The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “penance of upamanyu” 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 34 - The penance of Upamanyu

Note: For the similarity of expression and contents of this and the following chapter, see Liṅga-purāṇa. 1. 107. The Upamanyu, episode of the Liṅga-purāṇa is concise and condensed; that of Śiva-purāṇa is detailed and comprehensive. The former seems to be the abridged version of the latter.

The sages said:—

1. It was for obtaining milk that penance was performed by the boy Upamanyu, the elder brother of Dhaumya. So an ocean of milk was granted to him by lord Śiva.

2. How could that infant attain power to propound the sacred doctrine of Siva? How could he realise the existence of Śiva and perform the penance?

3. How could he attain the perfect knowledge in the course of his observance of penance? How did he secure the protective ashes the virile element of the Rudra fire.

Vāyu said:—

4. It was not an ignorant common infant who performed the penance. He was the son of a great, wise and the learned sage Vyāghrapāda.[1]

5. He was a great Siddha in his former birth who had fallen from his position for some reason. Fortunately he was born as the son of a sage.

6. His penance for the sake of obtaining milk became the gateway to the future grace of lord Śiva obtained due to good luck.

7. Śiva granted him perpetual bachelorhood, lord-ship of all the Gaṇas along with an ocean of milk.

8. The acquisition of Śiva’s knowledge is due to Śiva’s grace alone. He acquired the knowledge of Śakti even as a boy,

9. His ability to propound the Śivaśāstra was also derived from the lord. He rejoiced in attaining the ocean of knowledge from the sage.

10. There was an apparent reason for his acquisition of Śiva-jñāna. These were his mother’s words full of sorrow for the milk.

11-12. Once the boy had tasted some quantity of milk in the hermitage of his uncle. His uncle’s son had drunk ample milk to his satiety. The jealous Upamanyu affectionately told his mother thus.

Upamanyu said:—

13. O mother, my blessed mother, O saintly woman, please give me sweet cow’s milk. I shall drink it very hot.

Vāyu said:—

14. On hearing the words of her son, the saintly mother, the wife of Vyāghrapāda, was very much distressed.

15. With love and affection she embraced the son and fondled him. Considering her poverty she became dejected and lamented.

16. The boy Upamanyu could not forget the milk he wanted. He the innocent child of great splendour cried frequently pressing his mother to give him milk.

17. Realising that the boy was tenacious the saintly brahmin lady thought of a plan to quieten his stubbornness.

18-19. She had gleaned a few grains which the sweet-voiced lady ground into a paste with water. “Come on, s?? dear,” she addressed her son and though she was distressed at heart she gave him the improvised milk.

20. On drinking that watery stuff offered as milk, the excited boy shouted. ‘O mother, this is no milk.’

21. The distressed mother when she saw the boy thus in misery caught hold of him, kissed on his head, wiped his lotus-like eyes with her hand and said:—

The mother said:—

22. Rivers full of gems whether in heaven or in the nether worlds are never seen by unlucky people and those devoid of devotion to Śiva.

23. If Śiva is not pleased with them, they do not get those pleasing things viz. kingdom, heaven, salvation or a milk diet.

24. Everything is the result of Śiva’s grace and not that of any other lord. Those who are devoted to other lords wander in distress.

25. Whence can we have milk, we who stay in the forest for ever? O dear, where the sources of milk and where we the forest-dwellers?

26. Wanting everything and overwhelmed by poverty I, your unfortunate mother, have given you this improvised milk grinding the fried grains into paste with water.

27-28. You tasted the boiled milk at your uncle’s. So when you drank this ‘sour stuff you found out on comparison that what I gave you was not milk. When you cry out saying so you make me miserable. Without the grace of Lord Śiva you cannot have milk.

29. What is dedicated with devotion at the lotus-like feet of the lord accompanied by Śivā and his Gaṇas is the cause of all riches.

30. The great lord who is the bestower of wealth and befitting benefits to those who desire them, has not been worshipped by us now.

31. Aiming at riches we have not worshipped Śiva hitherto. So we are poor. Hence you do not get milk.

32. O son, nothing else is obtained by us except what has been given by us in respect of lord Śiva or Viṣṇu.

Vāyu said:—

33. On hearing the words of his mother, true but expressive of her grief, the boy, though distressed within spoke thus in a mature way.

Upamanyu said:—

34. O mother, do not feel unhappy; if there is Śiva and śivā every thing good will result. O blessed lady, eschew your grief.

35. O mother, listen now to my words. If there is lord Śiva anywhere sooner or later I shall get an ocean of milk.

Vāyu said:—

36. On hearing the words of her highly intelligent son the delighted noble mother replied.

The mother said:—

37. O dear, what you have thought of is auspicious. It increases my pleasure. Do not delay. Worship Sadāśiva and the goddess Śivā.

38. Definitely there is Śiva superior to all, the great cause. The entire universe in created by him. Brahmā and and others are his servants.

39. If we have any prosperity it is created by his grace. We are only the slaves of the lord. Except Śiva, the benefactor of the worlds we do not know anyone else.

40. Eschewing other gods physically, mentally and verbally, worship him alone, with Śivā with due devotion.

41. “Namaḥ Śivāya”, this mantra is directly expressive of Śiva, the overlord of the gods, the bestower of boons.

42. The seven crores of mantras including the Praṇava Om merge into this mantra and come out again.

43. Those Mantras are also beneficent with regard to those who are authorized therein. At the behest of the lord every one is authorized in this Mantra.

44. Just as Śiva, this mantra too is capable of protecting all Atmans base or excellent.

45. This mantra is stronger than any other mantra. Only this and no other mantra is capable of protecting all.

46. Hence eschew all the other Mantras and devote yourself to this five-syllabled mantra. When that is in the mouth nothing is inaccessible here.

47. The excellent Aghora missile affording protection to the devotees of Śiva originates from this mantra. Considering this, be devoted to it and not otherwise.

48. This Bhasma produced in the Viraja fire was obtained by me from your father. It is excellent and it averts great mishaps.

49. Accept the Mantra bestowed on you by me. If the Japa of this mantra is performed your protection will be assured.

Vāyu said:—

50-51. The mother directed him thus saying, “May it be auspicious” and allowed him to go. The sage accepted her words with his bent head. Bowing to her he made preparations for performing penance. Then the mother said to him, “May the gods do everything auspicious for yo

52. Permitted by her he went to the mountain Himavat and performed penance with purity of minds. He took in only wind (no food).

53-54. With eight bricks he built an altar and installed Śiva’s phallic image of clay. He invoked the unchanging lord Śiva accompanied by the Gaṇas and Pārvatī. He worshipped him with the leaves and flowers available in the forest repeating the five-syllabled Mantra with devotion. He performed penance for a long time.

55-56. Assuming the forms of Rākṣasa certain ghosts of sages cursed formerly by Marīci harassed the lonely, lean boy Upamanyu performing penance though he was an excellent brahmin devotee of Śiva. Thus they caused obstacles to his penance.

57. Though harassed by them he somehow maintained his penance. He uttered “Namaḥ Śivāya” like one in great distress.

58. At the very hearing of that sound the sages who hindered the penance left off that boy and began to serve him.

59. O sages, the whole universe including the mobile and immobile beings became ignited due to the penance of that brahmin, the noble Upamanyu.

Footnotes and references:


Liṅga Purāṇa omits to mention Vyāghrapāda, father of Upamanyu.