The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “description of infancy (balya)” 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 23 - The description of infancy (bālya)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Summary: The description of infancy and other stages and the impurity of the body.

Sanatkumāra said:—

1. O Vyāsa, O highly intelligent sage, listen to the impurity of the body and the greatness of good feelings. I shall explain briefly.

2. The body is considered impure because it is produced by the mingling of semen and blood and is always full of faeces and urine.

3. Just as a pot, full of faeces cannot become pure even when washed outside, so also the body washed outside cannot become pure. Hence it is impure.

4. Even after taking in the sanctifying Pañcagavya, Havis (Ghee oblation) etc. the body becomes impure the next moment. What else is more impure than this body?

5. Even after taking in sweet, fragrant and delicious foodstuffs and drinks the body becomes impure quickly. What else is more impure than this.

6. O men, don’t you see dirty and foetal matter coming out of your bodies day by day. How can the receptacle of such matter be pure.?

7. Even if the body is sprinkled with the waters of the holy Kuśa grass and smeared with Pañcagavya,[1] it will not become free from dirt like charcoal even when it is rubbed and polished.

8. Like the perennial flow of the springs of a mountain the vessels of the body discharge phlegm, urine, faeces and other types of filth. How can that body become clean?

9. There is not even a single clean spot on the body—the receptacle of all types of filth and a leather bag of faeces and urine.

10. After touching the tips of the vessels of one’s own body the hand is washed with sand and water. Still the persons who are slaves to this filthy body do not feel.

11. Inspite of being smeared and sanctified assiduously by sweet scents, incense and other things the body does not eschew its nature like the curved tail of a dog.

12. Just as an object, naturally black, cannot become white by any means, so also the physical body does not become clean though it is scrubbed and cleaned.

13. Though he smells his own noxious odour, though he sees his own dirt, no man becomes detached and keeps his hand on his nose.

14. Wonderful indeed is this great delusion whereby the whole universe is enveloped. He does not observe the impurities of his body and become disgusted with it.

15. If a man is not detached from the world due to the foetal smell of his own what other cause of detachment can be imparted to him?

16. In the midst of the entire universe, the body alone is the most unclean. By touching its filthy limbs even the pure becomes impure.

17. The purification of the body is for removing bad odour and sliminess. If both are removed there is purity. The touch of a pure thing also sanctifies it.

18. But let him be cleaned with all the waters of the Gaṅgā, with heaps of sand resembling a mountain or let him observe purificatory rites till death, if a man has wicked feelings and emotions he can never be purified.

19. A vicious soul is not sanctified by the waters in the pilgrim spots nor by austerities. Does the canine hide become pure when washed in a holy river?

20. Neither heaven nor salvation can be attained by a man of vicious emotion even if he immolates himself in the holy fire. The only result will be that his body is entirely burnt off.

21. We assert that a man of vicious instinct and feeling never becomes pure though he may indulge in ablutions throughout his life with all the waters of the Gaṅgā and a mountain of sand.

22. If a man of defiled emotion gets himself burnt after entering a huge blazing fire kindled by sprinkling ghee and oil and with flames of circular motion he does not become pure.

23. Fishes stay in the holy Gaṅgā and other sacred rivers. Flocks of birds stay in the temple. They do not attain any special benefit from the ceremonial ablutions and charitable gifts since they are devoid of holy feelings.

24. It is the purity of the feelings that is the criterion for the sanctity of rites. The wife is embraced with one feeling and the daughter is embraced with another.

25. Feelings are different in the mind even if the objects are not different. The same woman is looked at in one way by the son and in another way by the husband.

26. O observe the great fortune in the difference of emotions. The man, though embraced, does not love the woman who is devoid of the feelings of love.

27. If the three emotions, passion etc. were to create worries in the mind no one would relish different delicious or fragrant stuffs.

28. Man is caught hold of by emotions and man can rid himself of emotions. A man purified by pure emotions attains heaven and salvation.

29. Performing Japas, sacrifices and eulogies after purifying the soul with pure emotions a man acquires perfect knowledge and after death he attains the worlds of persons who perform many sacrifices.

30. The purification and removal of the sliminess and bad odour of the faeces and urine of ignorance and passion of men is effected by the pure water of knowledge and the clay of detachment from the world.

31. Thus as the body is naturally unclean it is worthless. Like the inner stump of the plantain tree it has only the outer skin as substantial.

32-33. An intelligent man shall understand that the body is defective and faulty. He shall be disinterested in such emotions as revolve round the pleasures of the body. With the mind in restraint and intellect delighted he surmounts the worldly existence and becomes a living liberated soul. He who firmly grasps the inner stump of the plantain tree of worldly existence is not liberated.

34. Thus the misery of life is proclaimed to be grievous and painful to men due to the fault of ignorance and the influence of different activities.

35. I shall explain in half a stanza what is mentioned in crores of books. The feeling of “My-ness” is the greatest affliction. The feeling of “not-my-ness” is the greatest joy.

36. Hundreds and thousands of monarchs who had been in bondage had attained the greatest world on reaching the Nirmamatva (not-my-ness) state.

37. What little recollection the child had while within the womb perishes when his misery develops further on being crushed by the muscular walls of the vaginal passage as if within a machine.

38. A great fever overtakes him as soon as the external air touches him or delusion overwhelms him.

39. Due to that fever a great fascination overpowers him and deludes him. After being deluded he soon suffers from the loss of memory.

40. Loss of memory leads to forgetfulness of all previous activities. The creature soon begins to love the present birth.

41. The passionate and deluded world does not engage in activities beneficial to itself. It does not realise itself nor others nor even the deity.

42. O good sage, though he has ears man does not listen to what is beneficial to him. Even when he has competent eyes he does not see what is good.

43. Walking slowly on the level, even path he falters at every step. Even when he has intellect, even when he is enlightened by scholars he does not understand.

44. Thereby, urged and prompted by great greed he suffers pain and distress in the world. His intellect no longer remembers the sins he committed which he remembered in the womb.

45. This great divine Śāstra has been narrated by Śiva in the context of penance as a means to achieving heaven and salvation.

46. Even when the perfect knowledge of Śiva that leads to the achievement of desire is available, it is really a great surprise if people do not strive for its attainment in their own interest.

47. There is again this great misery in infancy (bālya) because the operative power of the sense-organs is not clearly manifest or developed. Even if he wishes he is unable to express or take remedial or preventive measures.

48. There is a great trouble when the child cuts the teeth. There is pain due to minor childhood ailments, different kinds of children’s diseases and adverse evil planets and other evils.

49. The infant boy may remain somewhere very hungry and thirsty, or lying somewhere he may be crying or he may be eating or drinking faeces and the urine due to delusion.

50-51. During childhood when the rite of earboring is performed or when the parents beat him or when he feels difficulty in learning the alphabet it is surprising that the stupid fellow does not strive for his welfare, even after seeing and somehow surmounting the miseries of boyhood.

52. Where is happiness during youth, when all the sense-organs are developed fully and begin to function, and there is an attack from the sickness of lust that remains unrealised ever?

53. Then, he feels misery from malice and rivalry. By delusion his eyes become red like those of an infuriated man. Its abandonment is only conducive to misery.

54. During nights he does not get proper sleep because he is scorched by the fire of lust. Where is pleasure even during the day because he is worried over the ways and means of earning wealth?

55. The drops of semen of a man whose mind is dwelling on women do not bring him pleasure. They are like his own sweat drops, mere dirt.

56. What happen? in women is exactly what happens to a leprous monkey when it scratches itself on being afflicted by worms.

57. The pleasure in women is similar to the pleasure that is felt when the pus comes out of a swollen tumour. It is nothing more than that.

58. The pleasure in women is similar to the pleasure one feels when faeces and urine are discharged. But it has been considered otherwise by the stupid.

59. It has been mentioned by Pañcacūḍā that there is not even a particle of pleasure in women who are the storehouses of all blemishes and who are creatures unsubstantial.

60. Due to honour and disrespect, due to union with and separation from the beloved people youth is soon devoured by old age. Where is pleasure without torment?

61-62. The youth of women and men which had been mutually pleasurable formerly is not so now when it is overwhelmed by old age, when the body is rendered shattered and rickety by wrinkles, grey hairs and baldness and when the man is incompetent to perform any serious task.

63. Who can be a more senseless person than the man who feels attracted to worldly pleasures even after seeing himself completely transformed due to old age as if he were a new person not existing before?

64. A man overwhelmed by old age is tormented by daughters, sons and other kinsmen and even by servants who cannot be kept under control because they are not attached to him.

65. A sick and an aged man is incompetent to strive for virtue, wealth, love and salvation. Hence a young man shall strive for these virtues.

Footnotes and references:


It consists of the five products of the cow: viz. milk, curd, butter and the liquid and solid excreta.

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