This is the story of the worship to be performed on sixteen consecutive Mondays.
One day Bhagawan Bhutanath, Lord Shiva, as the Lord of all Beings, went to tour the sansar (the world of objects and relationships) along with his beloved wife Parvati. They were traveling, seeing many different lands, when they came to the city of Amaravati. There they saw a great shining city, and they took shelter in one particular Shivaloya, a temple of Lord Shiva.
One day Parvati had a desire to play "chalsar", an Indian dice game. While Shiva and Parvati sat enjoying this game, a Brahmin pujari walked into the temple. Parvati stopped and asked the priest, "Who will win this game?"
Without hesitation or much thought the pujari immediately responded, " Shankarji. Shiva will win."
After a short time Parvati did in fact lose the dice game and she became very angry. She thought that it was because of the Brahmin's prediction that she had lost the game. Shiva advised Parvati to remain calm and to control her anger, but Parvati would not be easily appeased. Her anger grew into a great rage and she cursed the Brahmin who had said she would lose the game. Parvati cursed the Brahmin that he would suffer from leprosy.
The Brahmin priest was immediately attacked by the disease, and he became very sad and was filled with great pain from the leprosy that developed. Many days passed and the priest suffered a great deal. He thought, "For what karma have I received such a curse from the Divine Mother? What will I ever be able to do to get her grace once again?" In this way his mind was extremely agitated, and his body pained.
One day that Brahmin priest went into the Shiva temple, where he saw a most beautiful heavenly nymph. This beautiful and shining angelic lady was an Apsara, a celestial maiden who serves the Gods. Standing before the pain stricken priest, she gave him the following instructions: "With all of your energy and devotion to the greatest extent of your capacity, perform the vow of Shiva's worship on sixteen consecutive Mondays. All of the pain and suffering that now afflict you will completely dissolve if you worship Lord Shiva with pure devotion."
The radiant Apsara then proceeded to tell the poor afflicted Brahmin exactly how to perform the puja. "In the early morning of each Monday you will bathe and wear a pure white cloth on your body. At the time of cooking you will take a pound of pure white wheat flour, mix with gur and ghee and fry. Offer this 'Churma' along with a ghee lamp, as well as gur, beetle nut, a sacred thread, sandal paste, some grains of rice and flowers. With these items especially, you will worship Lord Shiva. You will adorn the blessed Lord Shiva with three lines horizontally and with one mark in the center, and after this you may also take prasad just as you have offered to Shiva. Recite his mantras, sing His songs, perform the fire sacrifice, and other forms of worship for the Lord.
"Completing your worship to Lord Shiva in this way for sixteen Mondays, on the seventeenth Monday you will take ten pounds of pure wheat flour, mix with ghee and gur and fry. Offer this 'Churma' to the great Lord Shiva with all of your devotion and love. You may then partake of the prasad, sharing in the blessings of Lord Shiva. If you observe all that I have instructed, you will certainly be freed from all pain and suffering, and you will soon attain the highest graces and good fortune."
Finishing her discourse, the Apsara rose up and ascended into the heavens. The Brahmin was completely amazed by this vision, and with full faith, he observed the sankalpa of sixteen Mondays in every detail. Every Monday he wore a pure white cloth, and chanted the worship of Lord Shiva, offering the appropriate offerings. Following this vow, he was freed from his disease and sorrow. He became a well known, wealthy man and loved and respected by all of the people of the kingdom. He taught the worship of Lord Shiva to many people, and continued to inspire the people of his community to serve the Lord with truth and joy.
One day that Brahmin priest returned to the temple where Parvati had first cursed him. Parvati was amazed to se that the Brahmin was healed of his disease. When Parvati learned of the power of the vow of sixteen Mondays, she quickly went to her son Kartikeya to share with him this wonderful secret of the regular worship of Lord Shiva.
Kartikeya shared the secret of this worship with his friend. This friend had no wife and desiring to marry, he at once make the sankalpa, or spiritual promise, to observe the vow of sixteen weeks, praying for the blessing of a good marriage. After completing his vow of worship for sixteen Mondays, the man left his native land and traveled to another Kingdom. Arriving at this new land, he heard that the King had made a very strange public declaration. That King had promised his daughter's hand in marriage to the one who be chosen by his elephant. The King's elephant would place a garland of flowers around some man's neck, according to divine understanding, and that man would become the husband of the princess.
The traveler went to witness this betrothal ceremony, as he had never heard of such a curious way of fixing a marriage. The elephant looked at all the men assembled for the occasion, and then put the garland around his neck. The king happily gave his daughter in marriage, and the traveler became a member of the Royal household.
It was some years later, that the King's daughter found out that her husband had been chosen for the marriage after he had performed the vow of Lord Shiva's worship for sixteen Mondays for that purpose. She was eager to have a son, and decided to perform the vow of Lord Shiva's worship for sixteen Mondays in order to have a beautiful son who could become a king. The wife did this vow with such devotion and love that Shiva was pleased, and she gave birth to a wonderful son.
When the child grew up, he desired to become the king of a nation, and therefore, he also took the vow of Lord Shiva's worship for sixteen Mondays to become a good king. When his vow was complete, a messenger came from another King asking whether he might like to join with his daughter to become his wife. He was very happy when he heard of this proposal, and he immediately consented, and the King performed the marriage in a gay fashion. The King was delighted to have completed his responsibility to his daughter, and being an old man, he left his body just a short time following the marriage. The young man then inherited the throne.
Immediately after taking over the duties of the kingdom, the new King asked his wife to gather together all of the ingredients for Shiva's puja. But his wife passed this order to one of her servants, who prepared everything for the worship. While doing the puja, the King received a message which was as follows: " If the King would not leave that insolent wife, then his lineage would be finished."
Upon hearing this message, the King was extremely pained and filled with wonder. He asked the ministers what was the matter, and what should he do? The ministers advised him to leave the wife or he would face ruin. Because the wife had not obeyed the King's order to get ready his puja, but instead had asked her servant to do this, such a wife would only cause him problems. The King again asked the ministers what he should do, and they quickly told him, "Leave the Queen!"
The queen was very sorry when she was exiled from the palace. She wandered on her way, but no one would give her shelter. By this time her status was reduced to a beggar. Her cloth was torn and she had no shoes.
She tried to seek refuge with an old man, but she was chased away. Then she asked for help from an old servant who was washing dishes, but she was scared away. The queen had no place and was cold and frightened. A milk man took her to a nearby Shiva temple, where she told the priest her whole story. He had deep compassion for the poor woman, and he gave her refuge in his temple. But whatever the queen touched became ruined. Worms came into all of the food that she touched, and at this the priest was extremely pained.
Then he told the queen to appease Lord Shiva by observing the vow of sixteen Mondays. He explained to her the entire process, and with great faith and devotion the queen followed this advice of the priest.
On the seventeenth Monday, the King heard a divine voice telling him to search for his wife. Then he sent ambassadors to search everywhere for the exiled queen, and finally they came to the temple where she was residing. Learning the whereabouts of his beloved wife, the king immediately went to that temple to find her.
When the King learned how the queen had performed the vow of Shiva's worship for sixteen consecutive Mondays, then he was very happy, and he went to the temple priest to do him service and honor in thanks. The priest listened to the King's story, and blessed them both.
When the King and Queen returned to the capital all of the subjects of the kingdom welcomed them both with great love and devotion. Then the king gave the people many gifts, and always worked hard at their service. With the grace of Lord Shiva the King and Queen had beautiful children, enjoyed many years of comfort and happiness in their Kingdom, and ultimately went to the Shivaloka.
This is the story of the vow of Lord Shiva's Worship. Whoever will read it with devotion, or listen to it with one pointed attention, at the time of worship on Monday, will be blessed with health, wealth, the cessation of all disturbances, and the fulfillment of all desires. This is the promise of Lord Shiva. OM NAMAH SHIVAAYA.