Sunday , June 23 2024

Lord Shiva: Who is He ?

Lord Siva is actually most dear to Sri Krsna, and therefore Krsna can give him services which He cannot give anyone else. When the demigods and demons were churning the Milk Ocean in order to obtain the nectar of immortality, the first substance produced was a powerful and dangerous poison, burning the entire world. The demigods appealed to Sri Krsna, and He advised them to request Lord Siva to drink the poison. Thus, they worshiped Lord Siva and prayed, “Please save us! Only you can protect us!” Lord Siva collected the poison and took it in his mouth, but he hesitated to swallow it, considering, “Lord Krsna is in my heart. The poison will affect Him.” He therefore kept the poison in his throat, which was burned, and his neck turned the color blue. And therefore he is also called Neelkantha.

Cheating the Cheaters

It is sometimes seen that Lord Siva having given benedictions to Lord Krsna’s enemies. To fulfill his Lord’s desires, he had given benedictions to demons like Ravana, Vrkasura, Salva and Jayadratha, and thus he had performed many activities that were seemingly opposed to Krsna and krsna-bhakti. But whatever He does is to please Lord Krsna and to assist Him in His pastimes, for the benefit of all beings. He may have many times given benedictions to His enemies. But those benedictions are not foolproof; they always have some loophole. Actually, He cheats these beneficiaries in order to please Lord Krsna.

A Loophole

The great epic Mahabharata tells of King Jayadratha, one of the many demons who received such a clever benediction from Lord Siva. Duryodhana, the paternal cousin of the five Pandava brothers, had given his sister Dushala in marriage to King Jayadratha, and therefore the king had also become like a brother-in-law of the Pandavas. Once, Jayadratha tried to kidnap the Pandavas’ wife, Draupadi, desiring strongly to make her his own wife. As he forced her onto his chariot, she admonished him, crying, “I am the wife of the Pandavas. When they catch you, they will punish you and kill you!”

Jayadratha’s arrogance prevented him from hearing her, and he continued his abduction. Meanwhile, the sage Narada approached the Pandavas and informed them, “Oh, I saw Jayadratha taking away Draupadi, and she was weeping!”

Two of the Pandavas, Bhima and Arjuna, immediately chased after Jayadratha. Bhima dismounted his chariot and ran faster than Jayadratha’s horses. With his bow and arrows, Arjuna created a fire that surrounded the chariot of Jayadratha, who was then captured and could not move. Severely beaten by Bhima and arrested by Arjuna, Jayadratha was bound to the chariot and taken to where Yudhisthira Maharaja had been staying with Draupadi.

Bhima and Arjuna spoke to Yudhisthira, their respected senior brother. Bhima urged him, “I want to kill Jayadratha. Please order me to kill him.”

In support of Bhima, Arjuna said, “Jayadratha has performed a heinous act and should be killed.”

King Yudhisthira replied, “The offense was committed against Draupadi. We should take the case to her, and we will do whatever she orders.”

When Jayadratha was brought at the feet of Draupadi, she mercifully told her husbands, “Don’t kill him; forgive him. He is our brother-in-law. If you kill him, your cousin-sister will be widowed and she will weep for the rest of her life.”

Bhima and Arjuna then approached Lord Krsna and appealed to Him: “What should we do? We have vowed to kill Jayadratha, and now Draupadi tells us to forgive him.”

Krsna replied, “For one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.”

Arjuna then shaved King Jayadratha’s head, leaving few hairs, and he shaved one side of his face, leaving the other side unshaven. Jayadratha felt humiliated, and after being released by Bhima and Arjuna he considered it better to have died. He thought, “I will somehow take revenge.” Thus absorbed, he went to Gangotri in the Himalayasand undertook a severe type of penance to please Lord Siva.

After some months he gave up all food, water, and bodily activities, and was about to die. At this point Lord Siva came before him and asked what boon he wanted as a result of his austerity. Jayadratha replied, “I want revenge against the Pandavas. I want to defeat and kill all of them.” Lord Siva told him, “You can defeat the Pandavas, but only Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva; not Arjuna.” Jayadratha said, “If you cannot benedict me to my full satisfaction, then please grant that neither Arjuna nor anyone else will be able to kill me.” Lord Siva replied, “I can grant you this: if your head is severed and falls on the ground, the person who caused this will die immediately. Your life will be saved and your head will rejoin your body. You may be ‘killed’ hundreds of thousands of times, but you will not die. On the other hand, if your severed head falls into your father’s hands and he throws it on the ground, then you will die.” Jayadratha was satisfied, thinking, “My father would never do this.”

When the battle of Kuruksetra began, Jayadratha took the side of the Pandavas’ enemy, Duryodhana. One evening during the battle, as the sun was setting, Jayadratha’s father was absorbed in prayer and making an offering of water to the Sun-god. Arjuna saw this opportune moment. With the skillful release of an arrow, he severed Jayadratha’s head from his body and caused it to fall into the hands of his meditating father. Startled and without thought, Jayadratha’s father tossed the head on the ground. Then, opening his eyes he exclaimed, “What was that wet thing?” Seeing that he had just thrown his son’s head, he began to cry, “Oh my son! Oh my son! You are dead now!”

In this way, the benedictions given by Lord Siva to the enemies of Lord Krsna always have a weak point – a loophole. Lord Siva is extremely clever, and he is always serving his Lord, Sri Krsna. Siva is very near and dear to Krsna, and in a way non-different from Him. Try to always honor him, for he is Krsna’s greatest devotee.

nimna-ganah yatha ganga
devanam acyuto yatha
vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh
purananam idam tatha

“Just as the Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta (Krsna) the supreme among deities and Lord Sambhu (Siva) the greatest of Vaisnavas, so Srimad-Bhagavatam is the greatest of all Puranas.”[Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.16]

Siva-tattva – is extremely complex. The principle of Brahma is not as complicated, because Lord Brahma is always a jiva, a finite spirit soul. Sometimes, when th
ere is no qualified jiva, Lord Vishnu (Krsna’s expansion) personally takes the post of Brahma, but that is very rare. Lord Siva is not like that; he is not a finite soul.

After passing through the eight material coverings, and after crossing the Viraja (the river that divides the material world and the spiritual world) and the planet of Lord Brahma (the highest material planet), one comes to the planet of Siva. There he is known as Sadashiva, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.

Sometimes, When Krishna, the Lord Himself, accepts the management of the modes of ignorance, He is called Siva. So Siva is God, but because He is in the department of ignorance, therefore his name is Siva. Another meaning of Siva is “auspicious.” The inauspicious persons who are in ignorance, for them worship of Lord Siva is recommended so that gradually they come to the modes of passion and goodness, and then they are liberated. He has got connection with this material energy, and he is meant for destruction. Material energy is under the control of this Siva-rupa of Krishna. Therefore He is called father and the material energy is called mother. And because He has connection with this illusory energy, therefore He is not exactly God. God has nothing to do with this material energy, illusory energy. He is never illusioned. But Lord Siva has connection with Durga, the material energy. Therefore His position is between the living entity and Krishna.

Once when the heavenly Ganges River was descending onto the earth, the weight of its force would have crushed the world, so Siva accepted it on his head, wherein it stayed until it was ready to be released. The Ganges River is considered to have entered the universe when the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as Vamanadeva kicked the outer shell of the universe with His toe, thus letting in some of the water of the Karanadakashayi Ocean (Viraja River). This became the holy Ganga. Thus, it is considered the foot wash of the Lord. So Lord Siva takes this water on his head.

The Bhagavatam (3.28.22) relates: “The blessed Lord Siva becomes all the more blessed by bearing on his head the holy waters of the Ganges, which has its source in the water that washed the Lord’s lotus feet….”

Krishna’s Devotees are dear to Lord Siva & Lord Siva is Dear to Them
Siva works for the benefit of everyone, and tries to help the living beings make spiritual advancement. This is why he has his own line of disciplic succession orsampradaya called the Rudra-sampradaya [now known as vishnu-swami sampradaya or vallabhacharya sampradaya]that comes directly from him. Its adherents say that ultimate liberation comes from devotion to Krsna. And Siva, they say, showed how to be the perfect devotee. Even Siva himself confirms that one can achieve the supreme destination only by the mercy of Vishnu. Lord Siva says, “There is no doubt that Vishnu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone.”

This is also why he says to the sons of King Pracinibarhi:

A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. I, Lord Siva, and other demigods attain these planets only after the destruction of the material world. You are all devotees of the Lord, and as such I appreciate that you are as respectable as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. I know in this way that the devotees also respect me and that I am dear to them. Thus no one can be as dear to the devotees as I am.”

In this way, a devotee of Krishna does not disrespect Lord Siva, but worships him as the greatest of devotees of Lord Krishna. A Krishna bhakta also prays to Lord Siva, but asks Siva to assist him in attaining the favor of Lord Krishna, and not merely for material benefits.

Lord Siva’s Position
In Srimad Bhagavatam (4.3.23), Lord Shiva himself tells his wife, Sati, He is
always engaged in worshiping the Supreme Personality known as Lord Vasudeva, Krishna, who is revealed in pure consciousness, by offering obeisances. In the pastimes of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, we find that Lord Siva had also tried to enter the rasa dance between Krishna and the gopis, the cowherd damsels. The Mahadeva Gopisvara temple in Vrindavana is said to mark where Lord Siva desired to become a gopi in order to enter the dance with Lord Krishna. So Lord Siva was trying to enter into the most confidential pastimes and devotion of Sri Krishna. Prior to this, Lord Siva had asked Sri Krsna for the boon to witness His childhood pastimes. Krsna ordered him to situate himself in Nandagaon in the form of a hill. Siva followed this order and became Nandisvara Hill, and he thus became known as Nandisvara.

In another place in the Bhagavatam (8.12.10), when Lord Shiva was bewildered by the Supreme Lord’s form as a beautiful woman, Mohini-Murti, Lord Siva admits his weakness in being unable to fully understand the illusory nature of this material creation. Later, Lord Siva, who is often pictured in meditation, explains to his wife who it is that he meditates on while in trance. He says, “O Goddess, You have now seen the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the unborn master of everyone. Although I am one of the principal expansions of His Lordship, even I was illusioned by His energy. What then is to be said of others, who are fully dependent on maya? When I finished performing mystic yoga for one thousand years, you asked me upon whom was I meditating? Now, here is the Supreme Person to whom time has no entrance and who the Vedas cannot understand.”

So the difference between Krishna and Siva or Shambhu is more clearly described in the Brahma-Samhita (verse 45) as follows: “Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither the same as, nor different from, its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Shambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta goes on to explain in the purport to this verse that Siva is not a second Godhead other than Krishna. In fact, those who entertain such a discriminating sentiment commit a great offense to the Supreme Lord. The position of Shambhu is subservient to that of Govinda, Krishna. Hence they are not really different from each other, as the above verse indicates. But as yogurt comes from its initial cause, so Siva is manifest according to his initial cause, which is from Krishna through Maha-Vishnu. So God takes a subservient position to His direct forms when He attains a distinct personality by the addition of a particular element of adulteration, which is the form of Lord Siva or Shambhu, through which the Lord comes in contact with the material energy, since Maha-Vishnu never does touch the mundane energy. However, Siva has no independent initiative or ability.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta further describes that in this way, Govinda manifests Himself as a plenary portion which, in this case, is a guna-avatara in the form of Shambhu, lord of tamo-guna or the mode of darkness… Thus, Shambhu, in pursuance of the will of Govinda, works in union with his consort, Durga-Devi, by his own time energy.

It is explained further by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta that Lord Krishna has sixty divine qualities in their fullest measure. While 50 of the divine qualities of the jiva souls are present along with five additional qualities in Lord Brahma, yet in Siva these fifty-five qualities are also present but in greater degrees than in Lord Brahma. (Brahma-Samhita, verse 49, purport)

This makes it clear that the form and position of Siva is eternal, but only in the context of the endurance of the material creation. Lord Siva is the lord of tamo-guna and material nature, but not of the spiritual world. It is Lord Krishna who is described as the Supreme Being and controller of both the spiritual and material energies.

In his commentary on Sanatana Gosvami’s Brhad-bhagavatamrta [1.2.86], Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Gopipranadhana Prabhu, drawing on Sanatana Gosvami’s own commentary, writes, “The Padma Purana includes…a list of ten offenses against chanting Lord Vishnu’s names. Therein it is said, ‘One who sees differences between any of Lord Siva’s qualities and names and those of Sri Vishnu is an antagonist to hari-nama.’ Lord Vishnu cannot tolerate offenses against Lord Siva, because Lord Siva is the greatest of Lord Vishnu’s empowered incarnations. Lord Siva is especially empowered
to distribute in the material world the elevated tastes of pure devotional service.”

Lord Siva is unique among the devas. He is an incarnation of Krishna, but he is somewhat different from Krishna, as curd is milk but not milk. He possesses qualities beyond those of any living entity and has an eternal dominion beyond matter. But to think that the name & personality of Lord Siva are equal in every way to those of Krishna is offensive. And it is also offensive to se them as different.

The perfect way to reconcile the positions of Siva and Krishna is to worship Siva as a changed incarnation of Krishna who considers himself Krishna’s devote and servant {somewhat similar to Lord Ananta}. In his incarnation as Siva, Lord Krsna acts as all destructive time and as the father of all living beings. As Krishna, he is aloof from matter; as Siva, he consorts with the personified material energy. When we properly worship Krishna, Siva is included and pleased. But if we worship Siva other than as a Vaisnava, Krishna’s devote, then neither is Siva fully pleased or satisfied nor is Krsna properly reverenced.

 Thus, the position of Lord Siva has been described relative to his purpose and function within the material creation, and his form as an expansion of Lord Krishna.


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