The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “journey of the sages of naimisha” 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 40 - Journey of the sages of Naimiṣa

Sūta said:—

1. After explaining to the sages, who honoured and exalted him, the path of knowledge that had been previously imparted by the sage Upamanyu of restrained senses to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Vāyu vanished in the air at sunset.

2. The next day in the morning the sages of Naimiṣa set out to perform the holy rite of ablution at the end of their Sattra.

3. Then at the behest of Brahmā the delighted goddess Sarasvatī herself flowed as an auspicious river of sweet water.

4. On seeing her the sages were delighted in their minds. They concluded the Sattra they had begun and plunged into the river.

5. After performing the rite of Tarpaṇa to the gods with her auspicious waters they remembered the previous events and went to Vārāṇasī.

6. There they saw the holy river Gaṅgā descending from the Himālayan ridges and flowing to the south. They took their bath there and went along the bank.

7-9. After reaching Vārāṇasī they rejoiced much. They plunged into the north-flowing waters of the Gaṅgā. They visited Avimukteśvara[1] and worshipped it. They were about to start when they saw a brilliant splendour in the sky that resembled a crore of suns. Its spreading lustre pervaded all the quarters.

10. Then the Siddhas and sages who had performed Pāśupata rites with their bodies covered with Bhasma came there in hundreds and merged into that splendour.

11. When those noble saints merged in it, the splendour suddenly vanished. It was highly mysterious.

12. On seeing that great mystery the sages from Naimiṣa could not know what it was. They went to the forest Brahmavana.[2]

13-15. Even before they arrived there, the wind-god, the purifier of the Worlds, had mentioned to Brahmā the creator of the worlds and the source of the Vedas how he visited the sages of Naimiṣa, what he talked to them, how they were inclined to Śiva, his attendants and Śivā and how they had concluded their Sattra of long duration. When permitted by Brahmā, the wind-god left for his own city.

16-17. Brahmā was comfortably seated in his abode acting as an umpire when Tumburu and Nārada had their mutual rivalry in regard to their musical performance. He was taking a keen interest in their performance while Gandharvas and Apsaras waited on him.

18. That being inopportune time the sages were stopped at the threshold by the gate-keepers and they sat outside the palace of Brahmā towards a side.

19-21. Nārada was pronounced equal to Tumburu[3] in musical skill. Permitted by Brahmā to act in collaboration with him he eschewed mutual rivalry and quarrel and contracted friendship with Tumburu. With him and the other Gandharvas and Apsaras, he started from the palace of Brahmā like the sun coming out of the clouds, in order to sing and play on his Vīṇā before lord Nakulīśvara.

22. On seeing Nārada the sages bowed to him and asked him whether that time was suitable to see the lord.

23. Saying “Yes, this is the proper time, come this way in”, the gatekeeper went away in hurry on another mission.

24. The gatekeepers intimated to Brahmā and the party entered the abode.

25. After entering, the party prostrated to the lord from distance. Or being permitted by Brahmā, the party stood there respectfully.

26-30. The lotus-seated lord enquired after their health and said—“I have had your news from Vāyu. But tell me when the wind-god had vanished how did you proceed” Thereupon the sages related everything:—their journey to Vārāṇasī after their sacrificial ablution, their visiting the Liṅgas, their worship of Avimukteśvara, the appearance of the mast of splendour in the sky, the merging of the sages therein, the disappearance of the splendour and their desire to understand the reality thereof. All this they submitted to Brahmā with reverence.

31-32. On hearing what was mentioned by the sages the four-faced creator of the universe shook his head and spoke in a majestic tone—“A great Siddhi in the next world awaits you all.”

33. The lord has been propitiated by you through the protracted Sattra. The fact that the lord is delighted has been indicated.

34. The refulgence in the air seen by you in Vārāṇasī is the splendour of Maheśvara Liṅga.

35. The sages who were merged therein are those who had performed the Pāśupata rites in accordance with the Vedic injunctions. They have become liberated. Their sins have been washed in view of their stable piety.

36. Just as they achieved salvation by means of Pāśupata rite, so also, ere long, you too will achieve liberation. This fact is indicated by the splendour seen by you.

37. Fortunately your time has come up now. You go to the southern summit of Meru resorted to by the gods.

38. There my son the sage Sanatkumāra is waiting for Nandin, the lord of the Bhūtas.

39-40. Formerly, on seeing Lord Śiva, Sanatkumāra did not pay homage due to his ignorance or arrogance of being a Yogin or carelessness or lack of humility. Due to this offence Nandin was infuriated and he made him a camel.

41-42. I bewailed this for a long time. I worshipped the lord and the goddess and craved forgiveness. With great difficulty I atoned for his wickedness. Sanatkumāra was restored to his previous form.

43-45. Lord Śiva smiled and spoke to the chief of Gaṇas. This sage was arrogant and he insulted me. Hence O sinless one, explain my true nature to him. The eldest son of Brahmā who took me for a fool is given to you as your disciple. He will be the protagonist of my knowledge. He will perform your coronation as the presiding deity of virtue.

46. Thus addressed, the leader of the Bhūtas was pleased to accept the behest.

47. Sanatkumāra is performing penance on the Meru at my behest for the propitiation of the Gaṇa.

48. He shall be seen by you all before the lord of the Gaṇas meets him. Ere long, Nandin will come there to delight him.

49. After bidding thus the Viśvayogin sent the sages to Kumāraśikhara,[4] the southern peak of Meru.

Footnotes and references:


Avimukteśvara, the celebrated phallic emblem of Śiva, is placed in the holy city of Vārāṇasī.


Not identified.


Tumburu is well known as the first-rate musician among the Gandharvas.


Not identified According to the context this hill can be placed to the south of mount Meru.