Shiva Purana primarily centers around Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, but references and reveres all gods in Hinduism. The Shiva Purana asserts that it once consisted of 24,000 verses set out in Seven Samhitas, however, the Purana adds that it was abridged and composed by Romaharshana.
The Greatness of Shiva Purana
The Shiva Purana contains chapters with Shiva-centered cosmology, mythology, the relationship between gods, ethics, Yoga, Tirtha (pilgrimage) sites, bhakti, rivers and geography, and other topics. First Samhita (Books) Talks about greatness, Importance, Rules also with Injunctions and prohibitions of listening to Shiva Purana.
Oh Suta of great intellect, Oh my lord, the knower of all Philosophical principles, please narrate to me the essence of the Puranas in detail.
- How do good conduct, good devotion, and power of discrimination flourish? How are base feelings dispelled by good men?
- In this terrible Kali age, all living beings have almost become demoniac in character. What is the effective mode of remedying the same?
- Now tell me about the greatest means to achieve the most perfect weal, the holiest of the holy modes.
- What is that, the practice of which particularly purifies the soul?
- What is that which enables a man of unsullied mind to attain Shiva?
Saunaka was the chief of the sages at the great sacrifice in Naimisa forest to whom the Mahabharata and the Puranas were recited by the Suta in the reign of Adhislmakrsna, the great-grandson of Janamejaya and the sixth in generation from Arjuna in the Pandava line.
The Sutas preserved the genealogies of gods, sages, and glorious monarchs as well as the traditions of great men. The Suta here is not a caste that is described by Manu as the offspring of a Kshatriya father and Brahman mother. He is a venerable Brahmana who has preserved ballads, songs, genealogies of gods, sages and glorious Kings. He is described as the disciple of Vyasa.
Oh foremost among sages, you are blessed indeed as you are desirous of hearing. Hence I shall ponder over the greatest of the Sacred lore intelligently and tell you. Oh dear, listen to that divine panacea evolved out of all religious tenets, heightening true devotion and conducive to the pleasure of Shiva. It is destructive of the great fear of Kala (Death). O sage, it is the noble shiva Purana formerly narrated by Shiva Himself.
For the benefit of the people in the age of Kali, the sage Vyasa has abridged it out of great respect for the sage Sanatkumara on being instructed by him. Oh sage, there is nothing other than Shiva Purana for the purification of the mind especially of the people of the
Kali age. It is only the intelligent and highly fortunate man who has accumulated great merits in his previous birth who will be drawn towards it.
- The Puranas were first compiled by Brahma. Sanatkumara, a son of Brahma inherited them from his father and imparted them to Vyasa who in turn abridged them in 18 compendiums.
This Shiva Purana is the greatest and the noblest of the sacred lore. It is the form of Shiva and as such is to be served and realized in this world. By reading this and listening to it the good man becomes very pious. By all means, he instantly attains shiva’s region. Hence every endeavor of men to read this is desirable. Loving care to listen to it yields all desired results. By listening to this Purana of Shiva a man becomes sinless. After enjoying all extensive worldly pleasures he will attain the region of shiva.
Merely by listening to the story of shiva a man secures that merit which results from the performance of Rajasuya and a hundred Agnistomas. O sage, those who listen to shiva Purana the noblest of Sacred lore, cease to be mere human beings. They must be undoubtedly considered as manifestations of Rudra, a form of shiva. Sages consider the dust in the feet of those who habitually listen to that Purina and recite it, on a par with holy centers. May those who wish to attain the seat of salvation, listen always to the holy shiva Purana with great devotion. O noblest among sages, if he is unable to listen to it always, let him hear it for a short while every day with his mind fully controlled.
- Rajasuya is a great sacrifice performed by a universal monarch (in which the tributary princes also take part) at the time of his coronation as a mark of his undisputed sovereignty.
- Agnistoma is a sacrificial rite extending over several days in spring and forming an essential part of the Jyotistoma.
If anyone is unable to listen to it every day, O sage, let him listen to shiva Purana in the holy months. Those who listen to that Purana even for a Muhurta (48 minutes), half that period, one fourth of that period or even for a moment will not suffer from mishaps.O lord of sages, the man who listens to that Purana crosses the ocean of worldly existence after burning the great forest of Karma (binding actions). Oh sage, the merit that accrues from all gifts and all Sacrifices becomes stabilized after listening to Shiva Purana.
Particularly in the age of Kali, there is no greater virtue conducive to the achievement of liberation by men, O sage, than listening to Shiva Purana. There is no doubt in this that, listening to the Purana and reciting the names of shiva is as efficacious as the kalpadruma tree in yielding one’s desires. For the benefit of the evil-minded persons of the Kali age, bereft of virtuous conduct, Lord shiva has produced the nectar in the form of shiva Purana.
- kalpadruma is a mythological tree supposed to grant all desires.
A single man, the man who drinks nectar, becomes immortal and unageing. But the nectar of the divine story of shiva, if drunk, makes the whole family immortal and unageing. The sanctifying story of shiva Purana must always be resorted to, definitely so. Merely by listening to Shiva Purana (if such good results) what am I to say about the result when shiva abides in the heart?
This work consists of twenty-four thousand verses divided into seven Samhitas (compendiums). The three kinds of Devotion are fully explained in it.
- By meditation
- Recital of prayer
- Acts of worship and service
It must be listened to with great respect.
Seven Samhitas or Compendiums of Shiva Purana Are
- VidyeSvara Samhita
- Rudra Samhita
- Sata-Rudra Samhita
- Koti-Rudra Samhita
- Uma Samhita
- Kailasa Samhita
- Vayaviya Samhita
Thus, there are seven Samhitas in this Purana. This divine Purana of seven Samhitas and called after shiva stands on an equal footing with Brahman and accords an achievement that is superior to everything else. He who reads the entire Shiva Purana without omitting any of the seven Samhitas can be called a Jivanmukta (a living liberated soul).
O sage, the ignorant man is tossed about in the ocean of worldly existence till the excellent shiva Purana reaches his ears. Of what avail is listening to many sacred texts and other confounding Puranas? The Shiva Purana alone loudly proclaims (its readiness) to grant salvation. The house where the discourse on this shiva Purana is held becomes a holy center. It destroys the sins of the inmates of the house.
Thousands of Ashvamedha (horse-sacrifces) and hundreds of Vajapeya sacrifices do not merit even a sixteenth part of shiva Purana.
- In Vedic times the Ashvamedha sacrifice was performed by kings desirous of offspring but subsequently, it was performed by them for the achievement of universal supremacy. A horse was turned loose to wander at will for a year, attended by a guardian; when the horse entered a foreign country, the ruler was bound either to submit or to fight, in this way the horse returned at the end of a year. After one year, if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal would be guided back to the king’s capital. It would be then sacrificed, and the king would be declared as an undisputed sovereign.
- Vajapeya is one of the seven forms of the Soma-sacrifice offered by kings or brahmans aspiring to the highest position, and preceding the Rajasuya and the Brhaspatisava.
O best of sages, a sinner is called a sinner till the moment he hears shiva Purana with great devotion. The holy rivers, Ganga and others, the seven sacred cities and Gaya can never be equal to Shiva Purana.
- The seven sacred cities of the Hindus are Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kasi (Varanasi), Kanchi (Kanchipuram), Avantika (Ujjain), and Dwaraka.
If one wishes for the greatest of goals (Liberation) one shall recite at least a stanza or even half of it from Shiva Purana. He who constantly listens to shiva Purana fully comprehending its meaning or simply reads it with devotion is undoubtedly a meritorious soul. Lord HaheSana (Shiva) is extremely pleased with the sensible man who listens to shiva Purana when death is imminent. Lord shiva accords him a scat in his own region. He who adores this shiva Purana with great devotion enjoys in the world all desired objects and attains shiva loka. Never slack in his devotion to the shiva Purana he who keeps this work well wrapped in a silk cloth, will ever be happy. The holy Shiva Purana, the sole possession of a devotee of Shiva, should assiduously be resorted to by a person who desires for happiness here and hereafter.
The holy shiva Purana that accords the four aims of life (virtue, wealth, love and salvation) must be heard and read with great devotion always. The Shiva Purana, the greatest harbinger of the perfect welfare among the Vedas, Itihasas and other sacred texts must be thoroughly understood by those who seek salvation. This shiva Purana is the greatest resort of the knowers of Atman (Spiritual Seekers) forever; it is the noblest object worthy of adoration of good men; it suppresses the three types of distresses (i. e. physical illness, extraneous attacks and divine calamities) ; it accords happiness always ; and it is very pleasing to all Devas led by Brahma, Hari, and Isa. With the mind extremely delighted I bow unto Shiva Purana forever.
May shiva be pleased and bestow on me a devotion to His feet!