The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “doubt of the sages” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 1 - The Doubt of the Sages

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

(Benedictory Prayer)

I meditate on Śiva, the lord of Ambikā (Pārvatī), auspicious from the beginning to the end, having no parallel, the noble lord, the unaging and the undying, the lord of Ātmans, the five-faced (see appendix on the five faces of Śiva) and the dispeller of the five powerful sins.

Vyāsa said:—


1-2. Sages of edified souls, engaged in truthful rites, powerful and blessed, performed a great sacrifice at the confluence of Gaṅgā and Kālindī (Yamunā) in the most sacred city of Prayāga,[2] a great holy centre, the path that leads to Brahmaloka[3].

3. On hearing that a sacrifice was being performed there, the disciple of Vyāsa, the great sage Sūta, an excellent scholar in the Purāṇas, arrived there to see the sages.

4. The sages were delighted on seeing him and received him with due hospitality and adoration.

5. The due adoration being completed, the noble sages, being highly pleased, addressed him in all humility with their palms joined in reverence.

6. O Romaharṣaṇa,[4] the omniscient, by thy weighty fortune, the entire Purāṇic lore, pregnant in its meaningful content, has been secured by thee from Vyāsa.

7. Hence thou art the receptacle of wonder-inspiring stories, even as the vast ocean is the storehouse of gems of great worth.

8. There is nothing in the three worlds that is not known to thee, of the past, present and the future.

9. It is our great fortune that thou thyself hast come to pay a visit to us. Hence it is not proper on thy part to return without doing us a favour.

10. It is true that we have already listened to the explanation of the auspicious and the inauspicious. But we are not content. We yearn to hear more and more.

11. Now, O Sūta of good mentality, we have only one point to be clarified. If thou dost desire to bless us, please explain the same, though it be the secret of secrets.

12. At the advent of the terrible age of Kali men have become devoid of merits. They are engaged in evil ways of life. They have turned their faces from truthful avocations.

13. They are engaged in caluminating others. They covet other men’s wealth. Their attention is diverted to other men’s wives. Injuring others has become their chief aim.

14. They view the physical body as the soul, deluded as they are; they are atheists of mere brutish sense; they hate their parents; their wives are goddesses unto them; they are slaves to lust.

15. Brahmins are in the clutches of greed, they sell Vedas for livelihood; they acquire learning as a means of earning money; they are deluded by their false pride.

16. They have forsaken the duties of their own castes; they have almost become swindlers of others; they do not offer Sandhyā prayers thrice a day; they are deprived of Vedic enlightenment.

17. They are ruthless; they make much of their little knowledge; they have discarded many of their rites and good conduct of life; they have taken to agriculture as their profession; cruelty has become second nature to them; their ideas have become dirty and defiled.

18. Similarly the Kṣatriyas also have discarded their duties; they associate with evil men; they indulge in sinful activities; vice and debauchery have become their main aim in life.

19. They have ceased to be valorous; they never take interest in virtuous warfare; they flee from the battlefield; they follow the mean tactics of thieves and Śūdras; they are mentally enslaved by base passions.

20. They have eschewed the practice of miraculous weapons; they never care to protect cows and brahmins; they no longer consider it their duty to protect those who seek refuge in them; they always indulge in brutish sexual dalliance with their damsels.

21. The good virtue of protecting their subjects they have thrown over-board; they strictly adhere to sensual enjoyment; they are wicked annihilators of their own people; they rejoice in the harassment of all living beings.

22. Vaiśyas too no longer perform holy rites; they have cast off their traditional virtue; they have taken to crooked ways to earn more and more; they are now notorious for their malpractices with the weighing balance.

23. They are no longer devoted to preceptors, gods and brahmins; their intellect has become distorted; miserly and tight-fisted they no longer feed the brahmins.

24. They take delight in being the paramours of beautiful women; squalid and filthy in their ideas and deluded by cupidity they have lost clear thinking; they have abandoned their zeal for Pñrta and other holy rites such as digging wells, tanks, planting trees and parks.

25. Similarly most of the Śūdras have become depraved. Some of them show their interest in leading the life of brahmins with shining forms and features; they too in the confusion of their minds have abandoned their traditional practices.

26. In their eagerness to appropriate a brahmanical splendour they frequently perform penances. They cause infantile and premature deaths by their chanting of mantras.

27. They worship the Śālagrāma stone and other things; they evince some interest in Homas too but in their thoughts and actions they are crooked and antagonistic; they calumniate the brahmins.

28. Rich people indulge in misdeeds; learned people take perpetual delight in disputations; those who conduct discourses in holy narratives and expound virtuous rites of worship, themselves abandon virtuous practice of the same.

29. Haughty persons assume the features of noble kings; those who liberally give, do so with a lot of fuss and haughtiness thinking themselves to be great lords and treating the brahmins and others as their servants.

30. Devoid of the strict observance of their traditional duties and virtues, the foolish people have brought about an admixture of various castes. Cruel in thought and obsessed by false prestiges, people have discarded the four-fold system of social classification.

31. Deluded people, wrongly considering themselves high-born, perform certain good rites which result only in the upset of the caste-order and down-fall of all people.

32. Women too generally misbehave and err; they slight their husbands; they are inimical to their fathers-in-law; fearlessly they pursue their nefarious activities.

33. They indulge in foul coquettish gestures; they are carried away by amorous dispositions; their conduct is bad; they pursue illicit connections with paramours; they turn away from their own husbands.

34. As for sons, they are invariably wicked without any filial affection; they take lessons in ignorant activities and succumb to various ailments.

35. O Sūta, how can these deluded people who have abandoned their traditional virtues get salvation here and hereafter.

36. Hence our minds are always agitated. Indeed there is no virtue equal to helping others.

37. Since thou art conversant with the essentials of all tenets, please tell us the easiest remedy for the immediate destruction of the sins of these people.

Vyāsa said:—

38. On hearing these words of the sages of sanctified souls Sūta thought of Śiva and told them thus.

Footnotes and references:


Vyāsa: The title is applied to Vedavyāsa, the arranger of the Vedas, the compiler of the Mahābhārata, the founder of the Vedānta philosophy and the arranger of the Purāṇas. Dowson doubts the identity of these different arrangers. Vyāsa is also called Kṛṣṇa-Dvaipayana. From his complexion he received the name Krṣṇa and from his birth place he was called Dvaipāyaṇa.


Prayāga is a celebrated place of pilgrimage at the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna in the Naimiṣa forest (Śiva-purāṇa, Vidyeśvara-saṃhitā I. 4). It is situated on the northern bank of the Ganges (Skanda-purāṇa II.ii.12.36). The name ‘Prayāga’ is recorded by Hwen Thsang in the seventh century and is as old as the reign of Asoka who set up the stone pillar about 235 B. C. The Gupta emperors regarded the confluence at Prayāga as the visible symbol of Madhyadeśa.


Brahmaloka, also called Satyaloka, is the abode of Brahmā.


Romaharṣaṇa or Lomaharṣaṇa was one of the five disciples (the other four being Paila, Vaiśampāyana, Jaimini and Sumantu) to whom Vyāsa taught the Purāna which he constructed out of ancient material. Pargiter: ‘Ancient Indian Historical Tradition’ (Pargiter). Ch. 11.

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