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The Agama has three main divisions - Saiva (based on Siva as the Deity), Sakta (based on worship of Sakti as the Deity) , and vaishNava.
There are further sub-divisions among each of the Agama-s. The principal divisions in the vaishNava Agama are the vaikhAnasa and pAncarAtra.
In the historical evolution of the Agama-s, there have been several views over time -
It was probably these kinds of differences that led to Sri YamunacArya's work titled Agama-prAmANya and Sri VedAnta desika's work titled SrI pAncarAtra rakshA. It should be noted that SrI vedAnta deSika has also written a work about the vaikhAnasa Agama titled sajjanavaibhava.
- a) Agama-s are derived from the vedas,
- b) Agama and veda are both derived from a common root or mUla-veda,
- c) Agama-s are inferior to, and less authoritative than the veda, and
- d) Agama-s are superior to veda.
The development of the Agama schools gave great support to promoting the concept of bhakti by concentrating attention on one Deity, and to self-surrender. It also gave great support to art through temple architecture, devotional poetry, dance, etc.
See also: The Agamin Tradition and the Arts [Vol 1] [Vol 2] [Vol 3] [Vol 4] [Vol 5]