The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “duties and rites up to the tenth day after the death of ascetics” 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 21 - The duties and rites up to the tenth day after the death of ascetics

Vāmadeva said:—

1-2. There are no crematory rites for the liberated ascetics. I have heard that they are buried. O Kārttikeya, my preceptor, please mention that rite lovingly. There is none in the three worlds who can explain the same.

3-4. O lord, son of Śiva, considering me as your disciple please tell me lovingly the mode of departure for those who are liberated from the corporal cage after realising perfect identity with the Brahman and who have attained their goal after liberation through the path of Upāsanā.

5. On hearing the request of the sage, the son of Śakti, destroyer of demons spoke about the great secret which had been heard from Śiva by Bhṛgu.

6. It is this secret, O sage, that was explained to Bhṛgu, the devotee of Śiva by the omniscient Pināka-bearing lord himself.

7. O Brahmin, I shall explain it to you. It shall not be given to any or every one indiscriminately. It shall be given to a calm disciple equipped with devotion to Śiva.

8. If there is any ascetic who has quit his body while in trance with his devotion for Śiva he becomes Śiva himself.

9. If there is such a person devoid of concentration who docs not attain Samādhi, I shall mention the means of remedy for him. Listen attentively.

10. On hearing from his preceptor the lore of Vedānta and Āgamas along with the explanation he shall practise Yoga by means of Yama, Niyama etc.

11. O sage, practising it regularly the ascetic shall be attached to Praṇava and be well-engaged in the meditation on Śiva.

12. If he is devoid of courage due to physical weakness, he shall remember Śiva with specific desires and cast off his worn-out body.

13. O sage, there are five deities in the forms of messengers who by the favour of Sadāśiva are put in the charge of Nandin.

14-16. One of them has the shape of a self-killer (fire). Another has a mass of splendour as body. A third is the presiding deity of the day. The fourth is the presiding deity of the bright half of the month and the fifth one is in the form of the sun’s transit from capricorn to cancer. These five are engaged in blessing. Another set of five deities is also well known: Dhūmrā, Tamasvinī, Rātri, Kṛṣṇapakṣābhimāninī, Dakṣiṇāyana. O great sage Vāmadeva, now listen to their activities.

17. The five deities, O sage, take the souls interested in performing holy rites to the heaven by their merit.

18. After enjoying the pleasures in heaven as mentioned, at the diminution of the merit they return to the human realm and take births as before.

19-20. The deities employed in activities divide the sphere beginning with the earth into five in the order of fire etc. They then take the ascetic to Sadāśiva’s region. Having led him to the honoured feet of the lord, the deities of blessing stand behind the lord.

21-22. On seeing him come, if he is unattached, Sadā-Śiva lord of the gods teaches him the purport of the great mantra; crowns him as the chief of the Gaṇas and gives him a body similar to his. Śiva lord of all, leader of all, blesses him thus.

23-31. The ascetic is decorated with the deer-skin, axe, trident and the gesture of offering boons. It has three eyes. His matted locks shine by the splendour of Gaṅgā and the crescent moon. He is seated on a splendid aerial chariot. He is delegated the power of bestowing all desires. If he is attached the lord blesses him with an aerial chariot having the speed of the mind, capable of going everywhere, shining like a crore of suns, cool like a crore of moons, full of vessels with celestial nectar and divine water, decorated with divine garments, garlands, unguents and ornaments charming with the sounds of dance, music, Mṛdaṅga and other instruments and surrounded by Rudra virgins. When he has enjoyed all pleasures, when his eagerness for enjoyment subsides lord Śiva blesses him imparting to him the purport of the great mantra. He blesses him with immovable trance in the form “I am Śiva, I am perfect”. He blesses him with unrestricted Siddhis capable of creating the sun etc. The Siddhis are in the form of throbbings arising from realisation that he is the slave of Śiva. The preceptor of the world bestows on him the greatest salvation devoid of return even when the life of the lotus-born deity comes to an end.

32. The attainment of this region is the accumulation of all prosperity and glory. It is the highway to salvation, the conclusion of Vedāntas.

33. When the ascetic of good, tradition is slowly dying the other ascetics shall stand around him with their attitude in conformity with their wishes.

34-35. They shall recite the statements beginning with Praṇava and explain their purport with the pious mind. They shall remind him of Śiva the great Nirguṇa splendour and make obeisance to him till he expires.

36. The procedure of obsequies shall be followed. If their bodies are not cremated they are likely to miss the good goal.

37. Since they have renounced all their activities and have resorted to Śiva, if the king defiles their bodies his kingdom will be ruined.

38. The people of that village too will suffer distress. The following procedure shall be taken up to avoid that default.

39. Humbly the king shall begin with “obeisance to Iriṇya”[1] and recite the mantra ending with “obeisance to Āmīvatkas”.[2]

40. Repeating Om in the end he shall complete the worship of the lord. O great sage, this procedure will quell the defect.

41. His sons and relatives shall perform the obsequies according to the rules.

42-43. He shall be bathed with water and worshipped with flowers etc. repeating the mantras of Śrīrudra, Camaka and Rudrasūkta in order. The conch shall be placed before him and he shall be sprinkled with the water therein. A flower shall be placed on the head and his body shall be wiped repeating the Praṇava.

44. The loin-cloth shall be taken off and fresh one shall be tied. His body shall be dusted with the ashes in accordance with the rules.

45. Tripuṇḍra marks shall be applied in accordance with the rules, and a sandal-paste mark shall also be made. The body shall be decorated with flowers and garlands.

46. Repeating the requisite mantras Rudrākṣa garlands shall be worn over the chest, neck, head, arms, wrists and cars in order.

47. After fumigating with incense the body shall be lifted and placed on a rope-swing. It shall be placed on a charming chariot of the form of five Bahmans.

48. The chariot shall be decorated with fragrant flowers and garlands with the five Brahma mantras beginning with Sadyojāta preceded by Om.

49. The body shall be taken round in procession around the village to the accompaniment of dances, music and chanting of Vedic mantras.

50-56. The ascetics shall dig a ditch as deep as the staff in a holy spot near a holy tree on the eastern or northern side. They shall sprinkle it with water repeating the Praṇava and the Vyāhṛtis. They shall spread the leaves of the Śamī tree and flowers with their tips pointing to the north. Above them Darbha grass shall be spread. His seat whether cloth, deerskin or mat of Darbha grass shall be placed over them. The body shall be sprinkled with Pañcagavya with Praṇava and Brahma mantras. It shall be bathed with the water from the conch repeating Rudrasūkta and the Praṇava. A flower shall be placed on the head. Repeating the Svastivācana mantras and Om the body shall be lifted and placed inside the ditch in the Yogic pose facing the east. It shall be decorated with fragrant flowers and fumigated with incense and fragrant gum resin repeating the mantra “O Viṣṇu, protect the Havya”.

57-58. The staff shall be placed in his right hand and the vessel full of water in the left, repeating the mantra “Prajāpate natvadetā”.[3] With the mantra “Brahmaja jñānam Prathamam”[4] etc. his head and with the Rudra Sūkta the middle of the eyebrow shall be touched.

59. The skull shall be split with a coconut repeating the four mantras beginning with “Mā no Mahāntam”[5] etc. Then the ditch shall be filled.

60-61. Touching the place, with the mind dwelling on nothing else, the performer of the obsequies shall repeat the five Brahma mantras and the mantra beginning with “Yo devānām”[6] and ending with “Yaḥ paraḥ sa Maheśvaraḥ” he shall worship Mahādeva, Sāmba, the panacea for the ills of the world, the omniscient, the non-dependent and the blesser of all.

62. Then a mud platform, two Aratnis square and one Aratni high, shall be erected and smeared with cow-dung.

63. A mystic diagram shall be inscribed in the middle and worshipped wilh fragrant flowers, Bilva leaves and Tulasī along with scented raw grains.

64. The waving of the lights fumigating with incense, milk and the food offering shall be offered with Praṇava. The grave shall be circumambulated. They shall them prostrate five times.

65. After repeating the Praṇava twelve times they shall again make obeisance. To every quarter and interstice food offering shall be offered with Praṇava.

66. Thus I have narrated the rites up to the tenth day. O great sage, now listen to the rites of the eleventh clay for ascetics.

Footnotes and references:


VS. 16.43.




VS 10. 20.


Ibid. 13. 3.


Ibid 16. 15.


See P. 1705 note.