Cosmology as per Pāñcarātra Āgamas
Cosmology as per Pāñcarātra Āgamas:
Jayākhya Saṁhitā describes the matter of creation under the heading Brahmā's creation. The description is very similar that which is found in the purāṇas.
A golden stalk arose from Viṣṇu's navel. The four faced Brahmā was created there by Viṣṇu. Brahmā became fully conversant with the Vedas and Vedāṅgas and became endowed with the eight qualities - Aṇimā, Mahimā, Laghimā, Garimā, Prāpti, Prākāmya, Īśitva, Vaśitva, and the power to create.
He became proud with the quality of Rajas and therefore lost the power to maintain the universe. Two demons who became powerful stole the knowledge of the Vedas from him. Viṣṇu restored the Vedas to Brahmā, at was blessed to keep Vedas intact with him. Rudra arose from the forehead of Brahmā. Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasiṣṭha were the mind born sons of Brahmā, and they carried on the work of creation assigned to them by Brahmā.
According to another Pāñcarātrika version, Aniruddha first turned the primordial matter in to primordial water and laid Himself upon it. A lotus called Mahat arose from His navel. Then he created a cosmic golden hued egg upon it. Hiraṇyagarbha arose from it. Saṁdhyā a goddess arose from the left side of His body and from her Rudra was produced. She was also referred to as Satyā. Brahmā is identified as Hiraṇyagarbha or Virāṭ and is described as four handed. Virāṭ was born from the golden egg and is held as the cosmic person containing the jīvat.
While Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā do not mention Viṣṇu appearing from a pillar, it just mentions Hiraṅyakaśipu meeting death at the hands of Narasiṁha. Devatās approach Saṅkarṣaṇa who took the form of Kūrma and bestowed them amṛta. Viṣvaksena descended as Viṣṇu's vāhana Garuḍa. The Vedas were lost and restored to Brahmā by Hayagrīva who was born from the mind of Pradyumna. When again all knowledge was lost devatās approached Saṅkarṣaṇa and he created Kapila who preached the doctrines of Sāṁkhya yoga. Same Saṅkarṣaṇa descended as the son of Jamadagni. Rāma created a separate heaven for accommodating people of Ayodhyā and Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa taught the Pāñcarātra.
The material creation begins with evolution of primordial matter or pradhāna. The relation between pradhāna and mahat which evolved out of it and that between mahat and ahaṅkāra and it's further evolutes is the cause and effect is called technically as 'Satkāryavāda'. This means the effect exists in the cause even before it is produced. There it is latent and subtle. The cause transforms in to the effect and is called pariṇāma (modification or transformation). The cause is subtle and then it becomes gross when it becomes the effect. This is the view of the sāṁkhya system. Pāñcarātra adopts this concept.
yathā nyagrodha dhānāyāṁ traiguṇyaṁ prakṛtau tathā |
yā sthitirmahadādeḥ sā bhāvasṛṣṭirnigadyate ||
Just as a banyan tree exists dormant in it's seed, mahat and others are in Prakṛti, composed of tri guṇas (sattva, rajas and tamas). The power of all objects is seen only when those objects are produced.
śaktayaḥ sarva bhāvānāmacintyā apṛtak stithā |
svarūpe naiva dṛśyate kāryatastopa lakṣitā ||
The name Sāṁkhya means enumeration of the worldly objects, speculative knowledge about them and initiative knowledge about them. The five tanmātras (subtle elements), space and others issue out of the tāmasa ahaṁkāra, cognitive senses (jñānendriya) rise from it's sattva aspect and organs of action (karmendriyas) from its rājas aspect. Mind is generated from both. There are five subtle elements and five gross elements, eleven senses, they become twenty four with matter, mahat and ego. Following the sāṁkhya system Pāñcarātra named the indeterminate position as ālocana.
While Ahirbudhnya-saṁhitā holds all the eleven senses (indriyas) are produced from the Sāttvika aspects of ego, Lakṣmī Tantra says that the five cognitive senses rise from sāttvika aspect of ego, the active from the taijasa aspect and mind could be both a cognitive and active organ.
Saṣṭi Tantra is Sāṁkhya treatise by Kapila. It is lost and the contents are available only in Ahirbudhnya Saṁhitā. It is devided into two parts with the names Prākṛta Maṇḍala and Vaikṛta maṇḍala. The former has thirty two and the later twenty eight sections. Together they make sixty and hence the name. The Jayākhya Saṁhitā gives the names prakāśātmā, vikṛtyātmā and bhūtātmā to the three kinds of ego. The sentient self gets joined with the inert matter which forms the bondage and when they are separated there is liberation.
The Lakṣmī Tantra explains this creation through sāṁkhya principles. Hiraṇyagarbha and Trayī were born from the lotus that appeared from the navel of Viṣṇu. Time evolved from the three qualities bala, vīrya and tejas. It sets the limits of the material world. The Hiraṇyagarbha and Trayī became transformative into Mahat. Hiraṇyagarbha then has two sets of qualities, one has dharma, jñāna, vairāgya, and aiśvarya. The other set has adharma, ajñāna, avairāgya and anaiśvarya. Mahat evolves in to ego and three guṇas - sattva, rajas, tamas. These three guṇas are created from the three components of ego. From these arise the sensory organs, organs of action and mind, tanmātras or the subtle elements and gross elements. Each subtle element gets transformed in to it's gross form. For example sound into ākāśa.
Direction, lighting, sun, moon and earth become presiding deities of sound, touch, form, taste and smell respectively. Agni, Indra, Viṣṇu, Prajāpati and Mitra becomes presiding deities of the motor organs or karmendriyas. Creation of the bhautika (relating to elements) belongs to the gross kind rising from the gross body of Virāṭ. The beings created thus are viviparous (yonija), born of egg (aṇḍaja), produced from sweat (svedaja) and germinated (udbhijja). All the other inanimate things are products of the five elements (bhūta).
Why should there be creation?
The answer is to be found in the place assigned for Śakti in Pāñcarātra. Śakti or Śrī is Bhagavāns essential nature. She forms the body of Nārāyaṇa consisting of the six divine qualities. Jñāna (omniscience) forms her essence which is also the essence of Brahman. The other qualities emerge out of her essence and are her attributes. She performs all the functions of Nārāyaṇa, being inseparable from Him. This proves all the manifestations of Bhagavān are actually hers. She is the will of Bhagavān and has no existence apart from Him.
She possesses five functions which are creation (shrishti), maintenance (sthiti), destruction (samhāra), disappearance (nigraha) and showing favour (anugraha). Disappearance or tirobhāva is an appearance in a way different from the reality, i.e. when consciousness is affected by matter. Citśakti (consciousness) is the individual self. It is enumerous.Tīrobhāva has five components; namely: Avidyā, Asmitā, Rāga, Dveṣa and Abhiniveśa. The first is Tamas, which is also called Avidyā and is jīva's ego or self consciousness (aham). When jīva identifies itself with a material object, it produces kleśa also called Mahāmoha referred to as Asmitā. As a result of it pleasant recollections follow. They are called Rāga. Unpleasant recollections results in the production of Dveṣa. The tendency to have happiness, even when obstacles appear is called Abhiniveśa.
The jīvas are affected, as a result of the Karmas, they have done in past, by three limitations- space, knowledge and action. Śakti creates inanimate objects, through which the jīvas could have experience of pleasure and pain. The final action of the Śakti is Anugraha which is introduced in the āgamas to established Śakti's absolute control over jīvas. In the absence of this, the jīvas would be subject to the continuity of the stream of life and death. Śakti shows this out of compassion to the baddha jīvas.
This anugraha is called "Śaktipāta" - descent of Supreme Śakti.
mayā jīvāḥ samīkṣyante śriyā duḥkha vivarjitāḥ |
so ̍nugraha proktaḥ iti śaktipātāparāhvayaḥ ||
This makes the baddha jīva cross over the worldly existence -
"śaktipātaḥ sa vai jīvamuttārayati saṁsṛte ".
This word for Śakti's grace from Lakṣmī Tantra, a Pāñcarātrika text glorifying Śakti, is also the term used in Āgama texts belonging to other traditions. This word occurs in Śaiva Āgama Mṛgendra of Kaśmīrī origin.
As a result of Śaktipāta, jīvas would mend their ways leading for their freedom or Śakti would make them seek her favour and release them from bondage. For the well being of Jīvas, Śakti divides herself in to six sheaths or bodies. They are Śakti kośa, Māyā kośa, Prakṛti kośa, Prasūti kośa, Brahmāṇḍa kośa and Jīva kośa.
śaktimāryā prasūtiśca prakṛtistriguṇātmikā |
brahmaṇaṁ jīva dehaścetyate ṣaṭ kośa saṁjñitā ||
These are connection to the transcendental pure creation. The word kośa means nest (kulāya) or body. Among them Śakti kośa is Śaktis transcendental form, from which the four vyūha śaktis emerge - Śrī, Sarasvatī, Rati and Śānti.
Śrī, Sarasvatī, Rati and Śānti are the consorts of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Aniruddha, Pradyumna and Vāsudeva.
Material creation starts with Māyā kośa.
Śakti here is called Mahālakṣmī.
She creates the world with her rajoguṇamaya body. Her names in this regard are Caṇḍā, Caṇḍi, Caṇḍikā, Bhadrakāli, Bhadrā, Kālī, Durgā, Maheśvarī, Triguṇā, Bhagavat Patnī and Bhagavatī. MahāŚrī, Mahāmāyā, Mahāvidyā who represents the tri guṇas forms the Prasūti kośa of Śakti. Pradyumna, Saṅkarṣaṇa and Aniruddha are their Lords. Brahmā and Lakṣmī arose from Mahāśrī, Rudra and Sarasvatī from Mahāmāyā and Viṣṇu along with Gaurī from Mahāvidyā. Brahmā married Trayī/Sarasvatī, Viṣṇu married Lakṣmī and Rudra married Gaurī.
Brahmā produced a cosmic egg and world beginning with Mahat up to elements is produced in this. This is called Brahmāṇḍa. Bodies of beings along with their limbs fall in to Jīva Kośa.
There is another creation based on Adhvan or courses.This is sonic creation. Śakti is present in all the six courses of it namely Varṇa, Kalā, Tāttvika, Māntrika, Pādika and Bhauvana. Varṇādhvan is the course related to akṣaras. Kalādhvan refers to the form of six qualities. Avatāras of Bhagavān represent Tattvādhvan. Mantrādhvan is the mantra paddhatis. Padādhvan represents the four levels of consciousness - jāgrat, svapna, suṣupti and turīya. Bhuvanādhvan is Śakti and Bhagavān who absolutely controls every sentient and non sentient being internally.
🙏 Namo Narasimha 🙏