The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “on the partaking of the naivedya of shiva and the greatness of bilva” 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 22 - On the partaking of the Naivedya of Śiva and the greatness of Bilva

The sages said:—

1. O good sage, we have heard before, that the offering of eatables (Naivedya) made to Śiva should not be taken by others. Please tell us decisively about this and also about the greatness of Bilva[1].

Sūta said:—

2. O sages, all of you please hear now attentively. With pleasure I shall explain everything. All of you who take up Śiva’s sacred rites are really blessed.

3. A devotee of Śiva who is pure and clean, devoutly performing good rites and of fixed resolve shall partake of Śiva’s Naivedya. He shall abandon all thoughts which are not worthy of being entertained.

4. Even at the sight of the Naivedya of Śiva, all sins disappear. When it is taken in, crores of merits flock in, in no moment.

5. A thousand sacrifices are of no avail. Hundred millions of sacrifices are useless. When Śiva’s Naivedya is eaten one will attain identity with Siva.

6. If in a family Śiva’s Naivedya becomes popular with the members, that house becomes sacred and it can make others also sacred.

7. When Śiva’s Naivedya is offered it shall be accepted with pleasure and humility. It shall be eaten eagerly while remembering Siva.

8. If any one who is offered Śiva’s Naivedya delays taking it immediately, thinking that it can be taken afterwards, he will incur sins.

9. If anyone has no inclination to take Śiva’s Naivedya he becomes a sinner of sinners and is sure to fall into hell.

10. After initiation in Saiva cult, the devotee shall partake of the offerings of eatables made to the phallic image whether conceived in the heart or made of moon-slab, silver, gold etc.

11. The Naivedya of all phallic icons is called a great favour and is auspicious. A devotee after initiation into Śaiva cult shall eat it.

12. Please listen to the decision with pleasure on partaking of Śiva’s Naivedya by persons who take initiation in other cults but maintain their devotion to Siva.

13-15. With regard to the following phallic images viz:—that which is obtained from Śālagrāma stone, Rasaliṅga, liṅgas made of rock, silver, gold, crystals and gems, liṅgas installed by devas and siddhas, Kāśmīra liṅgas and Jyotirliṅgas[2], the partaking of the Naivedya of Śiva is on a par with the rite of Cāndrāyaṇa.[3] Even the slayer of a brahmin if he partakes of the remains of the food offered to the God quells all his sins immediately.

16-17. In regard to Bāṇaliṅga, metallic liṅga, Siddha-liṅga and Svayambhū-liṅga and in all other idols, Caṇḍa, one of the attendants of Śiva, is not authorised. Where Caṇḍa is not authorised, the food-offering can be partaken of by men with devotion. But no man shall partake of the food-offering where Caṇḍa is authorised.

18. After performing the ceremonial ablution duly if any one drinks the water three times, all the three types of sins committed by him are quickly destroyed.

19-20. If at all anything from Śivanaivedya is not to be taken it is that article which is actually put on the liṅga. O great sages, that what is not in contact with the liṅga is pure and as such, it can be partaken of. When it is in contact with Śālagrāma Śilā, it is pure and can be taken whether it is food-offering, leaf, flower, fruit or water.

21. O great sages, thus I have told you the decision about food-offering, Now, hear me attentively, with devotion. I shall explain the greatness of Bilva.

22. This Bilva is the symbol of Śiva. It is adored even by the Gods. It is difficult to understand its greatness. It can only be known to a certain extent.

23. Whatever holy centre there is in the world finds a place under the root of Bilva.

24. He who worships Mahādeva in the form of Liṅga at the root of Bilva becomes a purified soul; he shall certainly attain śiva.

25. He who pours water over his head at the root of a Bilva can be considered to have taken his bath in all sacred waters in the earth. Verily he is holy.

26. Seeing the water basin round the foot of the Bilva tree full of water, Śiva becomes greatly pleased.

27. The man who worships the root of a Bilva tree offering scents and flowers attains the region of Śiva. His happiness increases; his family flourishes.

28. He who places a row of lighted lamps at the root of Bilva tree with reverence becomes endowed with the knowledge of truth and merges into Śiva.

29. He who worships the Bilva tree abounding in fresh tender sprouts becomes free from sins.

30. If a man piously feeds a devotee of Śiva at the root of a Bilva tree he reaps the fruit thereof, ten million times more than in the usual course.

31. He who makes a gift of rice cooked in milk and ghee to a devotee of Śiva, at the root of a Bilva tree will never become poor.

32. O brahmins, thus I have explained to you the mode of worship of Śiva’s phallic image with all its divisions and sub-divisions. It is of two types: one is enjoined for those who are actively engaged in worldly pursuits and the other is meant for those who have actually renounced them.

33. The worship of the pedestal yields all cherished desires to those who are engaged in worldly pursuits. They shall perform the complete worship in a vessel.

34. At the end of consecration, he shall offer cooked rice Śāli as food-offering. At the conclusion of worship, the phallic image shall be kept in a pure casket separately in the house.

35. He who has renounced the world (the Nivṛtta) shall perform Karapūjā (worship in the palm of the hand). He shall offer that food to the deity which he is accustomed to take himself. The subtle phallic image is specially recommended for the Nivṛttas.

36. He shall offer holy ashes both for worship and food offering. At the end of worship he shall always keep the phallic image on his head.

Footnotes and references:


Its leaves and fruits are sacred to Śiva.


Jyotirliṅgas are twelve in number: (1) Somanātha (at Somanath Pattan, Gujarat), (2) Mallikārjuna or Śrīśaila (on a mountain near the river Kṛsnā), (3) Mahākāla, Mahākāleśvara (at Ujjain), (4) Oṃkāra Māndhātā on the Narmadā, (5) Amareśvara (at Ujjain),(6) Vaidyanātha also called Nāganātha (at Deogarh Bengal), (7) Rāmeśa or Rāmeśvara (on the island of Rameśvara), (8) Bhīma Śaṅkara (in the Rājamundry district), (9) Viśveśvara at Benares, (10) on the banks of the Gomatī, (11) Gautameśa, also called Vāmeśvara (not located), (12) Kedārnatha in the Himalayas.


Cāndrāyana is a religious observance, an expiatory penance, regulated by the period of the moon’s waxing and waning. In this rite, the daily quantity of food which consists of fifteen mouthfuls at the full moon. is diminished. by one mouthful every day during the dark fortnight till it is reduced to zero at the new moon and is increased in like manner during the bright fortnight.