Śaivāgamas

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Saivagamas, ZaivAgamas, shaivaagamas


Āgamas are post-Vedic religious scriptures relevant even today. They primarily deal with the practical spiritual disciplines, ethical codes and temple rituals. Of the three main divisions of the āgamas, the Śaivāgamas are listed to be the first. They are also called by other names such as Samhitā and Mahātantra. They had already come into existence by the first century B. C. Their philosophical tenets are the same as those of the Pāśupata sect.

Classification of Śaivāgamas

The Śaivāgamas are divided into two groups:

  1. Pradhānāgamas - It comprises of 28 works.
  2. Upāgamas - It comprises of either 208 or 225 works.

The twenty-eight major āgamas are:

  1. Acintyāgama
  2. Ajitāgama
  3. Amśumānāgama
  4. Analāgama
  5. Bimbāgama
  6. Candrajñānāgama
  7. Diptāgama
  8. Kāmikāgama
  9. Kāranāgama
  10. Kiranāgama
  11. Lalitāgama
  12. Makutāgama
  13. Niśśvāsāgama
  14. Pārameśvarāgama
  15. Prodgitāgama
  16. Rauravāgama
  17. Sāhasrāgama
  18. Santānāgama
  19. Śarvāgama
  20. Siddhāgama
  21. Sūkṣmāgama
  22. Suprabhedāgama
  23. Svāyambhuvāgama
  24. Vātulāgama
  25. Vijayāgama
  26. Vimalāgama
  27. Virāgama
  28. Yogajāgama

Evolution of 5 Major Śaivāgamas

These major āgamas have evolved out of the five faces of Śiva[1] as follows:

Sadyojāta

It has the following sub sections:

  1. Kāmika
  2. Yogaja
  3. Acintya
  4. Kārana
  5. Ajita

Vāmadeva

It has the following sub sections:

  1. Dīpta
  2. Sūkṣma
  3. Sāhasra
  4. Arhśumān
  5. Suprabheda

Aghora

  1. Vijaya
  2. Niśśvāsa
  3. Svāyambhuva
  4. Anala
  5. Vīra

Tatpuruṣa

  1. Raurava
  2. Makuta
  3. Vimala
  4. Candrajñāna
  5. Bimba

Īśāna

  1. Prodgita
  2. Lalita
  3. Siddha
  4. Santana
  5. Śarva
  6. Pārameśvara
  7. Kirana
  8. Vātula

Existence of Śivasamhitās

Sometimes, the first ten āgamas listed under the first two aspects of Śiva are named as Śivasamhitās and the rest as Rudrasamhitās. All these āgamās follow the standard pattern of the fourfold division:

  1. Jñanapāda
  2. Yogapāda
  3. Kriyāpāda
  4. Caryāpāda

The process of taking dīkṣā or initiation, for anyone who wishes to practice the disciplines of the Śaivāgamas, has been explained in details. It varies according to the gotra[2] and Vedic śākhā[3] of the seeker, thereby confirming that the Śaivāgamas are very much a part of the Vedic tradition.


References

  1. He is also called as Pañcānana.
  2. Gotra means lineage.
  3. Vedic śākhā is the branch assigned for study.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore