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Monday, December 5, 2011


Let me give u some shAstric reference about shivaji! We can find additional characteristics of Lord Shiva in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.2.2) in which it states that Lord Shiva is the spiritual master of the entire world. He is a peaceful personality, free from enmity, always satisfied in himself. He is the greatest among all the demigods. He is the spiritual master of the world by showing how to worship the Supreme. He is considered the best of all devotees. Therefore, he has his own spiritual line or sampradaya called the Rudra-sampradaya that comes directly from him. These days it is also found in the Vishnusvami-sampradaya, or the Vallabha-sampradaya.

Shiva is described as the most powerful, second only to Lord Vishnu.1 In this way, he is not the Supreme, but is almost as powerful. Although he has nothing to attain in this material world, he is always engaged for the benefit of everyone in this universe, and is accompanied by his material and dangerous energies like goddess Kali and goddess Durga. They serve him by killing all kinds of demons and impious persons. War represents Kali’s energy of devastation. Sometimes we see pictures of a fierce form of Kali standing with one foot on the body of Shiva. This is because Shiva sometimes has to lie down in front of her to pacify her from killing all the demoniac people in the world. In this way, Shiva controls the material energy. Lord Shiva is also in control of the destructive energy, tamo-guna, the mode of darkness, and is assisted by Kali and Durga in this purpose. Durga helps him in keeping the majority of the living beings in the darkness of ignorance. That is why Durga and Kali are described as dangerous potencies. Only those who are serious about spiritual life are protected from this darkness.

Shiva is often shown as a handsome young man, with long hair from which flows a spurt of the Ganga (Ganges) River (an emblem of purity) and in which is also a crescent moon. He is also white or light bluish in complexion, sometimes with a third eye between the eyebrows on the forehead, and usually with four arms (a sign of universal power) holding a Trishula (a trident, showing his ruling proficiency over the three modes of nature), the Damaru (small hour-glass shaped drum, the beating of which represents language or the alphabet), and exhibiting the mudras (hand positions) of Abhaya (protection) and Varada (giving blessings).

It is also said that Shiva’s drum represents srishti, the creation; the abhaya hand (giving blessings) represents sthiti, or preservation; his foot that presses down symbolizes tirobhava, or the veiling effect; and the uplifted foot means blessings (anugraha), especially toward seeing through the veil of illusion caused by ego. When he is shown with an axe, it represents samhara, destruction.

Sometimes he is shown with eight, ten or even thirty-two hands. These represent his various potencies and contain such things as an Akshamala (rosary that signifies being the master of spiritual sciences), the Khatvanga (magic wand which shows his being an adept in occult sciences), a Darpana (a mirror showing that the creation is a reflection of his cosmic form), a chakra (disc), a noose, a staff, a bow, a Pashupata spear, a lotus, sword, and so on. He is often sitting on or wearing a tiger skin. The tiger skin represents his command over his desires, which often consumes common men like a tiger.

Shiva is often shown with serpents entwined around his arms, waist, neck and hair. Snakes often invoke fear. So this represents how Shiva is free from fear. The snake also signifies time. If a poisonous snake bites someone, it is only a matter of time before that person will die. And time catches up with everyone sooner or later. So Lord Shiva is the Lord over time and death. These serpents also indicate that he is surrounded by death but beyond the power of it.

Shiva is also seen with ash from the cremation grounds smeared over his body. This is called vibhuti. It symbolizes death or detachment from the world and lust. It also indicates that our bodies, being inert matter in their essential form, will also become ashes when we die and if the body is cremated. Thus, we must rise above the bodily identification and become conscious of our real identity within. Ash is the sign of Shiva’s complete renunciation of the world.

Sometimes Shiva is shown wearing a garland of skulls. The skulls are representative of his being the lord of destruction and the cyclical nature of the appearance and disappearance of the material creation.

One of the most beautiful forms of Lord Shiva is portrayed in his dancing position, known as Nataraja, the king of dancers. As Nataraja, Shiva holds his damaru drum in his upper right hand. This indicates nada, the sound of the universal development. In his other hand, he holds a flame of destruction. Together these indicate both creation and destruction, the counterpoints of all material existence. His right hand is also held in the position of blessing and protection. As Nataraja, he also wears the skin of a tiger, which he slew. This represents the ego, which will fight when attacked and must be killed by the knowledge of the guru, or the wisdom of Nataraja himself. As Nataraja, he is shown with one foot subduing or standing on the body of Mahamaya, the illusion which is the cause of all suffering. The other foot is raised upward, which represents the attainment of the turiya state beyond the states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the influence of the mind and creation. Thus, he is completely free from all of these.

There are many stories that relate how and why Shiva appears the way he does. For example, Lord Shiva is shown at times with a third eye in between his eyebrows on his forehead. It is said that his third eye represents the eye of wisdom, or inner sight. The other two eyes represent the balanced form of love and justice. Thus, Lord Shiva is not too harsh nor too lenient, but views everything with the proper proportions of love, justice, and inner knowledge. Together, Shiva’s three eyes also represent the sun, moon and fire, the means by which the universe is illuminated. How Shiva got a third eye is explained that one day Shiva’s wife Parvati covered Shiva’s eyes with her hands and the whole world was enveloped in darkness. Then Shiva willed the third eye to manifest, which sent forth light, heat and fire.

Another story is that once when the heavenly Ganga river was descending onto the earth, the weight of its force would have crushed the world, so Shiva accepted it on his head, wherein it stayed until it was ready to be released. The Ganga 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, the spiritual water that surrounds the universe. This became the holy Ganga. Thus, it is considered the foot wash of the Lord. So Lord Shiva takes this water on his head.

Shiva’s Ganga water is also said to represent the flow of knowledge and devotion to God. Shiva is known as the foremost devotee of Lord Krishna, Vishnu, or Lord Rama, which is one of the meanings of the spout of Ganga water on Shiva’s head.

The Bhagavatam (10.41.15) relates: “The water of the river Ganga [Ganges] has purified the three worlds, having become transcendental by bathing Your [Lord Vishnu’s] feet. Lord Shiva accepted that water on his head, and by that water’s grace the sons of King Sagara attained heaven.”

Another story is that during the time when the demons and demigods were churning the ocean of milk, many objects started to be produced from it. One was the moon, which Shiva took and placed in his hair. This represents the phases of the moon or the passing of time, which is but an ornament for Shiva since he is not affected by it. The crescent moon also signifies the happiness of life, especially when it is based on a spiritual purpose. The rays of the moon enhance one’s inspiration and energy for spiritual life, just as it is said that the rays of the moon nourish the vegetable kingdom. It represents the cooling light of the knowledge of the Self, and the way life should be when lived in that knowledge.

Another object that appeared from the churning was the severe poison which Shiva drank to keep it from spreading. However, Parvati, being alarmed at this, grabbed his throat so it could not go down, which is where he kept the poison, and which made his throat turn blue.

Shiva is often portrayed standing next to or on his bull, Nandikeshvara or Nandi (meaning joyful). Symbolically, Nandi represents the animal tendencies, such as the urge for sex, which are tamed and docile by Lord Shiva’s mastery over it. Thus, he rides on Nandi, who is obedient to Shiva’s command. Nandi also represents strength and virility. He is often seen in temples of Shiva in a reclining position in front of the main shrine, gazing toward the image of Shiva. Nandi also represents the jivatma, the individual soul, and the animalistic impulses that will carry it away into material existence, unless such tendencies are curbed.



Shiva 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. This is also why he says to the sons of King Pracinibarhi, “Any person who is surrendered to the Supreme Personality of God, Lord Krishna, the controller of everything, is very dear to me.”1

The sons of the King were going to practice austerities to worship Lord Vishnu and while searching for a suitable place happened to find Lord Shiva. His bodily luster was like molten gold, his throat was bluish, he had three eyes, and was accompanied by musicians who were glorifying him. Shiva is the protector of the pious and those of gentle behavior. So he was pleased to speak to the princes the way he did. He continued in this way:

“A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. I, Lord Shiva, 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.”2

In this way, a devotee of Krishna does not disrespect Lord Shiva, but worships him as the greatest of devotees of Lord Krishna. A Krishna bhakta also prays to Lord Shiva, but asks Shiva to assist him in attaining the favor of Lord Krishna, and not merely for material benefits. As we find in the Tulasi Ramayana (Uttara-Kanda, Doha 45), Lord Rama says “With joined palms I lay before you another secret doctrine: without adoring Sankara (Lord Shiva) man cannot attain devotion to Me.” So in this way, Shiva can assist us in attaining devotion to Lord Krishna and His expansions.

After Lord Shiva had spoken to the sons of King Pracinabarhi, he relates a particular mantra for their benefit, which is pure and auspicious for anyone who wants to attain the ultimate goal of life. This mantra is called Shiva’s Song, and consists of verses 33 to 79 of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of the Forth Canto in Srimad-Bhagavatam. He starts his prayer with this verse:

“O Supreme Personality of Godhead, all glories unto You. You are the most exalted of all self-realized souls. Since You are always auspicious for the self-realized, I wish that You be auspicious to me. You are worshipable by virtue of the all perfect instructions You give. You are the Supersoul; therefore I offer my obeisances unto You as the supreme living bring.”

Through the remaining 45 verses of this prayer, Lord Shiva praises the many qualities, characteristics, and powers of the Supreme Being in the form of Lord Krishna. At the end of many years in which the sons of the King, called the Pracetas, repeated this prayer everyday, Lord Vishnu Himself appeared to them. He said, “Those who will offer Me the prayers composed by Lord Shiva, both in the morning and in the evening, will be given benedictions by Me. In this way they can both fulfill their desires and attain good intelligence.”3

Also in the Bhagavatam (4.6.42-53), we can see Lord Shiva’s greatness among the demigods. During the disastrous ritual of Daksha, who displayed great dislike toward Shiva and Shiva’s wife, Durga (Sati) immolated herself in fire. Sati was Daksha’s own daughter and could not tolerate the insults her father made toward her husband, Shiva. So while in meditation she burst into flames. Thereafter, Lord Brahma and the demigods went to pacify Lord Shiva. Brahma consoled Shiva and addressed him as “My dear Lord,” and called him the controller of the entire universe, the combination of mother and father of the universe, and the Supreme Brahman, beyond this creation. Therein we can see that Brahma, the partial creator of the universe, offers praises to Lord Shiva as a superior. This is to appease Lord Shiva, since it is known that his anger can annihilate the universe.

When the ritual was able to continue and Daksha offered the clarified butter with the mantras from the Yajur-veda, Lord Vishnu appeared there in His original form as Narayana. As described in the Bhagavatam (4.7.18-29) as soon as Lord Vishnu appeared, all the demigods, including Lord Brahma, Shiva, the Gandharvas and sages, immediately offered their respectful obeisances. In the presence of Lord Vishnu’s glaring effulgence from His body, everyone else’s luster faded. Everyone offered their prayers to Him. Therein, Lord Shiva addresses Lord Vishnu, “My dear Lord, my mind and consciousness are always fixed on Your lotus feet, which, as the source of all benediction and the fulfillment of all desires, are worshiped by all liberated sages because Your lotus feet are worthy of worship. With my mind fixed on Your lotus feet, I am no longer disturbed by persons who blaspheme me, claiming that my activities are not purified. I do not mind their accusations, and I excuse them out of compassion, just as You exhibit compassion toward all living entities.”

After all the personalities had offered their prayers to Lord Vishnu, He replied to Daksha, “Brahma, Shiva and I are the supreme cause of the material manifestation. I am the Supersoul, the self-effulgent witness. But impersonally there is no difference between Brahma, Lord Shiva and Me. I am the original Personality of Godhead, but in order to create, maintain and annihilate this cosmic manifestation, I act through My material energy, and according to different grades of activity, My representations are equally named. One who is not in proper knowledge thinks that the demigods like Brahma and Shiva are independent, or he even thinks that the living entities are independent. A person with average intelligence does not think the head and other parts of the body to be separate. Similarly, My devotee does not differentiate Vishnu, the all-pervading Personality, from anything or any living entity. One who does not consider Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or the living entities in general to be separate from the Supreme, and who knows Brahman, actually realizes peace; others do not.” 4

What this indicates is the interdependence of the demigods on Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is the ultimate cause of the universal creation. Lord Brahma was born out of Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva was born from Lord Brahma. It is the energy that comes from Lord Vishnu, in the form of Lord Brahma and Shiva, that creates and annihilates the universe. Lord Brahma is manifested for the continuation of the creation, while Lord Shiva assists in the annihilation. In this way, they are interconnected and work together like parts of a single body. Yet, they all play distinct and significant roles in the affairs of the cosmos, but are dependent on Lord Vishnu. When we see that all living beings are expansions from the Supreme Lord and His energy, then one can achieve real peace.

In fact, it is said that these sages and devotees who see with such equal vision become worshipable by Lord Shiva, Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Once when Lord Shiva was traveling, he met the great sage Markandeya as he was coming out of his yogic trance. At that time, Markandeya offered prayers to Lord Shiva who blessed the sage and then asked if there were any benedictions that the sage wanted. As described in the Bhagavatam (12.10.19-22) Suta Gosvami said: “Lord Shiva, the foremost demigod and the shelter of the saintly devotees, was satisfied by Markandeya’s praise. Pleased, he smiled and addressed the sage. Lord Shiva said: Please ask me for some benediction, since among all givers of benedictions, we three--Brahma, Vishnu and I--are the best. Seeing us never goes in vain, because simply by seeing us a mortal achieves immortality. The inhabitants and ruling demigods of all planets, along with Lord Brahma, the Supreme Lord Hari and I, glorify, worship and assist those brahmanas who are saintly, always peaceful, free of material attachment, compassionate to all living beings, purely devoted to us, devoid of hatred and endowed with equal vision. These devotees do not differentiate between Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and me, nor do they differentiate between themselves and other living beings. Therefore, because you are this kind of saintly devotee, we worship you.”


In the 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.

Herein, we can see that in actuality Lord Shiva is subordinate to Lord Vishnu, Krishna, in that he is also a part of Lord Krishna’s universal form, as described in the Bhagavad-gita (11.15). Therein we find: “Arjuna said: My dear Lord Krishna, I see assembled together in Your [universal] body all the demigods and various other living entities. I see Brahma sitting on the lotus flower as well as Lord Shiva and many sages and divine serpents.”

In the pastimes of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, we find that Lord Shiva had also tried to enter the rasa-lila dance between Krishna and the gopis, the cowherd damsels. The Mahadeva Gopisvara temple in Vrindavana is said to mark where Lord Shiva desired to become a gopi in order to enter the dance with Lord Krishna. So Lord Shiva was trying to enter into the most confidential pastimes and devotion of Sri Krishna.

In another light, Lord Shiva is Lord Krishna’s brother-in-law. At the time of Krishna’s birth pastime in Vrindavana, Yasoda bore a daughter, Katyayani or Durga, and Mother Devaki bore a son, Lord Krishna. To save Him from the nefarious King Kamsa, Krishna’s father, Vasudeva, brought Krishna from Mathura to Gokul and exchanged Him with the daughter of Mother Yasoda, taking the daughter back with him. When King Kamsa came to get the new born from Mother Devaki, the child rose into the air and exhibited her form as the eight-armed Durga and chastised Kamsa. Durga is Lord Shiva’s wife, and in this pastime Lord Krishna’s sister, so it can also be said that Shiva is the brother-in-law of Lord Krishna.

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 Shiva admits his weakness in being unable to fully understand the illusory nature of this material creation. “O My Lord, I, who am considered to be the best of the demigods, and Lord Brahma and the great rishis, headed by Marichi, are born of the mode of goodness. Nonetheless, we are bewildered by Your illusory energy and cannot understand what this creation is. Aside from us, what is to be said of others, like the demons and human beings, who are in the base modes of material nature [rajo-guna and tamo-guna]? How will they know You?”

Later, Lord Shiva, 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.”5

Another time when Lord Shiva described his subservient position was when Lord Krishna was battling with Banasura, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva, and was cutting off his hundreds of arms. When it looked like Banasura was about to lose his life, Lord Shiva, who had also been a part of the battle scene, approached Lord Krishna to pacify Him and spare Banasura’s life. Therein (Bhagavatam 10.63.34-45) it is related, “Sri Rudra said: You alone are the absolute Truth, the supreme light, the mystery hidden within the verbal manifestation of the Absolute. Those whose hearts are spotless can see You, for You are uncontaminated, like the sky.” In the ten verses that follow, Lord Shiva also addresses Lord Krishna in other ways: “Your current descent into the material realm, O Lord of unrestricted power, is meant for upholding the principles of justice and benefitting the entire universe. We demigods, each depending on Your grace and authority, develop the seven planetary systems. You are the original person, one without a second, transcendental and self-manifesting. Uncaused, you are the cause of all, and You are the ultimate controller.”

When Uddhava was praying to Lord Krishna, he said, “Even Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva act only as Your instruments in cosmic creation and annihilation, which are ultimately done by You, The Supreme Lord, in Your invisible aspect of time.”6

One of the major differences between Shiva and Krishna is described as follows: “Sri Shukadeva Gosvami said: Lord Shiva is always united with his personal energy, the material nature. Manifesting himself in three features in response to the entreaties of nature’s three modes, he thus embodies the threefold principle of material ego in goodness, passion and ignorance. The sixteen elements have evolved as transformations of that false ego. When a devotee of Lord Shiva worships his manifestation in any one of these elements, the devotee obtains all sorts of corresponding enjoyable opulences. Lord Hari, however, has no connection with the material modes. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the all-seeing eternal witness, who is transcendental to material nature. One who worships Him becomes similarly free from the material modes.”7 Thus a worshiper of Lord Shiva gets the results that are conditional to the affects of material nature, while a worshiper of Lord Krishna gets released from the material nature rather than receiving material opulences.

So in this regard, Sri Shukadeva Gosvami said, “Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and others are able to curse or bless one. Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma are very quick to curse or bestow benedictions, my dear King, but the infallible Supreme Lord is not.”8

Another aspect of understanding Shiva’s position has to do with his purpose, which is connected with how he appeared. This is clearly explained in the ancient text of the Brahma-samhita (verse 15). Therein we find it said “The same Maha-Vishnu created [His next expansion of] Vishnu [Garbhodakashayi Vishnu] from His left limb, Brahma, the first progenitor of beings, from His right limb and, from the space between His two eyebrows, Shambhu, the divine masculine manifested halo.”

In an explanation of this, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta elaborates that when the mundane creation of the universe is manifested, then the principle of Shambhu in the form of Rudra is born from the space between the two eyebrows of Vishnu. Shambhu enshrines the principle of materialistic ego. This principle makes the living being identify with the material body, subject to the desires for material and bodily happiness. (Brahma-samhita, verse 16, purport)

So the power of Lord Shiva comes from the potency of Lord Vishnu. This is described as follows in verse 10 of the Brahma-samhita: “The person embodying the material causal principle, viz., the great lord of this mundane world [Maheshvara] Shambhu, in the form of the male generating organ, is joined to his female consort, the limited energy [Maya] as the efficient causal principle. The Lord of the world Maha-Vishnu is manifest in him by His subjective portion in the form of His glance.”

In this way, during the process of the material creation, and when Maha-Vishnu casts His glance onto the shadowy potency of Maya, Shambhu, lord of the pradhana (the unmanifest material ingredients), who is the same as Rudra, consummates his intercourse with Maya, the efficient principle of the cause of mundane energy. But Shambhu can do nothing independent of the energy of Maha-Vishnu, who represents the direct spiritual power of Krishna. In this way, the principle of the material creation is produced only when Maha-Vishnu, the plenary portion of Lord Krishna, is propitious towards the active endeavors of Maya, Shiva’s consort, and the principle of mundane causality. (Brahma-samhita, verse 10, purport)

So the difference between Maha-Vishnu and Shiva as 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 Shiva 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 Shiva 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 Shiva or Shambhu, through which the Lord comes in contact with the material energy, since Maha-Vishnu never does touch the mundane energy. However, Shiva 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.

Therefore, the real difference between Govinda and Shiva or Brahma is that all the majestic attributes of God are fully present in the form of Govinda, Krishna. Shiva and Brahma are entities adulterated with mundane qualities, however slight they may be. Though Vishnu is also a divine appearance in the mode of goodness, still He is not adulterated. The appearance of Narayana as Maha-Vishnu, or as Garbhodakashayi Vishnu (Vishnu’s expansion in each universe) and Kshirodakashayi Vishnu (Vishnu’s expansion as the Supersoul), are examples of the ubiquitous function of the Supreme Divinity. Lord Vishnu is Godhead Himself, and the two other guna-avataras and all the other gods are entities possessing authority in subordination to Him. The different incarnations of the Supreme Being, Govinda, are the same as the same light appearing in different candles, all shining by the spiritual potency of Govinda, Krishna. (Brahma-samhita, verse forty-six, purport)

This makes it clear that the forms and positions of Shiva and Brahma are eternal, but only in the context of the endurance of the material creation. Lord Shiva 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.

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 Shiva these fifty-five qualities are also present but in greater degrees than in Lord Brahma. (Brahma-samhita, verse 49, purport)

Thus, the position of Lord Shiva 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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