The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “nitya and naimittika rites” 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 21 - Nitya and Naimittika rites

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said:—

1. O holy lord, I wish to hear the compulsory and optional rites of those who follow Śaivite conduct of life, as mentioned in Śaivite scriptures.

Upamanyu said:—

2. He shall rise early in the morning and meditate on the lord and the goddess For performing necessaries he shall go out of the house when the sun has risen.

3. In a secluded spot where there is no hindrance he shall evacuate his bowels. After washing in accordance with the rules he shall clean the teeth.

4. On the eighth and other days whenever tooth-brush twig is not available he shall gargle twelve times and clean the teeth.

5. After performing Ācamana he shall take bath either in a river or in a pond or in an eddy or in the house itself.

6. The toilet articles shall be kept on the bank. The dirt of the body shall be washed off. The clay shall be applied over the body. After taking bath he shall apply cow-dung over the body.

7. He shall take bath again and abandon the old cloth. Like a king he shall put on new dress.

8. Neither a Brahmacārin nor an ascetic nor a widow shall take bath with the scented soaps. They shall not use tooth-brush twig for cleaning the teeth.

9. He shall tie his tuft and have the sacred thread in the normal way. He shall enter water and plunge therein. After performing the Ācamana he shall take plunge thrice in the water.

10-11. After plunging in, he shall repeat the mantra and think on Śiva and Śakti. He shall get up and perform Ācamana. Then he shall pour water over the body with the cow-horn along with Darbha, or with the leaf of a Palāśa tree, or the lotus leaf or with both the hands, five or three times.

12. If he is taking bath in a garden or in the house he shall pour water with Vardhanī or a water-jar. When taking bath he shall pour water with the mantras.

13. If one is unable to take water-bath, one shall take a wet cloth and wipe the body from foot to head.

14. Or he shall take the self-bath. That is, one shall repeat the name Śiva. That bath wherein Śiva is remembered is called the self-bath of a Yogin.

15. In accordance with the rules prescribed in one’s code he shall perform the rites of Tarpaṇa for the gods beginning with Ācamana and ending with Brahmayajña.

16. Meditating on lord Śiva stationed in the Maṇḍala and worshipping him duly he shall offer Arghya to Śiva in the form of the sun.

17-19. Or after performing what is prescribed in one’s own Sūtra he shall wash his hands and perform the rite of Karanyāsa. He shall make his body united with the Kalās through water taken in the left palm and containing scents and white mustard. He shall then sprinkle water over him through the bunch of Kuśa grass repeating the mantras ‘Āpo hi ṣṭhā’[1] etc. accompanied by the basic mantra. Sniffing at the water remaining in the left nostril he shall think on lord Śiva again.

20. Taking off the dark-complexioned sin of the body through the left nostril and that outside, he shall conceive it as gone to the rock.

21. He shall perform the Tarpaṇa rite to the gods, to the sages in particular, to the Bhūtas and to the Pitṛs. He shall offer Arghya duly.

22. With a handful of red sandal water he shall make a circular Maṇḍala on the ground and embellish it with red powder.

23. There he shall worship the sun with the covers along with his ancillaries repeating the mantra “Khakholkāya” for securing happiness.[2]

24-25. He shall make another Maṇḍala and worship it with its ancillaries. He shall place there a gold-vessel of the size of the Prastha[3] current in the Magadha land. He shall fill it with scented water and red sandal along with red flowers, gingelly seeds, Akṣatas and Kuśa grass.

26-29. Or it can contain Dūrvā, Apāmārga and other articles or mere water. He shall keep that pot over his head. Kneeling down he shall bow to the lord in the Maṇḍala and offer it as Arghya to Śiva. Or he shall take water in the palms joined together and throw it up as an offering to Śiva stationed in the sky in the form of the sun. The water shall contain Darbha grass and the basic Mantra shall be repeated. Again he shall wash his hands and perform the Karanyāsa realising Śiva in the form of the five Brahmans[4] from Īśāna to Sadyojāta. He shall take Bhasma, in the hand and repeating mantra yā dināntaiḥ[5] he shall touch limbs in order, viz—the face, chest, private parts, feet.

30-31. Then repeating the basic mantra he shall touch all parts of the body and wear another cloth. After performing Ācamana twice he shall sprinkle water over himself eleven times repeating the mantra. He shall wear another cloth, perform Ācamana twice and remember Śiva.

32. He shall perform Karanyāsa again and repeating the mantra he shall apply the Tripuṇḍra marks. On the forehead the marks shall be clear, broad and straight. Scented water shall be used to paste the Bhasma.

33-34. It may also be circular or square in shape. It may be a single dot or a semicircular figure. But he shall apply the marks in the same way on the arms, head and chest as on the forehead. Dusting with the Bhasma is not on a par with Tripuṇḍra.

35. Hence it is better to have Tripuṇḍras above without dusting. He shall wear Rudrākṣa beads on the head, round the neck, in the ears and hands.

36. The Rudrākṣa bead with the lustre of gold is excellent. It shall not be cut. What is not worn by others is the most auspicious. To the three castes the colours yellow, red and black are respectively excellent.

37. If the excellent bead is not available whatever is available shall be used for wearing. But it shall not be defective. The lower caste men shall not wear the bead intended for the higher caste. The higher caste men can wear the other types too.

38-39. Impure men shall not wear the Rudrākṣa bead. Everyone shall take bath twice, twice or once a day according to his strength, and worship the lord seated in a charming pose in the pedestal.

40. He shall face the east or the north while meditating on the lord and the goddess. He shall worship the preceptor and the disciples from Śveta to Nakuliśa.[6]

41-42. Again he shall bow to the lord and repeat his eight[7] names, viz. Śiva, Maheśvara, Rudra, Viṣṇu, Pitāmaha Saṃsāravaidya, Sarvajña and Paramātman. Or he shall repeat the name Śiva eleven times or more.

43. For the removal of sickness he shall meditate on the mass of splendour at the tip of his tongue. He shall wash his feet and apply sandal paste on his hands. He shall perform Karanyāsa after wiping off his hands.

Footnotes and references:


VS. II.50.


Khakholkāya svāhā. Mahān. U. 20. 23.


According to the present context, the golden jar shall weigh a measure of prastha in vogue in the Magadha country. But it is not clear why Māgadha-prastha is preferred.

Magadha is an eastern country identical with Bihar. But in the Purāṇas it is sometimes located in Madhya-deśa and sometimes in Prācya. Cp GAMI p 12 note 4; p 29 note I.


Cp. Śrs. 1. 39. Here the word ‘Sañjñaḥ’ shall be emended to Sadyaḥ and translated accordingly.


TB. 2.7. 16. 4. The printed text reads “yā” dinā°’ which [??] emended to yā divyāo.


Vāyavīya-saṃhitā. II. 9. 2-6.


Ibid., I 32. 23-24.