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 3 - The deliberation on the achievable and the means of achievement

Vyāsa said:—

1. On hearing the words of Sūta, the great sages said, “Please narrate the wonderful Purāṇa that fully treats of the essence of Vedānta”.

2. Very delighted at the request of the sages Sūta meditated on Śiva and spoke to them.

Sūta said:—

3. Contemplating on Śiva free from ailments may ye all hear this Śivapurāṇa, the foremost among Purāṇas, that amplifies the essence of the Vedas.

4-5. Where the trio, Bhakti (Piety) Jñāna (Wisdom) and Vairāgya (non-attachment) has been proclaimed and the object which is knowable only through Vedānta, has been particularly described.

Sūta said:—

6-8. May ye all hear the Purāṇa that embibes the essence of the Vedas. Formerly, when many Kalpas (Aeons) elapsed and this Kalpa started with the process of creation, a great dispute arose among the sages of six clans who held divergent views as to which is great and which is not. They approached Brahmā the Creator, to ask him about the imperishable.

9-12. All of them with palms joined in reverence addressed him with words couched in humility—“Thou art the creator of the entire universe, the cause of all causes. Who is that Being older than all Principles, the greatest of the great?

Brahmā said:—

“That from whom words recede, not approaching him even with the mind; that from whom this entire universe beginning with Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra and Indra, along with all elements and all sense-organs, is evolved at first; he is the lord Mahādeva the omniscient, the lord of the universe. He can be realised by supreme devotion and not by other means.

13. Rudra, Hari, Hara and other lords of Devas are ever desirous of seeing Him, moved by great devotion.

14. Of what avail is a verbose statement? One is liberated by devotion unto Śiva. Devotion to the deity is due to His Grace; and His grace is due to devotion just as the seed gives rise to the sprout and the sprout produces the seed.

15. Hence, O Brahmins, all of you descend to the earth, to propitiate the Lord. You have to perform a sacrifice of long duration for a thousand years.

16. It is by the grace of Śiva alone who will be the presiding deity of this sacrifice that the means of achievement of the Achievable can be realised and that is the essence of the Vidyā (mystic learning) mentioned in the Vedas.

The sages said:—

17. What is that great Achievable? What is that great means of achievement? Of what sort is the performer of the rite? Please mention these precisely.

Brahmā said:—

18. The attainment of Śiva’s region is the Achievable. Means of achievement is the service rendered unto Him. Sādhaka (the performer of the rite) is the person who is free from desire even for permanence which attitude is the result of His grace.

19. Rites mentioned in the Vedas should be performed with the fruits thereof dedicated to Him. Thence, through Sālokya[1] he attains the feet of the great Lord.

20. All attain the great fruit according to the standard in devotion achieved. The ways of achieving these standards are manifold as expounded by Isa Himself.

21-22. I shall condense the same and tell you the essential means. Listening to the glory of Śiva, glorifying him by means of words, and deliberation in the mind, these constitute the greatest of the means. Maheśvara is to be heard, glorified and meditated upon.

23. Thus Śruti[2] is our authority. Resorting solely to this great means, all of you attain the Achievable.

24. Regarding visible things people see with their eyes and begin their activity. Concerning the invisible everywhere, they know through the ears and activise themselves.

25. Hence Śravaṇa (listening) is the first rite. The intelligent scholar must listen to the oral explanation of the preceptor and then practise the other rites.—Kīrtana (glorifying) and Manana (deliberation).

26-27. When all the means upto Manana are well exercised, Śivayoga (unification with Śiva) results gradually through Sālokya etc. All the ailments of the body are nullified and supreme bliss is realised. Painful indeed is the process but later on everything becomes auspicious from beginning to end.

Footnotes and references:


The devotee attains exemption from further transmigration and his identification with the deity, gradually through four stages; viz. Sālokya (being in the same world with the deity), (Sāmīpya (nearness to the deity), Sāyujya (intimate union with the deity) and Sārūpya (assimilation to the deity). SP. adds Sārṣṭi (9.26) (equality in rank, condition or power) as one of the grades of Mukti.


The word Śruti in. the Purāṇas does not mean ‘sacred tradition’ but simply ‘tradition’.—Pargiter AIHT. Ch. II.