The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “story of sandhya” 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 5 - The story of Sandhyā

1. On hearing these words of Brahmā, the excellent sage remembered Śiva with a delighted heart and spoke joyfully.

Nārada said:—

2. O Brahmā, the fortunate disciple of Viṣṇu, O intelligent one, you have narrated the wonderful divine sports of the moon-crested lord.

3-4. After Kāma had married and gone to his residence when all of you, i.e. you the creator, Dakṣa and the mental sons, had all gone to your respective abodes, where did Sandhyā, the daughter of Brahmā and the mother of the Pitṛs go?

5. What did she do? Who married her? Please tell me all about it and particularly the account related to Sandhyā.

Sūta said:—

6. On hearing these words of his intelligent son, Brahmā, who knew the real situation, remembered Śiva and said:—

Brahmā said:—

7. O sage, listen to the auspicious story of Sandhyā, on hearing which ladies do always become chaste.

8. That Sandhyā was my daughter mentally created by me formerly. She performed a penance, cast off her body and was reborn as Arundhatī.

9-10. She was born as the intelligent daughter of the excellent sage Medhātithi, performed sacred rites at the bidding of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva and chose as her husband the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha of praiseworthy rites. She of auspicious countenance became the foremost of chaste ladies and deserved honour and respect from everyone,

11. How did she perform penance? Why and where? How did she cast off her body and become the daughter of Medhātithi?

12. What did the deities Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva command her to do? and how did she choose the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha of praiseworthy rites as her husband?

13. I am eager to hear all these things. O Grand Father, tell me in detail the story of Sandhyā precisely.

Brahmā said:—

14. Formerly on seeing Sandhyā, my daughter, I cherished a love for her, which, being afraid of Śiva, I forsook.

15. Sandhyā’s mind too was shaken on being stirred by Kāma’s arrows. The same had happened with the mind of the noble-souled sages who had so far curbed their minds.

16-17. She had heard the words of Śiva to me couched in mocking terms. She had realised that her mental aberration in regard to the sages was beyond decency. She had seen the attitude of Kāma culminating in the delusion of the sages, frequently. Hence Sandhyā was excessively distressed with respect to her marriage.

18-19. O sage, then I cursed Kāma. Śiva left the place and I too disappeared. Thus her support was lost. So, O excellent sage, Sandhyā became furious. Then, my daughter considered all these things and meditated.

20. Meditating on the recent events, she of great fortitude mused what befitted the situation.

Sandhyā said:—

21. Seeing me as a lady in the prime of my youth even at my nativity, my father, prompted by Kāma, cherished a lustful desire for me.

22. The minds of the sages, the mental sons, reputed to be pure in mind, on seeing me became lustful breaking the conventions.

23. My mind too was excessively stirred up by the wicked Kāma, as a result of which, on seeing those sages it too became excessively shaken.

24. Of course Kāma reaped the fruits of his sinful misdeeds, for Brahmā became angry and cursed him in the presence of Śiva.

25. I too shall have to reap the fruits of my sin. I have committed a great sin. I wish to have a means for making amends.

26. Directly perceiving that I too had lustful feelings, the brothers and my father had a similar desire. Hence I am the worst sinner.

27. I too had the unconventional lustful feelings on seeing them, towards my own father and brothers as towards a husband.

28. I shall perform expiatory rites myself for my sin. Following the Vedic injunctions I shall consign myself to the fire.

29. But I shall set up the new limits in the world. No person shall be so lustful at the time of birth.

30. For this purpose I shall perform a severe penance. Then I shall establish the new limits and afterwards I shall abandon this life.

31. No purpose will be served with this body for which love was cherished by my father and brothers.

32. This body cannot be the means for achieving merit, for, it was through this body that lustful feelings were generated in my father and brothers.

33. Thinking thus in her mind, Sandhyā went to the mountain Candrabhāga from which the river Candrabhāgā[1] flows.

34-35. On coming to know that she had gone to the mountain, I, Brahmā, told my son Vasiṣṭha, the omniscient, of purified mind due to penance, who had acquired spiritual knowledge who was seated near me and who had mastered the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas.

36. “O son Vasiṣṭha, approach Sandhyā, my daughter of great fortitude. She is desirous of performing a penance. Initiate her duly in the procedure of that.

37. O great sage, formerly seeing you all and me as her lovers and realising her own lustful feelings she had blushed.

38. Though not expressed and though not personified, your action then is considered by her as her first death. Now she wishes to put an end to her life.

39. Among those who observe limits and conventions she wants to lay down a limitation. The chaste lady has gone to the mountain Candrabhāga for performing the penance.

40. She does not know the procedure of performing a penance. O dear, see that she realises her desire by means of your instructions.

41. O sage, abandon this form of yours. Disguise yourself and approach her to demonstrate the mode of penance.

42. You shall assume another form lest she should be embarrassed as before on seeing your natural form and features”.

43. O Nārada, Vasiṣṭha was thus ordered by me out of pity. The sage too told me “so be it” and approached Sandhyā.

44. Vasiṣṭha saw the celestial lake full of Gaṇas and resembling the Mānasa lake. He saw Sandhyā too on its bank.

45. With her seated on its bank, the lake, full of splendid lotuses, appeared like the sky in the dusk with the moon rising and the stars twinkling.

46. On seeing her there full of noble feelings, the sage eagerly looked at the lake called Bṛhallohita[2].

47. From the ridges of that big mountain which appeared like a big fort wall, the river Candrabhāgā rose and flowed towards the Southern sea. The sage saw that too.

48. That river breaks the western wing of the mountain Candrabhāga even as Gaṅgā of the mountain Himālaya and flows towards the sea.

49. Seeing Sandhyā on the bank of the lake Bṛhallohita on that mountain Candrabhāga, Vasiṣṭha asked her respectfully.

Vasiṣṭha said:—

50. “O good lady, why have you come to this mountain devoid of men? Whose daughter are you? What is it that you intend to do?

51. I wish to know this if it is not a secret. How is it that your face resembling the full moon is expressionless and inactive?”

52-53. On hearing the words of the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha and seeing him blazing like fire, shining like Brahmacarya (Celibacy) personified, Sandhyā bowed to the sage wearing matted hair and spoke to him respectfully.

Sandhyā said:—

54. “O fearless (sage), know that the purpose for which I came to this mountain has already been achieved or rather will be achieved by your very sight.

55. O sage, I came to this mountain devoid of men to perform penance. I am the daughter of Brahmā and am known as Sandhyā.

56. If it be proper and not inconvenient for you please instruct me. This is what I expect of you. There is nothing to be kept secret in this.

57. Without knowing the procedure of penance I have come to this penance grove. Due to this worry I am perplexed and my heart trembles”.

58. On hearing her words, Vasiṣṭha, the most excellent among the knowers of Brahman, well-versed in every rite did not ask anything further.

59. After remembering Śiva favourably disposed to the devotees he addressed the lady who had controlled herself and was preparing for the penance.

60. He who is the supreme brilliance, He who is the greatest austerity, He who is the worthiest of worship—let that Śiva be meditated upon.

61. Worship Him who is the most excellent of all Beings, the sole first cause of all the worlds and the principal cause of virtue, wealth, love and salvation.

62. O lady, worship lord Śiva, the lord of all Devas with the following mantra. By that, certainly you will achieve everything.

63. “Oṃ Namaḥ Śaṃkarāya Oṃ” “Oṃ obeisance to Śiva Oṃ.” With this mantra the penance is pervaded. The whole penance begins with silence. I shall explain it. Listen.

64. The ceremonial bath shall be taken silently. The worship of Śiva shall be performed silently. The food taken in shall solely consist of water in the first and second Ṣaṣṭakālas (a period ⅙ of the day=4 hrs.)

65. On the third Ṣaṣṭhakāla you shall observe complete fast [without even taking water]. This shall continue till the conclusion of the penance. The rites shall be performed at the end of each Ṣaṣṭhakāla.

66. This is called the penance of silence. It yields all the benefits of celibate life. O lady, it confers all cherished desires. True, it is certainly true.

67. Thinking thus in your mind, O lady, you meditate on Śiva. If He is pleased He will confer on you all you wish, ere long.

68. Vasiṣṭha then sat and explained to Sandhyā the rites of the penance. The sage then vanished from the scene.

Footnotes and references:


Candrabhāgā, modern Cenab. It is called Asikni ‘black’ in the Ṛgveda, Akesines by Arrian and Sandabāgā by Ptolemy. It rises from the foot of the Himālayas and flows in two rivulets: Candrā from a large snow-bed to the South-East of Bāra Lācha; Bhāgā from the north-west slope of the pass and both join at Tandi and the joint stream is known as Candrabhāgā. H. Dh. Ś. Vol. IV p. 742; Geo of the Purāṇas P. 114.


The lake Lohita lies at the foot of the mountain Lohita—Hemaśṛṅga or Sarvoṣadha, situated on the north of the Hemakūṭa (Kailāsa) range. It is the source-lake of the Lauhitya identified with the modern river Brahmaputra.