Sutasamhitā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sutasamhita, SutasamhitA, Sutasamhitaa


Sutasamhitā literally means ‘teaching of Suta’.

The Sutasamhitā is not much well known. It is an important religio-philosophical work. It is considered as a part of the Skāndapurāṇa. However, the printed version of the purāṇa as available now, does not contain it. It is divided into six sections containing a total of 109 adhyāyas[1] and 6044 ślokas.[2] The following table gives an idea of the work:

Section Title Chapters Ślokas
Śivamāhātmyakhanda 13 721
Jñānayogakhanda 20 737
Muktikhanda 9 568
Yajñavaibhavakhanda 47 2502
Brahmagitā 12 1058
Sutagitā 8 458
Total-6 sections 109 chapters 6044 verses

Sometimes, the last two sections, the Brahmagitā and the Sutagitā, are considered extensions of the Yajñavaibhavakhanda itself. Though the Sutasamhita is clearly devoted to the glorification of Śiva and the Śiva sect, other deities like Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Śakti[3] also get their honorable place. The basic spirit that all are manifestations of the same Supreme God is kept up.

Śivamāhātmyakhanda

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Description of the purāṇas
  • Performance of pāśupatavrata to please Śiva
  • Methods of worshiping Śiva
  • Need to get the grace of Parāśakti[4]
  • Various spiritual paths leading to mukti or liberation
  • Time of pralaya[5]
  • Viṣṇu saving Bhudevī or the earth in his incarnation as Varāha[6]
  • Details of creation by Brahmā
  • Manifestations of the four varṇas
  • Pilgrimage

Jñānayogakhanda

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Guruparamparā or the line of gurus through whom Jñānayoga was revealed
  • Practice and need of the Aṣtāṅga Yoga
  • Importance of the grace of Śiva
  • Details of the four āśramas:
  1. Brahmacarya
  2. Gārhasthya
  3. Vānaprastha
  4. Sañyāsa
  • Prāyaścittas or expiations for sins like kṛcchra and cāndrāyaṇa
  • Dāna or giving gifts
  • Various types of karma
  • Narakas or hells
  • Description of the various nāḍīs and cakras
  • Prāṇāyāma
  • Eight steps of yoga like yama and niyama
  • Different kinds of āsanas like:
  1. Svastika
  2. Gomukha
  3. Padma
  4. Etc.

Muktikhanda

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Mukti or liberation can be got only by transcending māyā which is possible only by the grace of īśvara or Śiva
  • Four kinds of mukti:
  1. Sālokya
  2. Sāmīpya
  3. Sārupya
  4. Sāyujya
  • Sāyujya is the best
  • Remnants of prārabdha
  • Jivan-mukti and videhamukti
  • Karma as indirect and jñāna as direct means of liberation
  • Jñāni can perform karma without selfish motives
  • Parameśvara alone can give mukti or liberation
  • Description of Śiva as Dakṣiṇāmurti
  • Obstacles to liberation like:
  1. Hatred of Śiva
  2. Presence of the six internal enemies like lust and anger
  3. Cheating the guru
  4. Others
  • Service to the guru and a jñāni helps in attaining mukti
  • Description of Śiva as Naṭarāja

Yajñavaibhavakhanda

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Meaning of the Vedas
  • How the persons in the four āśramas attain the higher worlds after death
  • Śiva and the pañcākṣarī[9]
  • Nature of māyā
  • Various paths of sādhana lead to the same goal ultimately
  • Three types of karma:
  1. Nitya
  2. Naimittika
  3. Kāmya
  • Karma done as worship of Śiva leads to purity
  • How speech is produced in our body
  • Praṇava or Oṅkāra
  • Gāyatrīmantra
  • Description of the ajapāmantra[10]
  • Six-lettered mantra of Śiva[11]
  • Various kinds of meditation
  • Seeing Brahman in them
  • Six pramāṇas or ways of knowledge
  • Five forms of Śiva:
  1. Sadyojāta
  2. Vāmadeva
  3. Tatpuruṣa
  4. Aghora
  5. Īśāna
  • Umā[12] is the means of getting jñāna like:
  1. Prayer
  2. Mantrajapa
  3. Homa
  4. Service to the guru
  5. Worship of Śivaliṅga
  6. Self-control
  7. Etc.
  • Importance of vairāgya[13]
  • Superiority of the Śaivāgamas
  • Path of jñāna superior to all other paths
  • Various modes of spiritual sādhanas created by Śiva himself through their founders and prophets
  • How to get Śiva’s grace
  • Some stories to illustrate it
  • Śivaliṅgas and modes of worship of Śiva
  • Hymn to Śiva containing all the letters of the alphabet
  • Methods of wearing bhasma or holy ash
  • Japa of Śiva’s names destroys sins
  • Places of pilgrimage
  • Various karmas that lead to cittaśuddhi or purity of mind
  • Evil effects of sins
  • Advaita doctrine supported but other views also respected
  • Prāyaścittas or expiations
  • Ātmajñāna
  • Rules about purity of food
  • Prognostication regarding one’s death
  • Diseases brought about by sins and how to overcome them

Brahmagitā

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Prayer of the gods to Brahmā requesting him to teach them the true meaning of the Vedas
  • Creation of the world by Ātman endowed with the special power māyā
  • All gods are different manifestations of Parameśvara[14]
  • Need to perform karmas prescribed in the Vedas and smṛtis
  • Means of knowing:
  1. Pañcakośas - five sheaths for the ātman, the soul
  2. Ānanda or bliss is the true nature of Brahman
  3. Essence of Kenopanisad explained
  4. Essence of the Chāndogyopanisad
  5. Meaning of tat-tvam-asi
  6. Daharākāśa or the small space in the region of the heart wherein ātman is realized
  7. Parā or higher and aparā or lower vidyā[15]
  • Meditation on the Praṇava or Oṅkāra
  • Identity of the jīva (individual soul) and Paramātman (the Supreme Soul)
  • Three states of consciousness
  • All objects are dear because of the ātman in them
  • All systems of philosophies reveal some aspect of the Truth
  • Advaita is the highest
  • Varṇāśrama system and service to the guru help in spiritual evolution
  • Upāsanā or meditation on Om
  • Śiva is the highest Guru

Sutagitā

This khaṅda includes the following topics:

  • Śaunaka and other sages approach the Suta to teach them spiritual wisdom
  • Suta meditates on his guru Vyāsa who appears there, blesses him and permits him to transmit the same
  • 36 principles of Śaivism
  • Creation of the world by Sadāśiva
  • Paratattva or the Highest Principle
  • Difference between the jīvātman[16] and the Paramātman[17]
  • Other schools of philosophy
  • Superiority of Advaita
  • More details about creation
  • Nature of the ātman
  • Limitations of the jīvas
  • Māyā and its three guṇas
  • Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra are beyond māyā
  • Praise of the Atharvaveda as described in the Atharvaśikha Upanisad
  • Abhimāni-devatās or deities presiding over various parts of the body
  • Body being the means for attaining mokṣa or liberation should be treated with respect and utilized properly
  • Gradation of the paths described in the tantras, smṛtis and the Śruti, the last being the best
  • All can get liberation through the grace of God and by cultivating bhakti[18] and śraddhā[19] as per the directions given by the guru

References

  1. Adhyāyas means chapters.
  2. Ślokas means verses.
  3. Śakti is the divine Mother.
  4. Parāśakti is Pārvatī, the Divine Mother.
  5. Pralaya means the dissolution of the world.
  6. Varāha means boar.
  7. Dhyāna means meditation.
  8. Samādhi means superconscious experience.
  9. Pañcākṣarī means five-lettered mantra namaśśivāya
  10. Ajapāmantra is so’ham.
  11. It is om namaś-śivāya.
  12. Umā or Pārvatī is the giver of Brahmavidyā.
  13. Vairāgya means detachment, renunciation.
  14. Parameśvara means Supreme God.
  15. Vidyā means knowledge.
  16. Jīvātman means individual soul.
  17. Paramātman means God.
  18. Bhakti means devotion.
  19. Śraddhā means faith.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore