The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “sati’s test of rama’s divinity” 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 24 - Satī’s test of Rāma’s divinity

Nārada said:—

l-2. “O Brahmā, lord of subjects, of great mercy and lofty intellect, you have narrated the benevolent glory of Satī and Śiva. Now, please tell me more of their glory. What did the couple Śiva and Śivā do further, stationed on that (mountain)?

Brahmā said:—

3. O sage, listen to the story of Satī and Śiva. Having resorted to worldly conventions they continued their sports every day.

4. Thereafter, according to a tradition, it is said that the great Goddess Satī was separated from her husband Śiva.

5. Śakti and Īśa are united for ever like a word and its meaning[1]. O sage, how can a real separation of the two occur?

6. Or inasmuch as Satī and Śiva have sportive interest, whatever they do is proper. For, they follow the conventions of the world.

7. She was forsaken by her husband at the time of her father’s sacrifice. In view of the disrespect shown to Śiva she cast-off her body there.

8. She was born again as Pārvatī, daughter of the Himālayas. She performed penance for several years and attained Śiva as her husband.

Sūta said:—

9. After hearing these words of Brahmā, Nārada asked the Creator about the glory of Śivā and Śiva.

Nārada said:—

10. O Brahmā, disciple of Viṣṇu, of great fortune, please explain in detail the story of Śivā and Śiva who followed the conventions of the world.

11. O dear, why did Śiva abandon His wife who was to Him dearer than his life? It looks rather strange. Hence please explain.

12. Wherefore did your son Dakṣa disrespect Śiva at the time of sacrifice? How did she abandon her body at the sacrifice of her father?

13. What happened after that? What did Śiva do? Please explain everything to me. I am eager to listen to it.

Brahmā said:—

14. O dear Nārada, of great intellect, the most excellent of my sons, listen with pleasure, along with the sages, to the story of the moon-crested lord.

15. After bowing to lord Śiva who is the supreme Brahman and who is served by Viṣṇu and others, I begin to explain and narrate His story of wonderful significance.

16. Everything is a sport of Śiva. The lord indulges in many divine sports. He is independent and undecaying. Satī too is like that.

17-18. Otherwise, O sage, who can perform such wonderful deeds? Lord Śiva alone is the Supreme soul and the Supreme Brahman whom we all worship—I, Viṣṇu, all the devas, sages, the noble-souled Siddhas like Sanaka[2] and others.

19. O dear one, Śiva is that lord whose glory is sung for ever by Śeṣa[3] with great pleasure but is never exhausted.

20. The erroneous perception of this visible world is due to His own sports. There none can be blamed. The all-pervasive lord is the inducer.

21. Once Śiva accompanied by Satī and seated on His Bull wandered over the Earth, in one of his sportive activities.

22. Wandering over the ocean-girt Earth He reached Daṇḍaka[4] forest where the lord of truthful stake and transaction pointed to Satī the beauty of the surrounding nature.

23. There Śiva saw Rāma who was searching for Sitā who was deceitfully abducted by Rāvaṇa. Lakṣmaṇa too was there.

24. Due to the pangs of separation Rāma was crying out “Alas Sītā.” He was pitiably lamenting and glancing here and there.

25. Rāma was yearning for her redemption. He was musing over her whereabouts. Due to adverse position of planets like Mars etc. he had become forlorn and shamelessly grief-stricken.

26. He was a heroic king of the solar race, son of Daśaratha, elder brother of Bharata. He had become cheerless and devoid of lustre.

27. The great liberal-minded lord Śiva who is Pūrṇakāma (one whose ambitions are fully realised) delightfully bowed to Rāma who was wandering in the forest in the company of Lakṣmaṇa and was in need of a favour.

28. “Be victorious” said Śiva who is favourably disposed to His devotees. While He was going elsewhere in the forest He revealed Himself to Rāma.

29. Satī was surprised at this charmingly strange sport of Śiva. She was deluded by Śiva’s Māyā and spoke to Him.

Satī said:—

30. O lord, the lord of all, the Supreme Brahman, all the devas, Viṣṇu, Brahmā and others serve Thee always.

31. Thou art worthy of being served and bowed to. Thou art worthy of being meditated upon always. Thou art known and realised only through the science of Metaphysics, after strenuous efforts. Thou art the great lord, the undecaying.

32. O lord, who are these two persons apparently grief-stricken from pangs of separation? Though heroic archers they are greatly distressed. They seem to be roaming about in the forest.

33. How is it that Thou becomest highly delighted and behavest like a devotee on seeing the elder of the two who resembles a blue lotus (in complexion)?

34. O lord Śiva, may this doubt of mine be kindly heard. O lord, the kneeling down of the master at the feet of a servant is not quite befitting.

Brahmā said:—

35. The great Goddess Satī the primordial Sakti, put this question to Śiva on being deluded by Śiva’s illusion.

36. On hearing these words of Satī, lord Śiva laughed and said to Satī. He was shrewd in his divine sports.

Lord Śiva said:

37. “O Goddess Satī, listen with pleasure. I shall truly explain it. There is no deception. I bowed thus with respect due to the power of the boon (granted by me).

38. O Goddess, they are two brothers Rama and Lakṣmaṇa. They are heroic, intelligent sons of Daśaratha, born of the solar dynasty.

39. The fair-complexioned one is the younger brother Lakṣmaṇa. He is the partial incarnation of Śeṣa. The elder one is the complete incarnation of Viṣṇu. He is called Rāma. He is incapable of being harassed.

40. The lord has incarnated on the Earth for our welfare and the protection of the good.” Saying thus Śiva, the lord, who causes prosperity to his votaries stopped.

41. Even after hearing these words of Śiva, her mind was not convinced. Powerful indeed is Śiva’s Māyā capable of deluding even the three worlds.

42. On realising that her mind was not convinced, Śiva, the eternal lord, who is shrewd in the divine sports which He indulges in, spoke these words:—

Śiva said:

43. O Goddess, if your mind is not convinced, listen to my words. You can test the divinity of Rāma yourself, using your own intelligence.

44. O beloved Satī, he is standing there beneath the Vaṭa tree. You can test him and proceed until your delusion is quelled.

Brahmā said:—

45. Going there at Śiva’s bidding, Satī the Goddess thought—“How shall I test Rāma the forest-roamer.

46. I shall assume the form of Sītā and shall go to him. If Rāma is Viṣṇu, he will know it and otherwise not.

47. Deciding like this she who was deluded by Śiva became Sītā and went there to test him.

48. On seeing Satī, in the guise of Sītā, Rāma the scion of Raghu’s race repeated the name Śiva, realised the truth and laughed. He bowed to her and said.

Rāma said:—

49. “O Satī, Obeisance to you. Where has Śiva gone? Please tell me affably. How is it that you have come here alone without your husband?

50. O goddess Satī, why have you cast off your own form and assumed this guise? Take pity on me and tell me the reason thereof.”

Brahmā said:—

51. On hearing these words of Rāma, Satī was stunned. Remembering Śiva’s words and realising the truth of the same she felt ashamed.

52. Realising Rāma to be Viṣṇu she re-assumed her own original form. Remembering Śiva’s feet in her heart Satī spoke delightedly:—

53. Wandering over the earth along with me in the company of his attendants, the great lord Śiva came here in the forest.

54. Here he saw you searching for Sītā in the company of Lakṣmaṇa. You were highly distressed on account of separation from Śītā.

55. At the root of the Vaṭa he came and bowed to you glorifying your greatness with pleasure.

56. He was not so happy on seeing the four-armed Viṣṇu as on seeing this simple pure form of yours.

57. O Rāma, on hearing those words of Śiva, my mind became suspicious and at his bidding I desired to test your divinity.

58. O Rāma, I have realised your Viṣṇuism. I have seen your over-all lordship. I am now free from doubts. But, still, O intelligent one, please listen to this.

59. How is it that you became worthy of being saluted by him? Please tell me the truth. Make me free from doubt. Thus you shall be happy.

Brahmā said:—

60. On hearing her words Rāma became happy, his eyes shining with brilliance. He thought upon his lord Śiva. Emotions of love swelled in his heart.

61. O sage, without the specific permission of Śatī he did not go near Śiva. Describing his greatness Rāma spoke to Satī again.

Footnotes and references:

1.

For the similarity of idea and expression compare Kālidāsa’s Raghuvaṃśa 1.1. For the repetition of the same see ŚP. RS II. 2.5.69.

2.

Here the reference is to the mind-born sons of Brahmā-Sanaka, Sananda, Sanātana and Sanat who are called Siddhas or semi-divine beings of great purity and holiness.

3.

Śeṣa, a thousand-headed serpent, is the emblem of eternity. He is the son of Kadru and the King of the Nāgas or snakes inhabiting Pātāla.

4.

Daṇḍaka forest lay between the Narmadā and the Godāvarī. According to the Padmapurāṇa (V. 34.5.14-50) it was named after the third son of King Ikṣvāku called Daṇḍa or Daṇḍaka. Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa describes it as “a wilderness over which separate hermitages are scattered while wild beasts and Rākṣasas everywhere abound.”