The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 265,005 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes The greatness of Narayana which is chapter 1 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 1 - The greatness of Nārāyaṇa

The Sages said:

1. By what is Kṛṣṇa[1] the lord of the chiefs of all Devas, satisfied? O Sūta, it behoves you to mention this as you are conversant with all topics.

Sūta said:

2. O leading brahmins, formerly the great sage Mārkaṇḍeya[2] of great splendour was asked by Ambarīṣa[3] (the same question). I shall recount it precisely.

Ambarīṣa said:

3. O sage Mārkaṇḍeya, you are the master of all virtuous rites. O sage of great intellect, you are an ancient one and an expert in the teachings of the Purāṇas.

4. O highly intelligent sage of good holy rites, what is the most excellent one among the holy divine rites for the devotees of Nārāyaṇa? Recount it.

5. On hearing his words, Mārkaṇḍeya stood up. With the palms joined in reverence, he remembered lord Nārāyaṇa, the unchanging Kṛṣṇa, Acyuta, and said.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

6-8. O king, listen duly to what I say. The remembrance of Nārāyaṇa, his worship, the devoted obeisance to him,—every one of these holy rites is on a par with the horse-sacrifice. Janārdana is that excellent Puruṣa who is the only Being who is the greatest soul. Brahmā and all other beings are born of him. Based on this fact I shall recount the chief Dharma as seen and understood by me.

9-12. Formerly, in the Tretāyuga, there was a certain brahmin named Kauśika who was perpetually engaged in singing Sāmans and was devoted to Vāsudeva. He thought of him always whilst seated or taking food or lying down on the bed. He frequently sang songs of his noble activities. After reaching the holy centre or the excellent shrine of Viṣṇu he used to sing in praise of Viṣṇu by means of exquisite songs wherein the beating of the time, the intonation and the regulated rise and fall of the sounds contributed to make them sweet. He sang in different tunes pleasing to the ears, in diverse ways. He followed the path of devotion and subsisted solely on alms voluntarily offered by the people.

13. On seeing him singing thus in praise of the lord a certain brahmin. Padmākṣa, gave him. cooked rice.

14. Kauśika of great refulgence partook of the rice with the members of his family. In great delight he continued to sing in praise of lord Viṣṇu.

15-16. The brahmin Padmākṣa continued to listen to the songs although he went out of the house now and then. After the lapse of some time, seven of the disciples of Kauśika came there. They were born of the families of brahmins, kings and vaiśyas. They were pure and they excelled one another in wisdom and learning. They were devoted to Vāsudeva.

17-20. To them also, Padmākṣa served cooked rice. Perpetually accompanied by his disciples, Kauśika was delighted in his mind. In a holy centre of Viṣṇu he sang in praise of Viṣṇu and stayed there. There was a certain vaiśya Mālava. He was devoted to Viṣṇu. With a delighted mind he used to offer him garlands of lights perpetually. His chaste wife Mālavī used to scrub the environs of the holy shrine and smear cowdung all round. She used to sit beside her husband listening to the excellent music.

21. For hearing the songs in praise of Viṣṇu fifty excellent brahmins of extolled holy rites came there from Kuśasthala.[4]

22. They were wise and learned. They were conversant with the real meaning of what they learnt. Carrying out the tasks of the noble-souled Kauśika, they stayed there listening to his songs.

23. The ability of Kauśika to sing sweetly became well known. On hearing about it, the king Kaliṅga[5] came there and spoke in these words:

24. “O Kauśika, accompanied by your attendants sing in praise of me. O ye people of Kuśasthala, you too hear the same.

25-30. On hearing it, Kauśika said to the king in an appeasing tone:—“O great king, neither my tongue nor my words eulogise any one other than Viṣṇu. They do not speak in praise of even Indra.”

When this was said, his seven disciples, viz—Vasiṣṭha, Gautama, Hari, Sārasvata, Citra, Citramālya and Śiśu spoke to the king in the same way as Kauśika did.

The disciples from Kuśasthala who were devoted to Viṣṇu also spoke thus to the king:—“O king these ears of ours do not wish to hear about anyone other than Viṣṇu. We will hear the songs of his praise and never the eulogy of any other.”

On hearing this, the king became angry and spoke to his servants:—“Sing, ye, so that these brahmins may hear about my renown. When it is being sung about all round how can it be that they do not hear it?”

31-33. The servants who were ordered thus sang excellent songs about the king. Those brahmins whose way was blocked, became sad after the songs were over.

On realising the inclination of the king, Kauśika and other brahmins plugged one another’s ears by means of wooden pikes.

“This king has compelled his servants to sing obstructing us as he stands by his own songs of praise”. Saying thus, the brahmins of regular observances cut off the tips of their tongues with their own hands.

34-36. Then the infuriated king confiscated their riches and banished them from his kingdom. Thereupon, they went to the north. In due course of time they courted death. On seeing them come, Yama (God of death) was bewildered as to what should be done. At that time, O king Ambarīṣa, Brahmā spoke to the chiefs of Devas: “comfortably accommodate Kauśika and other brahmins today.

37. Welfare unto ye all. If you wish to retain your Devahood bring those persons here who perpetually worship Viṣṇu by means of music.”

38-39. The guardians of the quarters who were thus ordered, shouted “O Kauśika” again and again. Some of them cried “O Mālava, O Mālava.” Others shouted “O Padmākṣa, O Padmākṣa”. They approached them, seized them and carried them to the world of Brahmā by the aerial path. Those Devas reached the world of Brahmā within a Muhūrta.

40. On seeing Kauśika and others, Brahmā the grandfather of the worlds greeted them. He honoured them by welcoming them.

41. O excellent king, on seeing what Brahmā did Devas became excessively grave. There was great commotion among them.

42-50. Lord Brahmā forbade the excellent Devas. He took Kauśika and other sages and hurried to the world of Viṣṇu, with great devotion to Vāsudeva. Lord Viṣṇu was surrounded by Devas. Lord Nārāyaṇa, the lord of the path of knowledge, was being served by the splendid Siddhas who resided in the Śvetadvīpa.[6] They were devotees of Viṣṇu with great mental concentration and purity. They had four divine arms. They were on a par with Nārāyaṇa. They were equipped with the characteristic signs of Viṣṇu. They were brilliant and devoid of sins. He was served by those great people numbering eighty thousand, as also by people like us (i. e. Mārkaṇḍeya) and by Nārada, Sanaka and other sinless souls. He was also served by different beings all round. Celestial women too served him. He was seated on a Bhadra Pīṭha (holy seat) in the middle of an aerial chariot that had a thousand doors, that extended to a thousand Yojanas in length. It was divine, bright as well as set with jewels. It was spotlessly pure and splendid with exquisite, diverse workmanship. Viṣṇu glanced benignantly at them who were engaged in worldly affairs[7] (?) Kauśika and others surrounded the lord at that time. He came, prostrated and eulogised the garuḍa-bannered lord. Glancing at him, lord Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa said “O Kauśika.” With great pleasure he addressed them in due order.

51. There was a great shout of victory when this wonderful event took place. The lord, the soul of the universe, said to Brahma—“O Brahmā, listen to what is to be mentioned by me.

52. These brahmins who were the residents of Kuśasthala endeavoured for the welfare of everyone. They were engaged in achieving what had to be accomplished by Kauśika.

53. They are engaged in listening to my glory. They are equipped with the knowledge of reality. They are not devoted to any other deity. May they all become Devas named Sādhyas.

54. Offer them entry to places near me as well as to other auspicious places, for ever”

After saying this, lord Viṣṇu said to Kauśika.

55. O brahmin of great intellect, accompanied always by your own disciples, be my attendant.[8] Attain the chieftancy of all my attendants and always remain with me.

56-57. Lord Viṣṇu spoke thus to Mālava and Mālavi: “O Mālava, stay as you please in my world, along with your wife as long as this world lasts. Assume a divine form. Be a glorious lord. Listen to the songs of my praise.”

58-59. Lord Viṣṇu said to Padmākṣa, “Become the lord and the bestower of riches. Come to me in due course and visit me. Then happily rule over your kingdom.”

After saying thus, lord Viṣṇu spoke to Brahmā.

60. Thanks to the songs of Kauśika, my yogic slumber is over. Accompanied by his disciples he eulogises me in the shrines dedicated to me.

61-67. He was banished from the kingdom by the cruel king Kaliṅga. He cut off his tongue and resolved thus, “I will never eulogise anyone other than Viṣṇu.” He has now attained my world. These brahmins who regularly practise observances, who are my devotees and who ate highly renowned plugged their ears by means of pikes. They resolved thus:—“We will never hear anything other than the glory of Viṣṇu.” These brahmins have attained Deva-hood and my proximity. Accompanied by his wife, Mālava scrubbed and cleaned my holy centre. He decorated my shrines with clusters of lights. He used to worship me perpetually. He regularly listened to the songs of my glorious deeds. Hence, he has attained my eternal and massive world. This Padmākṣa gave food to the noble Kauśika. Hence, he has become the lord of riches and attained my proximity. So said Viṣṇu in that assembly, Viṣṇu who is worshipped by the entire world.

68-71. At that instant, there came Lakṣmī the consort of Viṣṇu, slowly and smilingly. She was bedecked in ornaments of diverse kinds. She was accompanied by experts in the science of instrumental music and by those who were conversant with the function of the lute. They were charming in the use of sweet words. They sang in praise of Lakṣmī. She was surrounded by thousands and crores of ladies. On seeing her arrive, the chieftains of the attendants, who were as huge as mountains and who wielded iron clubs like Bhuśuṇḍī[9] and Parigha[10] threateningly admonished Brahmā and other Devas as well as sages making them recede to give way to her. They were delighted in their tasks.

72 - All of us (i. e. Mārkaṇḍeya and others) went out along with Brahmā and Devas. At that very time, Tumburu[11] the excellent sage was called.

73-75. He entered and stood near the goddess and the lord. Comfortably seated there, he sang exquisitely and played on the lute with delight. The excellent sage was worshipped by them and honoured with divine ornaments studded with jewels and splendid garlands. Tumburu was delighted, as also the other sages and Devas.

76-82. O king, the destroyer of enemies,[12] sage Nārada saw Tumburu depart after being duly honoured. On seeing the hospitable reception accorded to Tumburu by Viṣṇu, Nārada was overwhelmed with grief affecting his eyes and heart. In the height of his grief he began to worry and ponder over, “By what means will I gain access to Viṣṇu in the presence of the goddess? Alas! it has been attained by Tumburu. Fie upon me the stupid fellow of confounded mind. I have been driven out of the presence of Viṣṇu by the attendants. Where shall I go? How can I live? Alas! a wonderful feat has been achieved by Tumburu”. Thinking thus, the brahmin sage performed penance for a thousand years according to divine reckoning. He did not even breathe. Reflecting on the hospitable reception to Tumburu, he meditated on Viṣṇu. He repeatedly cried though he was a scholar and said, “Fie upon me.” O king, listen to what Viṣṇu did in this regard.

Footnotes and references:


Kṛṣṇa—son of Vasudeva and the eighth incarnation of Viṣṇu. He is said to be a devotee of Śiva.


Mārkaṇḍeya—an ancient sage, son of Mṛkaṇḍu. He is the reputed author or narrator of the Mārkaṇḍeya Puraṇa.


Ambarīṣa—a descendant of Manu Vaivasvata and son of Nābhāga celebrated for his devotion to Viṣṇu.


Kuśasthala or Kuśasthalī, is the same as Dvarakā, near the extreme western promontory. It was the capital of the country Ānarta in the peninsula of Gujarat. It is also one of the seven names of Ujjayinī. Cf. Skandapurāṇa. v.I.26.45.


Kaliṅga—here, name of a king.


Śveta-dvīpa—It has not been possible to identify this is land. Colonel Wilford has attempted to identify it with Britain. See H.M. p. 153.


loka-kārya-prasakta [prasaktānām]—according to Śivatoṣiṇī. it refers to Devas who look after the welfare of the people.


digbandha [digbandhaḥ]—samīpavartī Śivatoṣiṇī. a technical term meaning an attendant or a body-guard.


bhuśuṇḍī—a kind of weapon, perhaps fire-arms. It is probably a contraction of bhuja-śatru-muṇḍī (or śatru-bhuja-muṇḍī), that which cuts the aria of the enemy.


parigha—a club studded with iron.


Tumbaru—a Gandharva, proficient in music.


arindama—vocative case. It is addressed to Ambarīṣa to whom the story is being narrated.

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