The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “shiva’s forgiveness of brahma” 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 8 - Śiva’s forgiveness of Brahmā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandikeśvara said:—

1. Mahādeva then created a wonderful person, Bhairava, from the middle of his brows to quell the pride of Brahmā.

2. This Bhairava knelt before the lord in the battle-field and said—“O lord, what shall I do? Please give me your directives quickly.”

3. “Dear, here is Brahmā, the first deity of the universe. Worship him with your sharp-pointed quick-moving sword.”

4. With one of his hands he caught hold of the tuft of Brahma’s fifth head that was guilty of haughtily uttering a falsehood, and with the hands he furiously shook his sword in order to cut it off.

5. Your father trembled like a plantain tree in a whirlwind, with his ornaments scattered here and there, his cloth ruffled and loosened, the garland displaced, the upper cloth hanging loose and the glossy tuft dishevelled, and fell at the feet of Bhairava.

6. Meanwhile the sympathetic Acyuta desirous of saving Brahmā, shed tears over the lotus-like feet of our lord and said with palms joined in reverence just like a child lisping words of entreaty to its father.

Acyuta said:—

7. O Lord, it was you who gave him five heads[1] as a special symbol, long ago. Hence please forgive him his first guilt. Please favour him.

8. The lord thus requested by Acyuta relented and in the presence of all devas asked Bhairava to desist from punishing Brahmā.

9. Then the lord turned to the deceitful Brahmā who bent down his neck and said “O Brahmā, in order to extort honour from the people you assumed the role of the lord in a roguish manner.

10-11. Hence you shall not be honoured, nor shall you have your own temple or festival.

Brahmā said:—

O Lord, be pleased. O flourishing one, I consider this sparing of my head itself a great blessing and a boon. Obeisance to Thee, the lord, the kinsman, the originator of the universe, the forbearing, the forgiver of defects, the benevolent one, wielding the mountain as his bow.

Īśvara said:—

12. O child, the whole universe will be ruined if it loses the fear of a king Hence you mete out punishment to the guilty and bear the burden of administering this universe.

13-14. I shall grant you another boon which is very difficult to get. In all domestic and public sacrifices you will be the presiding deity. Even though a sacrifice is complete with all the ancillary rites and offerings of monetary gifts, it will be fruitless without you. Then the lord turned to the deceitful Ketaka flower guilty of perjury and said:—

15. “O you Ketaka flower, you are roguish and deceitful. Go away from here. Hereafter I have no desire to include you in my worship.”

16. When the lord said thus, all the devas shunned the very presence of the flower.

Ketaka said:—

17. Obeisance to Thee, O Lord, Your bidding will mean that my very birth is fruitless. May the lord be pleased to make it fruitful by forgiving my sin.

18. Thy remembrance is reputed to quell all sins perpetrated consciously or unconsciously. Now that I have seen Thee, how can the sin of uttering falsehood sully me?

19-21. Thus entreated in the middle of the council the lord said—“It is not proper for me to wear you. I am the lord and my words must stay true. My attendants and followers shall wear thee. Hence thy birth shall be fruitful. Of course in the canopies over my idol you can be used for decoration.” The lord thus blessed the three—the flower Ketaka, Brahmā and Viṣṇu. He shone in the assembly duly eulogised by the Devas.

Footnotes and references:


Brahma’s five heads: When the four faces of Brahmā became thwarted in their function because of Brahmā’s erotic impulse, then out of his Tapas was produced a fifth head on the top and that head was covered with matted locks. In image No 382 of Brahmā in the Kushāna period at Mathura, the fifth head on the top is shown with moustaches, beard and long locks, a feature which is only found in the Kuśāna period from the first to the third century A. D. But later on, the fifth head was eliminated and a new theory (contradicted by Śiva-purāṇa I. 8.8) was devised that Brahma’s head was clipped by Rudra. The fact was that the fifth head corresponding to Ākāśa was taken to be invisible, being a symbol of his unmanifest form (Avyakta mūrti) and that only the four others became manifest.—V.S. Agrawal: M.P. A Study.

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