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The Essence of Puranas – Shiva Purana-3

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The Essence of Puranas – Shiva Purana













Phala Sruti’ of Sivasahasranama Stotra

Bhagavan Vishnu did the worship by placing Lotus flowers at the feet of Parama Siva Linga, reciting the Saharanamas as given above. But at the end of the worship, Parameswara concealed the last Lotus Flower to test and Bhagavan Vishnu without any hesitation whatsoever was ready to pull out one of His eyes and place it as a lotus in lieu of the Final Name, while Maha Siva appeared instantly and stopped the action of the intended Sacrifice. From the Form of Linga being worshipped by Vishnu, the Fantastic Figure of Maha Siva emerged and addressed the former that He was well aware of the tribulations of Devas who were constanly tormented by Danavas; He was pleased to award ‘Sudarshana Chakra’

Maha Siva assured Vishnu that Sudarshan Chakra was as potent as Maha Deva Himself and its very possession ought to be a great relief to Vishnu since He was squarely responsible to preserve the world and its contents comprising the entirety of mobile and immobile beings. Also whoever reads, hears or recites the Powerful Sahasranama of Siva by cogitating the critical meaning of each Name provides immense peace of mind and confidence, courage to face any challenge, surmount any tribulation, and better still bestow all positive turns of life. Be there even any problem posed by a King or Administration, one should perform ‘Anga Nyasa’ and recite the Thousand and odd Names sincerely, and indeed there would be instant relief for sure. Even otherwise, the Recital would destroy illness, endow with Vidya, grant prosperity, fulfil all desires and finally pave way for ‘Sayujyam’.

Some Illustrious Devotees to Siva and Special Austerities in Worship

Among millions of Devotees to Bhagavan Siva, a few of them are illustrious like Durvasa, Viswamitra, Daddhichi, Gautama, Bhargava, Brihaspati, Vaishampayana, Parashar, Vyas, Upamanyu, Yagavalka, Jaimini and Garg. King Sudyumna’s experiene was indeed interesting as he became a woman since he entered a specific forest due to an embargo by Siva not to do so. When the King meditated intensely, Siva was pleased to lighten the curse and granted a boon that he would become a man every alternate month!

When asked by Devi Parvati as to which were the best dates that a devotee should observe austerities, Bhagavan Siva prescribed the following days viz. on the eighth day of every month when a day long fast could be ended by the same night; on the day of ‘Kalashtami’ however the fast should be on the day as well as night and be observed till the next morning; on the thirteenth day of the dark lunar month or the Krishna Trayodasi (especially during Magha Month) the fast should be on day/night basis, while Sukla Trayodasi fast be observed only day long. But on Sukla Ekadasi, fast should be observed on day-night basis and on Krishna Ekadasi fast may be upto the night. Fast be also observed every Monday till the night. On any of the Fast days, Siva Archana, Rudra Japa, Rudra Abhisheka and visit to Siva Temple are the best. The last few days of one’s life at Varanasi with austerities and Siva darshana/ worship do deserve salvation.

Observance of Maha Sivarathri and its significance

Austerities by way of day/night fasts and dedicated devotion on Maha Sivaratri falling on Krishna Paksha  or dark fortnight of Phalguna month every year are considered as the sure steps to ‘Iham and Param’ viz. Happiness in the current phase of Life and Attainment  of Salvation threafter! In the early morning of Sivarathi day, a devotee should take a vow to observe day/night austerities. In the night or Sivarathri, there must be Archana, Abhisheka, Japa and full fledged worship either at a Temple or at home depending on convenience; actually the worship by way of continuous ‘Maha Nyasayutha Abhisheka’ with Archana along with ‘Shodasopacharas’ or the sixteen types of Services and Arti, but for the sake of convenience, the Puja may be repeated every three hours during the night along with Laghu Nyasa Abhisheka, Archana, Arti etc

The night long austerity must be followed by ‘Punah Puja’ next morning and Bhojan (meals) along Brahmanas, who should also be satisfied with ‘Dakshinas’. After observing ‘Sivarathris’ for fourteen consecutive years, one could perform ‘Udyapan’ or successful completion of the Sivarathri Vratha.
Observance of Maha Sivarathri even by mistake could yield fruits, let alone proper and systematic worship; this was illustrated by an incident said Sutha Muni at the congregation of Sages at Naimisaranya. There was a poor hunter named Gurudruha who became extremly hungry along with his family members on a whole day and that night happened to be a Sivarathri. He entered a forest on the eve of Sivarathri and waited for any animal to kill and satisfy the hunger; he waited near a waterbody over a bel tree nearby under which there was a Siva Linga as a coincidence. Having waited for the first ‘Prahara’ (three hours) of the night, he was lucky to have sighted a female deer along its kids approaching the water body to quench its thirst. He pulled out his bow and an arrow ready to aim at the mother deer and by a twist of fate the branch of the bel tree on which he sat moved, some bel leaves fell on the Siva Linga and some water in a vessel carried by the hunter got spilt down on the Linga, thus performing the first Phahara puja.The deer which was very sensitive even to small sounds of leaves and water falling from the tree noticed that the hunter was ready to kill it. The animal made a sincere and convincing request to the hunter that if allowed it desired to leave the deer kids to their father and definitely return bach to be killed by him. Very reluctantly, the hunter agreed and let the animals leave. The second Prahara was closing but there was no trace of the mother deer. But the sister of the earlier deer approached the pond along her kids and the happenings of the earlier Prahara repeated viz.the hunter pulled out his bow and arrow, the bel tree leaves as also the water drops from the hunter’s vessel fell on the Siva Linga, the sister deer made a similar request and the hunter let the animal leave as he did to the earlier one, thus accomplishing the worship of the third Prahara. As the third Prahara was closing, the husband of the original deer came in search of the female deer and the kids and the earlier happenings repeated once again and the earlier Prahara puja too was executed successfully. It was a great sight of all the deers of both the families approached during the final Prahara and the hunter was delighted that he could have a feast any time but the earlier happenings repeated and the fourth Prahara worship too was implemented. But, after the fourth worship, Gurudruha’s psychology was transformed; he repented for his evil thoughts and took a vow to eschew his erstwhile acts of violence. Bhagavan Siva revealed Himself before Gurudruha as a transformed person and blessed him that in his next birth, he would be Nishad during Rama’s incarnation and the latter would give him the boon of attaining Vaikuntha

Steps towards Salvation

Bhagavan Siva revealed to Lord Vishnu who in turn informed Brahma and further down to Sanat Kumaras to Maharshi Narada and Vyasa that the steps to Salvation are basically four-fold viz. Sarupya (Resemblance of Paramathma), Salokya (Being in the sphere of Paramatma) Sannidhya (Proximity to Paramatma) and Sayujya (Union with Paramatma). Lords Brahma and Vishnu could certainly bestow the first Three Purusharthas viz. Dharma, Artha and Kama, or Virtuosity, Wealth and Worldly Desires respectively. But granting Moksha or Salvation is in the competence of Bhagavan Siva alone.
He could also bestow Kaivalya or the Ultimate Stage, the knowledge of Siva Tatvam or Vilakshana / Nirguna Kind of Uniqueness which is not fully known to Brahma or Vishnu, Kumara and the Entirety of Maharshis. Siva Tatvam is described by Veda Vyasa as:
Satyam Jnanamanantham cha Sacchidananda Sangjnikam /
Nirguno nirupadhischaavyayah Shudho niranjanah
.
(Siva’s everlasting form is of ‘Sat-chit-ananda’ or Existence, Consciousness and Bliss; it has no ‘Gunas’ or attibutes, nirupadhi (without features of Prakriti and Purusha), Avayah (Irreducible), Shuddha (Spotless) and Niranjana (Supreme Enlightenment). This Parabrahma is all pervading like sky; Mayatheetham Paratmanam Dwandaateetham Vimatsaram Thath Prapthischa Bhavedatra Sivajnodayad Dhruvam (This Paramatma is beyond Maya or Illusion, is only one and unique and has no traits like Matsaram or jealousy). To realise Paramathma is well-nigh impossible. The route is complicated by Jnana and Siva Tatvam that might sound too complex and confounding. But simple, sincere, fully dedicated Devotion (Bhakthi) could make miracles. Bhakti is another form of Selflessness, Sacrifice, Persverance, Loyalty, and Complete Surrender. Bhakti and Jnan are two sides of a coin. Yet one cannot claim to become a Jnani nor attain Moksha without Bhakti.  Bhakti in pure form is a prerequisite to Moksha with or without Jnana. [‘Devaradhana Stotra’ of Adi Sankara stated that he was not conversant with Mantras, Yanthras, Hymns of Praise, Invocations, Meditation, Mudras, Stories of Your Glories and imploraions; yet, he knows how to follow Paramatma with Bhakti; thus the most essential features are faith and effort.] But the advanced stage of Bhakti is automatically followed by Jnana in the sense that higher level of Bhakti is facilitated by minimal Jnana or working knowledge). In other words, Jnana per se without regard to Bhakti is not possible.  Advanced Stage of Bhakti would face a ceiling without reference to required level of Jnana. Having said this, Bhakti would be of two Formats viz. Nirguna (abstract form) and Saguna (with physical form); also Bhakti is of either ‘Naishtik’ or without aiming at a specific desire or of ‘Anoushtik’ variety with desires.
On an enquiry about the variety of manifestations of Paramatma (The Greatest Soul), the doubt of identity of The Super Soul was whether of Brahma or Vishnu and Siva. Muni Sutha replied that at the Time of Creation, Paramatma had neither a form, nor Gunas (Physical Attributes) and nor name. That Supersoul was loosely called Siva. That Siva or Purusha was in Self- Union the Prakrithi. Together, they performed Tapasya or concentration in a huge ocean and that Sacred Place was known as ‘Pancha Kosas’ or the Five Sheaths. [Annamaya Kosa or Physical Body; Pranamaya Kosa or Prana /Linga Sarira or Vital Astral Sarira; Manonmaya Kosa or the lower Manas or Mind; Vijnana Maya Kosa or Higher Manas Kosa and finally Anandamaya Kosa corresponding to the Spiritual Soul or Buddhi] The Sixth Kosa enclosing the Pancha Kosas is Divine Atman. The Union of Siva and Prakrithi both created Hari Narayana (‘Nara’ being water) or who was spread over the huge water. From Narayana’s navel stood up a Lotus Stem and over the Flower was created Brahma. As there was conflict among the Trimurthis seeking inter -se superiority, Siva presented Himself as Maha Deva. He assured that all the manifes -tations of Himself were equally powerful and each of them was capable of giving boons to their devotees as well. They are like the same gold base but moulded into different ornaments. It was only notional that the tasks of Srishti, Sthithi and Laya were self assigned but each one of the Murthis is eqaully responsible. Similarly, there is no distinction between Siva and Rudra. Siva explained that Brahma created Rudra to perform the specific task of ‘Laya’, where as the Original and Unique Self, Siva is the Super Soul or Paramatma responsible for everything. Rudra is always prayed to but never prays to any body. Whoever prays to Lord Rudra, the strength and fruits of the Prayers are automatically transferred to Siva

Siva Gyan – Its Import and the Course

Ishanah Sarva Vidyanam Srutiresha Sanathani /
Veda kartha Veda pathih Tasmaccambhurudahtritha /
Sa evam Shankarah Saakshaat sarva anugraha karakah/
Kartha Bhartha cha Harthaacha Sakshi Nirguna eva Sah /
(Siva is the Master of all ‘Vidyas’ or Knowledge, the Origin of Vedas and their Chief; He is the epitome of mercy, the Evidence of Creation, Preservation and destruction and the Unique ‘Nirguna’). He is the Cause of Causes; the Act, the Action and the Actor; the Sarva Swarup or The Multiple Images and ‘Eka Swarup’ or the One and Only Figure.
Like a Seed becomes a fruit and the fruit yields seeds, Siva is the Seed and the Fruit too. From Parabrahma to a piece of grass, it is all Siva only. But, invariably human beings consider Him as entirely different from themselves. One tends to address Him as ‘You’ as separate from ‘Me’, little realising that both are not detached Entities. It is the understanding of this simple truth that Siva Gyan is all about. The reason of this disconnect is due to the interplay of Illusion and the Self.  Be it Earth, or Ocean or Ether there are countless forms of Siva in dissimilar dimensions, yet there is an infinite diversity in a unique unity. It is one Sun on the Sky but the reflections in various water bodies assume myriad forms. The Sky is spreadout covering the entire Universe, but no object in Creation could ever ever touch it despite the greatest human effort. While human beings are subject to the ‘Arishadvargas’  or Six Enemies of Desire, Anger, Avarice, Obsession, Ego and Jealousy, Siva is of Pure Form of All-Pervading, Never Ending, All Knowing  and Permanent Nature. Human beings need to be purified and polished with ‘Samskaras’ as in respect of Gold  with Acid and Fire and more significantly the deftness of a Guru.When ‘Jeevatma’ of Human Beings gets freed from life, it gets absorbed in Siva Swarup.
 As a new life is initiated again as per preordained decisions of Fate, the superior beings or Jnanis neither get elated with their possessions nor feel dejected with disappointments but practise equanimity. Once the Ego or Ahamkara is washed off and ignorance is uprooted, the Bhakta (Devotee) could take the route of full consciouness to Bhagavan Siva and then he is ripe to resort to worship by boldly reciting Siva Sthotras in loud voice and pave the way for assuming Siva Gyan or Siva Tatva. As the Bhakta qualifies for Siva Gyan and is well set on the route to Siva Tatva, the pulls and pressures of ‘Samsara’ or the Earthly issues keep fading away and Adhyatmika Gyan gains priortity. Siva Bhakti having paramount importance, Pure Bhakti paves the way to Prem or Love to all co-existent beings; from Prem to ‘Shravan’ (hearing) or the unending aptitude to learn; from the learning process the next step is ‘Satsang’ or companionship of Virtuous Persons or Vidwans or Experts; then emerges a Guru who would ship-shape the process of ‘Upasana’ or the penultimate step before ‘Mukti’
Lord Krishna approaches Sage Upamanu for Siva ‘Darshan’

Although Lord Krishna was blessed with His son Pradumna from Devi Rukmini, His other wives especially Satyabhama were keen on further offspring and He therefore approached Sage Upamanyu to guide Him to fulfil the desire for Siva Darshan. The Sage was a known devotee of Bhagavan Siva and had glimpses of the Bhagavan when He was sorrounded by Lords Vishnu and Brahma, Devas and Devi Parvathi. The Sage recalled that he asked for three boons viz. that he should be a Siva Bhakta always, that he should secure the knowledge of visualising the past, present and future and that his family should never be devoid of rice and milk
Bhagavan was pleased with Upamanyu and granted him the boons and also blessed him to live for long till Vaivasvata Manvantara. Having given his own experiences with Bhagavan Siva, the Sage initiated Lord Krishna into Siva Tapasya and gave the Mantra ‘Om Namah Sivaya’. Krishna performed severe meditation by standing on His toes for sixteen months. Thereafter, Bhagavan Siva blessed Krishna with His appearance in full splendour with Parvathi Devi seated on his Nandi ‘Vahana’ along with Devas, Pramathaganas and a big procession of Sages. Lord Krishna prostrated before Siva and Parvathi and asked for eight boons viz. that His intelligence should guide the World into righteousness, that He should bless Him to attain immortal fame, that He should have an abode in the proximity of Bhagavan, that He should keep promoting devotion to Siva Deva always, that He be blessed to secure ten valiant and worthy sons, that He be victorious of enemies, that He be blessed to overcome any evil force in the Universe, and that He should guide and be guided by Yogis and Sages. Lord Krishna also sought boons from Devi Parvathi that He should be in the service of His parents and Brahmanas always. Following the Spectacular Darshan of Bhagavan and Devi Parvathi, Lord Krishna described the great impact that Siva Darshana had on Himself to Sage Uapmanyu and thanked the Sage for the favour.

Charity and its far reaching impact

In the context of the experiences of Yamaloka, charity plays a significant role in mitigating the impact of punishments to a departed Soul. Sage Sanatkumara described: Paaneeyadaanam paramam daanamutthamam sada / Sarvesham Jeevapunjanam tarpanam Jeevanam smrutam (Charity of Water is considered as the best as it provides full contentment and life). This is why offering water outlets is considered as a satisfying act. Construction of water bodies, digging up of wells and supply of water through various means is thus a source of happiness to others and to self whose post-life experiences would become less pungent
Those who facilitate the construction of ponds are doubly blessed giving instant relief to human beings, animals and birds  in the long run far beyond the lives of the charity makers and attract considerable reduction of the burden of their sins. In fact, those who are reponsible to perform this best charity of facilitating water supply in all seasons, especially summer, would never fall down the levels lower than heavens after life. Next to water is the charity of planting Trees which make available innumerable solaces to mankind, Sages, animals, birds, Devas and Danavas and even to Evil Spirits whose blessings are richly reaped by those responsible. Those who make available gardens with trees bearing fruits, flowers, shade and various other facilities to public are blessed for countless uses. Several other kinds of charity would certainly yield far reaching results and the acts of kindness however big or small do not indeed go waste. For instance, a person who donates an umbrella would help him to cross the hells without heat and provide him shade; or a person donating footwear would cross parts of hell the protection of feet. Charity of jewellery, cows, land, servants, chariot, foodgrains, beds, Vidya or Knowledge, money, horses, elephants and so on have all highly beneficial value with manifold returns

Significance of ‘Satya’ (Truth) and ‘Tapasya’ (Meditation)

Sathyameva Parabrahma Satyameva Param Thapah/
Satyameva Paro Yagnah Satyameva Para Srutham/
Satyam Sushteshu Jagatih Satyam cha Paramam Padam/
Satyanaiva Ghritha Pridhvi Satya Sarva Prathishthinam/

(Truth is Parabrahma, Truth is Great Meditation, Truth is Sacred Yagna, Truth is highly revered, Truth awakens the slumberous or ignorant, Truth holds the entire Earth, and in this Truth only the entirety exists.)

All aspects of Existence like Tapas (meditation), Yagnas or Sacrifices, Funds of ‘Punya’ or Essence of Virtuous Deeds, Devas, Rishis, Pitrus, Worship, water, Vidya or Enlightenment are all steeply firmed up in Truth alone. Truth is Omkara representing Sarasvati or Goddess of Studies and of Mantras who literally controls the intrepretation of Learning. It is only due to the power of Truth that ‘Vayu’ or the Wind God -and indeed the very ‘Prana’ or the Life Line- enables the World to exist.  Sun God radiates heat and light creating days and nights and the very measure of Time due to the Super Energy which is called Truth. Similarly Fire God exists and so does Varun God or the God of Rains; the Planets, Vedas that guide human beings to lead to meaningful existence and fulfillment of lives. If the fruits of performing thousands of Asvamedha and other Yagnas or Sacrifices are on one side of a Balance and a little bit of Truth or Virtue on the other, the Balance would instantly tilt in favour of Truth. Truth alone is the paramount religion or Faith. It is the Parama Mantra par excellence. Innumerable Rishis or various Religious Heads of Faiths, or the humanity as a whole, the Supernatural Elements, Devas, and the entire Universe comprising the Moving and Non-moving beings of Creation have to surrender to the Supremacy of Truth and Truth alone. This is the basic reason why one’s conscience pricks when Non-Truth is said or followed and  it is the Truth that triumphs in the long run or ‘Satyameva Jayatey’. The emphasis of Truth by way of Speech, Thought, Deed and all other forms is a way of life.
Tapas’ (meditation or penance) is the most potent weapon; normal human beings tend to confuse it as a small slot of prayer; indeed ‘Tapas’ is a whole way of life. It is a conscious act of physical control (Indriya Nigraha) and mental concentration. It is a higher form of ‘Yoga’- a resultant of sacrifice and ‘Jnana’ or awareness. It yields satisfaction, sense of fulfillment, fame and steps forward to salvation.Tapohi paramam proktam Tapasa Vidhyate phalam/ Taporathahi nithya modat saha Daivataihi/ Tapasa prapte yashah Tapasa prapyate Kamasthapah Sarvardha sadhanam/ Tapasa mokshamapnothi Tapasa Vidhathe mahat /Jnana Vigyana sampathhihi sowbhagyam rupamevacha/ Nana vidhani vastuni tapasa labhate narah/  (Tapas or deep meditation yields several good results.Devas feel happy with those performing Tapas. Tapas yields fame, fulfillment of desires, knowledge, wisdom, prosperity, auspiciousness, attractive physical form and all kinds of things). Even Brahma Hatya or killing of Brahmanas, incest, and such other unpardonable evils would be washed off by the power of Tapas. Nobody including Tri Murthis are free from the penance as they are able to carry on their duties like creation by Brahma, Preservation by Lord Vishnu and Destruction by Rudra, let alone Nava Grahas ( Nine Planets), Dik Palakas or The Chiefs of the Eight Directions and Pancha Bhutas or Five Elements.
Attainment of Siva Loka and Superiority of Human Life

It is an almost impossible venture to succeed in obtaining even a glimpse of Bhagavan Siva. The highest classes of Sages have to strain most considerably even to succeed reaching Devalokas, let alone the Brahma Loka, Vishnu Loka and least of all the Siva Loka. While ‘Tapas’ is the only means to achieve the Superior Lokas, Devas or high category ‘Sanyasins’ or pure Brahmacharis might perhaps follow the ‘Satvik Guna’ or Undiluted Virtue. Normally Devas and humans resort to Rajasika Guna or passion or devotion desirous invariably of fulfillment of material desires, or for Yoga and knowledge

Tamasika Guna is out of ignorance, revenge or personal aggrandisement normally resorted by Danavas or human beings with the qualities of Danavas. When it is stated that Danavas receive boons from Brahma or Siva, it is an illusion and the so called boons granted to the recipients who possess only evil motivations are guises to temporary gains and ultimate destruction to the receivers thus serving as warnings to posterity.
Indeed, Satvika type of worship comprises virtuous ways of thinking, external and internal cleanliness, puja, japa, homa, shaucha, ahimsa or non violence, tapas, vrata, upavasa charya or fasting, ‘mouna’ or observance of silence, ‘indriya nirodha’ or control of physical parts, buddhi (mental balance), satya or truth, vidya ( knowledge or enlightenment), akrodha (calmness), dana or charity, shanta or peacefulness, daya bhava or sympathy, performing or involvement in public utility jobs like construction of water bodies, gardens, temples and schools and hospitals, yagnas, tirtha yathras or pilgrimages, ashram nivas or modest living, observance of daily dhyanas or meditation, yoga practice by way of ‘Pranayama’ or through air control of Rechaka, Puraka and Kumbhaka, Pratyahara, attainment of eight siddhas viz. Anima, Mahima, Laghima, Garima, Prapti, Prakasyam, Isitham and Vasitam; Sadhana or Endeavours of three types of ‘Avasthas’ viz. Kashtavastha, Mritavastha and Haritha Avastha; avoidance of Rajaiswarya Vibhutis viz. Nari ( Woman), Shayya ( comfortable bed), Pana (drink), Vastra (dresses), Dhoopa(scented air), Lepam ( sandal paste), and tamboola  bhakshanam ( chewing betel leaves and nuts); and bhoga swarupas ( forms of luxury) viz. gold and jewellery, residence, cows, singing, music, dance, musical instruments like veena, mridanga and other percussions; elephants and horses, chariots, umbrellas, hand fans and so on. Such is the ideal way of life which a human being needs to practise with utmost care to qualify for reaching the path to Sivaloka. Indeed this eneavour is not out of the realm of possibility to a human being, as the birth of a human is an excellent opportunity that could be utilised optimally.
Manushamcha samasadya Swarga Moksha Prasadhanam /
Na charatyamanah shreyah sa mrutaha sochatey chiram

(Those who are unable to avail the human body which is difficult to secure and is a good prospect to obtain Swarga (Heaven) and Moksha (Salvation) would regret for long and cry at the missed opportunity).
 Samprapya dharmato Vyasa tat yatnadanupalayet/
Dharma mulam hi manushyam labdhava Sarvardha Sadhakam/
yadi labhya yatnah samuulam rakshotsvya tatha manushopi cha viprasyam yah prapya khalusadhanam
(There cannot be a bigger stupidity, if a human being does not practise virtue which is the root of what all one could achieve, especially if he were born as a Brahmana, a most coveted birth that one could opt for).
It is said that among the Sapta Dwipas or Seven Great Islands in the entire Earth, Bharat Desa is supposed to the best ‘Karma bhumi’ or the Country of Virtuous Action. Having been born into such an enviable Country, if one fails to make be the best, then he is as good as lost his Soul! 

Supremacy of Kriya Yoga coupled with Jnana and Bhakti Yogas- Construction of Bhagavati Temple

Maharshi Veda Vyas requested Sanat Kumara about the efficacy of the three kinds of Yogas while referring to an approach to Devi Bhagavati.  Jnana Yoga (Enlightentment) is the togetherness of human mind and Soul, while external nearness of the Self and Devi as two Entities is denoted as Kriya Yoga (Action). Bhakti Yoga (Devotion) is the identity of the Self and Devi. These three Yogas put together constitute ‘kriyabhog’. Karma (action) leads to Bhakti (devotion) and Bhakti generates Jnana (enlightentment). Basically Yoga is the principal factor to lead to Mukti (Salvation).
Kriya Yoga is a powerful ‘Sadhana’ or the medium. A firm realisaton that Prakritik Maya or Nature’s Illusion and Brahma Maya or the Supreme Illusion are just the same and that awareness would help break worldly ties of human beings. This was the preface described by Sanat Kumara to Veda Vyasa to illustrate the culmination of a unique venture in constructing a Bhagavati Temple. He affirmed that the success of a Sacred Project like the Temple construction is a climactic effort of an illustrious human being who had already led a spiritual life of significance.
Ahanyayin yogena yajatho yanmahaphalam /
Prapnothi tat phalam debya yah kaarayati mandiram /
Sahasra kulamagami vyaktreetam cha sahasrakam /
sa tarayati Dharmaatma Sri Mathru dham kaarayan

(Whatever benefit of Virtue had been acquired by performing daily Yagnas had facilitated the construction of Sri Mathru Dham or Bhagavathi Temple. The Virtuous person responsible for the construction not only endows with Salvation to himself but also to thousand future generations too).
The number of bricks used in the construction of a Temple would be multiplied by thousand and thus so many years would total the stay of the illustrious person in the ‘Manidwipa’. The person responsible for the making and ‘pratishtha’ or setting up the Holy idol is fearless in the three worlds. If other Idols like the other Devis, viz. Lalitha, Lakshmi and Sarasvathi as also Ganesh, Subrahmanya and so on are also installed at the beginning or subsequently in the Temple, the Punya attained is endless and everlasting. Those who ensure daily upkeep, worship, ‘Abhishek’ with pure water, milk, honey and coconut water etc. and Arthi, Dhup, and other such Sixteen Sevas (‘Shodasopacharas’) are blessed too. Special Pujas be performed on Krishna Paksha Ashtami, Navami and Amavasya to Devi Parvathi along with recitations of Devi Sukta, Sri Sukta, as also ‘Navavarana Pujas’ and ‘Moola Mantra Pathana’, ‘Abhishekas’, offerings of Vishnukrantha Flowers, Tulsi and Lotus. Similarly, Special Vrathas be organised on Chaitra Sukla Tritheeya to Devi Bhavani along with ‘Dolotsavas’along with Bhagavan Siva. During Vasanta Sukla Paksha, and Akshaya Thritheeya, Special Vratas be executed in the name of Jagadamba. On Jyeshtha Sukla Thriteeya, a Special Vratha is carried out in the name of Maheswari; during the same month on Ashta Sukla Thriteeya a circumbabulation of the Temple and surroundings be organised along with Bhagavan Siva as a celebration of ‘Radhotsava’ (Chariot festival) along with ‘Veda Pathana’ (recital of Vedas) and accompaniment of music by ‘Vadyas’or musical instruments. Again on Sravana and Bhadrapada Sukla Tritheeyas be celebrated with Special Worships. The climactic celebrations throughout the duration of ‘Navarathras’in the first half of Shukla Paksha of Aswiyuja month are expected to be an annual festival looked forward to by devotees and Organisers alike. During the ‘Navarathras’ or the Nine Days and Nights, magnificent carnivals ought to be fittingly organised by dedicated devotees with day long pujas upto the small hours of each night with hourly pujas, Homas, Ahishekas, congregations of devotees, music-dance programs, Puranas, Bhajans, ‘Nagara Samkeerthans’or Group Singings, dramas on Subject-specific religious aspects, ‘Samaradhanas’ or group eatings and so on. Also monthwise Krishna Thritheeyas of Margasirha, Pausha, and Magha months are performed by male devotees, especially the Mangala Devi Vratha. Besides the above details, Devi Pujas should be performed on all the scheduled days of significance as per Hindu Calendar such as Ganesh Chathurdhis, Depavali on Aswiyuja Amavaysa and the preceeding Narakasura Chathurdhi and so on. Of course, every Ekadasi, Monday aupicious for Bhagavan Siva, Tuesday for Durga and Skanda, Wednesday and Saturday for Vishnu, Friday for Lakshmi and Sunday for Ganesha / Sun God and Thursday for Dattatreya, are all auspicious days in any Temple. Those who manage the temple affairs, including finances, and the devotees who offer services to the Devi Bhagavati round the year are all blessed by Bhagavati Devi and Bhagavan Siva appropriately.
At the end of ‘Uma Samhita’, the narrations of Siva Purana in the Samhita including the details of Maha Pathakas, Naraka Loka experiences; the importance and the need for  Satya, Tapasya,  Charity as also the Supremacy of Kriya Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga and finally the benefits of  Kriya Yogi’s constuction of a Temple are described. The final goal of Life is thus to elevate oneself upward towards Siva Gyan!

Significance of Siva Purana

The virtue in reading Vedas in Gurukulas or under the tutorship of a Preceptor by way of eating ‘Kanda Moola Phalas’ or uncooked vegetables, roots or raw fruits is not even half of the positive benefit attained by reading or listening  to Puranas, especially Siva Purana.  The knowledge of Puranas is stated to be as significant as the heat and light of Sun God or the coolness and tranquility of Moon God
Puranas open up wide windows and doors to the Spiritual World, destroy ignorance, illuminate vistas of knowledge and enlighten about the happenings of the Past, guide about the Present time’s do’s and don’t’s and warn or caution about the customary pitfalls and traps that ought be avoided in future.. That is why Purana ‘Sravana’, or ‘Pathana’ or ‘Manana’ is an integral part of enlightening of human psyche. Whether it is about the gains of illustrious persons in the past, the vision of Rishis, the ways of the virtuous and of the evil forces, the sacrifices of the committed persons, the vindication of Truth finally, the bench mark attainers among the Sages and Devotees and the exemplary actions of Avataras (Incarnations) prove again and again that The Super Power Himself or Herself does exist. The methodology of devotion to Almighty, the secrets of the Universe, Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Planets, Concepts of Time, Tatvas, and so on are all included in the Puranas. In special reference to Siva Purana, all these aforementioned aspects plus several special features of Siva Gyan ranging from ‘Abhishekas’ to ‘Archanas, Worship to Sayujya, Parthiva Lingas to Dwadasa Jyotirlingas, Austerities to Attainments, Aspects of this world one lives in and of those other worlds, about virtues and evils, and the Final Truth of Existence. Yat punyam Sarvadaaneshu Sarva Yajgneshu va Muney /Shambhoh Purana Shravanaath phalam nischaya bhavet/ Viseshatah kalaou Vyasa Purana Sravanarthey / Paro dharma na pumsam hi mukthidhyana para smrita /Purana Shravana samkeerthanam tadha kalpadruma phalam ramyam manushyaanaam na samsayaha (The fruits of various charities and performance of Yagnas are as good as hearing Siva Purana for sure. In Kalyug especially, Purana Shravana is considered as a better alternative than even charity or other routes). Being aware that human beings anyway tend to ignore the traditional ways of worship like yagnas and so on, Bhagavan Siva has prescribed that listening to Siva Purana and about Siva Leelas would be as good a route to achieve the Four ‘Purushardhas’ viz. Dharma (Virtue), Ardha (Prosperity), Kama (Fulfilment of Worldly Desires) and Moksha (Salvation)

Omkara ‘Jigjnasha’ (Knowledge) -Its comprehension and Practice

In the penultimate Kailasa Samhita of Siva Purana, Devi Parvathi enquired of Bhagavan Siva Himself about the implication of ‘Pranava’ or Omkara. Bhagavan emphasised that Pranava Mantra was as good as realisation of Siva Himself. ‘Pranava’ is the seed that generates the huge ‘Vata Vriksham’ or the peepal tree of Siva Gyan. It is that Pranava which is the essence of Vedas. ‘Panchakshari’ is the mix of three words A-U-M plus the half word of ‘Bindu’ and the sound emphasising the word ‘M’
The word ‘A’ stands for nivrutthi kala or of removal nature; ‘U’ stands for Indhan kala or of burning up characteristic and ‘M’ for Kaal Kala or destroying element; thus the words signify Satva, Rajas and Tamas natures and together the words are anti- gunas or Nirguna. Similarly the words signify anti-Vikaras and hence Nirvikara or reactionless. Alternatively, ‘A’ represents the Universe; the two letters ‘A’ and ‘U’ signify Siva and Sakti and ‘M’ signifies ‘Jnana’ or knowledge / Illumination. The Panchakshari Mantra AUM thus means the Pranava and the Primary Sound that exists before Creation and after Pralaya which is ‘Nadarupa’ or of the Form of Sound and of Rupa the Supreme Luminosity. In other words, the Trimatras of A’ kar, ‘U’kar and ‘M’ kar followed by half matra bindu is of the nada (sound) swarup. Among these words, ‘A’ kar has a ‘Maha beej’ possessing Rajo guna or Brahma the Creator; ‘U’ kar is of Satvik origin represented by Prakriti Yoni and governed by Vishnu the sustainer and ‘M’ kar or male seed responsible for destruction and possesses Tamo-guna representing Siva. Also bindu nada swarup is Mahadeva Himself, as He has the feature of ‘thirobhava’ or reversal of Srishti or ‘Laya’/ Pralaya. Interpreted in another way, the ‘Panchakshari’ denoting Parabrahma or the Supreme Energy comprises: ‘A’ kar or Maha Deva possessing eight ‘Kalas’ or skills; ‘U’kar’ is ‘Vamadeva’ possessing thirteen ‘Kalas’ like Prathishtha and Nivritti, ‘M’ kar is ‘Aghora’ possessing eight Kalas like ‘Vidya’; Bindu is ‘Purush’possessing four ‘Kalas’ and Naad is ‘Isaana’ possessing five ‘Kalas’like Shanti Kala. Understood from yet another view point, Pranava or OM is an amalgam or ‘Prapanch -karmakata’/ universalisation of Six ‘Padardhas’ or Materials Viz.Mantra, Yantra, Devatha, Loka, Guru, and Sishya. Mantra or Sacred Hymn leads to Yantra or Celestial Engineering, which aims at Devas or Gods, who in turn directs one to the Universe; the Loka   pinpoints to the need of a  Guru or Preceptor and finally to a ‘Sishya’ or ‘Vidyarthi’/ Student. Pranava thus seeks one to universalise from the Origin to the End-User, which finally is a human body. Hence, Omityadi Sarvamithi Sarva Brahmeti or Omkara is everything and is Brahma or the Supreme. Bhagavan thus sums up to Devi Bhagavathi that the Vachaka (who seeks to preach) and the ‘Vachakam’ or the lesson is just the same. Pranava seeks to move up in the human body - from ‘Muladhara’to Manipura to Hridaya to Visuddhi chakra to Ajna Chakra to Shanti Kala; Bhagavan Siva is far beyond Shanti Kala and is Prarathpara.

Practice of ‘Pranava Vratha’ is indeed an uphill task. The devotee has to possess a high degree of Vairagya or Other-Worldliness for one thing and another is to secure a towering Guru or Preceptor who is a Tapasvi, Jitendriya or controller of human desires, a well read Brahmana and a person who has performed Siva Vrathas already and is Siva-like himself. The devotee has to be secluded on a seashore, or a mountain top or an inside of a cave and practise ‘Payovratha’( only consume water) for twelve days and on a Sukla Panchami or Ekadasi get ready early in the morning with clean bath and heart-(antar bahya suddhi). He has to shave his head, beard, and moustache and discard Sacred Thread or ‘yajnopaveeth’ and assume complete life of a Sanyasi. His Guru then blesses him with Pranava Mantra’s Upadesa formally, explains its annotation / analysis, the daily rituals / Upasana and gradually trains/ equips him in the the methodology of  meditation and regulated life of a fulfledged Sanyasi or he who practises the Yoga of Sat plus Nyasa or the life of an ascetic in search of Truth that is Siva. The Pranava Vratha is a life long exercise till the devotee catches up with the route to Moksha

Puja Vidhhanam’ or the Course of Worship to Bhagavan Siva

Bhagavan Siva explained in great detail to Devi Parvathi the process of worship aimed to Him. First construct a ‘Chaturasra Mandala’ or a square form of Worship Place and an Eight-petal Lotus inscribed therein with eight designated deities seated with appropriate hymns in the eight directions. The entire process of Mandala construction and decoration with appropriate colour schemes and placement of deities is quite elaborate and comprehensive

Before seated, the devotee should ensure that the required Puja materials are in place, take the blessing of his Guru, resolve that the Puja be a success, recite the Pranava Mantra and seek the permission of Lord Ganesha that there there should not be any hindrance whatsoever during the course of the Puja. The devotee should seek the blessings of Brahmanas, think of the blessings of Great Sages, recite the Soura Mantra invoking Suryadeva, Gayatri and initiate the Puja with the six lettered Bija Mantras like Hram, Hreem, Hruum etc. and after sprinlking water in the Agneya direction where Agni is situated in the respective Lotus part of the diagram, initiate ‘Archana’ (Puja) to Kalagni, Rudra, Adhara Shakti, Anantha Prithvi, Ratnadwip, Sankalpa Vriksha, and Rathna Peeth, Dharma, Gyan, Vairagya and Ishwarya. Thereafter, set up Bhagavan Siva’s idol on a throne. Then, the devotee should break ‘Prana Vayu’ or Life Breath at ‘Muladhara’, with the help of pingala nadi and raise up ‘Adhara Sakti’ to have a glimpse of Bhagavan and Bhagavati and worship with flowers and ‘Manthra Pushpas’ or Hymns of Praise. One should experience the sacred feeling of the appearance with Bhagavan wearing Rudraksha malas, Pasha (noose), Khatvanga (club)), Ankusha (Goad), and Kamala. He possesses four faces and twelve eyes, with Ganga on His matted hairs, Moon on His head, blue throat, ashed body and hissing snakes all around. That is the time when the devotee recites Hram Hreem Sah Om invoking Surya Deva and Bhagavan and Devi later on with appropriate mudras and Anga Nyasas with the continuous recital of Mula Mantra: Hraam Hrem Hruum. After offering the traditional ‘Pancha Upacharas’ or the Five Services viz. Gandha (Sandal Paste), Pushpa (Flowers), Dhoop (Incense), Dipa (Lights), and Naivedya (Offering of Food), there should be Sankalpas (Resolution), performance of  three pujas to the Principal Deities and ‘Yagnas’ in favour of ‘Shadangas.(‘Siksha’ or Phonetics, Vyakaranam or Grammar, Jyotisham or Astrology, Chandas  or Prosody, Nirutam or Etymology, Kalpam or a mode of Sacrifice) as well as Lotus. In the Second ‘Avarana’, archanas are executed in favour of Agni, Eswara and Vayu as also the Twelve Adityas like Aditya, Bhanu, Ravi, Bhaskar; in the Third Avarana, worship is carried out to ‘Navagrahas’ and Twelve Rasis, viz. Mesha, Vrishabha, Mithuna, Karkataka, Simha, Kanya, Thula, Vrischika, Dhanus, Makara, Kumbha, and Meena. Also, yagnas be perfomed in favour of Oceans, Ganga, Rishis, Gandharvas, Pannagas, Apsaras and so on.  The Fourth Avarana is taken up by offering water filled in a copper vessel to Suryadeva along with flowers, sandal paste, ‘akshatas’ or rice grains with turmeric powder, Kumkum and so on. After tendering ‘Arghya’ as above, appropriate Mantras be recited in praise of the Principal Deities of Siva and Parvati as also other Deities of Rudra, Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha, Skanda, Nandi and others with extreme piety, sincerity and devotion, the devotee might round up the Worship with Pranava Mantras, Shanti Mantras, Astraya Phut etc.as also execute the rest of the ‘Shodasopacharas’ and finally prostrate before the Preceptor for his blessings. At the end of the worship, the offerings to Bhagavan Siva and Devi like the Panchamritas, Fruits, Naivedya or food material are distributed to the devotees present

Description of Bhagavan Siva

Bhagavan Anantha Deva is snow-white in physique and is as huge as a lion touching the sky possessing four feet of Dharma (Virtue), Gyan (Knowledge), Viragya (devoid of Worldly desires) and Iswarya (prosperity). He is Pancha mukha (five faced), Dasa Bhuja (Ten-handed), Trinetra (three eyed) on each face, of tranquil visage, extremely luminous like several Sun Gods, with crooked eyebrows, red blood eyes, fearful beard and jumbled moustache

He has an enduring ‘Mudra’ (posture) with quivering lips as though he has a devastating temper to destroy yet mildly-smiled, wearing half Moon, carrying a trident, parasu ( axe), Vajra weapon, and resembling ‘Agni golas’ or strings of innumerable fire balls. He is ‘Isana Deva’ sporting an ageless and glittering Crown of the charming face of a Maha Purusha, a sturdy heart of ‘Aghora’, feet like those of ‘Sadyojata’ and Guhyam of a ‘Vamadeva’. ‘Easana’ is a ‘Kalaprapurna’ with thirty eight ‘Kalas’ or features. He is ‘Pancha Brahmamaya’ (Full of Five Brahmas), Omkaramaya (Surfeit with Pranava), and Hamsa nyasa maya (Full of Swan like stylish walk). He is ‘Panchakshara’ (Five-lettered in Sanskrit viz. ‘Namah Sivaya’; He is also Six-lettered viz. ‘Om Namah Sivaya’; and ‘Shadanga Yukta’ or with Six-limbs. Bhagavan Siva affirms that He is an ‘Ardha- Naareeswara’ (Half Woman- Half Man). His left side of the body is ‘Manonmayi Gauri’. She is ‘Dhyana Swarup’ ( a personality in meditative feature) with an open and lustrously blossomed lotus-like smile and broad and shining eyes, full Moon-like visage, ornamented with half-Moon on Her head, smeared with red-tilak on forehead, wearing unusually pretty and fragrant flowers and a golden lotus on Her right hand for fun as an embodiment of Sadgunas. It is in such perfect company of Gauri Devi that a devotee faces Maha Deva, sprinkling Sankha (conchshell)-filled holy water on them reciting Omkara Mantras. The devotee offers to them ‘Padya’or water for washing feet reciting ‘Bhavey bhavey nathibhavey’ manthra; as ‘Achamanam’ or taking a bit of water saying ‘Vama devaya namah’; addressing Bhagavan and Devi with ‘Vastras’ saying ‘Jyoshthaya namah’; again ‘Achamanam’ saying ‘Rudraya namah’; ‘Kalaya namah’ with Sugandham; ‘Vikaranaya namah’ with ‘Akshatas’; ‘Bala Vikaranaya namah’ offering flowers and ‘Balayanamah’ with ‘Dhup’ or fragrant incense; ‘Bala Pramadhanaya namah’ with ‘Deepa Arthi’ and ‘Sashtanga Namaskara’ to Bhagavan and Devi Couple along with ‘Bindunada Pranava Mantras’. Thereafter, Bhagavan Siva told Devi Bhagavati:
Sivo Mahaswarachiva Rudro Vishnuh Pithamaha /
Sansara Vaidyah Sarvajnah Paramatmeti Mukhyataha /
Namashtaka midam nitya Sivasya Prati padakam/

[Siva, Maheswara, Rudra, Vishnu, Pithamaha or Grand father, Physician of the Universe, Sarvajna or the All- Knowing, Paramatma are the major eight names in vogue]
Of the above Eight Names, there is an angle of ‘Upadhis’ or basis among the first Five Names from Siva to Pitamaha; the Five Upadhis are ‘Sthulopadhi’ ( The Gross Body), ‘Karmopadhi’ ( The Causal Body), ‘Sukshmopathi’ ( The Subtle Body), ‘Akasa’ ( The Divine Thought or Consciousness) and ‘Atma’ ( The Inner Soul).  There may thus be a number of names, but basically, there is only one name which has no Upadhis ie.  Nirupadhi; no Gunas ie. Nirguna and no Vikaras ie. Nirvikara: He is Siva only! The next name is of Maheswara Tatva Gyan of twenty three Tatvas thas accompanied by the Maya Tatva or Prakrithi posseessing the twenty fourth Tatva and in all the twenty fifth Tatva of Purusha is Maheswara. The next name of Bhagavan is Rudra who is the root cause of Sorrows and is also the effective remover of Sorrows too.But Vishnu being the all- pervasive Shakti spreads and perpetuates ‘Maya’ by the interaction of ‘Tatvas’and hence Vishnu  is the cause and effect of Tatvas of Siva. Pitamaha is another primary name of Siva who is responsible for Srishti and is the Eldest of the World or the Great Guiding Force of Humanity. Vaidya or the Physician of not only the physical ailments all the residents of the Universe but more importantly is the most efficient curer of the Other-wordly feelings, actions and aspirations by endowing with right guidance of Tatvas and Siva Gyan to lead onto the path of self realisation. Sarvajna is He who is not only aware of the interactions of Maya and Realism but is fully equipped with the awareness and methodology of attainment. From the stage of Sarvajna who has the knowledge of ‘Gunas’, the devotee has to qualify to realise the Self (Atma) and to Siva Himself as that Super Power is Paramatma, Pranavatma, Avinashi and Mahadeva.

‘ Maha Vakyas’ (Illustrious Statements) about Siva Gyan

Prajnam Brahma: Brahma is pure consciousness;
2) Aham Brahmasmi: I am Brahma;
3) Tatvamasi: That Tathvam is Me;
4) Ayamatma Brahma: This Atma is Brahma;
5) Isha-vasyamidam Sarvam: This entire Universe is in Eswara;
6) Praanosmi: I am Prana or Life
7) Prajnatma: Atma is Gyan or Knowledge;
8) Yevaha Thadmutra Yadmutra tha dinvah: Whatever is there, it is here and that which is here is there too;
9)Anyadeva thadvithadayo Aviditha dapi: That is beyond the Known and Unknown;
10) Easha tha Antaratma antaryamrita: That Atma of yours is itself Antharyami and Amrita or inner consciousness and ever lasting;
11) Sa yaschayam Purusho yaschamavaditye sa ekah : Whatever exists in this person and Sun God is the same;
12) Ahamasmi Parabrahma param paratparam : I am Parabrahma myself;
13) Veda Sastra Guruthvath svapananda lakshanam: I am as happy as Guru who knows Vedas and Sastras;
14) Sarva bhutashitham Brahmat dehaha na samasyaha : Brahma who exists in all the beings, undoubtedly;
15) Tatvasya Pranohamasmi : I am the life of Tatvas and the Earth;
16) Apam cha Praanohamasmi: I am the Life and water;
17) Vayoscha Pranohamasmi Akshasya Pranohamasmi: I am the Life of Wind and Sky
18) Trigunasya Pranohamasmi: I am the Life of Three Gunas
19) Sarvoha Sarvatmakoh Samsaro Yadbhut uccha bhavyam yadvarthamanam Sarvatmika tvad vithiyoham: I am the Universal Soul as also second to none in the past, present and future; 20) Sarvam khilvada Brahma: This is all Brahma Himself;
21) Sarvoha Vimuktoham : I am everything and free;
22) yo sowseeham hamsaha so hamasmi : I am present as a Swan

Origin of Vedas, Time, Basic Duties and Pasupati Vrata

In the Final Volume of Siva Purana, entitled Vayaviya Samhita, the congregation of Sages headed by Suta Muni gave a broad description of the above Titled and related Topics as explained to Veda Vyas by Vayu Deva Himself. Even before the narration, the Holy spot of ‘Naimisaranya’ or the Nimisa Forest where the congregation was taking place was acknowledged as the most befitting venue for a specific reason

He stated that at the end of the previous ‘Dwapara Yuga’ and at the very beginning of the now on-going Kali Yuga, Lord Brahma released Manonmaya Chakra to ascertain the impact of the impending Time ahead. The Chakra (disc) would travel around and the entire area traversed by it would be submerged in ‘Maya’. Finally, wherever the Chakra would break should be considered as a safe zone covering a large segment of land of the prescribed circumference or the ‘nemi’ of that zone, fit for Yagnas which were performed for ten thousand years and Lord Brahma too carried on the creation process there itself. Such was the significance of ‘Naimisharanya’. [This forest is some 80 km away from Lucknow in Uttar Pradash and there are vestiges here till date of the past 5000 years at the crossing of the two yugas. There is a Chakra-Teertha (waterbody) which is stated to be fathomless as the British failed to disprove the mythology and tried to send down a cable of 1000 meters (3300 feet of depth and gave up; it was in this Sarovar that thousands of Sages took their bath before performing ‘Yagnas’. There is a Vyasa Gaddi (Seat) under a Banyan Tree where Sage Vyasa executed the division of Vedas and the writing of Puranas; a huge Hanuman idol of 18 feet- believed to be self-manifested, when Hunuman rescued Rama and Lakshmana hidden by Ravana in Patala Loka up into Chakra Tirtha; and a Pandava Temple. Till date, groups of Bramhanas arrive at Naimisharanya periodically to perform Yagnas and Homas from all over India. Also there is a Siva Temple with His eyes looking east in the morning and west in the evenings. The presiding Deity Lalita Devi has a Temple around Chakra Tirtha, where thousands take bath every Full Moon Monday and pray to Her for instant fulfillment of desires.]
There are Eighteen ‘Vidyas’ or Disciplines of Learning / Knowledge comprising  Four Vedas of Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana; Six Vedangas, Meemamsa, Nyaya, Puranas, Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharva Veda and Artha Sastra. Bhagavan Siva created all the Vidyas.Brahma recited the Vedas, Scriptures, and Puranas; Vishnu preserved them all and since these are difficult to assimilate, created Veda Vyasa to pass on the Learnings to posterity in a lesser difficult manner. In fact the Essence of Vedas is conveyed in some four lakh ‘Slokas’ (Stanzas) among Eighteen Puranas.
Besides Vidyas, Bhagavan also presented the Concept of Time to the World and enabled calulations of years, ‘Ayanas’ ( half years) as per the movement of Sun viz. Uttarayana of Upward movement of Sun and Dakshinayana or downward movement, months, fortnights ( Sukla and Krishna Pakshas), weeks, days and nights, hours, thirty muhurthas in a day and night, thirty kalas in a muhurtha, fifteen nimeshas in a kala and so on. Also one year to Devas is three hundred and sixty years to human beings. Satya Yuga is 4000 Deva or Divine years, Threta Yuga is 3000 Deva years, DwaparaYuga is 2000 Deva Years and Kali Yuga has one thousand Deva years. Four Yugas make a Kalpa during which there are fourteen Manvantaras. One Brahma day is one kalpa; Brahma’s age is for thousand kalpas; Vishnu’s age is one hundred Brahma Years; Rudra’s age is one hundred Vishnu years; Siva’s age is one hundred Rudra years and Sada Siva’s age is infinite! It is stated that Siva starts a day by Creation and by the end of the night terminates the Universe in annihilation!
Having regard to the ‘Varanshrama’ or the Four Caste System of Brahmanas, Vysyas, Kshtriyas and Sudras, Veda Vyasa in his various Discussions with the Sages, pinpointed the Basic duties of Brahmanas even more than rituals. The basic duties include: ‘Trikala Sandhyas’ (Gayatri thrice each day), ‘Havan’ (Offerings to the Sacred Fire), worship to ‘Sivalingas’ and Charity. Also, he should observe every Being in Siva; Compassion, Virtue, Tripti (contentment), Belief in God; Ahimsa (non violence), Bhakti (Devotion), Veda Pathanam (Reading Vedas), Practice of Yoga, Teaching of Vedas and Scriptures, celibacy, penance, wearing Sacred Thread and tuft; abstinence of night meals, continuous chantings of Omkara, Gayatri and Siva Mantras and finally, Siva worship based so much with Faith rather than mere Rituals. The Siva Mantra viz. ‘Om Namah Sivaya’ should be chanted a crore times ideally through out the night or fifty lakh times or atleast ten lakh times. One tenth of the chantings of the Siva Mantra must be executed by way of ‘Havan’; one tenth of the Havan must be performed by way of ‘Tarpan’; one tenth of the Tarpan must be done by way of ‘Marjanam’ or cleansing or purifying; one tenth of Marjanam should be the number of Brahmanas to be engaged for ‘Bhojan’ or meals and ‘dakshina’or monetary offerings.
The next explanation by Veda Vyasa related to‘Mantrik Nyas’ or Ascetic Nyas viz. Sthithi Nyas (Posture), Utpatti (origin) and Laya (synthesis). Establishing and chanting cryptic mantras (alphabets) from thumb to little finger is Stithi nyasa; the cryptic mantra from right thumb to left thumb is Utpatti Nyasa and from left thumb to right thub is Laya Nyasa. House holders should perform the Stithi Nyas, the Celebates to prefer Utpatti Nyas, and those who have relinquished the world or the Vanaprashasyas should take to the Laya Nyasa.
Pasupathi Vratha is recommended by Vayudeva to attain worldly pleasures as also‘Mukti’.The Vratha comprises of Kriya, Tapa, Dhyana, Gyana and Yoga. This is to be performed on Chaitra Pournami, but two days before it, the Devotee should seek the blessings of a Guru, wear coloured clothes, be seated on kusa grass, take a vow of with a kusa on hand to perform the entire Vratha as per prescribed, observe fast on all the three days, execute day long havans, and Dhyana and worship to Siva Linga. After observing the same procedure of the preceding two days, the devotee must on the final day of the Vrata wear deer skin, smear ash of the havans of the preceding two days, practise ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ under the directives of Guru, perform ‘Avarana Puja’, and ‘Shodasopacharas’or the sixteen kinds of services to the Siva Linga and Siva idol..This Vratha may be performed once in a life time or every year or for twelve years or even as long as one lives. Depending on the honesty and intensity of the Performer, Pasupathi Vrata is stated to bless the devotee to attain Siva Loka.
Auspicious days for performing Siva worship are the eighth or fourteenth day of each fortnight; on the Solictice day or Samkranthi when Sun is positioned north of Equator;  on Solar and Lunar Eclipse days; on the days when Pushya nakshatra falls in Pushya month; or Magha nakshatra falls in Magha month; Uttaraphalguna falls on Pournami of Phaluna month; Chaitra Pournami in Chaitra month; Visakha nakshatra falling on Pournami of Visakha Month; Moola in Jyeshtha month; Uttarashadha in Ashadha month; Shravana star in Shravana Month; Uttarabhadra in Bhadra month; Pournami in Asvayuja month; Kartika Pournami during Kartika Month; and on the day when Ardra nakshatra falls in Margaseersha month
Siva Purana ‘Phalasruti’

While concluding Siva Purana, Veda Vyasa affirmed that whoever reads or hears Siva Purana would indeed reap ample fruits. Whether it is an athiest or indolent, a stupid or egoistic, a non devotee or careless, any person reading or hearing even portions of the Purana rather casually would raise a flag of virtue.A non devotee would secure devotion and a devotee would obtain devotion in abundance. If a person reads or hears just once, the sins of long standing nature get burnt off instantly.

On reading twice, the person becomes a staunch follower of Bhagavan Siva and reading thrice shall indeed reach the person to the abode of Siva.

Etachhiva Puranam hi Sivasyatipriyam param
/Bhukti mukti pradam Brahmasammitham Bhakti varadhanam/
                                                  OM NAMASSIVAYA
‘Nityam Swodara Poshanaya Sakalaanuddishya vitthaasaya /
vyartham paryatanam karomi bhavatassevaam na jane Vibho /
majjanmanthara punyapaakaphalathastvam Sarva! Sarvaantharas-
 tishthasyeva hi thena vaa Pasupathey! tey rakshaneeyosmyaham ’
                                                                       (Sivanandalahari Stanza 57 by Adi Shankara)
[I have contacted many and travelled a lot without aim just for filling my stomach and desirous of becoming prosperous. Little did I realise the significance of service to you, Oh Lord of all beings and all-pervasive! You do wipe away the sins of your devotees. May be, some good was done in my past birth that I feel confident as you are within all the beings and thus consider me too to be saved!






 





Om Tat Sat

(Continued)



(My humble salutations to  the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to  Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji  for the collection)

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