The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “five-fold activities (pancakritya) and the omkara-mantra” 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 10 - The five-fold activities (pañcakṛtya) and the Oṃkāra-mantra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Summary: The Evanescence of Śiva after expounding the Five-fold duties (pañcakṛtya) and the Oṃkāra mantra to Brahmā and Viṣṇu.

Brahmā and Viṣṇu said:—

1. O Lord, please tell us the characteristic feature of the five-fold duties beginning with creation.

Śiva said:—

I shall tell you the great secret of the five-fold duties, out of compassion for you.

2. O Brahmā and Viṣṇu, the permanent cycle of the five-fold duties consists of creation, maintenance, annihilation, concealment, and blessing.

3. Sarga is the creation of the world; Sthiti is its maintenance; Saṃhāra is the annihilation; Tirobhāva is the removal and concealment;

4. Liberation (from the cycle of birth and death) is blessing. These five are my activities but are carried on by others silently as in the case of the statue at the Portal.

5. The first four activities concern the evolution of the world and the fifth one is the cause of salvation. All these constitute my prerogatives.

6-8. These activities are observed in the five elements by devotees—Sarga (creation) in the Earth, Sthiti (maintenance) in the waters, Saṃhāra (annihilation) in the fire, Tirobhāva (concealment) in the wind and Anugraha (liberation, the blessed state) in the firmament. Everything is created by the Earth; everything flourishes by virtue of the waters; everything is urged by the fire, everything is removed by the wind and everything is blessed by the firmament. Thus intelligent men must know the same.

9. In order to look after these five-fold activities (pañcakṛtya) I have five faces, four in the four quarters and the fifth in the middle.

10. O sons, in view of your austerities you two have received the first two activities:—creation and maintenance. You have gratified me and are blessed therefore.

11. Similarly, the other two activities (annihilation and concealment) have been assigned to Rudra and Maheśa. The fifth one of Anugraha (liberation) cannot be taken up by any other.

12. All this previous arrangement has been forgotten by both of you due to lapse of time, not so by Rudra and Maheśa.

13. I have assigned them my equality in form, dress, activity, vehicle, seat, weapons etc.

14. O dear sons, your delusion was the result of your not meditating upon me. If you had retained my knowledge you would not have embibed this false pride of being Maheśa yourselves.

15. Hence, hereafter, both of you shall start reciting the mantra Oṃkāra to acquire knowledge of me. It shall quell your false pride as well.

16. I have taught this great auspicious mantra. Oṃkāra came out of my mouth. Originally it indicated me.

17. It is the indicator and I am the indicated. This mantra is identical with me. The repetition of this mantra is verily my repeated remembrance.

18-19. The syllable “A” came first from northern face; the syllable “U” from the western; the syllable “M” from the southern and the Bindu (dot) from the eastern face. The Nāda (mystical sound) came from the middle face. Thus the complete set cropped up in five-fold form. Then all of them united in the syllable of “Om”.

20. The two sets of created beings—Nāma (name) and Rūpa (form) are pervaded by this mantra. It indicates Śiva and Śakti.

21. From this also is born the five-syllabled mantra (Namaśśivāya). It indicates all knowledge. The syllables “NA” etc. follow the order of the syllables “A” etc.

22. From the five-syllabled mantra the five mothers were born. The Śiromantra is born of that. The three-footed Gāyatrī also came out of the four faces.

23. The entire set of Vedas and crores of mantras were born of that. Different things are achieved through different mantras but everything is achieved through Oṃkāra alone.

24. By this root-mantra, the very enjoyment as well as salvation is achieved. All the royal mantras are auspicious and directly accord enjoyment.

Nandikeśvara said:—

25. The lord in the company of his consort Ambikā, assumed the role of the preceptor for both of them. He screened them and placed his lotus-like hand on their heads as they faced the north and slowly taught them the great mantra.

26-27. The two disciples received the mantra by repeating it thrice, along with the requisite Yantra and Tantra[1] duly expounded. By way of fees, the disciples dedicated themselves. Thereafter standing near him with hands clasped in reverence they addressed the lord, the preceptor of the universe.

Brahmā and Viṣṇu said:—

28-31. (The prayer):—Obeisance to Thee of the bodiless form. Obeisance to Thee of the formless lustre. Obeisance to Thee the lord of everything. Obeisance to Thee the soul of everything or of the embodied form. Obeisance to Thee stated by the Praṇava. Obeisance to Thee having Praṇava as Thy symbol. Obeisance to Thee the author of creation etc. Obeisance to Thee of five faces. Obeisance to Thee identical with Pañcabrahma form. Obeisance to Thee of five-fold functions. Obeisance to Thee the Ātman, the Brahman, of endless attributes and power. Obeisance to Śiva the preceptor, possessed of both embodied and bodiless forms.”

After eulogising the preceptor in verses Brahmā and Viṣṇu bowed to him.

Īśvara said:—

32. O dear sons, the truthful extract of everything has been narrated to you with demonstration. You shall recite as directed by the Goddess this Om mantra which is identical with me.

33. Your knowledge shall be stabilised. Permanent fortune shall stand by you. On the Caturdaśī day and on the day with Ārdrā star, the recital of this mantra will give you everlasting efficacy.

34-35. The recital of this mantra at the time when the transit of the sun is in the Ārdrā star is million-fold efficacious. In the context of worship, Homa and Tarpaṇa, the last quarter of the star Mṛgaśiras and the first quarter of Punarvasu must always be considered on a par with Ārdrā. The Vision is to be had at early dawn and within three muhūrtas (two hours twenty-four minutes) thereafter.

36. Caturdaśī is to be taken when it continues up to midnight. If it is only upto the early part of the night and joined with another thereafter, it is also recommended.

37. Although I consider the phallic and the embodied form to be equal, the phallic form is excellent for those who worship. Hence for those who seek salvation the latter is preferable to the former.

38-39. The others too shall install the phallic form with Oṃkāra mantra and the embodied form with the five-syllabled mantra, with excellent articles of worship and adore with due homage. It will be easy for them to attain my region.

Having thus instructed His disciples Śiva vanished there itself.

Footnotes and references:


The rites of worship are performed in accompaniment with Tantra, Yantra and Mantra appliances. Yantra is a mystical diagram possessed of occult powers. Tantra is a ritual, the chief peculiarity of which is the worship of the female energy of Śiva. personified in the person of his Śakti. This special energy, the Śakti of Śiva is concerned with sexual intercourse and magic power. Mantra is a magical formula.

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