SHIVA MAHAPURANA: INTRODUCTION
First of all, Sage Shaunak expressed his desire to Suta about knowing the means, which could help a man in this era of Kali to attainment lord Shiva, by cleansing all the impurities of his mind and rectifying his inherent demonic tendencies. Suta then described about Shiva Mahapurana – the supreme of all the Puranas, which was narrated by Lord Shiva himself and which was later on retold by Sage Vyasa with the permission of Maharshi Sanatkumar, for the benediction of common man. Suta said, “By understanding the mysteries of ShivmahaPurana and singing its praises, a man attains greater virtues than that which could be attained by being charitable or by the performance of all the `yagyas’. Contemplating on the subject matters of Shiva Mahapurana give auspicious fruits just like a ‘Kalpa-taru’ (A mythological tree which fulfills all the wishes). Shiv Mahapurana contains twenty-four thousand shlokas and seven Samhitas which are Vidyeshwar, Rudra, Shatrudra, Koti Rudra, Uma, Kailash, and Vayviya. Shiva Mahapurana is the best means for man’s liberation.
PROPER METHOD OF LISTENING TO SHIVA PURANA
Sage Shaunak requested Suta to tell about the proper method of listening to Shiva Purana, so that the mankind gets complete benefit. Suta replied-
“First of all, an auspicious moment should be determined by an Astrologer. After that, friends and relatives should be invited, especially those who have the tendency of being away from such occasions. The sages and the virtuous people should be invited too. The ‘Katha’ must be help in scared places like Shiva temple, any place of pilgrimage or in one’s home after doing a Bhumi Pujan of the land where one intends to held the Katha of Shiva Purana. The canopy should be well decorated.” “After making a resolution and doing worship of Ganapati – the destroyer of all hurdles and obstacles the Katha should be commenced. The person who is telling the ‘Katha’ should be facing north and all the listeners should sit facing east. The person who is telling the ‘Katha’ should be a scholar and should be capable of clearing all the doubts from the listener’s mind. There should be no kind of distraction during the ‘Katha’ period. A devotee, who listens to the Katha leaving behind all of his worldlys worries get complete benefits. A devotee should also make donations and offerings according to his capacity and capability otherwise he would become a wretched man. The Mantra ‘OM NAMAH SHIVAY’ should be chanted through out the period of Katha.
An uninitiated person does not have the right to listen to the Katha of Shiva Mahapurana. So a man desirous of listening to Shiva Mahapurana should first get initiated.
A devotee who has taken the vow of listening to the Katha of Shiva Mahapurana, should follow a celibate life. He should sleep on the floor and should have only fruits in the diet. He can have his normal dinner only after the completion of the Katha. The diet should be fresh and pure. He should also try to avoid sinful tendencies like lust, anger, greed, attachment and condemning other, etc. Making donations of even meager things give undiminishing virtues.
After the methodical completion of the Katha, a devotee should perform UDDYAPAN (Conclusion of the Katha), which is similar to the CHATURDASHI UDDYAPAN. The devotee should also charitably make donations to all the brahmins who have helped in the performance of Katha. On the next day the ‘Path’ of SHIVA GITA should be performed. If the devotee (listener of the Katha) is a householders, then he should perform ‘Havan’ with the ghee prepared from Cow’s milk, for the pacification of the unhindered completion of the Katha. The Havan should be performed, either with the help of ‘Rudra Samhita mantras’ or ‘Gayatri Mantra’ or with the shlokas of Purana.
PART ONE VIDYESHWAR SAMHITA
Viddyeshwar Samhita which is classified into twenty five chapters, has a narration in its first chapter which goes as follows-
Once upon a time, the sages were performing a yagya at Prayag kshetra. Sage Suta came to know about this and arrived there. All the sages were very pleased to see him. They requested:-
“Lord! Though we have heard many tales from you regarding the man’s benediction, but today we want to listen to something special. Because in this present era of Kali, when all the castes have forgotten about their respective duties we want to know is there any way to prevent the deterioration in the human values?”
“O Great men! Your enquiry has great relevance in this era of Kali. I will certainly tell you about the way by the help of which a man can achieve benediction. Shiva Mahapurana contains the essence of Vedantic philosophy, which gives worldly pleasures as well as Salvation. Mere remembrance of it destroys all the sins of a man. One who studies the Rudra-Samhita attentively, his gravest of sins are destroyed instantaneously. One who studies Rudra-Samhita’ silently, sitting in front of Bhairav-idol, all of his aspirations are fulfilled. A man gets liberated from the sin of killing a brahmin, if he studies Rudra Samhita while circulbulating around a Banyan tree.”
“Kailash Samhita is even superior than Rudra Samhita, as it elaborates upon the meaning of Omkar. Shiva Mahapurana is created by lord Shiva Himself. It contains twelve Samhitas which are – Viddyeshwar, Rudra, Vinayak, Uma, Matri, Ekadash-rudra, Kailash, Shat-rudra, Koti-rudra, Sahastra Koti, Vayaviya and Dharma.”
“Initially it contained one lac shlokas but it was precised to twenty-four thousand shlokas by sage Vyasa. The present Shiva Purana is the fourth one which consists of seven Samhitas. The earlier three Shiva Puranas are unavailable. The scientific analysis of the Vedantic mysteries are the main subject of this divine Shiva Purana. The study of Shiva Purana helps a man to attain Dharma, Artha, Kam and Moksha.
Suta continued with his narration:-
“During the initial period of ‘Svet Varaha Kalpa’. Six prominent sages collected near Triveni and started debating as to who was the greatest deity, among Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh. Their debate remained inconclusive, so they went to lord Brahma to seek the answer.