The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “mode of interpreting the pranava” 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 9 - The mode of interpreting the Praṇava

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lord Śiva said:—

1-2. The following eight names indicate Śiva—Śiva, Maheśvara, Rudra, Viṣṇu, Pitāmaha, Saṃsāravaidya, Saravajña, Paramātman.

3. The five names of Sadāśiva are dependent on their condition. If the condition alters the name too alters.

4. The word is permanent. The object indicated by the word is non-permanent. The words are transferable since those indicated by the words are released.

5. Even when words are transferred there are conditions again. The first five names denote things other than Ātman.

6. The other three names derive their origin from difference in the material cause. Śiva exists by creating three types of conditions.

7. Due to the antecedent non-existence of the contact with the primordial Avidyā he is naturally pure-souled and is called Śiva.

8. Lord Śiva who is richly endowed with good attributes is called Śiva by the experts in the Śaiva cult.

9-11. Prakṛti is yonder than the twenty-three principles Puruṣa, the twenty-fifth principle is yonder than Prakṛti. The Puruṣa is called Svara as expressed in the Vedas. He becomes intelligible and recognizable only through the Vedas and the Upaniṣads. As the enjoyer he becomes merged in Prakṛti. He who is beyond this Puruṣa is named Maheśvara.

12-13. He is rightly termed Maheśvara because Prakṛti and Puruṣa are subservient to him. Or Māyā is the principle with the three attributes which is imperishable. Know that Māyā is the Prakṛti and Māyin (the wielder of Māyā) is Maheśvara who is eternal and the releaser from Māyā. Hence the name Maheśvara is applicable to him.

14. The word Rud means misery or cause of misery. The lord who dispels it is called Rudra,[1] lord Śiva, the great or ultimate cause.

15. Śiva is called Viṣṇu because he pervades the principles of Śiva ending with the earth and the bodies, pots etc.

16. Śiva is called Pitāmaha because of his fatherhood of the Trinity which in turn is the cause of the universe.

17-18. A pathologist diagnoses correctly and cures illness through medicines. Similarly Śiva the cause of dissolution, sustenance and origin of the world as well as the router of the gross is called the physician of the world by those who know the nature of the principles.

19-21. Atoms enveloped by the dirt of the ocean of Māyā do not know the gross and subtle things that occur in the three periods of time even when they have the sense-organs for imbibing the five-fold knowledge. But Sadāśiva knows every existent object naturally, even though he has no sense-organs yielding the knowledge of all existent objects. Hence he is called omniscient.

22. Śiva is the great Atman because he is the Ātman of all, he is for ever endowed with the great qualities and there is no greater Ātman than him.

23-26. After eulogising Mahādeva, identical with Praṇava, the imperishable and offering gifts on the head of Īśāna, he worships the lord with the purity of mind, by means of the praṇava. He shall then take a handful of flowers, join palms in reverence, inhale through the left nostril, identifying the inhaled air with Śiva and exhale through the right nostril bidding the ritualistic adieu to the goddess. He shall realise the identity of Śiva with himself. “I am Śiva alone.” He shall make the ritualistic dismissal of the deities conceived in the heart.

27. After worshipping the lore and the preceptor he shall fix in the heart the mantras of the conch and the vessel of Arghya.

28-30. After consigning the remnants of the floral offerings to Caṇḍeśa in the north-cast quarter he shall restrain the vital breath and utter the names of the sages. This Maṇḍala is technically known as Kailāsaprastara. This shall be worshipped every day, or every fortnight, or every month or once in six months or once in a year or during the Cāturmāsya festival. A theist shall necessarily worship my Liṅga every day.

31-32. O goddess, in this context a special order shall be observed. On the day of initiation he shall worship the Liṅga along with the preceptor and bow thrice in front of the preceptor: “Till my death I shall worship Śiva”.

33. O beloved, he shall worship it, as mentiond above. He shall pour water from Argha above on the top of Liṅga.

34. After worshipping it with Praṇava he shall offer incense and the lamp. After propitiating Caṇḍa in the north-east he shall offer Nirmālya.

35-36. The Liṅga and the altar shall be washed with the filtered water. Repeating the Praṇava he shall put a flower on the top of the Liṅga. He shall mentally conceive everythig from the Ādhāra Śakti to the seat of the holy lore and install the supreme god.

37-39. He shall perform the ablution of the lord with Pañcagavya etc. or with holy water rendered fragrant with scented articles repeating the mantras from the Ṛg or Sāmaveda such as “Pāvamāna” “Rudra” “Nīla” or “Tvarita” along with the five Brahmans. The Praṇava or the name of Śiva can be used as mantra. The ablution shall be made with the Arghya water repeating the Praṇava.

40. After wiping the Liṅga with a piece of cloth he shall put a flower on the top. After installing the Liṅga on the pedestal he shall perform the worship of the sun.

41-42. He shall worship the Ādhāraśakti and Ananta beneath the pedestal. After worshipping the throne duly with the lower and upper lid he shall worship Skanda on the foot of the Pīṭha. After conceiving me in the Liṅga he shall worship me along with you.

43-44. The ascetic shall think on me with devotion in accordance with the rules. O beloved, thus I have narrated to you a great secret that shall be guarded assiduously. It shall not be imparted to any one and everyone. It shall be given to my devotee, to an ascetic free from passion and lust.

45-46. It shall be given to a person devoted to his preceptor, who is calm and who engages in Yoga for attaining me. The foolish fellow who transgresses my directives and gives this away is my enemy. Surely he will go to hell. O goddess, imparting it to my devotee he will become my favourite. Alter enjoying all pleasures here he shall attain my presence.

Vyāsa said:—

47-48. On hearing this speech of Śiva, the goddess eulogised the lord with various hymns containing the purport of the Vedic mantras. She bowed at the feet of her lord. O excellent sages, she rejoiced with a delighted heart.

49. O brahmins, this is a great secret. It illuminates the meaning of the Praṇava. Leading to the knowledge of Śiva it destroys all your miseries.

Sūta said:—

50-52- After saying this, the excellent sage of great penance, the son of Parāśara, worshipped and honoured with intent devotion by the sages and propounder of the Vedas, thought of the mount Kailāsa and left that hermitage. Delighted in their hearts, at the end of the sacrifice they too worshipped the moon-crested god and the goddess Umā with great devotion. They engaged themselves in Yogic practices of restraint etc. and continued to meditate on Śiva.

53. This was mentioned to Guha by the goddess who mentioned it to Nandin. Lord Nandin mentioned it to the sage Sanatkumāra.

54. O leading sages, from him this was obtained by my preceptor Vyāsa of immeasurable splendour. This holy lore was obtained from him by me also.

55. On knowing your love for the lord and realising that you are his favourite devotee, this secret of secrets has been narrated to you by me.

56. This secret lore dear to Śiva shall be given by you only to ascetics of quiet minds, devotees of Śiva’s feet.

57. After saying this the blessed Sūta, most excellent of Paurāṇikas, wandered over the earth, visiting the holy centres.

58. After securing this great secret from Sūta, the sages remained in Kāśī and attained Śiva’s abode by attaining salvation.

Footnotes and references:


For a different derivation and meaning of the word Rudra see Vāyavīya-saṃhitā 1.12.30

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