Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
by P C K Prem
As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 112
Lord Shiva descends on earth for the happiness and protection of devotees and on ardent appeals situates ‘the self’ at the place of devotee’s choice that ultimately, turns out a tirtha, a path to deliverance
For the destruction of wicked daityas, Shiva once gave Sudarshana Chakra to Vishnu. Suta speaks about various fasts and thereafter, he eloquently tells about the true essence of dedication and bhakti of divine couple toward Krishna and then, tells about the twenty-eight hells and also talks of the nature of sins and sinners who face trials in various hells before they go to another yoni…and the process continues
That Shiva gave the divine weapon Sudarshana Chakra to Vishnu for the destruction of the wicked people makes an astounding unfolding. Brahmins felt divine moments as nectar-filled words of Suta narrated how the great lord for the wellbeing of bhaktas descended on earth and situated ‘the self’ at the place and granted the boon of glimpses forever. Later, he spoke about the significance of Harishwar-lingam.
Ages back, the wicked daityas tortured human beings, made their life miserable, and worked against the tenets of dharma. Gods of heavens requested Vishnu to help suffering humankind, created beings and gods. Vishnu went to Kailasa and undertook austere tapa. He prayed, worshipped and praised lord Shiva and after he chanted holy name of Shiva one thousand times, he completed it with the offer of lotus flowers at the feet of lord. At that time, Shiva took one flower of lotus and hid it.
Vishnu did not know about the divine ploy Shiva played. He began the search and went around the entire earth but failed. Therefore, he extracted one lotus-like eye and offered it at the feet of Shiva. Immensely pleased at the devotion of Vishnu, Shiva appeared and asked Vishnu to ask for a boon. Vishnu briefly spoke about the terror daityas had created in the world and revealed that whatever weapons he had, were not adequate to eliminate daityas and so he had sought refuge at lord’s feet. Shiva offered the most radiant, dazzling and powerful Sudarshan Chakra to Vishnu. Later, Vishnu destroyed daityas with the weapon and so freed the world from the terror of dreadful evil daityas.
“If a devotee with a purified heart and mind concentrates on the holy feet of Shiva and engages in the invocation – japa and chanting of thousand names of Shiva, he obtains blessings and lives life contentedly with splendid godly joy.” Sage Suta told brahmins. To satisfy the curiosity of brahmins, monks and holy souls he narrated the intensity of bhakti of Vishnu, who pleased the lord and obtained not only blessings but also the divine weapon Sudarshan Chakra, the destroyer of iniquitous daityas.
Vishnu meditated on one thousand names of Shiva. Vishnu incantations – japa of names was continuous, and the intensity delighted the lord and so he blessed him with the mighty weapon. Naturally, monks were curious to know more about the significance of holy names of lord Shiva. Sage Suta understood the curiosity of monks, and so after careful deliberations he told enthusiastic sages about the one thousand names of lord Shiva as the sages later wrote, which are contained in Shiva-Sahastranama Strota.
Monk Suta was meticulous in giving the inventory of one thousand names of lord Shiva for the benefit of devotees so that they elicit divine blessings. One can go to the original text to learn about the holy names of Shiva. Japa of Shiva’s one thousand names benefits and blesses devotees who concentrate on the lord. The holy names liberate devotees from sins, give comforts and joys of life and the devotee who is engaged in japa knows that these names carry varied sacred images. Therefore, Vishnu meditated on Shiva’s one thousand names every day, eulogised the lord, worshipped him and continued to pray.
Curious sages wished to know the extent of blessings of Shiva after one undertook tapa, and meditated on the great lord and later to delight the great lord, observed fasts. Great son of Vyasa, Suta recalled names of some great men and women, who pleased the lord with the observance of fast and attained comforts of life and later, moksa. Suta told about the ten major fasts, which devotees ought to observe if they want to attain moksa and freedom from sufferings. He talked freely about the observance of fasts and the great influence on devotees if they adhered to the methods and modes of observance. Among the ‘das Shaiv-vratas’ (ten fasts), fast on Shivratri is the most significant that frees a devotee from all sufferings, obstructions, hardships and further it grants peace. No enemy can ever hurt a devotee, who observes this holy fast, he told.
Thus, the great sage Suta described fully for the benefit of inquisitive brahmins and holy souls of pure hearts the magnitude of observance of various fasts and the greatest fast on Shivaratri and its value and worth. If any devotee of lord Shiva wants to observe fast based on the teaching of sage Suta, he ought to adhere to the method and follow rituals etc to attain peace, happiness and liberation from sufferings that later lead a devotee to deliverance.
Further, he narrated the amazing tale of a bheel, who unknowingly observed fast and the lord blessed him.
Long back a bheel, a devotee of Shiva, observed fast on the holy day of Shivratri and emphasised the tremendous impact on its devotees, he told. Many years ago, a bheel Gurudruhu lived in a forest. He was very strong and powerful and had a large family to look after and feed. However, he was of very cruel nature and always loved violent karmas. He often went to the jungle, killed stags and then, indulged in acts of thefts to earn livelihood. He did no noble act in life and so lived for a long time. The holy night of Shivaratri proved very favorable and good for him. However, the vicious and sinful soul bheel who lived in a forest did not know anything about the sacred fast.
On the holy occasion of Shivaratri, his parents and wife suffering from hunger asked for food. He continued to roam about in the forest but did not find any stag or other beast and it distressed him greatly. He thought for long but found no solution. He was deeply worried about the lives of parent and wife, who were suffering from hunger. Many thoughts assailed his mind and after some time, he arrived at the bank of a large water pool and waited for some beast that would arrive to quench thirst. He climbed a tree and settled down on the branch with a bow and arrow. He was desperate for a prey and was restless. He wanted to kill it immediately so that he could satisfy hunger of his parents and wife.
At the fall of night, during the first hour, a female stag came to the water pond to quench thirst. She hurriedly gulped down water. Cruel hunter Gurudruhu was happy for some time and then, he picked-up bow and arrow and aimed at female stag. As he moved hand, a few leaves of the tree and water fell on a Shiva-lingam and thus, worship of Shiva-linga completed during the first pahar (unit of time roughly of three hours) and at the same time, during the hour the abrupt worship of lingam destroyed most of the wickedness of bheel.
Female stag was disturbed. She looked up and said, “O hunter, what do you want to do? Speak the truth.”
“Three members of my family are hungry. I want to kill you and satisfy their hunger.” She was worried and wanted to stop him and so thought for some time and said, “Meat of this futile and mortal body will give you joy. It is the greatest act of charity. I know there could not be better use of it, and one cannot describe even for one hundred years the extent of punya I will earn. However, I have left my children at the ashrama. Let me go. After I keep them under the protection of my husband and sister, I will return. I speak the truth. Believe me and do not doubt.”
Thereafter, she told him of the essence of truth that was pervasive, guided the earth, sea and everything, and directed living beings to stay, for truth permeated all. When the hunter did not appear to agree, she pledged before him that she would go and come back because she never wanted to commit sin of telling a lie. “It is a sin if a brahmin sells the Vedas and does not pray three times a day. If a woman disobeys her man, it is a sin and if she tells a lie, it is again a huge offense.” Thus, she tried to convince him.
She said, “Not to value a good act is a sin. It is a crime not to pray before Sankara. To violate laws of dharma is misconduct and bad in spirit. To betray, defraud and act unfairly is again a sin. I will sin if I do not return.” She was silent. He thought over the words and then, allowed her to go home.
The first hour – pahar had passed but bheel was still awake and at that time, sister of female stag arrived at the pond to take water. Again, leaves of bail tree and water fell on lingam and so it completed worship of second pahar. Though it was to happen as providence desired yet it proved comforting and blissful for the hunter. When he picked up the bow and arrow, the female stag asked him not to do. She told she had to arrange food for old parents and husband. They exchanged similar words and the stag wanted to go home so that she could safely hand over the children to her parents and husband. She promised to come back and further told that she was happy because this body would have some use and thus, she would earn punya – good will.
She further told> him that if a person fails to fulfill a promise, he is bereft of any good act of charity and so, she argued for a long time. Her sin would be equal to the sin a man commits when he leaves his spouse, goes to another woman, and thus, violates laws of dharma and even if he is a devotee of Vishnu and speaks ill of Shiva, cares little for parents and fails to perform shradda etc, he commits a grave sin she told. If she does not go home and arranges for the proper safety of children, her sin would be equal to that man.
She went home to her children and thus, it was end of second pahar of night but female stag did not return and it caused worries and therefore, he went in search of the stag. On the way, he saw a male stag quite healthy and fit. He was happy and immediately, aimed at him and at that moment, leaves of bail tree and some water fell to his advantage as if and thus, worship of lord Shiva of the third pahar was complete.
The stag heard the sound of falling leaves and turned to hunter, and he asked, “What are you doing?” The hunter revealed the truth and told that wife and parents were hungry, and he wanted food for them. Stag expressed joy that his useless body will have some use and now, the body would satisfy hunger and thus, he would perform a great act of charity he told. He requested him to permit him to go so that he could hand over his children to his mother. After doing so, he would return.
The hunter (bheel) said, “Whoever came here, argued and offered similar reasons and went away but never returned. You will go …and will not come back. You are also in a hard situation and so you will tell lies and go. How I would earn livelihood?”
The male stag said, “O hunter, what I say listen. I do not tell lies. The whole cosmos exists on the strength of truth. He who tells lies, he destroys all acts of care and charity immediately. O man, hear about the promise I give. If a man indulges in sex at twilight hours, eats on the day of Shivaratri, adduces false evidence, usurps property of another man and ignores prayer of the evening, he commits a severe sin. If I do not come back, I shall commit the same serious offense. Listen, a man who does not chant the name of Shiva, does not act for the wellbeing of others while he is capable of doing so, eats forbidden food, does not worship Shiva and without putting bhasma (sacred ashes of yajna) on forehead after the prayers etc eats food, he commits a sin. So if I do not come back, it will be a crime equal to this person…”
Bheel Gurudruhu heard and allowed him to go and asked him to return soon. Sage Suta continued to narrate the tale.
After taking water, the stag went to the ashrama. The three stags met at the ashrama and thought of the pledge they had given to the hunter. After they heard one another and thought of the promise that restricted the three, they decided to go after assuring parents and children and thus, were eager to fulfill the vow.
At that time, the eldest female stag said, “O lord, how the children will live without you. I promised him first, so I should go. You stay back.”
The younger female stag said, “O sister, I am your servant. Therefore, I must go to the hunter. You live here.”
The male stag heard and said, “I will go. You stay back because mother looks after the children.”
The female stags thought that from the viewpoint of dharma, it was not proper and so did not agree to the suggestion.
They said to respective husbands, “Without a husband, it is a condemned life.” All the stags consoled and assured children and immediately, left to the place where the cruel hunter was waiting for them. The children of the stags also followed their parents. They knew that they would also meet a similar fate their parents were destined to face. When the hunter saw all together he was extremely happy and so immediately, picked-up bow and arrow.
It was the fourth pahar of night and at that time, a leaf of bail tree and water fell on him and it destroyed the entire sins of hunter. At that time, both the stags and female stags said together, “O lord of hunters, please make use of the bodies and grant meaning to mortal frames.” Hunter was astonished to hear words of stags and he realised that he had attained rare wisdom. He felt that as a man he scarcely utilised body for the wellbeing of others whereas these animals are engaged in going good to living beings. He committed many sins and crimes and fed his family. Sins would drive him to sufferings he thought. He began to denounce his life because he did nothing sensible and so thought of wicked past. He regretted what he did in the past and as wisdom dawned, he did not release arrow at the stags and said, “O great stags, you go. Your life is blessed.”
Lord Sankara heard and was very much pleased and therefore, blessed the kindhearted hunter with divine glimpses (darhsana), touched him and said, “O bheel, I am happy and so, you ask for a boon.” Those were ecstatic moments for the hunter and after enjoying the glimpses of the lord, he said gladly, “I have got everything.” The lord gave him the name of Guha, blessed him with many boons, asked him to live at Shringeshwara and enjoy life, and further told him that his generation would increase without any obstruction. Gods would praise him and one day, lord Rama who loves devotees would arrive at his home. The lord told further that Rama would become his friend. Ultimately, in devotion to him he would attain moksa the lord said.
At that auspicious moment, after the holy glimpses of lord Sankara, all were free from the contemptible yoni of stags, attained divine physical bodies, boarded an aircraft and went to the divine land. From that time, lord Shiva on the mountain of Arbuda became famous as Vyadheshwara where if a devotee prays and worships, the very glimpses offer pleasure and joys of life. Thereafter, the hunter enjoyed divine joy and pleasure and lived happily. With the blessing of Rama, he attained moksa. People, who are devoted, observe fast and pray before Shiva are blessed and get union with the great lord and attain liberation. It is unrivaled realisation. It is the divine truth. After studying various scriptures, sastras and religions, one finds this fast supreme and blissful. No yagya, meditation and japa can equal Shivaratri fast, the most divine and incomparable, for it blesses devotees with luxuries and joy of life and grants deliverance from worldly sufferings. The fast is the king of all fasts.
Suta explained the real meaning of devotion and deliverance, told about the true images of Shiva, Vishnu, Rudra and Brahma and the quintessence of Shiva’s glory. He spoke positively about the rigorous meditation Sri Krishna undertook and delighted Shiva and Parvati, and later, he obtained blessings of the divine couple.
For the satisfaction of brahmins and monks, he portrayed the real scenarios of twenty-eight kinds of hells where sinners go after death and also told about the visit of sinners and holy souls to the land of Lord of Death. Later, he told about the path of devotion and bhakti toward lord Shiva that granted deliverance from sins. “If a human being lives and walks on earth with purity of mind and heart and is always devoted to the lord, he secures victory over birth, death and rebirth.”
A supreme path to deliverance it is. Nature of Karmas or ku-karmas of man take a man to the land of god or hell one learns. To satisfy the curiosity of brahmins and holy souls, Suta narrated the legendary tale of goddess Uma, her incarnation and thereafter the destruction of daityas Madhu and Kaitabha and this way, he emphasised the significance of devotion and delighted all.
Continued to Next Page
More by : P C K Prem