Historical Elements in the Matsya Purana

by Chaitali Kadia | 2021 | 91,183 words

This page relates ‘Religion and Rituals: Shaiva’ of the study on the historical elements of the Matsya-purana: one of the eighteen Mahapuranas which are Sanskrit texts that have preserved the cultural heritage, philosophy, religion, geography, etc of ancient India. This Matsyapurana was originally written in 20,000 verses and deals with topics such as architecture, ancient history, polity, religion and philosophy.

The Śaiva community started long ago. However, although there is no possibility of the presence of this community among the non-Āryans in the Vedic age, there is a mention of Rudra in the Ṛgveda . This community became more widespread during epics and Purāṇas. Originally it originated from the worship of Lord Śiva. There is a description of Lord Śiva in the Matsya Purāṇa or it can be said that Lord Śiva occupies a special place in the Matsya Purāṇ .


Vāmadeva is the child of Brahmā (MP-4/27) and the creator of the four castes (MP-4/28). Mahādeva was not created. He is in the past, present and future. He is the protector of life and he is the indestructible, the controller, the benefactor and the supreme god. He is eternal that is he was not born (MP-154/178). In the Matsya Purāṇa it is said that there is no man equal to Śiva and no wife like Pārvati (MP-183/35). Lord Śiva’s skin color is like a blunt flower (MP-250/59). Śiva is the lord of Iśāna corner and with white color and lord of all knowledge (MP-266/26). He has four arms and three eyes (MP-22/47), 193/64) or ten arms (MP-266/36). Another chapter of the Purāṇa mentions the eight hands of the God (MP-22/14). His throat is blue (MP-20/15). The reason for his blue throat is said to be that he accepts in his throat the Kālkuta poison that came out of the sea in the battle of Devāsura (MP-250/32). He has been called as ‘Dhumralohita ’ (MP-121/22). The Moon adorns his head (MP-134/33, 140/49). His vehicle is a bull (MP-67/16) and his favourite weapon is a trident (Triśula ), so he is called Śuladhara (MP-23/19) and Śulabhṛta (MP-11/19). The name of his bows are Ajagava (MP-23/37) and Pināka , that is why he is known as Pinākina (MP-23/36, 69/1) and Pinākdhāri (MP-60/11, 95/16). He lives in the Kailāsa (MP-12/1, 2). Even the snow capped Hemalayas are also his home (MP-54/3). For this he is called Giriśa (MP-23/36). It is also said that Mahādeva lives in a cave with the bright, gold and gems of the Mandār mountain (MP-69/1, 250/26). Meru is also considered by many to be the abode of Mahādeva (MP-181/7).

There are some names of Mahādeva in the Matsya Purāṇa . Such as–Mahadeva (MP-47/15), Bhava (MP-47/122, 170), Sarva (MP-56/4), Ugra (MP-56/3) and Iśāna (MP-56/4) etc. In spite of these there are more others name in the Vedic literature. Those name also are in the Matsya Purāṇa. Such as Traiyambaka (MP-47/50, RV-7/59/12), Paśupati (MP-56/3), Hara (MP-22/14), Śiva (MP-55/16), Śankara (MP-154/271), Kalidāsa addressed him as Sthānu (Vikramorvarsiyam–1/1). Mahādeva is said to be Aṣṭamurti in the Matsya Purāṇa (MP-93/66, 278/17) (Śākuntalam 1/1, Mālavikāgnimitram 1/1). This Aṣṭamurti are–earth, water, light, air, sky, sacrifice, sun and moon. In the Matsya Purāṇa Śiva is called as Yogi (MP-85/5). By this yoga he became in his Rudra incarnation (MP-185/7).


The Matsya Purāṇa mentions that Śiva is worshiped in the Ādranadakāri vows. Śiva is worshiped as a liṅga in Ādityaśayana vows (MP-55/4). It has been said to worship Śiva in the Avimuktakṣetra where Śiva is worshiped as a liṅga (185/57). It is said in the Matsya Purāṇa that Śivaliṅga has to be worshiped with ghee (butter) on the day of Angarakanavamī on the date of the new moon.

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