Less is historically known of the Agamas than the Vedas, because the latter provide descriptive poem-pictures of Vedic life. The original Agamas are twenty-eight in number. They are called Saiva Agamas as they focus on establishing a relationship with and ultimately realizing the Supreme Being Siva. They carry names like Vira, Hero. Siddha, Perfected and Swayambhuva, naturally revealed.
The Agamas are divided into four parts called padas, lessons. The first two padas – Chariya good conduct, and Kriya, external worship,- include all the details of personal home life, house planning, town planning, personal worship in temples, the architectural plans for temples and sculpture as well as the intricacies of temple puja. The final two padas – Yoga, internalized worship and union, and Jnana, enlightened wisdom, – vividly describe the processes and stages of kundalini yoga, and the Cod-like plateaus of consciousness reached when Sivahood is attained. In the actual texts, the padas are ordered with jnana first, yoga second, then kriya and chariya – unfurling from a God-state to a human state.
The Agamas contain tens of thousands of verses, much more prolific than the Vedas. Though the Vedas stayed strictly in Sanskrit, the Agamas proliferated across India and oilier countries through many languages. But they fared poorly over the millennia, particularly the Yoga and Jnana Padas – so high and powerful. The custodian Saiva priests neglected them. Many padas of entire Agamas were lost or destroyed.