The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “origin of the sacred lore” 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 1 - Origin of the sacred lore

Note: Most of the verses of this chapter are identical on form and content with those of the last chapter in the Vidyeśvara-saṃhitā.

Vyāsa said:—

1. Obeisance to Śiva accompanied by Umā, Gaṇas and his sons, the lord of Prakṛti and Puruṣa and the cause of creation, sustenance and annihilation.

2-3. I seek refuge in Śiva, whose power is unequalled, whoso glory spreads everywhere, whose lordship and potency are said to be natural, who is unborn, who is the creator of the universe, eternal, auspicious and the unchanging great Ātman.

4-5. Noble sages engaged in truthful rites, highly fortunate and dignified performed a great sacrifice in the Naimiṣa[1] forest, a virtuous spot and a holy centre of many sacrifices at the confluence[2] of the Gaṅgā and Kālindī, a pathway that leads to Brahmaloka.[3]

6-9. On hearing that the sages of good rites wore performing the sacrifice, Sūta the most excellent of Paurāṇikas came to that place, Sūta who was a noble disciple of the intelligent Veda Vyāsa the son of Satyavatī, who was very intelligent and famous in the world, who knew the faults and merits of syllogistic statements. He could satisfy even the queries of Bṛhaspati. He was an expert in narrating the stories of charming anecdotes. He knew the proper time for everything and the policy to bo adopted. He was a poet.

10. On seeing Sūta come, the sages were delighted in their minds. They received him and worshipped him suitably.

11. Accepting their welcome and worship he took the proper seat offered by them.

12. By their contact with him the sages of pious souls became eager and impatient to hear the Purāṇic lore.

13. Worshipping him with words of praise the sages sat in front of him and spoke.

14. O omniscient Romaharṣaṇa, the principal devotees of Śiva of great fortune and keen intellect, it is due to the weightiness of our good luck that you have come here now.

15-17. You have directly acquired the Purāṇic lore from Vyāsa, Hence you are a repository of wonderful tales, even as the ocean of precious gems. There is nothing in the three worlds past, present or future, which is not known to you. Fortunately you have come here to visit us. It does not behove you to go in vain without conferring blessing on us.

18. Please narrate to us the holy Purāṇa the storehouse of good stories and the essence of the Vedānta.

19. Thus requested by the sages, the habitual reciters of the Vedic texts, Sūta spoke auspicious words full of sweet and rational meaning.

Sūta said:—

20. I have been honoured, blessed and urged by you all. Why shall I not then expound clearly the Purāṇa, held in esteem by the sages.

21-22. After saluting Śiva, Pārvatī, Skanda, Gaṇeśa, Nandin and Vyāsa the son of Satyavatī, I shall narrate the extremely meritorious Purāṇa which is on a par with the Vedas, which being an ocean of Śaivitc knowledge directly yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

23. It is embellished with the topics of the Āgamas full of rational meaning. In the context of the Śveta Kalpa[4] it was narrated by Vāyu formerly.

24. Understand well even as I narrate the various sacred lores, the due order of the Purāṇas and their origin.

25. The sacred lore consists of fourteen texts viz., the six Aṅgas, the four Vedas, Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, Purāṇas and the Dharma Śāstras.

26. There are eighteen secular VidyāsĀyurveda Dhanurveda, Gāndharvaveda etc. ending with Arthaśāstra.

27. Śruti mentions that the original exponent and poet of the eighteen Vidyās, each having its own individual path, is the trident-bearing lord himself.

28. Indeed he is the lord of the universe. At the outset, with the desire of creating the universe, he created Brahmā, as his son.

29. To his eldest son Brahmā, the cause of the universe, Śiva gave these lores in the beginning in order to facilitate the creation of the universe.

30. He created Viṣṇu for the protection, of even Brahmā himself and endowed him with the power of protection.

31. Purāṇa, the first among the Śāstras, was learnt by Brahmā who had acquired the lore and began the creation of the subjects.

32. The Vedas came out of his mouths. The Śāstras too had their origin from him.

33-34. When the people could not follow the big sacred texts, at the instance of Viśveśvara, lord Viṣṇu the sustainer and the soul of the universe incarnated on the earth at the end of Dvāpara Yuga, in order to abridge them. He walked about the earth in the name of Vyāsa.

35. O Brahmins, in every Dvāpara Yuga the Vedas are classified by him. The Purāṇas and other texts are written by him.

36. In this Dvāpara age he was born of Satyavatī in the name of Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana as fire from Araṇi.

37. He abridged and classified the Vedas into four groups. He is known as Vedavyāsa.

38. Purāṇas extending to a hundred crore Ślokas were condensed by him into four hundred thousand Ślokas. Even now in the Devaloka they have the original number.

39. Even if a brahmin knows the four Vedas with their Aṅgas and the Upaniṣads he is not an expert if he does not know the Purāṇas.

40. The knowledge of the Vedas shall he enlarged by Itihāsa and the Purāṇas. The Vedas are afraid of a man of deficient knowledge thinking “This man will deceive me”.

41. Purāṇas have five characteristics[5]—creation, subsidiary creation, genealogy, manvantaras and the chronological account of kings, these are described in every Purāṇa.

42. The sages reckon ten Purāṇas and eight big Purāṇas.

43. Brāhma, Pādma, Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Bhāgavata, Bhaviṣya. Nāradīya and Mārkaṇḍeya are the eight big Purāṇas.

44-45. Āgneya, Brahmavaivarta, Liṅga, Vārāha, Skānda, Vāmana, Kūrma, Matsya, Garuḍa and Brahmāṇḍa are the ten small Purāṇas. These are the eighteen Purāṇas in order. Śivapurāṇa, the fourth in the list belongs to Śiva and is conducive to the achievement of all objects.

46. It contains a hundred thousand verses. It is divided into twelve Saṃhitās. It is created by Śiva. All sacred rites are mentioned therein.

47. Men are classified under three castes in accordance with their duties. Hence he who wishes for liberation shall resort to Śiva alone.

48. Even the gods can attain liberation by resorting to him alone and not otherwise.

49. What I mentioned as the Śivapurāṇa on a par with the Vedas, know its creations as I briefly explain.

50-56. There are twelve Saṃhitās: Vidyeśvara, Rudra, Vaināyaka, Auma, Mātṛ, Rudraikādaśaka, Kailāsa, Śatarudra, Koṭirudra, Sahasrakoṭirudra, Vāyavīya and Dharmapurāṇa. Vidyeśvara contains ten thousand verses. There are eight thousand verses in each of the four—Raudra, Vaināyaka, Auma and Mātṛpurāṇa. Rudraikādaśa contains thirteen thousand verses; Kailāsa six thousand; Śatarudra three thousand; Koṭirudra nine thousand; Sahasrakoṭirudra eleven thousand; Vāyavīya four thousand and Dharma contains twelve thousand verses.

57. Thus Śivapurāṇa contains a hundred thousand verses. This Purāṇa, the essence of the Vedas, yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

58. Śiva Purāṇa the fourth one was abridged into seven Saṃhitās with twenty four thousand verses.

59-60. The first Saṃhitā is Vidyeśvara; the second Rudrasaṃhitā; the third Śatarudra. Koṭirudra is the fourth. Umāsaṃhitā is the fifth; the sixth is Kailāsa. The seventh is Vāyavīya. These are only seven compendiums.

61-64. Vidyeśvara contains two thousand verses, Rudra ten thousand five hundred; Śatarudra two thousand one hundred and eighty; Koṭirudra two thousand two hundred and forty; Umā one thousand eight hundred and forty; Kailāsa one thousand two hundred and forty and the Vāyavīya four thousand verses. Thus is the holy text of Śivapurāṇa.

65. I shall now begin the Vāyavīya containing four thousand verses and consisting of two parts.

66. This excellent Śāstra shall not be mentioned to one who is not conversant with the Vedas nor to one who has no faith nor to one who does not know the Purāṇas.

67. It shall be given to a tested virtuous disciple uncontaminated by malice. He shall be a devotee of Śiva and a follower of the Śaiva cult.

68. Obeisance to the holy sage Vyāsa of brilliant splendour whose grace has endowed me with the Purāṇic lore.

Footnotes and references:


See p. 35 note 27.


See p. 76 note?.


A particular region is intended to be meant here.


On Kalpa see P. 1070 note.


On the characteristics, nomenclature and number of the Purāṇas see Introduction to Vol. I.