The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “way of sannyasa” 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 3 - The way of Sannyāsa

Lord Śiva said:—

1. O goddess, listen. I shall explain what you have asked for. Merely by hearing this the individual soul becomes Śiva himself.

2. To understand the meaning of Praṇava is to understand me. Praṇava is the seed of all the lores.

3. It shall be understood as very subtle but possessed of great meaning even as the seed of the Banyan tree though very small contains a huge tree. It is the initial mantra and the essence of the Vedas. Particularly it has me for its form.

4. I am the lord far beyond the attributes, the omniscient and the omnipotent. I am Śiva pervading all but stationed in the single-syllabled mantra Om.

5. They say that whatever object there is whether???esised into one or analysed in pieces is the meaning of Praṇava, thanks to the combination and importance of the attributes.

6. It is the imperishable Brahman, the means of attaining all objects. Śiva creates universe at the outset saying “Om”.

7. Since there is not much difference between the sense and the sound Om, this is explained thus. Śiva is Praṇava or Praṇava is Śiva.

8. The brahminical sages, the scholars who realize the identity between the sense and the sound know me as the single-syllabled Om.

9. Hence he who aspires for salvation and is free from aberration shall understand Praṇava as the cause of all and me as the Nirguṇa Parameśvara.

10. O goddess, I shall give this crest-jewel of mantras at Kāśī for the liberation of all Individual souls.

11. O Ambā, there at the outset I shall explain Praṇavoddhāra, the knowledge of which imparls the greatest achievement.

12. Firstly the devotee shall extricate Nivṛtti, then the the fuel, time, s iff, and the lord.

13. Thus the Praṇava of five syllables is explained by extricating the three Mātrās, Bindu and Nāda. It yields liberation to those who perform the Japa in this manner.

14. Praṇava is the vital breath of all living beings from Brahmā to immobile beings. Being the Prāṇa thus, it is called Praṇava.

15. It consists of A, U and M in the middle, Bindu and Nāda at the end. That is Om.

16. O excellent sage, the first letter (A) is like water in the south, the second letter (U) is in the north; the letter M is like fire in the middle, before Nāda and Bindu.

17. The three Mātrās are thus mentioned in order: A. U. M. Half a mātrā is beyond it.

18. O goddess, this half mātrā is in the form of Bindu and Nāda. This cannot be described directly. It is known only by the wise.

19. O beloved, the Vedic texts beginning with “Īśānaḥ Sarvavidyānām”[1] issue from me. The Vedas indeed speak the truth.

20. I am the source of the Vedas. Praṇava expresses me. Since it expresses me the Praṇava too is mentioned as Vedādi.

21. ‘A’ is the great Bīja, Rajas, the four-faced creator. ‘U’ is the Prakṛti, source, Sattva, the protector Viṣṇu.

22. ‘M’ is the Puruṣa, the Bījin, Tamas, the annihilator Śiva. Bindu is Maheśvara the lord, the disappearance.

23. Nāda is Sadāśiva the bestower of blessings on all. On the top of Nāda there is Śiva who is greater than the greatest.

24. He is omniscient, the creator, the lord, free from dirt, the imperishable, the inexpressible, the great Brahman, beyond the existent and the nonexistent.

25. In the letters ‘A’ etc. the later one is pervasive of the earlier. The earlier one is the pervaded.

26. The five Brahmans[2] beginning with Sadya and ending with Īśāna are stationed in the five letters ‘A’ etc. They are my very forms in order.

27. O Śivā, in the syllable ‘A’ eight Kalās of the form of Sadya exist. “In ‘U’ thirteen Kalās of the form of Vāma exist.

28. The eight Kalās of the form of Aghora are stationed in ‘M’. In Bindu four Kalās of the form of Puruṣa exist.

29. In Nāda five Kalās born of Īśāna arc present. Thus their state of being the soul of the universe is due to the recognition of their sixfold identity.

30. The sixfold objects constitute Mantra, Yantra, deity, universe, the preceptor and the disciple. O beloved, listen to the moaning of these objects.

31. The mantra previously mentioned is a composite of five letters. The same attains the form of a Yantra. I shall mention the details of its mystic diagram.

32. Yantra is in the form of the deity; the deity is in the form of the universe; the preceptor too is in the form of the universe and the disciple is of the body of the preceptor.

33. Om is everything, everything is Brahman. (Om Itīdam Sarvam Iti Sarvam Brahma) This Vedic Text establishes the link between the word and its meaning.

34-35. The places of articulation, O goddess are: Ādhāra (support) Maṇipūra (jewel-refill), Hṛdaya (heart), Viśuddhi (purity), Ājñā (order), Śakti (power), Śānti. Beyond Śānti is the lord who is greater than the greatest. The authorised person is he whose non-attachment is firm and stable.

36-37. O goddess, I shall be the theme, thanks to the concept of the identity of the individual and the universal soul. The subject has been clearly mentioned. O goddess, now listen. The link of the Jīva and the Ātman with me and the Praṇava is as between the word and its sense.

38-42. A brahmin with the following characteristics shall approach the preceptor with the requisite qualifications. He shall be regularly engaged in holy rites, be calm, perform penance, shall have self-control, be a brahmin well-versed in the Vedas and endowed with cleanliness and good conduct, unattached to the pleasures of this world and of the next and of the worlds of the gods. He shall perform the holy rites of Śiva. The preceptor shall be one who has understood the tenets and the meanings of sacred texts; who has mastered Vedānta; who is an ascetic and the most excellent of intelligent men. After approaching him the intelligent brahmin shall prostrate before him and propitiate him by reverential deeds. That disciple is the most excellent who possesses good behaviour and the qualities of peaceful calmness. The disciple shall realise that preceptor is Śiva and Śiva is the preceptor. Then he shall reveal his thought.

43-52. After being permitted by the preceptor the brahmin devotee shall perform holy rites without taking anything except milk, for twelve days on the sea-shore, or on the banks of a river, or on a mountain or in a temple of Śiva. On the fifth or the eleventh day of the bright half he shall take his bath early in the morning. The intelligent devotee pure in mind shall perform his daily duty. He shall invite the preceptor duly and perform Nāndīśrāddha. He shall get himself shaved of the hair on the head and the moustache and the beards. The hair in the armpit and the private parts must not be shaved. The nails shall be cut. He shall perform his ceremonial ablution with restrained mind. He shall cat only powdered fried grain. In the evening he shall take his bath and perform Sandhyā. In the presence of the preceptor he shall perform the Aupāsana rites in the evening. To Śiva in the form of the preceptor he shall give Dakṣiṇā according to the scriptures. He shall collect articles for Homa. place the holy fires, laukika and others, with the rules[?] of his Gṛhya Sūtra. A brahmin who consecrates the sacred fire shall perform this Aupāsana in the sacrificial fire consecrated by the Prājāpatya sacrifice, reciting mantras from the Vedas and offering due Dakṣiṇās. Then the brahmin shall superimpose the fire[?] in the Ātman and formally renounce the world. The food-offering shall be cooked with the fire-wood and cooked rice and ghee. He shall perform the sacrifice repeating the Puruṣa Sūkta.[3] The ghee shall be offered at the end of every stanza. The Sauviṣṭakṛti shall be performed in accordance with the rules of his own Sūtra. After the sacrifice he shall perform Tāntric activities. The learned devotee shall sit on a doth, deer-skin or Kuśa grass to the north of the fire. He shall repeat the Gāyatrī mantra silently till the Brāhma Muhūrta, and stabilise his mind firmly.

53. Then he shall take bath and cook the Caru. He shall perform the sacrifice beginning with Puruṣa and ending with the Virāja sūktas.

54. The procedure may follow the opinion of Vāmadeva or of Sanaka and others. But the important one is that of Vāmadeva because he was a liberated soul even while he was in the womb.

55. After performing the remaining rites of the sacrifice he shall perform the Aupāsana rites of the morning. Then he shall superimpose Agni in the Ātman and perform the morning prayers.

56. When the sun has arisen he shall recite Sāvitrī. He shall eschew the three Eṣaṇās and repeat the Preṣa[4] mantras.

57. He shall abandon the tuft, the sacred thread and the girdle too. He shall start to the east or to the north.

58. He shall lake with him a staff and a loin-cloth and such other things as are necessary for life. If he is totally detached he need not take these things too.

59. He shall approach the preceptor and prostrate before him thrice. Standing up he shall sit at the feet of the preceptor.

60-61. The teacher shall take the white ashes from the Virāja fire and smear it over the body of the disciple. Repeating the mantra “Agniriti” etc. he shall make the three marks Tripuṇḍra on his forehead. He shall think of me stationed in the lotus of the heart along with you.

62-61. Then the teacher shall place his hand on the head of the disciple. With a delighted mind, the preceptor shall utter the Praṇava mantra thrice in the right ear of the disciple mentioning the sage etc. Then he shall tell him the sixfold meaning.

64. The disciple shall bow prostrate before the precr-tor on the ground twelve times. He shall remain subservient to him and practise the study of the Vedānta strenuously.

65. He shall ponder and meditate in the pure Ātman without aberrations, upon me the great Ātman, the Sākṣin of Brahman, the unchanging.

66. Here the person authorised is the ascetic engaged in the pious activities of self-restraint, the master of Vedāntic knowledge and free from rivalry.

67. The lotus of the heart is free from dust, devoid of sorrow, clear and great. It has eight petals with filaments and it shines above the pericarp.

68. After thinking about the region from the Ādhāra-Śakti to the three Tattvas the Dahara Vyoman (the ether-heart) shall be imagined and conceived in the middle.

69. Repeating the single-syllabled Brahman Om, he shall with alert mind think of me along with you in the middle.

70. O beloved, he who performs the rite of this type attains my world. After securing the knowledge of my principles he will attain Sāyujya salvation as the fruit.

Footnotes and references:


TA. 10.47. 1


Vidyeśvarasaṃhitā (17.44) enumerate these five forms as Sadyojāta, Vāma, Aghora, Purupa (Puruṣa?) and Īśāna.


VS. 31.


Ibid 5.7.