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A Pancharatra Controversy

 

guruvAtapurIshvaro vijayate

Many smArta yatis seem to be worshipping in shrIvaiShNava kShetras and this has been accepted as a norm lately. However, some shrIvaiShNava scholars strongly object to this practice. The following is a summary of their stand stated here based on our limited understanding of pAncharAtrAgama.

Begin quotes:

The key aspect to examine is the mode of worship. If an idol or temple is established based on pAncharAtra or vaikhAnasa rites, the worship therein should follow the same mode as well.

yadbimbaM yena tantreNa samArabdhaM purAditaH |
prAsAdaM vA tatastena tantreNaiva tadarchayet ||
yatpA~ncharAtravidhinA sthApya saMpUjitaM purA |
tenaiva pUjanIyaM tacChashvatpashchAddhitarthibhiH ||

Elsewhere, it is stated that worshipping an idol with tantrAntara harms the entire nation:

tantrasa~NkaradoShastu visheShAdrAjarAShTrayoH |
doShAyaiva bhavedvipra sarvadA kutrachitkR^itaH |
tasmAnna sa~NkaraH kAryaH tantrANAM hitamicChatA ||

Re-installation of the archA mUrti is prescribed if worship based on shaiva, pAshupata, vaikhAnasa or other pAncarAtretara vidhis is conducted in a shrine installed through pAncharAtra vidhi:

shaivena pUjite pashchAttathA pAshupatena vA |
vidhyantareNa vA vipra pA~ncharAtretareNa vA ||
punaH pratiShThAM kR^itvA tu kuryAtsnapanamuttamam |
evaM kR^ite tu shAntiH syAdanyathA doShabhAgbhavet ||

It is also stated in paramapuruSha saMhitA:

dIkShitairanyashAstreShu spR^iShTe snapanamAcharet ||

Here, according to shrIvaiShNava pakSha, the word adIkShita does not mean strIshUdrAdayaH (as interpreted by the smArtas) but those not initiated into pAncharAtra instead. The following pramANas further stress the need for pUjA by a dIkShita alone:

ana~NgIkR^itya vai dIkShAmAchAryAcChAstrachoditAm |
yaH pUjayati deveshaM tadA rAShTrakShayo bhavet ||

Alaye pA~ncharAtreNa sthApitaM pUjitaM purA |
anyamArgeNa vai vatsa Apadyapi na pUjayet ||

Also, doSha is incurred not only in the case of bimba sparsha by a sannyAsin but even by entry into garbhagR^iha, prAsAda etc:

pratimA chaiva tatpIThaM prAsAdo garbhamandiram |
vigraho devadevasya samametacchatuShTayam || [pArameshvare]

Also, entering a shrine wearing pAdukA is considered incorrect, even if it is a yati:

tailenAbhyaktasarvA~NgaH upAnadgUDhapAdukaH |
yo naraH pravishedgehaM mama bhUtadhare shubhe |
sa yAti gR^ihapAlAnAM yonau janmatrayaM shubhe || [varAha purANe]

The same is stated elsewhere:

yAnairvA pAdukAbhirvA gamanaM bhagavadgR^ihe |
upachArashatenApi na kShamAmi vasundhare ||

We need to examine next whether a yati has adhikAra at all to touch and worship the idol in a temple, especially in the context of pAncharatrAgama. shaunakIya AlayArchApratiShThA refutes such an adhikAra:

gR^ihasthenaiva saMspR^ishyA dIkShitena harestanuH |
anyena sparshitA sA chet prokShaNena vishuddhyati ||

punaH pratiShThA is prescribed if the idol is touched by one without pA~ncharAtra dIkShA:

achakradhAriNA spR^ishTaM gAtraM shUdreNa chaiva hi |
punaH pratiShThAM kr^itvaiva pUjayedAlaye hareH ||

Through nyAyas such as nahi nindA and upakramAdhikaraNa, it can be seen that vedastuti is the tAtparya for tantra nindA in certain purANas and smR^itis and not the literal nindA of tantra. Thus, there should be no bAdhA in accepting tantra prAmANya, pAncharAtra to be specific in this case.

Elsewhere:

naivAdhikArI sannyAsI brAhmaNopyuktalakShaNaH | [pAdmasaMhitAyAm]

atri and other smR^itikAras instruct the yatis thus:

snAnaM surArchanaM dhyAnaM prANAyAmo baliH stutiH |
bhikShATanaM japaH sandhyA tyAgaH karmaphalasya cha ||

Though surArchana, which needs to be interpreted as viShNu pUjA based on pramANas from works such as turIyAshramopaniShad etc., is prescribed for yatis, it does not refer to worship within a temple, especially one following pAncharAtra krama. To further explain, one can consider the example of the statement, R^itukAle striyaM gacChet. This pramANa refer to svabhAryAgamana during R^itukAla and not otherwise.

: End quotes

Based on such a line of argument, it may be remembered that a mahAsamprokShaNam was performed at shrIrangam when a smArta maThAdhipati had worshipped shrI rangarAja. It only seems reasonable to follow the instructions in pAncharAtrAgama while dealing with a temple following pAncharAtra krama. While our objective as smArtas is certainly not championing the cause of pAncharAtra, it is important to point out that shAstra needs to be respected, irrespective of whether the instructions therein suit our convenience.

To conclude, here is a selection from Ishvara samhitA dealing with prAyashchitta:

adIkShitairanyatantradIkShitairarchaketaraiH |
spR^iShTe bimbe tathA kuryAtsnapanaM tvadhamAdhamam ||
shAntihomaM japaM chApi taddoShasya prashAntaye |
eteShAM garbhagehAntaH praveshena vabhirghaTaiH ||
saMsnApya devadeveshaM shAntihomAdikaM charet |
strIbhirvAnupanItairvA tathA vaikhAnasairdvijaiH ||
avaiShNavairvAsaMspR^iShTe bimbe tvadhamamadhyamam |
snapanaM vidhivatkR^itvA shAntihomAdikaM charet ||
etaiH praviShTagehAntaradhamAdhamamArgataH |
saMsnApya vidhivaddehaM shAntihomaM samAcharet ||