The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “rules governing shaivite initiation” 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 17 - The rules governing Śaivite initiation

Upamanyu said:—

1. Hereafter the preceptor shall perform the purification of the six pathways after understanding the disciple’s capacity, for the sake of liberation from bondage.

2. The six paths[1] are Kalā, Tattva, Bhuvana, Varṇa, Pada and Mantra in brief.

3. The five Kalās, Nivṛtti etc. are the pathway of Kalā. The five Kalās pervade the five paths.

4. The principles from Śivatattva to the earth constitute the paths of principles. They are twenty-six, both pure and impure.

5. Those beginning with Ādhāra and ending with Unmana constitute the paths of worlds. They are sixty in number without difference and subsidiary divisions.

6. The fifty letters in the form of Rudras constitute the path of letters. The path of words has many varieties.

7-8. The path of mantras consisting of subsidiary Mantras is pervaded by the excellent mantra. Just as Śiva, the leader of Tattvas, is not included among Tattvas so also the leader of Mantras is not included in the path of Mantra. The Kalādhvā pervades and the other Adhvās are pervaded.

9-10. He who does not know that factually should not perform the rite of the six Adhvās. He who has not understood the form of the six paths cannot understand the order of pervasiveness and is incompetent to perform the rite.

11-14. After making the pits and the Maṇḍapa as before, to the east he shall make the mystic diagram measuring two hastas for keeping the water-jar on. The preceptor shall perform his routine rites and enter the Maṇḍapa with his disciples to begin the worship of Śiva as before. Milk pudding shall be made with rice measuring not less than one Āḍhaka. Half of that shall be offered to the lord as Naivedya and the remaining shall be kept reserved for Homa. In the Maṇḍala drawn in front with various colours, the preceptor shall place five water-pots, one in each of the four quarters and one in the middle.

15-17. The preceptor, most expert in the procedural code, shall invoke the five Brahmans[2] on them, repeating the Mūlāvaraṇas along with Bindu and Nāda, and the letters beginning with Namaḥ and ending with Ya. Īśāna is invoked in the middle jar, Puruṣa in the eastern, Aghora in the southern, Vāma in the northern and Sadyojāta in the western jar. After performing the rites of protection, mystic gestures and invocation of the jar he shall sacrifice in the Śiva fire as before.

18-20. The milk pudding reserved for sacrifice shall be offered and what still remains shall be kept for the disciple to eat. The rites upto the Tarpaṇa shall be conducted in the manner mentioned before. After the Pūrṇāhuti the rite of illumination with the ancillaries shall be performed.

21-22. In this rite three Āhutis shall be given.[3] With the specific mantras the refulgent deities shall be meditated upon. He shall then take the thrice-spun white threads made by brahmin girls, strung into three and with these bind the tip of the tuft of the disciple.

23-26. The thread shall be let loose till the tip of the toe of the disciple standing straight. The Suṣumnā (the nerve of the backbone) shall be joined with it. The consciousness shall be invoked with the basic mantra and he shall offer three Āhutis to create its presence. With the flowers he shall strike the chest of the disciple as before and invoke consciousness. It shall then be conceived as placed in the twelve-petalled lotus. The thread shall be joined with the other thread (?) with the Astra and Varma mantras. After veiling the body of the disciple the thread shall be meditated upon (?)

27-30. It shall then be imagined that the three strings represent a bond with the objects and the state of enjoyment. The Kalās Śāntyatīta etc. in the forms of the elements ether etc. shall be joined to the thread (?) with their respective names and worshipped. With these as the base the foregoing rites shall be performed. Then he shall survey the pervasion of the dirt etc. in Tattvas. After offering as Āhuti, the pervasion of Kalā in the dirt etc. the Kalās shall be illuminated.

31. After striking the disciple on the head and the thread worne on the body he shall bedeck the sūtra in the Śāntyatīta Pada, repeating the mantra.

32. In this manner after offering the Āhutis of Śāntyatīta upto the end of Nivṛtti he shall perform three Āhutis and worship Śiva in the Maṇḍala.

33. The preceptor shall make the disciple sit to the south of the lord facing the north, on the Maṇḍala strewn with Darbha grass. He shall give him the rice soaked in ghee left after the Homa.

34. The disciple shall take the Caru offered by the preceptor, and eat it repeating the name Śiva. After performing the Ācamana twice he shall repeat the mantra of Śiva.

35. The preceptor shall give him the Pañcagavya on the other Maṇḍala. The disciple shall drink it upto his capacity, perform the Ācamana twice and remember Śiva.

36. He shall make the disciple sit on a third Maṇḍala as before, and hand over a tooth brush twig having the characteristics mentioned in the scriptures.

37. The disciple shall sit silently facing the east or the north and clean his teeth with its soft tip.

38. He shall cast off the tooth brush, wash his hands and mouth, perform Ācamana and remember Śiva. Then at the behest of the preceptor he shall enter Śiva Maṇḍapa with palms joined in reverence.

39-40. If the cast-off tooth brush is seen by the preceptor in the north-east or west or in front it is auspicious, otherwise it is inauspicious. If it is seen in an inauspicious quarter the preceptor shall perform a hundred, or a fifty or twenty-five Homas with the basic Mantra for the removal of the defect.

41. Then he shall strike the disciple and whisper the name of Śiva into his ears. He shall make him settle to the south of the lord.

42. During the night the disciple shall lie on a Darbha mattress covered with an unwashed bed-sheet and consecrated with mantra. While lying he shall meditate on Śiva and keep his head to the east.

43-44. To his tuft the thread has already been tied. Along with that tuft the preceptor shall tie the unwashed bed-sheet. With Varma mantra he shall cover him up. All round him he shall make three lines with gingelly seeds and mustard fully consecrated by Astra mantra. Outside the lines he shall offer oblations to the guardians of the quarters.

45. The disciple shall not take anything in after settling down like this. After getting up the next day he shall intimate to the preceptor if he had any dream.

Footnotes and references:


The purificatory rites of the six pathways are the pre-requisites for the initiation of the disciple in Śiva’s cult.


The five forms of Śiva ‘Pañcabrahmans, viz. Īśāna, Puruṣa, Aghora, Vāma and Sadya are invoked in the water-jars placed in different directions with the basic mantra of Śiva.


The mantra is “oṃ huṃ śivāya phaṭ svāhā”.