The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “incarnations of vyasa” 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 8 - The incarnations of Vyāsa

Lord Kṛṣṇa said:—

1-2. O lord, I wish to hear about Śiva’s knowledge expounded by Śiva in the Vedasāra for the salvation of his devotees. It is incomprehensible to non-devotees, the unintelligent and those who do not practise Yoga. It consists of five topics. It is censured by the unwise stupid persons.

3. At places it is opposed to the rites prescribed for the different castes and men in different stages of life. At places it is the same. It has been adopted from the Vedas, their ancillary texts and from the systems of Sāṅkhya and Yoga.

4-5. It extends to a hundred crores of verses as narrated by lord Śiva. How shall the worship be performed, O lord? Who is authorised in the worship? What are the practices of Jñānayoga etc.? O sage of good rites, it behoves you to narrate all these things in detail.

Upamanyu said:—

6-7. I shall succinctly narrate the lore of Śiva condensed from the Vedas as narrated by Śiva. I shall avoid its praises or condemnations. It is convincing and divine. It can be acquired only by the grace of the preceptor. It is conducive to salvation without any strain. A detailed explanation of the same is impossible.

8. Formerly, with the desire to create, lord Śiva, equipped with the causes of the effects already present, manifested himself from the unmanifest.[1]

9. Then the lord, the sage, superior to all procreated the first of the gods Brahmā, the Brahmaṇaspati.

10. While being born, Brahmā saw the lord his father. The lord saw and commanded him.

11. Brahmā viewed by Rudra created the universe. He prescribed the rules for different bastes and stages of life separately.

12. For the sake of sacrifice he created Soma. From Soma was born the heaven, earth, fire, sun, sacrifice, Viṣṇu and Indra.

13. They and the gods eulogised Rudra with the hymns dedicated to him. The lord stood before the gods with his face beaming with delight.

14. The lord took away their knowledge, sportively. The deluded gods asked him, “Who are you Śir?”

15-18. Lord Rudra said:—“I had been the only primeval being, O gods, I am and I shall be. There is none except me or separate from me. I alone satisfy the universe through my splendour. There is none superior to or equal to me. He who knows me is liberated.” After saying, this the lord vanished there itself. Unable to see him the gods began to eulogise him with Sāmans. They performed the holy rites of Pāśupata as prescribed in the Atharvaśiras Upaniṣads. They smeared Bhasma all over their bodies.

19-25. In order to please them the lord came there with the Gaṇas and Umā. The leading gods saw the lord whom the awakened sinless Yogins of restrained breath see within their hearts. To the left of lord Śiva they saw the beautiful goddess, the greatest Śakti who followed the wish of the lord. The chiefs of the gaṇas who had forsaken worldiness and acquired the region of Śiva and the Siddhas were also seen. Then the gods eulogised the lord and the goddess with the divine hymns from the Vedas and the Purāṇas. The delighted bull-bannered lord saw the gods with mercy and spoke sweetly, ‘I am delighted.’ Then, bowing to him the gods asked him about this important topic.

The gods said:—

26. O lord, how shall they worship you on the earth? What is the path? Who is authorised in the worship?

27. Glancing smilingly at the goddess, Śiva the chief of the gods revealed his terrible form brilliant as the sun.

28. It was equipped with the attributes of lordship. It comprised all splendours. It was surrounded by the Śaktis, images, planets and the gods.

29-31. The lord had eight arms and four faces. Half of that form was female. On seeing this wondrous form, Viṣṇu and other gods understood the lord as the sun and the goddess as the moon and the remaining parts as elements. They realised the universe of the mobile and immobile beings identical with him. Then they worshipped the lord and made obeisance to him.

32-33. O lord, be pleased to accept our worship. You have the colour of the saffron, the excellent disc and the colourful ornaments of gold. Your eyes resemble the lotus; you hold a lotus and you are the cause of Brahmā, Indra and Nārāyaṇa. The golden vessel is filled with excellent gems and water of brilliant hue. Vermilion and other things, Kuśa grass and flowers too are offered.

34. Obeisance to Śiva the quiescent, the primordial cause, to Rudra accompanied by the Gaṇas; obeisance to him in the form of the sun, to Viṣṇu, to Brahmā.

35-36. He who worships Śiva thus in the solar disc with pure mind, in the morning, midday and at dusk and offers the excellent Arghya, or bows and reads the verses pleasing to the ears does not find anything inaccessible. If he is a devotee he is certainly liberated.

37. Hence for the sake of virtue, wealth, love and salvation, one shall mentally verbally and physically worship Śiva in the form of the sun.

38. Then the lord stationed in the disc glanced at the gods, revealed the sacred scripture, the sequel to all the Āgamas and vanished.

39. Understanding that the Brahmins, Kṣatriyas and the Vaiśyas are authorised in the worship, the gods bowed to the lord and went the way they had come.

40. After a pretty long interval the sacred scripture was forgotten. The goddess seated in the lap of her husband asked him about it.

41. Urged by her, the moon-crested lord narrated to her the sacred scripture—the sequel to all Āgamas.

42. At the behest of Brahmā, it was propagated in the world by me, by my preceptor Agastya and the sage Dadhīca.

43. In the revolution of Yugas the trident-bearing lord incarnates himself on the earth and propagates the knowledge for the salvation of his devotees.

44-48. Now listen to the incarnations of Vyāsa who were masters of Yoga in the different Kalpas:—Ṛbhu, Satya, Bhārgava, Aṅgiras, the brahmin Savitṛ, Śatatejas, Dharma as Nārāyaṇa, Svarakṣa, the intelligent Āruṇi, Kṛtañjaya, Kṛtañjaya (the second), Bharadvāja, the wise Gautama, sage Vācaḥśravas, the pious Sūkṣmāyaṇi, sage Tṛṇabindu, Kṛṣṇa, Śakti Śākteya, Uttara, Jātūkarṇya, Hari and sage Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana.

49-51. Tliese incarnations of Vyāsa are up to the end of Dyāpara. There are the incarnations as Yogācāryas of Śiva and their disciples. In different yugas the lord’s disciples are four. Their disciples and future disciples are in hundreds and thousands. By their endeavour, these are purified by their devotion and are liberated by their carrying out the behests of Śiva in the world.

Footnotes and references:


The principle of evolution that the effect before its manifestation existed in the invisible form in its cause is the main doctrine of the Sāṅkhya system. In the present context ŚP. is influenced by this thought.