The Siva Maha Puranam is a Gnyana Yajnam worth a 100 Yajnas such as Aswamedha etc.
It tells us that Siva (Sanatana – Maha Sanatana: Ancient – Most Ancient), himself told this story first and that Vyasa told it later. We know of this story as Suta, Vyasa’s student, related it to Saunaka at Naimisaranyam.
There are 2 stories of wretched sinners, who become purified by either (accidentally or intentionally) hearing the Siva Puranam and therefore attain Kailasam. The concept of sin, Naraka (hell) and of Siva dutas (messengers) clashing with Yama dutas, after the sinners die, is similar to some stories that I have heard about Vishnu. (Ajamila).
(Since Yama is said to dish out rather tough punishments to those who err, people generally wish to avoid Yama Lokam and prefer Sivalokam, Satya(Brahma)Lokam, Vaikuntam(Vishnu), SuryaLokam, IndraLokam (Svargam) or any of the happier lokas).
The Siva Purana Mahatyam tells us that reading the Siva Puranam is a Gnyana (Knowledge) Yajnyam and one must be pure in heart, mind and body to read it. (A gnyana yajnam gives the phalam (fruit) of a 100 other yajnas like the Aswamedha or the Rajasuya or the Vajapeya.)
The Siva Purana Mahatyam tells us that the narrator should be given the Vyasa Pitam (Seat of Vyasa) and he must be honoured as such. A place should also be set aside for Siva himself.
It tells us how to decorate the Vedi, which direction the orator and the listeners should face, the qualifications of the orator and his helper, when he is allowed breaks for easing himself, what sort of foods should be avoided by the listeners (gaseous, intoxicating etc), the correct posture for healthy listeners, the qualifications of the audience (good, devout, clean), the rewards and respect due to the narrator (Vaktha) and his helper, the respect and care due to the grantha (the book), and the rewards (punyam) and penalties (papam) for the listeners who follow the rules or flout them respectively.
In my heart I believe that one must follow the rules in the spirit of love, devotion, cleanliness, dedication and that the literal rules may be avoided, with no papam (sin) or karma (consequences) accruing to one. In any case, as we always say, Sri Krishnarpanam. Whatever lapses or flaws there are in our understanding or actions, we request Sri Krishna to fill in those on our behalf and grant us the full benefit of good deeds properly done. With this thought I begin to read and retell some of the stories of the Siva Puranam. (You may find Gautama’s story here.)
Siva Mahapuranam Vidyeswara Samhitam First Adhyayam: The Siva Maha Puranam wards off the evil effects of Kaliyuga.
The first of the 7 available Samhitas of the Siva Puranam is the Vidyesvara Samhita. It begins with prayer to Ganesa and Siva.
Vyasa narrates how his student Suta, is welcomed by Saunaka and other rshis. They press him to tell them another story, which teaches of good and bad and which wards off the *evil effects of Kaliyuga.
They ask him to tell such a story, that would help purify the world and its people and help everyone attain Moksham (Liberation.)
*The list of problems listed at the end of the Dvapara Yuga and today are quite different. We are worried about pollution, global warming, energy crunch, water shortage, food prices, world hunger, population explosion etc.
But some of the things listed as evil effects of Kaliyuga, at that time, look like welcome changes to us now. For example Varna-Sankaram – the mixing up of Varnas, was considered a terrible evil to be avoided at the end of Dvapara Yuga. But, today, 5000 years into Kaliyuga, it is a publicly stated ideal that a good thing for all humans to blend together as one race. Inter-caste marriages have been happening since the times of Ruru-Pramadvara and earlier. Today we are happy about the legal equality that we have achieved for all men and women though we have still a lot to achieve in terms of economic and social equality. In fact people, today, look back and criticise parallel (simultaneous) polygamy and sati sahagamanam. (Serial Polygamy of marrying one spouse after another is considered acceptable and suicide is considered a crime.)
Similarly, the loss of family values is presented as a problem unique to Kaliyuga and yet we know that the Adityas and Daityas fought all the time in the Kruta Yuga, the Pandavas and Kauravas caused and fought the Bharata War towards the end of the Dwapara Yuga. Both Vyasa and Karna were born love-children, out-of-wedlock. And one was a great maharishi and another a great warrior and king. It was not just Draupadi who suffered at the hands of Duryodhana the plight of millions of dasis in Hastinapura and Indraprastha was not good at all.
The otherwise great king Kartavirya Arjuna was guilty of killing the brahman, Jamadagni, father of Parasurama and Viswamitra is said to have indirectly caused the death of Vasishta’s sons. (Kruta/Treta Yuga). So the brahmins had to fight for themselves even then as today, no different from kaliyuga
My point is this:
1. At end of Dvapara Yuga – certain problems were predicted as being unique to Kaliyuga, even though they existed even in the prior Yugas.
2. Some of the predicted problems are not accepted as problems by the modern thinkers.
3. Some of the problems experienced today, were not predicted in ancient times.
Therefore, without worrying much about Kaliyuga predictions, let us explore the wonderful wealth of knowledge that SivaPuranam has to offer us. Originally told by Siva, Brahma, Sanatkumara, Vyasa and Suta, it is an amazing treasure of historical, geographical, astronomical, socio-cultural and above all Spiritual Guidance.
It is my desire that people of all jathis, varnas, races, nationalities etc, read and understand the Siva Puranam and then decide whether they wish to practice the teachings or not.
Siva Mahapuranam Vidyeswara Samhitam 2nd Adhyayam : Vyasa reduced the size of the Siva Mahapuranam and put it into 7 samhitas.
He explained that the Siva Purana is the gist of the Vedas, redeems one of all Papa (sins) and gives one the Paramartha – ultimate goal, meaning and purpose. (Traditionally Hindus believe that there are 4 goals to our existence, Dharma (Duty, ethics and social order), Artha (Wealth), Kama (What we desire), and Moksha (Liberation). These are called Chaturvidha Phalam or Chaturvarga Phalam. Of these, Moksha is considered the Paramartha).
Siva Puranam eliminates the pollution of Kaliyuga and even sins of the level of BrahmaHatya (killing a brahman.) It ends all the debates about which Tirtha (Sacred water spot), mantra, dana (charity), Siddhanta (principles/treatises/ways of thinking) or which Deva is the best.
Of all the days the 14th (Caturthi – caviti – Caturdasi – Choudvi) day of the lunar month is the best for reciting the Siva Mahapuranam. (Since the Siva Puranam is full of stories of astronomical significance, the darkest nights, in which the stars are the most clearly visible are the best suited. I think the Jagarana (Jagaram), staying awake all night long on Sivaratri is also connected to this point.)
The Siva Mahapuranam was first told by Siva himself. It was later abridged by Vyasa. (Maybe Vyasa could only rescue 7 of the 12 Samhitas that constitute the Siva Puranam). Only Siva himself could completely understand the Kailasa Samhitam. Suta himself said that he could only understand half of it.
Siva took the Sudha (Nectar/Giver of Good/Amruta) that was obtained by churning the Ocean of the Upanishads and gave it to Kumara (his son, Karthikeya), who became immortal.
(There are also the Sanatkumars, sons of Brahma and Ganesa also, who may be called Kumara. Further study will illuminate us. The interesting thing about the above sloka (41), is that, the Bhagavad Gita has been referred to as the milk of the Cow called Upanishads, which the cowherd Sri Krishna, extracted for us. Here too, the Upanishads are compared to the Milky Ocean (Ksheera Sagara)).
The 12 original Samhitas of the Siva Mahapurana are,
- Vidyeswara or Vidyesa (Vidyesa means Vidya – Isa, the lord of Vidya (knowledge), tt may refer to Brahma) (10,000 verses)
- Uma (Uma is a name for Parvati Devi, the divine wife of Siva. Aumam, meaning ‘of Uma’, as the samhita is referred to sounds exactly like Aum (Om).) (Pratyeka Ashta Sahasrakam)
- Vinayaka (another name for Ganesa, the son of Uma) (10,000 verses)
- Rudra (a name for Siva and also the name of a Vedic Deva associated with Arudra (Betelguese)) (10,000 verses) (13,000 verses)
- Matra (of the mother, duration/size/quantity/only/any measure of quantity) (Pratyeka Ashta Sahasrakam)
- Ekadasa (related to eleventh) (13,000 verses)
- Kailasa (the abode of Siva, often taken to mean the Mt. Kailasa in the Himalayas ) (6000 verses)
- Sata-Rudra (100 Rudra) (3,000 verses)
- Koti-Rudra (100,00,000 Rudra) (9,000 verses)
- Sahasra-Koti (1000 Koti)
- Vayaviya (North-West) (Khabdi Satam)
- Dharma (Ravi-Sahasrakam)
The Siva MahaPuranam referred to here totally had 100,000 verses in 12 Samhitas. Vyasa’s Siva MahaPuranam is the 4th version , having only 7 samhitas and 24000 verses. The earlier 3 were not traceable at the time of Suta’s Recitation of the Siva Mahapuranam to Saunaka. Suta said that the first version, at the beginning of creation, had 100 koti (crore) verses. In the Dvapara Yuga, Dwaipayana (Vyasa) and others reduced the Siva Mahapuranam down to 24000 verses and put it into 18 parts. (18 is a favorite number with Vyasa, – 18 Puranas, 18 Upapuranas etc. 24, is another favorite number. He appears to have favoured multiples of 6. I read somewhere that since the equilateral triangle was the easiest to construct, so 60 degrees was a favorite of ancient times.)
The Seven Samhitas that were kept are,
- Vidyeswara or Vidyesa
The Siva Mahapuranam expounds Dharma, Vignyana (Science) and Vedanta (philosophy of the Vedas). It is the best of the Puranas and is a SatPurana (True/Good/Real Purana).
… I feel a little wistful that Veda Vyasa, chose to abridge the Siva Puranam or could only rescue one fourth of it, as I feel about his re-ordering of the Veda Mantras. In his wisdom in preserving the essence of what he recieved, we may have lost some of the historical clues from the order of the Veda Mantras and the edited slokas. However what remains itself may be beyond my little brain, I should be grateful that he saved what was the most important…
With Salutations to the Great Vyasa, Devotee of Siva of indescribable antiquity and greatness, I end my rendering of the second chapter of the Vidyesvara Samhita of the Siva Mahapurana. It has 755 words in it.
Siva Mahapuranam Vidyeswara Samhitam 3rd Adhyayam: To attain Sivapadam, listen to the Siva Puranam, repeat it, think about it and understand it with devotion.
Veda Vyasa said “After listening to Suta, Saunaka and other Maharshis asked him to tell them the Siva Purana, which contains the entire essence of the Vedanta (Vedic Philosophy). Suta was delighted to hear this. He thought of Siva and spoke to the rishis.”
(Notice that Suta’s narration is inside Vyasa’s narration. Vyasa first taught the Puranas and Itihasas to Suta.)
Suta Said, “All ye Rishis, listen, remember that Siva, who is beyond Maya and listen to the Siva Puranam which gives birth to the essence of Vedanta. The trio – Bhakthi (Devotion), Gnyana (Knowledge) and Viraga (detachment) and that which is to be known in the Vedanta (Vedanta-Vedya), have been clearly described.
Many Kalpas have passed in the ancient days, again and again. At the beginning of this present Kalpa, at the beginning of Srishti (creation), 6 caste munis were talking to teach other.
A big debate followed on which was the highest. So they approached the unchanging Vidhata (the creator, Brahma). With polite words and the Anjali gesture (see picture) they said , “You are the cause of all causes, The Dhata (giver of fate) of the universe, who is the oldest one, the ultimate, beyond all Tattvas?”
Then Brahma said, “That which words and mind cannot reach, which is earlier to Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Indra, from which all this, with all the beings (bhuta) and senses (indriya) first emerges.
That Deva is MahaDeva (the Great God), the knower of all, the master of the universe. He is seen only by extreme devotion and by nothing else. Rudra, Hari and others like the Suresvara (the lord of the Devas – Indra), are always eager to see him with the extreme devotion.
(It is interesting to note that many modern (kaliyuga) writers identify Hara and Rudra with Mahadeva, Jagadisha Siva but Vyasa himself does not do this. Siva is He whom Hari, Hara, Brahma and Indra worship.)
What more is there to say? The devotion to Siva frees one.Mahadeva is pleased by devotion and devotion is attained by the pleasure of Siva. As a seed is from a sapling and a sapling is from a seed.
Therefore, O Dvijah (twice born ones, brahmins), having gone back to the earth start a long Satra (Yajna) that lasts a thousand varshas (rains, years). You will please Siva and attain the the gist of Vidya (knowledge), explained in the Vedas, as well as the goal and the means.”
Then the Munis said,” Please tell us now about the ultimate goal (sadhya) and the means (sadhanam), related to Tattva. How should the sadhaka (the seeker, practitioner) be?”
Brahma said, “The goal is the attainment of Siva-Pada (the state of Siva), the means is His service, the Sadhaka should be indifferent to daily fruits (benefits of service) and should only focus on Siva’s grace. The Sadhaka should do his Karma (duty) as prescribed in the Vedas and offer the great benefits (mahaphalam) unto Him. Then he will attain the Paramesapada (state of the Great Lord) and the same world (Salokyam) in course of time.
(Notice, that this is in essence the Karma Yoga philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita).
The final benefit accrues from the type of Bhakthi, Isa (the Master, Siva), himself has taught the many ways of Bhakthi. In brief, these great means are, listening with the ear, praising (kirthanam) with speech, contemplating with the mind. That which is to be heard, spoken of and thought about is Mahesvara (the great God Siva). Therefore leave off all other means and listen to the Siva Purana. The world follows (goes by) what it sees with its eyes. The Shrutis (Puranas) wish us to learn about what we cannot see by listening about it with our ears. Therefore an intelligent person should hear the shrutis from his guru (teacher, guide, expert), and then sing/say/repeat it and think about it.
When thinking leads to understanding, then that person would acieve Siva Yoga (union with Siva), and all the steps in order like Salokya etc.
He will be free of diseases and attain all joy. The initial steps will be difficult but it will end afterwards auspiciously.
Siva Puranam, Vidyesvara Samhita – 4th Adhyayam – Sravana, Kirthana, Manana
The Munis Said: Oh Brahma, please explain to us how Sravana, Kirthana and Manana must be done.
(Vidyesvara – means the Lord of Vidya or Saraswathi, ie Brahma. Since Brahma is the original narrator further quoted by Vyasa, Suta and others, this Samhita is called Vidyesvara Samhita).
Brahma Said :
Puja, Japa, S’aguna, Vilasa, Nama, – joining one’s mind to these, with love, purifies it. This is Mananam, the best of all ways to get a vision of Siva.
Singing the pratapa, guna, rupa, vilasa and nama of Sambhu (Siva), in clear speech or pleasant tunes, either in the the padas (words) of the Shrutis (Vedas etc), or in one’s own language, that is kirthanam. Among the Sadhanas, Kirthana ranks middle.
Sravana is the pleasant hearing, about Siva. (By any method – stories, music, movies.. blogs…)
SatSanga (attachment to Sat) is the first step. It leads to Sravana. The Sankirthana of Pasupathi (Siva) follows. This makes one’s devotion firm. Then Mananam, which is the best of all Sadhanas happens. All this is occurs when Sankara’s Drushti falls on one.
Suta Uvaca (Said) : “Let me narrate an incident with respect to this. Veda Vyasa, my guru, the son of Parasara was once practicing Tapas on the auspicious banks of the Saraswathi River. At that time he saw Sanatkumara (a son of Brahma), on a vimana as brilliant as the sun. Vyasa offered his respects and water to Sanatkumara as to a Deva. The delighted Sanatkumara spoke to him in a deep voice.”
(In modern classical sanskrit and other Indian languages vimana means aeroplane. Meaning of Vimana with respect to temple architecture: “A hole was dug into the ground at the spot where the god would later rest, and several holy gifts would be buried therein-this process is called garbha-dana, ‘impregnating the womb.’ On top of that, the basic sanctuary, the vimana, is built. The vimana contains the garba-grhm (womb-house), which is the holiest part of the temple. It is within the garba-grhm that the god is placed.. Above the vimana is a tower, the sikhara” Source. It is interesting to note that some of the older temples were built in the shape of Rathas (chariots).)
(There are some Christian, Jain and other faiths who also worship someone else called Sanat Kumara. They claim that he is the same as Subrahmanya. But our SanatKumara is one of the 4 sons of Brahma, and I will tell his story later.)
Then Vyasa spoke of his wish, “In the path of the Vedas, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Mokhsa have been revered. By your grace, by me, in this world, much has been accomplished. Even an accomplished teacher like myself is not able to get the mukthi sadhanakam gnyanam (knowledge leading to liberation). I don’t know why. That is why I am performing Tapas (Austerities).
The competent Sanatkumara Said, “The certain cause of Mukthi is the Sravana, Kirthana and Manana of Sambhu. These 3 sadhanas are in accordance with the Vedas. Initially, I too struggled with other austerities on the Mandara Mountain. Then I found Nandikeswara, by Siva’s Aagnya (command). That Bhagavan, the lord of the Ganas, the witness of all, was compassionate to me. He told me about the threefold way that is in accordance with the Vedas. Nandi was taught this way by Siva himself.” After saying this, Sanatkumara, left by his brilliant Vimana.
(Ganeswara literally means the lord of Ganas and the Ganas usually refer to Siva’s hordes. The different ganas had different commanders, the most important lord of all the Ganas, was Uma’s son, knownas Ganapati, Ganesa or Vinayaka. But the term could also refer to Nandi. Nandi is popularly represented as Siva’s Bull with one hump on its back. It is said to be Siva’s vahana, on which Siva rides. Nandi also speaks and acts like a human in many stories. )
The rshis said to Suta, “ Now that you have taught us this threefold way of Sravana, Kirthana and Manana, Please tell us what a person can do, if he is unable to follow this way for any reason”
Thus ends the 4th Adhyaya of the Vidyeswara Samhita of the Siva Mahapuranam
Siva Puranam, Vidyesvara Samhita – 5th Adhyayam – Siva Linga Archana
Suta Uvaca : “A person who is unable to follow the trifold method of sravana-kirthana-manana may establish the Linga or the Body (Vera: Form, Image) of Sankara and worship (puja) it everyday, in order to cross the Samsara Sagaram.”
Sagaram means Ocean. Samsaram can mean world, worldly existence, in general, the flow of life. Philosophers and Devotees find the Samsara Sagaram painful, distracting, repetetive and all together something to cross over or escape from at the earliest, to the Para Loka (Other World). This is quite unlike the poets and adventurers, who cannot have enough of the beauty, joy and fun of this world (Iha Lokam). The same person may also oscillate from fun, to pain to quiet and back to fun ad infinitum.
“He must offer as much as he can (no cheating), of Dravya (material wealth), Mandapa (platform), Gopura (Shelter), Tirtha (Holy Water), Kshetra (Place), Vastra (Clothes), Gandha (Sandal), Malya (garland), Dhupa (incense), Deepa (lamp), Varieties of Annam (cooked rice), Umbrella, Flag, Chamara Vyajanam (Fan of Yak Fibres Whisk)“
“As to a king, he must perform Pradakshina (going round a person or object keeping it to your right), namaskara (salutations with folded hands) and japa (repetition of His name or Praise)“
“From Avahana (the time when Siva is invited into the Lingam or Vera), to Sarga Anta (when Siva is let go), this is how He should be worshipped with devotion. Just as people who have followed the trifold way have been benefitted so also the people who have followed this Archana Method have also been redeemed.“
Without repeating myself overly, please notice that Siva is invited into the Siva Linga or Siva Vera (Vera may also be translated as root) worshipped and let go. Notice also that this method of puja is next best to the trifold method. See Also : Meaning of Vigraha is ‘Embodiment’, not idol!, and Mantras : Space-Time Short-Circuits?
Suta Uvaca : “This is a wonderful question that deserves an answer. I have heard from my Guru that this is said by Siva himself. Siva is the only one who is of the form of the Brahman and is called Nishkala (Immaculate, Attributeless, Without Kala )“
“Siva is called Sakala (Everything) in his handsome Vera Saakaara (form) and Nishkala (Nothing) in his Nirakara (formless) Nishkala form”
“Because of his being Sakala and Akala (Nishkala), he alone is called Sabda-Brahma.“
This clearly presents the view of Vyasa (the most ancient authority that we have today), that Siva Linga, represents the Nishkala Nirakara form of Siva (in contrast to some other views popularised by colonials that I will not dignify by repeating here.)
I also have my personal idea (Speculation/ Guess Work) on this: Siva is Maha Sanatana – the Most Ancient. Sivarchana is the oldest form of worship. This is from the Old Stone Age (at least). I think that a polished stone was the most that people could fashion before they learnt how to sculpt all the beautiful images. The worship of Siva dates from that time. It is possibly common to Africans and Indians. Africans also worshipped a Muruga at some point of time. Though we consider Muruga as Shanmukha (6-faced)-Karthikeya, Muruga could also be Mooru-gan or Mooru-Kannu (three-eyed Siva). According to National Geographic, there was an interaction via boat about 50,000 years ago between Africa and India. I have also seen that Siva-Veras are generally beardless. (This is a more Afro-Indian feature?)
“The same question was asked by the wise Sanatkumara, the son of Brahma, of Nandikesvara, in order to illuminate the meaning of Pranava (Omkara) and to achieve the essence of Vedanta in the Mandira (temple/Mandhara mountain.)“
Sanatkumara Uvaca: “All the Devas other than Siva, are “Vasyanam Sarvesham” (controllable by all). Please tell me more about the worship of SivaLingam.”
A note about the concept of ‘Vasyam’ : The Isa Upanishad says that everything in the world is Isa Vasyam – under the control of Isa (Siva). Yet in our stories we often see that when a devotee is insistent, his chosen deity is bound to grant his request. (See Gautama‘s story for how Ganesa and Varuna feel bound to grant the wishes of those who worship them.) Very often the deity worshipped or Indra subject the devotee to a test, in the form of distractions. A Niscala (undisturbed) devotee does end up with a darshan of the deity. Sometimes the devotee is tricked into asking for something less dangerous. (Kumbhakarna asks for Nidra (sleep) instead of Nirdaya (cruelty)). And sometimes he is negotiated with. (Hiranyakasipu does not get immortality but gets to prescribe apparently impossible pre-conditions to his death.) But the implication is that a devotee who is single-minded and not distractable gets to ask for whatever he wants. (People who misuse this end up rather badly). So here Sanatkumara is saying that except for Jagadisa, Siva, Sankara, other deities are bound to help their devotees.
Nandikeswara Uvaca : (Since it was Nandi who was quoted in the first place, most of the ideas are the same, so I am skipping them here.)
Sanatkumara Uvaca: “Please tell me how this started”.
Nandikeswara Uvaca : “In an ancient Kalpa, a long time ago, Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over who was a greater soul. Paramesvara (The supreme lord) appeared between them as a huge pillar. Thereafter with a desire to do good to the world he chose the pillar as his symbol. The Veras of the other Devas bestow Bhoga (Enjoyments) on the worshipper, but the SivaLingam bestows Bhoga as well as Moksha“
This ends the 5th Adhyaya of the Vidyesvara Samhita of the Siva Mahapuranam. The pillar story is often interpreted as a “garva bhangam” story where one learns not to be too proud of one self. I believe there is an astronomical significance to this story about the relative sizes/distances of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. Vishnu has been identified previously with the Centre of the Milky Way Galaxy pointed out by the Moola Nakshatram, and Brahma has been previously identified with the Aurigae Nakshatram. The temptation to identify Vishnu with the black hole at the center of the galaxy is very strong.
Siva has something to do with the size and scale of the Universe. Once we understand Siva, I believe, we would have figured everything out.
Siva Puranam, Vidyesvara Samhita – 6th Adhyayam – Brahma and Vishnu Clash.
Ah! A story at last!
So far we have learned that Siva helps those who seek Advaita, and that the Siva Puranam came to us from Siva, through Nandi, through Sanatakumara, through Vyasa, through Suta to Saunaka and the other Rishis. Parts of the Puranam were related by Brahma to 6 Munis and quoted by Suta.
We have learned that it is best to listen to stories of Siva, repeat them and understand them and that if we can’t do that, then we can worship Siva in His Vera (Body Form) or Linga (Symbol Form), with flowers, cooked rice and all manner of nice things that we might offer to an important guest like a king.
In the the Puranas, Vyasa and other composeres took real incidents and added many layers of meaning to it, so that they contain useful concepts and valuable information in them. Then they put these enhanced stories into poetic form, which made them easy to remember and hard to spoil. Then the sutas (story tellers) learned these stories by heart and went around to different places narrating them. So let us also look at the incident and then at as many layers of meaning as we can understand.
When Sanatkumura wanted to know the story of the SivaLinga, this is what Nandikeswara told him. Nandi is Siva’s devotee and Vahana (Vehicle). Nandi means happiness and Siva means Good. What better vahana for goodess than joy? Joy carries Good wherever it needs to go!
“A long time ago, Vishnu (the One who is Everwhere), was sleeping on Vishadhara (one who carries poison, a snake) surrounded by his followers. Then, came there, Brahma who knew the essence of great knowledge, and asked the beautiful Vishnu who was lying down. “Get up child and greet me!“, Brahma demanded. “I am your master! You are foolish and treachourous!” Vishnu was seriously annoyed but politely offered him a seat. Then Brahma accused Vishnu of arrogance. Vishnu said “Child, the world (jagat) is in me, and you consider it yours like a thief! You are born of the my lotus like navel, you are my son and speak unnecesserily!”
Siva enquired whether the ever obedient Devas and the worlds were all doing their duties and whether they were all doing well. He had already heard about the clash. So he ordered a hundred ganeshas (lords of the Ganas – not our Ganesha!) to move to the scene of the fight.
Then to the sound of many kinds of instruments, the ganeshas set off, with many kinds of ornaments and vahanas (vehicles). Then the husband of Ambika (the Divine Mother), ascended the Ratham
(chariot). This was the Bhadra Ratham. (Kubera had a Chaitra Ratham. Chaitra refers to Chaitra Masa, the first lunar month asscoiated with Vasantha Rtu (approximately near spring). Bhadra Ratham could refer to the month of Bhadrapada, the second lunar month associated with the Varsha Rtu (approximately near the rainy season). Or it could refer to Bhadra Nakshatram in the Meena Rasi.
That Bhadra ratham was Pancha Mandala Manditam or decorated with 5 mandalas. (Mandala means circle, this could be a reference to natkshtras or to Veda Mandalas). It was shaped like the first and the last Pranava. (Pranava is the first ‘sound’ that resulted in creation. AUM.) Then his son (either Karthikeya or Vinayaka) with his Ganam (battallion), Indra and others, all followed Him.
With Chitra Dhvaja (attractive flags), Vyajana (fan), Caamara (Camara means yak, caamara of yak, so this is a fan made of yak hair), with a rain of flowers, with dance,with song, with musical instruments, that Pasupati (lord of all animals – living things), honouredby the Devas, went to the battle field.
Once there, he ordered everyone to be quiet and silently hid Himself. At that time Brahma and Vishnu were intent on killing each other using the Maaheshwara and the Paasupata Astras (weapons). (Again we see that the weapons being used are both named after Siva. One is called Mahesvara (of the great lord) and the other is called Pasupata (of the lord of all beings)). The weapons used by Brahma and Vishnu cast the three worlds into flames and Siva foresaw an untimely Pralayam. (Pralaya means toward Laya, that state of undifferentiatedness that is called the Dissolution).
Then right between them He, the Nishkala, turned into a great pillar of flames (Anala), of terrifying dimensions. The weapons of Brahma and Vishnu fell into this huge flame and were destroyed. Having seen this auspicious wonder which could calm the great weapons, Brahma nd Vishnu were surprised and started guessing what it was. They wished to investigate the pillar of energy and decided to reach its peak and source.Vishnu took the form of a suukara and Brahma took the form of a Hamsa.
In modern Indian languages, hamsa means swan and suukara means boar. But we have to remember that Sanatkumara is trying to help Vyasa with Advaita. That is how this Siva Mahapuranam began. In philosophical lexicon, using the reversal rule, – Hamsa stands for “Soham, Sah Aham – He I am”. This is one of the major mantras of the Advaita Philosophy derived from the Upanishads. Brahma tried to reach the top of the pillar of energy, with the thought Soham. Vishnu tried to reach the root or source of this energy. Suukara is frequently translated as boar, the digger. So it could be that he approached the source, by digging deeply. Or Suukara could be a deliberate distortion of Sukara – one who does good, an epithet of Vishnu. Thereby it could refer to action, duty, doing good.
Hari (Vishnu) reached the Patalam (a lower world) without discovering the source of Siva. Feeling tired he returned to the battle field.
Neither could Brahma sight the peak. He, however encountered a falling Ketaki flower. (Mogali, Ketakī केतकी (Pandanus odoratissimus ) — Kewdā केवड़ा –A fragrant flower used in making perfume and aromatic oil).
Brahma asked Ketaki why it was falling and who had held it up.
I am not sure which symbolism Ketaki symbolises, so when I find out I will put it here. But the talk of being held up (dhruta) and falling (patana), generally applies to disciples who are supported by their gurus and then fall when they disconnect and branch out on their own. We may hope to find it in some Nyayavali.
It had fallen off Siva, when He was laughing at Brahma and Vishnu. The flower told him that it had been falling since the beginning, when this causeless pillar suddenly appeared and so far it had seen only the middle, and neither the beginning nor the end of the pillar.
Brahma saluted the Ketaki and begged it to lie to Vishnu on his behalf, saying that he had reached the very top of the energy pillar. He said that it was not a sin to tell lie sin times of distress as per the Sastras.
This indicates many things. One clearly this verse refers to the ManuSmriti philosophy of ApatDharma – where the normal rules are excused in danger. Which matches with our analysis so far, that the Manusmriti was composed before Vyasa’s time. The second thing is that the real Brahma, the creator, is a resident of Satya Loka and it is incongruous to think of him lying. The third thing is that this Vidyesvara Samhita is taught by Brahma himself and related by his son Sanatkumara to his great-great-grandson Vyasa!! Therefore the explanation has to be be allegorical or astronomical and not literal.
Brahma was delighted to see that Vishnu hadn’t made it to the source of the energy. With the Ketaki’s help. he claimed victory and Vishnu conceded. He performed the shodasha upacharas (sixteent services) to Brahma.
To punish fate (Vidhim Prahartum) ie Brahma, Siva emerged from the pillar. Brahma and Vishnu touched his feet with trembling hands. They said ” Your body is without beginning or end. It is impossible to realise you with an infatuated intellect, however hard one tries. Please forgive us (since) our sins are washed away by your presence. ” Isvara (The Lord) was pleased withthe truthfulness of Vishnu and decreed that Vishnu’s images would be worshipped everywhere. And thus did Siva grant Vishnu equality with Himself, (Sasamyatvam – a kind of liberation) as the Devas looked on.
The moral of the story? Effort, Action, Going to the Root of the Problem, Sincerity, Truthfulness will lead to being like Siva. Pretending to be Him (Soham) may lead to the temporary importance but it will lead to a final downfall. (Next Adhyayam). Siva is beyond comprehending with a mind, especially a mind deluded as to its own importance.
Thus ends the 7th part to be studied of the compilation of Vidyesvara, of the Siva Mahapuranam.
- The first narrator of the Siva Purana is Siva himself. Siva took the Sudha (Amruta) that was obtained by churning the Ocean of the Upanishads and gave it to Kumara (his son, Karthikeya or one of the Sanatkumaras, sons of Brahma), who thus became immortal.
- It was later abridged by Vyasa and made available to us.
- The version of the Siva Mahapuranam available to us begins with Vyasa Uvaca.
- The conversation between Suta and Saunaka is reported to us by Vyasa.
- Then Suta, Romaharshana takes over the narration and tells us the Purana as he learned it it from Vyasa.
- Within Suta’s narration, the first narrator is Brahma, who teaches the Munis about MahaSiva.
- Within Suta’s narration, the next narrator is Sanatkumara, who teaches Veda Vyasa that the way to understand advaita is through the Siva Mahapurana.
- Within Sanatkumara’s narration, the first narrator is Nandikeswara who teaches Sanatkumara about the Nishkala Linga (symbol) Rupa.
- The entire story of the clash between Brahma and Vishnu is what we hear from Nandikeswara as he told it to Sanatkumara.
- And so far we have listened along with Sanatkumara, how Brahma challenged Vishnu’s importance and then used Ketaki to provide false evidence of his success in a contest.
Siva Mahapuranam Vidyesvara Samhitam 8th Adhyayam
Nandikeswara Uvaca (Said): From in between his eyebrows, Siva created Bhairava, in order to destroy Brahma’s pride. The Sivagana Bhairava asked Siva for his orders. Siva said, ” Oh Child! This is Vidhi (Vidhi means ‘destiny’ or’ what must be done’ – one of the names and functions of Brahma). He is the First Daivata (luminary or divine person) that can be perceived by the eyes. At once, use your excellent sword, with speed and violence”. Then, he (Bhairava), having caught hold of his (Brahma’s) hair with one hand, severed the untruthful fifth head and got ready to kill him, with his sharp sword shaking in his hand.
Your father Brahma (Nandi was speaking to Sanatkumara, Brahma’s son), threw away his decorations and with his hair compacted by his upper garment, fell, like water in a storm, like a creeper, down at Bhairava’s feet. The compassionate Achyuta (the undivided one – Vishnu), looking at Vidhi, his budding opponent, with tears in his eyes and artistic (sweet) words, joined his palms together in an Anjali and spoke (to Siva) as a child to his own father.
Achyuta said : Oh Isa, (Master), it is by your efforts, he was given Panchananam Chihnam (the symbol of 5 faces), in the past. Therefore forgive him. The first (could refer here to Brahma or his error) is anugraha arham (deserving of acceptance/forgiveness). Be graceful to our Vidhi.
Then Deva (Mahadeva, Siva) came there and said to the dishonest Vidhi who had lost a neck, “You wanted to earn greatness and lordship. Hence, in these created worlds, there will be no place for you in the festivities.”
Brahma Uvaca: O one of great splendour! O Lord! Be pleased today! I think my head is a worthy absolution (for my lie). Salutations to you! O God! O Relative! O One patient (Sahishnu) with errors! O benevolent one (Sambhu)! O Source of the Universe (Viswayoni) ! O Mountain Archer (Sailadhanva – could also mean one whose bow is a mountain)!
Isvara (Siva) Uvaca : Without a king (law) this entire world will perish. Therefore be a leader of the world and deal with those deserving of punishment. I will also give you an exceptional boon. Accept it. You will be the Guru of the Vytanikas (holy rites), Gruhyas (domestic rites) and Yajnas (different Vedic Rituals). Even a Yajna with all its Angas (divisions) and with the Dakshina (fee) will be fruitless without you.
Then Isvara banned Ketaka from his worship and the Devajatas (those born of the Devas) started removing the Ketaka flowers from their vicinity.
Ketaka Uvaca : O Protector! Salutations to thee! By your words, my life is rendered fruitless. Please make it fruitful. All sins which have been committed knowingly and unknowingly are destroyed by your rememberance. Having had your darshan, how can I still retain the sin of Mithyadosha? (Illusion / deception).
Then Isvara ruled that others would accept the Ketaka for worship, and that it would be above him (Siva) in his canopy.
Having thus accepted ketaka, Vidhi and Madhava (Vishnu – the husband of Maa : Lakshmi Devi), he (Siva) shone in the assembly, praised by all the Devas.
- Another version of as’watthAma story : s’iva purANam
- Previous Posts on s’iva mahApurANam
- binduga and cancala : A story from the skanda purana about the greatness of siva purana
- s’iva purANa mAhAtmyam: skanda purANa: pas’cAttApa, prAyas’citta, c’ittas’uddhi, kaivalyam
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