The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “ascertainment of the time of death” 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 25 - Ascertainment of the time of death

Vyāsa said:—

1. O omniscient Sanatkumāra, O sage, the nature of women has been heard by me from you. Please narrate the knowledge of Kāla with pleasure.

Sanatkumāra said:—

2. Formerly, this very same thing Pārvatī asked lord Śiva after hearing various divine stories and delightedly bowing to him.

Pārvati said:—

3. O lord, thanks to your grace, everything has been understood by me and pondered over, such as your due worship, O lord, and the mantra befitting the same.

4. But still, O lord, a doubt regarding the wheel of time lingers in my mind. What are the signs of death? What is the extent of life?

5. O lord, please tell me everything if I am your beloved. On being asked thus by the goddess, lord Śiva replied.

Lord Śiva said:—

6. O beloved, I shall tell you the truth, the Śāstra that is the most excellent of all, by which, O goddess, men can understand their time of death.

7. The day, the fortnight, the month, the season, the transit of the sun and the year can be known by means of the subtle or gross, external or internal signs.

8. O Umā, O beautiful lady, I shall tell that to you factually now, for the welfare of the people for bringing about their detachment from the world.

9. O beloved, if the body becomes all of a sudden pale and white with red patches all round and above, know that death will place within six months.

10. When there is paralysis in the face, ears, eyes or in the tongue, O beloved, know that death will take place within six months.

11. O gentle lady, if a man does not hear the sound accompanying a shrill cry, immediately, death within six months shall be declared by those who understand Kāla.

12. When in contact with the light of the sun, moon or fire if a man does not see the brilliant lustre, if he sees everything black he will remain alive only for six months more.

13. O beloved, O goddess, if the left hand throbs for seven days, there is no doubt that he will live only for a month more.

14. If the limbs unfold and expand, if the palate dries up, there is no doubt that he will live only for a month more.

15. When the three humours are disturbed and the nose begins to water, his life is only for a fortnight more. The mouth and the throat of a man sure to die at the end of six months, become parched.

16. O beautiful lady, if the tongue becomes thick and the teeth begin to exude, death takes place within six months. The same may be inferred through these signs.

17-18. If a man does not see himself reflected in water, oil, ghee or in the mirror or if he sees with distorted flesh or features he will live only for six months more. This shall be declared by the expert. O goddess, now listen to other signs whereby death can be inferred.

19. If a man sees his shadow without the head or if he does not see the shadow at all he will not live for one full month thereafter.

20. O Pārvatī, the signs of death evinced by bodily limbs have been explained. O gentle lady, I shall now mention the extraneous signs. Listen.

21. O goddess, if the zone of the sun or the moon appears devoid of rays or like the trumpet flower, the man dies within half a month.

22. If a person does not see the star Arundhatī or the moon with the black spot, or if any one does not see any star he lives only for a month.Wom[1]

23. If a person does not see the star Utathya or the Polar star or the solar zone or has delusion of quarters on seeing the planet he dies within six months.

24. If a man sees rainbow at night or the fall of the meteor at midday or if he is surrounded by vultures and crows he lives only for six months more.

25. If the great Bear and the Milky way are not seen in the sky, know him to live for only six months more. This shall be declared by the experts.

26. If any person sees the sun or the moon suddenly seized by Rāhu, or the wheel of quarters whirling, he dies within six months definitely.

27. If a person is suddenly surrounded by blue bees, he will live only a month more. That is true.

28. Surely the person dies soon within a month if a crow or a dove attacks him and settles on his head.

29. Thus the evil portents of an external nature have been explained to you. For the benefit of human beings I shall mention succinctly.

30. O goddess, one can see Kāla within his two hands, the left and the right. It has been directly narrated.

31. O beautiful goddess, in brief there are two fortnights. In these one shall take bath and be clear, remember the lord with controlled senses.

32. He shall wash his hands with red lac juice and milk. He shall hold scents and fragrant flowers in the hands and try to forestall his good or bad luck.

33-34. O beloved, beginning with the little finger and ending with the thumb, one should make the Nyāsa (mystical placing) of each of the Tithis on each knot. Thus the two hands together will cover the mouth Keep the hands in the cuplike form and sit facing the east.

35. The devotee then should repeat the Navātmaka mantra one hundred and eight times. Then he shall scrutinise every one of the knots in the fingers of both the hands.

36. O beloved, if the devotee sees a line in the form of a bee in a particular knot he shall understand that the death will take place on the Tithi represented by that knot.

37. Now I shall succinctly mention the time of death. O beloved, listen. On the basis of hearing the sound he shall know the result.

38-39. O woman of slender waist, the calculation of time is based on the division of it into Kṣaṇa, Truṭi, Lava, Nimeṣa, Kāṣṭhā, Muhūrta, day, night, fortnight, month, season, year, Yuga, Kalpa and Mahākalpa.

40. Śiva calculates time by three paths: Left, right and middle.

41. Beginning with the fifth and ending with the twenty-fifth are the calculations of sound according to the left-hand practices.

42. O fair lady, Bhūtarandhra (?) the quarters and the banner are the sounds in the left hand practices.

43. O fair lady, the attributes and the aberrations of the seasons constitute that in the right-hand practices. This shall be known by those who understand the motion of vital airs.

44-47. When Iḍā and other Nāḍīs respire for five days consecutively, you shall know that the person will die within that year. If these respire for ten days he lives for a year. If they respire for fifteen days he will die after a year. If for twenty days he lives for six months. If the left Nāḍī respires for twenty five days he lives for three months; if for twenty-six days, two months.

48. If it respires for twenty-seven days incessantly he lives for a month.

49. This shall be known in accordance with the left-hand practices. If in the right he lives for four days only.

50. O goddess, these sixteen are mentioned as stationed in four places. I shall now mention their extent factually.

51. Beginning with six days and calculating duly it happens at mentioned in the left path.

52. If it respires for six days, he lives for two yean eight months and eight days. You shall know that.

53. If it respires for seven days he lives for one year seven months and six days, to be sure.

54. If it flows for eight days, he lives for two yean four months and twenty-four days.

55. If for nine days, he lives for three months, twice two months, and twelve days (i.e. seven months and twelve days).

56. The time of the previous days has been mentioned before. But the intervening days of the month may be calculated thus.

57. If for eleven days, he lives for one year nine months and eight days.

58. If for twelve days he lives for one year seven months and six days.

59-61. If for thirteen days he lives for one year four months and twenty-four days. When the Prāṇa flows in the left side for fourteen days he lives for one year, six months and twenty-four days.

62. If for fifteen days he lives for nine months and twenty-four days.

63. If for sixteen days he lives for ten months and twenty-four days.

64. If for seventeen days he dies within nine months. O fond of devotees, eighteen days too are mentioned here.

65. O goddess, if for eighteen days he lives for eight months and twelve days.

66-68. If for twenty-three days, know for certain that he lives for five months i.e. 4 months and 24+6 days=5 months. If for twenty-four days he lives for three months and eighteen days. All this I have narrated to you in brief.

69. This is in accordance with the left hand practices. Now listen according to the right hand practices. If the flow is for twenty-eight days he lives for that much period.

70. If for ten days, he dies immediately. If for thirty days he dies in five days.

71. O goddess, if it respires incessantly for thirty-one days, he lives for three days.

72. When Ravi Nāḍi respires thirty-two breaths he lives for two days; there is no doubt in this.

73-74. The right path-practice has been mentioned to you. I shall now tell you about the middle one. The respiration with frequency on one part of the face makes him live for one day. Thus the time for death for a dying person has been mentioned by the experts.

75. O goddess, this Kālacakra pertaining to the dying person has been mentioned to you for the benefit of the worlds. What more do you wish to hear?

Footnotes and references:


The Skt. text of the first pāda of this verse is defective.