The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “procedure 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 12 - The procedure of Sannyāsa

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Subrahmaṇya said:—

1. Well done, well done, O fortunate Vāmadeva, O great sage, you are a great devotee of Śiva and the most excellent of those who possess Śiva’s knowledge.

2. Nowhere in the world is there anything not known to you. Still I shall tell you since you wish to bless the worlds.

3. All the individuals in the world are deceived by the Māyā of Īśa. They are deceived by various sacred scriptures.

4. They do not know the great lord, the meaning of the Praṇava, the Nirguṇa and Saguṇa Brahman, the great progenitor of trinity.

5. I shall lift up my right hand and swear unto you truth again and again.

6-12. Śiva is declared as the purport of the Praṇava in the Śruti and Smṛti texts, Purāṇas and the Āgamas; from whom words recede unable to reach him along with the mind; the knower of whose bliss does not have fear from anywhere;[1] from whom this entire universe, beginning with Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Indra is born at the outset with the groups of sense-organs and elements; that which has no cause anywhere at any time; which neither the lightning nor the sun nor the moon does illuminate; by whose splendour this entire universe is resplendent all round; he who is endowed with prosperity himself in the name of Sarveśvara; who is worthy of being meditated upon by those who are desirous of salvation; he who is the cause of welfare; who is in the middle of the firmament; who is omnipresent, whose soul is light, who is in the form of splendour, knowledge and.consciousness; whose splendid Śakti is comprehensible only through emotion and who is both Nirguṇa and Saguṇa, unsullied and auspicious.

13. Three types of his form—gross, subtle and causal shall be meditated upon by those seeking salvation, O sage, and by the Yogins in the proper order.

14. The unsullied being, the primordial and the eternal lord of all who is stated to be the supreme soul has knowledge and the ritual as his innate nature.

15-16. The image of the lord of the gods is Sadāśiva himself, the lord with five mantras for his body and the five digits for his physical form. The lord is as bright as crystal, has cool lustre and is delightful. He has five faces, ten arms and fifteen eyes.

17-18. He the ancient lord has Iśāna for his coronet; Puruṣa for his face; Aghora for his heart; Vāmadeva for his private parts and Sadya for his foot. He is both Sakala and Niṣkala. The six Śaktis, omniscience, etc. constitute his six limbs.

19. He is infused with the power of the word throbbing in the lotus of his heart; he is bedecked on his left by Manonmanī, his own Śakti.

20. With reference to the six entities, Mantra, etc., I shall explain the Praṇava-souled lord in his composite and personal nature.

21. The order of instruction shall be mentioned at first. Please hear, O sage, indeed the four castes are well known in the world.

22. The Vedas enjoin rituals for the first three castes. The Śūdras are excluded since their only activity is service.

23-25. Nothing; but the holy rites of the Śrutis and Smṛtis shall be performed by the first three castes in their respective stairs of life. Following the conduct of life enjoined for different stages and castes, excellent sages have attained Śāyujya form of liberation.

26. The Śruti says that the sages are satisfied by Brahmacarya; the gods by sacrifice; and the Pitṛs by progeny.

27-28. Freed from this threefold debt and entering the Vānaprastha stage the devotee shall bear both pleasure and pain, chillness and heat; shall subjugate the senses, control the diet. The ascetic shall practise restraint and other means of Yoga so that the intellect becomes stable and unswerving.

29-30. Thus he becomes pious and free from activities. After eschewing all activites he shall be devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. That alone bestows the fruit of living liberation and identity with Śiva. It is most excellent and renders free from aberrations those who have restrained their minds.

31. I shall explain different modes of the same with a desire for blessing the worlds. O intelligent one, it is out of affection for you that I do so. Please listen with attention.

32. The ascetic shall approach a preceptor, the most excellent among intelligent ones; the preceptor who knows the principles of sacred scriptures and has mastered the Vedāntic knowledge.

33. After approaching him in accordance with the idles, the ascetic devotee shall please him assiduously by obeisances, prostration etc.

34. The preceptor is Śiva and Śiva is the preceptor. After deciding this in mind he shall express his intention.

35-36. Permitted by the preceptor he shall subsist on milk diet and perform rites for twelve days. On the fourth or the tenth day in the bright lunar fortnight he shall take his early morning bath. With pious mind, he shall perform his routine. He shall invite the preceptor and begin the Nāndī śrāddha.

37-39. The Viśvedevas are Satyavasus. In the Śrāddha of the gods, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, in that of the sages, those born of celestial damsels from human beings, in that of the Pitṛs, Vasu, Rudra and Āditya, in that of human beings, the four sages, Sanaka and others, in that of the Bhūtas the five great elements are included.

40. The group of sense-organs consists of the eye, etc; that of the Bhūtas is of four types. In the Pitṛ Śrāddha the father, grandfather and greatgrandfather are included.

41-42. In the Mātṛśrāddha, the mother, grandmother and the greatgrandmother are mentioned. In the Śrāddha of the Ātman the four, viz. himself father, grandfather and greatgrandfather and their wives are mentioned. In the Śrāddha of mother’s father the three ancestors of the maternal grandfather are mentioned.

43. In every Śrāddha a pair of brahmins shall be invited and their feet washed. He shall then perform the Ācamana assiduously.

44-46. He shall pray thus:—“May the dust-particles from the feet of the brahmins sanctify me. They are the cause of prosperity. They destroy all adversities and constitute the bridge on the vast ocean of worldly existence. Like suns they remove the pitch darkness of distress. Like divine cows they meet the desired objects. They are the embodied holy waters in every pilgrim centre.” After praying thus he shall bow and prostrate with eight limbs touching the ground. He shall then face the cast and remember the lotus-feet of Śiva.

47-49. Wearing the Pavitra in the finger and the sacred thread on the shoulders, being pure and steady he shall perform the Prāṇāyāma thrice. Mentioning the Tithi etc. he shall continue—“As an ancillary rite to my formal renunciation I have to perform eight Śrāddhas beginning with the Śrāddha of Viśvedevas and ending with the Śrāddha of Mātāmaha. I shall perform these with the rules governing the festive rites, with your permission.” After proclaiming the intention he shall cast off the Darbha grass to the north.

50. He shall touch water and stand up to begin the formal invitation to the brahmins. With the Pavitra in the hand he shall touch the hands of the brahmins and proclaim:

51-53. “For the sake of Viśvedevas I invite you both and conclude. You shall favour me.” This is the procedure throughout. After this he shall draw ten Maṇḍalas beginning from the north. He shall worship these with Akṣatas and ask the Brahmins to stand there.

54-55. He shall utter the names of Viśvedevas in the vocative case. “Here is water for washing the feet”. Saying this, he shall offer water from the Darbha grass, flowers and Akṣata as Pādya. He shall wash his own feet too faring the north. He shall perform Ācamana and ask them to sit in pairs on their seats.

56-57. “Here is the seat to the brahmin in the form of Visvedevas.” Saying this he shall offer a few Darbha grass blades. He himself shall stand holding the Darbha grass and say, “In this Nāndīmukhaśrāddha for the sake of Visvedevas I invite both of you to be present.”

58. Then he shall say “Both of you shall accept my invitation.” The two brahmins shall say “We accept.”

59. He shall request the brahmins—“May you bless me. Let the rite be complete. Let me attain my desires.”

60-63. He shall then place cooked rice and other foodstuffs in well washed plantain leaf cups. They shall be covered with Darbha grass. He shall sprinkle wain over them. The leafcups shall be lifted up by the hands. He shall offer the food-stuffs into fire saying “Svāhā.” The names of the deities shall be used in the dative case. The Mantras “the earth is your vessel,”[2] etc. shall be repeated. After worship the devotee shall say “Na Mama” (not for me). Everywhere this is the procedure.

64. “I salute lord Śiva accompanied by Ambā, the recollection of whose feet and the repctition of whose names makes deficient rites perfect and complete.

65-67. After repeating the prayer ho shall say. I have completed Nandīmukhaśrāddha. Confirm that I have done it. He shall propitiate the leading brahmins, let some water drop from his hand, bow to them, stand up and say to them. let the food be even as nectar. Then with palms joined in reverence he shall pray with pleasure.

68. He shall recite Śrīrudra, Camaka, and Puruṣa sūktas duly. After meditating on Sadāśiva he shall repeat the Japas of the five Brahmans.

69. At the end of the meal he shall recite Rudra Sūkta. He shall ask forgiveness of the brahmins. After food he shall offer water.

70. Washing his feet and performing the Ācamana he shall approach the Piṇḍas. Facing the cast he shall sit silently and perform Prāṇāyāma thrice.

71-72. “I shall perform the rite of offering the Piṇḍas as an ancillary to the Nāndīmukhaśrāddha.” After deciding thus he shall draw nine lines from south to north. He shall place twelve Darbhas with their tips to the east over the lines. These are the five places for the gods Dakṣa and others.

73-75. In these places the akṣata grains and water shall be offered silently. In the other places he shall sprinkle water with the mantra “Atra Pitaraḥ”,[3] and offer the Akṣata grains and water for worship. The names of different gods shall be mentioned with the dative case ending. Three Piṇḍas shall be offered to each in the five places.

76. The Piṇḍas shall be given separately along with Akṣatas for the full efficacy of the Pitṛs as explained in the Gṛhyasūtra.

77-79. He shall meditate on lord Sadāśiva in the lotus of the heart reciting the verse. By remembering his lotus-like feet he shall give fees to the Brahmins according to his ability. He shall ask forgiveness and bid them farewell. He shall give Piṇḍas to the cows or cast off into running water. After performing “Puṇyāhavācana” he shall take meals with his kinsmen.

80-81. After getting up early in the morning next day the devotee shall perform his routine. He shall observe fast, shave hair except in the armpits and the private parts. He shall cut the moustache, the nails and shave his head.

82. He shall take bath and wear a washed and dried cloth. He shall be pure in thought and body. Silently he shall perform Ācamana twice and apply ashes duly and perform the Puṇyāhavācana.

83. Except the materials for the homa and the articles of gift for the preceptor—because they are naturally pure, every other article shall be sprinkled with holy water.

84. He shall make gift to brahmins especially to devotees and to Śiva in the form of preceptor.

85-87. He shall give cloths and the fee also. He shall prostrate before him. He shall take the loin-cloth, its string, staff and the articles for homa—sacrificial twigs etc. He shall go to sea-shore or a mountain or a river-bank or a Śiva temple or a forest or a cowpen. He shall sit on a good place and perform Ācamana. He shall make his mind pure like a flower bunch.

88-90. He shall repeat Vedic mantras along with Oṃ and recite “Namo Brahmaṇe”[4] etc. thrice. Then he shall repeat the mantra “Agnimīle purohitam”,[5] perform the great rite and repeat. “Agnirvai”[6] “Iṣe tvorje tvā”, then repeat the Mantras”Agna āyāhi vītaye”,[7] “Śanno devīrabhiṣṭaye”[8] along with Ma, Ya, Ra, Sa, Ta, Ja, Bha, Na, La, and Ga.

91-92. This shall continue for five years. This is the tradition. Then he shall repeat the text of grammar, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta. He shall repeat the names of the gods as well.

93-96. He shall perform the Japa of Brahmā, Indra, Sun, moon, Prajāpati Jñānātman and Paramatman with Praṇava in the beginning, namaḥ in the end using the dative case. He shall take some flour of fried grain, cat it with Praṇava, perform Ācamana twice, wash his hands, repeat the mantras mentioned hereafter. He shall repeat the names of Ātman, Antarātman, Jñānātman beginning with Praṇava and ending with Namaḥ. After repeating the mantra of Ātman he shall repeat the mantra of Prajāpati.

97-98. He shall then perform the Japa ending with Svāha. Repeating Praṇava he shall take in milk, curd and ghee separately thrice and perform Ācamana twice. With the mind steady he shall sit firmly facing the east and perform prāṇāyāma thrice in accordance with the rules.

Footnotes and references:


Ibid. 2. 9. 1.


Āpastamba-gṛhyasūtra 8 21. 8.


Vājasaneyisaṃhitā (of Śuklayajurveda) 2. 31.


AB. 8.9.5.


RV. 1.1.1.


Vājasaneyisaṃhitā (of Śuklayajurveda) 1.1.22; 7.30; 14.22.


Ibid 11.46.


Ibid 26.12.

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