36. How many Puranas are there?
There are 18 Puranas. These are sub-divided into three sets or groups. The first set of six Puranas are authoritative, sacred. These are called Sattvika Puranas. The second set of six Puranas are of medium quality, i.e. the whole thing cannot be accepted as true. These are called Rajasa Puranas. The third set of six puranas cannot be taken as perfectly valid. Only some portions of them, which are not opposed to Vedas, can be taken as authoritative. These are called Tamasa Puranas.
37. Please tell me the Puranas that fall in these three groups.
1.The first set of six Puranas which are most sacred (Sattvika Puranas) are as follows: Vishnu Purana Bhagavatam Narada Purana Padma Purana Varaha Purana Garuda Purana
2.The second set of six Puranas, which are not wholly authoritative, (Rajasa Puranas) are: Vamana Purana Brahma Purana Markandeya Purana Bhaavishya Purana Brahmanda Purana Brahma Vaivarta Purana
3.The last set of six Puranas, which are not very authoritative (Tamasa Puranas) are: Matsya Purana Kurma Purana Agni Purana Linga Purana Siva Purana Skanda Purana.
38. How do yor accept these as authorities or Pramana?
The basic rule is that the Vedas are the Ultimate authority or Pramana. So, in the Puranas, whichever does not conflict or contradict the Veda, can be taken as authority.
39. What are Agamas?
The Agamas accept the authority of Vedas. The Agamas prescribe archa-vigraha worship in the place of rituals like Yagas, mentioned in the Vedas. They prescribed the methods of archa-vigraha worship.
40. How are the Agamas divided?
The Agamas are predominantly divided into Saiva, Sakta and Vaishnava Agamas. Agamas mainly talk about construction of temples; the rules for installation and consecration of the deities in the temples; and the methods of performing pujas in the temples. The Vaishnava Agamas identify Brahman as Vasudeva. We will discuss this further later.
41. What are the Vaishnava Agamas?
The Vaishnava Agamas are : Pancharatra Agama and Vaikhanasa Agama
42. Which Agamas do our Vaishnavite temples follow?
Some temples follow Pancharatra Agama and some temples follow Vaikhanasa Agama. This is only by tradition and custom.
43. Why is Vaikhanasa Agama so called?
It is so called, because it was first taught by Vikhanas rishi to a group of disciples. Sage Vikhanas is stated to have been created by Lord Narayana Himself. It is also stated that he was created by Brahma.
44. Why is Pancharatra Agama so called?
Lord Narayana taught this Agama for five nights to five rishis. Hence, it is called Pancharatra Agama (Pancharatra means five nights)
45. How are these Pancharatra Agamas divided?
These are divided into Samhitas.
46. What are these Samhitas?
There are more than 100 Samhitas. Sattvata Samhita, Paushkara Samhita, Jayakhya Samhita. These three are considered more important and are called three gems (Ratna traya). We have also Ahirbudhnya Samhita, Padma Samhita, Parameswara Samhita and Lakshmitantra.
47. What is Mimamsa?
The Mimamsa consists of two parts. The first part is called Purva Mimamsa or Karma Mimamsa. The second part is called Uttara Mimamsa or Brahma Mimamsa.
48. What is Karma Mimamsa?
Karma Mimamsa is dealt with by Jaimini in 16 chapters or Adhyayas. They contain short statements or aphorisms. They clarify doubts regarding rituals mentioned in the Vedas and also clarify doubts about the general conduct. They interpret the Vedic texts in Karma Kanda.
49. What is Brahma Mimamsa?
Brahma Mimamsa is dealt with in Brahma Sutras. This is propounded by Sage Badarayana or Vyasa. This contains short statements or aphorisms, clarifying doubts in the Vedic text. Brahma Mimamsa interperts the Vedic text of Jnana Kanda or Brahma Kanda.
To be continued….
Source of this content: A Dialog on Hinduism By Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan