Shiv Purana / शिव पुराण
“Shiv Purana” is related to “Shaiva Mat”. This purana mainly describes and preaches about devotion to Shiva. It is said that Shiva is a God who can be pleased easily and easily grants your wish. Almost in all Puranas (ancient scripts), Shiva is believed to be soft at heart, an example of sacrifice and penance. But in Shiva Purana, his daily life, marriage and sons are discussed.
God Shiva has always been very kind and blessing to his devotees. He is also believed to be the god of destruction, one of the Tridevas. Shiva’s worship is said to be easier than that of other deities. Like other deities, Shiva’s worship doesn’t need flowers or sweet fruits etc. Shiva is happy with clean water, “Bilva Patra”, “Dhatoora” – a thorny less used fruit etc. Shiva doesn’t require beautiful dresses and jewelry either but he is very simple with twisted locks of matted hair on his head, snakes wrapped around his neck and “rudraksha” necklaces, covered with pyre’s dust, wears tiger-skin and holds a trident in his hand. He likes the loud noise of his small drum and has always made world dance with him. And that is why he is also termed as “Nataraj”. His appearance signifies life and death. River Ganga and Moon on his head are a symbol of life and art. Pyre’s dust on his body signifies death. Our life flows like river Ganga and ends into the ocean of death.
Tulsidas, in Ramcharitmanas, described Shiva as the inauspiciously dressed master of the crowd with different conveyances and many getups. Unlikely, Shiva is very simple and egoless. He is also called “Neelkanth” (blue neck). When the sea was churned, “Samudra Manthan”, the demons and deities were greedily collecting precious stones but nobody came forward when the poison was revealed. So Shiva bore the poison in his neck and since then he is known as “Neelkanth” as his neck was turned blue by the poison.
This Purana is written to describe the benevolent and simple character of Shiva. It is completely a “Bhakti Grantha”. The idle five topics of puranas are not found in Shiva Purana. In it, a sinful person is shown the path of Shiva worship for moksha, the release from rebirth.
Mankind should devote its deeds to Shiva with an unselfish emotion. In Vedas and Upanishads, chanting of “Pranav – Om” is believed to give moksha. Apart from Pranav, “Gayatri Mantra” is also believed to be peaceful and releasing from rebirth. But Shiva Purana lists eight methodically arranged verses, “Sanhita”, which provides moksha and they are Vidyeshwar Sanhita, Rudra Sanhita, Shatrudra Sanhita, Kotirudra Sanhita, Uma Sanhita, Kailas Sanhita, Vayu Sanhita (east part) and Vayu Sanhita (north part).
With these eight divisions, greatness of Shiva is described first of all. It even has a story of a sinful woman named Chanchula who gets moksha after listening Shiva Purana. She even helps her husband to get moksha. After this the procedure of worshiping Shiva is described. Devotees are told not to fast while listening to the purana as they cannot concentrate with empty stomach. And also consumption of heavy or sour meal, wind producing lentils, aubergine, onion, garlic, carrots, radish, meat and alcohol is prohibited.
In this Sanhita, “Shivratri” fast, “Panchkratya”, importance of “Omkara”, worshipping “Shivalinga” and importance of charity is described. Importance of Shiva’s ashes and Rudraksha is also told. Smaller rudraksha is considered better. A damaged rudraksha, or eaten by insects, or one with no roundness should never be worn. The best rudraksha is the one with a natural hole in it. Everyone, daily in the morning, facing towards the sun, should meditate Shiva. The wealth should be divided into three parts; one part to be used for increasing wealth, another to spend in daily life and the last to be used for religious and holy works. Apart from this, one should neither get angry nor should say anger producing words.
It describes the life of Shiva. It has details of Narad’s story, Sati’s sacrifice, Parvati’s marriage, Madan's death, birth of Shiva’s son – Kartikaya and Ganesha, going round the earth, battle and death of Shankhchooda. Regarding Shiva's worship, it is said that Shiva should be bathed with Panchaamrat – milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, sugarcane’s juice; and offered flowers of champak, rose, kaner, jasmine and lotus. After that incense, light, “naivedya” and “taambool” are offered. This pleases Shiva. Under the “Srishti Khand” in this sanhita, Shiva is believed to be the source of the world. “Maya” appeared from Shiva and later Brahma and Vishnu also originated from Shiva.
In this, other characters of Shiva – Hanuman, “Shwetmukh” and “Rishabhdev” – are described. They are Shiva’s incarnations. His eight forms are also described. They are earth, water, fire, wind, universe, “kshetraj”, sun and moon. It has the famous tale of Shiva being “Ardhanareeshwar”. This form was bore for the nature’s development, “maithuni kriya”.
Kotirudra Sanhita describes Shiva’s twelve “Jyotirlinga”. These are Somnath in Saurashtra, Mallikarjun in Shrishail, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjaini, Amleshwar in Omkar, Kedarnath in Himalaya, Bheemeshwar in Dakini, Vishwanath in Kashi, Trayambakeshwar on the banks of Gomati, Vaidyanath in Chitabhumi, Rameshwar in Setubandh, Nageshwar in Daruk Van and Ghushmeshwar in Shivalaya. It also lists the hundred names of Shiva told by Vishnu. The story of tiger and truthful deer’s family of the Shivratri fast, in reference to Shiva, is also told in this sanhita.
It tells the importance of penance, charity and knowledge to Shiva. An unselfish action has a glory of its own. Knowledge brings accomplishment. Shiva Purana destructs the unawareness and provides moksha. This sanhita even describes which sin leads to which hell. Even ways for the atonement are given.
Importance of Omkara is described in this sanhita. Apart from this, “Yoga” is mentioned elaborately. The precise method for Shiva worship and analysis of Naandi Shraaddh and Brahma-Yagya is also written. Importance of Gayatri Mantra and meaning of the 22 Mahavakya of Vedas are also described.
In the east and north part of ths sanhita, importance of knowledge of Shiva for moksha, “Havana”, Yoga and meditation are explained. Shiva is the only deity. Shiva forgives every creature. Praising the glory of Shiva is the main purpose of this purana.