The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “narrative of shiva’s holy centres and temples” 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.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 12 - The narrative of Śiva’s holy centres and temples

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:—

1. O wise sages, please listen to the narrative of holy centres with Śiva’s temples all of which accord salvation. Thereafter I shall tell you their traditions for the welfare of the people.

2. The Earth, fifty crores of yojanas in extent, abounding in mountains and forests, supports the people at the bidding of Śiva.

3. The lord has Himself raised up these temples and holy centres in different places for the liberation of the residents of these localities.

4. These temples whether self-risen or not, in view of their being accepted (as their frequent resort) by the sages and Devas are intended for the redemption of the people.

5. In these holy centres and temples, ablutions, charitable gifts, Japas etc must be regularly performed. Otherwise men are sure to be affected by ailments, penury, dumbness etc.

6. If a man dies anywhere in the Bhāratavarṣa[1] he shall be reborn again as a man if he has resided in a holy centre where there is a self-risen phallic emblem of Śiva.

7. O brahmins, committing sins in a holy centre is of ineffable character. When a man stays in a holy centre he must not commit even the smallest sin.

8. Somehow men must strive to find a residence in a holy centre. On the shores of the ocean in the confluence of hundreds of rivers there are many such holy centres and temples.

9. The holy river Sarasvatī is said to have sixty mouths or holy centres on its banks. Hence an intelligent man must stay on its banks. He shall attain Brahma’s region gradually.

10-11. The river Gaṅgā flowing from the Himālaya mountains is very holy with its hundred mouths. There are many holy centres on its banks such as Kāśī etc. Its banks are highly sacred in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa or when Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) is in the zodiac ‘Capricornus. The river Śoṇabhadra[2] of ten mouths is holy and yields all cherished desires.

12-13. By ablutions therein and observing fast the devotee shall attain the region of the god Gaṇeśa. The holy Narmadā[3] is a great river of twenty-four mouths. By a dip therein and residing on its banks the devotee shall attain the region of Viṣṇu. The river Tamasā [4] is of twelve mouths and Revā [5] has ten mouths.

14. Godāvarī[6] is very holy and it quells the sins of murdering a brahmin or slaughtering a cow. It is said to have twentyone mouths and accords Rudraloka.

15. Kṛṣṇāveṇī [7] is a sacred river destroying all sins. It is said to have eighteen mouths and it accords Viṣṇuloka.

16. Tuṅgabhadrā [8] has ten mouths and it accords Brahmaloka. The holy Suvarṇamukharī [9] is said to have nine mouths.

17-19. Those who fall from Brahmaloka are born there. By residing on the banks of the auspicious rivers Sarasvatī,[10] Pampā,[11] Kanyā[12] and Śvetanadī[13] one shall attain Indraloka. The great river Kāverī[14] flowing from the mountain Sahya is very holy and is said to have twenty-seven mouths. It accords all cherished desires. Its banks are the bestowers of heaven and the regions of Brahmā and Viṣṇu.

20-28. The devotees of Śiva are the bestowers of Śivaloka and accord cherished desires. When the Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac of Meṣa, the devotee shall take the holy bath in Naimiṣa[15] and Badara.[16] Worship etc. thereafter accords Brahmaloka. When the sun is in Karkaṭaka or Siṃha one shall take bath in the Sindhu (Indus)[17]. On that occasion the drinking of the sacred water of Kedāra[18] and ablution therein accords perfect knowledge. Śiva Himself has mentioned before that the bath in the Godāvarī in the month of Siṃha when Jupiter is also in the zodiac of Siṃha accords Śiva region. When Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac of Kanya, ablution shall be performed in the rivers—Yamunā[19] and Śoṇa, the fruit of which is great enjoyment in the worlds of Dharma and Dantin (Gaṇeśa). When the sun and the Jupiter are in Tulā, the devotee shall take bath in the Kāverī the fruit whereof is the attainment of all cherished desires as stated by Viṣṇu Himself. The devotee who takes bath in the river Narmadā in the month of Vṛścika, when the Jupiter is in the zodiac of Vṛścika, attains Viṣṇuloka. Brahmā has stated that the bath in the Suvarṇamukharī when the sun and the Jupiter are in the zodiac of Dhanus accords Śivaloka. The devotee shall take bath in the Jāhnavī (Ganges) in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa when Jupiter is in the zodiac of Capricornus. After enjoying pleasures in the regions of Brahmā and Viṣṇu he will gain perfect knowledge in the end.

29-30. In the month of Māgha when the sun is in the zodiac of Kumbha, Śrāddha, offerings of Piṇḍa and water libations with gingelly seeds raise the crores of manes on both the sides (Paternal and maternal) of the family. When the sun and the Jupiter are in the zodiac of Mīna, ablution shall be performed in Kṛṣṇāveṇī.

31-32. The ceremonial ablutions taken in the different sacred waters in the respective months accord the region of Indra. An intelligent man shall resort to Gaṅgā or the Kāverī river. Certainly his sin will be quelled thereby. There are many holy centres yielding Rudraloka.

3 3. The rivers Tāmraparnī[20] and Vegavatī[21] accord Brahmaloka. There are holy centres on their banks bestowing heaven on the worshipper.

34. In between these rivers there are meritorious holy centres. Intelligent men residing there will reap the respective fruits thereof.

35. Only by good conduct, good predilections and good concepts as well as by being sympathetic can the devotee derive the benefit, not otherwise.

36. Meritorious actions performed in a holy centre flourish in many ways. Sinful acts committed in a holy centre, though slight, become manifold.

37-38. If the sin committed in a holy centre is only for livelihood, the merit will destroy that sin. Merit accords prosperity and quells physical, verbal and mental sins. O brahmins, the mental sin is adamantine in sticking to the sinner and it continues for many Kalpas.

39-40. The mental sin can be wiped off only by meditation and not otherwise. The verbal sin is wiped off by Japas and the physical sin by forcefully causing the emaciation of the body. Sins committed by means of wealth can be wiped off by making charitable gifts and not otherwise, though crores of Kalpas (Aeons) may elapse. In some places the increasing sin destroys the merit.

41-43. Both Merit and Demerit have three aspects:—the seed stage, flourishing stage and the enjoyment stage. If they are in the seed stage they can be quelled by perfect knowledge. If they are in the flourishing stage they can be quelled in the manner described before. If they are in the enjoyment stage they get destroyed only by enjoying and experiencing their fruits and not otherwise though one might have performed crores of meritorious deeds. If the seed or the flourishing seedlings are destroyed what remains must be experienced and wiped off. If one regularly performs worship of gods, makes gifts to brahmins and performs sufficient penance, the enjoyment becomes bearable. Hence those who wish for happiness must refrain from committing sins.

Footnotes and references:


Bhārata-varṣa is one of the nine divisions of the earth as separated off by certain mountain ranges, the other eight divisions being Kuru, Hiraṇmaya, Ramyaka, Ilāvṛta, Hari, Ketumāla, Bhadrāśva and Kinnara. It is surrounded by oceans in the south west and east and by the Himālaya in the North. Sk. VII.1.11.13.

Bharata who gave his name to this country was the descendant of Svāyambhuva Manu. He was a king of Agnīdhra’s family.


The river Śoṇa (also called Sone, Sonā) rises in Gondwana, in Madhya Pradeśa, on the table-land of Amarakaṇṭaka, four or five miles east of the source of Narmadā river and running first northerly and then easterly for 500 miles falls into the Ganges above Pāṭaliputra or Patna. It is called Māgadhī nadī, since it forms the Western boundary of Magadha. Sk. 1. iii u 2.7 (ii).


It rises in the Vindhya mountain and falls into the gulf of Cambay. It flows in a wide flood-plain and is fairly deep. It forms a suitable boundary between the political units north and south of it.


It is identified with Tons which issues from the Ṛkṣapāda mountain, appears in the Bundelkhand region and flows into the Ganges below Allahabad.


Revā and Narmadā are the two small branches of one and the same river in the upper course which are later united into one.


This river known as Godā or Godāvarī forms an important unit in the historical geography of South India. It drains a large area mainly composed of Deccan lavas and flows through a wide fertile valley towards the east. Its catchment area is bounded in the north by the Sahya mountain, the Nirmala and Satmala ranges and the hills of Bastar and Orissa known to the Purāṇas as Mahendra Parvata.


It rises from the Sahya mountain. It is the united stream of kṛṣṇā and Veṇī. It flows into the bay of Bengal Cf Sk. II. i. 29.44.


It rises from the Sahya mountain and joins the kṛṣṇā river.


It is one of the most sacred rivers of Southern India. After issuing from the Mahendra mountain, it falls into the southern sea, passing through beautiful hills and dales along with its tributary streams.


See Note 35 on P.47.


It is a tributary of Tuṅgabhadrā river.


Not identified. The country situated on the bank of this river is sacred to Śiva. Cf Sk. i. iii u 2. 7-19.


Not identified.


It is one of the most sacred rivers which takes its rise from the Sahya mountain. It is said to have many tīrthas, particularly Śiva-Kṣetras, on its bank. Sk. I. iii P 6. 98; I. iii u.2.11.


Naimiṣa, modern Nimsar, is a sacred region of Uttarapradeśa in the district of Sitapur, on the bank of Gomatī. Naimiṣa was sacred in the Kṛta age, as Puṣkara in the Tretā, Kurukṣetra in the Dvāpara, the Ganges in the Kali age.


Name of the hermitage of Nara and Nārāyaṇa in the neighbourhood of Gaṅgodbheda, the source of the Ganges.


This sacred river of Ancient India, takes its rise from the Himalayas, flows in the Western Pakistan and falls into the Western Sea.


It refers to Kedāra Gaṅgā or Mandākinī in Garhwal.


The river rises in the Himalaya mountains among the Jumnotri peaks, flows for 860 miles on the plains before it joins the Ganges at Allahabad.


It issues from the Malaya mountain called the Travancore hills in the southern parts of the Western Ghats.


It is the modern Baiga or Bijari in the district of Madura. G.D. P. 38.

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