The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “greatness of the jyotirlinga kashi-vishveshvara” 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 23 - The greatness of the Jyotirliṅga Kāśī-Viśveśvara

The sages said:—

1. O Sūta, if the great city of Vārāṇasī is so meritorious please narrate its greatness to us as well as that of lord Avimukta.

Sūta said:—

2. O great sages, I shall explain neatly and succinctly the splendid greatness of Vārāṇasī and Viśveśvara. May it be listened to.

3. Once goddess Pārvatī asked Śiva with great joy about the greatness of the two AvimuktasKāśī and Viśveśvara, out of desire for the welfare of the worlds.

Pārvatī said:—

4. It behoves you to explain the greatness of this shrine entirely I taking pity on me and desiring the benefit of the worlds.

Sūta said:—

5. On hearing the words of the goddess, the lord of the gods, the lord of the universe, replied to her for the pleasure of all living beings.

Lord Śiva said:—

6. What, gentle lady, has been asked by you is splendid. It is auspicious and pleasing to the people. I shall explain as a matter of fact the greatness of the two Avimuktas.

7. Vārāṇasī is my mysterious shrine. It is the cause of salvation for the people in every respect.

8. In this holy centre, the Siddhas have always taken to my holy rites. They hold different phallic images. They yearn to attain my world.

9. Those who have conquered themselves and controlled their sense-organs pursue the great Pāśupata Yoga which is explained in the Vedas, yielding worldly pleasures and salvation.

10. O great goddess, the residence in Vārāṇasī is always appealing to me. Forsaking everything listen to the cause of its greatness.

11. The two deserve liberation—he who is my devotee and he who has perfect knowledge. Their is not the dependence on holy centres. They are equanimous in regard to what is prescribed and what is forbidden.

12. They must be known as liberated souls, no matter where they die. They are sure to attain salvation. This decisive word has been uttered by me.

13. Here in this excellent holy centre Avimukta, there is one special thing to be noted. O goddess, O great Śakti, please listen attentively.

14. People of all castes, of all stages of life, whether children, youths or the aged, if they die in this city, are undoubtedly liberated.

15-16. O brahmins, whether pure or impure, whether virgin or married, whether widow or barren, whether suffering from menstrual disorders or defects or whether recently delivered of a child, of whatever nature she may be, if she dies at this holy centre she attains salvation. There is no doubt in this.

17. The sweat-born, (lice, bugs etc.) the egg-born (birds), the germinating ones (plants and trees) and the embryo-born (mammals) these living beings do not attain salvation elsewhere as they do at this place.

18. O goddess, there is no dependence on perfect knowledge here, nor that on devotion, nor that on holy rites, nor that on charitable gifts.

19. There is no dependence on culture, nor that on meditation af anytime, nor that on repetition of names, nor that on adoration, nor that even on noble nativity.

20. Whoever may be the man staying in my holy centre, whatever may be the manner of his death, if he dies here, he certainly attains salvation.

21. O beloved, this divine city of mine is most mysterious one. O Pārvatī, even Brahmā and others do not know its greatness.

22. Hence this holy centre is known as Avimukta. It is greater than Naimiṣa and all other holy centres in yielding salvation to the deceased.

23. Truth is the esoteric doctrine of Dharmas. Equanimity is the esoteric doctrine of salvation. Learned men know Avimukta as the esoteric doctrine of all shrines and holy centres.

24. Any being, enjoying pleasures at his will, sleeping, sporting or performing different activities, attains salvation if he casts off his life at Avimukta.

25. It is far better for men to become ghost after committing thousands of sins and stay at Kāśī than to attain heaven after performing a thousand sacrifices but without going to the city of Kāśī.

26. Hence the people resort to Kāśī with every strenuous effort. The sages meditate on Sadāśiva in the form of his phallic image.

27. O beloved, I distribute the different fruits among different men who perform penance with those ends in view.

28. No entanglement of actions binds those who cast off their bodies here. Afterwards they realise complete identity with the godhead as their goal.

29. Brahma along with the gods and the sages, Viṣṇu, the sun, and all other noble souls perform my worship.

30. He who dies in this holy centre does not get rebirth even if he happens to be a person whose mind is drawn towards sensual pleasures or who has eschewed interest in virtue.

31. What then, if they are free from attachment, devoid of arrogance, possessed of Sāttvaic nature, blessed ones devoted to me and not initiating evil activities.

32. Among thousands of rebirths, a Yogin is born here. Then, dying here, he attains the highest salvation.

33. O Pārvatī, there are many phallic forms installed by my devotees. They yield all desires and bestow salvation too.

34. This holy centre is glorified as extending to five Krośas in every one of the four directions all round. At the time of death it yields immortal beatitude.

35. If a sinless man dies, he attains salvation immediately. If a sinner dies here he assumes multitudes of births.

36-37. He attains salvation only after experiencing tortures. He who commits sins in the holy centre of Avimukta, experiences tortures at the hands of Bhairava for ten thousand years and then attains salvation, O beautiful lady.

38. Thus the course of events in regard to one who commits sins has been narrated to you. A man should realise this and worship Avimukta properly.

39. An action once performed is never wasted even in hundreds of crores of Kalpas. Good or bad, one must of necessity enjoy the fruit of one’s action,

40. Exclusively inauspicious action is contributory to hellish distress. Exclusively auspicious action is conducive to the attainment of heaven. A mixture of the two is said to be resulting in human birth.

41. The birth will be good or evil in accordance with the predominance or deficiency of the one or the other. The annihilation of good and evil is liberation. This is the truth, O Pārvatī.

42. O great goddess, the action that causes bondage is said to be threefold as mentioned in the Karmakāṇḍa section of the Vedas. It is (1) hoarded (Sañcita) (2) the current (Kriyamāṇa) and (3) that which has started yielding results (Prārabdha).

43-44. The actions of the previous births are classified as hoarded. The action the fruit of which is being experienced in the present birth is Prārabdha. O goddess, whether good or bad the action performed in this birth is known as Kriyamāṇa.[1]

45. The annihilation of the Prārabdha Karman is only through enjoyment and not otherwise. The destruction of the other two types of action is possible through worship alone.

46. Except in Kāśī in no other place can all the actions be wiped off. The other holy centres are easily accessible but the city of Kāśī is difficult of access.

47. If Kāśī had been visited with devotion in the previous birth, the person in the present birth reaches Kāśī and dies there and not otherwise.

48. If after reaching Kāśī a man takes his ceremonial bath in the Gaṅges, the two types of actions viz. the current and the hoarded are destroyed.

49. It is certain that the Prārabdha is not destroyed except through enjoyment. When that is enjoyed it is also destroyed.

50 If a man visits Kāśī first and commits sin afterwards, the seed of that action takes him again to Kāśī.

51. Then his sins are reduced to ashes. Hence a man shall resort to Kāśī. That certainly debars Karmans to fructify.

52. O beloved, if even a single brahmin is afforded shelter and residence at Kāśī, the man who affords shelter and residence, gets the benefit of residence in Kāśī himself and thence he attains salvation.

53. If a person dies in Kāśī, he is freed from rebirth. If a man dies at Prayāga, his desires for worldly enjoyment and salvation are fulfilled.

54. If both the desire for worldly enjoyment and salvation are fulfilled at Prayāga, the fruit of salvation derived from residence in Kāśī is likely to be in vain. If only the fruit of salvation is the goal, the fruits of Prayāga are likely to be in vain.[2]

55. Hence at my behest, Viṣṇu creates something afresh and accords him the fruit as mentally conceived by him.

Sūta said:—

56. O excellent sages, such things constitute the greatness of Kāśī and Viśveśvara yielding worldly pleasures and salvation to the good.

57. Hereafter I shall explain the greatness of Tryambaka on hearing which a man gets rid of his sins altogether.

Footnotes and references:


Man’s actions are classified into three categories, viz. (i) past actions still unfructified (sañcita), (ii) past actions beginning to fructify (prārabdha), (iii) present actions awaiting fructification in future.

According to the present context, the action of the second category (Prārabdha) is exhaustible by the consumption of its fruit. The remāining two sañcita and kriyamāṇa can be checked from further growt by performing the rites of Śiva.


The holy Prayāga yields worldly desires as well as emancipation; the holy Kāśī grants emancipation only. For him who desires both the worldly enjoyment and emancipation, Kāśī is useless, for he can get these at Prayāga. For him who desires emancipation alone prayāga is of no avail, for he can get the same at Kāśī.