By Swami Harshananda
Pārānanda Sutras are also known as the Pārānanda Kalpasutras. It is a work belonging to the tantras or Śāktāgamas. It is a work assigned to the period A. D. 900, though some scholars try to push it back to the period 2400-1800 B. C., perhaps identifying it with the Vedic Kalpasutra literature. The work must have been composed at a period when the followers of the tāntrik schools were struggling to get rid of a stigma and endeavoring to be recognized as a part of the Vedic tradition. Hence it is that it declares itself to contain the very cream of the Vedas.
Overview of Pārānanda Sutras
This treatise, which is prose, in the form of sutras is in two adhyāyas or chapters. Each adhyāya is divided into seven āhnikas or subsections. The total number of sutras is 1585. Some of the sutras are short whereas many others are quite long and descriptive. The work calls God, the Supreme, as Paramātman. According to this work seven īśvaras are of extraordinary powers. They are:
Contents of Pārānanda Sutras
Paths of Spiritual Discipline
Paramātman is the Lord of even the īśvaras. He is the very embodiment of eternal bliss, life and knowledge. His divinity is supreme and his powers are all-pervading. He is the object of worship of not only the jivas but also of the īśvaras. The next category of sentient beings are the jīvas or individual souls, who are atomic and infinite in number. They are urged to follow the path of dharma or righteousness and eschew the path of adharma or evil which leads them into hell with intense suffering. Three paths of the spiritual disciples are described here:
- The Daksiṇa - It follows the disciplines given in the Vedas, the smṛtis and the purāṇas.
- The Vāma - It follows the Vedas and the tantras.
- The Uttara - It considers guruvākya, the command of the spiritual preceptor, along with the Vedas as very important.
Modes of Attaining Liberation
It prescribes a detailed process of dīkṣā or initiation for a disciple by a guru who must be a jivanmukta. The jīvas aspiring after liberation are advised to cultivate several virtues like:
- Ahinsā - non-violence
- Satya - truthfulness
- Asteya - non-stealing
- Brahmacarya - celibacy
- Aparigraha - non-acceptance of gifts
- Svādhyāya - study of scriptures
- Bhakti - devotion to God
- Dama - control of senses
- Mauna - control of speech
- Śama - peace of mind
- Mantrajapa - repetition of the mantra given by the guru
The work deals with the dharmas of the four varṇas and the āśramas and also the four yogas. The efficacies of mantras and mudrās, the procedure of observing tāntrik festivals and the use of pañcamakāras also find a place here.
- Paramātman means the God, the Supreme.
- Jivanmukta means the liberated soul.
- Mudrās means the hand poses.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore