The Linga Purana

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

This page describes The means of worshipping Shiva which is chapter 20 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 20 - The means of worshipping Śiva

Sūta said:

1. Rudra, Mahādeva, the grandfather stationed in the mystic diagram is worthy of being worshipped by the Brahmins, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas as well.

2. For the Śūdras[1] the service rendered to a worshipper is enough. Undoubtedly women are not authorised to perforin worship.

3. If the worship is conducted through leading brahmins, women and Sūdras shall derive the same benefit. In order to help kings special worship shall be conducted by brahmins and others.

4. May the brahmins and others worship Sadāśiva thus.

After saying thus, lord Rudra vanished there itself.

5. All those noble-souled sages and Devas bowed down to the lord. They were excited due to meditation on Rudra.

6-11. Devas and sages whose assets are austerities went away in the direction from which they had come.

Hence, one shall continuously worship the solar deity who has the form of Śiva, for the sake of virtue, love, wealth and salvation. He shall worship him mentally, verbally and physically.

The sages said:

O Romaharṣaṇa, the most excellent one among those who cherish all the scriptures, O omniscient one, O highly blessed disciple of Vyāsa, now mention the sacred doctrine of Agni and the sacred scripture thereof recounted by Śiva for the achievement of virtue, love, wealth and salvation. It was mentioned by Śiva the lord of Devas, with a desire for the welfare of devotees. After performing an elaborate penance difficult to be practised by Devas and Dānavas he extracted this doctrine from the Vedas, the six ancillary treatises as well as from the systems of philosophy, Sāṃkhya and Yoga. It extends to a hundred crores of verses. It is full of meaning. It contains behests. It is a great hidden secret. It decries ignorance. In some respects it agrees with the orthodox religion based on the four castes and stages of life. In some respects it is antagonistic to it.

There, in that doctrine, how is the worship of the lord? How is the sacred ablution, yoga etc? We are eager to hear about it.

Sūta said:

12-14. Formerly, Nandīśvara the son of Śilāda, the lord of the Gaṇas and a favourite of Śiva, was asked thus by Sanatkumāra on the peak of the splendid Meru. After bowing down to him the chiefs of all sages put the same question to him. O leading sages, may ye now listen to that doctrine of perfect knowledge narrated to Sanatkumāra by the delighter of his race.

15-17. This doctrine pertaining to Śiva is the gist of what is mentioned in the Vedas or is defined by Śiva. It is devoid of eulogies and rebukes and is capable of giving immediate conviction. Resulting from the grace of elders and preceptors it is a divine doctrine that yields salvation without strain.

Sanatkumāra said:

“O Śailādi, how is the worship of Śiva to be performed for the realisation of virtue, love, wealth and salvation. It behoves you to recount this to me who have approached you in all humility.

Sūta said:

18. On hearing these words, lord Nandin the most excellent among eloquent ones, mentioned the opportune moments, occasions, necessary qualifications for practising this.

Śailādi said:

19-20. I shall mention the necessary qualifications as revealed by preceptors and the scriptural texts. The nomenclature of Śaiva preceptor (the propounder of Śaiva doctrines) is based on. his gravity and not otherwise. Ācārya[2] (preceptor) is so called because he practises the doctrines himself, stabilises others in the practice of those doctrines and gathers together the topics mentioned in the scriptural texts.

21-23. A true devotee shall search for an Ācārya with the following qualifications:—He must be conversant with the principles expounded in the Vedic passages. He must be one lying down in Bhasman. He must be graceful and pleasing in appearance. He must feel the necessity of acquiescing in the delight of the general public. He must be a follower of the path of Śrutis and Smṛtis. He must be one who accords fearlessness by means of his learning. He must be devoid of covetousness and ficklemindedness. He shall be one who scrupulously fosters proper conduct and adherence to customs and conventions. He must be bold and self-possessed. He must, cling to accepted usages and conventions. After finding out such a preceptor the devotee shall worship him like Śiva with every sort of emotional attachment.

24. The disciple must propitiate him in accordance with his faith and financial capacity. He must serve him physically and by monetary gifts. He shall continue serving him till he becomes pleased..

25. If that highly blessed personage is delighted the bonds of the disciple shall snap instantaneously. The preceptor shall be honoured and worshipped. The preceptor is Sadāśiva himself.

26. The preceptor shall test the brahmin disciples for three years by sending them on errands here and there and by giving them only such articles as will sustain their life.

27-32. The excellent person shall be engaged in the meanest of jobs and the base person shall be engaged in the loftiest ones. If they do not resent being scolded or beaten they are the most deserving disciples. The following types of Brahmins become deserving disciples: Those who are learned in Śaiva doctrines, who are devoted to the holy rites pertaining to Śiva; who are righteous and self-restrained; who follow the path of Śrutis and Smṛtis; who endure all Dvandvas (mutually clashing opposites); who are self-possessed and perpetually persevering mentally; who are engaged in rendering help to others; who are devoted to the service of the preceptors; who are tenderhearted, healthy and straightforward; who are loyal and faithful; who speak pleasing words and are not arrogant; who are intelligent and without rivalry and covetousness; who are endowed with the qualities of cleanliness and adherence to the conventions; who are free from haughtiness and maliciousness and who are engaged in devotion to Śiva. Persons like this, who are endowed with disciplined conduct thus should be further sanctified for the purity of principles.

33. A disciple who is pure, who is richly endowed with the quality of humility, who eschews false pretensions and harsh words and who obeys the behests of preceptor deserves blessings.

34. The preceptor who is conversant with the scriptural texts, who is intelligent, who is favourably disposed towards common people, who performs penance, who is engaged in following accepted worldly conventions and who knows the principles is known as one who bestows salvation.

35. He may be endowed with all characteristic qualities; he may be an expert in all sacred texts, and he may be conversant with all means and modes, but if he is devoid of the real truth, all the other qualities shall be futile to him.

36. If he has no decisive knowledge of the Ātman which is self-evident great principle, he is not blessed himself. How can he bless others?

37. The brahmin, who is enlightened is pure and is capable of accomplishing things. But whence can there be enlightenment in one who is devoid of principles? Whence can there be comprehension of self?

38. All those who are devoid of comprehension are said to be Paśus. All those who are incited by Paśus are also spoken as Paśus.

39. Hence, those liberated souls who are conversant with the principles (realities) can redeem others. The principle that produces perfect cognition originates from his greatest bliss.

40. Only he who has understood the truth can be a guide unto bliss and not one who is a preceptor only in name but who is devoid of cognition.

41. Such people cannot redeem one another. Can a rock redeem another rock? Those who have perfect cognition only in name can have salvation only in name.

42. Command that causes the destruction of bonds is instantaneously born by the sight and touch of the yogins or even by conversing with them.

43. Or, the preceptor may enter the physical body of the disciple by the yogic path and enlighten him by means of the yogic power after understanding all the entities.

44-47. The three-fold[3] purity mental, verbal and physical is ordained by the path of knowledge. The preceptor shall test the disciple, ascertain his piety and virtue as well as his knowledge. He must test him to find out if he is devoid of faults-whether he is a Brahmin, a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya. The preceptor shall whisper from ear to ear and from the knowledge shown perceive what he has known. The preceptor’s line shall thus be perpetuated duly as in the case of lamps where one lamp is lighted from another. O highly blessed one, what are called tattvas consist of the following:—Bhauvana [Bhauvanam],[4] Pada [Padam], Varṇākhya [Varṇākhyam], Mātra [Mātram], and Kālādhvara [Kālādhvaram]. Only he who cuts across these tattvas can realise Siddhi and salvation by means of his own ājñā śakti (will power) through the mercy of the preceptor.

48-52. The elements beginning with the earth are included in Bhauvana [Bhauvanam]; sound, touch, colour, taste and smell are Pada [Padam] due to their common characteristics. O Brahmin, Varṇākhya [Varṇākhyam] connotes the different varieties of the sense-organs. The Matram connotes the organs of action. The mind, intellect, ego and the unmanifest are known as Kālādhvara [Kālādhvaram]. By Unmanatva is meant the principles beginning with Puruṣa and ending with Brahmā. Īśatva is greater than the greatest. This is the meaning of all tattvas. One who is not a yogin cannot know the real nature of the tattvas which is the nature of Śiva himself.

Footnotes and references:


Persons of Śūdra class and female sex are excluded from worship. However, they are allowed to worship the devotees of Śiva,.


ācārya. Cf.—[ācāryaḥ ācāraṃ grāhayati, ācinotyarthān, ācinoti buddhim]—N. I.4


Along with the purification of the threefold set of the guṇas, the Purāṇa enjoins the purification of tattvas, viz. bhauvana (five gross elements), pada (five subtle elements), varṇa (five organs of knowledge), mātra (five organs of action) and kālādhvara (the fourfold group consisting of intellect, ego, consciousness and mind).

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