--> Skip to main content

Comparing Vaikhanasa Agama and Pancharatra

Vaikhanasa Agama is said to have been initiated by Sage Vaikhanasa, an incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu. Vaikhanasa Agama, like Pancharatra, depicts god in five iconic forms. These are:

  1. Dhruva, mulabera, without parts (nishkala), corresponding to garhapatya fire of the Vedic rituals.
  2. Ugra the dynamic aspect symbolizing the cosmic form of the God
  3. Utsava murti or yatra murti taken in a procession during festivals
  4. Kautuka, corresponding in the Vedic ritual to ahavaniya, the deity to whom daily offerings are made, and who never leaves the temple precincts
  5. Bhoga murti, who puts the devotees to sleep and allows them to experience bliss.

In Vaikhanasa mode of worship, there are more Vedic mantras recited in the process of worship, with fewer mudras than in Pancharatra mode. It is likely that this sect developed out of Panchagni Vidya of Brahmins and not out of Upanishads.

On Vaikhanasa Agama, only the works of Marichi, Bhrigu, Atri and Kashyapa are available, and they are incomplete.

One different between Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa systems is that, in Vaikhanasa, the priest in the temple has to be qualified by heredity, whereas anyone who has received deeksha (initiation) is eligible to perform the worship according to Pancharatra.

A common point between the two systems is that all the life-cycle rituals for all individuals are to be performed according to the holy formulas laid down in the texts of these two agamas, and not according to the texts of Grihya Sutra or Smritis of the Vedic order.