇa's godhead developed, the discourse may have been amplified and made to include later theological views. Garbe in his German translation attempts to distinguish the different strata and his explanation of the inconsistencies as due to successive redactions and additions may contain some truth. But these inconsistencies in theology are common to all sectarian writings and I think the main cause for them must be sought not so much in the alteration and combination of documents, as in a mixed and eclectic mode of thought. Even in European books of the first rank inconsistencies are not unknown and they need not cause surprise in works which were not written down but committed to memory. A poet composing a long religious poem in this way and feeling, as many Hindus feel, both that God is everything and also that he is a very present personal help, may very well express himself differently in different parts. On the other hand the editors of such poems are undoubtedly tempted to insert in them later popular doctrines.

[493] The name appears not to be in common use now, but the Pâśupata school is reviewed in the Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha (c. 1330).

[494] Śivabhâgavata, see his comment on Pâniṇi, V. 3. 99 and V. 2. 76. The name is remarkable and suggests that the Śivaites may have imitated the Bhâgavatas.

[495] I. xxiii. 209. The Bibliotheca Ind. edition reads Nakulì. Aufrecht (Bodl. MSS.) has Lakulî. The same story is found in Linga P. chap. XXIV. Lakulî is said to have had four pupils who founded four branches. Lakulin does not play an important part in modern Śivaism but is mentioned in inscriptions from the tenth till the thirteenth centuries. The Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha describes the Nakulîśa-Pâśupata system and quotes Nakulîśa who is clearly the same as Lakulin. The figures on Kushan coins representing Śiva as holding a club may be meant for Lakulin but also may be influenced by Greek figures of Herakles. See for Lakulin Fleet in J.R.A.S. 1907, pp. 419 ff. and Bhandarkar Vaishṇavism and Śaivism, pp. 115 ff. The coins of Wema Kadphises bear the title Mahiśvara, apparently meaning worshipper of the Great Lord. Temples in south India seem to have been named after Kâyârohana in the seventh century A.D. See Gopinâtha Rao, Hindu Iconography, II. p. 19.

[496] Mahâbhâr. XII.

[497] Mahâbhâr. XII. 13702 ff. It is recited by Daksha when he recognizes the might of Śiva after the unfortunate incident of his sacrifice.

[498] Śânti-parvan, section cclxxxv especially line 10, 470 ff.

[499] See Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha, chap. VI. and the comments of Râmânuja and Śankara on Vedânta Sûtras, II. 2. 36.

[500] E.g. Śaṅkara-dig-vijaya. The first notice of these sects appears to be an inscription at Igatpuri in the Nâsik district of about 620 A.D. recording a grant for the worship of Kapaleśvara and the maintenance of Mahâvrâtins (= Kàpàlikās) in his temple. But doubtless the sects are much older.

[501] The principal are, the Pâśupatas, the Śaivasiddhântam of southern India and the Śivaism of Kashmir.

[502] The Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha, chap. VII. gives a summary of it.

[503] The Pâśupatas seem to attach less importance to this triad, though as they speak of Pati, Paśu and the impurities of the soul there is not much difference. In their views of causation and free will they differed slightly from the Śaivas, since they held that Śiva is the universal and absolute cause, the actions of individuals being effective only in so far as they are in conformity with the will of Śiva. The Śaiva siddhânta however holds that Śiva's will is not irrespective of individual Karma, although his independence is not thereby diminished. He is like a man holding a magnet and directing the movements of needles.

[504] There is some difference of language and perhaps of doctrine on this point in various Śivaite works. Both Śivaites and Pâncarâtrins sometimes employ the language of the Advaita. But see Schrader, Int. to Pâncarâtra, pp. 91 ff.

[505] The five Kañcukas (or six including Mâyâ) are strictly speaking tattvas of which the Śaivas enumerate 36 and are kâla, niyati, râga, vidyâ and kalâ contrasted with nityatva, vyâpakatva, pûrṇatva, sarvajnatva, sarvakartṛitva which are qualities of spirit. See Chatterji, Kashmir Śaivism, 75 ff., 160, where he points out that the Kañcukas are essentially equivalent to Kant's "forms of perception and conception." See too Schrader, Int. to Pâncarâtra, 64, 90, 115.

[506] See for names and other details Schomerus, Der Śaiva-Siddhânta, pp. 7, 23: also many articles in the Siddhânta-Dipika.

[507] They are taken from the Âgama called Raurava. The Śivaites of Kashmir appear to have regarded the extant Śiva-sûtras as an Âgama.

[508] The Sanskrit text and translation of the Mṛigendra are published in the Siddhânta-Dipika, vol. IV. 1901 ff. It is sometimes described as an Upâgama and sometimes as the Jñânapâda of the Kâmika Âgama.

[509] So Tirumûlar. Nîlakanṭḥa in his commentary on the Vedânta Sûtras says: "I see no difference between the Veda and the Śaivâgama."

[510] Or Śrîkaṇṭha. The commentary is translated in Siddhânta-Dipika, vol. I. ff. In spite of sectarian views as to its early date, it seems to be influenced by the views and language of Râmânuja.

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