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LORD SHIVA THE GREATEST VAISHNAVA
In this article we pose certain commonly asked question about lord Shiva, with answers from the teachings of Shrila Prabhupada
Adapted from Krishna Kathamrita by Madhavananda Dasa, Gopaljiu.org
(1) WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KRISHNA AND SHIVA?
Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Krishna to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Shri Krishna is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal
expansions such as svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma up to the categories of the avataras who are all vishnu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes.(sb
kshiram yatha dadhi vikara-visesha-yogat
sanjayate na tu tatah prithag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam api tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
“‘Milk changes into yogurt when mixed with a yogurt culture, but actually it is constitutionally nothing but milk. Similarly, Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, assumes the form of Lord Siva [Sambhu] for the special purpose of material transactions. I offer my obeisances at His lotus feet.’ (The real nature of Sambhu, the presiding deity of Mahesa-dhama, is described.) Sambhu is not a second Godhead other than Krishna. Those, who entertain such discriminating sentiment, commit a great offense against the Supreme Lord. The supremacy of Sambhu is subservient to that of Govinda; hence they are not really different from each other. The nondistinction is established by the fact that just as milk treated with acid turns into curd so
Godhead becomes a subservient when He Himself attains a distinct personality by the addition of a particular element of adulteration. This personality has no independent initiative. The said adulterating principle is constituted of a combination of the stupefying quality of the deluding energy, the quality of nonplenitude of the marginal potency and a slight degree of the ecstatic-cum-cognitive principle of the plenary spiritual potency. This specifically adulterated reflection of the principle of the subjective portion of the Divinity is
Sadasiva, in the form of the effulgent masculine-symbol-god Sambhu from whom Rudradeva is manifested. In the work of mundane creation as the material cause, in the work of preservation by the destruction of sundry asuras and in the work of destruction to conduct the whole operation, Govinda manifests Himself as
guna-avatara in the form of Sambhu who is the separated portion of Govinda imbued with the principle of His subjective plenary portion. The personality of the destructive principle in the form of time has been identified with that of Sambhu by scriptural evidences that have been adduced in the commentary. The purport of the Bhagavata slokas, viz., vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh, etc., is that Sambhu, in pursuance of the will of Govinda, works in union with his consort Durgadevi by his own time energy. He teaches pious duties (dharma) as stepping-stones to the attainment of spiritual service in the various tantra-sastras, etc., suitable for jivas in different grades of the conditional existence. In obedience to the will of Govinda, Sambhu maintains and fosters the religion of pure devotion by preaching the cult of illusionism (Mayavada) and the speculative agama-sastras. The fifty attributes of individual souls are manifest in a far vaster measure in Sambhu and five additional attributes not attainable by jivas are also partly found in him. So Sambhu cannot be called a jiva. He is the lord of jiva but yet partakes of the nature of a separated portion of Govinda. (brahma samhita 5.45)
(2) CAN ONE GET THE SAME RESULT BY WORSHIPPING SHIVA OR KRISHNA?
There is a Mission that regularly propounds that worship of any demigod will lead one to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or the supreme goal. But worship of demigods is thoroughly discouraged herein because even the greatest demigods like Brahma and Siva represent only part of the opulence of the Supreme Lord. He is the origin of everyone born, and no one is greater than Him. He is asamaurdhva, which means that no one is superior to Him and that no one is equal to Him. In the Padma Purana it is said that one who considers the Supreme Lord Krishna in the same category with demigods—be they even Brahma or Siva—becomes at once an atheist.(BG 10.42)
There are many foolish persons who say that one can chant Hare Krishna or chant the name of Kali or Durga or Siva because they are all the same. If one thinks that the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the names and activities of the demigods are on the same level, or if one accepts the holy
name of Vishnu to be a material sound vibration, that is also an offense. (SB 3.15.25)
(3) IN WHAT WAY DO DEVOTEES OF LORD KRISHNA OFFER RESPECTS TO LORD SHIVA?
It is said, vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh: Lord Siva is the best of all devotees. Therefore all devotees of Lord Krishna are also devotees of Lord Siva. In Vrindavana there is Lord Siva's temple called Gopisvara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Siva but Katyayani, or Durga, as well, but their aim was to attain the favor of Lord Krishna. A devotee of Lord Krishna does not disrespect Lord Siva, but worships Lord Siva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krishna. Consequently whenever a devotee worships Lord Siva, he prays to Lord Siva to achieve the favor of Krishna, and he does not request material profit. In Bhagavad-gita (7.20) it is said that generally people worship demigods for some material profit. Kamais tais tair hrita jnanah. Driven by material lust, they worship demigods, but a devotee never does so, for he is never driven by material lust. That is the difference between a devotee's respect for Lord Siva and an asura's respect for him. The asura worships Lord Siva, takes some benediction from him, misuses the benediction and ultimately is killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who awards him liberation. Because Lord Siva is a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he loves all the devotees of the Supreme Lord. Lord Siva told the Pracetas that because they were devotees of the Lord, he loved them very much. Lord Siva was not kind and merciful only to the Pracetas; anyone who is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very dear to Lord Siva. Not only are the devotees dear to Lord Siva, but he respects them as much as he respects the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, devotees of the Supreme Lord also
worship Lord Siva as the most dear devotee of Lord Krishna. They do not worship him as a separate Personality of Godhead. It is stated in the list of nama-aparadhas that it is an offense to think that the chanting of the name of Hari and the chanting of Hara, or Siva, are the same. The devotees must always
know that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that Lord Siva is His devotee. A devotee should be offered respect on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and sometimes even more respect. Indeed, Lord Rama, the Personality of Godhead Himself, sometimes worshiped Lord Siva. If a
devotee is worshiped by the Lord, why should a devotee not be worshiped by other devotees on the same level with the Lord? This is the conclusion. From this verse it appears that Lord Siva blesses the asuras simply for the sake of formality. Actually he loves one who is devoted to the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. (purport SB 4.24.30)
(4) SHOULD DEVOTEES OF KRISNA DISCOURAGE OTHERS FROM WORSHIPPING LORD SHIVA?
Devotee: Shrila Prabhupada, in Winnipeg there is one very pious east Indian man who for many years has been worshiping somewhat, worshiping Lord Siva. And his wife is also a very quite chaste woman and sincere follower—and so were her parents—of Lord Siva. And he is reading your Bhagavad-gita. He visits our
temple. And I have given him the first volume of Canto Four which discusses Lord Siva a great deal. And he has read in one of your purports that Krishna is more pleased when you worship His devotee than when you worship Him directly. And Lord Siva is a very great devotee of Krishna. So he has now interpreted that
to mean that if he worships Lord Siva so nicely, then actually he is pleasing Krishna more. So he is experiencing some difficulty because of this and I'm not quite sure how to instruct him that actually...
Brahmananda: That... Our Godbrother has difficulty in replying to this interpretation that Krishna says, "You can please Me by worshiping My devotee," and Lord Siva is the devotee of Krishna. So therefore this man says, "Then I shall worship Lord Siva. In that way I shall please Krishna."
Prabhupada: But if he accepts Lord Siva is devotee of Krishna, then by worshiping Lord Siva he will be benefited. If he thinks Lord Siva is independent, then he will not be benefited.
Devotee (3): I've got him to accept that Lord Siva is devotee of Krishna, but there's no practical instruction in his worldly activities coming.
Prabhupada: No, vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh: "Amongst the Vaishnavas, Sambhu, Lord Siva, is the greatest Vaishnava." So we worship Lord Siva as Vaishnava. We gives respect to Vaishnavas. So why not Lord Siva? Lord Siva is a big Vaishnava. But generally, the devotees of Lord Siva, they take Lord Siva is independent God. That is offensive. If you know that Lord Siva is also a devotee, you can give more respect to Lord Siva. Krishna will be pleased. Devotee (3): Shrila Prabhupada, he does not chant Hare Krishna, he chants om sivaya namah.
Prabhupada: That's all right.
Devotee (3): It's all right?
Prabhupada: He will gradually become devotee. When God, Lord Siva, will be pleased upon him, he will advise to worship.
Devotee (3): He is already trying to tell him to follow in your footsteps surely, so just before I left he said he will try once again to chant sixteen rounds of japa, Hare Krishna. He has tried already. He has a taste for...
Prabhupada: If he simply understands that Lord Siva is a Vaishnava and if he worships Lord Siva, then he will get the benefit. (ROOM CONVERSTATION, CHICAGO, 9TH JULY 1975)
(5) WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BEWTEEN LORD SHIVA AND GHOSTS?
Lord Siva, the king of the ghosts, sitting on the back of his bull carrier, travels at this time, accompanied by ghosts who follow him for their welfare.
Lord Siva, or Rudra, is the king of the ghosts. Ghostly characters worship Lord Siva to be gradually guided toward a path of self-realization. Mayavadi philosophers are mostly worshipers of Lord Siva, and Shripada Sankaracarya is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Siva for preaching godlessness to the Mayavadi philosophers. Ghosts are bereft of a physical body because of their grievously sinful acts, such a s suicide. The last resort of the ghostly characters in human society is to take shelter of suicide, either material or spiritual. Material suicide causes loss of the physical body, and spiritual suicide causes loss of the individual identity. Mayavadi philosophers desire to lose their individuality and merge into the impersonal spiritual brahmajyoti existence. Lord Siva, being very kind to the ghosts, sees that although they are condemned, they get physical bodies. He places them into the wombs of women who indulge in sexual intercourse regardless of the restrictions on time and circumstance (SB 3.14.24)
(6) WHY DO SO MANY LADIES WORSHIP LORD SHIVA?
Lord Siva is the husband of Sati, one of the sisters of Diti. Diti invoked the pleasure of her sister Sati so that Sati would request her husband to excuse her. Besides that, Lord Siva is the worshipable lord of all women. He is naturally very kind towards women, on whom even the uncivilized hunters also show their mercy. Since Lord Siva is himself associated with women, he knows very well their defective nature, and he might not take very seriously Diti's unavoidable offense, which occurred due to her faulty nature. Every virgin girl
is supposed to be a devotee of Lord Siva. Diti remembered her
childhood worship of Lord Siva and begged his mercy. (SB 3.14.36)
Today in Hindu society, unmarried girls are still taught to worship Lord Siva with the idea that they may get husbands like him. Lord Siva is the ideal husband, not in the sense of riches or sense gratification, but because he is the greatest of all devotees. Vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh: Sambhu, or Lord Siva, is the ideal Vaishnava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rama and chants Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Siva has a Vaishnava sampradaya, which is called the Vishnu Svami-sampradaya. Unmarried girls worship Lord Siva so that they can expect a husband who is as good a Vaishnava as he. The girls are not taught to select a husband who is very rich or very opulent for material sense gratification; rather, if a girl is fortunate enough to get a husband as good as Lord Siva in devotional service, then her life becomes perfect. The wife is dependent on the husband, and if the husband is a Vaishnava, then naturally she shares the devotional service of the husband because she renders him service. (S.B. 3.23.1)
(7) WHY DOES SHIVA HAVE SNAKES ALL OVER HIS BODY?
In order to get release from the false ego, one has to worship Sankarshana. Sankarshana is also worshiped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Siva are representations of Sankarshana, and Lord Siva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sankarshana. (S.B. 3.26.21)
(8) DO VAISNAVAS TAKE THE PRASADAM OF LORD SHIVA?
It is said that among all the devotees of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Siva is the greatest. Thus the remnants of foodstuff left by him are accepted by other devotees as maha-prasada, or great spiritual foodstuff. The remnants of foodstuff offered to Lord Krishna are called prasada, but when the same prasada is eaten by a great devotee like Lord Siva, it is called maha-prasada. Lord Siva is so great that he does not care for the material prosperity for which every one of us is so eager. Parvati, who is the powerful material nature personified, is under his full control as his wife, yet he does not use her even to build a residential house. He prefers to remain without shelter, and his great wife also agrees to live with him humbly. People in general worship goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Siva, for material prosperity, but Lord Siva engages her in his service without material desire. He simply advises his great wife that of all kinds of worship, the worship of Vishnu is the highest, and greater than that is the worship of a great devotee or anything in relation with Vishnu. (S.B. 3.14.26)
(9) WHAT IS THE POSITION OF LORD SHIVA?
In the Vamana Purana it is said that the same Vishnu expands Himself as Brahma and Siva to direct the different qualities. ( cc ADI 5.104) Mahesvara, or Lord Siva, is not an ordinary living being, nor is he equal to
Lord Vishnu. Effectively comparing Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva, the Brahma-samhita says that Vishnu is like milk, whereas Siva is like yogurt. Yogurt is nothing like milk, but nevertheless it is milk also. (CC ADI 1.105)
(10) IT IS SAID THAT LORD SHIVA IS
NON-DIFFERENT FROM KRISHNA.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Shrila Jiva Gosvami, in his Bhakti-sandarbha (213), has clearly explained that a pure devotee’s observation of the spiritual master and Lord Siva as being one with the Personality of Godhead exists in terms of their being very dear to the Lord, not identical with Him in all respects. (CC ADI 1.46)
(11) WHO ARE THE EXPANSIONS OF LORD SHIVA?
Rudra, who is an expansion of Sadasiva and who appears in
unlimited universes, is also a gunavatara [qualitative incarnation] and is the
ornament of all the demigods in the endless universes.
There are eleven expansions of Rudra, or Lord Siva. They are as follows: Ajaikapat, Ahibradhna, Virupaksha, Raivata, Hara, Bahurupa, Devasreshtha Tryambaka, Savitra, Jayanta, Pinaki and Aparajita. Besides these expansions there are eight forms of Rudra called earth, water, fire, air, sky, the sun, the moon and soma-yaji. Generally all these Rudras have five faces, three eyes and ten arms. Sometimes it is found that Rudra is compared to Brahma and considered a living entity. But when Rudra is explained to be a partial
expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is compared to Shesha. Lord Siva is therefore simultaneously an expansion of Lord Vishnu and, in his capacity for annihilating the creation, one of the living entities. As an expansion of Lord Vishnu he is called Hara, and he is transcendental to the material qualities, but when he is in touch with tamo-guna he appears contaminated by the material modes of nature. This is explained in Shrimad-Bhagavatam and the Brahma-samhita. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, it is stated that Lord Rudra is always associated with the material nature when she is in the neutral, unmanifested stage, but when the modes of material nature are agitated he Associates with material nature from a distance. In the Brahma-samhita the relationship between Vishnu and Lord Siva is compared to that between milk and yogurt. Milk is converted into yogurt by certain additives, but although milk and yogurt have the same ingredients, they have different functions. Similarly, Lord Siva is an expansion of Lord Vishnu, yet because of his taking part in the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, he is considered to be changed, like milk converted into yogurt. In the Puranas it is found that Siva appears sometimes from the heads of Brahma and sometimes from the head of Vishnu. The annihilator, Rudra, is born from Sankarshana and the ultimate fire to burn the whole creation. In the Vayu Purana there is a description of Sadasiva in
one of the Vaikuntha planets. That Sadasiva is a direct expansion of Lord Krishna’s form for pastimes. It is said that Sadasiva (Lord Sambhu) is an expansion from the Sadasiva in the Vaikuntha planets (Lord Vishnu) and that his consort, Mahamaya, is an expansion of Rama-devi, or Lakshmi. Mahamaya is the origin or birthplace of material nature. (CC ADI 6.79)
(12) IS LORD SHIVA WORSHIPPED THROUGH THE TAKING OF INTOXICANTS?
We should always consider the position of the isvaras, or those who can actually control the movements of the sun and moon, as superior. Without such power, one cannot imitate the isvaras, who are superpowerful. Lord Siva drank poison to the extent of swallowing an ocean, but if any common man tries to drink even a fragment of such poison, he will be killed. There are many pseudo devotees of Lord Siva who want to indulge in smoking ganja (marijuana) and similar intoxicating drugs, forgetting that by so imitating the acts of Lord Siva they are calling death very near. Similarly, there are some pseudo devotees of Lord Krishna who prefer to imitate the Lord in His rasa-lila, or dance of love, forgetting their inability to lift Govardhana Hill. It is best, therefore, that one not try to imitate the powerful, but simply follow their instructions; nor should one try to occupy their posts without qualification. There are so many "incarnations" of God without the power of the Supreme Godhead.
(13) WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE WORSHIPPERS OF DIFFERENT GODS?
When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of passion, one worships the sun-god, Vivasvan. When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Ganapati, or Ganesa. When the mode of passion is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Durga, or Kali, the external potency. When one is simply in the mode of ignorance, one becomes a devotee of Lord Siva because Lord Siva is the predominating deity of the mode of ignorance within this material world. However, when one is completely free from the influence of all the modes of material nature, one becomes a pure Vaishnava on the devotional platform. (CC MADHYA 24.330)
(14) WHY DID LORD RAMACHANDRA WORSHIP SHIVA?
He (LORD KRISHNA AND LORD RAMA) likes to worship His devotee. Sometimes the father takes the child on his shoulder. Does it mean the child is more important than the father? They say the Valmiki Ramayana, there is no such incidence as Ramacandra worships Siva. It is later on, interpretation. But even if He does so, what is the wrong here? (conversation 23 dec 1975 mumbai).