The Shiva Purana tells about how the Supreme Being as Shiva created the universe and incarnated in various ages to spread righteousness, knowledge, and devotion among humanity.
Name and nature of Shiva Purana
Name of the Purana itself suggests that it is closely related to Shiva. It is rather a manual of prayers and rules for the Shiva worshipers. Being related with Shiva who is malevolent by nature, Shiva Purana is Tamasa by nature. Padma Purana also mentions Shiva Purana as Tamasa by nature.
Is Shiva Purana a Mahapurana or Upapurana
There is a major controversy among scholars whether Shiva Purana is included in the list of Mahapuranas or Upapuranas. The famous list of eighteen Puranas does not include the name of Shiva Purana in it. But Shiva Purana is mentioned as 4th rank in the list given in Vishnu Purana. But Devi Bhagvat, Matsya Purana and Narada Purana mention Vayu Purana as Maha Purana on 4th rank. Hence according to these three Puranas, Shiva Purana comes under the category of minor Puranas.
Whether Vayu Purana and Shiva Purana are same?
According to one group of scholars Shiva Purana and Vayu Purana are the same one. But this theory is not accepted now because currently the manuscripts of both Puranas are available separately. They also have separate subject matter also.
Date of Shiva Purana
The extant Shiva Purana is a comparatively late work. Internal and external evidences of Shiva Purana decide the period of Shiva Purana as pre 10thcentury. It was known anciently in Tamil region. Tirumallainatha has translated some part of Shiva Purana in Tamil. His period is 16th CAD. Alberuni also mentions about Shiva Purana in his travel logs of India which dates back to 11th AD. Hence the period of Shiva Purana is tentatively dated as pre 10th AD.
16th and 17th chapter of Kailasa Samhita mentions Shiva sutra and Vartika. Shivasutra is the treatise of Vasugupta whose period is 9th AD. It has Vartikas of Bhaskara and Varadaraja which are composed during the mid of 9th CAD. Hence both, internal and external evidences decide the period of Shiva Purana as 10th CAD.
Current available editions of Shiva Purana
Currently Mumbai and Mathura editions are available for Shiva Purana. Both the editions have 24000 verses. Both the editions are quite similar to each other. These two editions have seven samhitas (divisions) of Shiva Purana. Those are Vidyeshwara, Rudra, Shatarudra, Kotirudra, Uma, Kailasa and Vayaviya.
Structure of Shiva Purana
Traditionally it is believed that Shiva Purana has 12 samhitas which can be called as sub divisions; those are Vidyeshwara, Rudra, Vinayaka, Om, Matru, Rudraikadasha, Kailasa, Shatarudra, Kotirudra, Sahasrakotirudra, Vayuprokta and Dharma. It has one Lakh verses. It was created by Lord Shiva. But Sage Vyasa limited it to 24000 verses divided into seven Samhitas.
The available Shiva Purana (Mumbai and Mathura editions) has total four hundred fifty seven chapters which are divided into only seven Samhitas. Among which Rudra Samhita has further divisions Srushti, Sati, Parvati, Kumar and Yuddha. It is also said that Shiva Purana has 1 lakh verses in it. But no single edition of Shiva Purana is available with one lakh verses.
Samhita wise subject matter of Shiva Purana
o Shatarudra Samhita is of 42 chapters. It is an account of twelve Jyotirlingas which are declared as incarnations of Shiva.
o The description given in the Parvati section of Rudra Samhita is similar to that given by Kumarasambhavam.
o Katirudra Samhita is of 35 chapters describing a thousand names of Shiva.
o The Kailasa samhita of 12 chapters takes note of the circles of worship, mudras and nyasas.
o Vidyeshwara Samhita of 18 chapters contains the description of the Origin of Linga, Linga worship, creation of Linga, worship of Shiva by Brahma and Vishnu, importance of holy places related to Shiva, glorification of Rudraksha, etc.
o Uma Samhita contains the account of penance of Uma, marriage, etc.
o Last Vayaviya Samhita is divided into two parts. Purvabhaga nad Uttarabhaga. Both parts contain 30 chapters each.
Worship of Shiva
As Shiva Purana is the manual of prayers and rules of Shiva worship, it contains detail account of Shiva worship. Listening, speaking and thinking about Shiva are considered as the best measures of Shiva worship. Attainment of Shivapada (feet of Shiva) is the goal which should be obtained by these measures. This is cited in following verse,
श्रोत्रेण श्रवणं तस्य वचसा कीर्तनं तथा ।
मनसा मननं तस्य महासाधनमुच्यते ॥
Shrotrena shravanam tasya vachasa keertanam tatha |
Manasa mananam tasya mahasadhanamuchyate ||
The greatness of Shiva worship is, listening about him by ears,
chanting his name by mouth and thinking about him by mind.
But among all the types of worships of Shiva, Linga worship is considered as the best. Hence Shiva Purana also gives an account of Linga worship, how to make Shivalingam, etc. Shiva himself has narrated in Shiva Purana that, “those who want to worship me; they should consider the position of my idol and Linga equal. Also the position of Linga is higher than the idol. Hence those who want to get Moksha should worship me in the form of Linga”. The ultimate goal is for the devotee to merge in Siva consciousness through yoga meditation.
To highlight the importance of Linga worship among all the types of Shiva worship, Shiva Purana gives detail account of twelve Jyotirlingas. It is narrated by Nandishwara to Sanatkumara. The sight of these twelve Jyotirlingas gives happiness to all human beings and Moksha. It is also said here that one who listens to the stories of the twelve Jyotirlingas, becomes free from all sins. The famous Jyotirlinga Stotra is from Shiva Purana. It is as follows,
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुन ।
उज्जयिन्या महाकालमोंकारममलेश्वरम् ॥
परल्या वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम् ।
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने ॥
वाराणस्या तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमी तटे ।
हिमालये तु केदारं धृष्णेशं तु शिवालये ॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः ।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ॥
Sourashtre somanatham cha shrishaile mallikarjuna
Paralya vaidyanatham cha dakinyam bhimashamkaram
setubandhe tu ramesham nagesham derukavane
Varanasya tu vishvesham tryambakam gautami tate
himalaye tu kedaram dhrushnesham tu shivalaye
Etani jyotirlingani sayam pratah pathennarah
saptajanmakrutam papam smaranena vinashyati
(Somanatha at Sourashtra, Mallikarjuna at Shrishaila, Mahakala at Ujjain, Omkar at Mamaleshwara, Vaidyanatha at Parali, Nageshwara near Dwaraka, Vishveshwara at Varanasi, Tryambaka near Nasik, Kedarnath in Himalaya Dhushnesha near Kailas; if one remembers these twelve Jyitirlingas day and night, all his sins perish.)
Chanting of Shiva, holy ash and Rudraksha – measures of Shiva worship
The worship of Siva involves chanting the ‘Aum Namah Sivayah’ mantra with rudraksa prayer beads (rosary) and smearing the body with bhasma holy ash.
Prayers of Shiva
There are some prayers of Shiva given in Shiva Purana. Some of them are,
शिवे भक्तिः शिवे भक्तिः शिवे भक्तिर्भवे भवे ।
अन्यथा शरणं नास्ति त्वमेव शरणं मम ॥
Shive bhaktih shive bhaktih shive bhaktirbhave bhave |
Anyatha sharanam nasty tvameva sharanam mama ||
Devotion of Shiva is only the resort in this worldly life,
no other resort than the lord Shiva.
अज्ञानाद्यदि वा ज्ञानाज्जपपूजादिकं मया ।
तं तदस्तु सफलं कृपया तव शंकर ॥
Adnyanadyadi va dnyanajjapapoojadikam maya |
Krutam tadastu saphalam krupaya tava shankara ||
O Samkara, let all my rituals be fruitful by your mercy on me,
though they are performed by me knowingly or unknowingly.
प्रसीद देवदेवेश देहमाविश्य मामकम् ।
विमोचयैनं विश्वेश घृणया च घृणानिधे ॥
Praseeda devadevesha dehamavishya mamakam |
Vimochayainam vishwesha ghrunaya ca ghrunanidhe ||
O Devadevesh be favorable to me by appearing before me granting me salvation.
Praise of Shiva done by Vishnu and Brahma
Shiva Purana contains the praise of Shiva done by Brahma and Vishnu. This praise suggests the supremacy of Shaiva on other cults. The praise is as follows,
नमो निष्कलरूपाय नमो निष्कलतेजसे ।
नमः सकलनाथाय नमस्ते सकलात्मने ॥
नमः प्रणववाच्याय नमः प्रणवलिङ्गिने ।
नमः सृष्टयादिकर्त्रे च नमः पञ्चमुखाय ते ॥
पञ्चब्रह्मस्वरूपाय पञ्चकृत्याय ते नमः ।
आत्मने ब्रह्मणे तुभ्यमनन्तगुणशक्तये ॥
सकलाकलरूपाय शम्भवे गुरवे नमः ।
Namo nishkalaroopaya namo nishkalatejase |
Namah sakalanathaya namaste sakalatmane ||
Namah pranavavachyaya namah pranavalingine |
Namah srushtayadikartre cha namah panchamukhaya te ||
Panchabrahmaswaroopaya panchakrutyaya ten amah |
Atmane brahmane tubhyamanantagunashaktaye ||
Sakalakalaroopaya shambhave gurave namah |
Supremacy of Shiva in Shiva Purana
Shiva is God who draws us within. He has three spiritual forms in Indian culture. Shiva sits on Mount Kailasa in silent meditation. He is the king of yogis and the original teacher of spiritual science. The message of Shiva for the spiritual seeker is to become one with Siva’s consciousness by meditating within to experience the Absolute. When the Absolute is realized in meditation, all ties with the world of name and form are broken. Shiva is always living in bliss because he knows that it is in the inner silence that God’s presence manifests. Shiva is always in Samadhi and his realization of the Divine light is represented in India as the Linga. The Linga is the symbol of God beyond human form. The Linga represents the disc of the soul’s radiant eternal divinity. In the highest stages of meditation, God transforms himself from the personal blessing deity into the absolute light. When the spiritual seeker follows the path of Shiva through yoga mediation, he becomes one with Shiva’s consciousness and realizes God as light and bliss. Shiva’s blissful form in Indian culture is represented as the cosmic dancer, the great Nataraja. Shiva dances in ecstasy in the bliss of the heart of the realized yogi who has experienced Samadhi. How can Shiva have the form of a meditating yogi, a Linga, and a cosmic dancer? That is Shiva’s mystery which only the yogi who becomes absorbed in meditation can solve and experience. Shiva is very compassionate because by his example he is always teaching mankind that the highest joy in life only comes by seeking God’s presence within. So the mission of Shiva in the forms of the meditator, the Linga, and the Nataraja dancer is to draw man’s soul within and thus merge in God’s light and presence. Hence the goal of the Shiva Purana is to awaken man’s soul by worship of the Supreme Being as Shiva in order to attain union with God through yoga meditation.
Other related information cited in Shiva Purana
” Types of Naraka :
Shiva Purana has the list of hells (Naraka) which is given below,
Each Naraka has five Nayakas which can be called as leaders.
” Nine types of devotion:
While highlighting about the devotee Shiva Purana also mentions about the nine types of devotion. Those are cited in following verse.
श्रवणं कीर्तनं चैव स्मरणं सेवनं तथा ।
दास्यं तथार्चनं देवो वन्दनं मम सर्वदा ॥
सख्यमात्मार्पणं चेति नवाङ्गनि विदुर्बुधाः ॥
Shravanam keertanam chaiva smaranam sevanam tatha |
Dasyam tatharchanam devo vandanam mama sarvada ||
Sakhyamatmarpanam cheti navangani vidurbhudha ||
Listening, chanting, remembrance, serving, being servant, worship, salutation, being friend and self surrender; these are nine types of devotion.
” Famous moral verses
Shiva Purana is famous for the moral verses mentioned in it.
Some of them are,
परोपकारसदृशो नास्ति धर्मः परः खलु १.१.३६
Paropakarsadrusho nasty dharmah parah khalu |
There is no other righteous path than ‘helping others’.
पुण्यक्षेत्रे कृतं पुण्यं बहुधा ऋद्धिमृच्छति ।
पुण्यक्षेत्रे कृतं पापं महदण्वपि जायते । १.१२.३६
Punyakshetre krutam punyam bahudha ruddhimrucchati |
Punyakshetre krutam papam madanvapi jayate ||
Good deeds done at holy places always get flourished, on the other hand sin done at holy places expands thought being in small quantity.
मातरं पितरं त्यक्त्वा मोक्षमिच्छन् व्रजत्यधः । २.१४.३६
Mataram pitaram tyaktva mokshamicchan vratyadhah |
The one who wishes to get emancipation by leaving his mother and father, gets destroyed.
पुण्येन याति देवत्वमपुण्यो नरकं व्रजेत् । ४.२०.४६
Punyena yati devatvamapunyo narakam vrajet |
One gets divinity by performing Punya (good actions) and also goes to hell if he commits sin.
धर्मेण धनमाप्नोति तपसा दिव्यरूपताम् । १.१३.२
Dharmena dhanamapnoti tapasa divyarupatam |
One can obtain wealth by righteousness and divine appearance by penance.
परोक्षमपरोक्षं च द्विविधं ज्ञानमिष्यते ।
रोक्षमस्थिरं प्राहुरपरोक्षं तु सुस्थिरम् ॥ ७.३१.९८
Parokshamaparoksham ca dvividham dnyanamishyate |
Parokshamasthiram prahuraparoksham tu susthiram ||
Paroksha (indirect) and Aparoksha(direct) these are two types of knowledge; among which Paroksha type of knowledge is unstable whereas Aparoksha type is stable.
गुरुर्देवो यतः साक्षात्तद्गृहं देवमन्दिरम् । ७.१५.२५
Gururdevo yatah sakshattagruham devamandiram |
Preceptor is god himself so his home is considered as temple.
अतिथिर्यस्य भग्नाशो गृहात्प्रति निवर्तते ।
स तस्मै दुष्कृतं दत्त्वा पुण्यमादाय गच्छति ॥
Atithiryasya bhagnasho gruhatprati nivartate |
Sa tasmai dushkrutam dattva punyamadaya gacchati ||
Guest takes virtues along with him and gives his sin to hosts where he returns without accomplishment of wish.
पानीयदानं परमं दानानामुत्तमं तदा ।
सर्वेषां जीवपुञ्जानां तर्पणं जीवनं स्मृतम् ॥
Paneeyadanam paramam dananamuttamam tada |
Sarvesham jeevapunjanam tarpanam jeevanam smrutam ||
Donation of water is the best among all types of donations as water is thought as the life of all living beings.
अतीतानागतान् सर्वान् पितृवंशांस्तु तारयेत् ।
कान्तारे वृक्षरोपी यस्तस्माद् वृक्षांस्तु रोपयेत् ॥
Ateetanagatan sarvan pitruvamshanstu tarayet |
Kantare vruksharopee yastasmad vrukshamstu ropayet ||
The one who plants tree gives salvation to all his ancestors and successors, hence one should plant tree.
” Chronology of Puranas
Shiva Purana has very less description about Sargadi Lakshanas of Purana. It has a chapter on the creation of universe by Lord Brahma. Like other Puranas Shiva Purana also give the list of Mahapurana. The list is as follows,
1. Brahma Purana
2. Padma Purana
3. Vishnu Purana
4. Shiva Purana
5. Bhagavata Purana
6. Bhavishya Purana
7. Narada Purana
8. Markandeya Purana
9. Agni Purana
10. Brahmavaivarta Purana
11. Linga Purana
12. Varaha Purana
13. Skanda Purana
14. Vamana Purana
15. Kurma Purana
16. Matsya Purana
17. Garuda Purana
18. Brahmanda Purana
” Mahadeva Shastri Joshi. 1968. Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosha, Vol. V. Pune. Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal.