The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “greatness of shivaratri” 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 38 - The greatness of Śivarātri

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:—

1. O dear, you are blessed and contented. Your life is fruitful since you narrate to us the auspicious narrative of lord śiva.

2. O Sūta, although this matter has been heard from many sages, our doubt is not set at rest. Hence we ask you.

3. By what sacred rite is Śiva satisfied. By what sacred rite does he impart happiness to the good. You are expert in the knowledge of Śiva’s legends and so we ask you.

4. O disciple of Vyāsa, obeisance be to you. Please explain clearly the rite by which the devotee can secure both worldly pleasures and salvation.

Sūta said:—

5. O great sages, the question is well put by you. There is sympathy brimming in your hearts. After remembering the lotus-like feet of Śiva I shall mention it in the manner I have heard.

6. The same question had been put by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Sivā before Śiva in the manner in which you are asking me now.

7. On a certain occasion they asked Śiva, the great soul. “What rite satisfies you to bestow worldly pleasures and salvation?”

8. When he was asked thus, Siva replied thus. I shall mention it now. It quells the sins of those who listen to it.

Śiva said:—

9. There arc many rites yielding worldly pleasures and salvation. The most important among them are ten in number.

10. Those who have mastered the text “Jābālaśruti” have mentioned ten sacred rites of Śiva. These rites shall be performed by the brahmins always strenuously with great devotion.

11. On Aṣṭamī days (the eighth day in the lunar fortnight) meals shall be taken only at night. O Viṣṇu, on Kālāṣṭamī day food shall be eschewed altogether.

12. O Viṣṇu, on the eleventh day in the bright lunar fortnight, food during the day is forbidden. O Viṣṇu, on the eleventh day in the dark half food shall be taken at night after my worship.

13. On the thirteenth day in the bright half, food shall be taken at night, In the dark half, it is forbidden to those who follow Śiva’s rites.

14. O Viṣṇu, in both the halves on every Monday, food shall be taken only during the night by the followers of Śiva-cult.

15. In all these rites, excellent brahmin devotees of Śiva shall be fed according to one’s ability for the completion of the sacred rites.

16. The sacred rites shall always be performed regularly by the brahmins. By abandoning these Vratas, brahmins become robbers.

17-18. The rites shall be performed regularly by the persons who are adepts in the path of salvation. The four vratas that bring about salvation are the worship of Śiva, the repetition of Rudra Mantra by way of Japa, observance of fast in Śiva’s temple and death in Vārāṇasī. That salvation is eternal.

19. Aṣṭamī that falls on Monday, and Caturdaśī in the dark half are sure to bring about the propitiation of Śiva.

20. O Viṣṇu, among the four the most powerful is the rite of Śivarātri.[1] Hence that alone shall be performed by those who desire the fruits of worldly pleasures and salvation.

21. There is no other rite more beneficial to men. This rite is the most excellent means of virtue for all.

22. To those without desire, to those with specific desires, to all men of all castes and stages of life, even to women and to children, this rite is very beneficial.

23. To men and women slaves, to gods and others and to all embodied souls this excellent rite is most beneficial.

24. In the dark half of the month of Māgha, Śivarātri is specifically glorified. The rite of Śivarātri is performed when the Caturdaśī extends up-to mid-night. The observance of the rite on that Tithi quells the sin of even a crore of human slaughters.

25. O Viṣṇu, what shall be done on that day from morning onwards you hear with attention. I shall explain it to you with pleasure.

26. Rising in the morning, the intelligent man with great delight, shall perform his daily routine of bath with care.

27. He shall then go to the temple of Śiva for worship. After making obeisance to Śiva, he shall observe the Ritualistic affirmation of his performance according to the prescribed course.

28. “O lord of gods, “O blue-necked, obeisance be to you. O lord, I wish to perform the Śivarātri rite sacred to you.

29. O lord of gods, thanks to your power, let it conclude peacefully. Let not passion and other enemies afflict me.”

30-32. After this affirmation the devotee shall collect the articles of worship. The phallic image shall be taken from a good place by the devotee himself at night by going there. The phallic image shall be that which is prescribed in the Āgamas. The materials of worship shall be placed on a good spot near Śiva either to the South or to the West. Then the devotee shall take bath again duly.

33. The undercloth and the usual cloth shall be pure. The devotee shall perform the Ācamana thrice and begin worship.

34. The worship shall be performed in due concordance with the material and the mantras. Śiva’s worship shall always be performed in accompaniment with the mantras.

35. The intelligent devotee shall repeat the mantras after performing worship in the first 3-hour period with music, songs, dances and devotional services.

36. If he knows the sacred verses, he shall make earthen images of excellent type. After performing the daily routine he shall worship the earthen image.

37. After making the earthen image, he shall install it thereafter. The devotee shall propitiate the bull-bannered lord, with several hymns.

38. The glory of the Vrata shall be proclaimed by the intelligent devotee. It shall be heard by the devotee desiring the completion of the Vrata.

39-40. Thus four different idols shall be made for the four 3-hour periods. They shall be duly invoked and duly dismissed. All the intermediary rites shall also be performed. He shall keep awake with pleasure and jubilation. In the morning he shall take bath again. After installing the idol, he shall perform the worship.

41. After concluding the rites and bowing to Śiva again and again he shall pray to him with palms joined in devotion and shoulders drooping down.

42-43. “O great God, the rite I have started at your behest has been performed and concluded. It has become excellent. O lord, the idol is being ritualistically dismissed now. O lord of gods O Śiva, be satisfied with the Vrata that I have performed strenuously. Please be merciful to me.

44. The devotee shall offer a handful of flowers to Śiva and make charitable gifts. After making obeisance to Śiva formally he shall conclude the rites.

45. After feeding brahmin devotees of Śiva and ascetics in particular, as far as possible and making them satiated, the devotee shall take food himself.

46. O Viṣṇu, I shall tell you how the worship is to be performed by the devotee, especially in every 3-hour period at the Śivarātri night

47. O Viṣṇu, during the first 3-hour period the devotee shall worship with great devotion the earthen phallic image duly installed by way of good devotional services.

48. Śiva shall always be worshipped with the five materials at the outset. The different articles of worship shall be separately offered with their respective mantras.

49. After offering the materials the steady water-pouring shall be made. The intelligent devotee shall consecrate the materials of worship with the steady pouring of water.

50. He shall worship Śiva, both Nirguṇa and Saguṇa, by the steady pouring of water, reciting the 108 mantras.

51. He shall worship the bull-bannered deity by reciting the mantra imparted by the preceptor. Or he shall worship Sadāśiva by means of Nāmamantras.

52. The worship of Śiva the supreme soul shall be performed with sandal-paste, unbroken rice-grains and black gingelly seeds.

53. Again Śiva shall be worshipped with lotus and and Karavīra flowers. The devotee shall offer the flowers with the eight Nāmamantras to Śiva.

54. They are Bhava, Śarva, Rudra, Paśupati, Ugra, Mahat, Bhīma and Īśāna.

55. When the names are used for worship they shall be prefixed with.“Om” and then the names shall be put in the Dative case. The incense and the lamps shall be used. The food-offering shall be made thereafter.

56. In the first 3-hour period the intelligent devotee shall make cooked rice as food-offering. Half a cocoanut, and Tāmbūla shall be offered afterwards.

57. Obeisance and meditation shall follow and the mantra taught by the preceptor shall be used for Japa. Or the devotee shall propitiate Śiva by means of the five-syllabled mantra.

58. The devotee shall exhibit the mystic gesture of cow and offer Tarpaṇa with pure water. He shall then feed five Brahmins or more in accordance with his capacity.

59. Then till the end of that 3-hour period festivities shall be observed. After dedicating the fruit of the worship to the deity himself, the ritualistic dismissal shall be performed.

60. Then in the second 3-hour period Saṃkalpa rites shall be performed duly as before. Or the Saṃkalpa rite shall be performed once for all the four 3-hour periods. Worship shall be performed as before,

61. After performing the worship with the materials as before, the Jaladhārā shall be offered. Then the devotee shall worship Śiva with gingelly seeds, barley grains and lotus-flowers.

62. The devotee shall worship lord Śiva particularly with the leaves of the Bilva tree.

63. The Arghya shall be offered with citron fruit. The Naivedya shall consist of milk pudding. O Viṣṇu, the repetition of the mantra shall be twice as that of the previous one.

64. Then the brahmins shall be fed sumptuously. Other rites shall be performd as before till the end of the second 3-hour period of time.

65. In the third 3-hour period the worship shall be done as before. But instead of barley, wheat grains shall be used and the flowers of the sun-plant shall be offered.

66. Incenses and lamps shall be of various types. O Viṣṇu, the Naivedya shall consist of fried pies and various vegetable dishes.

67. The waving of light, as part of worship, shall be performed with camphor. The Arghya shall consist of the pomegranate. The Japa repetition shall be thrice that of the previous.

68. The feeding of brahmins shall follow along with the monetary gifts. Till the end of that period, festivities shall be celebrated as before.

69. When the fourth 3-hour period arrives the ritualistic dismissal of the previous worship shall be performed. The worship shall be performed duly with due ritualistic gestures.

70. The devotee shall worship lord Śiva with black gram, green gram, Priyaṅgu grains or any of the seven cereals, the flowers of Śaṅkhī and the leaves of Bilva.

71. The Naivedya shall be offered with different sweets or cooked black gram and rice in order to propitiate Sadā-Śiva.

72. O Viṣṇu, Arghya shall be offered to Śiva with the plantain fruit or with different types of fruits.

73. The exellent man shall perform the mantra japa twice in number of that on the previous occasion. The intelligent devotee shall decide on the number of brahmins to be fed.

74. Till day-break the devotee shall pass time in songs of prayer, musical instruments, devotional dances and other festivities along with his fellow devotees.

75. When the sun rises he shall take his bath and then worship Śiva. The ablution of the deity shall be performed with devout services and adorations.

76. Charitable gifts shall be offered, brahmins and ascetics shall be fed with different dishes, their number being in accordance with what was decided before.

77. After making obeisance to Śiva, handful of flowers shall be offered. The skilful devotee shall then pray after eulogising the lord with the mantras:—

78. “O Mṛḍa, the storehouse of mercy, knowing that I belong to you, my very life is embedded in you and my mind is dedicated to you, please do what is proper.

79. O lord of living beings, be favourable to me viewing sympathetically at the Japa and worship conducted by me with the requisite knowledge or in ignorance.

80. May lord Śiva the bestower of happiness be pleased with the fruit arising out of this fast and other rites.

81. O lord Śiva, may your worship flourish in my family always. Let me not be born in the family where you are not a deity.”

82. After offering Puṣpāñjali and accepting the Tilakas and blessings from the brahmins, the devotee shall ritualistically dismiss the deity.

83. If the rite is performed thus, Śiva is not inaccessible to him. The fruit that he derives is inexplicable. There is nothing which I shall not give in return.

84. If this excellent rite is performed without attachment, salvation will come to him in the form of seed. There is no scope for any doubt in this matter.

85. This Vrata shall be performed with great devotion every month. After performing the concluding rite, the devotee shall reap the fruit with subsidiary benefits.

66. Certainly for the performance of this Vrata, I, Śiva, the destroyer of all miseries grant all desired benefits, worldly pleasures and salvation.

Sūta said:—

87. After hearing these beneficial and wonderful words of Śiva, Viṣṇu returned to his abode. Thereafter this excellent rite became popular among the people desiring welfare of their soul

88. Once Viṣṇu narrated to Nārada this divine Śivarātrivrata which yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

Footnotes and references:


See P. 1063 note.

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