The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “attainment of good goal by the outcaste woman” 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 9 - The attainment of good goal by the outcaste woman

The sages said:

1. O Sūta, O fortunate Sūta, you are blessed, you are the most excellent among the devotees of Śiva. O holy lord, please narrate the story of the outcaste woman you just referred to.

Sūta said:—

2. O brahmins, listen with great devotion to that wonderful story illustrative of Śiva’s power. It enhances the devotional feelings of the listeners.

3. The outcaste woman was a brahmin girl in her previous birth. She was named Sauminī. She was endowed with all characteristic signs. Her face was bright like the moon.

4. O brahmins, that youthful maiden Sauminī was married to a certain brahmin boy duly by her father.

5. After getting a husband, O great brahmins, she in her fresh blooming youth indulged in sexual dalliance with him and maintained her auspicious rites.

6. O brahmins, then her youthful husband, the brahmin boy became distressed with a great ailment. Due to the misfortune of Sauminī he died.

7. When the husband passed away, the woman was much distressed, dejected and despondent. For some time she maintained her pure conduct. She remained in the house, a well-behaved lady.

8. Thereafter, though a widow, her heart became defiled by lustful feelings because she was still in her prime of youth. She then transgressed the limits of decency.

9. Coming to know of her misdeeds defiling the family her kinsmen gathered together, caught hold of her hair, took her far off and abandoned her.

10. A leading Śūdra saw her roaming about in the forest, took her to his house and made her his wife.

11. She then became very fond of sexual intercourse, began to take in meat and indulged in drinking wine. She bore that Śūdra a daughter too.

12. Once while the husband had gone somewhere, Sauminī the erring woman drank wine and badly wanted meat.

13. In her cattleshed outside, goats and sheep had been tethered along with cows. It was dusk when nothing could be visible due to darkness. She then took a sword and went out.

14. Inebriated that she was, the foul woman fond of flesh diet killed a calf taking it to be a goat without much consideration.

15. After taking it within she realised that it was a calf. The terrified woman blurted out “Śiva, Śiva”, thanks to some previous merit.

16. She meditated on Śiva for a short while. But the desire for meat overwhelmed her. She minced the meat of the calf and ate it up with great relish.

17. O brahmins, when a long time elapsed thus, Sauminī died and went to Yama’s abode.

18. Yama went through her antecedents and taking into consideration her merits and demerits he sent her back from hell to be born in an outcaste family.

19. Fallen from Yama’s city she was born as a congenitally blind girl out of the womb of a Cāṇḍāla woman. Her complexion was as dark as the dying embers.

20. She was born blind. Even during her infancy her father and mother died. She was not married to anyone. She became infected with leprosy and was utterly defiled.

21. Emaciated and distressed with hunger, blind and moving about with a staff in her hand, she somehow subdued her gastric fire by the leavings of food of the Cāṇḍālas nearby.

22. With great difficulty and sufferings she passed a major portion of her life. When old age affected her limbs she was subjected to unending grief and distress.

23. Once she came to know of travellers going to visit Mahābala and Gokarṇa on the Śiva festival day.

24. Then prompted by a desire for clothes and meals she walked slowly to beg of the general public.

25. She moved about here and there begging of the people imploring them with piteous words and outstretched hands after arriving at that place.

26. In the outstretched hands of the suppliant woman, a meritorious traveller hurled a bunch of Bilva leaves.

27. When that bunch fell into her hands she felt it again and again and realising that it was not edible she cast it off dejectedly.

28. That bunch of Bilva leaves cast off from her hands during the night, fortunately fell on the top of a Śiva’s phallic image.

29. Thus on the Śiva Caturdaśī night though she begged of the travellers again and again she did not get anything through the intercession of fate.

30. Thus, unwittingly she observed the rites of Śivacaturdaśī and kept awake during the night and obtained great bliss.

31. Then in the next morning, overcome with great grief the dejected woman returned to her native place alone slowly.

32. Exhausted by long starvation, and faltering and staggering at every step she somehow covered the long distance but fell down unconscious.

33. Seated in an aerial chariot brought immediately by Śiva’s Gaṇas, thanks to Śiva’s mercy, she went to Śiva’s region.

34. O brahmins, since at the outset the unchaste woman had cried out Śiva’s name unwittingly, she acquired a great merit whereby she reached the divine abode of Mahābala.

35. At Gokarṇa on Śiva’s Tithi during the night she had kept awake and observed fast. She had performed the worship of Śiva’s image with Bilva bunch.

36. That was the fruit of a meritorious action performed unconsciously. She was liberated thanks to the grace of Mahābala.

37. Thus is the great image of Mahābala, destructive of sins and the bestower of the highest bliss instantaneously.

38. O brahmins thus the greatness of the excellent Śiva image Mahābala has been mentioned to you by me.

39. I shall now mention another wonderful glory of the same. By merely listening to it, the devotion for Śiva is generated.