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Discovering the Mythical Tales of Lord Shiva: A Book Review of Ramesh Menon's ‘The Shiva Purana Retold’

Updated: Apr 17

Discovering the Mythical Tales of Lord Shiva: A Book Review of Ramesh Menon's ‘The Shiva Purana Retold’
Photograph of the Book 'The Shiva Purana Retold'

Discovering the Mythical Tales of Lord Shiva: A Book Review of Ramesh Menon's ‘The Shiva Purana Retold’

The Book written by Mr. Ramesh Menon, ‘Shiva The Siva Purana Retold’ is a wonderful read about the greatness, eminence, refulgence, reinvigorate of the great and eternal lord Shiva.

It's an obeisance to the boundless, continual, unending, timeless, formless (nirakar) lord, who doesn’t have a beginning and neither an end.

Lord Shiva is also known as the ‘The Auspicious One’ and also known as Mahadeva, Hara, Siva, Rudra, Pushkara, Sarva, Bhava, Isana, Pasupati, Nataraja, Kapalin, Nilalohita, Ashtamurti, Viswamurti, Trilochana, Pinakin, Jatin, Purusham Paratpara, Nilakanta, Mrigavyadha, Suresha, Dayakara, Sukshma, Saumya, Mahaushadhi, Puratana, Soma, Alokasambhavya, Sanatana, Jagadisha, Sadasiva, Jagadguru, Parabrahman, Lokanatha, shantha, Nishachara, Yugadikrita, Bindusamsraya, Trishulin, Sara, Sankara, Anadi, Pranava, Ekatman, Ajneya, Nabhogati, Hiranyavarna, Aghora, Sambhu and many more.

Shiva is worshiped as the Supreme Being in Shaivism and is one of the major traditions within Hinduism. It is said that more than 200 million adherents follow Shaivism and are the most prominent communities within Hinduism, which is second only to Vaishnavism.

In Vaishnavism, the school worships the Hindu God Vishnu. In the Trimurti, Shiva is known as the Destroyer, who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the Goddess-oriented Shakta tradition, the Supreme Goddess (Devi) is regarded as the energy and the creative power (Shakti) and the equal complementary partner of Shiva.

It is said that the puranas have mostly come down to us orally and as per the tradition of the rishis, the sages of Bharatavarsha. It was once the peerless Vyasa composed them.

Traditionally, this purana deals with five subjects called Panchalakshana, primary creation, secondary creation after periodic destruction; the genesis of the Gods and Rishis; great epochs of time, the kalpas, manvantaras, yugas and the history of some royal dynasties of the earth.

It is said that more recently after BC 4000 until AD 1000, roughly, a lot of other material has grown around the central Purana. These concern rituals for sacrifices, other customs, festivals, caste customs, specifications for temple construction, etc. It is said that there are close to eighteen principal mahapuranas. Shiva Purana is one of them.

This book is all about the glorification of Lord Shiva and his trials and tribulations through which he undergoes and saves the Universe from the demons and the negative energies. This book has different chapters on the beginning of Rudra and Sati. The book tells many tales of Lord Shiva. The book also elaborates on the marriage of Shiva and Sati and his father Daksha Prajapati.

Shiv Purana elaborates the marriage between Shiva and the eternal lord Sati which was attended by Brahma, Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi flying on golden Garuda. This was the occasion on the thirteenth day of Chaitra, the bright half of the Moon. Here the moon was in the Uttara Phalguni nakshatra. However, in a later stage Daksha began to hate Shiva and hence did not invite him for one of the Yagnas. Sati went and could not tolerate the insult done to her husband. At the yagyashala, they were rooted in shock when Sati immolated herself.

As per the author, ‘The devas, the rishis, even the darkest asuras were horrified. What she did was so sudden, Narada, so irretrievable.’ This part of the story has been given much importance in Shiva Purana as a fierce battle took place between Shiva Ganas and Devas.

As per the author, from Shiva’s first cleft sprang Virabhadra towering over the mountain, with a thousand faces, a thousand arms and two thousand staring eyes. From the other half of Shiva’s jata, sprang horrible Bhadrakaali. Her skin was black and thick; her face was hideous. She wore a necklace of human heads, not all of them dead. Such was the cosmic thrill that the dreaded Virabhadra, who was just born, said in a voice fathomless as the oceanic sky,

‘Rudra, the Sun, the Moon and the fire are your eyes, shall I drain the seas for you? Shall I smash the mountains into dust? Shall I ask the universe, or devour the devas? Lord, my right side throbs: with your blessing, today I can conquer the galaxies. Almighty Siva, Command me.’

(Excerpts from the book: ‘Shiva The Siva Purana Retold’ written by Ramesh Menon)

The book describes in detail about the great war after the immolation of Sati. Later, She again takes birth in the house of Himalaya or Himachala and Mena as Uma. The book states in much details about the marriage ceremony of Shiva which was attended by Trimurti, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and His Sons, Devis, Rishis, Gandharvas, Kinaras, Yakshas, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Apsaras, Naagas and many more are part of the great celebration. In this book the author provides the occasion in great detail.

The book also mentions the history and origin of the twelve jyotirlingas. It is said that these Shivalingas have greater amount of nirguṇtattva when compared with the other Shivalingas, they constantly emit greater quantum of nirguṇ Chaitanya and Sattvikta. It is said that the presence of this Shiva Lingas creates a positive atmosphere in the surroundings.

Ramesh Menon the writer was born in 1951 in New Delhi. He has also written renderings of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is said that reading the Bhagavad-Gita at this time was a life-changing experience for him.

It is said that there are eighteen Mahapuranas, great Puranas, and the Siva Purana is one of them. Here in this book Ramesh Menon has mentioned about the major legends of Lord Shiva and stories that made alive the legends of the Lord for this generation and future generations.

I feel that Ramesh Menon's retelling of the Siva Purana is a scholarly adaptation of these ancient stories and the author is not presenting these stories as some historical occurrence. These are mythological stories which have many legends.

I read the book and if I have to rate the book on 10 Stars and 10 being the highest, I will give the book 9 stars.

(Please Note: The above are my own personal thoughts based on reading this book. Your views, facts, and opinions after reading the book may differ)

This is all from me in this short article. Hope you have liked my personal thoughts and opinions. Please share your views or comments on the Book Review and Recommendation of the book, ‘The Siva Purana Retold’ written by Ramesh Menon.

Thanks for visiting the Book Review and Book Recommendation website:

Thanks and Regards:

Mainak Majumdar, Book Critic

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