The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “glorification of the syllable om and the five-syllabled 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 17 - The glorification of the syllable Om and the five-syllabled mantra

The sages said:—

1. O lord, tell us the greatness of the syllable Om and that of the six liṅgas, O great sage. Also please tell us the worship of the devotees of Śiva in order.

Sūta said:—

2. All of you, sages, have now requested for a good thing. Only Śiva can explain this properly. No one else.

3. Still I shall explain the same with Śiva’s grace. May Śiva increasingly guard us, you and every one else.

4. The syllable Om means an excellent boat to cross the ocean of worldly existence. [Pra=of the Prakṛti i.e. the world evolved out of it. Navam—Nāvāṃ Varam—an excellent boat]

5. Or Praṇava may mean: “there is no world for you” or it may mean “That which leads to salvation”.

6-8. Or it may mean “that which leads to new knowledge.” After annihilating all actions it gives the persons who repeat the mantra or worship, a fresh knowledge of the pure soul. This Praṇava is two-fold (1) the subtle (2) the gross.

9. The subtle one is of a single syllable where the constituent five syllables are not differentiated clearly. The gross one is of five syllables where all the constituent syllables are manifest.

10. The subtle one is for the liberated living soul (jīvanmukta). The need for the contemplation of the meaning through the mantra is only upto the destruction of the physical body.

11. When the body is destroyed he completely merges in Śiva undoubtedly. The mere repeater of the mantra attains the yogic communion with Śiva certainly.

12. A person who repeats the mantra thirty-six crores of times certainly attains the yogic communion. The subtle Praṇava is again two-fold—the short, and the long.

13-15. The long one is present in the heart of the Yogins alone—separately in the form of “A” syllable, “U” syllable, “M” syllable, Bindu and Nāda. It is endowed with all the digits of the time sound. Śiva, Śakti and their union are indicated by “M” syllable ramified into three and this is called the short subtle Praṇava. The short Praṇava shall be recited and repeated by those who desire their all sins annihilated.

16-18. The five elements ether, air, fire, water and earth and their five subtle causes sound, touch, form, taste, and smell together activised in relation to achievement of desires are called Pravṛttas. The short subtle Praṇava is for those who desire the continuation of mundane existence and the long one is for those who are averse to the same.[1] The Praṇava is to be used in the beginning of the Vyāhṛtis,[2] mantras, in the beginning of the Vedas, and during the prayer at dawn and at dusk along with Bindu and Nāda. If the devotee repeats it nine crores of times he becomes pure.

19. A further repetition for nine crores of times enables him to win over the Earth element. A further repetition for nine crores of times enables him to win over the water element.

20. Similarly for each repetition of nine crores of times he is able to win over the elements of fire, wind and the ether.

21. The attributes of “smell” etc. are to be similarly won over by successive repetitions of nine crores of times. The egotism is to be won over by another repetition of nine crores of times.

22. By repeating it daily for a thousand times the devotee becomes perpetually pure. O brahmins, thereafter the repetition of the mantra is conducive to the achievement of desires.

23. A devotee who thus completes one hundered and eight crores of Japas of Praṇava (Om) and is thus fully enlightened shall master Śuddhayoga.

24-25. A person who has thus mastered Śuddhayoga becomes certainly a liberated living soul. A Mahāyogin who performs Japas and meditations perpetually of Śiva in the form of Praṇava and maintains mystic trance, certainly becomes Śiva Himself. He must perform Japas after duly performing the Aṅganyāsa (ritualistic placing of the finger over the different parts of the body as prescribed) and invoke the sages concerned, the deities presiding over and the name of the metre in which the verse is composed.

26. The devotee who practises the Japa of Praṇava (Om) with due ritualistic placings of fingers on the parts of his body becomes a sage. He shall attain all the benefits of the ritualistic Nyāsa such as the blessings of ten mothers and the (attainment of) six pathways.

27-30. As for those who are devoted to activities and those who both refrain from and indulge in activities, the gross Praṇava is recommended. Śivayogins are of three types being devoted to rites, austerities and Japas. The Kriyāyogin is the one who engages himself in sacred rites and worship spending money, using limbs of the body and uttering words Nama]:l (obeisance) etc. Tapoyogin is the one who desists from injuring others, restains all external sense organs, takes limited quantities of food and performs worships. Japayogin is the one who is quiet, performs Japa always, is free from all sorts of desires and maintains all these observances mentioned before.

31. A pure man shall obtain liberation only step by step, beginning with Sālokya as a result of being purified by the worship of Śivayogins with sixteen services and homage.

32. O brahmins, I shall now explain Japayoga, please

listen. Even the person practising austerities shall perform Japas to purify himself.

33. O brahmins, the five-syllabled mantra of Śiva is the gross Praṇava. The name Śiva is used in the dative case with Namaḥ prefixed. (Namaḥ Śivāya—Homage to Śiva) It implies the five principles.

34. The Japa of the five-syllabled mantra shall always be performed along with Praṇava. A man can achieve everything by means of the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra.

35. O brahmins, the devotee shall take instruction from his preceptor, sit comfortably on the ground cleaned well, and start the Japa. The practice shall start on the Caturdaśī day of the bright half and concluded on the Caturdaśī day of the dark half.

36-37. The months of Māgha and Bhādrapada are the most auspicious of all occasions. During the days of Japa be shall take only a single meal during the day in limited quantities. He shall abstain from useless talk and curb all his sense organs. He shall uninterruptedly render service to his parents and the king, or any master whom he serves. By performing the Japa a thousand times, he shall be free from indebtedness, otherwise not.

38-42. The five-syllabled mantra shall be repeated five hundred thousand times, all the time remembering the various aspects of Lord Śiva who is seated in the lotus pose. He is the bestower of all auspiciousness. He has the crescent moon for his coronet. He has given shelter to Gaṅgā in His matted hair. With Śakti seated on His left thigh, He shines with His great concourse of attendants around Him. He bears the moon (on his forehead). He shows the gestures of bestowing boons and offering freedom from fear. He is the cause of perpetual blessing. He is Sadāśiva. He shall be mentally worshipped at first or as stationed in the heart or in the solar zone. While performing the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra he shall sit facing the east. All his actions shall be pure. In the morning of the Caturdaśī day of the dark half, after finishing the daily rites he shall sit in a clean beautiful place. He shall control his mind and senses. He shall repeat the five-syllabled mantra twelve thousand times in this way.

43-44. For the sake of the worship he shall invite five great devotees of Śiva along with their wives. One of those shall be an excellent preceptor who shall be assigned the Sāmba form, another will represent Īśāna, the third will represent the Aghora aspect of Śiva, the fourth will represent the Vāma aspect of Śiva and the fifth will represent “Sadyojāta” aspect of Śiva.

45-47. All the articles for the worship shall be ready and the worship shall start. When it is performed duly, the sacrifice shall follow. All the rites from the beginning to the end shall be performed according to the rules laid down in the scriptural code which the devotee follows. The ghee used shall be the one prepared from the milk of a tawny cow. He shall make ten, hundred or a thousand offerings or he shall bid the devotees of Śiva make the offerings. In that case the offerings are one hundred and eight in number.

48-49. At the end of the sacrifice monetary gifts shall be given: the preceptor shall be given two cows (or a cow and a bull) as extra. The five devotees shall be duly worshipped; the householder shall take bath with the water wherewith the feet of the devotees shall be washed. He shall thereby reap the benefit of taking bath in 36 crores of holy rivers and tanks.

50-52. He shall make gifts of cooked rice and ten ancillary constituents with great piety. The preceptor’s wife must be considered as the great goddess (Parā.) The wives of the other devotees Īśāna and the rest shall be duly worshipped and honoured. They shall be presented with the beads sacred to Śiva, garments, and sumptuously fed with milk pudding, pulse, pies, sweet pies etc. after the oblations are duly given. The Japa is then concluded with due prayers to the lord of gods.

53. After the performance of Puraścaraṇa (repetition of the mantra followed by sacrifice), the householder becomes endowed with the efficacy of the mantra. If he completes another five hundred thousand Japas, all the sins will be wiped off.

54. For every set of five hundred thousand Japas the householder shall be blessed with the riches and prosperity of the different Lokas beginning with Atala and ending with Satyaloka in order.

55. If the householder dies in the middle, he shall be reborn in the world after due enjoyment of pleasures in the other worlds. He shall then continue the Japa and derive the benefit of being near to Brahman.

56. After a repetition of five hundred thousand further Japas he derives the benefit of assimilation to Brahman. If ten million Japas are completed in all he shall become identical with Brahman.

57. Thus attaining the absorption into Kāryabrahman (the action Brahman) he gains all such enjoyments as can be wished for till the time of final dissolution.

58. In the Next Kalpa he will be born as Brahma’s son. Becoming illuminated with the penance he shall be ultimately liberated.

59. Fourteen worlds beginning with Pātāla and ending with Satya are evolved out of the five elements, such as the Earth etc. These are called Brahmā’s worlds.

60-61. There are fourteen Viṣṇu worlds beyond Satya world and ending with Kṣamā. In the Kṣamā world the action—Viṣṇu is stationed in the excellent city of Vaikuṇṭha in the company of action-Lakṣmī protecting the great recipients of enjoyment. Beyond that and ending with Śuciloka there are twenty-eight worlds.

62. In the pure world of Kailāsa, Rudra, the annihilator of the living beings, is stationed. Beyond that are the fifty-six worlds ending with Ahiṃsā region.

63. The action-lord who has screened everything is stationed in the city of Jñānakailāsa in the Ahiṃsā region.

64-67. At the end of the same is the wheel of Time and beyond the ken of Time there is the space called Kālātīta. There Kāla (God of death and Time) backed by Śiva and in the name of Cakreśvara, unites every one with Time. In his activity he occupies Dharma in the form of a buffalo whose four legs are untruth, untidiness, violence and ruthlessness. He can assume any form he wishes. He assumes the form of a great buffalo, is rich in Atheism, has evil association and utters sounds other than those of the Vedas. He has an active association with Anger. He is black in colour. He is called great lord (Maheśvara) to that extent. The ability to vanish is up to that extent.

68. Beneath that is the Karmabhoga enjoyment as a result of activity. Beyond that point is Jñānabhoga (enjoyment due to knowledge). Beneath that point is Karmamāyā and beyond that point is Jñānamāyā.

69. Explanation of Karmamāyā—Mā means Lakṣmī i.e. Karmabhoga. Attainment of the same is Māyā. The word Mā is then interpreted as Jñānabhoga. Attainment of the same is Māyā.

70. Beyond that point is Nityabhoga (perpetual enjoyment). Beneath that point is Naśvarabhoga (evanescent enjoyment). Beneath that is evanescence and beyond that there. is freedom.

71. The bondage of nooses is only beneath that point. There is no bondage beyond that. Those who perform actions with desire alone, hover beneath that point.

72. The enjoyment of rites performed with no desire is said to be beyond that point. Those who are devoted to the worship of womb, hover beneath that.

73. The worshippers of the phallic emblem who are unaffected by desire can go beyond that. Worshippers of deities other than Śiva, hover beneath that.

74. Those who are devoted to Śiva alone can go beyond that. Crores of Jīvas live beneath that point. There is a great fort-wall as it were above the same.

75. Persons bound by worldly existence remain beneath that point and those who are liberated go beyond that. Those who worship the natural substances hover beneath that.

76. Those who worship the entity of Puruṣa go beyond that point. Śaktiliṅga is beneath that point but Śivaliṅga is beyond.

77. The unmanifest liṅga is beneath that point but the manifest one is beyond. The conceived liṅga is beneath and the unconceived one is beyond.

78. The external liṅga is beneath that point and the internal one is beyond. The Śaktilokas numbering hundred and twelve are beneath that point.

79. The Bindurūpa is beneath that point and Nādarūpa

80-81. Obeisance which is beyond that point quells pride and egotism. The word Jan means evanescence, Na is a negative particle. The word Jñāna, therefore, means that which wards off evanescence. Those who worship elements hover beneath that point.

82-83. And those who worship spiritual things go beyond that point. The Vedibhāga (the portion of the Altar) in that great world of Ātmaliṅga is only up to that point. The eight fixation of Prakṛti etc. is also at the extremity of the Vedi. Such is the customary and the scriptural procedure.

84. Those who are endowed with the virtue of truthfulness etc. and those who are devoted to the worship of Śiva cross Kālacakra who is seated on Adharmamahiṣa (The buffalo of evils).

85. Beyond that stands, ahead of Śivaloka, the bull of Virtue in the form of celibacy. It has the legs of Truthfulness etc.

86. The bull of Dharma has forbearance for its horns, restraint for its ears, faith for its eyes, sighs for its intellect and mind. It is embellished by the sound of Vedic chants.

87. The bulls of sacred rites etc. are to be understood as stationed in the causes. Kālātīta (i.e Maheśvara) presides over the bull of sacred rites.

88. The span of life of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśa is a day. Beyond that, there is neither day nor night, neither birth nor death.

89-90. The worlds ending with Kāraṇasatya, of the Kāraṇabrahmā (Brahmā the cause) evolved out of the subtle elements, Smell etc. are stationed beyond it. In all these fourteen worlds, the subtle smell etc. give the due form. The fourteen worlds of Kāraṇaviṣṇu are stationed there.

91. The lokas of Kāraṇarudra are twenty-eight in number. The lokas of Kāraṇa-īśa numbering fifty-six are beyond that.

92-93. The Brahmacaryaloka accepted by Śiva is beyond that. There in the Jñānakailāsa that has five coverings, the primary phallic from of Śiva is stationed in the company

94. This is called the abode of Śiva, Śivālaya, the supreme Ātman. There alone stays Parameśvara in the company of Parāśakti.

95. He is skilled in the performance of the five functions of creation, maintenance evanescence and blessing. His body is Existence, Knowledge and Bliss.

96. He is always in meditation. He is ever bent on blessing. He is seated in the pose of trance. He shines resting in his own self

97-98. His vision is possible gradually through sacred rites, meditation etc. By performing the daily rites and worships, the mind is diverted towards the sacred rites of Śiva the performance whereof gives the sight of Śiva. Those who come within His vision are certainly liberated.

99. The liberation is in the form of realising the nature of Ātman. It is a relaxation and resting in one’s own soul. It is based on sacred rites, penance, Japa, knowledge, meditation and virtue.

100-101. Relaxation is assured at the vision of Śiva. Śiva, the merciful, removes ignorance even as the sun removes all impurities and darkness by means of its rays. When ignorance is dispelled, the knowledge of Śiva begins to function.

102. On acquiring the knowledge of Śiva a person achieves relaxation. He becomes gratified at the acquisition of relaxation.

103-104. Again by means of ten million Japas he acquires Brahmā’s region. A further ten million Japas enable him to achieve Viṣṇu’s region. By a further ten million japas he attains Rudra’s region and by a further ten million japas Īśvara’s region is attained.

105. Again by a similar japa performed with concentration he attains Kālacakra, the first in the Śivaloka.

106-107. The Kālacakra consists of five wheels, one being over the other. Sight and delusion (Drṣṭi and Moha) constitute the Brahmacakra; Enjoyment and delusion (Bhoga and Moha) constitute the Viṣṇu Chakra. Anger and delusion (Kopa and Moha) constitute the Raudra Cakra, Revolution (Bhramaṇa) is Īśvaracakra. Knowledge and illusion (Jñāna and Moha) constitute the Śivacakra. Thus scholars have explained the five cakras.

108. Then by ten crores of Japas he achieves the region of Kāraṇa Brahman. Again by ten crores he attains the prosperity of that region.

109-110. Thus, gradually, attaining the region of Viṣṇu and those of other Gods as well as the prosperities of those regions, completing assiduously the repetitions to the tune of hundred and five crores of times, he attains Śivaloka outside the fifth sheath.

111. There is a Silver platform there, an excellent river bed, and a bull in the form of penance.

112. The fifth sheath is the excellent station of Sadyo-Jāta (a form of Śiva). The fourth is the station of Vāmadeva.

113. The third is the abode of Aghora. The second is the abode of Sāmba Puruṣa.

114. The first is the abode of Īśāna. The fifth is the place of Dhyāna Dharma (virtue of meditation).

115. The abode of Balinātha is the bestower of the full Amṛta (deathlessness, nectar). Thereafter is the fourth Maṇḍapa with the idol of Candraśekhara (a form of Śiva).

116. The abode of Somaskanda is the third maṇḍapa. The faithfuls say that the second Maṇḍapa is the Nṛtya-Maṇḍapa.

117. The first Maṇḍapa is the abode of Mūlamāyā (primary delusion) and is very auspicious and stationed there itself. Beyond that is the sanctum sanctorum, the auspicious place of the phallic form of Śiva.

118. No one can realise the flourishing power of Śiva stationed at the back of Nandi. Nandīśvara sits outside and repeats the five-syllabled mantra.

119. This knowledge has come down from the preceptors. I got it from Nandīśa. Beyond this, it must be inferred from it and it is actually experienced only by Śiva.

120. The full grandeur and greatness of Śivaloka can be known by any one only out of the grace of Śiva and not otherwise, so say the faithfuls.

121. It is thus that Brahmins of controlled sense-organs become liberated gradually. I shall tell you the process in some other cases. Please listen attentively.

122-123. Brahmin women must take instruction from a preceptor and perform the Japa with Namaḥ at the end. They shall repeat the five-syllabled mantra five hundred thousand times for their longevity. That is the rule. Again they must repeat it five hundred thousand times to wipe off womanhood. Becoming a man first, the liberation will be acquired gradually.

124. A Kṣatriya must repeat the mantra five hundred thousand times to remove Kṣatratva. A further repetition of five hundred thousand times enables him to become a brahmin.

125. After the mantrasiddhi he shall gradually become liberated. A Vaiśya dispels the Vaiśyatva by five hundred thousand japas.

126. Then he becomes a mantra-Kṣatriya by repeating it five hundred thousand times. He then dispels the Kṣatratva by five hundred thousand japas.

127-129. He then becomes a mantrabrahmin by repeating the mantra five hundred thousand times. A Śūdra, repeating the mantra with Namaḥ at the end, for two million five hundred thousand times becomes a mantrabrahmin and so pure enough for liberation. If one is sick, whether man or woman, of brahmin caste or otherwise, one must repeat it always with Namaḥ in the beginning or at the end. As for the women, the preceptor shall instruct them in proper order.

130. At the end of every five hundred thousand Japas, the aspirant shall perform Mahābhiṣeka and Naivedya. He shall worship devotees of Śiva for gratifying Śiva.

131. Śiva becomes delighted at the worship of the devotee. There is no difference between Śiva and the devotee of Śiva. He is Śiva Himself.

132. The mantra is of the nature of Śiva. By holding the mantra the physical body of the devotee becomes identified with Śiva.

133-134. Devotees of Śiva know all the rites, nay all the Vedic rites. The more an aspirant repeats the mantra of Śiva, the greater is the presence of Śiva in his body. For the woman devotee of Śiva, the symbol of the goddess shall be the form for concentration.

135. The presence of the goddess continues to be felt as long as the mantra continues to be repeated. An intelligent man who continues to worship Śiva becomes worthy of the name and form.

136. Even when the aspirant has become Śiva he shall worship the Parā. He shall worship Śakti, the embodied and the phallic form of Śiva after faultlessly making images of the same.

137-142. He shall consider the phallic form as Śiva and himself as Śakti or he shall consider Śaktiliṅga as the goddess and himself as Śiva or he shall consider Śivaliṅga in the form of Nāda and Śakti in the form of Bindu and give the primary or secondary character to either or consider both united together. Whatever be the form of Upāsti, he shall worship both Śiva and Śakti. He becomes Śiva in virtue of his basic realisation. With the sixteen forms of service and homage, he shall worship devotees of Śiva who are verily the mantra of Śiva personified or identical with Śiva. He will thereby achieve whatever he desires. Śiva being highly pleased with him yields to his gratification. Without being undeceptive in regard to money, body, mantra or the conception he shall gratify five, ten or hundred couples of Śiva’s devotees by feeding them and rendering them other services, in the company of his wife.

143-146. He will assume the form of Śiva and Śakti and will not be born again. Just below the umbilicus is the part of Brahmā, till the armpit is the part of Viṣṇu and the face is the phallus in the body of a devotee of Śiva. If any one dies, the householder shall worship the primordial father Śiva, the primordial mother Śivā and the devotees of Śiva. Thereby, whether the dead body is properly cremated or not, the dead man shall go to the world of the manes and gradually attain salvation. A person endowed with Tapas is far better than ten persons endowed with rites.

147-153. A person endowed with Japa is superior to a hundred persons endowed with Tapas. A person endowed with the knowledge of Śiva is superior to a thousand persons endowed with Japas. A person endowed with meditation is superior to a hundred thousand persons who have the knowledge of Śiva. A person endowed with the power of trance is superior to a crore of meditating persons. Since the latter are superior to the former they shall be selected for worship. Even sensible persons cannot fully comprehend the excellence of benefit. An ordinary man cannot understand the greatness of the devotee of Śiva. The worship of the devotee of Śiva is on a par with the worship of Śiva and Śakti. He who worships any of these piously becomes Śiva and attains Śiva. He who reads this significant chapter, that agrees with the Vedic injunctions, becomes a brahmin endowed with the knowledge of Śiva and rejoices in the company of Śiva. O scholarly lords of sages, a person who knows special things must narrate them to the devotees of Śiva. By Śiva’s grace he will be blessed.

Footnotes and references:


The words Pravṛtta and Nivṛtta designate respectively the persons who desire continuation of mundane existence and those who are averse to the same.


Vyāhṛtīs are the mystical utterances, seven in number, viz.

bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satyam |

Each of the vyāhṛtis are preceded by the Om.