The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “shaivite knowledge” 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 11 - The Śaivite knowledge

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lord Śiva said:—

1. O goddess, I shall now succinctly mention the duties stipulated on the basis of caste for my authorised devotees, the learned brahmins.

2-7. Daily bath thrice, rites in the holy fire, worship of the Liṅga, charitable gifts, pious feelings For the lord, mercifulness everywhere at all times, truthfulness, contentedness, belief in scriptures and God, non-violence to all living beings, bashful modesty, faith, study of scriptures, Yoga, imparting of knowledge to others, commenting on scriptures, celibacy, listening to spiritual topics, austerities, forbearance, purity, wearing of the sacred thread, upper garment and turban, growing the tuft, not resorting to forbidden things, smearing and dusting with Bhasma, wearing Rudrākṣa, O goddess, the worship on festival occasions especially on the fourteenth day, the rite of drinking Brahmakūrca every month in accordance with injunctions, O beloved, worship after performing my ablution with the same, avoidance of the Śrāddha food offered for the propitiation of the manes and of the rice in all sacred rites, stale rice and rice gruel.

8. The avoidance of wine and even its smell or of Naivedya is applicable to all castes, especially the Brahmins.

9-11. The traits of Yogins are ten viz:—forbearance, quietude, contentment, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, my knowledge, non-attachment to worldly objects, using Bhasma and refraining from too much adherence to all. The Vānaprasthas have all these traits as also the partaking of alms during the day. The Brahmacārins shall not take food during the nights.

12. Teaching, presiding over sacrifices and acceptance of monetary gifts are not prescribed by me for the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya class.

13-16. The following are the duties and traits of kings—protection of the people of all castes, slaying of the enemies in battle, chastisement of the wicked and hunting of harmful birds and animals, distrusting everyone everywhere but belief in my Yogins, intercourse with women on proper occasions, maintenance of armies, keeping themselves well informed about the activities of the people through spies spread everywhere always, wearing weapons, armour dusted with Bhasma. These are in brief the duties of kings following my instructions. The characteristics of a Vaiśya are cattle-breeding, trading and agriculture.

17. The duty of a Śūdra is service unto the persons of the other castes, making of parks and resorting to my holy centres.

18. Sexual approach only to one’s own wife duly wed is prescribed for a householder and celibacy for all the other three, viz. Brahmacārins, Vānaprasthas and Sannyāsins.

19. The duty prescribed for women is service to their own husbands. Nothing else is an eternal Dharma for them. O good woman, if the husband directs her she can worship me.

20. If a woman engages herself in holy rites thereby prejudicing her service to her husband she goes to hell undoubtedly.

21-25. Now I shall mention the eternal Dharma of widows. Holy rites, charitable gifts, penance, purity, lying on the bare ground, taking food only at night, celibacy, ash-bath, water-bath, quietness, silence, forbearance, self-composure in accordance with injunctions, observance of fasts on the eighth, eleventh and fourteenth days and on the full moon days and worship to me. Thus I have succinctly mentioned the eternal virtues of persons of difieren stages and castes, of brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, ascetics, Brahmacārins, Vānaprasthas, householders, Śūdras and women, O gentle lady.

26. O goddess, I shall be meditated upon along with you for ever. The Japa of six syllables[1] shall be performed always. This is the brief compendium of duties as mentioned in the Vedas.[2]

27-30. Those who possess excellent devotion as a result of good impressions in their souls of previous actions, who possess the physical bodies assumed by themselves, who are purified by the essence of my perfect knowledge and who have become holy due to my grace are not effected by sins as the lotus-leaves are not effected by water whether they be attached to it or not. It may not be possible for them to maintain the duties of the different stages in life. They have neither duties to be performed nor evils to be avoided. They have no trance to be practised, no great goal to be attained. They are not subject to do’s and dont’s like me.

31. Just as I have nothing to be achieved since I am perfect, so also they have nothing to be attained because they are contented. It is undoubtedly so.

32. There is no doubt in this that they are fallen from the Rudraloka. They are Rudras who have assumed human forms for the benefit of my devotees.

33. Just as my injunctions make Brahmā and others act so also their injunctions make other men act.

34. Their sins are quelled by their very vision in view of their excellence of good piety and in view of their carrying out my behests.

35. Proofs indicating excellent fruits are visible in men who have pious feelings for me. They comprehend things not seen before.

36. Suddenly their bodies may throb and tremble; they may perspire, shed tears; their voice may grow hoarse or cracked; they may have a sensation of great bliss. This may recur again and again.

37. The excellent men can be understood by these never-failing indications severally or collectively or by means of the pious feelings of the low, excellent and the middling types.

38. Just as anir on piece in conjunction with the fire is no mere iron piece so also they are not mere human beings. Thanks to my grace.

39. A learned man shall not treat these Rudras with contempt by considering them ordinary men because they have assumed human forms with hands, feet and the like.

40. Insult offered to them by men of confused intellect quells glory, longevity, family and conduct and may cause their fall into hell.

41-43. All those regions except mine, i.e. those of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra, and others who have been uprooted though they may be great souls, are easily to be destroyed like cotton. The prosperity of Buddhi, Prakṛti, and Puruṣa is impure. Hence it shall be eschewed by those who are desirous of the region beyond Guṇas. Of what avail is this talk? By whatever means it may be, fixing of the mind in me is the only way to achieve welfare.

Upamanyu said:—

44. Thus the brief resume of essential knowledge has been expounded by lord Śiva, the great Ātman, for the welfare of the worlds.

45. The Vedas, Śāstras, Itihāsas, Purāṇas and other lores are but extensive glosses and commentaries of this succinct account of perfect knowledge.

46. This succinct account contains the six topics, viz., Jñāna, Jñeya, Anuṣṭheya, Adhikāra, Sādhana and Sādhya.

47-48. Jñāna is the knowledge acquired from the preceptor. Jñeya is the Pāśa, Paśu and Pati. The Anuṣṭheya is the worship of the Liṅga. It is the devotee who is authorised. Sādhana is Śiva’s mantra and Sādhya is the equality with Śiva. If one has the knowledge of the epitome of the six topics one has attained omniscience.

49. After worshipping Śiva externally at the outset by means of Karmayajña with devotion and in accordance with one’s affluence, the devotee shall afterwards be engaged in inner sacrifice.

50. If for more virtue one is interested in the inner and not in the external working, the noble soul need not perform the external worship.

51. O Kṛṣṇa, neither within nor without has he ever any duty, he who is contented with the nectar of knowledge and who has identified his Ātman with Śiva by means of his devotion.

52. The devotee shall eschew in order the external and internal worships. Through Jñāna he shall see the Jñeya and then eschew the Jñāna also.

53. If the mind is not concentrated on Śiva, of what avail is the rite even when performed? If the mind is concentrated, of what avail is the rite duly performed?

54. Hence one shall fix the mind in Śiva by some means or other without performing the rites or performing them internally or externally in order.

55. Persons who have fixed their minds in Śiva, good men who have stabilised their intellect will have the greatest bliss everywhere both here and hereafter.

56. The Siddhis are achieved by the mantra, ‘Oṃ Namaḥ Sivāya’. Hence the mantra shall be acquired for the acquisition of the great magnificence which has nothing parallel to it.

Footnotes and references:


The six syllabled mantra of Śiva: Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya.


Though prescribing rituals, yoga and other activities of the Śiva-cult the Purāṇa does not reject the authority of the Vedas.

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