Sivapuranam is a sacred Tamil text that extols the greatness of Lord Shiva.
Sivapuranam in English – Vidyeshwara Samhita
Thus spoke Sage Soota :
‘After many yugas (Aeons) began the present Shwetavaraha (White hog) Kalpa, a time span consisting of 4 yugas. At the start of this kalpa span, a group of six wisened and snow white haired sages of pious blood lines came together at the holy confluence of three sacred rivers, the Triveni Sangam to discuss who the Truth Ultimate, Para-Brahma could be? The debate failed to provide conclusive answer. So, the group of six went to the creator, Lord Brahma to pray for the enlightenment.
Interaction Between Brahma And The Sage Group
The interaction took place as the following:
Asked the sages – ‘O Creator Brahma! Who is the Ultimate One referred to as ‘Para’ that eludes definition?’
Revealed Brahma – ‘It is Rudra, the Shiva Eternal.’
Asked the sages – ‘How can we grasp His element, the core truth?’
Explained Brahma – ‘It is possible only through His blessing and the grace of His side glance (which indirectly empowers one with mystical comprehension). He himself inspires the chosen faithful gradually into greater devotion by His grace extraordinary.
Whatever is achieved by one is the fruit of His benignity. His benevolent grace leads one into the comprehension of His mysticism. And that comprehension or power of understanding reveals the elementary truth about Him, the core reality of His state.’
Asked the sages – ‘Amongst so achievables which one is the most important? What is the exercise that gains the achievement? Who exactly is the achiever or seeker?’
Replied Brahma – ‘The most desirable achievement is accessing the feet of Shiva (accessing the grace and benevolence of Lord). A seeker (who in success becomes achiever) is the one who has great reservoir of discipline, self-control and fortitude. His life is ordered according to the sacred rules prescribed by holy Vedas, in birth, custom and tradition he confirms to the ashram regimes and after performing all his acts surrenders their proceeds to Shiva.
Such a seeker without any doubt gains Kailasha, the domain of Shiva. For accessing His lotus like feet, gaining Kailasha the essential exercises are; hearing, pondering, studying and praying (shravan, chintan, manan and keertan). Hearing (here) means listening to the recitations of katha episodes of His glory, acts and grace. Pondering means retaining in mind what has been heard. Studying means contemplating over what the mind has retained. Praying means singing hymns in praise of Shiva.’
Ask the sages – ‘Please elaborate on the three exercises (shravan, manan and keertan. Chintan needed no elaboration)’.
Elaborated Brahma – ‘Listen please. Shravan is hearing recitation of His deeds, glory, grace and power. The physical world we see with our eyes. But more exciting is to hear about Lord Supreme, not perceivable to eyes, not utterable by lips or tongue (for want of correct words for description) and not conceivable to mind.
Driven by curiosity and thirst for knowledge one just has to listen about Him (revealed by enlightened ones). For this purpose a guru is imperative. As a young man gets attracted towards a girl of beauty, similarly hearing the (beautiful) tales of His glory would wean one to His devotion. That is shravan.
Now take keertan. It is the exercise of singing prayers of His glory and deeds in defence of the goodness and to punish the wicked and evil sinners. The praying must be carried on all the day and for ever.
Then, manan is exercising the mind to intellectually perceive the Lord Supreme, the saviour, protector, provider, benefactor and merciful. Alone, He can deliver and salvage one to grant moksha.
All the three exercises have a common ground of Satsanga, the association with men of wisdom, devotion, knowledge and piety. The company of such holy ones makes it possible for one to hear noble talk. Such hearing eventually leads to enlightenment.
One engaged in the three exercises continues to add more and more spiritual riches and inches closer and closer to Him. But without the benefit of His grace it is not possible for one even to make a beginning by taking the first step towards the right direction desired.’
Vyasa Learns Shivaism From Sanatakumara
The great Puran scholiast Soota continued: “My guru Ved Vyasa, the sage was -in meditation and making penance. One day, Sage Sanata Kumara arrived there. Ved Vyasa received the guest with great reverence and treated him to traditional welcome rituals like upacharas. Sanata Kumara felt very obliged and by way of thanks he taught Ved Vyasa the regimes of Shivaism as the following –
‘O son of Satyavati!
The ultimate objective of meditation and penance making must be the truth, the basic truth. And there is no truth better than the truth of Shiva. In this light, a seeker like you should be able to see Him. Tell me what had you been meditating over (when I arrived here)?’
Answered Sage Ved Vyasa :
T have studied the various exercises through which a man could attain the four principal objectives of life namely, spiritual enlightenment (Dharma) prosperity (Artha), physical satisfaction (Kama) and final salvation (Moksha), remaining true to the religious orders and social codes. But I could not gain the sublime knowledge (Jnan) that can work for the final salvation. I was pondering over that fact’.
Smiled Sanata Kumara and spoke :
‘Why should you worry about it? I too had gone through that kind of suffering troubled by doubts and anxieties and made penance in the past. By the grace of Shiva, I happened to come across (enlightened) Nandikeshwara who put me at ease. He revealed to me that only through shravan, chintan, manan and keertan (hearing, pondering, studying and praying) a seeker could access to Him (which assured the final salvation).
O progeny of Sage Parashara! You too must take recourse to the same three exercises. Banish all other ideas. Cool and determind, you must be. With perseverance pursue your aim
Sanata Kumara flashed towards the domain of Brahma, along with his followers after saying that.
Sage Soota said, ‘For the same reason, shravan, chintan, manan and keertan should be accepted as the only path to reach Him’.
Spoke the Sage Shaunaka and the group :
“Fine is what you have said. But this three-point exercise called Sadhana Trikam involves a long time span to accomplish. In Krita and Treta ages it was possible. Even in Dwapara age they were effective with some perseverance. Human beings in this Kaliyuga have short life spans. For a brief life, is there an easy (practical) way?”
Thus replied Sage Soota :
“There is an easy way to gain moksha in any age, not only in Kaliyuga. And that way is to worship Shiva by paying homage to Lingam, His symbolic idol. A faithful can have (miniature) Lingam on his palm, or in a special (pooja) room, in a place of worship or a temple. It can be at some sacred pilgrim centre. Thus worshipped, Shiva surely grants one moksha.
One can earn great credit through exercises of meditation, invocation, installation (of idol), worshipping with (alit) lamp, burning camphor, offering oblations of fruits, flowers or water etc. as ordered by the scriptures or worship manuals, and conducting all sixteen upcharas, the prescribed rituals with true devotion.
The faithfuls who can’ not go through the elaborate rites and rituals may simply worship the Lingam in a normal way considering it an idol. The perfection and all-inclusiveness of Shiva makes him worshipable as an image (inspite of His abstract reality). The other deities carry their identities rested in their idol forms having no abstract aspect or unmanifest form. Because of this exclusive aspect Shiva is also called ‘Sarveshwara’, the all-inclusive Supreme Deity.”
After hearing this scholium, the sage group asked :
“That is amazing. But how can Shiva gain all shapes and forms and still be abstract or ethereal having no shape, form or property? Please let us know that.”
Responded Sage Soota :
“I will reveal it to you. In the deep past sage Markandeya asked Shiva about it and He explained it. The same explanation I will repeat for your benefit:
Origin Of Shivalingam:
Thus spoke Nandikeshwara (Soota) :
Once, in the very early beginning of the creation Creator Brahma, the lord with five faces sitting atop a lotus (the stalk of which sprouted out of the navel of Vishnu) approached to Lord Vishnu, the most handsome lord who was then asleep on his serpent-bed of Adishesha.
His wife Laxmi was beside him. Brahma had grown an ego for being the creator of the universe. He considered himself to be the Holy Father of all. As Vishnu did not rise up to receive him, he took it as an affront to him. Brahma called out to him to wake up to show due honour to the Father of the creation. So, much so that Brahma addressed Vishnu as ‘son’.
Vishnu lost his temper as Brahma had come into existence on the lotus top that had sprouted out of his navel. Thus, Vishnu thought he infact, was the father of Brahma who had no right to admonish him. After all he was the sustainer of the creation.
However Vishnu used restraint and smiled. But the words spoken by him were sarcastic. He asked why the son had come to his father and disturbed his sleep? Then, he began to brag about his power, greatness and divine qualities. Brahma retaliated by citing his own virtues and craftsmanship. Soon, the two were engaged in heated exchange of unsavoury words. Their altercation took an ugly turn.
Each one of them thought he was the real God and the other one an impostor who deserved to be
tought a lesson. When words could not decide the’ issue they decided to fight it out. Vishnu got on his carrier Garuda and Brahma jumped on to astride his Hansa. The battle began. Both were seriously trying to kill each other. Dangerous divine weapons were being used by them.
Vishnu inflicted crippling blows on the chest of Brahma. Brahma also hit back with charges that hurt Vishnu. Suddenly the two resorted to their ultimate weapons like Maheshzvara and Pashupata which were diabolic enough to destroy everything. The gods, sages and other celestials were shocked and in that state they ran (Shiva) to pray to Him to save the worlds. Shiva accepted their prayer and disappeared. Suddenly, a huge pillar of luminosity materialised between warring Vishnu and Brahma.
The weapons released by them were swallowed in by the mysterious pillar. The blinding brilliance of the pillar made Brahma and Vishnu blink. The fight had gone out of them. In a stupor they appeared. They were mystified at the appearance of that luminous pillar which defied any explanation. It had no beginning or end at either side.
To discover its origin Vishnu transformed into a white hog and ran downwards to delve deep at its root. Brahma flew upwards in the form of a swan to find the top end of the pillar. They failed in their quests. No bottom or top was found. On his down flight Brahma saw a Pandanus flower adrift in the air. Brahma persuaded the Pandanus to support his claim that he had reached the top of the pillar where that flower had blossomed.
Brahma along with Pandanus returned to the spot from where he and Vishnu had began their journeys. Vishnu was there already sulking in defeat. Brahma proudly claimed victory and produced Pandanus (Ketaki) flower as proof and his witness. Vishnu sportingly accepted defeat and superiority of Brahma over him. He honoured the victor in traditional custom and rituals.
Shiva Materialises – Honesty Honoured And Falsehood Flayed
In the moments of defeat Vishnu had become a symbol of humility. He had become cleansed of his ego, self conceit and megalomania. All the evil effects of may a had vanished. After self correction, Vishnu had beamed his mind into Lord Shiva and was chanting his name in true devotion. He was repentful of his earlier misconduct. It supremely pleased Shiva.
From the pillar of luminosity He walked out in an altered form. Now Shiva had an eye on his forehead in addition to the two normal eyes. Resplendent and majestic, He looked with the blue throat, crescent moon crested in his plaited hair-nest and gleaming trident in his hand. With moist eyes He looked at Vishnu who overwhelmed with devotional fever quivered, feeling ecstasy sweep his heart and mind.
Shiva declared, “Vishnu! Your truthfulness has pleased me. So, now on you shall be as worthy a divinity as I am.” Then, Shiva turned his attention to Brahma who had used falsehood to gain a victory that could install him as God Supreme, superior mostdivinity. Shiva was angry at him. From his third eye Shiva produced His fiery form of Bhairava.
To Bhairava He ordered to grab Brahma and sever his heads. Bhairava caught Brahma by his hair chopped off his fifth head with his sword. Before the sword of Bhairava could deal the same fate to other heads Brahma fell at the feet of Bhairava and begged for mercy and pardon.
Vishnu prayed to Shiva to forgive Brahma as he had realised his mistake and he was needed for the continuation of the creation. Shiva agreed to spare the life of Brahma but put a curse, “You used untruth to become the Supreme Divinity. Now you shall be worshipless and bereft of celebration and place of honour. Merely a figure head deity you become.”
Brahma prayed to Shiva to lessen the severity of his punishment and restore his fifth head. Shiva said, “The head shall not be restored. There needs to be an example for others to see the consequences of wrong doing. But I give you boon to be the preceptor of my servitors and no yajna will be complete without your worship.”
Shiva Materialises – Honesty Honoured And Falsehood Flayed
In the moments of defeat Vishnu had become a symbol of humility. He had become cleansed of his ego, self conceit and megalomania. All the evil effects of may a had vanished. After self correction, Vishnu had beamed his mind into Lord Shiva and was chanting his name in true devotion.
He was repentful of his earlier misconduct. It supremely pleased Shiva. From the pillar of luminosity He walked out in an altered form. Now Shiva had an eye on his forehead in addition to the two normal eyes. Resplendent and majestic, He looked with the blue throat, crescent moon crested in his plaited hair-nest and gleaming trident in his hand. With moist eyes He looked at Vishnu who overwhelmed with devotional fever quivered, feeling ecstasy sweep his heart and mind.
Shiva declared, “Vishnu! Your truthfulness has pleased me. So, now on you shall be as worthy a divinity as I am.” Then, Shiva turned his attention to Brahma who had used falsehood to gain a victory that could install him as God Supreme, superior most divinity. Shiva was angry at him. From his third eye Shiva produced His fiery form of Bhairava. To Bhairava He ordered to grab Brahma and sever his heads. Bhairava caught Brahma by his hair chopped off his fifth head with his sword.
Before the sword of Bhairava could deal the same fate to other heads Brahma fell at the feet of Bhairava and begged for mercy and pardon. Vishnu prayed to Shiva to forgive Brahma as he had realised his mistake and he was needed for the continuation of the creation.
Shiva agreed to spare the life of Brahma but put a curse, “You used untruth to become the Supreme Divinity. Now you shall be worshipless and bereft of celebration and place of honour. Merely a figure head deity you become.”
Brahma prayed to Shiva to lessen the severity of his punishment and restore his fifth head. Shiva said, “The head shall not be restored. There needs to be an example for others to see the consequences of wrong doing. But I give you boon to be the preceptor of my servitors and no yajna will be complete without your worship.”
The Pandanus trembled in fright. Shiva said to it, “Pandering Pandanus! Now you shall not be acceptable in any worship. Forbidden flower you become.” The Pandanus begged for mercy. Shiva relented and said His faithfuls could use it in worship ritual but it will remain unacceptable for direct worship of Shiva. The flower could be used for the worship of other deities.
Importance Of Ungam Worship Glory Of Shivaratri
After the pronouncements of rewards and punishments, Shiva reverted to his benign state. Vishnu and Brahma stood respectfully on his flanks. They got Shiva beseated on a high seat of honour. Then, the two chastised duo of Vishnu and Brahma sang odes to Shiva and worshiped Him in an elaborate manner with all due rites, customs and rituals.
It propitiated Shiva duly and in a benign mood he spoke, “Sons, I am very pleased with your worship. I want to make this memorable for ever. It shall be celebrated as ‘Maha Shivaratri’. I had manifested as luminous pillar on 14th day of second moon phase (fortnight) of Margashirsha month on the full moon day.
On this day, whoever keeps fast in my name and spends a wakeful night hearing recitation of My katha or singing hymns in My praise shall gain the credit of having worshipped Me one whole year The day will be auspicious for installation of Lingam, and for laying foundation of Shiva temples. This day and night would be dedicated to worship and celebrating Me.
The faithful who visions Me with Parvati or displays pageant of My idol or Lingam earns My grace of great magnitude. Viewing my idol and worshipping it will gain one endless rewards. By manifesting in Lingam form My divinity has increased manifold. This land shall be known as Lingam site. For the convenience of the people, this endless luminous Lingam will become very small.
The Lingam shall gain one very many worldly rewards and moksha as well in the end. Its viewing, touch and thought will deliver one from transmigration. Because of the materialisation of Lingam of the pink luminosity here, this place shall be known as ‘Arunachala’, the abode of pink. Great many holy centres would come up here.
Two forms I have, Shiva is My physical manifestation and Lingam of luminosity represents My unmanifest Abstract Reality. I can also manifest in propertyless, formless, infinite and unprecedented form. I manifested as Lingam to reveal my universality. Shiva manifestation shows My supreme divinity. Lingam is My symbolic form and it gains one the access to Me.
One who installs Lingam with true devotion gets unified with my divine reality and achieves final salvation in the process. The idol of Shiva form for worship is for those faithfuls who can not comprehend My abstract reality.”
Penta-Acts Of Shiva (Panchakrityas)
Brahma and Vishnu listened to the revelations made by Shiva in awe and they prayed Him to reveal the mystic of His five principal acts.
Elaborated Shiva to them :
‘It is difficult to understand the five divine duties I perform but in grace I shall reveal to you. The five are namely – Creation, Maintenance, Destruction, Regression and Grace. The start of the universe is Creation, sustaining its evolutionary process is Maintenance. Dooming the creation is Destruction.
Tendency of moving backwards is Regression (It is antonym of progression, a natural reaction to it.) A soul desires to go back into its origin, the Soul Supreme. The deliverance from these four exercises is possible by My Grace, which is the fifth act I perform.
My faithfuls see these acts in physical states – Creation in earth, Maintenance in water, Destruction in fire, Regression in air and Grace in sky or space. The earth creates, the water fosters, the fire burns all, the air carries from one place to another and the space obliges all. To carry out these five acts I have five faces, four facing the four directions and the fifth in the centre.
By My grace Brahma and Vishnu create and sustain respectively. The destruction and Regression are taken care of by Rudra and Maheshwara; My two unmanifest dimensions, who have the same mount, carrier, seat and image as Mine being of only reflective nature. As far as the grace is concerned it is dispensed only by Me, the Shiva form.”
After revealing this, Shiva remarked Vishnu and Brahma had degraded themselves by being jealous of each other. He advised them to attend to their respective allotted duties without growing ego. For penance making Shiva gave them a holy mantra for chanting and explained its mysticism.
His five faces issued five phonetic effects which combined to make the holy letter u (Om) which represented Supreme Force. The essence of Pentasyllable Ode of Shiva also grew out of it to make the greatest mantra – ‘Om-na-ma-shi-va-ya’ which is symbolic of manifest Shiva
(The ‘Om’ part is the symbol of abstract Power Supreme). The Pantasyllable mantra inspired the creation of great Gayatri mantra from which all Vedas issued forth and they created millions of mantra. Different mantras gain one different rewards, physical and spiritual both.”
Said Soota further :
‘Shiva made Vishnu and Brahma sit facing north and initiated them to the mantra properly. Later He blessed them with Yantra and Tantfas also, Yantra was a way of worship through mystical geometric design and Tantra prescribed the rites and rituals that went with it. The two accepted Shiva as their Guru Supreme and installed His idols at the places appointed for preceptor in their own abodes. As oblation the two pledged their souls to Shiva.
Sage Soota continued :
‘Sages and holy sirs!
Pentasyllable mantra if chanted continuously on the 14th day of the ascending moon phase of the month under star Arudra gains the devotee countless blessings and rewards. Worshipped be Lord Shiva’s symbol Lingam, duly installed by self or through true brahmin, with sixteen prescribed rites and rituals to ensure a place after death in the divine domain of Shiva.
Lingam be installed at the bank of a holy river in an auspicious hour chosen to the convenience of all the faithfuls participating for daily worship.
Lingam can be made of clay or iron and a proper rectangular or triangular pedestal to install it on. Lingam and pedestal should be made of the same material. A portable Lingam should be small and handy (for easy transportation). Only an inch-tall Lingam can serve the purpose in such cases; for a devotee who only seeks salvation having transcended the temptations of the mundane world.
In case of grounded Lingam the size of Lingam should be about 12 finger breadths of the faithful or more is advised. The grounded Lingam should be provided a canopy and walls around adorned with pictures or sculptures of other deities or divinities. The doorways of the sanctum be embellished with precious stones.
Two door, one on east and other on west side are ordered. The ground below the installed Lingam may first be founded with nine types of gem stones planted with mantra incantations. The place be sanctified with havana rites and priest given money, and kith or kin satisfied with gifts. In this worship exercise faithful must take part with his family. Shiva’s ganas, guards and retinue be also invoked.
In case of planted Lingam, in a dug hole gold and nine kinds of gems be put with mantra incantations and invocation of Shiva. Then, with citations of ‘Om’ mahamantra Lingam be planted with pedestal in the hole. Then, a pretty idol of Shiva too be installed above with due rites and time honoured customs with incantation of Pentasyllable mantra. In worship of such pair, do not forget to honour the person who conducts or presides over this holy exercise.
After installing Lingam in such manners a faithful must worship it daily to gain mundane and ethereal rewards including a place in the domain of Shiva.
Expansive Aspect Of Lingam
Lingam in general sense has very diverse implications and its forms are infinite. In universal Shiva spirit every object or creature of all worlds is His manifestation and is like Lingam that. represent Him and hence is worthy of worship. The trees and plants are Sathawar Lingams (botanical forms). Watering them is the worship.
Then there are nature-made oblong rock Lingams, ice lingams (Amarnath) or of chemical compounds (Yellow Stone Park, U.S.) in caves, burning process creates Flame Lingams or smoke Lingams, water fall Lingams, root vegetable Lingams, foodgrain Lingams etc. besides the man crafted or moulded ones.
On religious format, Lingams can be made of sand, clay, jaggery, butter or kneaded flour. The faithful must bear such Lingam on his thumb and worship it with incantation of Pentasyllable mantra of Shiva observing all rites prescribed in the standard worship manuals.
A faithful can forego elaborate ritual route by donating a Lingam (of precious material or a simple Lingam with monetary charity).
A faithful must chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ (Pranava) ten thousand times a day, does it himself or gets it done by a brahmin priest in the spirit of being formally initiated into Shivaism.
Incantation of Pentasyllable mantra five crore times raises one to the status of Shiva. Four crore chants of the same gains one the holiness of priesthood. One thousand incantations of Gayatri mantra propitiates Shiva whose grace grants the faithful a place in the Kailasha domain. Remember that nightly worship of Shiva is more rewarding and gains more credit.
Those wishing the grace of Shiva shall gain by living in Shiva-domains (Shiva Kshetras).” Upon hearing this from Puran scholiast Soota, enquired the sages and holymen-‘Please reveal which places are considered Shiva Kshetras?’
Domains Of Shiva
Answered Sage Soota :
By the grace of Shiva and carrying out His command, the earth bears the burden of countless mountains and rivers. To shower His grace on the inhabitants of earth Shiva determined areas here and there as his domains of special effect. Some of those Kshetras are self born by being at right place or blessed naturally, others are created by celestials devoted to Him and the rest are founded by sages and holymen. Many such places dot the sea shores and the banks of rivers.
One such principal place is Kashi, situated on the bank of Ganga. Narmada river is another such domain bathing in which, coupled with fasting begets the faithful leadership qualities and virtue. Holy Godavari is also His domain. The mere invocation of its name cleanses one of all sins. It is the river most worshipful.
Kashi (Benaras) is most famous Shiva domain. A dip in Ganga here earns one the blessings one hundred evening prayers can gain one. One hundred such dips spiritually empowers one to take the first step towards mastering yoga. The blessings gained by daily bathing in Godavari are too great for words to describe.
This river has the power to cleanse all the sins of a faithful to grant him a place in Kailasha domain of Shiva. One is required to be pious and devout in all these domains of Supreme Divinity. The sins committed in the domains will lead the defaulter into burning hell. One having evil mind at a sacred place deserves no mercy as he is bereft of any faith.
Benefaction And Sins
Both these above mentioned acts have three aspects :
- The seed (Potential)-With wisdom and knowledge it can be destroyed (or rendered harmless).
- The Progression-The growth of the sinning acts can be stemmed by noble and charitable acts.
- The Experience-The sins can be cleansed by spiritual enlightenment and charitable acts but the experience gained can not be washed away. It remains as residue (or collateral) to some extent.
The maleficent consequences of the sins can be avoided in four ways :
- Worship of Shiva
- Benefaction to the deserving candidate.
- Vesting one’s mind in meditation and making penance.
- Voluntarily undergoing extreme hardships in repentance.
The fourth way is an after thought. It does not prevent one from sinning, gaining its rewards and experiencing. Hence, one is advised to earn credits by doing noble and charitable acts to counterbalance sins.
Asked Shaunaka and the group of holymen: How should one conduct oneself in the ideal manner prescribed by religious code?
Expounded Sage Soota :
The correct conduct is for one to rise early at dawn, answer the call of nature and wash clean. One’s chosen deity must be invoked and meditated over.
Next, he may attend to his physical self, financial and expenditure aspects. A person must invest time in money earning exercise to enable him to survive, conduct correctly and do noble deeds. It is essential to nurse one’s own health, strength capabilities and social standing. Income and expenditure be carefully assessed and planned. They all require serious thought and erudite consideration.
After these mental exercises, one may take his bath. Daily prayer and worship rituals come next. Gayatri and other chosen mantras be chanted. At home or in a temple these can be done. One remains family man till seventy before leaving home for Vanprastha ashram, to live as an ascetic. An ascetic must invoke ‘Om’ mantra at least twelve times a day.
In all aspects one’s life must confirm to the orders of religion, dharma. All acts must pass its test. Money may be earned through means prescribed and manner ordered by dharma. Spending must also follow dharma code. The physical indulgences in pleasure should not exceed the limits set by religious tenets or orders.
The best dharma of Kaliyuga is benefaction, the charity. It is equal to hard penance making in other yugas. Violence is worst kind of anti-dharma act. Generally, making others happy is dharma. Do no harm or hurt anyone. Thus, dharma is the foundation of peace and joy in individual and society’s life.
Prayed the seeker sages :
‘Holy sir! Please shed light on Yajna for our benefit.’
Obliged scholiast Soota :
‘Yajna is a very sacred religious exercise in which various gods and deities are invoked and oblations offered into holy fire in their names. It empowers them with divinity. The fire is the symbolic mouth of all gods.
For a yajna a lot of materials and ingredients prescribed by scriptures are required to be procured. Oblations are offered with invocation of the name of the particular deity along with incantations of Vedic mantras by priests and sages conducting it. In deva yajna Indra is invoked besides other gods. The daily recitation or study of Vedas is called ‘Brahma Yajna’.
In an early age Shiva determined the days of week (Vars) dedicated to various gods. Sunday is dedicated to Him. Wednesday (Budhvar) is dedicated to Vishnu. Thursday (Brihaspati) is for Brahma. The worship of the related deities on various days of week is as good a credit earner as yajna performed in the name of those deities. These are yajnas without fire and so is Brahma yajna. The yajnas are begetters of long life, health, offspring, happiness, prosperity, rains and knowledge.
A yajna exercise involves chants of mantra recitations, invocations, holy fire rituals and offering of oblations followed by benefaction, charity to the poor and mass fest of the participants and poor.
For different objectives there are different yajnas with specific procedures, rites and mantras. Some sages or priests specialise in particular type of yajnas.’
Here Soota took a breather.
Requested Shaunaka group :
“Please elaborate on Devayajna, the suitable time and place for it.”
Responded Sage Soota :
‘The most suitable places for Devayajna, are a neat and clean house, a cowshed, a holy river bank, bael tree (underneath), basil plant (in proximity) and under peepul tree. And a mountain peak is the best place, ten times better than sea shore which is itself ten times worthier than the river bank. Yajnas yield diminishing returns as yugas (ages) pass on.
Kaliyuga yajnas are far less rewarding than those of earlier ages. Any day calculated as auspicious of religious act in the religious almanac is fine for this yajna. But still better are solstice ends, sun eclipse and moon eclipse days in that order. Yajna regimes don’t follow strict formats. Various houses and families have their own yajna traditions and distinct norms.’ Then, Soota revealed how worship of the idols protected a householder and his family from calamities.
Get clay from the river bed. Knead it with sandalwood powder and milk. Make a beautiful idol of any god like Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Parvati, Shiva or Lingam with it. Sit in cross legged, Padmasana posture and worship with devotion with the materials prescribed for a standard pooja. Do not offer water or milk over the idol as it will melt idol. In case of clay idol only flowers be showered or placed on. Use incense, lamp and naivedya items in worship for better results.
If the deity chosen for worship has a weekday dedicated to him, then choose that week day for worship alongside other considerations. Proper worship should be followed by a feast to family, friends and relatives besides the poor. For long life, Shiva be worshipped on 4th day of the waning moon phase of the month of Margashirsha. The month of Kartika is good for worship and praying to all the gods and deities.
Bindu-Naad Mystery (Dot-Hum Secret)
In Shivalingam, the male and female sex organ shapes are assimilated which symbolises the birth of universe. Hence, there is a separate regime of worship for Shiva to pay tribute to the creative exercise. Entire cosmos is reflection of Pinuiu-Naad. Bind is the symbol of Female Power. Naad, the hum of cosmic echo is Shiva.
The universe is the union of the two. Hum is the base of Dot (Bindi) and Dot is base of the universe. Into the base is planted what is based on. All inclusiveness is the spirit of the creation. Shivalingam is the unified form of the gender organs in symbolic shape. So, it is also called the cause of the creation. Bindu (Dot) represents the power of feminity and Shiva is cosmic echo, Naad. Parvati is the manifest form of Bindu. Hence the two are the parents of the universe; in their worship we pay homage to our original forebears.
Since the very birth a creature falls prey to various worldly temptations and remains trapped in transmigration. For a creature only hope of deliverance lies in the grace of Shiva. Shiva Lingam may be bathed and ointed with Panchamrita (cow milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar).
Offer oblation of mixture of milk and food grains to Shiva with chant of Aum (Om). The one word Om mantra is also called Bindulingam, Naadalingam, Makarlingam (From planted lingam), Ukarlingam (From portable lingam) and Akarlingam for being symbol of initiator guru. They be worshipped to gain moksha.
The Power Of Pentasyllable And Pranava (Om)
Implored the sage audience to Soota :
‘Kindly tell us more about Pentasyllable mantra (Panchakshari).’
So did scholiast Sage Soota :
Really, only Shiva can reveal the full mysticism of Pentasyllable mantra but I shall tell you whatever I comprehended according to my lights.
First know about Pranava, the ‘Om’ which initiates all mantras taking the position of Prefix. This one letter symbol of Power Supreme is like a boat (Nava), a divine boat (Para-nava) in which Shiva carries us all across the ocean of mundane life. Pranava is micro aspect of mantra. The Pentasyllable mantra of Shiva is macro aspect. Together they make the most potent mantra ‘Om Nama Shivaya’.
We can say that Pranava part is the soul and Pentasyllable is the body part of the mantra. For the ardent devotees of Shiva, although they be family people, the Pentasyllable mantra is macro Pranava, the micro part of it being present silently due to the relation with Shiva. A family person devotee may be at three levels of devotion to Shiva-namely Kripa yoga, Tapa yoga and Japa yoga in that order. The highest is the level of Japa yogi.
Kriya yogi uses his resources and riches to aquire best worship materials, makes obeisance and tries to gain the grace of his deity. Tapa yogi carries on the worship exercise, eats frugal meals and controls exterior sensory organs. Japa yogi inculcates noble qualities, lives piously and with a steady mind keeps up the holy chant (of Pentasyllable mantra) orally or mentally all the time (like a penance maker).
Bondage And Deliverance
(The mention of the grihastha, the family people made it mandatory for Soota to explain the worldly bondages and deliverance.)
Sage Soota said :
An individual born in the mundane world is held in bondage by eight factors, namely nature, intellect, ego and five elements (Prakriti, Buddhi, Ahamkara and Panchbhootas-earth, water, fire, air and space). One so bonded is trapped in a vicious cycle of birth and deaths in changing body forms. That is transmigration. To attain deliverance from this cycle one has to transcend these factors by His grace. Shiva is above nature. So, seeking refuge in Shiva is the only way of salvation from transmigration.
He is bereft of any fault and consciousness. In that sense there really is little need of worship to Him. In His abstract reality He has no form (Nirakar) and no property (Nirgun). But for the benefit of devotees He may manifest in deity form and have various qualities or character. Then worship becomes purposeful. With body, mind and actions under control by His grace, an individual gains spiritual piety eventually leading to salvation and a place in the domain of Shiva.
Ego is banished and the intellect is distilled into wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. An individual becomes yogi with mind and cerebral power under control of wisdom. One is then in the image of Shiva.Deliverance from transmigration is possible only through devotion and worship of Shiva and Lingams, His symbolic forms.
For brahmins Rasalingam (juice, liquid) is prescribed, for kshatriyas Banalingam (arrow); Swarna Lingam for vaishyas, Sunderlingam for shudras, Clay Lingam for unwidowed women, Crystal Lingam for all females and persons of all ages for rejuvenation effect and Miniature Lingam that one can hold on his palm is advised for those who have refrained from doing sinful act.
They can offer worship to palm based Lingam and oblation of naivedya too before taking food. A miniature Lingam can also be worn around neck like a locket. This mysticism was taught to me by my guru, Sage Ved Vyasa and I pass it on to you. May you be able to earn the grace of Shiva.
Further elaborated Sage Soota, after a pause:
In Kritayuga, Tretayuga, Dwapara and Kaliyuga, respectively Diamond Lingam, Gold Lingam, Rasalingam and Parthiva (stone) Lingam prevailed and are in use presently in this age. And amongst Parthiva (stone) the Clay Lingam is the best for propitiating Brahma, Vishnu and Indra besides Shiva, of course. The five point rule (Panchasootra) prescribed for idol making do not apply in the case of Parthivalingams. Lingam must just be made whole, one piece, materially uniform but the
planted one be in two pieces, buried Lingam part and installed above Shiva part. For the one in the know of Lingam mysticism, it itself is Shiva, the Deity Supreme.
The worship of the Lingam should be performed according to the general rites and rituals detailed in scriptures (general texts) and Shastras (the books of religious tenets and codes for various rites and worship) subject to the orders contained in Purans and scriptures related to Shiva or Shivaism. “A devotee can say prayer of his own if it comes from his heart, in glory of Lord and to seek His grace. Originality in devotional sentiment is no bar. Holy sirs! The worship of Lingam is a great fulfiller of wish and it gives one the credit of innumerable yajna performances.
Numbers Of Worship
Asked the holy group :
‘O scholiast Soota! How many Lingam worships are required to gain fulfilment of wishes?
Replied Sage Soota :
The number of worships depends on the kind of wish the faithful has. For gaining spiritual wisdom one thousand worships are required, fifteen hundred for riches, five hundred for material, one thousand for land, three thousand for the merciful disposition, two thousand for desire for pilgrimage and one crore worships for salvation or moksha, performed in proper and prescribed manner.
Nothing is more rewarding and pious deed than worship or Shivalingam. Daily worship as a ritual wards off all troubles. Invoke all the forms and aspects of Shiva in the worship. While worshipping the devotee may sit on the south side of Lingam or idol facing north. One should not sit on the other three sides.
For faithfuls of Shiva there are three special ingredients for worship-
- Holy ash,
- Rudraksha rosary and
- Bael leaves.
If ash is not available the clay can be used as the substitute for applying three-forked Tilak (Tripunda). There is misconception about Naivedya, the edible offerings to Lingams or Shiva as being forbidden for consumption of the faithfuls as prasadam. It is not correct. Nothing is wrong in eating it as gift of Shiva. Infact, the very sight of it is rewarding. Its consumption as prasadam is spiritually satisfying for a worshipper.
Prayed Shaunaka and the holy group :
Learned Soota! Tell us the legend of Bael tree and the beneficience of Holy Ash (Bhasma) and Rudraksha.
Answered enlightened Soota :
The Legend Of Bael (Bilva)
Bael tree is considered to be the botanical manifestation of Shiva. In the roots of this tree lie the holiness of all the centres of pilgrimages. Worship under Bael blesses the faithful with growth and flourishing of his bloodline. Lighting up lamp under Bael tree gains one Shiva knowledge (Jnan).
Feeding a brahmin under this tree earns one the credit equivalent to feeding one crore people. A faithful will not be stalked by poverty if he offers kheer and ghee in devotional sentiment to the poor people under this tree. A devotee may water Bael tree because water fed roots of it pleases Shiva. Remember its roots are Lingam symbols. Hence, worship be done near the roots.
Greatness Of Sacred Ash (Bhasma)
Now listen to the sanctifying aspect of Bhasma, the sacred ash. Bhasma is of two kinds: Mahabhasma and ‘Swalp Bhasma’. The former has its three types-Shrota, Smarth and Laukik. The first two are meant for brahmins to be used with proper rituals and incantation of mantra. The third is for general devotees for use without invocation of mantras.
The sacred ash is prepared from cowdung cakes sanctified by fire. It is Agni Bhasma. It can also be procured from holy fire pits (Havan kunds) of yajnas, havans and other religious exercises involving fire rituals as residue of the holy practice. The sacred ash may be smeared on the body. It may be applied on the forehead in Tripunda (Three Forks) shape, from the centre of eyebrows upwards, two side lines drawn up with ring fingertip and the middle one with thumb.
Each of the three lines is abode of nine deities. It gains one worldly pleasures and moksha after death. While applying ash or making Tripunda chant Shiva mantra. With Tripunda on forehead and Rudraksha in hand or neck a devotee announces his deep faith in Shiva. Catching a sight of such person is in itself blessingful. One who does not chant His Pentasyllable name, does not apply bhasma to body or wears no Tripunda and goes about without Rudraksha rosary, a wretched one is he! So say the spiritually enlightened ones.
Continued Soota with his revelations :
In benignity, blessingfulness, reward gaining, joy giving and moksha granting Rudraksha is as potent as Shiva self. It literally means ‘Tears of Rudra’ i.e. Shiva self. The story of its origin will reveal its glory and efficacy as He himself once confided to His consort, Parvati.
In the early aeons of the creation once Shiva made penance for thousands of divine years with steady mind. Then, anguished by thought of being the carrier of the burden of the welfare of universe, He opened His eyes on purpose. His eyes shed tears that sprouted up as trees of Rudraksha at places of Gaur land, Mathura, Ayodhya, Kashi, Lanka, Malyachala mount etc.
That was the divine inspiration behind it. Rudraksha dried up fruit-seed can be in sizes of a gram grain to amla, the Indian goose berry. The Rudraksha beads are blackishbrown in colour. Stringed into rosary they can adorn the devotee’s neck or wrist. In the neck, a Rudrakshamala is like a necklace of divine pearls.
Rudraksha rosary can wipe the tears of its wearer, the faithful of Shiva. Such is the glory of Rudraksha. The bigger the size of Rudraksha, the bigger is its efficacy. So, the goose berry size Rudrakshas are very precious. Still rare bigger ones are treasurable and blessingful. The mala of Rudraksha is very convenient for Japa
(The chant of a mantra or a deity’s name) for count when the specific number of an exercise is required. The large grain (goose berry size) Rudraksha reduces malefic aspects. A small Rudraksha red on top and black underneath can fulfil wishes of one’s heart. So, smaller ones are extra efficacious. Stinged into a rosary they act like a spiritual weapon against evil and lend aura to the user or wearer.
The rounded, strong, deep brown and having grainy surface are blessingful and auspicious. Disfigured, broken, worm infected, moth eaten and non-round Rudraksha should not be acceptable. When intended to be stringed Rudraksha a hole can be drilled manually if it does not have a natural. hole. But ones with natural hole are more efficacious.
A person wearing 1100 grains of Rudraksha in the form of rosaries becomes Rudralike. One can wear a crown made of 550 Rudrakshas. The most accepted rosary of Rudraksha consists of 108 grains. Chanting Pentasyllable mantra (Panchakshari) with Rudraksha on is very potent spiritual exercise.
Three faced Rudraksha blesses skillfulness, four faced is divine and sin cleanser, five faced fulfils wishes and grants moksha, six faced is like Kartikeya, seven faced begets money, eight faced gains one a long life and Rudrakshas with still more faces are progressively more potent and benefic. The one with 14 faces is like Almighty.
Thus, explained Sage Soota the glories and efficaciousness of Bilva, Bhasma and Rudraksha to greateful Shaunaka and the holy group. He also revealed the procedures of various exercises related to them and the prescriptions. And that brought the Vidyeshwara chapter to end.