The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “compulsory and optional rites of shaivite scriptures” 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 22 - The compulsory and optional rites of Śaivite Scriptures

Upamanyu said:

1-2. Nyāsa[1] is of three types: Sthiti, Utpatti and Laya. The first is for householders, the second for Brahmacārins, the third for ascetics, forest-dwellers and widows. For housewives the Sthitinyāsa is recommended.

3-4. For a virgin Utpatti Nyāsa is praiseworthy. I shall now mention the characteristics of the Nyāsas. The procedure from the thumb to the little finger is the Sthitinyāsa. The procedure from the right thumb to the left little finger is the Utpattinyāsa. The reverse is Saṃhṛti (Laya).

5. The letters “Na” etc. along with the Bindus shall be fixed in order in the fingers. Śiva shall be fixed on the palms and on the little fingers.

6-7. The Astranyāsa shall be made in the ten quarters by means of the Astramantra. The five KalāsNivṛtti etc. in the form of the five elements along with the lords of the elements and accompanied by their respective symbols shall be fixed in the chest, neck, palate, middle of the eye-brows and the Brahmarandhra. One shall conceive them in the different Bījas.

8-10. In order to purify them one shall perform the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra. Restraining the vital breath thrice he shall cut off the knot of the elements repeating the Astra mantra and showing the mystic gesture of Astra. The Ātman urged by the vital breath through the Suṣumṇā vein and going out through the Brahmarandhra shall be united with the Śaivite splendour.

11-13. Afterwards the body is withered up by the wind burnt by the deadly fire. Then upwardly the Kalās are dissolved through the wind. Dissolving the burnt body and touching the Kalās with the ocean he shall drench and flood the body through Amṛtas and keep it in its normal place. Killed and burnt without the creation of Kalā he shall flood with Amṛta that which is reduced to ashes.

14. In the body consisting of Vidyā, he shall join the Ātman that has come out of Śiva in the form of the flame of a lamp. He shall join it through the Brahmarandhra.

15. After meditating on the Ātman that has entered the body, in the lotus of the heart, he shall sprinkle with the shower of nectar the body consisting of Vidyā.

16. Then he shall perform the rite of Karanyāsa after duly purifying it. Thereafter he shall perform the Dehanyāsa by means of the great Mudrā.

17. After performing the rite of Aṅganyāsa in the manner mentioned by Śiva, he shall perform the Varṇanyāsa in the joints of hands, feet and other parts of the body.

18. After the Nyāsa of the six limbs accompanied by six types, he shall bind the quarters from the south-east onwards.

19. Or he need perform only the Nyāsa of the five limbs beginning with the head. Similarly the Nyāsa of six limbs without the rites of purification etc. of the Bhūtas shall be performed.

20. Thus he shall succinctly perform the purification of the body and Ātman. Attaining the status of Śiva he shall worship Parameśvara.

21. He who has sufficient leisure and is not confused in mind shall perform the rite of Nyāsa in a detailed manner.

22-23. The first is Mātṛkānyāsa; the next is Brahmanyāsa; Praṇavanyāsa is the third; the next is Haṃsa Nyāsa and the fifth Nyāsa is mentioned as Pañcākṣarātmaka (consisting of the five-syllabled mantra).

24-29. The Nyāsa of the various letters is as follows:—the letter A in the head; Ā in the forehead; ‘I’ and Ī in the eyes; “U” and “Ū” in the ears; “Ṛ” and “Ṛ”[?] in the cheek; ‘lṛ’[ḷ?] and ‘ḷṛ’[ḹ?] in the nostrils; ‘e’ and “ai” in the lips; o and “au” in the rows of teeth; ‘aṃ’ in the tongue and “aḥ” in the palate; the gutturals are in the five joints of the right hand; the palatals in the joints of the left hand; The linguals and the Dentals in the legs; Pa and Pha in the sides; “Ba” in the back and “Bha” in the navel; “Ma” in the heart; “Ya” to “Sa” in the seven constituent elements, skin etc; “ha” in the cavity of the heart and “kṣa” in the middle of the eyebrows.

30. After performing the Nyāsa of the letters in the manner of fifty Rudras the five Brahmans shall be fixed in the limbs, face etc. and Kalā.

31. The Karanyāsa may or may not be performed through them. The Brahmans shall be fixed in the head, face, chest, private parts and legs.

32. The Kalās of Īśāna are five; these are fixed in the five faces beginning with the one above and ending with the one in the west.

33. Then the four Kalās of Puruṣa shall be fixed in the four faces beginning with the one in the east.

34-36. The eight Kalās of Aghora shall be fixed in the heart, neck, shoulders, navel, belly, back and the chest; then the thirteen Kalās of Vāmadeva are fixed in the anus, penis, thighs, knees, calves, hips, buttocks, sides, nose, head and the arms. Thus the experts perform the Nyāsa of the thirty-eight Kalās in due order.

37-41. Afterwards the experts of Praṇava shall perform the Praṇavanyāsa in the arms, elbows wrists, sides, belly, thighs, calves and the back. After performing the Praṇavanyāsa thus, the expert devotee shall perform the Haṃsanyāsa as mentioned in Śaivite scriptures, in the eyes, nostrils, arms, eyes, face, forehead, armpits sides, breasts, hips, hands and heels. Or in the manner of five limbs the Nyāsa shall be performed. Then he shall perform the Nyāsa of the five-syllabled mantra.

42-44. Hereby Śivahood is generated along the path as mentioned before. A non-Śiva shall neither practise the mantra of Śiva nor worship Śiva nor meditate upon Śiva nor attain Śiva. Hence one shall dedicate himself to Śiva and eschew his identity. Thinking “I am Śiva” one shall perform Śaivite rites, viz. Karmayajña, Tapoyajña, Japayajña, Dhyānayajña and Jñānayajña.

45-46. Some are engaged in Karmayajña; others in Tapoyajña; still others in Japayajña; others in Dhyānayajña; and others in Jñānayajña. The latter ones are better than the earlier ones. Karmayajña is of two kinds: one with a specific desire and the other without that.

47-51. A person with a desire, even when he enjoys those pleasures becomes more and more attached to lust. If he is without desire he enjoys pleasures in Rudra’s abode and after a descent therefrom is reborn as a person engaged in Tapoyajña. There is no doubt in this. An ascetic enjoys pleasures in Rudra’s abode and after a fall therefrom is reborn in the world as a man devoted to Japa and Dhyāna. Such a man devoted to Japa and Dhyāna, thanks to heir excellence, attains knowledge ere long, and thereby attains Śiva’s Sāyujya. Hence he becomes a liberated soul even when he is devoted to Karmayajña at the behest of Śiva, if he is without desire. But a person with lust will always be in bondage. Hence one shall be devoted to Dhyāna and Jñāna among the five Yajñas.

52-55. He who has meditation and knowledge crosses the ocean of worldly existence. Dhyānayajña which is freedom from the defects of violence etc. is a pure mental process for salvation and is therefore the greatest means. Just as the persons working outside the palace are seen not enjoying much of the benefits within the royal palace so also the Karmins. To those who meditate, the subtle body of Īśvara becomes visible. But to the Karmins, only the clay, wood etc. are visible. Hence those who are devoted to Dhyānayajña do not accept deities in the form of stone and clay, since they know the reality of Śiva.

56-57. The man who eschews Śiva stationed in the Ātman and worships him externally, resigns the fruit in his hand and licks his elbow. From knowledge, meditation is generated and from meditation knowledge functions better. Through these two, one attains liberation. Hence one shall be devoted to meditation.

58-61. One shall worship the lord and the goddess by means of external service, or with the mind full of faith meditate on them in the twelve-petalled lotus, head, forehead, the middle of the eyebrows, the tip of the nose, face, neck, heart, navel or in any permanent spot. Or he shall worship and phallic image or an embodied idol or in an artificial fire or on the ground with devotion in accordance with one’s affluence. Or he shall worship the lord both internally and externally. A person engaged in mental worship may or may not perform the external worship.

Footnotes and references:


Nyāsa is an assignment of the various parts of the body to the deity. It is usually accompanied with prayer and corresponding gesticulation. This forms an essential part of Karma-Yajña.