Chapter 38 — Shiva on the External and Internal Worship of God

The god Shiva continued:—

This God, the supreme Lord, is the one worshipped by the wise. He is in the form of the intellect and conscious soul. He is the all-pervading and support of all. He is situated alike in a pot or a painting, in a tree or a hut, in a chariot, and in all men and brute animals, under the different names of Shiva, Hara, and Hari, and also Brahma, Indra, Agni, and Yama. He is the Universal Soul inside and outside all. He always dwells in spirit and in the soul of every wise person.

This Lord is worshipped in various forms by different people in the many ways described below. First, let me tell you, O great sage, how this God is worshipped with outer forms and formulas. Then you will hear me describe the inner form with which he is worshipped in spirit.

5 In all forms of worship you must cease to think of your body. You must separate your mind from your body, however purified it may be. Then you must diligently apply your mind to think of the pure and bodiless soul that witnesses the body’s operations from inside. Worship of God consists only of inner meditation and not in any form of outer worship. Therefore, apply your mind to the adoration of the Universal Soul by meditating only upon God in your soul.

He has the form of consciousness. He is the source of all light and he is as glorious as millions of suns. He is the light of the inner intellect and the origin of “I” and “you”. His head and shoulders reach above the heaven of heavens and his lotus-like feet descend far below the lowest abyss of the void. His arms extend to the endless bounds of all sides and space. In them he holds the many worlds of infinite space like he is wielding weapons. 10 Worlds rolling over each another rest in a corner of his spacious chest. His brightness passes beyond the limits of unlimited emptiness, and his body stretches beyond all imaginable bounds. 11 Above, below, in all four quarters, and on all sides of the compass, he extends unspent and without end.

He is surrounded on all sides by the host of gods, Brahma, Rudra, Hari and Indra, and the demigods also. 12 These series of creatures are to be considered as rows of hairs on his body. The different courses of their actions are like strings that bind the machinery of the worlds together. 13 His will and destiny are powers proceeding from his person, his active agencies in nature. Such is the Lord, the Supreme One who is always to be worshipped by the best of men.

14 He is the intellect and the conscious soul, the all-pervading and all-supporting spirit. He resides alike in the pot and the painting, as in the moving chariot and in living animals. 15 He is Shiva, Hari and Hara, Brahma, Indra, Fire and Yama. He is the receptacle of endless beings and the aggregate body of all essences, the sole entity of entities. 16 In himself he contains this mundane sphere together with all the worlds with their mountains and all other contents. All powerful Time which hurls them ever onward is the guard at the doorway of his eternity.

17 The great god Mahadeva is to be thought upon as dwelling in some part of this body of eternity and infinity, with his body and its members and with a thousand ears and eyes. 18 Moreover, this figure has a thousand heads and a thousand hands all decorated. It has many eyes all over its body with their powers of sight, and so many ears also with their power of hearing. 19 His body has the powers of feeling and touch and taste all over its body, as also the power of hearing and that of thinking in its mind within.

20 However, he is wholly beyond all conception. He is perfectly good and gracious to all. He is always the doer of all things that are done and the one who bestows every blessing on all beings. 21 He is always situated inside all beings. He gives strength and energy to all. Having thought upon the Lord of gods in this manner, the devotee is to worship him in the usual ways of rituals.

22 Now listen as I tell you, who is best acquainted with Brahma, how to worship him in spirit, which consists only in adoring him in the conscious soul and not in presenting offerings to him.

23 It requires no light or incense. It has no need of flowers or decorations, nor does it require sprinkling rice, perfumes or sandalwood paste. 24 It needs no fragrance of saffron or camphor or any painting or anything else. It has no need for pouring water which is easily obtainable everywhere. 25 It is only by pouring the nectar juice of understanding that God is worshipped. The wise call this the best kind of meditation and adoration of God.

26 Pure consciousness, which is known to be always present within one’s self, is to be constantly looked into and sought after, heard about, and felt when one is sleeping or sitting or moving about. 27 By constantly talking on the subject and resuming the inquiry after leaving it off, one becomes fully conscious of himself. Then he should worship his Lord in his meditation as identical with his own soul.

28 The offering of the heart in meditation of the Lord is more delectable to him than the sweetest articles of food offered with the most choice and fragrant flowers. 29 Meditation joined with self-consciousness or penitence of the soul is the best padya and arghya water (washing feet and hands) and offering that is worthy of the Lord. The best meditation is accompanied with the flower of self-offering to the Lord. 30 Without this kind of meditation, it is impossible to please the Supreme Soul in one’s self. Therefore spiritual meditation is said to abound with the grace of God and the greatest enjoyment of happiness and prosperity.

31 As the animal soul enjoys all its pleasures in the abode of its body, so the rational, spiritual soul derives all its happiness from meditation. 32 An ignorant man who meditates on the Lord, even for a hundred twinkles of the eye, obtains a reward equal to the merit of giving a milk cow to a brahmin. 33 The man who worships the Lord in his soul for half an hour in this manner reaps the reward of making a horse sacrifice. 34 He who meditates on the Lord in spirit and in his own spirit and presents the offering of his reflections to him, is entitled to the merit of making a thousand horse sacrifices. 35 Whoever worships the Lord in this manner for a full hour receives the reward of making a Rajasuya sacrifice. By worshipping him in this way at midday, a man obtains the merit of making many thousands sacrifices of such kind.

36 The man who worships him in this way for a whole day settles in the abode of God. 37 This is called the superior yoga meditation, the best service of the Lord, and the external adoration of the soul. 38 This mode of holy adoration destroys all sins. Whoever practices it for a minute with a steady mind is certainly entitled to veneration of gods and demigods and is placed in the rank of emancipated spirits like myself.