The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “rules governing pashupatavrata” 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 33 - Rules governing Pāśupatavrata

The sages said:—

1. O holy lord, we wish to hear of the great Pāśupatavrata on performing which Brahmā and others have become Pāśupatas.

Vāyu said:—

2. I shall tell you the great secret, Pāśupata-vrata that quells all sins. It is mentioned in the upaniṣad Atharvaśiras.

3..The time is the month of Chaitra and the full-moon-day therein. The place is anywhere acceptable to Śiva having good characteristics. It shall be auspicious, say, the garden in a holy centre or a forest.

4-9. There, first of all, on the thirteenth day he shall perform the special worship after taking his bath and performing the daily rites. He shall take the formal permission of the preceptor after bowing to him and honouring him. He shall wear pure white cloths. The sacred thread shall be white. He shall wear a garland of white flowers. White unguent shall be measured over the body. He shall be seated on Darbha grass. He shall hold a handful of Darbha grass, sit facing east or the north. After performing the Prāṇāyāma three times he shall meditate on the lord and the goddess. By way of submitting to them he shall perform the Saṅkalpa saying, “I am performing this Vrata (of Pāśupata) The time limit for this Vrata is till death, or twelve years or six years, or three years or twelve months, or six months or three months or a month or twelve days or six days or three days or one day.

10-11. He shall arrange the sacrificial fire duly as in the Virajāhoma. He shall make the offerings of ghee, sacrificial twigs and caru and perform homa. After the Pūrṇāhūti, deserving the purity of the Tattvas, he shall perform the homa with the five-syllabled mantra and the sacrificial twigs.

12-15. In the course of the sacrifice -he shall think thus—“Let the Tattvas in my body be purified.” The Tattvas are:—The five elements, the five Tanmātras, the five sense-organs of knowledge, the five organs of activity, the seven Dhātus beginning with the skin, the five vital airs beginning with Prāṇa, mind, intellect, ego, the three Guṇas, Prakṛti, Puruṣa, Rāga (passion), Vidyā, Kalā, Niyati, Time, Mayā, pure Vidyā, Maheśvara, Sadāśiva, Śakti and Śiva Tattva.

16. After performing the Homa with the Viraja mantras he is freed from sin. Attaining Śiva’s blessing he is endowed with perfect knowledge.

17. He shall collect cowdung and roll it into balls and repeat the mantras over them. He shall place these into the fire and sprinkle with water. That day he shall take in only the cooked rice soaked in ghee.

18. On the morning of the fourteenth day he shall perform everything as mentioned before. On that day he shall observe fast and thus spend the latter part of the day.

19. On the full moon day also he shall perform similar rites. At the conclusion of the sacrifice the sacred fire shall be extinguished and the ashes gathered assiduously.

20. Thereafter he shall keep matted hair or shave off the hair completely or keep one matted tuft of hair. He shall take bath then. If he is not extremely bashful he shall remain naked thereafter.

21. Or he can wear ochre robes, hide or barks of trees. Only a single cloth or a single bark garment shall be worn. He shall have the staff and the girdle.

22-23. He shall wash the feet and perform Ācamana twice. He shall apply the ashes taken out of the Viraja fire all over his body from head to foot repeating the six mantras beginning with “Agniriti”[1] from the Ātharvaṇa texts.

24. Then in the same way he shall dust the body entirely repeating the Praṇava Oṃ and ‘Śiva’.

25. Then repeating the mantra ‘Triyāyuṣam’ he shall wear Tripuṇḍra marks. He shall realise his own Śiva-hood and perform ‘Śivayoga’.

26. He shall act thus during all the three Sandhyās. This Pāśupata Vrata yields worldly pleasures and salvation dispelling Paśu-hood.

7. Freed from Paśu-hood, the devotee shall worship the phallic image of Śiva.

28-29. If capacity permits, an eight-petalled Padma shall be made in gold embellished with the nine precious gems. The pericarp and the filaments shall be furnished. If the capacity does not permit, a red or a white lotus shall be used. If that is not available, an imaginary lotus shall be conceived.

30. In the middle of the pericarp a small crystal phallic image along with its pedestal shall be kept and worshipped.

31. After installing the phallic image in accordance with the rules with due consecrations the pedestal shall be conceived along with the idol of five faces.

32. The ablution shall be performed with golden vessels, filled with Pañcagavya[2] collected in accordance with one’s capacity.

33-35. The vessels shall contain scents along with camphor, sandal and saffron and these shall be smeared over the phallic image bedecked in ornaments. He shall worship it with Bilva leaves, red, white and blue lotuses, other fragrant flowers, holy and auspicious leaves, Dūrvā grass of various types, in accordance with their availability and the rules of worship.

36. Showing of lights, incense and the food offerings shall be made to the deity. After offering it to the deity the devotee shall be engaged in auspicious activities.

37. In this Vrata exquisite and pleasing things acquired legitimately, whatever they may be, shall be offered to the deity.

38. The number of lotuses to be offered is a thousand. O brahmins, with regard to the other flowers it shall be a hundred and eight for each.

39-40. The leaf of the Bilva tree shall never be excluded. A gold lotus is greater than a thousand lotuses. The case of blue lotuses is also on a par with that of Bilva leaves. With regard to the other flowers there is no restriction. They shall be offered just as they are available.

41-43 The Arghya with eight materials of worship as constituents is highly commended. So also the incense and the unguent. To the deity Vāmadeva sandal paste is recommended. To the Pauruṣa deity yellow orpiment shall be offered; to Īśāna the ashes. In regard to the incense the procedure is different. To Aghora white and black Aguru in the mouth. To Pauruṣa fragrant gum-resin in the left; to Saumya scents in the mouth. To Īśāna, Uśīra shall be offered as Dhūpa.

44. Sandal, Aguru, etc., along with sugar candy, honey, camphor and the ghee of a tawny-coloured cow can be offered to all.

45. Thereafter series of lights with camphor and wick soaked in ghee shall be offered. Arghya and Ācamana shall be offered to every face.

46. In the first (outer column of the mystic diagram) Gaṇeśa and Kārttikeya shall be worshipped. Brahmā’s body shall also be worshipped.

47. In the second Āvaraṇa shall be worshipped Vighneśas the Cakravartins. The eight deities[3] Bhava and others shall be worshipped in the third Āvaraṇa.

48. There the eleven deities[4] Mahādeva and others shall be worshipped. All the Gaṇeśvaras shall be worshipped in the fourth Āvaraṇa.

49-52. Outside the lotus the mystic diagram and in the fifth Āvaraṇa shall be worshipped the lords of the ten quarters along with their weapons and followers, the mental sons of Brahmā, the luminary bodies, the goddesses and gods, the heaven-walkers, the residents of the netherworlds, the other sages, Yogins, the sacrifices, the birds, the mothers, the Kṣetrapālas with their Gaṇas and the universe including the mobile and immobile beings. These shall be worshipped, as they are possessed of Śiva’s pre-eminence. They shall be worshipped for the pleasure of Siva.

53. Then at the end of the worship of the Āvaraṇas, after worshipping the supreme lord, delicious Havis shall be offered as Naivedya along with ghee and side-dishes.

54-55. The betel with something to chew with to render the mouth fragrant shall be given. After bedecking once again with different flowers and ornaments the detailed worship shall be concluded with the waving of lights. The drinking bowl with the complements and bedding shall be offered.

56-57. A moon-like necklace shall be dedicated to the bedding. Everything done or caused to be done shall be royal in its quality, very pleasing and befitting. The contrary worship shall be avoided. After reciting the Vyapohana hymns the Japa of the fìve-syllabled Mantra shall be performed.

58. After circumambulation and obeisance the devotee shall dedicate himself. Then in front of lord he shall worship two brahmin preceptors.

59-64. After offering Arghya and eight flowers the lord shall be ritualistically dismissed from the phallic idol. After restraining the fire from the fire and ritualistically removing that also, the devotee shall perform the service everyday. Then he shall hand over the phallic idol with the insignia and lotuses to the preceptor. Or he shall install it in the temple of Śiva After worshipping the elders, brahmins, Vrata-performers in particular, he shall propitiate brahmin devotees and if possible poor and helpless people also. If he is competent he shall observe fast or take to a diet of fruits and roots. Or he shall have milk for his diet, or live on alms or take single meal everyday only in the night. He shall be pure in body and mind and lie on the bare ground or ashes or grass. He shall wear deerskin or bark garment and observe celibacy. Thus he shall perform the holy rite.

65. If he is strong enough he shall observe fast on Sundays on Ardrā star days, on full moon and new moon days and on the eighth and fourteenth days.

66. Mentally, verbally and physically he shall avoid contact with heretics, fallen men, polluted women in their menses and Śūdras, by all means.

67. He shall always practise forgiveness, charity, mercy non-violence to all living beings. He shall remain content, calm and engaged in meditation and Japa.

68. He shall bathe thrice a day or he shall dust with the ashes instead. He shall perform special worship mentally, verbally and physically.

69-70. Of what avail is much talk? A performer of the rite shall not commit any misdeed. If inadvertently he docs commit, he shall consider its seriousness or otherwise and perform adequate expiatory rites in the form of worship, sacrifice, Japas etc. Till the conclusion of the Vrata he shall not repeat the mistake.

71. He shall make charitable gifts of cows and oxen, perform worship in accordance with her wealth and capacity devoutly and free from any specific desire, for the pleasure of Śiva.

72. The common features of this Vrata have been narrated briefly. I shall now explain the special features for every month in the manner I have heard.

73-76. In Vaiśākha the phallic idol of adamant, in Jyeṣṭha that of an emerald, in Āṣāḍha that of pearl, in Śrāvaṇa that of Sapphire, in Bhādrapada that of ruby, in Āśvina that of onyx, in Kārttika that of a coral, in Mārgaśīrṣa that of lapis lazuli, in Pauṣa that of topaz in Māgha that of the sun-stone; in Phālguna that of the moon-stone and in Caitra that of sun-tone is auspicious. If gems are not available gold shall be substituted in every month.

77. If gold is not available silver, copper, rock or clay shall be used for making the phallic idol whichever is available. Even lac can be used.

78-82. Or he can make the idol as he pleases having all types of flowers. At the conclusion of Vrata after performing the daily rites he shall perform the special worship and sacrifice as before. After worshipping the preceptor and the Vratins in particular he shall take the permission from his instructor. Sitting facing the east or the north on a Darbha seat holding Darbha grass in the hands he shall restrain Prāṇa and Apāna. He shall make the Japa of the Mūla mantra to the extent of his ability; he shall meditate on Śiva and Śivā. Taking permission and bowing as before he shall say with palms joined in reverence: “O lord, at your behest, I am concluding this Vrata.” After saying thus he shall cast off the Darbhas at the root of the idol towards the north.

83. Then he shall eschew the staff, the matted hair, the bark garment and the girdle too. After performing Acamana he shall repeat the five-syllabled mantra.

84. He who has resolved to perform this Vrata till death and takes the initiation accordingly and performs the Virata undistressedly is a Naiṣṭhika.

85. He is an Atyāśramin, a Mahāpāśupata, the most excellent of all austere persons and a great Vratin.

86. Among those desirous of salvation there is none like him who is so content. The Naiṣṭhika who becomes an ascetic is called the excellent Naiṣṭhika.

87. He who performs this rite for twelve days or every day is on a par with the Naiṣṭhika, his Vrata being too severe.

88. A person who applies ghee over his body and performs the rite with devout feelings even for two or three clays is also a Naiṣṭhika.

89. He who performs the excellent Vrata without a desire for the fruit feeling that it is his duty, always dedicating his Arman to Śiva has no one equal to him.

90 A scholarly brahmin covered with ashes is immediately liberated from the terrible effects of even the great deadly sins.

91. The gícat virility of the Rudra fire is what is glorified as the ashes. Hence a person possessing the ashes is a virile and powerful person at all times.

92. A person who has bathed with the ashes is called Bhasmaniṣṭha. His faults perish due to the contact of Bhasma fire.

93. He who has smeared his body with the ashes, wears Tripuṇḍraka with Bhasma and has a Bhasma bath is Bhasmaniṣṭha.

94. Surely the evil spirits, ghosts and goblins and repugnant diseases flee at the very proximity of a Bhasmaniṣṭha.

95  It is called Bhasita because it shines; Bhasma because it devours sins; Bhūti because it causes prosperity and Rakṣā because it protects.

96. What else need be cited to indicate the glory of Bhasma? The Vratin who has had the Bhasma-bath is lord Śiva himself.

97. This Bhasma is a great weapon of the devotees of Śiva. It is a divine missile whereby the mishaps of the elder brother of Dhaumya in the course of his penance had been removed.

98. Hence one should endeavour in all possible ways to collect Bhasma like wealth after performing the Pāśupata vrata and be engaged in Bhasma-bath.

Footnotes and references:


Śiras. U. 5.


The milk, curd, butter, urine and excrement of the cow constitute the Pañcagavya.


For the eight forms of Śiva,sce ŚR S. Ch. 2


In regard to the names of the eleven forms, the Purāṇas differ. See ŚRS. Ch. 28. V. 26; Matsya P. 5. 29-30