By Swami Harshananda
Īśvaragitā literally means 'the teaching sung by īśvara or Śiva’.
In the course of time, Bhagavadgītā has given rise to number of similar religio-philosophical treatises, either as a part of the epics or the purāṇas. One of these famous works is the īśvaragitā. It occurs in the uttarabhāga or the second part of the Kurmapurāṇa.
The first eleven chapters of Kurmapurāṇa contains 496 ślokas in all. These verses comprise the īśvaragitā. It is called īśvaragitā because īśvara or Śiva is the teacher who answered the questions by the sages who had assembled at the Badarikāśrama. These sages include:
A brief synopsis of the contents is as follows:
- Description of īśvara or Ātman as the non-dual Reality and Sat-cit-ānanda.
- Evolution of the world from pradhāna or prakṛti, the details are similar to the ones given in Sāṅkhya philosophy
- The glory of Śiva in Vedāntic terms emphasizing the path of bhakti or devotion.
- Cosmic dance of Śiva and his eulogy by the sages.
- Description of Śiva’s vibhutis or various manifestations.
- Realizing Śiva in one’s heart as the means of liberation.
- Identity of īśvara or Śiva and Parabrahman, the Absolute.
- The path of liberation, wherein fundamental ethical virtues are significant:
- Ahiṅsā - non violence
- Satya - truth
- Brahmacarya - continence
- The eight steps of yoga are very important. The main ones are:
- Svādhyāya - study of scriptures
- Tapas - austerity
- Prāṇāyāma - control of breath
- Other steps of yoga
- Phalaśruti is known as eulogy of this spiritual wisdom.
- Vijñānabhikṣu belongs to the 16th cent. A. D.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore