Āgamas are post-Vedic Hindu scriptures relevant even today. They primarily deal with practical spiritual disciplines, ethical codes and temple rituals.
Of the three main divisions of the āgamas (See ĀGAMAS.), the Śaivāgamas are listed as the first. They are also called by other names such as Saṁhitā 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 cult (See ŚAIVISM.).
The Śaivāgamas are divided into two groups: pradhānāgamas and upāgamas.
The former comprises 28 works and the latter either 208 or 225.
The twenty-eight major āgamas are:
These major āgamas have evolved out of the five faces of Śiva (= Pañcānana) as follows:
|1. Sadyojāta:||Kāmika, Yogaja, Acintya, Kāraṇa, Ajita.|
|2. Vāmadeva:||Dīpta, Sūkṣma, Sāhasra, Aṁśumān, Suprabheda.|
|3. Aghora:||Vijaya, Niśśvāsa, Svāyambhuva, Anala, Vīra.|
|4. Tatpuruṣa:||Raurava, Makuṭa, Vimala, Candrajñāna, Bimba.|
|5. Īśāna:||Prodgīta, Lalita, Siddha, Santāna, Śarva, Pārameśvara, Kiraṇa, Vātula.|
Sometimes, the first ten āgamas listed under the first two aspects of Śiva are named as Śivasaṁhitās and the rest as Rudrasaṁhitās.
All these āgamās follow the standard pattern of the fourfold division, viz., Jñanapāda, Yogapāda, Kriyāpāda and Caryāpāda. (See ĀGAMAS for details.)
Anyone who wishes to practise the disciplines of the Śaivāgamas has to undergo dīkṣā or initiation. The process is explained in detail. One interesting point is that it varies according to the gotra (lineage) and Vedic śākhā (branch assigned for study) of the seeker, thereby confirming that the Śaivāgamas are very much a part of the Vedic tradition.