The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “greatness of the jyotirlinga mahakala” 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.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 16 - The greatness of the Jyotirliṅga Mahākāla

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:—

1. O Sūta, you know everything by Vyāsa’s favour. We are never satiated by hearing about the Jyotirliṅgas.

2. Hence O holy lord, be kind to us and narrate the third Jyotirliṅga to us now.

Sūta said:—

3. O brahmins, if I remain in the company of you all, the glorious ones, I am blessed and contented. Blessed indeed is the association of saintly men.

4. Hence, considering it my good fortune, I shall narrate the sanctifying sin-destroying divine story. Please listen to this story respectfully.

5. There is a beautiful city Avanti[1] yielding liberation to all souls. It is a favourite of Śiva, highly meritorious and sanctifying.

6. An excellent brahmin engrossed in the performance of auspicious rites lived there. He studied the Vedas and performed the Vedic rites.

7. The brahmin maintained sacrificial fires. He was the devotee of Śiva. Everyday he worshipped the idol of Śiva.

8. This brahmin Vedapriya was always interested in acquiring perfect knowledge. After securing the fruits of holy rites he attained the goal of the good.

9. O excellent sages, he had four sons like him. They were not inferior to their parents and they were ever engaged in the worship of Śiva.

10. The eldest was Devapriya The next was Priyamedhas. The third was Sukṛta and the fourth was Dharmavāhin of good rites.

11. Thanks to the power of their merit, happiness increased on the earth even as the moon waxes incessantly in the bright half of the month.

12. Their good qualities too flourished delighting and pleasing all. That city was enveloped in the brahminical splendour.

13. O excellent brahmins, let the excellent event that happened in the meantime be heard. I shall narrate it in the manner I have heard.

14. There was a great Asura Dūṣaṇa on the Ratnamāla[2] hill. He was very powerful. He was the king of the Daityas incessantly engaged in hating virtue and virtuous rites.

15. Thanks to the grant of boons by Brahmā he considered the whole universe insignificant. The gods were defeated by him and ousted from their places and positions.

16. Vedic rites and rites according to Smṛtis all over the earth were smothered by that wicked fellow like rabbits by a lion.

17. Whatever Vedic rites were there in the shrines and holy centres were stopped by him. Dharma was exiled to a distant place.

18. “There is a beautiful city Avanti.” Thinking that what the Asura did, hear.

19. Accompanied by a vast army, the great Asura Dūṣaṇa went there desiring to harm the brahmins staying in the city.

20. After reaching the place, that great knave, that hater of brahmins called four hefty Daityas to him and said these words.

The Daitya said:—

21. Why don’t the wicked brahmins do as I say? All these, engaged in Vedic rites and rituals are worthy of being punished by me.

22. O excellent Daityas, the gods and the kings in the world have been defeated by me. Why should not the brahmins be kept in my control?

23. If they wish to live happily let them abandon the rites of Śiva and the rituals of the Vedas.

24. Otherwise it is doubtful that they will continue to live. I have said this truthfully. Hence, do that unhesitatingly.

Sūta said:—

25. On hearing this and receiving the instruction the four Daityas besieged the four quarters of the city like the fires of dissolution.

26. On coming to know of the intent of the Daityas, the brahmins were not at all distressed because they were engaged in meditating on Śiva.

27. Resorting to courage, the brahmins did not move even a line’s breadth from meditation. With Śiva to help who can remain in distress?

28. In the meantime, the whole of that auspicious city was overrun by them. The people were harassed and they rushed against the brahmins.

The people said:—

29. O holy lords, what shall be done? The wicked Asuras have come. People are tortured. They have come very near.

Sūta said:—

30. On hearing their words, the brahmins, the sons of Vedapriya, placing their faith in Śiva for ever, spoke to them.

The Brahmins said:—

31. Listen, we do not have an army to frighten the wicked Asuras. We do not have weapons to drive them back.

32. The general dishonour and insult reflects on him who supports us. Moreover, what can happen to Śiva who is omnipotent?

33. Let lord Śiva protect us from the terror of the Asuras. Except Śiva, favourably disposed to his devotees there is no other refuge.

Sūta said:—

34-35. Emboldened thus they performed the worship of Śiva’ś earthern idol. They sat firmly engaged in meditation. On seeing them thus the mighty Dūṣāṇa shouted “Let them be killed. Let them be bound.” But the brahmins, the sons of Vedapriya engrossed in meditation on Śiva did not hear the shouts.

36. When the wicked Daitya desired to kill the brahmins, the spot near the Pārthiva idol caved in with a loud report.,

37. From the chasm thus created, Śiva rose up assuming a hideous form. He became famous as Mahākāla, the slayer of the wicked and the goal of the good.

38. “I am Mahākāla (the great god of death) risen up against the wicked like you. O sinful one, go away, leave the presence of these brahmins.”

39. After saying this Śiva reduced Dūṣaṇa and his army, to ashes immediately with a mere sound of Hum.

40. Dūṣaṇa and a portion of his army too were killed by Śiva the great soul. A part of the army fled.

41. Just as darkness is dispelled on seeing the sun, so also that army was destroyed on seeing Śiva.

42. Divine drums were sounded. Shower of flowers fell. Viṣṇu, Brahmā and other gods came there.

43. After bowing to the benefactor of the worlds, the brahmins joined their palms in reverence and eulogised him with different hymns

44. After consoling the brahmins the delighted Śiva asked the Brahmins to choose the boon they wished to have.

45. On hearing it, the devout brahmins with palms joined in reverence and heads bent down bowed to Śiva and said.

The brahmins said:—

46. O lord, the chastiser of the wicked, O Śiva, grant us liberation from the ocean of worldly existence. O Śiva.

47. O Śiva, you shall stay here itself for the protection of the people. O lord Śiva, save those who see you.

Sūta said:—

48. Requested thus, Śiva remained in that auspicious chasm for the protection of his devotees after granting them the goal of the good.

49. The brahmins attained salvation. The supporting base of Śiva in the form of Liṅga extended to 3 kilometres in each of the four directions.

50. O brahmins, Śiva became famous as Mahākāleśvara. On seeing this image no one will have misery even in dreams.

51. A man worshipping this image with a cherished desire in his mind will attain the same here and salvation hereafter.

52. O great ones with good rites, the origin and the greatness of Mahākāla has thus been narrated to you. What else do you wish to hear?

Footnotes and references:


The town Avanti is identical with Ujjayinī, modern Ujjain.


Not identified. Its identification with Ratnagiri in the south Marāṭhā region is doubtful.

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