The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “compulsory and optional 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.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 28 - The compulsory and optional rites

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Upamanyu said:—

1. Now I shall explain the procedure of rites under certain conditions to be performed by those who follow the Śaivite conduct of life in the manner prescribed in the Śaivite scriptures.

2-3. The great worship shall be performed every month in both the fortnights on the eighth and fourteenth days and on the Full-moon and the New-moon days. It must be performed particularly at the tropical and equinoctial transit of the sun and during the eclipses, according to his capacity.

4. Every month he shall observe fast for a day and prepare Brahmakūrca. He shall perform the ablution of Śiva thereby and drink the residue.

5. The atonement for the murder of a brahmin and other great sins is the drinking of Brahmakūrca.[1] There is no better remedy.

6. In the month of Dec-Jan. when the moon is in the asterism Puṣya he shall perform the rite of Nīrājana to the lord. In the month of Jan-February in the Maghā star he shall make the charitable gifts of ghee and woollen blanket.

7. In the month of Feb-March in the star Uttarā-Phālgunī he shall start the great festival. In the month of March-April on the full-moon day and Citrā star, he shall perform the Swing-festival duly.

8. In the month of April-May on the full-moon day with the star Viśākhā he shall make the great temple of flowers. In the month of May June on the star Mūlā he shall offer a pot of cold water.

9-10. In the month of June-July on the star Uttarāṣādhā the rite of investiture with sacred thread shall be performed. In the month of July-August the mystic diagrams shall be arranged. In the month of Aug-September in the star Pūrvāṣāḍhā the swimming festival of the lord shall be performed.

11. In the month of Sep-October on the full moon day he shall make charitable gifts of milk pudding and cooked rice with grains recently harvested. On the star Śatabhiṣak he shall perform the rites of fire too with the same.

12. In the month of Octo-November when the moon is in conjunction with the star Kṛttikā he shall light a thousand lamps. In the month of Nov-December on the Ārdrā star he shall perform the ablution of Śiva with ghee.

13. Those who are unable to perform the rites on the respective occasions shall perform the festival in the big hall of the temple or perform worship or more.

14-16. On occasions when commendable rites shall be performed, when the mind is afflicted and dejected, when the conduct of life has become defiled, when bad dreams occur, when wicked men are seen, when inauspicious portents occur or when afflicted by great ailments, the devotee shall perform ceremonial ablutions, worships, Japas, meditations, sacrifices and other rites and offer charitable gifts suitably along with Puraścaraṇa. When the scries of Śiva-fire is broken it shall be revived.

17. Śiva bestows salvation on the person who performs his rites thus, perpetually and assiduously, even in a single birth.

18. He who performs in succession the compulsory and optional rites attains the divine and primordial region of lord Siva.

19-21. The man enjoys great pleasures there for millions and millions of Kalpas. After some time, falling from there he occupies the regions of Umā, Kurnāra, Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Rudra and enjoys the pleasures there as mentioned. Again he goes up and transcends the five regions. Securing knowledge of Śiva he attains Śiva’s city.

22. A devotee who performs half the number of holy rites has this upward and downward journey twice and thereafter secures knowledge and attains Śiva’s Sāyujya.

23-26. A devotee who performs one-fourth of the number of holy rites goes beyond the two worlds, to the end of the universe and the unmanifest above, and reaches the Pauruṣa and Raudra regions of Śiva. After enjoying the pleasures there in diverse ways for thousands of Yugas when the merit is exhausted he reaches the earth and is born in a great and noble family. There also due to the previous impressions, he will eschew brutish activities and be engaged in Śaivite holy rites. Meditating well due to the holy rites he will attain Śiva’s city.

27-28. After enjoying extensive pleasures he will attain the region of Vidyeśvaras. After enjoying the vast pleasures along with Vidyeśvaras he will return for once either within or outside the universe. Thereafter he will secure the perfect knowledge of Śiva and the great devotion. After attaining identity with Śiva he does not return again.

29-30. A person who is devoted to Śiva even as the others are devoted to sensual objects shall be liberated whether he performs or does not perform the Śaivite holy rites. He returns once, twice, or thrice but ultimately does not return.

31-32. He becomes an emperor and is invested with the right in the Śaivite ritual. If one desires welfare one shall seek refuge in Śiva and resort to his holy rites. But we do not compel anyone through any means.

33-35. Neither importunities nor over-discussions are appealing. The Śaivite rites appeal to some others by virtue of the merits they bestow and the previous impressions they invoke if the cause of worldliness in their case is not competent to help. Hence, if one longs for the welfare of the Ātman, one shall ponder over all these things in accordance with his nature and engage himself in the Śaivite holy rites.

Footnotes and references:


It is a kind of penance in the observance of which the five products (pañcagavya) of the cow are eaten.

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