The Siva Purana - Complete Set in 4 Volumes

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Introduction

The Purana is a class of literature that treats of ancient religion, philosophy, history, sociology, politics and other subjects. It is an Encyclopaedia of various branches of knowledge and ancient wisdom. It has been defined as a class of literature that contains material on the topics of Creation, Dissolution of Manus, Ages of Manus, Genealogies and the History of glorious kings. For dealing primarily with these subjects it has been called Pancalaksana – a little that was incorporated in the Puranas themselves and had become popular by the Fifth Century A.D., for it was included by Amarasimha in his lexicon 'Amarakosa'. But as the process of interpolation continued, the Pancalaksana definition was found inadequate. The Puranic redactors adopted a Dasalaksana definition that suited the contemporary text. Still the dynamic forces were at work and the process of insertion, modification and abridgement went on and it was soon discovered that the Dasalaksana definition too fell short of an actual fact. It was found that the puranas contained certain aspects that were not covered by any of the five or ten characteristics. Besides some of the characteristics covered by the Pancalaksana or Dasalaksana definition were not found in certain Puranas.

In fact the Purana as a class represents the different phases and aspects of life of diverse ages. It is impossible to adopt a standard definition for the class of literary composition that contains heterogeneous phases and aspects. Moreover, a definition framed on the numerical basis of points is bound to be imperfect.

The Puranas are divided into two classes – the Mahapuranas and the Upapuranas. Each class consists of eighteen puranas. Thus the number of the Puranas is thirty six. The Mahapuranas are classified into different categories – Vaisnava, Brahma, Saiva etc. in proportion as they accord preferrential treatment to Visnu, Brahma, Siva and others. Sivapurana, as its title signifies is a Saiva Purana. It derives its designation from the fact that it eulogises the glory and greatness of Siva, describes the ritual and philosophical principles of Siva cult, embodies descriptions, sermons and dissertations on the greatness of his divinity, recounts his emblems, attributes, exploits and incarnations, narrates legends on the origin and importance of his phallic image and dwells upon the merit of installing and consecrating that image. In brief, Siva-purana is a sacred treatise of Siva's legends and ritual.

The extant text of Sivapurana is arranged into seven Samhitas designated as Vidyesvara, Rudra, Satarudra, Kotirudra, Uma, Kailasa and Vayaviya. The second of these, Rudrasamhita, is divided into five sections, viz. Creation, the narrative of Sati, the biography of Parvati, the birth and adventures of Kumara and Siva's battles. The seventh Samhita-Vayaviya- has two parts (Purvabhaga and Uttarabhaga). It is called Vayaviya, for though it was recited by the Suta at the Naimisa Forest, it was originally proclaimed by Vayu at the advent of Svetakalpa.

According to the records of the Vayaviya, the original Sivapurana consisted of twelve Samhitas. That is to say, in addition to the extant seven there were five more Samhitas viz. Vainayaka, Matr, Rudraikadasa, Sahasrakoti and Dharma. The complete group of twelve Samhitas comprised one hundred thousand Slokas. But five of the group were dropped in the course of reconstruction and abridgement of the puranas. The extant Sivapurana is an abridged edition and comprises twenty-four thousand Slokas. The redaction was made by the sage Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa himself.

As previously stated, the Mahapuranas are eighteen in number. The Puranic scholars are agreed upon the authenticity of the seventeen Mahapuranas but in regard to the eighteenth there is a difference of opinion. Most of the Puranas include Sivapurana in the list while a few others substitute Vayu for Siva. The substitution of either was inevitable, for the traditional number had to be maintained. Therefore some voted in favour of Siva, some in favour of Vayu. Neither of the parties could agree which of the two was actually a Mahapurana.

Now let us examine if any solution could at all be possible. We know that Sivapurana is divided into seven Samhitas, one of which is the Vayaviya. We have the testimony of Sivapurana itself that the original Sivapurana consisting of one hundred thousand slokas wad abridged into twenty-four thousand slokas. On the strength of this evidence it cannot be unreasonable to suppose that there was a proto-Sivapurana and a proto-Vayaviya. It is not unlikely that there was a close affinity between the extant Vayupurana and the proto-Vayaviya or that the extant Vayupurana is a recension of the proto-Vayaviya and thus a part of Sivapurana itself. Solution lies in assuming identicality of the two on the basis of this suggestion, not in accepting the one and rejecting the other.

Sivapurana has all the characteristics of a Mahapurana. According to the ancients, a Mahapurana contained five main characteristics that concerned either early religion or traditional history. Of these the origin of the universe (Sarga) is an important feature of every religion. As a Mahapurana and a sacred work of Siva cult, Sivapurana possesses this important trait. It discusses the origin of the universe which it traces to Siva, the eternal god who though devoid of attributes that still an inherent Energy which manifests itself in the form of three principles – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas personified as the three deities Visnu, Brahma and Rudra. The three have their respective energies called Laksmi, Sarasvati and Kali, in collaboration with whom they create, maintain and dissolve the universes.

According to this account, the work of creation is entrusted to Brahma who creates the cosmic egg is insentient at first but when Visnu pervades it, it goes in motion. Then different kinds of creation are evolved out of it.

Sivapurana classifies creation in three categories: Primary, Secondary and Primary-Secondary. The three categories are arranged in the following table.

 

Creation

 

Primary Secondary Primary-Secondary
Intellect and Ego Insentient objects Mind-born sons
Subtle elements Animals of Brahma
Five organs of action Divine beings  
And five organs of Human beings  
Knowledge, Manas Sentient feelings.  
 

According to Sivapurana, the ninefold creation was unable to proceed on the work of creation. The mind-born sons of Brahma refused to obey the creator and remained celibate. Then out of his body Brahma produced eleven sons: Marici from the eyes, Bhrgu from the heart, Angiras from the head, Pulaha, Pulastya, Vasistha, Kratu from his breath, Atri from his ears, Narada from his lap and Kardama from his shadow. When still the creation made no progress, Brahma divided himself into two-one half in the form of a woman and the other half in the form of a man. In that half from of a woman he created a couple – Svayambhuva Manu and Satarupa who complied with the wished of the creator and began the work of creation.

After all, the creation of the universe is not a permanent feature, for all creations end in dissolutions which is turn give place to re-creation. The description of this process constitutes one of the five main features of a Mahapurana. Sivapurana take


Item Code: NAB424
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 2014
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN: 9788120803398
Language: (English Translation of Shiva Purana)
Size: 8.7" X 5.8"
Pages: 2174
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 2.950 Kg