The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “obstacles in the path of yoga” 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 38 - Obstacles in the path of Yoga

Upamanyu said:—

1-2. There are ten obstacles in the path of those who practise Yoga:—Idleness, acute ailments, blunder, doubtfulness about the spot, unsteady mind, lack of faith, illusions, miseries, dejectedness and indulgence in sensual objects.

3. Idleness affects the body and the mind. Ailments are caused by the imbalance of the Dhātus. They are also due to the defective previous Karmans.

4. Blunder is the non-contemplation of the means of Yoga. Doubtfulness is the double perception—“this or this?”

5. Unsteadiness is the inability to stabilise the mind. Lack of faith connotes absence of piety in the path of Yoga,

6-7. Illusion is misconception. Misery is of three types. That due to ignorance is spiritual misery. The misery that affects the body due to previous actions is the corporal misery. Thunderbolt, missiles, poisons are the miseries caused by divine intercession.

8. Dejectedness is the agitation due to the frustration of desires. Indulgence in diverse sensual objects is the overfondness for them.

9. When the obstacles subside and the Yogin is absorbed in Yoga the signs begin to appear. They are divine indications of the imminent success.

10. The Upasargas are—Pratibhā, Śravaṇa, Vārtā, Darśana, Āsvāda and Vedanā. They are the Siddhis at the expense of Yoga.

11. The correct perception of objects whether they be subtle, hidden by other objects, or of bygone days, or situated far off, or not yet born is called Pratibhā.

12. Śravaṇa is the ability to hear all sounds without any strain. Vārtā is the knowledge of everything concerning all embodied beings.

13. Darśana is the ability to see all divine objects without difficulty. Similarly, Āsvāda is the ability to taste divine delicacies.

14-15. Vedanā is the ability to know the divine touch and the divine smell. All the lords of the worlds beginning with Brahmā stand before him and give him many gems and jewels. Words naturally sweet and eloquent function through his mouth.

16. The divine potions, aphrodisiacs and divine medicines are offered to him by celestial damsels who pay him their homage.

17. Though this is only a fraction of the Siddhis of Yoga, when this is done he will have confidence in salvation: “This has been seen by me. In the same manner salvation too shall occur.”

18-19. The Yogic Siddhi pertaining to the earth named ‘Paiśāca Pada’ consists of eight types of powers, viz., leanness, bulkiness, infancy, old age, youthfulness, the ability to assume different forms and the ability to collect sweet-smelling scents without any earthly part.

20-23. The wonderful Yogic Siddhi pertaining to water consists of sixteen powers, viz:—he can stay under water, he can come out of the earth, at his will he can drink up even the ocean and be none the worse for it, wherever he wishes he can let water spring up or he can hold water in the palm of his hand. Whatever he wishes to eat he can transform into juicy substance, he can assume these forms, he can have the body free from cuts and wounds. Over and above these powers he can have the eight powers of the Yogins.

24-25. The Yogic Siddhi called Taijasa consists of twenty-four types of powers viz:—the ability to create fire from the body, absence of fear of being scorched by the fire, the ability to burn the universe without difficulty, placing of fire in water or in the palms, re-create things burnt in fire, cook food in the mouth, create bodies with the fire and wind and above all these are the sixteen powers of the Āpya Yogins.

26-28. The wise know that the Yogic Siddhi called Māruta consists of thirty-two types of powers viz:—the speed of the mind, the ability to enter the bodies of living beings, to hold weighty things like mountains etc. without difficulty, weightiness, weightlessness, holding the wind within the palms, ability to shake even the earth with the tip of the finger, to produce bodies with the wind and apart from these the twenty-four powers of the Taijasa Yogins.

29-31. The Yogic Siddhi called Aindra pertaining to the ether consists of forty powers:—Shadowlessness, absence of the sense-organs, ability to walk over the ether, to have the sense-objects at will, to transgress the ether, to instil the ether into the body, to solidify ether, having no body and over and above these the thirty-two powers of the Māruta Yogins.

32-34. Ability to acquire whatever is desired, to wander as he pleases, to attack all, to sec all the hidden secrets of others, to create bodies according to the task, to bring others under control, to appear pleasing, and to see the world, these powers along with those of the Aindra Yogins constitute the cāndramasa type of yogin. The powers are mainly mental and the number of powers is forty-eight.

35-36. Ability to cut, to strike, to bind and to release, seizure of all living beings under the influence of worldly existence, ability to delight all, mastery over death and time these are the special powers of the Prājāpatya Yogins. These powers along with those of Cāndramasa Yogins are fifty-six in number.

37-39. Creation by mere conception, protection, and annihilation, ability to exercise authority, to make minds function, dissimilarity with all, creation of a separate universe doing auspicious and inauspicious things—these powers along with the Prājāpatya powers, altogether numbering sixty-four, constitute the powers of the Yogin of the Brāhma type.

40. This Aiśvarya functions through intellect. The power greater than and beyond this is the Prākṛta Aiśvarya called Vaiṣṇava. The sustenance of the universe is his alone. Only Brahmā can explain that region wholly and not others.

41. Beyond that is the region of Puruṣa which functions the attributes and then the region of Gaṇeśa and then the region of Īśvara. This can be understood by Viṣṇu a little and cannot be understood by others.

42. All the Siddhis due to knowledge and the Upasargas shall be checked assiduously by means of great detachment.

43. The great Aiśvarya that affords protection and is coveted by all cannot by acquired if the mind is attached to false appearances, forms and attributes.

44. Hence he who abandons the attributes and the pleasures of the gods, Asuras and kings, considering them as worthless as blades of grass acquires the greatest Yogic power.

45. Or the sage with Yogic powers shall move about with a desire to bless the universe. He can then enjoy the pleasures at his will and attain salvation.

46-52. Now I shall explain the practice of Yoga. Listen attentively. The time and the spot shall be auspicious; it may be the temple of Śiva and or other clean place; it shall be a secluded spot devoid of people, creatures, noises and other disturbances. It shall be well-scrubbed and smeared. It shall be rendered fragrant with scents and incense. Flowers shall be strewn. There shall be canopies etc. above. The place shall be abounding in Kuśa grass, flowers, sacrificial twigs, water, fruits, roots, etc. It shall not be near fire or water-receptacles. There shall not be too many dry leaves. The place shall not be infested by flies, mosquitoes, serpents and beasts of prey. There shall not be harmful beasts or wicked men instilling terror. It shall not be the cremation ground, monastery, anthill, dilapidated house, meeting-place of highways, banks and shores of rivers and oceans nor should it be the middle of streets. It shall not be a park in disrepair nor a dilapidated cowshed. It shall not be displeasing nor repulsive. It shall not have been defiled by vomited material or undigested foul smell or faeces and urine. The Yogin shall not practise when he has vomiting or when he suffers from diarrhoea, when he has taken too much of food, or when he has exhausted himself. If he is too hungry or too thirsty or too much worried he shall not practise Yoga. If he is engaged in any of the tasks set by his preceptor he shall not practise Yoga.

53-54. He shall have proper food and activity. He shall be sober in recreation and rest. Both his sleep and wakefulness shall be of the normal proper nature. He shall eschew all tiresomeness. The seat shall be soft, pleasant, sufficiently wide, level and pure. He shall practise one of the poses Padmaka, Svastika and others.

55-60. He shall pay homage to all those venerable persons who reside with his preceptors. He shall keep his head and chest erect. The head shall be lifted up a little. The teeth should not gnash one another. The tongue should be kept well within the teeth and motionless. The scrotum and the penis shall be well guarded by the soles and heels of the feet. The arms shall be placed sideways above the thighs without any strain. The back of the right hand shall be kept over the left palm. The back shall be gradually straightened and the chest shall be projected forward. The eyes shall be fixed at the tip of the nose. He shall not look at any other quarter. The vital breath shall be retained. He shall be as motionless as a stone. He shall meditate on Śiva along with the goddess within his own body, in the scat of the lotus of his heart. He shall worship by meditational sacrifice.

61-63. He shall remember the lord at the root or tip of the nose, or in the umbilicus, or neck, or in the palate or the gullet or in the middle of the eyebrows or at the nostrils or in the forehead or on the head. After conceiving a suitable seat to Śiva and Śivā he shall remember Śiva with or without Āvaraṇa in the two-petalled, or twelve-petalled lotus in accordance with injunction. Or it may be in the ten-petalled six-cornered or four-cornered lotus.

64-66. The lotas shall be conceived in the middle of the eye-brows as having two petals and as brilliant as lightning. To the south and north of the lotus in the middle of the eyebrow two leaves shall be conceived with the colour of lightning ending with letters. The leaves of the sixteen-petalled lotus are the sixteen vowels. They shall be conceived beginning from the petal to the east and proceeding in order.

67-69. The twelve letters beginning with ‘Ka’ and ending with ‘Tha’ are the leaves. The lotus of the colour of the sun, which is meditated inside the heart and which is of the colour of the cow’s milk has ten letters from “Da” to “Pha” for its petals. The letters upto the letter “La” (i.e Ba, Bha, Ma, Ya, Ra and La) constitute the six petals of the lotus with petals facing down and having the colour of the smokeless burning coal. The letters from “Va” to “Sa” constitute the petals of the lotus at the Mūlādhāra, having the colour of gold.

70. He shall meditate on the lord and the goddess in any of these lotuses according to his taste. The mind shall be steady.

71-73. He shall conceive him in any of the following forms—of the size of the thumb, pure, brilliant and illuminating all round, of the form of pure lamp, endowed with its Śakti completely, of the size of the digit of the moon, of the form of the star, the awn of Nīvāra grain and the stalk of the lotus, of the circular shape of the Kadamba, of the form of the dew-drop. He shall contemplate on him as the lord of different Tattvas of the earth and others of which the meditator wishes the mastery.

74-75. The Mūrtis beginning with Brahmā and ending with Sadāśiva, the eight Mūrtis beginning with Bhava, the gross Mūrtis of Śiva prescribed in the Śaivite scriptures, the terrible, the quiet or the mixture of both shall be meditated upon by the sages without the desire for fruits, and by the experts in meditation.

76-78. If the terrible forms of the lord are meditated upon they shall dispel sins and ailments. If the mixtures of the form are contemplated upon, the effect is often delayed. If the calm and the gentle form is contemplated upon, the effect is neither immediate nor delayed. But the special benefit in the gentle form is salvation, peace and intellect. The Siddhis are achieved gradually. There is no doubt about this.