Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo, p.95. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 8126018038 with various suggested time periods of composition; including the 3rd century BC, Prakash, Om (2005). Cultural History Of India, p.120. New Age International. ISBN 8122415873</ref> and a period between 600 AD to 850 AD.
dvapariyair janair viṣṇuḥ pancarātrais ca kevalam kalau tu nāma-mātreṇa pujyate bhagavan hariḥ
"In Dvāpara-yuga, Vishnu is exclusively worshiped according to the principles of the Pancharatra Scripture, but in this age of Kali-yuga, the Supreme Lord Hari is worshiped only by the chanting of his Holy Name."
"Seeing that the imperfect scriptures in the modes of passion and ignorance bring only a host of troubles, and also seeing that the original Vedas are very difficult to follow properly, and thus being very dissatisfied with both of these, the all-knowing scripture authors affirm the superiority of the Pancharatras, which describe the pure absolute truth, Narayana, and the worship of the Lord, which is very easy to perform."
Paramātma Sandārbha, Annucheda 17.</ref> In the same Sandārbha Jiva Gosvami states pañcarātrasya kṛtsnasya vaktā tu bhagavān svayam</ref> that god himself, Svayam Bhagavan, had spoken the Narada Pancharatra, which is accepted as a pramāṇa by Gaudiya scholars.
During the 11th century AD Ramanuja, a founder of Sri Vaishnava traditions of Vaisnavism had established the Pancharatra system of Vaisnavism for his followers and refuted the philosophy of Adi Sankara.
From that point of view, the chief merit, and hence its primary significance, is that it is such a process of emanation in which the Supreme Being remains unaffected and unchanged in all the five-fold manifestations.
But no sooner the thought is centralized, than the locus soon gets out of his vision and no necessity thereof is felt. But in the archa worship, on the other hand, the devotee feels the very presence of God in it.
And as such the inanimate image soon acquires a new meaning, becomes the object of love, of heart’s hankering and of the eye’s rest. This we find in the religion of the alvars as well, who are the Tamil Vaishnava saints.
Six aspects of surrender in the Pancharatra
The six aspects are explained below in brief:
This in fact is the real Saranagati.
The subsequent five are to be regarding as assisting this.
This leads to ridding the arrogance that one may have because of parentage, learning, wealth, etc., and to get the sense that without the aid of Godhead, whatever we undertake on our own is bound to fail.
The firm conviction that He will not fail to protect us is 'Visvasa'.
This by itself is capable of eradicating all sins.
Even when it is granted that anyway He is the sole protector, Lakshmi-tantra points out that what is involved in this a'nga is the conscious and mindful selection of Him, the acknowledgment that we need protection, and that He and only He can protect us.
Thus the order of the limbs given in Lakshmi Tantra is: Anukūlya Samkalpam, Prātikūlya Varjanam, Mahā Viṣvāsam, Goptṛtva VaraNam, Atma Nikshepam, and kArpaNyam. In Ahribudhnya Samhitā, the order given is: Atma Nikshepam or Nyāsam, Kārpanyam, Mahā Viṣvāsam, Goptṛtvam, Prātikūlya Varjanam, and Anukūlya Sampakpam.
Svāmi Deṣikan has addressed these confusions in his Nyāsa VimSati (Slokam 12), and concludes that those who know Prapatti Sāstra well agree that there are five anga-s to Prapatti, and the different positions taken in respect of the number and sequence of importance etc. of the aspects of Prapatti really say the same thing in the end (sarva vākya eka kaNThyam).
Atma Nikshepam or nyāsam is considered the main ingredient of Prapatti - the conviction that one's own effort in attaining Him will not bear fruit, and placing oneself directly under His care and giving up ownership of one's own protection or the benefits from any actions to Him.
The other five are then the limbs for Nyāsa, that are of equal importance as conveyed to us by Svāmi Deṣikan. Thus, for performing surrender or Atma Nikshepa or Nyāsam, one needs absolute humility (Kārpanyam), Anukūlya Samkaplam, Prātikūlya Varjanam, etc.
The attainment of the glorious and supreme feet of Vishnu (tad viṣṇoh paramam padam). Pancharatra texts were written before the philosophies of advaita and visishtadvaita were established and vary in regards to the nature of the soul after liberation. In general, the soul is seen as a portion of Laksmi (goddess) and remains forever next to Narayana (god), liberation is therefore returning to the One.
Based on the Purusha Sukta (Rigveda 10.90) the Pancharatra Agamas teach that God (Narayana or Vasudeva) manifests the whole world from one fourth of himself. Therefore three parts of the supreme are immortal nectar that can be attained by liberated beings. Modern Vaisnavism evolved from the Pancharatra and its theories.
Some of the Samhita's are:
- Ahirbudhnya Samhita
- Brahma Samhita
- Garga Samhita
- Laksmi Tantra
- Visnu Tantra
- Aiyangar, Pandit M. Duraiswami, and Venugopalacharya, Pandit T. Sri Pancaratraraksa of Sri Vedanta Desika. The Adyar Library and Research Centre, Madras, India, 1996.
- Apte, Dr. P. P. (edited). Pauskara Samhita. Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati Series No.54, Tirupati, India, 1991.
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- Gupta, Sanjukta. Laksmi Tantra, A Pancaratra Text. E.J.Brill, Leiden Netherlands 1972, reprint Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 2003.
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- Matsubara, Mitsunori, Pancaratra Samhitas and Early Vaisnava Theology, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1994.
- Otto Schrader, F., Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita, Adyar Library, Madras 1916. Second edition 1973.
- Rangachar, S., Philosophy of Pancaratras, Sri Devi Prakashana, Mandya (Karnatak) 1991.
- Rao, S.K. Ramachandra. The Ägama Encyclopedia: Päncharäträgama. Volume IV, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India, 2005.
- Sarma, Pandit K. Ramachandra (edited). Pauñkarägama. The Adyar Library and Research Centre. Madras, India, 1995.
- Siddhantashastree, Rabindra Kumar. Vaisñavism Through the Ages. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1985.
- Sutton, Nicholas, Religious Doctrines in the Mahabharata, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi 2000.