The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “description of shiva’s sports” 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 19 - Description of Śiva’s sports

Brahmā said:—

1. After giving his daughter in marriage, Dakṣa gave her different articles in the form of dowry. Many gifts were given to Śiva. Dakṣa gave monetary gifts to the brahmins with great delight.

2. Then Viṣṇu stood up. Approaching Śiva with palms joined in reverence and accompanied by Lakṣmī, the Garuḍa-vehicled God Viṣṇu spoke thus.

Viṣṇu said:—

3. O great lord, O ocean of mercy, lord of devas, O dear one, you are the father and Satī is the mother of the world.

4. You have taken incarnation out of sheer sport for the welfare of the good and suppression of the wicked—so says the eternal scripture.

5. You are fair-complexioned and Satī has the blue lustre of the glossy collyrium. I on the other hand am blue in hue and Lakṣmī is fair-complexioned. You two shine in juxtaposition with us two.

6. O Śiva, along with this Satī, protect the good people and the devas. Similarly always bestow auspicious goodness upon the people of this world.

7. O lord of living beings, this is my humble submission. you shall kill the man, whoever it may be, who sees or hears her with lust in his mind.

Brahmā said:—

On hearing these words of Viṣṇu, lord Śiva laughed. The omniscient lord told the slayer of Madhu, “Be it so.”

9. O great sage, after this, Viṣṇu returned to his abode. He kept the incident quite secret but asked the people to continue the festivities.

10. I approached the Goddess (Satī) and performed in detail all the sacrificial rites as laid down in the Gṛhyasūtras.

11. Then at my bidding in the capacity of the main priest, Śivā and Śiva duly and with great delight performed the circumambulation of the sacred fire.[1]

12. O excellent brahmin, then wonderfully great festivities were conducted with beatings of drums and playings on musical instruments accompanied by songs and dances pleasing everyone.

13. Then a surprisingly strange- event occurred there. Dear one, listen to it. I shall tell you.

14. Śiva’s power of illusion is inscrutable. The whole universe, the mobile or immobile, is deluded by it, Devas and Asuras.

15. Formerly I wished to delude Śiva by deceitful means. But now Śiva Himself has deluded me by means of His divine sports.

16. If a man wishes evil of others, he himself becomes the victim of the same. There is no doubt about it. Realising this, no man shall wish evil of anyone else.

17. O sage, while going round the fire, the feet of Satī protruded out of the cloth that covered them. I looked at them.

18. My mind being afflicted by love I stared at the limbs of Satī. O excellent brahmin, I was deluded by Śiva’s Māyā.

19. The more I stared at the beautiful limbs of Satī eagerly the more I became thrilled like a love-afflicted man.

20. Staring thus at the chaste daughter of Dakṣa and being afflicted by the cupid, O sage, I craved to see her face.

21. Since she was bashful in the presence of Śiva I could not see her face. She did not show out her face on account of shyness.

22. Then I began to consider proper means whereby I could see the face. Afflicted much by the cupid, I pitched upon the production of airful smoke as the means thereof.

23-24. I put many wet twigs into the fire. Only very little ghee did I pour into the fire. Much smoke arose out of the fire from the wet twigs, so much so that darkness enveloped the whole altar ground (and the neighbourhood).

25. Then lord Śiva, the supreme God, indulged in many sports, covered his eyes (apparently) afflicted by smoke.

26. Then, O sage, afflicted by the cupid and delighted in the heart of hearts, I lifted her veil and stared into the face of Satī.

27. I looked at the face of Satī many a time. I was helpless in curbing the onset of a sensuous organism.

28. Four drops of my semen virile got displaced and fell on the ground like drops of dew as a result of staring into her face.

29. O sage, then I was stunned into silence. I was surprised. I became suspicious. I covered up the semen drops lest anyone should see them.

30. But the lord Śiva saw it by His divine vision. The trickling down of the semen excited His fury and He said—

Śiva said:—

31. “O sinful wretch, what a despicable mess you have perpetrated? At the time of her marriage you have passionately gazed at the face of my beloved.

32. You think that this blunder has not been known by me at all. There is nothing that is unknown to me in the three worlds. O Brahman, how can it then remain hidden?

33. O foolish fellow, just as the oil is latent in the gingelly seed so also I am present within everything in the three worlds whether mobile or immobile.”

Brahmā said:—

34. Saying thus, and remembering the words of Viṣṇu, Śiva who dearly loved Viṣṇu lifted His trident and wished to kill me.

35. O excellent brahmin, when the trident was lifted up by Him to kill me, Marīci[2] and others raised a hue and cry.

36. Then all the devas and the sages, extremely terrified, began to eulogise Him who was blazing there.

Devas said:—

37. O lord, O great lord, favourably disposed to those who seek refuge, O Śiva, save me. O lord Śiva, be pleased.

38. O great lord, you are the father of the universe. Satī is the mother of the universe. O lord of Devas, Viṣṇu, Brahmā and others are all your slaves.

39. Mysterious is your form, O lord, and mysterious are your divine sports. Your Māyā is enigmatic and complex. Everything and everyone except your devotee is deluded by it, O Lord.

Brahmā said:—

40. Thus in many ways, the timid and frightened devas and the sages eulogised the lord of devas who was furious.

41. Suspecting some terrible disaster, Dakṣa raised his hand and rushed at Śiva, preventing Him with shouts of “O don’t do this, O don’t do this”.

42. Seeing Dakṣa in front of Him in a state of excited suspicion, and remembering the request of Viṣṇu, lord Śiva spoke these displeasing words:—

Lord Śiva said:—

43. O patriarch Dakṣa what has just been requested by Viṣṇu my great devotee and agreed to by me shall be done here.

44. “O lord, whoever stares at Satī lustfully shall be killed by you.” I shall make these words of Viṣṇu true by killing Brahmā.

45. Why did Brahmā stare at Satī lustfully? Moreover he has committed a sin by discharging his semen. Hence I shall kill him.

46. When the lord of Devas spoke thus furiously, all the people including Devas, sages and human beings trembled.

47. There was a piteous cry of distress. Everywhere tense suspense prevailed. Then I who wanted to delude Him was myself deluded.

48. Then the intelligent Viṣṇu, the great favourite of Śiva and very clever in managing all affairs bowed down and lauded Rudra who spoke as before.

49. Standing in front of Him and singing various songs of praise to Śiva who is favourably disposed towards His devotees He prevented Him and said thus:

Viṣṇu said:—

50. O lord Śiva, do not kill Brahmā, the creator and lord of the worlds. He has sought refuge in you and you are reputed to be favourably disposed to those who seek refuge in you.

51. O lord, I am a great favourite of yours and am called the chief of Devotees. Keeping my submission in mind be merciful towards me.

52. O lord, please hear another statement of mine of very great significance. You must consider it, O lord Śiva, being merciful to me.

53. O Śiva, this four-faced deity has manifested himself to create the subjects. If he were killed, there will be none to create the subjects.

54. O lord, we three are carrying out the functions of creation, sustenance and dissolution repeatedly as you bid us in the form of Siva.

55. O Śiva, if he is killed who will carry out your directives? Hence O lord, the annihilator, you shall not kill this creator.

56. O lord, it was by him that Satī the daughter of Dakṣa was fixed up as your wife by good means.

Brahmā said:—

57. On hearing this entreaty of Viṣṇu, Śiva of steady resolve proclaimed in reply making everyone hear.

58. O Viṣṇu, Lord of devas and as dear to me as my vital airs, do not prevent me from killing him. He is a rogue.

59. I shall fulfil your first entreaty already accepted by me. I shall kill this wicked four-faced one who has committed a great sin.

60. I shall myself create all living beings—mobile and immobile. Or by my splendid power I shall create another creator.

61. Killing this Brahmā and keeping up my plighted word, I shall create another creator. Excuse me. Do not prevent me.

Brahmā said:—

62. On hearing these words of Śiva, Viṣṇu spoke again smiling to himself and saying “O don’t do this.”

Viṣṇu said:—

63. Fulfilling the promise is but proper in you, the great Being. But consider, O lord, the desire to kill cannot be directed to one’s own Self.

64. We three, O Śiva, are your own selves. We are not different. We are of the same form. Think over the exact state.

Brahmā said:—

65. Then on hearing the words of Viṣṇu a great favourite, Śiva spoke again announcing His own special pursuit.

Śiva said:—

66. O Viṣṇu, lord of all devotees, how can this Brahmā be my own self? He is observed as different, standing before me.

Brahmā said:—

67. Thus commanded by Śiva in the presence of all, Viṣṇu spoke thus propitiating the great lord.

68. O Sadāśiva, Brahmā is not different from you, nor are you different from him. I am not different from you, O great lord, nor are you different from me.

69. O omniscient, great lord, Sadāśiva, you know all. But you wish to make it all heard through my oral explanation.

70. O Śiva I say at your bidding. May all the devas, the sages and others hear after retaining the principles of Śaiva cult in their mind.

71. O lord, of thee, the manifest and unmanifest, divisible and indivisible, possessed of form or of formless brilliance, we three are the parts.

72. Who are you? Who am I? Who is Brahmā? Your own three parts—you being the supreme soul. They are different only as the cause of creation, sustenance and dissolution.

73. You shall think of yourself through your own self. O divine one, taking up a physical body by your own sports, you are the sole Brahman, while we three in attributive forms are your very parts.[3]

74. O Śiva, just as the selfsame body has the parts of head, neck, etc. so also we are the three parts of Śiva.

75. O Śiva, you are the supreme brilliance, the firmament, having your own abode. You are the primordial Being, the immovable, the unmanifest, of endless forms, the eternal and devoid of attributes—length etc. From this form alone everything has emanated.

Brahmā said:—

76. O excellent sage, on hearing these words the great lord Śiva was delighted. He did not slay me.

Footnotes and references:


The circumambulation of the fire by the bride and the bridegroom is one of the rites in the Vedic nuptial ceremony. The bride and the bridegroom go round the fire while the husband recites the following formula: ‘'To thee they have in the beginning carried round Sūryā with the bridal procession. Mayest thou give back, Agni, to the husband the wife together with offsprings.” The fire plays an important role in the performance of Vedic Saṃskiiras. See H.S. P. 219.


For the mind-born and physical sons of the creator, See Note No. 242 P. 305.


Śiva or Sadāśiva who is conceived as a state of silent Being is also a dynamic Becoming. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra are the three personal manifestations of that attributeless supreme deity.