In this article we pose certain commonly asked question about Lord Shiva,
with answers from the teachings of
 Srila Prabhupada

In what way do devotees of Lord Krsna offer respect to Lord Shiva?

It is said, vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh: Lord Shiva is the best of all devotees. Therefore all devotees of Lord Krsna are also devotees of Lord Shiva. In Vrindavana there is Lord Shiva’s temple called Gopishvara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Shiva but Katyayani, or Durga, as well, but their aim was to attain the favor of Lord Krsna. A devotee of Lord Krsna does not disrespect Lord Shiva, but worships Lord Shiva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krsna. Consequently whenever a devotee worships Lord Shiva, he prays to Lord Shiva to achieve the favor of Krsna, 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 hrta 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 Shiva and an asura’s respect for him. The asura worships Lord Shiva, takes some benediction from him, misuses the benediction and ultimately is killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who awards him liberation. (Purport to Bhag. 4.24.30)

What is the relationship between Lord Shiva and the ghosts?

Lord Shiva, or Rudra, is the king of the ghosts. Ghostly characters worship Lord Shiva to be gradually guided toward a path of self-realization. Mayavadi philosophers are mostly worshipers of Lord Shiva, and Sripada Sankaracarya is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva for preaching godlessness to the Mayavadi philosophers. Ghosts are bereft of a physical body because of their grievously sinful acts, such as 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 Shiva, 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. (Purport to Bhag. 3.14.24)

Why do so many ladies worship Lord Shiva?

Today in Hindu society, unmarried girls are still taught to worship Lord Shiva with the idea that they may get husbands like him. Lord Shiva 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 Shiva, is the ideal Vaishnava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rama and chants Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Shiva has a Vaishnava-sampradaya, which is called the Vishnusvami-sampradaya. Unmarried girls worship Lord Shiva 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 Shiva 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. (Purport to Bhag. 3.23.1)

Why does Lord Shiva have snakes all over his body?

In order to get release from the false ego, one has to worship Sankarsana. Sankarsana is also worshiped through Lord Shiva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Shiva are representations of Sankarsana, and Lord Shiva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sankarsana. (Purport to Bhag. 3.26.21)

What is the position of Lord Shiva ?

In the Vamana Purana it is said that the same Vishnu expands Himself as Brahma and Shiva to direct the different qualities.

Mahesvara, or Lord Shiva, is not an ordinary living being, nor is he equal to Lord Vishnu. Effectively comparing Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, the Brahma-samhita says that Vishnu is like milk, whereas Shiva is like yogurt. Yogurt is nothing like milk, but nevertheless it is milk also. (Purport to Cc. Adi 5.104)

It is said that Lord Shiva is non-different from Lord Krsna? What does it mean?

Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his Bhakti-sandarbha (213), has clearly defined that a pure devotee’s observation of the spiritual master and Lord Shiva as one with the Personality of Godhead exists in terms of their being very dear to the Lord, not identical with Him in all respects. (Purport to Cc. Adi 1.46)

Is Lord Shiva worshipped thought taking of intoxicants?

Lord Shiva 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 Shiva who want to indulge in smoking ganja (marijuana) and similar intoxicating drugs, forgetting that by so imitating the acts of Lord Shiva they are calling death very near. Similarly, there are some pseudo devotees of Lord Krsna 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. (Puport to Bg. 3.24)

Q. How is Lord Shiva auspicious?

A. Lord Shiva is always great and auspicious, but since he has accepted on his head the Ganges water, which emanated from the lotus feet of the Lord, he has become even more auspicious and important. (Purport to Bhag. 3.28.22)

Q. Is it acceptable to worship Shiva before Krsna?

A.  There is no harm. But you should understand what is Shiva and what is Vishnu. If you offer first prayer to Lord Shiva, there is no harm. It is good. He is… vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh. He is our spiritual master. He is Vaishnava. Why not offer first respect to him? But if you take Lord Shiva as the Supreme, that is insult. You are giving me respect as spiritual master, but if you give me overestimation, that “You are the king of the whole world,” that is insult. That is not prayer. If you offer me prayer as I am befitting, then it is all right. But if you give me prayer for which I am not befitting, that is insult. So you must know what is the position of Lord Shiva. He is a Vaishnava. He is the greatest devotee. He is the number-one demigod, and everything is all right. But if you say that he is the Supreme, then he will feel insulted, that “What is this nonsense saying?” So don’t insult him in that way. That will go against your credit. He doesn’t like that. (Conversation, 5 Oct 1975, Mauritius)

Q. Who are the real followers of Lord Shiva?

A. It is especially significant that Lord Shiva is a pure devotee of Lord Vasudeva. Vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh: “Amongst all Vaishnavas, Lord Shiva is the topmost.” Consequently Lord Shiva has a sampradaya, a Vaishnava disciplic succession, called the Rudra-sampradaya. At the present moment those who belong to the Vishnusvami-sampradaya of Vaishnavas come from Rudra, Lord Shiva. (Purport to Bhag. 4.24.76)

Q. What is the relationship between Lord Shiva and devotees of Lord Krsna?

A. Because Lord Shiva is a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he loves all the devotees of the Supreme Lord. Lord Shiva told the Pracetas that because they were devotees of the Lord, he loved them very much. Lord Shiva 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 Shiva. Not only are the devotees dear to Lord Shiva, but he respects them as much as he respects the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Purport to Bhag. 4.24.30)