The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 9,466 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes Obstacles and Portents (yoga-antaraya) which is chapter 9 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 9 - Obstacles and Portents (yoga-antarāya)

Sūta said:

1-3. Obstacles to yogic practice take shape in ten different ways. They are (1) lethargy, (2) ailment, (3) negligence, (4) doubt, (5) unsteady mind, (6) lack of faith, (7) illusion, (8) misery, (9) dejection and (10) indulgence in sensual pleasures. Of these lethargy means abstention from work due to the bulkiness of the body and mind.

4. Ailments originate from the imbalance of the constituent elements. They are the outcome of the defective previous schemes as well as of bad habits. Negligence constitutes omission to secure the means of yoga.

5-6. Doubt is a double perception—“this or that”. Unsteadiness is the instability to stabilize the mind. The mind remains unsteady due to its engrossment in mundane affairs even when the ground is achieved. Lack of faith is the unemotional attitude towards the means of yoga.

7-9. Illusion is misconception of the mind as regards one’s aim, the preceptor, right knowledge, good conduct and lord Śiva as also in the apprehension of self in non-self even when it is nearby. Misery is threefold: spiritual,[1] material[2] and divine[3]. There is also a natural misery due to the agitation of the mind through the frustration of desires.

10-12. When the mind is affected by tamas or rajas it is afflicted. The state of the mind at that time is called dejection. Dejection should be eschewed by strict detachment from the material objects. When one can discriminate between what is worthy and what is not worthy but still stubbornly clings to the unworthy, engrossed in diverse mundane affairs his mind becomes fickle then. These arc the impediments in the realization of yoga for a yogin.

13-15. To the devotee who practises yoga excessively endowed with zeal the obstacles subside but other impediments in the form of Siddhis begin to appear.[4] The Siddhis are six: (1) pratibhā, (2) śravaṇā, (3) vārtā, (4) darśanā, (5) āsvāda, and (6) vedanā.

16. These Siddhis if avoided initially when their potency is very little, lead to better results. Pratibhā (keen intellect) is the disposition (of the mind), resting on one’s power of understanding.

17-20. Buddhi (intellect) is the faculty of discrimination by which anything knowable is known. If one has knowledge of things subtle or hidden far or near, past or future, at all times and places, that knowledge is called pratibhā. If the yogin is able to grasp without effort, the import of all words by merely hearing a concealed or indistinct syllable, whether short, long or prolated that ability is called śravaṇā. The perception, of touch without actual contact is called Vedana (awareness). The ability to see divine forms without effort is called darśanā. Āsvāda (appreciation) is the ability to taste divine delicacies without strain.

21. Vārtā is the intellectual perception of divine smells and subtle elements. O brahmins, through yoga, the yogins attain the knowledge of everything about the embodied beings.

22-25. In this world there are sixty four qualities present in. the body. O brahmins, among these, the aupasargika qualities should be eschewed. In the region of piśācas, O brahmins, the qualities of earth (should be eschewed); in the region of rākṣasas the qualities of water; in the region of Yakṣa the qualities of fire; in the region of Gandharvas the qualities of breath; in the region of Indra the qualities of ether; in the region of Soma the qualities of the mind; in the region of prajāpati the qualities of ego; in the region of brahman the qualities of intellect should be eschewed.

26-29. In the first region (earth) there are eight qualities; in the second (water) sixteen; in the third (fire) twenty four; in the fourth (gandharva) twenty-two; in the fifth (Indra) forty. Each of the five subtle elements—smell, taste, colour, touch and sound is evolved eightfold. O excellent brahmins, there are fortyeight qualities in the region of the moon, fifty-six in the region of Prajāpati, and sixty-four in the region of Brahman. In all the regions ending with that of Brahman, the yogin should discern obstacles through yoga and eschew them. He can realize the supreme brahman thus.

30-31. The yogic Siddhi pārthiva (pertaining to the earth) is eight: (1) bulkiness, (2) leanness, (3) infancy (4) youthfulness, (5) old age, (6) ability to assume different shapes, (7) ability to hold body by means of (only) four elements without the part of the earth and (8) having perpetual sweet scent.

32-35. The yogic Siddhi āpya (pertaining to the water) is sixteen: (1) He can stay under water as long as he wills; (2) he can come out of water whenever he wills; (3) he can drink up even the ocean and be none the worse for it; (4) he can let the water spring up wherever he wills; (5) whatever he wishes to eat he can transform it into tasty substance; (6) he can hold body with only three elements, viz. fire, air and ether; (7) He can hold a mass of water by the bare hands without any container; (8) he can have a body free from cuts and wounds. These eight powers together with the eight qualities of the earth constitute aiśvarya pertaining to the water.

36-38. The yogic Siddhi taijasa (pertaining to the fire) is twenty-four: (1) ability to create fire from the body; (2) absence of fear from being scorched by it; (3) ability to arrange something unburnt even when the whole world is burnt; (4) ability to keep fire in the water or (5) hold it in palms, (6) ability to create fire by merely remembering it; (7) ability to re-create at will what is reduced to ashes; and (8) ability to have the body with two elements—air and ether, to the exclusion of the other three.

39-41. The yogic Siddhis pertaining to the air are: (1) ability to move as fast as the mind; (2) ability to enter the bodies of living beings; (3) ability to hold weighty things like mountains on shoulders; (4) lightness, (5) weightiness, (6) holding the air with palms; (7) ability to shake the earth with the tip of the finger and (8) to create bodies with the air.

42-43. Ability (1) to have no shadow of oneself; (2) to see the subtle elements; (3) to walk over the ether; (4) to have the objects of desire at will; (5) to hear sound from a distance, (6) to comprehend all types of sounds; (7) to have a body composed only of subtle elements and (8) to see all living being—these are the powers pertaining to Indra who is so called because he creates bodies by means of these powers.

44-45. Ability (to acquire whatever he desires), (2) to wander wherever he pleases, (3) to overpower all, (4) to perceive all secret things, (5) to create according to desire, (6) to bring others under control, (7) to see things at will, (8) to perceive the whole world—these are the powers pertaining to the mind in the region of the moon.

46-47. Ability to cut, (2) strike, (3) bind, (4) create and (5) destroy, (6) bless, (7) conquer time and (8) death—these are the qualities pertaining to the ego in these regions of Prajāpati.

48-49. The following powers pertain to Brahmā—(1) creation of the world by mere conception, (2) protection, (3) dissolution, (4) exercise of authority, (5) functioning the world at will, (6) dissimilarity with all, (7) creating separately all visible things and (8) the creatorship of the universe.

50. The power greater than and beyond this is the one pertaining to Viṣṇu. It is the source of the power of Brahmā. It can be understood by Brahmā alone and not by others.

51. There is another greater power pertaining to Śiva. It is not understood even by Viṣṇu. Who else can know lord Śiva—the pure entity possessed of many qualities.[5]

52. In the course of practising yogic exercises[6] these impediments in the form of attainments do often take place. The impediments should be checked assiduously by complete detachment.

53. Knowing that worldly pleasures are highly ruinous, the detached yogin should eschew everything without the least sense of fear.

54. Absence of desire is, indeed, commendable. It is through the absence of yearning for the attainment of powers and It is by complete detachment that the calamities can be eschewed.

55. In all the worlds, upto the world of Brahmā, one should avoid obstacles. Checking up all desires one should totally abandon them. The great lord is delighted thereby.

56-61. When the lord is delighted liberation becomes easy to attain, by virtue of complete detachment. In some cases, a sage (after getting His grace) may roam about without eschewing the Siddhis for the sake of blessing others or for mere sport. Then also he can be happy.

In some places leaving the Earth he may sport in the sky with splendour; in some places he may utter the Vedas or their subtle meanings succinctly; in sonic places he may compose verses based on the meaning of the vedic passage; in some places he may compose poems in the Daṇḍaka or other meters in thousand ways. He may obtain knowledge of the cries of beasts and birds. Everything beginning with Brahmā and ending with the immobile beings may become perceptible to him like myrobalan fruit in the palm.

O excellent sages, of what avail is much talk? Knowledge in many ways and forms will rise up within that sage of great soul. It is only by practice that perfect knowledge becomes pure and stable.

62. The knower of the yoga can perceive thousands of images of devas and their splendid aerial chariots. Everything can come within the range of his ken.

63. He can see Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra, Yama, Agni, Varuṇa and other deities. He can see thousands of planets, stars and luminaries as well as their regions,

64-65. Entering the state of ecstatic trance he can see the dwellers of nether regions. He can dispel darkness (= ignorance) by the steady influx of his inmost spiritual light-glowing with divine grace and characterized by goodness—which he can see within himself.

66-67. No doubt need be entertained that by virtue of His grace, one can attain Dharma, riches, knowledge, detachment and salvation. The details of his grace, one cannot describe even in ten thousands of years. O leading sages, one should steadily adhere to the yoga pertaining to lord Śiva.

Footnotes and references:


ādhyātmika—this misery proceeds from bodily and mental causes within one’s self. Cf.—[ādhyātmiko vai dvividhaḥ śārīro mānasastathā |]—quoted in Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa).


ādhibhautika—this misery is produced from external causes:—[anyaprāṇikṛtam]—Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa).


ādhidaivika—this misery proceeds from the influence of the atmosphere or planets, from divine or supernatural agencies:—[śītoṣṇādijanyam]—Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa).


Upasarga—It is an ailment in the soul of a yogī and, if unchecked, it will hinder his progress in the path of self-realization. Liṅga records sixty-four upasargas.


It refers to the eternal transcendent spirit placed in the twentyseventh category beyond the influence of sattva, rajas and tamas, and regarded as higher than the highest. Cf.—[yaḥ saptaviṃśako nityaḥ parātparataraḥ prabhuḥ | 1.71.51] and it is by complete detachment that the calamities can be eschewed.


[vyutthāne—vyavahārakāle]—Śivatoṣiṇī (a commentary on the Liṅgapurāṇa). The sixty-four attainments (siddhayaḥ) are useful from the materialistic point of view but they are obstacles (upasargas) to yoga.

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