The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “description of the power of devotion” 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 23 - Description of the Power of Devotion

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:—

1. After sporting about like this till satiety with Śiva, Satī became less attached.

2-3. One day after delighting the lord with her devotion and obeisance Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, spoke thus to Śiva.

Satī said:—

4. O great lord, lord of lords and ocean of mercy, O great Yogin, the uplifter of the distressed, take pity on me.

5. You are a great Puruṣa, the lord, beyond Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. You are both Saguṇa and Nirguṇa.[1] You are a great lord, a cosmic witness, and free from aberration.

6. I am blessed since I became your beloved wife sporting with you. O lord, you became my husband because of your love for your devotees.

7. O lord, after sporting with you for many years I have become fully satiated and now my mind is turned away from it.

8. O lord of gods, I wish to know the great pleasing principle whereby O, Śiva, all living beings surmount worldly miseries in a trice.,

9. O lord, please explain that activity which enables people, to obtain the supreme region and free themselves from worldly bondage.

10. O sage, the primordial Goddess asked Śiva thus only for the sake of uplifting worldly creatures.

11. On hearing that, lord Śiva whose mind is engrossed in the practice of Yoga and who assumes physical bodies out of his own accord, spoke to Satī.

Śiva said:—

12. O Goddess Satī, listen, I shall explain the great principle whereby the remorseful creature becomes a liberated soul.

13. O great Goddess, know that the perfect knowledge is the great principle—the consciousness that “I am Brahman” in the perfect intellect where nothing else is remembered.

14. This consciousness is very rare in the three worlds. O beloved, I am Brahman, the greatest of the great and very few are those who know my real nature.

15. Devotion to me is considered as the bestower of worldly pleasures and salvation. It is achievable only by my grace. It is nine-fold.

16. There is no difference between devotion and perfect knowledge. A person who is engrossed in devotion enjoys perpetual happiness. Perfect knowledge never descends in a vicious person averse to devotion.

17. Attracted by devotion and as a result of its influence, O Goddess, I go even to the houses of the base-born and outcastes. There is no doubt about it.

18-20. Devotion is variously classified as attributive and attributeless, as conventional and natural, greater and lesser, perpetual and non-perpetual. There are six further subdivisions of the perpetual devotion. Scholars further classify it into enjoined and non-enjoined. Thus devotions are manifold which have been explained elsewhere.

21. O beloved, sages have explained that the different kinds of devotion have nine ancillary adjuncts. O daughter of Dakṣa, I shall narrate them to which you listen with love.

22-23. According to scholars O Goddess, the nine ancillary adjuncts are:—listening, eulogising, remembering, serving, surrendering, worshipping, saluting, friendliness and dedication. O Śiva, its further subdivisions too have been explained.

24-25. O Goddess, listen to the characteristics of these nine adjuncts separately. By listening is meant the imbibing of my stories that bestow worldly pleasures and salvation, with great devotion, in steady posture.

26. After conceiving in the mind the details of my manifestations and activities, loudly and cheerfully, proclaiming the same in order to eulogise me is what is called eulogising.

27. O Goddess, after realising me to be all-pervading a feeling of fearlessness is what is called remembering.

28. The service rendered to the godhead commencing at the early dawn, with mind, speech, hands and feet is what is called serving.

29. Surrendering oneself in the service of the godhead who is worthy of being served and serving with all the sense-organs feeling hearty sense of elation is what is called surrendering.

30. Offering sixteen types of service to me, the supreme soul, in accordance with one’s capacity is called worshipping. The sixteen types of service are Pādya[2] etc.

31. Meditating in the mind, repeating the mantras and touching the ground with eight limbs[3] is called saluting.

32. The belief—“Whatever god bestows on me, good or bad, is for my welfare”—is the characteristic sign of friendliness.

33. Dedicating everything, the body and other possessions, for the propitiation of the godhead and retaining nothing for oneself is called dedication.

34. These nine adjuncts to the devotion to me, cause perfect knowledge, bestow wordly pleasures and salvation and are pleasing to me.

35. The further subdivisions in the adjuncts are numerous. Nurturing the Bilva tree etc. can be included therein. They shall be thought of by the devotee himself.

36. O beloved, thus my devotion with various adjuncts and ancillaries, is contributory to salvation since it is productive of perfect Knowledge and Detachment. It is the most excellent path.

37. A true devotion is as endearing to me as to you. It is productive of the fruits of all rites for ever. He who has it in his mind is a great favourite of mine.

38. There is no other path as easy and pleasing as devotion in the three worlds, O goddess of devas, in all the four Yugas generally and in the Kaliyuga particularly.

39. Knowledge (Jñāna) and Detachment (Vairāgya) have grown old and have lost their lustre in the Kali Age. They have become decayed and worn-out as the people who can grasp them are rare.

40. In the Kali age as in all the four Yugas there is immediate and visible benefit in devotion. I am subservient to a devotee in view of the power of devotion.

41. I always assist a man endowed with devotion and remove his obstacles. A person devoid of devotion is worthy of being punished. There is no doubt about it.

42. I am the protector of my devotees. For the protection of a devotee of mine I burnt the God of death, O goddess, in the fire emerging from my eyes.

43. For the sake of a devotee of mine I became very furious with the sun formerly. I over-powered him with my trident.

44. I was not a party to the evil actions of Rāvaṇa (though he was my devotee). For the sake of another devotee I discarded Rāvaṇa with all his followers.

45. O goddess, for the sake of a devotee, I angrily expelled Vyāsa when he had a vicious thought, from Kāśī after punishing him duly through Nandin.

46. Why shall I say more, O Goddess? I am always subservient to a devotee, always under the control of a person who practises devotion. There is no doubt in this.

Brahmā said:—

47. On hearing this greatness of devotion, Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, was delighted much and bowed to Śiva with pleasure.

48. O sage, again she asked with great devotion more about the subject as explained in the Śāstras which is pleasing and conducive to the uplift of all creatures.

49. She enquired about topics on virtue and righteous living, uplighting the creatures and the sacred lore on Yantras and Mantras[4] together with their greatness.

50. On hearing the enquiry of Satī Śiva was delighted and He narrated them with pleasure in their entirety for raising the worldly creatures.

51. The sacred lore bearing on the subject, the glory and greatness of the illustrious lord, Śiva explained Himself with Yantras, with their five adjuncts.

52. He told her legendary stories, the greatness of the votaries, the norms of peoples of different castes and stages in life and the duties of kings, O great sage.

53. The duties of sons, wives etc. and their greatness, the imperishable system of Varṇas and Āśramas[5], the medical lore, and the astral lore, all beneficent to worldly creatures were explained by him.

54. Out of compassion for her, the great lord explained the science of palmistry and similar other lores to her.

55-56. Thus Satī and Śiva who are intrinsically the Supreme Brahman, who are the bestowers of happiness on the three worlds. who are omniscient, who are bent upon rendering help to the people, who appear as the personification of good qualities sported about in Kailāsa, in the Himālayas and other places.

Footnotes and references:


Śiva is conceived as Saguṇa (possessed of attributes), a personal deity who responds to prayer, bestows grace or enters into history. He is conceived also as Nirguṇa when in the devotee’s state of mental spiritual enlightenment (Jñāna) he is identical with his self.


On the sixteen acts of worship See Note 49 P. 69.


On the Aṣṭāṅga praṇāma See Note No. 41 P. 54.


On the explanation of Yantra and Mantra, see Note No. 47, p. 66.


The laws relating to four castes—Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra and to four stages of life—the student, the householder, the anchorite and the religious mendicant are expounded in the code of Manu and are applicable to Indian Society alone.

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