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 4 - The Excellence of Listening and Deliberation

The sages said:—

1. O holy one, what is Śravaṇa? what is Manana? How is the Kīrtana performed? Please expound these precisely.

Brahmā said:—

2. The mind is fond of reasoning deliberation. The ability of the mind to ponder and evaluate the corresponding efficacy of the worship, Japa, the attributes of Īśa, His form, His divine sports and multifarious names, is the result of the benignant glance of Īśvara. Hence this steady continuance in the act of deliberation is the most important of all the means.

3. By Kīrtana (glorification) is meant the clear expression of Śiva’s exploits, attributes, forms, sports, names etc. in good taste by reciting traditional lore, singing songs of praise even in mother tongue. It is the middle one of the three means.

4. O wise men, the means of Śravaṇa famous in the world is the listening to words concerning Śiva, in whatever manner, howsoever and wherever they are produced with the same steady attention as in the sporting dalliance of women.

5. Śravaṇa (listening) is effected when one associates with good men. Then the Kīrtana of Paśupati becomes steady. In the end is the Manana which is the most excellent. All these take place as a result of benevolent surveillance of Lord Śiva.

Sūta said:—

6. O saints, in the context of the elucidation of the greatness of the means, I shall narrate an anecdote of former days for your sake. Please listen to them attentively.

7. Long ago, my preceptor Vyāsa, the son of Sage Parāśara, performed penance on the bank of the river Sarasvatī[1] with some mental agitation.

8. The divine sage Sanatkumāra who happened to go that way in an aerial chariot resplendent like the sun, espied my preceptor.

9. Waking up from his meditation my preceptor saw the son of Brahmā. The sage thereupon paid obeisance in a flutter and eagerness.

10. He offered Arghya and a seat befitting the divinity of the sage. Being delighted, the divine sage spoke to my humble preceptor in words of great profundity.

11. O sage, you must meditate upon the True object. The great lord Śiva can be realised and seen. But wherefore do you perform the penance here unattended?

12-14. When Sanatkumāra addressed him thus, the sage Vyāsa clarified his purpose. “By the favour of divine elders like you I have almost established the four ways of virtue, wealth, love and salvation with due adherence to the Vedic path, in the world. I have become a preceptor unto all. Still it is surprising that the knowledge of the means of liberation has not dawned on me. I am performing penance for the sake of salvation. But I do not know how it can be achieved.

15. O excellent brahmins, when thus requested by the sage Vyāsa, the competent divine sage Sanatkumāra told him of the sure way of realising salvation.

16. It has already been mentioned that there are three means in conformity with Vedic ideal viz. Śravaṇa, Kīrtana and the highly efficacious Manana of Śiva.

17. Formerly, I too, confounded by other means performed a great penance on the mountain Mandara.[2]

18-19. At the bidding of Śiva, the divine attendant Nandikeśvara arrived there. That sympathetic lord of Gaṇas, witness of all, lovingly told me about the excellent means of salvation. Viz.—Śravaṇa, Kīrtana and Manana all in conformity with Vedic ideals.

20. Hence, O holy sage, as advised by Śiva these are the three means of salvation. Please practise them.” He repeatedly advised Vyāsa thus.

21. After saying this to Vyāsa, the son of Brahmā mounted the aerial chariot accompanied by his followers and returned to his splendid and auspicious region.

22-23. Thus, in brief, I have told you the ancient anecdote.

The sages said:—

O Sūta, you have narrated Śravaṇa etc.—the three means of salvation. If a person is unable to practise these three, what shall he do to achieve liberation? What is that rite whereby salvation will be possible without stress or strain?

Footnotes and references:


Sarasvati. The Sarasvatī river was a boundary of Brahmāvarta, the home of the early Aryans, and was to them, in all likelihood, a sacred river as the Ganges has long been to their descendants. As a river, it is lauded for the fertilizing and purifying powers of her waters, and as the bestower of fertility, fatness and wealth.—Dowson: Hindu Mythology P. 284; also D. C. Sarkar, G.A.M.I. P. 40.

This sacred river rising in the Sirmur hills of the Sivalik range in the Himalayas, emerged into the plains in the Ambala district, Punjab. Ultimately it fell into the Ghagger which bore the name Sarasvatī in ancient times. Sanskrit literature speaks of its disappearance at Vināśana (near modern Sirsa) in Kurukṣetra in the East Punjab.


Mandara: a mountain in Hindu Mythology for being used as a churning staff by the gods and demons on the occasion of Samudra-Manthana appears to be an important hill comprising beautiful caves. There is still a hill of this name in Banka Sub-division of Bhagalpur district (Bihar). It is noted for the abundance of various metals as well as variety of flora and fauna. It is stated to be a sacred mountain associated with Śiva.—Sk. V. II. 4. 23, 26. There is another mountain of the same name in the Malaya range which being an abode of Gods and Ṛṣis has an Āśrama of Agastya.