The hymn sung by Lord Shiva



Maitreya began again:


The Prithu's son, Vijitashva of great renown, became the emperor. Full of fraternal love, he gave to his younger brothers a quarter each of the earth's surface to rule over.



To Haryaksha, the emperor assigned the eastern quarter, to Dhumrakesha, the southern; to the one known as Vrika, the western, and the northern to Dravina.



Having acquired from Indra, the lord of paradise the secret of invisibility, he earned the surname of Antardhana. Through his wife Shikhandini he begot three sons, who were highly esteemed by all.



Pavaka, Pavamana and Shuci by name, they were fire-gods bearing  the same names formerly  in their previous incarnation, born as human beings under the curse of the sage Vasistha, they eventually attained once more to the glorious state of fire-gods by practising Yoga.



Antardhana, who it will be remembered had refused to strike Indra, even though he had come to know that Indra had stolen his father's horse, got a fourth son Havirdhana by name by his other wife Nabhaswati.



Under the pretext of participating in a protracted sacrificial session he relinquished the kingly duties, regarding them as cruel in that they involved the unpleasant task of exacting tributes, inflicting punishment and levying taxes and so on.



Even though occupied with that sacrificial session, the king who had realized the Self adored the Supreme Spirit, who is perfect in everyway and ends the suffering of His votaries, and attained a residence in the same Heaven with the Lord by dint of thorough and uninterrupted concentration of mind.



Through Havirdhana Antardhana's son, O Vidura, Havirdhani his wife bore six sons-Barhishad, Gaya, Shukla, Krishna, Satya and Jitavrata by name.



Of these the highly blessed Barhisad, the eldest son of Havirdhana, became the ruler. He was well-versed in the sections of the Veda dealing with the rituals, as well as in the methods of Yoga, O worthy scion of Kuru.



As a result of his performing sacrifices one after another close to the place enclosed for each foregoing sacrifice the entire land was covered with blades of Kusha grass with their pointed ends turned towards the east.



He married Shatadruti, a daughter of the deity presiding over the ocean, recommended by Brahma the god of gods, who was charming in every limb and was still very young, and for whom the fire-god himself conceived a passion the moment he saw her going round the fire during the nuptials, richly bedecked with ornaments, even as he did on yet another occasion for Shuki a princess of that name.



Nay, even other gods, demons, Gandharvas celestial musicians, sages, Siddhas a class of demigods endowed with mystic powers from their very birth, human beings and Nagas in every quarter were captivated by the newly-married bride as she walked producing a tinkling sound with her anklets.



Ten sons were born to king Pracinabarhi so-called because of his having covered the earth's surface with blades of Kusha grass with their pointed ends turned eastward, through his wife Shatadruti. They bore common name of Praceta; their mode of life was the same and they were all fully conversant with the moral code.



Enjoined by their father to beget children, they entered a lake almost as extensive as a sea for austerities and, having duly controlled their mind, worshipped Shri Hari the lord of austerities through their asceticism for ten thousand years, contemplating on and adoring Him and muttering what had been imparted to them by Lord Shiva, whom they had met on the way and who had showered His grace on them.


Vidura said:


Pray, tell me, O holy sage, how came about the meeting of the Pracetas with Lord Shiva on the way, and what significant precept Lord Hara the Destroyer of the universe was pleased to impart to them.



It is indeed difficult for mortals, O Brahmana sage, to get an opportunity to meet Lord Shiva, on whom even sages have only been able to contemplate as the cherished object of their desire by shaking off all attachment.



Though revelling in the Self, Lord Bhava the Source of all creation goes about the world associated with His terrible destructive energy in the person of Goddess Shiva for the maintenance of the world order.


Maitreya went on:


Having received their father's command with bowed heads, the pious Pracetas set out in a westerly direction with their mind earnestly set on austerities.



At some distance they saw a very large lake almost as extensive as a sea and pellucid as the mind of an exallted soul, with the creatures inhabiting it ever cheerful.



A home of blue and red lilies, lotuses, Kahlaras-lilies blossoming at dusk and blue lotuses, the lake resounded with the notes of swans, cranes, Cakravakas-ruddy geese and Karandavas a species of ducks.



Hemmed in by creepers and trees which were thrilled with joy as it were to hear the sweet humming of drunken bees, it presented a gala appearance due to the breeze scattering in all directions the pollen from the seed-vessel of full-blown lotuses.



The princes were wonder-struck to hear music which ravished the mind by its weird style and was preceded by the sound of clay and wooden tomtoms.



That very moment they were filled with curiosity to behold the dark-necked and three-eyed Lord Shiva the foremost of gods, refulgent like a mass of red-hot gold and inclined to shower His grace on His votaries, issuing from the lake with His retinue, His glories being sung by Gandharvas and Kinnaras attendants of the gods; and the princes bowed to Him.



The Lord, who relieves the agony of His suppliants and is a lover of righteousness, gladly spoke to the princes, who were not only well-versed in the moral code but also possessed a noble character and felt much delighted at His sight.


Shri Rudra said:


You are the sons of king Vedisad-Barhisad; your intention too is known to Me. It is only to shower My grace on you, may all be well with you, that I have thus blessed you with My sight.



He is indeed supremely dear to Me, who has directly taken refuge in Lord Vasudeva, who is beyond both the Unmanifest, consisting of the three Gunas Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and the Spirit, known by the name of Jiva.



A man devoted to his own duty prescribed in the Shastras attains to the position of Brahma the creator after a hundred lives and realizes Me only if he has acquired still higher merit. A devotee of the Lord, on the other hand, ascends immediately after death to the supreme Abode of Bhagavan Vishnu, which lies entirely beyond the realm of Matter and which Myself as Rudra and the other gods holding some office in the cosmic order shall reach only after the dissolution of our subtle body at the expiry of our term of office.



Now you are all devotees of the Lord and as such are dear to Me as the Lord Himself. And  to the votaries of the Lord either, no one else is ever dearer than Myself.



Now distinctly hear this holy and supremely auspicious hymn, which is also conducive to final beatitude; I hereby impart it to you.


Maitreya resumed:


With a heart full of compassion Lord Shiva, who is ever devoted to Bhagavan Narayana, spoke the following words to those princes, who stood with joined palms before Him.


Shri Rudra said:


Your glory tends to the blessedness unfoldment of the blissful nature of the foremost among the knowers of the Self; may it conduce to My blessedness as well. You ever exist as the supremely Blissful; hail to You, the supreme Spirit, who have assumed all forms.



Obeisance to Him who has a lotus constituting the universe sprung from His navel, the Controller of the subtle elements and the senses, to Vasudeva the first and foremost of the four Vyuhas or manifestations of the Lord, the one presiding over the Citta or reason, who is ever tranquil, immutable and self-luminous.



Salutations to Sankarsana the second of the four Vyuhas, that presides over the ego, who is unmanifest and infinite and destroys the universe by the fire issuing from His mouth at the time of universal dissolution, and to Pradyumna the third Vyuha, from whom comes the highest knowledge of the world and who presides over the intellect or understanding.



Hail, hail to Aniruddha the fourth manifestation, presiding over the mind, which is the controller of the sense. Obeisance to You as the sun-god, who pervades the universe by His effulgence and is devoid of growth and decay.



Salutations to Him who is the door to heaven and final beatitude and who constantly dwells in a pure heart. Hail to the Fire-god who has effulgence for his energy, through whom are accomplished sacrifices performed with the help of four priests, Hota, Adhwaryu, Udgata and Brahma and who makes for the continuance of sacrifices.



Obeisance to Sri Hari the Lord of the three Vedas, who as the moon-god, the seed of Yajna, serves as the food of both the manes and the gods, and salutations again to the Lord who in the form of water gratifies all embodied beings.



Salutations to You, who appear as the bodies of all living beings as well as the Cosmic Body and take the form of earth. Hail to You, who as the wind-god sustain all the three worlds and are endowed with the strength of mind, senses and body.



Obeisance to the Lord, who as ether supplies a clue to the existence of objects through its attribute, sound and provides a basis for the conception of inside and outside. Salutations to Him in the form of that well-known sacred sphere of great splendour known by the name of heaven.



Hail to You in the form of worldly activity and activity carried on in retirement-leading severally to the attainment of the world of the manes and the region of the gods-and also in the form of death which is the fruit of unrighteousness and causes pain.



Obeisance to You, O Lord, who yield the fruit of all actions and are omniscient or revealed in the form of Mantras. Salutations to You in the form of Shri Krishna, who is supreme virtue personified and is possessed of unobstructed wisdom, nay, who is the most ancient Person, the Lord of both Sankhya the path of knowledge and Yoga the path of Action.



Hail to You, who as Rudra the god of destruction preside over the ego and are endowed with the three potencies in the form or doer-ship, instrumentality and activity. Obeisance to You, who as Brahma, the creator are knowledge and activity personified, and from whom proceeds the vast wealth of speech.



Pray, bless us-who are keen to behold You-with Your sight, which is held in such great estemm by Your devotees. Be pleased to reveal to us Your beautiful form, the most beloved of Your votaries, which delights all the senses by its numerous excellences.



It is cerulean as a charming rain-cloud and the conglomeration of all elegance. It has four long graceful arms and a winsome countenance perfect in every detail.



It has eyes resembling the petals in the heart of a lotus, captivating eyebrows and a shapely nose, lovely teeth, ravishing cheeks and mouth, and ears exactly corresponding with each other and serving as ornaments.



With the outer corners of its eyes smiling as it were with affection. Your form is decked with flowing tresses, is covered by a shining fine cloth-yellow as the filaments of a lotus-and is adorned with a pair of polished ear-rings.



It is further graced with a brilliant diadem, bracelets, a pearl necklace, anklets and girdle; and its glory is heightened by a conch, a discus, a mace, a lotus, a garland of sylvan flowers and gems of various kinds.



It carries about its shoulders, resembling those of a lion, the lustre of the ear-rings and necklace etc.. the Kaustubha gem lending charm to its neck; and the form is brightened by the bosom, which outshines the touchstone bearing a streak of gold on it by Goddess Shri, ever abiding thereon in the form of a golden streak.



Its belly, resembling the leaf of the Indian fig tree in shape, looks very attractive with its three folds, which are shaking with the alternate inhalation and exhalation of air. By its deep navel, spiral in shape like whirlpool, it is inviting the universe as it were to return to its source, the belly.



The fine yellow loin-cloth and the girdle of gold shine all the more brightly by contrast on the swarthy hips. Again the form looks very comely by its pairs of beautiful feet, shanks, things and depressed knees, each pair matching perfectly.



With Your feet shining as the petals of an autumnal lotus and driving away the darkness of  our heart by the splendours of their nails, pray, reveal to us that form as Your very essence, that has dispelled the fear of Your devotees. O Preceptor of the universe, since You are the guide of souls wallowing in ignorance.



This form of Yours is worthy of being constantly meditated upon by those who seek the purification of their mind; for it is the practice of its adoration which brings fearlessness in the form of final beatitude to those who perform their own allotted duty as a stepping-stone to Devotion.


Sought after even by Brahma who rules over heaven and the ultimate goal of those who are exclusively devoted to Self-Realization, You are attainable only by him who is full of devotion, and are difficult of access to all other mortals.



Having propitiated through exclusive Devotion-hardly attainable even by the virtuous-You, who cannot be easily propitiated by any other means, who will seek anything other than the soles of Your feet?



Though destroying the universe even with his brows contracted as a token of his majesty and energy, Death does not recognize the soul who has taken shelter under those feet as subject to his authority.



I am not prepared to equate the enjoyments of heaven nor even final beatitude immunity from rebirth-much less the blessings sought for by mortals-with the fellowship, enjoyed even for half a moment, of those who have developed an attachment for the Lord.



May we enjoy the blessed company of those whose sins have been washed away by immersing their soul in the stream of Your glories and their body in the holy waters of the Ganga flowing from Your feet-which absolve one of all sins-nay, who are imbued with compassion for all creatures and are possessed of a mind free from likes and dislikes and endowed with virtues such as straightforwardness and so on! Let this be Your boon to us.



The contemplative soul whose mind is neither distracted by external objects nor loses itself in a spell of drowsiness during meditation exceedingly pure and blessed as it is by the loving devotion of such devotees, easily and surely succeeds in realizing Yours true nature at this stage.



You are the same Brahma Infinite in whom is manifested this universe and who shines through the universe, nay, who is supreme effulgence and is all-pervading like ether.



O Lord, we know You to be absolute-You, who evolve this universe, sustain it and again dissolve it, as though it were real, Yourself remaining unchanged, through the instrumentality of Your Maya deluding potency, that assumes multitudinous forms and gives rise to the notion of difference, yet which is powerless against You.



They alone are well-versed in the Vedas and the Tantras the scriptures dealing with the worship of the various deities and revealed by Lord Shiva to His Divine Consort, Godess Parvati, who, devoted as they are to the path of Action and imbued with faith, duly adore, for the attainment of perfection in the form of Self-Realization or final beatitude through a network of rituals, this very embodied form of Yours, which is hinted at by the five gross elements, the Indriyas the senses of perception, as well as the organs of action and the mind as their Ruler.



You are the one primeval Person, whose energy in the form of Maya lies dormant before creation. It is by the said Maya that Sattva, Rajas and Tamas the three modes of Prakriti get differentiated and it is from the same Maya that this universe-consisting of Mahat-Tattva the principle of cosmic intelligence, the ego, ether, the air, fire, water and earth, the gods and the Rsis-seers and the multitudes of living beings-springs up.



By a part of Your being You have entered the body, which is of four kinds, sweat-born, oviparous, viviparous and sprouting from the soil, and has been brought forth by Your own Energy-Maya. It is therefore that they call that ray of your being, residing in the body, as the Purusha or Jiva, which wrapped in ignorance enjoys through the various senses the trivial pleasures of sense like the honey collected and enjoyed by bees.



Your true nature can only be inferred and not directly perceived. possessed of most tremendous-velocity and irresistible like a hurricane, it is You who destroy the various worlds, sweeping off the various creatures by the creatures themselves even as the wind sweeps off the clouds.



Alert as the serpent that grabs a rat, licking the ends of its lips through hunger, You as Death suddenly overtake the Jiva an embodied soul who is utterly careless about his goal, engrossed as he is in the thought of his worldly projects, and, being totally given up to the pleasures of sense, is seized with inordinate greed.



What wise man, who regards his body life as wearing away in vain through neglect of You, would abandon Your lotus-feet, which our ancestor Brahma has adored through fear of bondage in the shape of worldly existence, and which the fourteen Manus from Swayambhuva onwards have worshipped without reasoning with unquestioning faith.



The whole universe is almost dead through fear of Lord Rudra the god of destruction. Therefore, to us, who know this, O all-pervading Supreme Spirit, You are the only fearless resort.



Go on repeating this hymn with the purest of motives, O princes, duly discharging your sacred duties with your mind set on the Lord; this will do you good.



Worship Shri Hari alone-the supreme Spirit dwelling in your heart and equally present in all creatures-extolling and meditating on Him again and again:



Having received this hymn called Yogadesha as imparted by Me and retaining it in your memory, repeat it reverently all of You with a concentrated mind, observing the vow of hermits.



Intent on multiplying his progeny, it was the glorious Brahma the lord of progenitors of the universe who taught it at the dawn of creation to us, his mind-born sons, Bhrigu and others, all of whom were equally keen to push on the work of creation.



Enjoined to proceed with the task of procreation, we lords of created beings all evolved various species of living beings, having got rid of ignorance through this very hymn.



Even now a man devoted to Lord Vasudeva, and ever repeating it with an attentive and absorbed mind, attains blessedness before long.



Of all the blessings here spiritual enlightenment leading to final beatitude is the highest. He who sails in the bark of wisdom easily crosses the ocean of misery in the shape of metempsychosis, so difficult to cross.



Imbued with reverence, he who dwells upon this hymn in praise of the Lord, sung by me, will be able to propitiate Shri Hari, otherwise so difficult to please.



A man who is steady of mind obtains whatever he desires from that Lord, the sole repository of all blessings, when He is celebrated through this hymn sung by Me and is highly pleased thereby.



Rising before daybreak and full of faith, any mortal who listens to or recites it to others with joined palms is freed from all shackles of Karma.



Repeating with a concentrated mind this hymn in praise of the supreme Purusha, the Over soul, sung by Me, O princes, practise austerities; thereby you will attain in the long run the object sought for by you.



Thus ends the twenty-fourth discourse entitled "The hymn sung by Lord Shiva",

in Book Four of the great and glorious Bhagavata-Purana,

otherwise known as the Paramahamsa-Samhita


Source: Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana by C. L. Goswami, M. A., Shastri