The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “description of fire-sacrifice (agniyajna), etc.” 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 14 - Description of Fire-sacrifice (agniyajña), etc.

The sages said:—

1. O lord, please tell us in order in detail all these rites viz. the fire sacrifice, the sacrifice to gods, Brahmayajña, the worship of the preceptor and the gratification of brahmins.

Sūta said:—

2-3. The offering made into the fire is called fire-sacrifice (Agniyajña). In the case of persons in the Brahmacarya Āśrama (i.e Religious Students) it is called samidādhāna (collection of sacrificial twigs). O brahmins, until the rite of Aupāsana (fire sacrifice of the householder) all the persons in the first Āśrama perform their Vratas and special sacrifices in the fire from sacrificial twigs.

4. O brahmins, in the case of ascetics and forest-dwellers who have consigned the sacred fire to the Ātman, taking a restricted quantity of wholesome food is itself the sacrificial offering.

5. Householders who have started their Aupāsana rite shall maintain the rite in the sacrificial fire kept in a vessel or pit always.

6. The sacrificial fire shall be maintained either in the Ātman or in the Araṇī (the sacrificial churning twig from which fire is kindled) lest the fire should be extinguished by royal or divine intercession.

7. O brahmins, the offering in the fire in the evening for the fire-god is the bestower of prosperity. The offering in the morning for the sun-god is conducive to longevity.

8-9. This is called Agniyajña in as much as it enters the sun during the day. The different sacrifices Sthālīpāka etc. for the propitiation of Indra and other gods by offerings in the fire are called Devayajña. The rites of Caula (ceremony of tonsure) etc. are performed in the ordinary fire.

10. The regular study of the Vedas is called Brahmayajña. A brahmin shall perform this constantly for the propitiation of gods.

11. This is to be practised by all and hence no special rules are prescribed here. Now attend to the explanation of certain Devayajñas without fire.

12. At the beginning of the first creation, the omniscient, merciful lord Mahādeva created the different week days for the benefit of the entire world.

13. Lord Mahādeva, the global physician, the omniscient, the panacea of all panaceas, made the first day his own day that bestows good health.

14-17. Next he created the day of his Māyā (Illusion) the bestower of prosperity. Afterwards when the birth of Kumāra was attended with some mishaps he created the day for the sake of surmounting mishaps and idleness. With a desire to bless the worlds and for their nurture and protection he created the next day dedicated to Viṣṇu, the protector of the worlds. The next day created by the lord is for the sake of the longevity of the worlds dedicated to the creator of the three worlds, Brahmā, called also Parameṣṭhin, who is the bestower of longevity too. Hence this day too bestows longevity.

18. The last two days of the week created by the lord are those of Indra and Yama. In the beginning when the lord created Puṇya and Pāpa (Virtue and Sin) for making the three worlds flourish, these deities who preside over them were assigned these two days.

19-22. The last two days are the bestowers of worldly enjoyments and removers of premature death respectively. The lord made the sun etc. who are His own manifestations and are firmly established in the solar cycle (Jyotiścakra[1] the lords of the different days. Their worship in their respective days accords the respective benefits viz:—health, riches, removal of sickness, nourishment, longevity. enjoyment of pleasures and prevention of death respectively. It is said that the respective merits of the different days are secured through the gratification of the gods. Śiva is the ultimate bestower of the fruits accruing from the worship of other gods as well.

23-24. The worship for the propitiation of the deities is fivefold. 1. the repeated recitation of the respective mantras 2. sacrifice 3. charitable gift 4. austerities and 5. propitiation on the altar, idol, fire or a brahmin. The sixteen forms of service and homage shall be duly observed.

25-26. Of the fivefold forms of worship the latter are more efficacious than the former. In the absence of the earlier ones the latter ones can be observed. In the ailments of the eyes or head or for quelling leprosy, the sun shall be worshipped and the brahmins fed for a day, a month, a year or three years.

27-28. If the action meritorious or otherwise that has begun to fructify is sufficiently strong, the ailment, old age etc. are alleviated. The repetition of the mantras of the favourite deity accords the respective benefits of the day of the week. The first day of the week dedicated to the sun has the special merit of the removal of sin, especially for brahmins.

29. For the sake of riches, the intelligent devotee shall worship Lakṣmī etc. on Monday with cooked rice soaked in ghee and shall feed brahmin couples.

30. For alleviating ailments the devotee shall worship Kāli and others on Tuesday. He shall feed brahmins with an Āḍhaka (a measure) of cooked rice, the pulse, black gram and green gram.

31. The scholarly devotee shall worship Viṣṇu with curd-rice on Wednesday. Sons, friends, womenfolk etc. will always be well-nourished for ever.

32. A person who seeks longevity shall worship the deities for their gratification, with sacred thread, cloth, milk and ghee on Thursday.

33. On Friday, for the sake of enjoyment of worldly pleasures, the devotee shall worship devas with concentration. Brahmins should be propitiated with the cooked food consisting of six flavours.[2]

34-35. Good cloth should be presented to women to gladden them. The wise devotee shall worship Rudra and others on Saturday that wards off premature death, by performing Homa with gingelly seeds. He shall make gifts to the brahmins and feed them with cooked rice and gingelly seeds. Thus worshipping the deities he shall derive the fruit of good health etc.

36-38. In the daily or special sacrifices of the deities, ceremonial ablutions, charitable gifts, repeated muttering of mantras, sacrifices, propitiation of the brahmins, in the worship of the different devas in view of special dates or special conjunction of the planets, or in the different days of the week it is the omniscient lord of the universe who bestows health and other benefits by assuming the different forms. He bestows the same according to the time, place and the deserts of the recipient.

39. The articles for worship shall be in accordance with one’s faith or local conventions. The lord bestows health etc. in accordance with the comparative quality of the same.

40. In the beginning of the period of auspiciousness, the end of the period of inauspiciousness, on birth days (according to the stars) etc. the householder shall worship the planets, Sun etc. in his own house for his good health etc.

41. Hence the worship of gods bestows all desired fruits. The worship conducted by brahmins must be along with mantras and by means of gesticulations in the case of others.

42. The worship shall be carried out by men seeking good benefits in all the seven days in accordance with their capacity.

43. Indigent men shall worship devas with austerities and rich men by spending money. Again and again they shall do virtuous actions with sufficient faith.

44-46. After enjoying the pleasures in heaven they are reborn again in the world. For better enjoyment the rich shall always plant trees for shade, dig tanks etc, install deities, and carry on virtuous activities. After the lapse of some time, when the virtue becomes ripe he shall achieve perfect knowledge. O brahmins, he who hears this chapter, or reads it or he who facilitates the hearing of the same shall derive the fruit of Devayajña.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Jyotiścakra or Śiṃśumāra Chakra refers to the system of stars, planets and constellations conceived of as a Cakra rotating like the Potter’s wheel. The vast space is an ocean in which the stars are arranged like the body of a giant alligator. The imagery of the wheel implies a fixed centre to which the whole system of moving stars is secured by certain pulls, spoken of as winds (Vāta) in physical form but actually invisible forces exercised by the centre on the peripheral stars. Cp. MP.—A Study. P. 209.

2.

Six flavours are: (1) pungent, (2) sour, (3) sweet, (4) salt, (5) bitter and (6) astringent.

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