The Shiva Mahapuran is one of the oldest and most significant written document found today that is revered highly within the Hindu religion. Some may even go so far as to call it a religious book. It is however much more than that, in so far as it is not just a book of religious instruction. It is a collection of narratives that shed light on the mythological understanding of Lord Shiva. This Puran like all other Purans focuses upon a single deity and elaborates on the various features of the deity. This one, as the name indicates, is dedicated to Shiva.
It is different from the Vedas:
Purans are distinctly different from the Vedas in the way they impart the information. The Vedas are more formulaic and prescriptive that highlights the modes and methods of various rituals, even as they try to explain the rich wealth of Hindu cosmology. Brahmin scholars trained in archaic Sanskrit signs and significations alone can interpret the Vedas. The Purans on the other hand are more readily accessible to a large number of people owing to their narrative technique. They can be read first as mythological stories and then one can weave out multi-layered meaning from the stories depending upon one’s level of emotional and spiritual evolution.
The Shiva Mahapuran is said to have been created as a result of amalgamation of various myths and legends surrounding Lord Shiva. The massive amount was data was then organised by the sage, Ved Vyas, who divided the Puran into specific ‘Khandas’ or chapters relating to the various events in the life of Lord Shiva, right from the moment of his first arrival in creation as a massive column of flame known as a Jyotirlinga, till the time Lord Shiva eventually marries Goddess Parvati and has children with her and beyond.
The Shiva Mahapuran broadly attempts to showcase the divine intents or ‘Leela’ of Lord Shiva. ‘Leela’ may also be understood as the Gods’ inscrutable will, designed to direct the flow of the wheel of time in such a way that it benefits all of creation. This Puran depicts Shiva as the primary and most powerful God in the Hindu pantheon, head and shoulders above Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu- the two other members of the Hindu trinity who, according to this text, derive purpose and sustenance from Lord Shiva.
True to the purpose of its creation the Shiva Mahapuran continues to enlighten believers and non believers alike of the depth and complexities of Shaivite philosophy. It expounds the meaning of ‘Sanatan Dharma’ of Hinduism as seen and interpreted by Shaivism. In other words, it shows us how the figure of Lord Shiva was co-opted into the fold of Vedic Gods. The modes of worship to please Lord Shiva mentioned in this text are greatly at odds with the traditional mode of worship prescribed by the vedic texts. Lord Bholenath does not require elaborate yajnas or sacrifices. A clean heart and a pious mind is all he seeks. This is also partly a reason that makes him accessible to people interested in him, not as a religious figure to follow but also as a philosophical storehouse of information on the ways of life of ancient as well as contemporary Hindus!
These stories have been televised and serialized over the years and are now accessible on the internet. Some of these videos also contain helpful subtitles. The teachings of Lord Shiva in its essential non-religious yet philosophical sense may be found at theshivaexperience.com. They have the power to transform human lives, empowering individuals to deal with all possible challenges that come as part and parcel of modern life, making it feasible to live life fully, sans any form of internal or external encumbrances.