The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “instruction in perfect wisdom” 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 31 - Instruction in perfect wisdom

Vāyu said:—

1. O brahmins, it is but proper that you have had your doubts prompted by sufficient reasons. Mere desire to know does not bring about atheism in those with good intellects.

2. I shall mention authoritative testimonies in this context quelling your delusions. The wickedness of the wicked is due to the absence of the grace of the lord.

3. It is clear and certain that nothing can be done without the grace of Śiva, the perfect and supreme soul.

4. Innate good nature alone is the sufficient ground for the lord’s benediction; nothing can be blessed without innate good nature.

5. The universe in the form of Paśu and Pāśa, has to be blessed. The lord endowed with the authority blesses the universe.

6. The lord, the commander blesses everything always. If a means is adopted for that, how does Śiva become dependant?

7. No blessing can be independent of one that is blessed. Hence the meaning of the word freedom is not characterised by ‘not depending on another’.

8. That which is to be blessed is accepted as ‘depending on another’. Without blessing, the enjoyment of pleasures or liberation cannot take place.

9. Embodied Ātmans too stand in the category of those who are to be blessed. Śiva’s blessing is construed in the form of driving out their ignorance. There is nothing in Śiva influenced by ignorance.

10. Śiva in the form of the idol, whereby despite its beings Saguṇa the Niṣkala is realised, is called Śaivamūrti only in a figurative use.

11. Actually in the Niṣkala form Śiva is not the cause of the universe. In the Sakala form too he has not been seen by any.

12. The state of being understood through the testimonies alone indicates his nature. Merely on account of this it should not be treated with indifference without the implication.

13. Some form, intense with the similarity of Ātman, is Śiva’s idol. The other, the great one, the Ātman of the Mūrti is its implication.

14. Just as fire cannot be obtained without its being, mounted in the twigs so also Śiva is not known or understood without its being superimposed in the idol.

15. If some one says “Bring fire,” only the burning twig is brought. The fire by itself is not brought. In the same way Śiva is to be worshipped in the form of the idol.

16. That is why an idol is used in the worship of Śiva, for what is done unto the idol is what is done unto Śiva himself.

17. In the form of different idols, phallic etc. and particularly in Arcā (offerings of flowers etc.) Śiva is worshipped by us.

18. Just as the Ātman of the idol is blessed by the great Ātman so also we, the paśus, are blessed by śiva stationed in the Mūrtyātman.

19. The Mūrtyātmans, Sadāśiva and others are presided over by Śiva for blessing the worlds.

20. It is for the enjoyment of pleasures and for salvation in particular, that Śiva’s connection with the Mūrtyātmans in the form of Tattva and Atattva is accepted.

21. Enjoyment of pleasures is in the nature of the ultimate transformation of the Karmans either by way of happiness or by way of misery. There is no Karman in Śiva and hence of what nature can his enjoyment be?

22. Śiva blessess every one. He does not curb any. It is impossible to attribute to Śiva those faults which are usually present in those who kill.

23. The instances of killing and curbing pointed out with regard to Brahma and others are those of the activities of Śrīkaṇṭhamūrti performed for the welfare of the worlds.

24. Surely Śrīkaṇṭha has the overlordship of the universe. Śiva presides over the Mūrti Śrīkaṇṭha in the course of his divine sport.

25. Only the gods and others who were faulty were restrained or slain by him as described above. Thereby the gods became sinners and the people free from ailments.

26. Restraining or killing as such is not declared despicable by the learned. That is why the punishment meted out by kings to those who deserve it, is commended.

27. If he does not have that which is achieved through the suzerainty of the whole class of effects how can he rule over the universe?

28. The wish of the lord comprises the establishment of rules and conditions. Brahmā is the commandment. His order is the mode of direction such as, “This shall be done. This shall not be done.”

29. The characteristic of a man of good nature is the strict adherence to his directives; the opposite thereof is that of the non-saintly one.

30. If good nature is to be preserved the evil one is to be eschewed. It is quelled by the expedients of Sāma etc. If other means fail punishment alone is the means.

31. This is the characteristic of what is beneficent viz. chastisement ending with disciplinary measures. What is contrary to this is called maleficent.

32. The lord is the standard example of those who perpetually abide by what is beneficent. How can he be condemned by good men for curbing and killing the evil ones alone.

33. Perpetrators of improper actions are to be decried and despised by a judicious person. Improper action is that which afflicts and harasses the world.

34. Every act of curbing and restraining is not attended with hatred. A father who trains his son even by curbing and restraining ḥim does not hate him.

35. There is bound to be some ruthlessness in him who curbs or slays those worthy of it even by standing detached.

36. The lord does not injure others though guilty, otherwise. Of course, he injures the ignorant by adopting neutrality.

37. Hence we shall say that he who inflicts injury ultimately painful is ruthless. Thus a few insist upon this condition. Others do not.

38. Ruthlessness cannot be attributed to the surgeon who operates upon the patient. The inducing factor is kindness alone.

39. Even kindness to violent enemies is not conducive to ultimate good. He who is kind to such persons is ruthless though his ruthlessness is concealed by aft illusory kindness.

40. Even neglect and indifference for the opponents who ought to be protected, results in default. He who ought to be protected perishes immediately if neglected despite the capacity of the protector.

41. He who neglects the man worthy of being protected on considering the apparent defaults though he observes his plight is in effect ruthless.

42. Hence it is not generally agreed that kindliness is conducive to good in every respect. What is admitted is the performance of what is befitting. Everything else is unapproved.

43-45. In reality there are the defects of passion, etc., in the Mūrtyātmans (Sadāśiva, Brahmā and others). Still the defects belong to them alone and not to Śiva. There may be flaw in the copper put in fire but due to its contact fire does not fade. If impure things are consigned to fire they do not make the fire impure. Some impure things become pure due to their contact with fire. Similarly Śiva does not become impure due to the contact with the Ātmans that are to be purified.

46. The Ātman alone is purified through the contact with Śiva. If the iron-rod is put in fire and heated, the burning is that of the fire, not of the iron-rod.

47. The prosperity, glory etc. of the Mūrtyātmans is really that of lord Śiva and not of the Ātmans. It is the fire, not the fuel, that blazes upwards.

48-50. The state of being the coal belongs to the wood and not to the fire. Similarly Śivatva is imposed on wood, stone and clay. But the attributes Maitrī, etc., are secondary and they act differently. They are conducive to both good and evil to those who are endowed with qualities. What is both secondary and non-secondary is not wholly conducive to good or evil.

51. Learned men do not say that the meaning of Anugraha is secondary. But the liberation from worldly existence (saṃsāra) is in the form of Ājñā and is beneficent.

52. Carrying out his Ājñā is beneficent. What is beneficent is Blessing. He who employs everything in what is beneficent is the cause of blessing to all.

53. The sense of the word Upakāra (benevolence) is also Anughraha. Since that too is of beneficent nature Śiva is all-benevolent.

54-55. Everything in the form of sentient and non-sentient is engaged in what is beneficent? But obstructed by their innate nature all do not get the benefit simultaneously. The sun spreads his rays on all the lotuses impartially. But all the flowers do not bloom simultaneously; they do so in accordance with their innate nature.

56-57. Even the innate nature of the entities is the cause of what is destined to be. The innate nature does not transform that what perishes. The contact with fire melts only gold and not the coal. Śiva liberates those whose ignorance is ripe and not the others.

58. What is capable of becoming does not become so by itself without conception. But the maker needs no such conception and is free perpetually.

59. Śiva the blesser is innately pure but the Ātmans (individual souls) are naturally impure.

60. Otherwise how is it that they invariably undergo worldly existence and do not merge into Śiva? Being infested by Karman and Māyā is called worldly existence (saṃsāra) by the learned.

61. There is sufficient cause for this that this infestation is for individual souls and not for Śiva. That cause is the personal but not extraneous dirt.

62. Should it be extraneous it may happen to anyone through any cause. But this cause is single due to its nature not being variegated.

63-64. Though the Ātman-hood is common some are bound and some liberated. Among those in bondage some have differing degrees of knowledge and eminence due to their being inclined towards abstinence and enjoyment. Some attain the status of identicality with the lord. Some attain the state of nearness.

65. Among those who have attained identicality, some are Śivas. They are stationed on the top of the Adhvas (pathways). Maheśvaras are stationed in the middle; Rudras in the lower region.

66-67. In the vicinity too the three are stationed beyond Māyā: the Ātman is stationed below; the Antarātman is stationed:n the middle and the Paramātman is stationed beyond. They are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara. Some Vasus too are stationed in the region of Paramātman.

68. Some are stationed in the region of Antarātman, some in the region of Ātman. In the region of Śāntyatīta Śaivas are stationed and in the Śānta region the Māheśvaras are stationed.

69. Just as Raudras are stationed in Vidyā and the Vaiṣṇavas in Pratiṣṭhā, so also the Ātmans. Brahmā and Brahmā-born are stationed in Nivṛtti.

70. The eight groups of Deva-Beings are the chief ones. The human beings constitute the middling. The five Beings birdes [birds?] etc. constitute the lower ones. Thus there are fourteen Beings.

71-72. The state of being chief or subsidiary shall be known as the dirt of the worldly being. Just as the food we take in has two states, the undigested and the digested, so the dirt too. When it is undigested the men go lower down; when it is digested they go up. Thus the dirt plays its part in the worldly existence (saṃsāra).

73. The individual souls are threefold: those with single dirt, with two dirts and with three dirts. Those with single dirt are the higher ones, those with two dirts the middlings and those with three dirts shall be known meanest. Thus they are stationed in order.

74. Those with three dirts are presided over by those with two dirts and those in turn are presided over by those with single dirt. Thus is the conditioned difference in the universe.

75. Śiva presides over all these, those with single, two and three dirts. Though they are of non-Śiva nature they are presided over by Śiva.

76. Similarly the universe which is not in the nature of Rudra is presided over by Rudras. The Mahābhūmi, ending with the cosmic Egg, is presided over by Śatarudra etc.

77. The atmosphere ending with Māyā is pervaded in order by the lords of gods of the size of the thumb all round.

78. The heaven ending with Mahāmāyā is presided over by the lords of worlds, Vāyu, etc., which are stationed within the Adhvas and whose ends are not resorted to. (?)

79. They are the squatters in heaven, atmosphere and earth. They are the gods observing the rites of the gods.

80. Thus functions the ailment of worldly existence (saṃsāra) with the three dirts and their pathological reasons separately, whether ripe or unripe.

81. The medicine for this ailment is the perfect knowledge of Śiva and nothing else. The physician is the lord Śiva himself who heals the sufferer.

82. In this regard no doubt need be entertained—“Śiva can liberate the souls without subjecting them to misery. Why does he then subject them to misery?”

83. It is certain that the entire worldly existence is misery itself. How can misery be non-misery? The innate nature cannot be otherwise.

84. A patient does not become non-patient merely because the physician administers medicine. The physician redeems the patient from the sickness through the medicines.

85. Similarly, through the administration of the medicine in the form of his Ājñā, Śiva liberates the souls from misery—the souls innately dirty and innately miserable.

86. This inequality like the physician is not the cause of the ailment. So Śiva is the cause of worldly existence need not be a symbol of defect.

87. When misery is innately acquired how can Śiva be its cause? The dirt is inborn in men. It is that which makes them undergo the sufferings of worldly existence.

88. The dirt which is the cause of worldly existence (saṃsāra), the insentient Māyā, etc., cannot function by itself without the proximity of Siva.

89. The wise say just as the magnetic stone causes the movement of the iron filings by its mere proximity, so also Śiva causes the movement of the world.

90. It is not possible to avoid the proximity of Sat without its cause. Moreover the presiding deity Śiva is even unknown to the universe.

91. Nothing functions without Śiva. Everything is induced by him. Still he is not deluded.

92. His Śakti in the form of Ājñā is the all-round restraining factor. This universe is perpetually covered over by it. Still he is not defiled.

93. This is ruled over even from the beginning. He is the lord. His ruling is his Ājñā. Still he is not defiled.

94. He who considers otherwise due to delusion is evil-minded. He perishes and that too due to the power of his Śakti. Still he is not defiled.

95. In the meantime an unembodied voice was heard from the sky. “Satyam (Truth), Amṛtam (nectar), Saumyam” (gentle), Om Amen. This sound came out clearly.

96. Then the sages were surprised and delighted; their doubts were quelled. They bowed to the lord, the wind-god.

97. Although he had cleared their doubts he thought that their knowledge was not firmly established. So he said:

Vāyu said:—

98. Knowledge is of two types: indirect and direct. They say that the former is unsteady and the latter is stable.

99. What is acquired by reasoning and instructions is the indirect knowledge. The direct knowledge results from the practice of rites.

100. Coming to the conclusion that salvation is not possible without direct knowledge, strive assiduously for the acquisition of practice.