Sunday, January 20, 2008

Theology of the Shiva Purana II

The present post is a continuation of the previous post entitled Theology of the Shiva Purana examining how the Shiva Purana deals with theology and the philosophical view that forms its basis. When one reads the Shiva Purana, it becomes quite clear that different books were authored by different sets of hands each with a slightly different philosphical worldview. Every book narrates a large body of legends, and at the close of the book the philosophical stance is explained. The below comes to us from closing of the Kotirudra Samhita (Book IV). It is quite clear that the author of this text subscribed to the non-dualistic Vedanta, as the view is quite in line with that philosophy. While Vedanta provides the theoretical theology in the below excerpt, it is clear the ontological basis of Sankhya and the means to the end (liberation) as taught by Yoga are presupposed. Quite notably, the theoretical and practical theology of the Agamas is absent from this teaching. According to the Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, the Kotirudra Samhita, which is found in the standard (northern-southern) version of the Shiva Purana, extracts heavily from the Jnana Samhita, a book found only in the Bengal version of the Shiva Purana (see: Shiva Purana: Sense and Sensibility ). The Jnana Samhita, itself extracted in part from the Linga Purana, is believed to have been authored in northern India (ca. 850 ce) by those who subscribed to a combined Sankhya-Vedanta philosophy. With this background, the theological and philosophical view presented below is not surprising.

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Sūta said:

O ye sages, may this be heard. I shall explain the perfect knowledge of Śiva in the manner I have heard. It is a great secret as it is the form of the highest salvation. (1)

In the assembly of Brahmā, Nārada, Kumāra, Vyāsa and Kapila they had discussed this and come to this conclusion. (2)

It shall be known that the entire universe is wholly Śiva. That Śiva is in everything must be known by the learned scholar. (3)

Beginning with Brahmā and ending with a blade of grass whatever is seen as constituting the universe is Śiva Himself. That Deity is called Śiva. (4)

When He wishes, this is created. He alone knows all. No one knows Him. (5)

He Himself creates it and enters it, but stand far off. The Citsvarūpa (Pure Consciousness) Being who is pure does not really enter it. (6)

[Just as] luminary bodies are reflected in water and do not actually enter it, so Śiva too appears [to have] entered it [the created world]. (7)

Really Śiva alone, the Auspicious Being, manifests Himself. The ignorance of the same is a defect of the mind. In fact, there is no second entity. (8)

In all philosophical systems the concept of duality is evident. But the Vedāntins call Him eternal and non-dualistic. (9)

The individual soul, though it is a part of His becomes deluded by avidyā (ignorance). He then thinks that He is different (from Śiva). If He is released from avidyā, He becomes Śiva. (10)

Śiva pervades all creatures. He is the Lord of the sentient and the insentient. He is the Benefactor. (11)

He who cleverly tries means of releasing himself after resorting to the Vedāntic path attains the fruit of his right. (12)

The pervading fire is latent in every block of wood, but only he who churns it sees it manifested [knows this] to be true. (13)

So also, the clever devotee who makes use of the expedients of devotion, etc. certainly reaches Śiva. This is undoubtedly true. (14)

Lord Śiva is everywhere. There is nothing else. Śiva appears in different forms always due to our illusion. (15)

The ocean or the lump of clay or the piece of gold attains different shapes due to delimiting conditions. Śiva too is so. (16)

There is one essential difference between the material cause and its effect. The difference is due to illusory perception. If the one ceases to exist, the other is also quelled. (17)

The shooting sprout from the seed may exhibit multiplicity, but ultimately it becomes the seed and shoot perishes. (18)

The perfectly wise is the seed. Deformity is the sprout. When deformity disappears, he becomes perfectly wise again. There is no doubt in this regard. (19)

Everything is Śiva. Śiva is everything. There is no difference at all. How is this manifoldness seen? How is the unity regained? (20)

Just as the luminary called the sun is seen differently in [different bodies of] water, so also is the case with it [Śiva and the universal manifoldness]. (21)

The all-pervading space is not bound or fettered anywhere. So also the all-pervading Lord is not bound anywhere. (22)

The individual soul is contaminated by the ego. Śiva is free of it. The individual soul is insignificant and it experiences fruit of action. But the great Śiva is uncontaminated. (23)

Gold mixed with silver or other base metals depreciates in value. So also is the individual soul in its association with the ego. (24)

When a gold alloy is purified with chemicals, it regains its original value. Similarly the consecrated soul too attains purity. (25)

The devotee at the outset shall go to a competent preceptor with devout and reverential feelings. He shall worship and serve him considering Him Śiva. (26)

Thanks to this conception, all sins and dirt are removed from the body. When he gains knowledge, his ignorance disappears. (27)

Freed from the ego, the individual soul attains pure intellect. Thanks to Śiva’s grace, he attains the state of Śiva again. (28)

Just as one sees one’s own form in the mirror, so also the pure soul sees the all-pervading Śiva, certainly. (29)

He becomes the living liberated soul (jivanmukta). When the body perishes, he merges into Śiva. The body is begot by the prārabda karma. The perfectly wise is considered different from it. (30)

If a person is not elated on acquiring something good and is not annoyed on acquiring something bad and if he has equanimity, he is said to be perfectly wise. (31)

By the practice of yoga, discrimination between the different principles is generated. Then there is a desire to get released from the body. The aspirant then is blessed with devotion to Śiva. (32-33)

From devotion arises love; from love the desire to hear about the Lord; from this desire association with the good; and from this association a competent preceptor is attained. (34)

If knowledge is attained, he certainly becomes liberated. Hence if one desires to be perfectly wise, one should worship Śiva alone always. (35)

He shall worship Śiva with unflinching and exclusive devotion. Salvation will be the result. There is nothing to be doubtful about this. (36)

There is no other Deity greater than Śiva for the attainment of salvation. After seeking refuge in Him, one withdraws form worldly existence. (37)

O wise ones, these words have been uttered by me after considering the statement of the sages. Ye shall retain these strenuously in your minds. (38)

~ Śrī Śivapurāṇa: Koṭirudra Samhitā [Book IV]: Chapter XLIII: 1-38.
The Śiva Purāṇa (Part III). Trans. and annotated by a board of scholars. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996.

Aum Namah Śivāya.

Related posts: Shiva Purana: Sense and Sensibility, Theology of the Shiva Purana

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