The Position of Lord Siva
Jayadvaita Swami's critique of Prithvi Raj Singh's resolution ["Is Back to Godhead an Offender?" January/February 1996] needs some in-depth comments. I consider myself lower than a servant of the servants of the servants of Lord Siva and Lord Krsna and His other Visnu forms. Therefore, for me it becomes difficult to comment on Their graces. However, my hope is that whatever I have collected from the scriptures will be taken as a devotional exercise and the Lords will accept it in their praise and not consider me an offender.
You rightly do not differentiate between the Supreme Lord Rama and Lord Krsna or His other Visnu forms. But you do differentiate them from Lord Siva, whom the Supreme Lord Himself worships.
Quoting Ramcaritamanas, Lanka Kanda 2: Lord Rama established a temple for Lord Siva, and after establishing Lord Siva's emblem Lord Rama worshiped Him. He then said, "No one is as dear to Me as Siva. One who considers Siva his enemy and calls himself My devotee cannot attain Me even in dreams. One who is opposed to Sankara [Siva] and aspires to be My devotee is doomed and dull-witted." In South India even today, Rameshwaram, where Lord Rama established Siva's temple, is considered among the most sacred places of pilgrimage.
It is given in the Ayodhya Kanda (106), "After bathing, Lord Rama with great joy adored Lord Siva and then worshiped the deities in the prescribed manner." Lord Sankara is also busy, day and night, meditating on Lord Rama or Lord Krsna. Lord Siva is stated to be servant, master, and companion of Lord Rama. What an adorable relationship! In the scriptures some of the most commonly used names of Lord Siva are Mahesa and Mahesvara—Lord of lords.
Maybe you do not consider Ramcaritamanas an acceptable scripture, but how about the Siva, Linga, Kurma, Matsya, or Skanda Puranas? They all sing the glories of Lord Siva as the Supreme Lord. Even in the Padma Purana, which primarily glorifies Lord Visnu as the Supreme Lord, Lord Brahma speaks of Lord Siva as Bhagavan [the Supreme Personality of Godhead]!
Let us go to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.6.42-43). Sri Brahmaji prays and sings the glories of Lord Siva:
jane tvam isam visvasya
"I know that You are the Lord of the entire universe and the mother and father of the cosmic manifestation."
sakteh sivasya ca paraµ
yat tad brahma nirantaram
"I know that You are the Supreme Brahman beyond the cosmic manifestation."
tvam eva bhagavann etac
visvam srjasi pasy atsi
kridann urna-pato yatha
"You create, maintain, and destroy the universe."
Lord Visnu says (4.7.54):
yo na pasyati vai bhidam
sa santim adhigacchati
"Brahma, Visnu, and Mahesvara are the same, and only We are in the nature of all living beings. Therefore, one who does not see any difference between Us, he alone attains peace."
In Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.6.33-37) there appears a beautiful description of the devatas' attempts to move Mandara Mountain. When the devas could not carry the mountain any further, totally dejected they dropped it on the way to the ocean. The mountain was very heavy, and when it fell many devatas and demons got crushed. Seeing this, Lord Visnu, knowing everything, suddenly appeared there and by His nectarean eyes revived the devatas and as if in play picked up the mountain and put it on Garuda with Him. Thus in this situation He did not need anyone else to take care of the problem.
However, the situation was entirely different when the all-powerful acute poison halahala came out of the churning of the ocean (Bhagavatam 8.7.18-35). These beautiful verses are full of devotion to Lord Siva and Lord Visnu. Rather than giving all the verses and making the reply very long, I am quoting only a selected few.
In verse 19 the hopeless situation of the devas and demons is depicted:
tad ugra-vegam disi disy upary adho
visarpad utsarpad asahyam aprati
bhitah praja dudruvur anga sesvara
araksyamanah saranam sadasivam
"All the devas, along with the Supreme Lord, approached Lord Siva. Being very afraid of the powerful poison and feeling unprotected, they sought shelter of Lord Siva."
In verse 22 they pray to Lord Siva:
tvam ekah sarva-jagata
tam tvam arcanti kusalah
"You alone are the ultimate controller of the entire universe. Liberation and bondage are from You."
In verse 23:
dhatse yada sva-drg bhuman
"O Lord, You are the Supreme, and You create the world by Your energy. You take the names Brahma, Visnu, Mahesa."
tvam brahma paramam guhyam
vam atma jagad-isvarah
"O Lord of the universe, You are the inconceivable cause of all causes."
In verse 31 it is said that Lord Siva is not understandable to Lord Brahma, Lord Visnu, or Indra (na … virinca-vaikuntha-surendra-gamyam).
In verse 33:
te nunam utim avidams tava
"Not knowing Your activities, those who criticize You are certainly shameless."
Besides these very few references, there are hundreds of other Vedantic and Vedic references where the Supreme Lord Visnu (Sri Krsna) has worshiped the Supreme Lord Siva and vice versa. The literature is replete with references of equivalence of the Supreme Lord.
So please leave Lord Siva out of your comments, lest we unknowingly commit some offense. As regards Durga, she is sakti [the energy] of Saktiman Siva [the possessor of the energy].
May the all-kind Lord Krsna give you more strength and conviction to continue on the path of His devotional service. For myself, my prayers are to Lord Krsna (His forms) and Lord Siva to accept whatever service I can render and provide me with the will to continue on that path. Jai Sri Krsna.
Dr. Gopal H. Singhal
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
OUR REPLY: We have no quarrel with your glorification of Lord Siva. Lord Siva is unlimitedly glorious. Apart from the verses you've quoted, there are indeed many more praising his glories, in the Bhagavatam and elsewhere.
Lord Siva is in fact far above the other devas like Indra and Lord Brahma. The others are all jivas; they are conditioned living beings empowered in various ways for the administration of the material world. But Lord Siva is above them all. He is practically on the same level as Lord Visnu Himself.
Still, a distinction exists, for Lord Siva is directly in touch with the material energy whereas Lord Visnu is always beyond it. The Brahma-samhita gives the example that Lord Visnu is like milk whereas Lord Siva is like yogurt. There is no difference between yogurt and milk. Still, milk is the original substance, of which yogurt is a transformation.
Lord Siva may properly be regarded as being nondifferent from Lord Visnu, because Lord Siva is an incarnation of Lord Visnu for performing specific functions. So when Lord Siva is glorified as the Supreme Lord, the glorification is correct because Lord Siva is the most highly empowered and exalted representative of Lord Visnu.
In one sense, all living beings are nondifferent from Lord Visnu, because Lord Visnu is everything (vasudeva sarvam iti). In another sense, all living beings are different from Lord Visnu, because Lord Visnu is the supreme and all others, including even Lord Siva, are His eternal servants. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained this state of affairs as acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or simultaneous oneness and difference.
By describing the relationship between Lord Visnu and Lord Siva to be adorable, you are absolutely right. According to the Bhagavatam (12.13.16), Lord Siva is the greatest of all Vaisnavas, or devotees of Lord Visnu. The relationship between Lord Visnu and His devotees is very intimate and sublime, and especially so for the greatest of His devotees, Lord Siva.
In a spirit of transcendental love, Lord Krsna, although the Supreme Lord, takes the role of a charioteer for a devotee like Arjuna, or a dependent child for a devotee like Yasoda. In this way, the Lord becomes the devotee of His devotee. Similarly, at Rameshwaram and elsewhere, the Lord acts as the devotee of His most exalted devotee Lord Siva.
On the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, it was in fact Lord Krsna who won the victory, but He did so through His devotee Arjuna, in order to glorify His devotee. Similarly, it was Lord Visnu who saved the devas from the terrible poison, but He did so through His empowered incarnation Lord Siva, in order to show Lord Siva's glories.
With this understanding, the devotees of the Hare Krsna movement worship Lord Siva with the greatest reverence and respect.
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