Shiva Gita (study and summary)

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

Shiva-gita Chapter 1 (English summary), entitled “pre-eminence of shiva devotion (shivabhakti-utkarsha-nirupana)” as included in the critical study 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.

Chapter 1 - Pre-eminence of Śiva devotion (śivabhakti-utkarṣa-nirūpaṇa)

1.1. Simplicity.

Simplicity is the hallmark of Śiva Gītā. Advaita philosophy has been narrated in such mellifluous language, so that it comes to the field of understanding of even commonest man.

1.2 Maṅgala śabda.

The very first verse of Śiva Gītā starts with the maṅgala śabda (auspicious beginning) “atha”. In the words of Veda Vyāsa-

oṃkāraścāthaśabdaśca dvāvetau brahmaṇaḥ purā |
karṇaṃ bhitvā viniryātau tasmānmāṅgālikāvubau || (Śrīśivagītātātparyaprakāśikā . p. 2)

Both the words OM and atha came out of Brahmā’s throat in the first instance and are considered to be very holy and auspicious and hence the Gītā starts with the word atha. It is apt to mention here that the fifth chapter where Śiva appears to grant boon to Rāma, also starts with same atha śabda, heralding the happy foreboding.

1.3 Śiva Gītā—Jewel among Gītās.

Śiva Gītā precedes Bhagavad Gītā Abhijñāna Śākuntala this has taken place in Tretāyuga while Bhagavad Gītā ’s origin is during Kṛṣṇāvatāra in Dvāparayuga. Śiva Gītā, the advice given to Lord Rāma by Bhagavān Śiva in Daṇḍakāraṇya, is the secret of all secrets[1]. Śiva Gītā is so holy that a moment of its recollection will bestow instant release on people[2]. The preceptor here who first declared Śiva Gītā is none other than Lord of Pārvatī and disciple is Śrī Rāma, an incarnation of Viṣṇu. Hence Śiva Gītā is deemed the most exalted of all the Gītās.

1.4 Linealogy of Śiva Gītā.

Śiva Gītā is narrated by Sūta to a host of holy sages in Naimiṣāraṇya, a refuge for them where Kali cannot enter. Sūta informs that Skanda had heard the Gītā while Śiva was expounding it to Śrī Rāma and he narrated the same to Sanatkumāra who passed it on to Vyāsa Bādarāyaṇa who out of his exceeding compassion gave it to Sūta. Śiva Gītā has come to this world under such illustrious guruparamparā (Chart on lineology provided in the appendix). Sūta informs the sāges that this secret Gītā should not be given unasked for, Abhijñāna Śākuntala gods even prevent the rise of true knowledge of Śiva Abhijñāna Śākuntala it bestows on the practitioner Kaivalya or Mukti—Liberation. Since Gods are desirous of their staple food offered by devotees in the form of yajña, they do not feel happy of people attaining Kaivalya when they cease to do yajñas, thus impoverishing them. Only by virtue of merits acquired in millions of births, devotion to Śiva is born[3]. By grace of Lord Śiva, a steadfastness of mind in the person is brought about. The scheming Gods are frightened by Lord Śiva’s intervention and wrath and stop their hindrance to the devotee and take to flight in fright.

1.5 Śiva—the Supreme Lord.

When these obstacles are removed, desire arises to hear glories of Lord Candramouli [Candramauli?] and from hearing the glories, knowledge is born and by that knowledge alone, a person is liberated.”—“jñānāt eva kaivalyam”—A person fastened by numberless mortal and minor sins is liberated when his devotion to Lord Śiva becomes steadfast.

1.6. Śiva—The Āśutoṣī

Lord Śiva is so compassionate and is instantly pleased even if a devotee offers him wild flowers, forest fruits, or even paste of Bilva wood, which are easily available[4]. cf. Bhagavad Gītā . Even if one is unable to circumambulate or prostrate the Gods, He will be pleased if a devotee gets attuned to Śiva.[5]

1.7 Ganges and the Mirage.

One ignoring such an instant pleasing God is like a person[6] who abandons the holy river Ganges and runs after a mirage. Lord Śiva[7], though he is the creator of all the worlds and possesses infinite powers, bestows greatness on a person who says “I am Śiva” conferring identity with Him. cf Śivānanda Laharī

1.8 Pāśupata Vrata.

Sūta says he will explain the observance called Pāśupata Vrata by which sages attain the four Puruṣarthās. One has to undertake the blemishless vow to propitiate Paśupati and silently meditate on thousand names of Śiva which are the quintessence of the Vedas, wearing rudrākṣa and sacred ash setting at nought the incidence of mortality and obtaining the very form of Śiva. Śiva lives upto his name of Śaṅkara—“śaṃ karoti iti śaṃkaraḥ

1.9 Five stages of Mukti

Liberation proceeds in five stages of Sārūpya, Sārṣṭya, Sālokya, Sāyujya and Kaivalya; details vide 2.13.2.

1.10 Agastya—the teacher.

Subsequently the sage Sūta says to Brahmins that which was taught to Rāma by sage Agastya in Daṇḍakāraṇya will be narrated by him.

Thus ends the first chapter of Śiva-gītā.

Footnotes and references:


Vide Śiva-gītā I.3.


Ibid. I-4


Ibid. 1-16


Ibid. 1-23


Vide. Śiva Gītā 1-24 & 25


Ibid. I-28


Ibid. 1-30; This compares very closely with Bhagavad Gītā . IX-26 Abhijñāna Śākuntala [...]

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