Eastern Spirituality

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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The non-Mahayana divisions of the Sutra Pitaka.

In Buddhism, an āgama is a collection of Early Buddhist scriptures. The five āgamas together comprise the Suttapiṭaka of the early Buddhist schools, which had different recensions of each āgama. In the Pali Canon of the Theravada, the term nikāya is used in place of āgama.

Āgamas of various schools are preserved in Chinese translation, and portions also survive in Tibetan translation and in Sanskrit.

Jain Agamas - Agamas are original texts of Jainism based on Mahavira’s teachings. Mahavira’s preaching were orally compiled by his disciples into various Sutras (texts) which were collectively called Jain canonical or Agamic literature. Traditionally these sutras were orally passed on from teachers (acharyas or gurus) to the disciples for several centuries. The scholars date the composition of Jain Agamas at around the 6th to 3rd century BC.

Āgama (Hinduism) - The Agamas are a collection of Sanskrit and Tamil (written in Grantha script and Tamil script) scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.

The Agamic religions are also called Tantrism, although the term "tantra" is sometimes used specifically to refer to Shakta Agamas. The origin and chronology of Agamic religions remain contentious. The tantras are considered innumerable with various sects. Some popular agama-based religions are those of Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta, Ganapatya, Kaumara, Soura, Bhairava, and Yaksha-bhutadi-sadhana. There exist 28 Saiva Agamas, 77 Shakta Agamas and 215 Vaishnava Agamas, and their upa-agamas.

The Agamas are non-vedic in origin and have been dated either as post-vedic texts or as pre-vedic compositions. In the Malay language the word Agama literally means 'religion'. Agama traditions have been the sources of Yoga and Self Realization concepts in the Indian subcontinent, including Kundalini Yoga and encompass traditions of asceticism. Tantrism includes within its fold Buddhist and Jaina tantras suggesting that Hindu, Jaina and Buddhist tantrism developed separately after arising from common sources of Tantric elements. The Agamic tradition, in general, has been dated to the pre-Mauryan period as references to the tradition are found in later vedic literature of Atharvaveda.

The agama tradition is often contrasted with the nigama tradition; the latter possibly a reference to the unchanging vedic tradition. The Hinduism of today is in many way a blending of agama and nigama approaches.

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z