The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “tripuras are initiated” 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 4 - The Tripuras are initiated

Sanatkumāra said:—

1. For causing obstacles in their virtuous activities, Viṣṇu of great brilliance, created a Puruṣa[1] born of himself.

2. He had a shaven head, wore dirty clothes, held a woven wicker vessel in his hand and a roll of cotton in his hand which he shook at every step.

3. His hands tucking at the cloth were weak. His face was pale and weak. In a faltering voice he was muttering “Dharma, Dharma.”

4. He bowed to Viṣṇu and stood in front of him. He spoke to Viṣṇu with hands joined in reverence.

5. “O laudable, revered one, please tell me what my names are and what my place shall be.”

6. On hearing these auspicious words, Lord Viṣṇu became delighted and spoke these words.

Viṣṇu said:—

7. O intelligent one, born of me, you are certainly identical with me in form. Know why you have been created. I shall tell you.

8. You are born of me. You can perform my task. You are my own. Certainly you will be worthy of worship always.

9. Let your name be Arihat. You will have other auspicious names too. I shall assign to you a place afterwards. Now hear with reverence what is relevant to the context.

10-11. O you who wield Māyā, ceate a deceptive sacred text of sixteen hundred thousand verses,[2] contrary to Śrutis and Smṛtis wherein Varṇas and Āśramas shall be eschewed. Let that holy text be in Apabhraṃśa lauguage. Let there be emphasis on actions. You shall strain yourself to extend it further.

12. I shall bestow on you the ability to create it. Different kinds of magic arts shall be subservient to you.”

13. On hearing the words of Viṣṇu, the great soul, the Māyā Puruṣa bowed to and replied to Viṣṇu.

The shaven-head said:—

14. O lord, command me quickly what I shall do. At your bidding, all activities shall be fruitful.

Sanatkumāra said:—

15. Saying this he recited the main tenet in the deceptive philosophy. “Heaven and hell are functioning here itself.”

16. Remembering the lotus-like feet of Śiva, Viṣṇu told him again. “These Asuras, the residents of the three cities, shall be deluded.

17. O intellegent one, they shall be initiated by you. They shall be taught strenuously. At my bidding you will incur no sin on that account.

18. O ascetic, no doubt, Vedic and Smārta rites flourish and shine there. But these shall certainly be exploded through this Vidyā.

19. O you with shaven head, you shall go there for destroying the residents of the three cities. Revealing the Tamasika rites, destroy the three cities.

20. After that, O great one, you shall go to the desert region and stay there carrying on your own duties and activities till the advent of the Kali age.

21. When the Kali age begins let your Dharma be revealed. You shall then continue to do so by means of disciples and disciples’ disciples.

22. At my bidding your cult shall certainly expand. Depending upon my permission and direction you will attain me as your goal.”

23. At the bidding of the lord Śiva transmitted through the thought process, Viṣṇu, the powerful, commanded him thus and vanished.

24. Then the ascetic of shaven head acting in accordance with Viṣṇu’s behest created four disciples of the like form as himself and taught them the deceptive cult.

25. The four disciples had shaven heads and were of auspicious features. They bowed to Viṣṇu, the great soul and stood waiting.

26. O sage, the delighted Viṣṇu too, who carries out the behests of Śiva spoke to those four disciples.

27. “Just as your preceptor you too will become blessed at my bidding. There is no doubt in this that you will attain good goal.

28. The four disciples with shaven heads followed the heretic cult. They had the wicker vessel in their hands. They covered their mouths with a piece of cloth.

29. They habitually wore dirty clothes. They did not talk much. Delightedly they used to speak “Dharma is the great gain, the true essence” and some similar words.

30. They held a besom broom made of pieces of cloths. They used to walk step by step very slowly because they were afraid of injuring living beings.

31. O sage, with great joy they bowed to the lord and stood in front of him.

32. They were grasped by the hand by Viṣṇu and formally entrusted to the preceptor. Their names too were announced by him particularly and lovingly.

33. “Just as you, these too also belong to me. The initial prefix to their names shall be the word “Pūjya” because they are worthy of respect.

34. Let the names Ṛṣi, Yati, Ācārya, and Upādhyāya also be well known appendages to you all.

35. My names shall also be assumed by you. The auspicious name “Arihat” shall be considered destructive of sins.

36. All activities conducive to the happiness of the worlds shall be performed by you. The goal of those who carry on activities favourable to the worlds shall become excellent.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

37. Then, bowing to Viṣṇu who carried out the wishes of Śiva, the deceptive sage went joyously to the three cities accompanied by his disciples.

38. Urged by Viṣṇu of great magic, that sage of great self-control entered the three cities and created illusion.

39. Stationing himself in a garden at the outskirts of the city, accompanied by his disciples he set his magic in motion. That was powerful enough to fascinate even the expert magicians.

40. O sage, his magic was ineffective in the three cities by virtue of Śiva’s worship. Then the heretic sage became distressed.

41. He mentally remembered and eulogised Viṣṇu many times, with an aching heart. He had been so dispirited and listless.

42. On being remembered by him Viṣṇu mentally thought of Śiva. Receiving his behest by the process of thought forms he remembered Nārada.

43. Immediately after, Nārada approached Viṣṇu. After bowing to him and eulogising him, he stood before Viṣṇu with palms joined in reverence.

44. Viṣṇu, the foremost among the intelligent and who always carried out the tasks of the gods and who was engaged in rendering help to the worlds spoke to Nārada then.

45. “O dear, this is being mentioned to you at the bidding of Śiva. Go to the three cities immediately. The sage has gone there already for deluding the residents of the cities.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

46. On hearing his words, Nārada, the excellent sage went there quickly where the ascetic expert in magic was stationed.

47. Nārada, an expert in magic, at the bidding of the lord, an expert in the art of illusion, entered the three cities along with the deceptive sage, and got himself initiated.

48. Then Nārada approached the lord of the three cities. After the preliminary enquiries about his health and welfare he spoke to the king.

Nārada said:—

49. A certain sage, very virtuous and excellent master of lores has arrived here. He possesses complete knowledge of the Vedic lore.

50. Many cults have been observed by me but none of them is like his. Seeing the eternal virtue in this cult we have got ourselves initiated into it.

51. O great king, O excellent Asuras, if you have any interest in that cult, you shall get yourself initiated into it.

Sanatkumāra said:—

52. On hearing his words full of significance, the lord of the Asuras was deluded and exclaimed with surprise in his heart.

53. “Since Nārada has been initiated we too shall be initiated.” Resolving thus, the Asura approached the sage.

54. On seeing his features, the Asura was deluded by his magic. After bowing to him be spoke thus.

The Tripura ruler said:—

55. O sage of pure mind, you shall perform my initiation. I shall become your disciple. True. It is undoubtedly true.

56. On hearing the frank words of the ruler of the Asuras the heretic sage, professing to be eternal, spoke emphatically.

57. O excellent Asura, if you are prepared to act according to my behests, I shall initiate you, otherwise not, even if you strive for a number of times.

58. On hearing these words the king was deluded by magic. With palms joined in reverence he immediately replied to the sage.

The Asura said:—

59. I shall carry out whatever command you are pleased to give. I will not transgress your orders. True. It is certainly true.

Sanatkumāra said:—

60. On hearing the words of the Tripura-ruler, the excellent sage removed the cloth from his mouth and said.

61. “O lord of Asuras, take initiation in this most excellent of all cults. By this initiation you will become contented.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

62. Saying thus, the deceptive sage immediately performed the initiation of the ruler of the Asuras, in accordance with his cult observing all rules.

63. O sage, when the ruler of the Asuras was initiated along with his brothers, the residents of the three cities too got themselves initiated.

64. O sage, the entire Tripuras were filled with the line of disciples of the sage, an expert in great art of illusion.

Footnotes and references:


According to the present context Viṣṇu created a delusive teacher called Māyāmoha who created a Māyāśāstra of sixteen lakhs of slokas in Apabhraṁśa, preaching Jina Dharma for misguiding the Asuras. Māyāmoha created four sorts of preachers for the propagation of Jina Dharma. He preached non-violence, forbade Śrauta and Smārta rituals, discarded Varṇāśrama system, created an order for women that resulted in leaving their home and leading the life of nuns. In some versions, the role is assigned to Bṛhaspati, the preceptor of the Gods who in the guise of their preceptor Śukra deludes the Asuras. For details, see Māyāmohaprakaraṇa in Padma. Viṣṇu, Liṅga, Matsya etc.


The reading “ṣoḍaśahasrakam” found in the printed editions of Śivapurāṇa is incorrect. On the authority of Matsyapurāṇa (Ch. 24) we have adopted the reading “ṣoḍaśalakṣakam” and translated accordingly.