Badrayana/Vyasa refuted the Bhagavata view yet Mahabharata contains Pancharatra tradition passing down, as well as a Pancharatra scripture, Vyasa refers back to Bhagavad Gita too, which is also considered as a Pancharatra/Vaishnava scripture. Why is it so?

  • who says BG is pancharatra? its vedantic not agamic scripture. further badarayana may nit be vyasa Feb 3, 2018 at 17:21
  • 2
    @RakeshJoshi vyasa is badrayana, jaimini katakritsna is mentioned along with vyasa in Mahabharata, if badrayana and vyasa were different Mahabharata would say so. Feb 3, 2018 at 17:29
  • Please cite the Mahabharata verses Feb 4, 2018 at 13:25
  • 1
    @RakeshJoshi here read this answer- all the rishis were present at the death bed of bhisma who have written the sutras on differnt astika schools like jaimini, katakritsna, kapila along with vyasa hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/15905/… Feb 4, 2018 at 14:20
  • 1
    @RakeshJoshi there is mention of vyasa and his disciples kapila, jaimini etc, badryana to mentions kapila, jaimini in his sutras as his disciples, it can't be that the same group of people had two different gurus. Feb 4, 2018 at 14:24

2 Answers 2


First of all, you're right that the Bhagavad Gita is part of the Pancharatra tradition. Here is what this chapter of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, which describes how the Pancharatra tradition was passed down, says:

During the seventh birth of Brahma due to the lotus, O king, that sprang from the navel of Narayana, this cult was once more declared by Narayana himself, unto the Grandsire of pure soul, the Creator of all the worlds, in the beginning of this Kalpa. The Grandsire gave it in days of yore to Daksha (one of his sons created by a fiat of his will). Daksha, in his turn, imparted it to the eldest of all the sons of his daughters, O monarch, viz., Aditya who is senior in age to Savitri. From Aditya, Vivaswat obtained it. In the beginning of the Treta Yuga, Vivaswat imparted the knowledge of this cult to Manu. Manu, for the protection and support of all the worlds, then gave it to his son Ikshaku. Promulgated by Ikshaku, that cult over-spreads the whole world. When the universal destruction comes, it will once more return to Narayana and be merged in Him. The religion which is followed and practised by the Yatis, has, O best of kings, been narrated to thee before this in the Hari Gita, with all its ordinances in brief. The celestial Rishi Narada got it from that Lord of universe, viz., Narayana himself, O king, with all its mysteries and abstract of details. Thus, O monarch, this foremost of cults is primeval and eternal. Incapable of being comprehended with ease and exceedingly difficult of being practised, it is always upheld by persons wedded to the attribute of Sattwa.

The Hari Gita is another name for the Bhagavad Gita, and as the passage says it encapsulates the teachings of Pancharatra.

In any case, yes, it would be odd if Vyasa, who praises Pancharatra in the Mahabharata, were to criticize them in the Brahma Sutras. But not everyone believes that Vyasa criticizes them in the Brahma Sutras. Adi Shankaracharya believed that, but other commentators disagree as you can see here. Ramanujacharya believed that Vyasa actually defended Pancharatra in the Brahma Sutras, and he cites the Mahabharata to demonstrate Vyasa's support for Pancharatra. Here is what Ramanujacharya says in this section of the Sri Bhashya:

The author of the Sûtras (Vyâsa)--who first composed the Sûtras, the purport of which it is to set forth the arguments establishing the Vedânta doctrine, and then the Bhârata-samhitâ (i.e. the Mahâbhârata) in a hundred thousand slokas in order to support thereby the teaching of the Veda--himself says in the chapter called Mokshadharma, which treats of knowledge, 'If a householder, or a Brahmakârin, or a hermit, or a mendicant wishes to achieve success, what deity should he worship?' and so on; explains then at great length the Pañkarâtra system, and then says, 'From the lengthy Bhârata story, comprising one hundred thousand slokas, this body of doctrine has been extracted, with the churning-staff of mind, as butter is churned from curds--as butter from milk, as the Brahmana from men, as the Âranyaka from the Vedas, as Amrita from medicinal herbs.--This great Upanishad, consistent with the four Vedas, in harmony with Sânkhya and Yoga, was called by him by the name of Pañkarâtra. This is excellent, this is Brahman, this is supremely beneficial. Fully agreeing with the Rik, the Yagus, the Sâman, and the Atharvân-giras, this doctrine will be truly authoritative.' The terms Sânkhya and Yoga here denote the concentrated application of knowledge and of works. As has been said, 'By the application of knowledge on the part of the Sânkhya, and of works on the part of the Yogins.' And in the Bhîshmaparvan we read, 'By Brahmanas, Kshattriyas, Vaisyas and Sûdras, Mâdhava is to be honoured, served and worshipped--he who was proclaimed by Sankarshana in agreement with the Sâtvata law.'--How then could these utterances of Bâdarâyana, the foremost among all those who understand the teaching of the Veda, be reconciled with the view that in the Sûtras he maintains the non-authoritativeness of the Sâtvata doctrine, the purport of which is to teach the worship of, and meditation on, Vâsudeva, who is none other than the highest Brahman known from the Vedânta-texts?

  • Here ved vyasa says that panchratra is agreeing with sankhya and yoga, both bhagvad geeta and brahma sutras also praise Sankhya and yoga, so it does seem that ved vyasa agreed to panchratra. Feb 4, 2018 at 17:39
  • 1
    @AnubhavJha Actually it's not talking about Kapila's Samkhya school and Patanjali's Yoga school. As Ramanujacharya says "The terms Sânkhya and Yoga here denote the concentrated application of knowledge and of works. As has been said, 'By the application of knowledge on the part of the Sânkhya, and of works on the part of the Yogins.'" The Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras do not actually praise Kapila's Samkhya school or Patanjali's Yoga school. On the contrary, the Gita says Vasudeva Sarvam Iti - Vishnu is the material cause of all - and Brahma Sutras explicitly refute Samkhya and Yoga schools. Feb 4, 2018 at 18:58
  • One more question, wasn't aditya/vamana youngest of aditis sons, then why is he called eldest of the sons here? Feb 7, 2018 at 8:45

Vaidik yes to some extent, Avaidik or Agamic nope et all.

In the Kūrmapurāṇa, we have these verses where Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva decide to compose certain doctrines to be followed by those who are outside the vedic fold:


तस्माद्धि वेदबाह्यानां रक्षणार्थाय पापिनाम् विमोहनाय शास्त्राणि करिष्यामो वृषध्वज १११

Viṣṇu says: Therefore for the protection/saving of those who are outside the vedic fold (due to adverse karma/sin/curse), to delude them we shall compose doctrines, O Śiva] [there is a reading करिष्याबो indicating dual number].

एवं संबोधितो रुद्रो माधवेन मुरारिणा चकार मोहशास्त्राणि केशवोऽपि शिवेरितः ११२

Told thus by Mādhava, Rudra composed deluding doctrines and Keśava too, asked by Rudra (composed such doctrines).

कापालं नाकुलं वामं भैरवं पूर्वपश्चिमम् पञ्चरात्रं पाशुपतं तथान्यानि सहस्रशः ११३

A few of the thousands of such doctrines the Two composed are: kāpāla, nākula, vāma, bhairava, pūrvapaśchima, pāncharātra, pāśupata. . .

From this it can be concluded that the Pāncharātra was composed by Lord Viṣṇu with a view to ‘delude’ certain people.

In the Vāsiṣṭhalainga appear the following verses:

वासिष्ठलैङ्गम् –

मत्तन्त्राश्रयणेनैव मत्पूजा च कृता त्वया । तपसा प्रीतवानस्मि तव शाण्डिल्य मे प्रिय ।।

Lord Viṣṇu addresses Śāṇḍilya: Only by adhering to My doctrine (Pāncharātra), you have performed My worship. My dear Śāṇḍilya, I am pleased by your austerities.

कुमार्गेणापि शाण्डिल्य मम पूजा त्वया कृता । अतः कालेन महता वेदमार्गं गमिष्यसि ॥

Even by adhering to this inferior path (Pāncharātra), O Śāṇḍilya, you have performed My worship. As a result of this, over time, you will come to be included in the vedic fold.

From the above it can be seen that the Pāncharātra has been composed by Lord Viṣṇu as a mohaka śāstra. It is not that he caused Rudra or some other person to compose it; he did it himself.

As to what is meant by ‘mohaka śāstra’ is explained here (in the Sri Rudra Bhāṣyam by Sri Abhinava Shankaracharya for the second anuvāka) where the word त्विषीमते occurs.

Also, According to the Brahma-Sutra 2.2.42, the PAncharAtra/BhAgavata doctrines are not acceptable.

From the above explanation of the author of the Sri Rudra Bhashyam we conclude:

  • The Pāśupata and Pāncharātra are both doctrines composed for deluding those who are outside the vedic fold.
  • The two doctrines are composed by Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu themselves.
  • The ‘deluding’ does not mean anything negative or detrimental to the audience for which those doctrines are composed.
  • On the other hand, they are intended to help them return to the vedic path and attain liberation thereby.
  • The Bauddha, etc. doctrine is also composed by Lord Narayana alone with a view to ‘delude’.
  • The method of the Pancharatra is termed as ‘kumārga’ by the Lord himself.
  • It is not that Viṣṇu causes the composing of such ‘śāstra-s’ through someone else.
  • Śiva and Viṣṇu ‘instruct’ and ‘obey’ each other in this ‘partnership’.

Sri Adi Shankara rejects both PanchaRatra Aagams and Maheshwara Aagamas. Shankara rejects philosophy of Maheshwara Aagams here as:

The Máhesvaras (Saivas) maintain that the five categories, viz. effect, cause, union, ritual, the end of pain, were taught by the Lord Pasupati (Siva) to the end of breaking the bonds of the animal (i.e. the soul); Pasupati is, according to them, the Lord, the operative cause.--Similarly, the Vaiseshikas and others also teach, according to their various systems, that the Lord is somehow the operative cause of the world. Against all these opinions the Sutra remarks 'the Lord, on account of the inappropriateness.' I.e. it is not possible that the Lord as the ruler of the pradhâna and the soul should be the cause of the world, on account of the inappropriateness of that doctrine.

Similarly, Shankara criticises PanchaRatra (Bhagvata) doctrine as:

Moreover, manifold contradictions are met with in the Bhâgavata (Pancharatra) system, with reference to the assumption of qualities and their bearers. Eminence of knowledge and ruling capacity, strength, valour, and glory are enumerated as qualities, and then they are in some other place spoken of as Selfs, holy Vâsudevas, and so on.--Moreover, we meet with passages contradictory of the Veda. The following passage, for instance, blames the Veda, 'Not having found the highest bliss in the Vedas Sândilya studied this sâstra.'-- For this reason also the Bhâgavata doctrine cannot be accepted.

PanchaRatra has it's roots in Sathapatha Brahmana.:

"Purusha Narayana desired, 'Would that I overpassed all beings ! would that I alone were everything- here (this universe) !' He beheld this 'five days' (pañcarātram) sacrificial performance, the Purushamedha and took it and performed offering therewith ; and having performed offering therewith, he overpassed all beings, and became everything here. And, verily, he who, knowing this, performs the Purushamedha, or who even knows this, overpasses all beings, and becomes everything here. ( Sathapatha Brahmana 13:6:1:1)."

Bhagawan Shiva is Veda-Purusha as confirmed in the Taittiriya Aranyaka 10:24:1 "purusho vai rudrah" means "Lord Rudra (Shiva) is the (Veda) Purusha."

Backed by Mahabharata.:

By the grace of me (Rudra) you will become Nārāyaṇa with unending strength among the deities, humans and Gandharvas. ( Mahabharata 7 : 172: verse No. 74 ).

"The Krishna, due to his devotion to Supreme Lord Rudra, Has spread all over the universe, Oh Bharatha, Oh king of kings, After making Lord Shiva pleased by his penance in Bhadrinath, He has attained the state of being more dear, Than all the worlds and all aspects of knowledge." (MBH 13:14:10-11).

So, Originally the Vaidik Pancharatra is the glory of Mahadeva and agamic one is delusional for bringing one in the path of Vedas.

Mahabharata Shanti Parva SECTION CCCXLIX.:

The religion which is followed and practised by the Yatis, has, O best of kings, been narrated to thee before this in the Hari Gita, with all its ordinances in brief. The celestial Rishi Narada got it from that Lord of universe, viz., Narayana himself, O king, with all its mysteries and abstract of details. Thus, O monarch, this foremost of cults is primeval and eternal. Incapable of being comprehended with ease and exceedingly difficult of being practised, it is always upheld by persons wedded to the attribute of Sattwa.

So, let's see what knowledge Lord Narayana had given to sage Narada.:

Narad Pancharatra.:

"Shivo Harirhariha Shakshatchiva Eva Nirupitaha | Shivadveshi Haridrohi Vishnum Nityam Bhajanapi ||"

‘Shiva is Hari and Hari is none other than Shiva. An enemy of Shiva is an enemy of Hari, even though he may daily worship Vishnu.’

The traits of a Bhagavata is explained by Lord Narayana himself to sage Markandeya in Narada Purana.:

In this chapter of the Narada Purana, Lord Srihari replies to a question of Markandeya:

नारदपुराणम्- पूर्वार्धः/अध्यायः ५.:

After listing noble traits such as pure conduct, human values, etc. the traits of a Bhagavatottama, supreme devotee of God, are stated:

शिवप्रियाः शिवासक्ताः शिवपादार्च्चने रताः त्रिपुण्ड्रधारिणो ये च ते वै भागवतोत्तमाः ६८

He who loves Shiva's loved ones (devotees), is fully devoted and delights in the worship of the lotus feets of Shiva, dons the Tripundra (Bhasma on the forehead, etc.) is a Bhagavatottama.

व्याहरन्ति च नामानि हरेः शम्भोर्महात्मनः रुद्राक्षालंकृता ये च ते वै भागवतोत्तमाः ६९

Those who chant the divine names of Hari and Hara, adorned with the Rudraksha necklace is a Bhagavatottama.

ये यजन्ति महादेवं क्रतुभिर्बहुदक्षिणैः हरिं वा परया भक्त्या ते वै भागवतोत्तमाः ७०

Those who perform vedic sacrifices with copious dakshina (gifts/fees to scholars) addressed to Hari or Hara with great devotion are Bhagavatottamas.

शिवे च परमेशे च विष्णौ च परमात्मनि समबुद्ध्या प्रवर्त्तन्ते ते वै भागवताः स्मृताः ७२

Those who conduct themselves with the idea of non-difference between Hari and Hara are Bhagavatas."

शिवाग्निकार्यनिरताः पञ्चाक्षरजपे रताः शिवध्यानरता ये च ते वै भागवतोत्तमाः ७३

Those who are involved in fire-sacrifices addressed to Shiva, delight in the chanting of the Panchakshara and revel in the meditation on Shiva are Bhagavatottamas.

In the Mahabhashya of Patanjali (Vyakarana shaastra) there is the mention of the word ‘Shiva-Bhagavata’ as a compound word, as an example for a type of samasa (compound words). A Bhagavata is a devotee of Bhagavan. A Shiva-Bhagavata is a devotee of Bhagavan Shiva..

Thus, Vāsudevam Sarvam iti. Where Vāsudeva means the Atman. AsVāsudeva in vedas is not “VasudEva Sutam iti VAsudEva (Krishna)”. Vasu means the the tattvas which stays inside n envelope and Deva means the shining one. So, the meaning of Vasudeva is the one who stays inside everything and shine from inside viz the Atman.

Rest 3 forms are for gauna (substitute) bhakti. Which Sri Adi Shankara describes as follows in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya 4.1.3 as follows:-

The supreme 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀𝗵𝘃𝗮𝗿𝗮 (Shiva) is to be realized as the supreme absolute reality just like the way how 𝗝𝗮𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘀 (Upanishad), 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀𝗵𝘃𝗮𝗿𝗮 address him as the eternal absolute Brahman the self, that oh 𝗘𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗕𝗵𝗮𝗴𝘄𝗮𝗮𝗻 though you appear deity (Devata) thou indeed art me (𝗧𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝘄𝗮𝗺 𝗮𝘀𝗶), I indeed am thee (𝗮𝗵𝗮𝗺 𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗺𝗮𝘀𝗺𝗶), As a matter of fact, the Vedic texts make us understand Brahman as absolute The self is the supreme absolute, that absolute supreme self is the only reality. "That is Truth, that is the Self, and That thou art". As for the argument that on the 𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻 𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗩𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗻𝘂 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗮 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻 𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 '𝗜' 𝗶.𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗱𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗺𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗯𝘀𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆.

Conclusion.: So, There are 2 types of Pancharatra. One is Vaidik (Hari gita which sings the glory of Mahadeva) and other is agamic (aka KuPatha according to Narayana himself). And they are intermixed together. So, that the avaidik one can also gets the glimse of Vedas. And Adi Shankara accepted the Vaidik part of Bhagawata which is about Puja-Pat, rituals, etc and rejected the agamic part and so does Brahma Sutra by Vyasa also.

As, Gita is the Product of Upanishadic knowledge and there is only One Bhagawan in Vedas and Upanishad and rest are all menifestations. Thus, Gita says Bhagawan Uvacha not Krishna or Keshava, etc. So, Agamic Pancharatra ≠ Gita.

For more info you can see this and this answers of mine.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

  • (Note.: Guys, don't comment n ask me unnecessary things or opinions . Instead write your own separate answer without mentioning me, my name or answer. I have my own opinions n u have ur own. Plus, my answers are with proofs n m just repeating what sanatani scripture are saying nothing new. So, instead write ur own thing without disturbing me period. As I am not et all interested in talking or arguing with anyone unnecessarily. I m sure u r perfectly capable of doing that. So, Goodbye. Tc.).
    – Savdy.
    Jan 31 at 11:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .