The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “penance of anasuya and atri” 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 3 - The penance of Anasūyā and Atri

Sūta said:—

1. The Liṅga Mattagajendraka in Brahmapurī[1] at Gitrakūṭa had been installed formerly by Brahmā. It bestows all desires lavishly.

2. To the east of it is the phallic image Koṭīśa bestowing all boons. It is installed to the west of Godāvarī and is famous as Paśupati.

3-4. The lord himself appeared in the southern quarter in the name of Atrīśvara for helping the people and for the happiness of Anasūyā. He enlivened people at the time of draught. He is himself Śiva partially.

The sages said:—

5. O Sūta, O fortunate Sūta, how was the excessively divine Śiva born as Atrīśvara? O one of excellent rites, please narrate it.

Sūta said:—

6. O great sages, you have put the question well. I shall narrate the story on hearing which constantly one is relieved of sins.

7-8. There is a great forest Kāmada[2] in the south near Citrakūṭa. It is benefìcient to the good in the performance of penance. There the son of Brahmā, the sage Atri, performed a severe penance accompanied by Anasūyā.

9. O sage, formerly once, there was a great draught there, extending to a hundred years which put all living beings to distress.

10. O great sages, the trees became dry then without sprouts or fruits. No water was seen anywhere even for daily routine work.

11. There was no greenery anywhere. The winds blew dry and rough. There was a painful hue and cry all over the earth.

12. On seeing the dissolution of all living beings, the chaste lady, the beloved wife of Atri said to her husband. “I cannot bear this distress.”

13. The sage then sat in the yogic pose, repeated the Prāṇāyāma three times and sank into the yogic trance.

14. Atri, the great sage of perfect knowledge, meditated on Śiva devoid of aberrations, the great splendour stationed in the soul, through his own soul.

15. When the preceptor ank into meditation his disciples unable to get food deserted the sage, their preceptor, and went away.

16. Anasūyā the chaste lady then was left all alone.

17-18. She joyously served the sage constantly. Making a beautiful clay image through mantras in accordance with the rules, she worshipped Śiva through mental modes of

service. After serving Śiva repeatedly she eulogised him with devotion.

19-21. Anasūyā the well behaved wife of the sage circumambulated her lord and Śiva. After prostration she went round anticlockwise too. On seeing that beautiful lady the Daityas and Dānavas were excessively agitated by her brilliance. They kept themselves away as people do from a blazing fire.

22. O leading brahmins, Anasūyā’s service to Śiva performed sacredly through mind, speech and body surpassed even the penance of Atri.

23. As long as the sage was engrossed in Prāṇāyāma, the gentle lady continued her service.

24. O excellent sage, the couple thus engaged in their activities remained there, alone.

25. Thus a long time elapsed. The excellent sage, sunk in great meditation did not wake up at all.

26. Anasūyā the chaste lady worshipped only her lord and Śiva. That chaste lady did not care to know anything else.

27-28. On account of his penance and her worship the gods and the sages, Gaṅgā and the rivers came there in order to sec them with pleasure.

29-30. On seeing his penance and her service they were surprised. On seeing their wonderful activity they asked one another. “Which of the two—the penance or the service, is the greater?” They themselves replied—“Arti’s penance is good but Anasūyā’s service is better”.

31. On seeing their performance some said “Her service is better.” Others said “Difficult penances had been performed by sages of yore but nothing like Dadhīci’s penance was ever performed by any”.

32-33. The sage is blessed. Anasūyā is blessed, since great penance is pursued by these with great pleasure. If there be a person performing such an auspicious, difficult and excellent penance anywhere in the three worlds, we do not know.

34. After praising them thus, they went away but only Gaṅgā and Śiva were left.

Gaṅgā said:—

35. “Delighted in worshipping us the chaste lady is too much engrossed in virtuous rites. I shall help her and then go.”

36. O great sages, Śiva too, drawn by the meditation of Atri, stationed himself there in full digits. He did not go to Kailāsa.

37. O excellent sages, fifty-four years had elapsed. There was no rain at all.

38-39. As long as the sage was in meditation and penance, Anasūyā decided pot to eat anything. Now listen to what happened when the sage was performing penance and Anasūyā continued her service.

Footnotes and references:


Brahmapurī on the Citrakūṭa hill as mentioned here remains unidentified.


The forest Kāmada in the south, near the Citrakūta hill, remains unidentified.