One of the early movements that was important to the development of Vaishnavism was the ancient Pancharatra movement, whose sacred texts or Agamas consisted of detailed procedures to worship the sage Narayana, an ancient incarnation of Vishnu. Since the Pancharatra Agamas originated from Narayana himself, they're followed by pretty much all mainstream Vaishnavas today.

The first time I came across the word 'Pancharatra' was in case of Narada Pancharatra.

Every subsequent time I came across this word I thought Pancharatra refers to Narada Pancharatra. Basically, I had this idea that there is one scripture; Narada Pancharatra just like any other scripture.

As I went through different questions on this site and this wiki page; I realised that Pancharatra is not a single scripture.

So the question is;

  1. What are the different Pancharatra texts (I read that there are around 200 of them); please mention the principal ones.
  2. What is the basis to classify a text as a Pancharatra text? Ex. Bhagavad-Geeta is classified as Pancharatra text. What could be the reason to refer Geeta as a Pancharatra text?

2 Answers 2


What is Pancharatra

Pancharatra texts are Vaishnava Agama Shastras, the name pancharatra literally means 'five nights', since these scriptures were revealed by Sage Narayana in 5 Nights to all the Rishis. Sage Narayana was so generous to us humans that he preserved ancient Ekayana shakha of Shukla Yajurveda and created agamas out of it so that everybody irrespective of caste creed sexuality could worship Shriman Naryana, and realize the truth that he is the Supreme Being.

-- As quoted in wiki - Pancharatra

List of Pancharatra texts

The Yoga knowledge that Shri Krishna talks about is addressed in Chapter 4 of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita Here is relevant disscussion, how it was transfered from Him(Shriman Narayana) to Lord Bramha & so on.

The knowledge he is talking about is of Panchartara tradition . Bhishma taught this knowledge to Yudhishtira Shanti Parva of Mahabharata Chronology of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita

  • 1
    Bhishma teaches Yudhishthira about Pancharatra in the Shanti Parva, not the Anushasana Parva. Sep 23, 2016 at 18:33
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, Yogi: In which scripture is the incident of Sage Narayana giving knowledge in 5 nights is mentioned? Would be helpful to also know the specific verses or texts if possible. Thank you.
    – Prakash K
    Dec 26, 2016 at 14:10
  • 3
    @PrakashK The five-night Yagna performed by sage Narayana is mentioned in the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda; see my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6896/36 The fact that this is when the Pancharatra Agamas were revealed is recorded in the Pancharatra Agamas themselves. Further history of how the Pancharatra Agamas were passed down in different ages is given in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata. Dec 26, 2016 at 14:17

According to tradition, there are 108 Vaiṣṇava Pāñcarātra texts. However, there are more than 200 texts. These are also known as Saṁhitās. Here is the list of printed texts of the Pāñcarātrāgama.

  1. Agastya Saṁhitā
  2. Aniruddha Saṁhitā
  3. Ahirbudhnya Saṁhitā
  4. Iśvara Saṁhitā
  5. Kapiñjala Saṁhitā
  6. Kāśyapa Saṁhitā
  7. Jayākhya Saṁhitā
  8. Jñānāmṛtasāra Saṁhitā or Nārada Pāncarātra
  9. Nāradīya Saṁhitā
  10. Parama Saṁhitā
  11. Paramapuruṣa Saṁhitā
  12. Parāśara Saṁhitā
  13. Pādma Saṁhitā or Pādma Tantra
  14. Pārameśvara Saṁhitā
  15. Puruṣottama Saṁhitā
  16. Pauṣkara Saṁhitā
  17. Bṛhad Brahma Saṁhitā
  18. Bhāradvāja Saṁhitā
  19. Mārkaṇḍeya Saṁhitā
  20. Lakṣmī Tantra
  21. Viśvāmitra Saṁhitā
  22. Viṣṇu Saṁhitā
  23. Viṣṇutilaka Saṁhitā
  24. Viṣvaksena Saṁhitā
  25. Sāṇḍilya Saṁhitā
  26. Śeṣa Saṁhitā
  27. Śrīpraśna Saṁhitā
  28. Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā
  29. Sāttvata Saṁhitā
  30. Hayaśīrṣa Saṁhitā

Source: A descriptive bibliography of the printed texts of the Pāñcarātrāgama by H. Daniel Smith

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