Agama and Purana – making concept into culture

School of Yoga explains Agama and Purana

Agamas are a series of methods and instructions for rituals, yoga and temple construction. They differ from the vedic teachings in that while yagna or sacrifice in Veda does not require any physical manifestation such as idols, agama yagna requires pooja and idols as a means of worship.

Agamas can be divided into

  • Shaiva agamas – 28 agama texts detailing the worship of Shiva as ultimate reality covering 4 major and 28 minor schools – 4 major schools being Kapila, Kalamukha, Pashupata and Shaiva.
  • Vaishnava agamas – 108 agama texts detailing the worship of Vishnu as ultimate reality and grouped into four categories – Vaikhanasa, Pancharatra, Pratishthasara and Vijnanalalita of which Pancharatra is considered most important.
  • Shakta agamas – 77 agama texts detailing the worship of Shakti as ultimate reality.

Each agama consists of;

  • Jnana pada or vidya pada – covering concept, doctrine, philosophical and spiritual basis and knowledge of moksha.
  • Yoga pada – covers the physical and mental discipline required to reach moksha
  • Kriya pada – covers the process of building temples, carving idols, initiation ceremonies and performing rituals etc.
  • Charya pada – covers the rules of conduct, process of observing rites, rituals, festivals and prayaschittas.

In addition to the above agamas, Sourya and Ganapatya agamas also exist as minor agamas.

School of Yoga explains Purana:

Purana means that which belongs to ancient times. Puranas are a branch of Sanskrit literature which deal with history, genealogy, tradition and religion and are generally written in the form of stories – dating between 500 BC and 1000 AD.

Puranas are supposed to have the following 5 sections;

  • Sarga – creation of the world.
  • Pratisarga – creation of subsequent creatures and secondary entities.
  • Vamsa – Genealogy of Gods.
  • Manvantara – Genealogy of Man
  • Vamsanucharitam – History of each dynasty.

Generally Puranas can be split in three main branches: Maha or Upapurana – Sthalapurana, Skandapurana and Kulapurana. In Tamil Nadu, they have Siva Purana written in Tamil.

There are eighteen Maha or main Puranas and an equal number of subsidiary Puranas or Upa-Puranas.

The main Puranas are:

  • Vishnu Purana, Naradiya Purana, Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Garuda (Suparna) Purana,
  • Padma Purana, Varah Purana, Brahma Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana and Agni Purana.

What you should know after reading this blog;

  • What is agama as opposed to yagna?
  • How many types of agama’s are there?
  • What are the sections or pada of each agama?
  • Detail each agama.
  • What are puranas?
  • How many puranas exist?
  • What are the elements/ sections of the puranas?
  • Which are the most important puranas?
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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