The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1970

The English translation of the Shiva Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas. Contents include cosmology, mythology, yoga, description of sacred places (tirtha), geography, etc. The text is an important source for Shaivism and some of the oldest surviving content deals with Advaita-Vedanta philosophy and theistic Bhakti (devotion). This edition ...

Chapter 2 - Answers Clarifying the Doubts of the Sages

Sūta said:—

1. O saintly men, the question that you put me is very pertinent. Prompted by my love towards you all I shall, remembering my preceptor, the benefactor of the three worlds, tell you everything. All of you listen attentively.

2. The entire essence of Vedānta is contained in the excellent Śivapurāṇa. It dispells all sins. It affords the attainment of the highest truth (Brahma) hereafter.

3. O brahmins, the great glory of Śiva, that destroys the sin of the Kali age, unfolds itself in the Purāṇa and yields the fruits of the four varieties (Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa).

4. By the single-minded study of that most excellent Śivapurāṇa excellent brahmins will attain salvation.

5. It is only as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world, that Brahma-hatyā (the sin of slaying a brahmin) and other sins display themselves.

6. It is only as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world, that the evil portents of Kali fearlessly roam about.

7. It is only as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world, that the different sacred texts clash together in disputation.

8. It is difficult even to great men to comprehend Śiva’s features as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

9. The cruel attendants of Yama roam about fearlessly as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

10. All the other Purāṇas roar loudly on the earth as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

11. All the holy centres enter into mutual wrangles and disputes on the earth as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

12. All the mantras rejoice in mutual disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

13. All the sectors of pilgrimage engage themselves in mutual disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

14. All the altars and pedestals engage themselves in mutual disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

15. All the gifts engage themselves in disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

16. All those gods engage themselves in mutual disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

17. All the philosophical tenets engage themselves in mutual disputes as long as the Śivapurāṇa has not risen high in the world.

18. O foremost among brahmanical sages, I cannot adequately describe the fruit accruing from reciting and listening to this Śivapurāṇa.

19. Even then, O sinless ones, I shall succinctly describe its greatness as narrated to me by Vyāsa. Please listen attentively.

20. He who reads a single stanza or even half of it piously becomes free from sin instantaneously.

21. He who reads every day as much of Śivapurāṇa as he can with devotion and alertness is called Jīvanmukta (a living liberated soul).

22. He who continues to worship this Śivapurāṇa daily derives the fruit of horse-sacrifice undoubtedly.

23. He who with a craving for an ordinary position in life listens to Śivapurāṇa even from a person other than me is freed from sin.

24. He who bows near this Śivapurāṇa derives undoubtedly the fruit of adoration of all the gods.

25. Please listen to the meritorious benefit that accrues to the man who copies Śivapurāṇa and gives the manuscript to the devotees of Śiva.

26. He will have that benefit—very difficult to attain in the world—as that of the study of Śāstras (sacred lore) and of commenting on the Vedas.

27. He who observes fast on the Caturdaśī (fourteenth day in the lunar fortnight) and conducts discourses and comments on the Śivapurāṇa in the assembly of the devotees of Śiva is the most excellent of all.

28. He shall derive the benefit of the repetition of Gāyatrī[1] syllable by syllable. He will enjoy all worldly pleasures here and attain salvation hereafter.

29. I shall tell you the benefit derived by him who reads or listens to this after observing fast on the Caturdaśī day by keeping awake in the night.

30-31. This is the truth, undoubtedly the truth that he will get the benefit derived by the man who makes gifts of wealth equal in weight to himself to brahmins with Vyāsas at their head at the complete eclipse of the sun, many a time, in all holy centres, Kurukṣetra31 etc.

32. Indra and other devas wait eagerly for the directives of the man who chants day and night the verses of the Śiva-purāṇa.

33. The sacred rites performed by the man who regularly reads or listens to the Śivapurāṇa are effective millions of times more than usual.

34. He who reads the Rudrasaṃhitā portion of Śiva-purāṇa with pure and concentrated mind becomes a purified soul within three days even though he might have killed a brahmin.

35. He who reads the Rudrasaṃhitā three times a day near the image of Bhairava, refraining from useless talk, shall get all cherished desires fulfilled.

36. If a slayer of brahmin circumambulates the trees of Vaṭa and Bilva reciting the verses from Rudrasaṃhitā he will become purified of the sin of Brahmin-slaughter.

37. The Kailāsa saṃhitā is even greater than that. It is of Vedic status and stature. The meaning of Praṇava (the sacred syllable Om) is amplified in it.

38. O Brahmins, Lord Śiva knows the greatness of Kailāśasaṃhitā in its entirety. Vyāsa knows half of it and I a moiety of the same.

39. A part of it, I shall tell you, since it is impossible to say everything. On comprehending it people attain purity of their minds instantaneously.

40. O Brahmins, seeking for it ever and anon, I do not see a sin that cannot be quelled by Rudrasaṃhitā.

41. Drinking that nectar prepared by Lord Śiva after churning the ocean of the Upaniṣads (a class of Vedic literature) and handed over to Kumāra (Lord Kārtikeya) the devotee shall become immortal.

42. The person intending to perform expiatory rites for the sins of Brahma-hatyā etc. should read that Saṃhitā for a month. He shall be freed of that sin.

43. By a single recital, that Saṃhitā destroys the sin originating from the acceptance of monetary gifts from defiled persons, partaking of defiled food and indulging in foul talks.

44. The benefit derived by a person who reads that Saṃhitā in the grove of Bilva trees in a temple of Śiva is beyond description in words.

45. If a person reads that Saṃhitā with devotion at the time of performing Śrāddha and feeding the brahmins, all his Pitṛs (manes) attain the great region of Śiva.

46. The devotee who observes fast on the Caturdaśī day and reads that Saṃhitā under the Bilva tree is directly identified with Śiva and is worshipped by the gods.

47. The other Saṃhitās are no doubt the bestowers of the benefit of fulfilling all cherished desires. These two Saṃhitās are particularly excellent as they are full of divine sports and divine knowledge.

48. Such is the Śivapurāṇa, extolled on a par with the Vedas, created by Lord Śiva Himself at first and commensurate with the supreme Brahman.

49-51. Originally the Śivapurāṇa was of very enormous size consisting of twelve sacred Saṃhitās:—(1) Vidyeśvara (2) Rudra, (3) Vaināyaka, (4) Aumika, (5) Mātṛ (6) Rudraikādaśa, (7) Kailāsa, (8) Śatarudraka, (9) Sahasrakoṭirudra, (10) Koṭirudra, (11) Vāyavīya and (12) Dharmasaṃjña. O brahmins, I shall mention the number of verses in those Saṃhitās. Please listen with due attention.

52. The first Saṃhitā of Vidyeśvara, consisted of ten thousand verses. The Raudra, Vaināyaka, Aumika and Mātṛ Saṃhitās consisted of eight thousand verses each.

53. O brahmins, the Rudraikādasa saṃhitā consisted of thirteen thousand verses; the Kailāsa saṃhitā of six thousand verses and the Śatarudra of three thousand verses.

54. The Koṭirudra saṃhitā consisted of nine thousand verses; the Sahasrakoṭi-Rudra saṃhitā of eleven thousand verses.

55. The Vāyavīya saṃhitā consisted of 4000 verses and the Dharma saṃhitā of twelve thousand verses. Thus the whole Śivapurāṇa contained a hundred thousand verses.

56. That has been condensed by Vyāsa to twenty-four thousand verses; that is to about a fourth of the original Purāṇa and he retained seven saṃhitās.

57. The Purāṇic lore at the time of the first creation as conceived by Śiva contained a thousand million (hundred crores) verses.

58. In the Kṛta age[2] Dvaipāyana and others condensed it into four hundred thousand verses which in the beginning of Dvāpara age was separated into eighteen different Purāṇas.

59. Of these the Śivapurāṇa contains twenty-four thousand verses with seven Saṃhitās and the Purāṇa is on a par with the Vedas (in excellence).

60. The first Saṃhitā is called Vidyeśvara, the second Rudra, the third Śatarudra and the fourth Koṭirudra.

61. The fifth is Aumi (of Umā), the sixth Kailāsa and the seventh Vāyavīya; these are the seven Saṃhitās.

62. Thus the divine Śivapurāṇa with its seven Saṃhitās stands on a par with the Vedas, according salvation more than anything else.

63. He who reads this Śivapurāṇa complete with the seven Saṃhitās devotedly is a living liberated soul.

64. Hundreds of other sacred texts as the Vedas, Smṛtis, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, and Āgamas do not merit even a sixteenth of this Śivapurāṇa.

65. Śivapurāṇa is first expounded by Śiva and then condensed by Vyāsa, a devotee of Śiva. It is pure and brief and as such it renders help to all living beings. As a queller of the threefold calamities (physical, extraneous and divine) it is unrivalled. It bestows welfare upon the good.

66-67. Undeceptive virtue is extolled herein; it is, in the main, of the nature of Vedantic wisdom. It contains mantras, and three aims of life and the thing knowable by wise men of unprejudiced mind. The Śivapurāṇa is the best among the Purāṇas, extolling the great Being that glows in Vedānta and the Vedas. He who reads and listens to it with devotion becomes a favourite of Śiva and attains the supreme position (here and hereafter).

Footnotes and references:


 Gāyatrī: a most sacred verse of the Ṛgveda which is the duty of every Brāhmaṇa to repeat in his every day prayers. It is addressed to the Sun, Savitṛ and is called Sāvitrī also.


Yugas: According to tradition, historical time is divided into four ages, viz. the Kṛta (or Satya), Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali. This system is the peculiarity of India alone. Kṛta age ended with the destruction of the Haihayas by Rāma Jāmadagnya; Tretā began with Sagara and ended with Rāma Dāśarathi’s consecration at Ayodhyā and closed with the Bhārata war; the Kali began immediately after the passing away of the great heroes of the Bharata war, Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas and with the changes in the political condition of Northern India that ensued.