Shiva Gita (study and summary)

by K. V. Anantharaman | 2010 | 35,332 words

This page is entitled “preface” contained in the Shiva Gita (Study and English comments by K. V. Anantharaman). The Shiva Gita is a philosophical text from the Padma-purana in the form of a dialogue between Lord Shiva and Shri Rama. It deals with topics such as Advaita metaphysics and Bhakti and consists of 768 verses.


I consider it a great fortune and privilege to be submitting a thesis through the Sanskrit department of Presidency College under the supervision of Dr. R. Thiagarajan. He is not only the supervisor but my friend, philosopher and guide. After completing my post graduation, when I wanted to do doctorate, Dr. RT was my only choice of guide and while titles were being discussed, it so happened that Dr. RT was rendering a recording on a CD on Śiva Gītā and fortuitously, we had stumbled on the theme. Right from my boyhood days, I was captivated by Bhagavad Gītā discourses of Svāmi Cinmayānanda and Śiva worship was my second nature. When Śiva and Gītā combined in my thesis, my joy knew no bounds and it was a dream come true. I have put in my best to highlight the Bhakti aspect and Advaitic message, to which I have great leanings, of Śiva Gītā and prove its path breaking blazing trail Abhijñāna Śākuntala a lead to Bhagavad Gīta, in my limited capacity.

Gītā is a name given to certain sacred writings in verse (often in the form of a dialogue) which are devoted to the exposition of particular religious and theosophical doctrines. Because of the overwhelming popularity and prevalence, the word Gītā immediately connects one’s mind to Bhagavad Gītā, a religious and philosophical treatise which forms part of the Mahābhārata. Śiva Gītā is the text which deals with the dialogue between Lord Śiva and Śrī Rāma which took place in Daṇḍakāraṇya forest in Rāmagiri mountain on the banks of Godāvari river. The episode finds place in the Uttara-Khaṇḍa of Padma Purāṇa. The situation was when Rāma was crestfallen and engulfed in grief in the forest Abhijñāna Śākuntala Sītā was abducted by the demon King Rāvaṇa. Śiva Gītā, unlike Bhagavad Gītā is not very popular and not much prevalent although it should have occupied a pride of place among various Gītas due to its philosophical content and religious messages.

An attempt is being made through this thesis—“Śiva Gītā -A critical study” to highlight the inherent and invaluable messages of the Śiva Gītā to reach the scholarly hands and thus trickle down to various seekers who yeam for worldly peace and lasting liberation.

Śiva Gītā is divided into sixteen chapters and contains 768 verses and gives prime importance to Advaita metaphysics and also explains various modes of Bhakti and Upāsanā and in the guise of teaching Rāma, an invaluable message is handed out to humanity at large by Lord Śiva.

The present thesis starts with the introduction and is presented in eleven chapters following the most hallowed Śrī Rudra Praśna, the ultimate eulogy on Lord Śiva, having eleven anuvākās.

The First chapter gives an introduction. In this chapter the greatness of Gītā is stressed and the available commentaries are listed and messages of the subject are highlighted. This Gītā emphatically advocates religious tolerance which is the watch word of the hour, providing a synthesis between Śaiva and Vaiṣṇavite traditions and equality of Śiva-Viṣṇu Supremacy.

In the second chapter salient features of each chapter of Śiva Gītā are brought out in sequence, highlighting the appropriate verses, thus giving in a nutshell, the whole gist of the Divine Song. Chapterwise summary is also used to pinpoint the importance of various philosophical ideas with the help of Śiva Gītā verses.

In chapter three of the thesis the pre-eminence of Śiva Gītā, over other sixty four known Gītas listed in the appendix, is discussed. Śiva Gītā gets its nourishment from various Upaniṣads like Taittirīya, Kaṭha, Īśāvāsya, Muṇḍaka, Śvetāśvatara, Kaivalya, Brihatjābāla [Bṛhadjābāla?], Bhasmajābāla, Rudrākṣajābāla, Garbhopaniṣad, to name a few and the quintessence of these is served on a most palatable platter. It can be considered Abhijñāna Śākuntala the vād’e-mec’um of a philosophy which combines Knowledge and Bhakti. The hallmark of Śiva Gītā is its simplicity of presentation of ideas and language used. The importance of Śiva Gītā can be assessed from the fact that Śrī Paramaśivendra Sarasvatī, the 57th Pontiff of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭham (1539-1586) and Śrī Abhinavanṛsiṃha Bhāratī, the 24th Pontiff of Śṛṅgeri Pīṭham (15991622), have made commentaries on this Gītā practically on the same century.

In chapter four a special attempt is made to compare and contrast Śiva Gītā with the popular Bhagavad Gītā. Effort has been made to show that being of an earlier Yuga origin, Śiva Gītā is anterior to Bhagavad Gītā and could be the seed that was sown in the conversation between Lord Śiva and Śrī Rāma, an avatāra of Lord Viṣṇu, who in a next avatāra Abhijñāna Śākuntala Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the following Yuga passed it on to Arjuna, to help the mankind absorb the ideas suitable to subsequent ages.

It is observed that six verses are verbatim reproductions from the Śiva Gītā including the oft-quoted caramaśloka [of Bhagavad Gītā].—

Sarvadharmānparityajya māmekam śaraṇam vraja aham tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

And another thirty two verses are very similar and echo the contents and ideas of Śiva-gītā. This chapter discusses the reasons why Śiva Gītā does not occur in the Rāmāyaṇa; why so many bhāṣyas were not written on Śiva Gītā like those on Bhagavad Gītā ; reasons for not finding many quotes of Śiva Gītā unlike Bhagavad Gītā in philosophical literature and why Śiva Gītā is not transmitted through a lineage of preceptors.

Chapter five deals with the influence of Garbhopaniṣad on Śiva Gītā. The Piṇḍotpattikathanam of Śiva Gītā is something unique and it owes much of its origin to Garbhopaniṣad, which forms part of Kṛṣṇayajurveda. This chapter graphically paints the picture of the origin and development of embryo and the development of human body, its ramification on physical, mental and spiritual planes. Anatomy, physiology and biochemistry described in Śiva Gītā is enlightening even to the modem medical fraternity. It deals with the pre-natal and post-natal characteristics and functions of the human body, developed in order to ultimately attain final emancipation, seeking shelter in Maheśvara, Abhijñāna Śākuntala the great Guru.

Chapter six discusses the stress to Praṇava (Oṃkāra) given in Śiva Gītā which is quite significant Abhijñāna Śākuntala Oṃkāra is synonymous with Śiva and is the Bījam of Śiva Gītā. Śiva Gītā is full of esoteric messages and eulogy of Oṃkāra. The Upaniṣads speak of OM Abhijñāna Śākuntala the most efficacious symbol of Brahman. All seekers of Truth—meditating on Brahman with or without attributes—can use this symbol. The results of the meditation on OM are attainment either of Brahmaloka or of Supreme Liberation, depending upon the intention of the seeker. An elaborate and scintillating description on OM is attempted on the guidelines of Śiva Gītā in this Chapter.

Chapter seven gives in detail the greatness attributed to Bhasma and Rudrākṣa in Śiva worship Abhijñāna Śākuntala stated in the Śiva Gītā. The sacred ash is also known Abhijñāna Śākuntala Vibhūti or Bhasma or Kṣāra or Bhāsita or Rakṣā. Vibhūti represents Sadyojāta face of the five faced Lord Śiva while Bhāsita represents the Vāmadeva face. Aghora face is represented by Bhasma while Kṣāra represents Tatpuruṣa face. Īśāna face is represented by Rakṣā. The sacred ash is applied to the body Abhijñāna Śākuntala ash bath or bhasma-snāna which consists in wearing the ash after bath with necessary incantations. The ash is also applied without mixing with water, known Abhijñāna Śākuntala Uddhūlana. Thirdly, one wears the ash in three horizontal lines after mixing with water and this is called Tripuṇḍra or Tryāyuṣa. Vibhūti symbolizes the glory of the Lord. When anything is burnt ash only remains. So after everything is destroyed God alone remains. Again when everything is negated (neti-neti nyāya) Ātman alone remains. The necessity of Rudrākṣa wearing on the body, for Śiva worship is very much emphasized in Śiva Gītā.

In chapter eight an evaluation of concept of Bhakti and Advaita Abhijñāna Śākuntala enunciated in the Śiva Gītā is elaborately discussed. It teaches both meditation on the formless Absolute (Nirguṇa Brahman) and worship of the Supreme being with form (Saguṇa Brahman) for the benefit of different levels of seekers.

Chapter nine is devoted to Vairāgya or dispassion Abhijñāna Śākuntala highlighted in various places of the Śiva Gītā. It forms the comer stone of Śiva Gītā. Sage Agastyā’s advice to Śrī Rāma, to calm down Rāma and raise him to normal level, Abhijñāna Śākuntala he was crest fallen on the abduction of his beloved wife Sītā by Rāvaṇa, is significant. Vairāgya or dispassion is a very important tenet of Sādhanā Catuṣṭaya which forms the sine qua non for achieving knowledge. Agastya teaches Rāma the futility of worldly things by pointing out that the body is ephemeral. Vāirāgya born of discrimination or viveka is the prime requirement in the spiritual development that will help the aspirant.

In chapter ten the omnipotence of Śiva liṅga is discussed which is the highest point of Śiva worship. Liṅga worship, especially during Pradoṣa time is extolled in the chapter on Bhakti yoga and later in Gītādhikāri nirūpaṇam. The liṅga has three significations—liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala sign, liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala phallus and liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala cosmic substance, which is the subtle body of Śiva. Liṅga is said to be derived from ‘layana/laya’ dissolution, because everything is absorbed into it (Liṅgapurāṇa 1.19.16). Aflame, its light is the focus of all creative-procreative potentialities. The liṅga is also the locus of their yogic redirection Abhijñāna Śākuntala powers of reintegration or of dissolution. The powers of creation, liberation and annihilation dwell in Liṅga. In the meditation on Śiva, liṅga forms an integral part.

In chapter eleven, which is the concluding chapter, an attempt has been made to highlight the simplicity of this Gītā, which is its hallmark making it within the reach of a common man. The mystic ideas, which require years of study under capable masters, are condensed Abhijñāna Śākuntala a sugar coated pill to the uplift and benefit of humanity at large. It is really unfortunate such a gem of advice has not reached the masses; the study made here would show Śiva Gītā Abhijñāna Śākuntala a fore-runner of Bhagavad Gītā. This will help all to have the grace of Lord Śiva, who is āsutoṣī (easily pleaseable) and gain the esoteric knowledge of advaita and practical lessons on Bhakti which will fulfil the aspirations of life viz. PuruṣārthasDharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa.

Methodology followed in this thesis

Wherever necessary the quotations are given but only the relevant portions, to maintain brevity. The superscript numbers are given at appropriate places and explanatory notes are given at the end of the chapter, instead of footnotes. All Sanskrit terms are written in italics except the names which are in popular use. Those technical terms, even if converted into English, defying the exact sense, are written in Sanskrit only for brevity sake and the important ones are explained in the glossary provided at the end. The paragraphs are preceded by three ‘numbers’, the first number denotes the chapter, the second the title of the subject under discussion and third the paragraph. There are slight variations in the numbers of verses and their order in different versions of Śiva Gītā. In quoting the verses and their chapters, I have followed the version with English commentary published by Centinarian Trust. I am also indebted to the Trust for using the illustration on front page.

At this stage, 1 have to record my gratitude to my friend Śrī Vaidynathan, who was instrumental in my resuming Sanskrit studies after a very long hiatus, my friend Śrī Kannan who led me to Manager of Kāñci Maṭh Śrī Rāma Śarma, who graciously provided me books on Śiva Gītā commentary in Sanskrit by Śrī Abhinava Nṛsiṃhabhāratī Svāmi, 24 Pontiff of Śṛṅgeri Maṭh and a tamil commentary on the same by Śrī Muthukumaraswamy Gurukkal of Jaffna. My thanks are also due to Professor verse . Venkataramana Reddy, In-Charge Director of Śrī Venakateswara Universitry Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati for presenting me with a book Śrī Śivagītātātparyaprakāśikā, a Sanskrit commentary on Śiva Gītā by Śrī Paramaśivendra Sarasvatī, 57th Pontiff of Kāñci Maṭh. I thank Tattvāloka, a monthly publication of Śṛṅgeri Maṭh for leading me to an English commentary of Śiva Gītā by Centinarian Trust, Chennai and Adyar Library & Research Institute, Rāmakriṣṇa Mission Library and Presidency College Library of the Sanskrit Dept, for copious references. My gratitude is due to my son-in-law Dr. Eswar Krishnan, Prof.

Stanford Universitry, California for all technical help rendered in the preparation of computer manuscript and making me somewhat computer savvy and to my grandson Keshav, who gave me enough vitality in completing the work, perched on my lap. I use this occasion to salute my parents who were instrumental in guiding and encouraging me to achieve academic excellence right from my infancy. Last but not the least, my thanks are due to my wife who completely relieved me of any domestic responsibility bearing the entire burden on her shoulders and providing me adequate time for preparing the thesis and her constant encouragement in completing the task. I have no words to thank my mentor Dr. R Thiagarajan, whose motivation and guidance has brought this thesis to fruition.

I now crave all your indulgence and request to be excused for any shortcomings in the work.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: