The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “description of creation (srishti) (1)” 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 10 - The description of creation (sṛṣṭi) (1)

Vāyu said:—

1. At the outset, at the bidding of Īśvara the secondary elements beginning with the cosmic intellect and ending with Viśeṣa came into being from the Avyakta presided over by Puruṣa.

2. Then from these, the three deities Rudra, Viṣṇu and Brahmā were born as the cause of all.

3-4. Maheśvara bestows on these the power to pervade all the worlds unobstructed anywhere, unequalled perfect wisdom, the perpetual Siddhis of Aṇimā etc; and the state of being the cause of activities of creation (sṛṣṭi), sustenance and dissolution.

5. In another Kalpa he conferred on each the activities of creation, sustenance and dissolution in order that they may not have any mutual rivalry due to delusion of intellect.

6. These three are born from one another, sustain one another, flourish one another, respect and follow one another.

7. Somewhere Brahmā, somewhere Viṣṇu and somewhere Rudra are praised. However their glory docs not diminish.

8. Only impetuous fools censure them. Undoubtedly they become demons and ghosts.

9. Lord Śiva who is beyond the three Guṇas, who is divided into four units, who is all-in-all and the support of all is the cause of creation.

10. The Atman who has created the universe sportively remains as the lord of three deities as well as of Prakṛti and Puruṣa.

11. He alone is their support, he who is greater than all, who is supreme, eternal, devoid of attributes and is their Ātman and their presiding deity.

12. Hence he alone is Prakṛti, Puruṣa, Sadāśiva, Bhava, Viṣṇu and Brahmā. Everything is identical with Śiva.

13. In the beginning were born the cosmic intellect, the great principle. When it was agitated the ego was born. The ego was split into three.[1]

14. The ego split into the gross and subtle elements and the sense-organs. When the ego had the Sattva predominant the Sāttvika creation took place.

15-16. The secondary creation took place simultaneously. The five sense-organs, the five organs of activity and the eleventh the mind, originated. The mind is both an organ of knowledge and of activity. When the ego becomes associated with Tamas, the Bhūtatanmātras are born.

17' Since it is the cause of Bhūtas it is called Bhūtādi. From this is born the Śabdatanmātra, from this the ether.

18. From the ether the Sparśatanmātra, from it Vāyu, from Vāyu the Rūpatanmātra, from this the Tejas, from Tejas the Rasatanmātra is born.

19. From Rasa the water; from this the Gandha Tanmātra is born, from this the Pṛthivī, from these elements the mobile and immobile beings are created.

20. Since they are presided over by Puruṣa and blessed by Avyakta the principles beginning with Mahat and ending with Viśeṣa generate the cosmic egg.[2]

21. When thus the activities of Brahmā are fulfilled Brahmā becomes flourished in that Egg.

22. He is the first embodied soul, called Puruṣa. He is the first creator of living beings. Brahmā thus existed in the beginning.

23. From him was born the intellect, the cause of virtue and prosperity, with the characteristics of wisdom and detachment.

24-25. Whatever is wished for by the mind is born of Avyakta. He functions in the three worlds, dividing himself into three because he has all in his control, possesses all the attributes and is dependent on Avyakta. In these three forms he creates, supports and annihilates.

26. He is four-faced as creator; as destroyer he is Kāla and as Puruṣa he has thousand heads. The self-born has thus three states.

27. As Brahmā he has Sattva and Rajas, as Kāla Tamas and Rajas, as Viṣṇu he has Sattva alone. Thus the increase of Guṇas in the lord is threefold.

28. As Brahmā he creates the worlds, as Kāla he condenses; as Puruṣa he sustains; he is indifferent. Thus the activity of the lord is threefold.

29. Since he is divided into three he is called Triguṇa. Since he has split himself into four he is glorified as Caturvyūha.

30. Since he is the beginning he is called Ādideva; since he is unborn he is called Aja; since he protects the subjects he is called Prajāpati.

31. The golden Meru is the foetus of that great Ātman; the oceans constitute the water of the womb and the mountains constitute the outer skin of the womb.

32. All these worlds in this universe, the moon, sun, stars, planets and Vāyu are in this cosmic egg.

33. The egg is enveloped with waters ten times bigger than it. The waters are enveloped by Tejas ten times bigger.

34. The Tejas is enveloped by Vāyu ten times bigger. Vāyu is enveloped by Ākāśa and Ākāśa is enveloped by Bhūtādi.

35. The Bhūtādi is enveloped by the Mahat. The Mahat is enveloped by Avyakta. Thus the egg is enveloped by even coverings.

36. O excellent brahmins, eight Prakṛtis, the causes of creation, sustenance and destruction are stationed covering each of these.

37. Thus born of one another, the effects and their causes sustain one another supporting and being supported.

38. Just as the tortoise spreads its limbs first and then withdraws them, so the Avyakta creates the beings and then withdraws them.

39. Everything originating from Avyakta is born in this order. When the time of dissolution arrives it gets dissolved in the reverse order.

40. The Guṇas become equal and unequal due to Kāla. Dissolution takes place when there is equilibrium of the Guṇas. When this is upset, creation takes place.

41. Thus this egg, large and thick, is the source of origin of Brahmā. It is called Brahmā’s sphere; Brahmā is the lord of this.

42. There are thousands and crores of such eggs stationed at the sides, above and below since Pradhāna is present everywhere.

43. In the different places there are four-faced Brahmas, Viṣṇus and Rudras created by Pradhāna with the presence of Śiva.

44. The lord is beyond the manifest. The egg is born of the unmanifest. From that egg is born lord Brahmā and the worlds are created by him.

45. The primary creation of Pradhāna is without the intervention of the cosmic intellect. The ultimate dissolution is effected sportively by the lord alone at the end.

46. What is called as the unmanifest cause is Pradhāna. Brahmā is the progeny of Prakṛti. The Pradhāna has neither beginning nor middle nor end. Its prowess is infinite. It is white and deep red. It is associated with Puruṣa.

47. When the Rajas predominates it becomes generative. It creates the eight secondary tattvas in the beginning, which cause flourishing of the worlds. In the end it devours them.

48. The stability and the subsequent operation of the causes projected by Prakṛti take place by the thought of supreme lord whose prowess is not effected by Prakṛti.

Footnotes and references:


On the scheme of creation see P. 1078 note.


See P. 246 note 208.