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Tattvās in Pāñcarātra Āgamas

The word Tattva means the nature of 'that' and 'that' is the object whose nature is to be dealt with. It may mean a material object, quality or action. Hence it is hard to enumerate the Tattvas in a particular school of thought.

The Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta admits three tattvas, namely Cit, Acit and Īśvara. These three may be expressed as one tattva -

'cidacidviśiṣṭaṁ ekaṁ tattvam'

a reality that is governed by sentient and non sentient.

Just as viscosity (sneha) does not exist apart from milk, so also is the Supreme Brahman with reference to all things in world. What is stated as one or distinent shall be mediated upon. It is hard to enumerate all the tattvas.

The instruments of knowledge may be from earth to the enumerate all the tattvas. The instruments of knowledge may be from earth to the group of senses. There are groups like this which could be considered as tattvāgama. Mind, intellect and ego from group with Sattva. Time, knowledge, action, desires and prāṇas, Guṇaṣaṭka(the group of six qualities), Aṇimā and the other seven accomplishments designated as eight siddhis, things coming under Adhyātma, Ādhibhautika, Ādidaivika and Cāturātmya.

The Lakṣmī Tantra enumerates thrity five tattvas. They are ten elements according to their gross and subtle forms. The senses are ten, cognitive and conative. The inner sense antaḥ karaṇa is three, buddhi, mind and ego. Prakṛti, prasūti, māyā, sattva, rajas and tamas, kāla, niyati, śakti, puruṣa, absolute space (parama pada) and Bhagavān are twelve. These thirty five are grouped under three heads namely pure, impure and a mixture of both.

The Pādma saṁhitā enumerates fiftyone tattvas. They are Avyakta, Buddhi, Ahaṁkāra, five Tanmātras, eleven senses, five elements, Māyā, Kāla, Kalā, Rāga, Vidyā, Nandā, Mahānanda, Mahāvidyā, Kṣetrajña, Śiva, Brahmā, Puruṣa, Satya, Acyuta, Ananta, Viṣṇu, Sarva, Nirvṛti, Viśva, Puruṣa, Parameṣṭhin, Aniruddha, Pradyumana, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Dvau.

Among these, kalā and vidyā have almost the same meaning with slight difference in import, Puruṣa after Brahmā must mean Viṣṇu but there is again another word puruṣa in the list, dvau means two but what do they denote is not known, but only with this word, number of tattvas become 51. It is not clear why some deities like Nanda, Viśva and the like alone are mentioned leaving others. Śiva and Śarva mean the same God Śiva. Thus this list seems to merely enumerate some names without mentioning the important persons or deities of particular groups. On the other hand, the text is highly useful for the information it gives on kinds of places, Jambūdvīpa, Bhūloka, Nether regions and Bhuvarloka.

Besides, tattvas are to be known for the proper understanding of their relative positions in the scheme of knowables. For instance, sixteen topics/padārthas are enumerated by Gautama in the Nyāyasūtras and it is stated there that their knowledge would lead to liberation but the knowables are not all the sixteen but only twelve.

The Pauṣkarasaṁhitā enumerates twenty six tattvas, namely, the four vyūha deities, the twelve deities beginning with Keśava and with Dāmodara and ten descents beginning with that of Matsya. This list is not exhaustive. It is confined to the forms of Bhagavān to be worshipped. There are tattvas like soul, worlds and others which are also to be known.

Epistemology forms a part of any system of thought. It is also treated in the medical treaties of Caraka and others. Curiously enough, the Āgamas do not treat this topic. Perception and verbal testimony play a prominent role in the Pāñcarātra tradition though specific treatment is not offered to them. There is only the mention of perception, inference and verbal testimony as pramāṇas.

🙏 Namo Narasimha 🙏

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