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7-Shiv Tattwa

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7-Shiv Tattwa
The lecture of Srila Prabhupad in Holland, 1997. Published in the book, Shiv-tattwa]

Once, the great sage Naarad Muni traveled to the abode of Lord Shiv and began to glorify him, saying, “You are very near and dear to the Supreme Lord Krishn. Not only that, you are Krishn's manifestation; you are non-different from Him. You can give liberation and also Krishn Prem, the rare jewel of transcendental love for Krishn."

Hearing Naarad glorify him in numerous ways, Lord Shiv became angry and said - "Your glorification of me is false. I am not at all dear to Shree Krishn." Lord Shiv is actually most dear to Shree Krishn, and therefore Krishn can give him services which He cannot give to 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 Shree Krishn, and He advised them to request Lord Shiv to drink the poison. Thus, they worshiped Lord Shiv and prayed - "Please save us! Only you can protect us!" Lord Shiv collected the poison and took it in his mouth, but he hesitated to swallow it, considering, "Lord Krishn is in my heart. The poison will affect Him." He therefore kept the poison in his throat, which burned his neck, and his neck turned the color blue. Thus he got the name Neelkanth.

Now, out of genuine humility, Lord Shiv told Naarad - "I want to be His beloved devotee, but actually I am not. You know that I always wear ashes from the burial grounds, and a garland of skulls. All my associates are ghosts and witches, so I am not qualified to be Krishn’s dear devotee. If I am so dear to Him, why would He have ordered me to engage with the mode of ignorance in the terrible function of destroying of the universe? If I am such a great recipient of His mercy, why would he have ordered me to become Shankarachaarya and preach a philosophy that is adverse to Him?"

Actually, although he expressed otherwise, it was because Shiv is so dear to Krishn that Krishn was able to give him the difficult task of appearing as Shankaraachaarya. Many people had been worshiping the Supreme Lord only to fulfill their selfish purposes, thinking, "Simply by our worship of God, He will be pleased with us and satisfy all our worldly desires." They worshiped Him only so that He would rapidly arrange for all of their needs, not to please Him. Lord Krishn thought, "This is very dangerous." He called Lord Shiv and instructed him, "Such false devotees will create great disturbances, so keep them far away from Me. Create a philosophy which teaches, 'Brahm Satyam Jagan Mithyaa – the Absolute is true, this world is false.' You should preach, 'All souls are Shiv; all souls are Brahm; all are one. You are Brahm, the impersonal Absolute. There is no need to worship any other God; you are the Supreme God."

Reluctant, Lord Shiv asked Krishn - "Can you please tell someone else to do this? I am not qualified for this service." Krishn replied - "No, you will have to do this. In the entire world, I see no one else who is as capable."

Feeling ashamed, Lord Shiv now told Naarad - "At last, I had to agree to follow His order. Appearing as Shankaraachaarya I preached everywhere - "You are Brahm, you are Brahm, you are the impersonal Brahm. The entire world is false." I am so much regretting this. I know I have committed a great offence by causing so many people to be adverse to Lord Krishn. Still, to carry out His order I spread this doctrine. It is clear by the fact that He sometimes gives me such orders that I am not His dearest one."

Cheating the Cheaters

Lord Shiv also expressed to Naarad his regret in having given benedictions to Lord Krishn’s enemies. To fulfill his Lord’s desires, he had given benedictions to demons like Raavan, Vrikaasur, Shaalv and Jayadrath, and thus he had performed many activities that were seemingly opposed to Krishn and Krishn Bhakti.

Naarad Muni said - "Master, Please don’t try to mislead me. I know that whatever you do is to please Lord Krishn and to assist Him in His pastimes, for the benefit of all beings. You told me that you have many times given benedictions to His enemies. I know that His enemies, as well as the enemies of His devoted cousins, the Paandav, worship you for ill-motivated benedictions. I also know that you grant them benedictions. But those benedictions are not foolproof; they always have some loophole. Actually, you cheat these beneficiaries in order to please Lord Krishn. You are undoubtedly His dearest friend." Shiv and Naarad thus continued to discuss some historical incidents which, according to Shiv, proved that he was not dear to Krishn – but according to Naarad, proved the opposite.

A Loophole

The great epic Mahaabhaarat tells about King Jayadrath, one of the many demons who received such a clever benediction from Lord Shiv. Duryodhan, the paternal cousin of the five Paandav brothers, had given his sister Dushalaa in marriage to King Jayadrath, and therefore the king had also become like a brother-in-law of the Paandav. Once, Jayadrath tried to kidnap the Paandav's wife, Draupadee, 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 Paandav. When they catch you, they will punish you and kill you!"

Jayadrath's arrogance prevented him from hearing her, and he continued his abduction. Meanwhile, the sage Naarad approached the Paandav and informed them - "Oh, I saw Jayadrath taking away Draupadee, and she was weeping!" Two of the Paandav, Bheem and Arjun, immediately chased after Jayadrath. Bheem ran faster than Jayadrath's horses. With his bow and arrows, Arjun created a fire that surrounded the chariot of Jayadrath, who was then captured and could not move.

Severely beaten by Bheem and arrested by Arjun, Jayadrath was bound to the chariot and taken to where Yudhishthir was staying. Bheem urged Yudhishthir - "I want to kill Jayadrath. Please order me to kill him." In support of Bheem, Arjun said - "Jayadrath has performed a heinous act and should be killed." King Yudhishthir replied - "The offense was committed against Draupadee. We should take the case to her, and we will do whatever she orders."

When Jayadrath was brought at the feet of Draupadee, 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." Bheem and Arjun then approached Lord Krishn and appealed to Him - "What should we do? We have vowed to kill Jayadrath, and now Draupadee tells us to forgive him." Krishn replied - "For one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death."

Arjun then shaved King Jayadrath's head, leaving five patches of hair, and he shaved one side of his face, leaving the other side unshaven. Jayadrath felt humiliated, and after being released by Bheem and Arjun he considered it better to have died. He thought, - "I will somehow take revenge." Thus absorbed, he went to Gangotree in the Himaalaya and undertook a severe type of penance to please Lord Shiv.

After some months he gave up all food, water, and bodily activities, and was about to die. At this point Lord Shiv came before him and asked what boon he wanted as a result of his austerity. Jayadrath replied - "I want revenge against the Paandav. I want to defeat and kill all of them." Lord Shiv told him - "You can defeat the Paandav, but only Yudhisthira, Bheem, Nakul and Sahadev; not Arjun.” Jayadrath said - "If you cannot Benedict me to my full satisfaction, then please grant that neither Arjun nor anyone else will be able to kill me.” Lord Shiv replied - "I can grant you this: if your head is severed and falls on the ground, the person who caused this will die immediately and 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." Jayadrath was satisfied, thinking, "My father would never do this."

This story has been given in MBH a bit differently. First Naarad did not tell Paandav about Drauadee's abduction, Rishi Dhaumya told them. Secondly, Jayadrath did not ask the boon to kill them, just to defeat them in war. Shiv said - "It is impossible, you cannot defeat them, you cannot kill them, because they are with Krishn. However if you meet Paandav without Krishn and Arjun, I besow the boon to you that you will be able to defy them all." It says that this boon "of Jayadrath's head falling down..." was given by his father himself. The story goes like this that once Jayadrath touched his father's feet. His father got very pleased with him and asked him to ask for any boon. Jayadrath asked - "I wish to die with your hands.

When the battle of Kurukshetra began, Jayadrath took the side of Duryodhan. One evening during the battle, as the sun was setting, Jayadrath's father was absorbed in prayer and making an offering of water to the Sun god. Arjun saw this opportune moment. With the skillful release of an arrow, he severed Jayadrath's head from his body and caused it to fall into the hands of his meditating father. Startled and without thought, Jayadrath'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!"

A Clever Benediction

Envious of Krishn and with a desire for the strength to destroy him, the demon Shaalv also took shelter of Lord Shiv. He performed a severe type of austerity and ate no more than a handful of ashes daily. After one year, Lord Shiv became pleased with him and asked him to beg for a boon. Shaalv begged from Lord Shiv the gift of an airplane, saying, "This airplane should perform as I wish; it should be operated by my mind. On my order it should go to heaven or anywhere I desire. In summer it should be air-conditioned. If there are only two men, there should only be two seats, and if I want to travel with hundreds of thousands of persons, many seats should manifest. It should never crash due to mechanical difficulty, and it should be equipped with all varieties of weapons. It should be dangerous and fearful to the Yadu."

Lord Shiv agreed, and Shaalv was helped by the demon Maya Daanav to manufacture a mystical airplane that began to destroy Dwaarakaa, Lord Krishn's abode. Shaalv personally attacked from above, and his soldiers attacked on the ground. Headed by Pradyumn, the Yadu dynasty warriors fought with Shaalv and his army, but they could not defeat him. Finally, Lord Krishn personally appeared on the battlefield, and after much intense fighting on both sides and many mystic displays by Shaalv, the Lord took up His disc, cut off the demon's head, and gave him liberation.

In this way, the benedictions given by Lord Shiv to the enemies of Lord Krishn always had a weak point – a loophole. Lord Shiv is extremely clever, and he is always serving his Lord, Shree Krishn. Naarad knew this fact, and he wanted to publicize Lord Shiv's glories. Shiv is very near and dear to Krishn, and non-different from Him, tries to always honor him, for he is Krishn’s greatest devotee.

nimn-ganaam yathaa gangaa,  devaanaam achyuto yathaa
vaishnavaa naam yathaa Shambhuh,  puranaanaam idam tathaa

[Just as the Gangaa is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Achyut is the supreme among deities and Lord Shambhu the greatest of Vaishnav, so Shree mad-Bhaagvat is the greatest of all Puraan.” (Shree mad-Bhaagvat 12.13.16)]

The Principle of Shiv

The principle of Shiv – Shiv Tattwa – is extremely complex. The principle of Brahmaa is not as complicated, because Lord Brahmaa is always a Jeev, a finite spirit soul. Sometimes, when there is no qualified Jeev, Lord Vishnu (Krishn's expansion) personally takes the post of Brahmaa, but that is rare. Lord Shiv is not like that; he is not a finite soul. After passing through the eight material coverings, and after crossing the Viraaj (the river that divides the material world and the spiritual world) and the planet of Lord Brahmaa (the highest material planet), one comes to the planet of Shiv. There he is known as Sadaashiv, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.

Shiv Tattwa can be understood by the analogy of yogurt and milk. Yogurt is nothing but a transformation of milk. Milk can become yogurt, but yogurt cannot become milk. This analogy is found in Shree Brahm Sanhitaa and elucidated in Srila Jiva Gosvami's commentary: "Just as milk is transformed into yogurt by contact with a transforming agent, Sri Govind, Lord Shree Krishn, similarly accepts the form of Shambhu (Shiv) in order to accomplish a specific purpose. The example of yogurt is actually given in order to convey the idea of cause and effect, not the idea of transformation. Shree Krishn is reality and cannot be transformed, so it is not possible for Him to undergo any kind of distortion. A wish-fulfilling gem manifests many things according to one’s desire, yet its constitutional nature remains untransformed.

Raameshwar Mahaadev

When Shree Raam was making the bridge to Lankaa, he established a Shiv Ling (deity form of Shiv) called Raameshwar. All the common people began glorifying Lord Shiv, shouting, “Raameshwar kee Jaya! You are Raam's Eeshwar, you are the Lord of Raam." The demigods were unsatisfied by this and announced through an aerial voice, "Raamas cha asau Eeshwarah" Raam is God, and Shankar is also God; they are the same." Hearing this, the Shiv Ling broke. Lord Shiv emerged from the Ling and told them all, "You are all foolish; you do not know my Tattwa, the established truths regarding my identity. Raam is my beloved and my God, and that is why I am called Raameshwar."

Granting Perfect Love

Lord Shiv eternally resides in Lord Krishn's abode, Vrindaa Van, where he manifests in many forms to render devotional services to Him. The form of Gopeeshwar Mahaadev was manifested by Lord Krishn's desire. When Krishn desired to perform His Raas dance, Shreematee Raadhikaa, the embodiment of His pleasure potency, manifested from His left side and Gopeeshwar Mahaadev manifested from His right side. The form of Shiv who lives in Kaashee or Kailaash in the material world is a partial manifestation of the original Sadaashiv in Vrindaa Van. The many other commonly worshiped forms of Lord Shiv are expansions of Sadaashiv. They are not the original. Partial expansions such as Pippaleshwar Mahaadev, Bhooteshwar Mahaadev, Rangeshwar Mahaadev and so one cannot award the benediction that can be attained by the mercy of Gopeeshwar – the highest perfection of love, namely Brij Prem.

Shree Gopeeshwar Mahaadev

Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami has composed a prayer in his Vraja-vilasa-stava:

mud gopendrasyaatmaja bhuja parishrang nidhaye
sphurad gopirvrindair yam iha bhaagvatam pranayibhih
bhajadbhistair bhaktyas vaamaabhilasitam praaptam achirad
yamitire gopeeshwaram anudinam tam kila bhaje

[I daily worship Gopeeshwar Mahadev, who is situated on the bank of Yamunaa. That very Gopeeshwar was worshipped with deep devotion by the Gopee, and He quickly fulfilled their desire to attain a supremely precious jewel in the form of the embrace of the son of Nand Mahaaraaj.]

Srila Sanatana Gosvami, the great Vaishnav saint who resided in Vrindaa Van near the old Sri Madan-Mohan Temple, would go daily to see Shree Gopeeshwar Mahaadev at his temple. Once, in his older years, Sanatana Gosvami had a dream wherein Gopeeshwar Mahaadev appeared and instructed him: "Now that you are old, please do not go through so much trouble to see me." Sanatana Gosvami replied, "I will continue to come. I cannot change this habit." Gopisvara Mahadeva said, "Then I will come and stay very near to your residence, manifesting in Bankhandee." The very next day, Sri Gopeeshwar Mahaadev appeared in Bankhandee, halfway between his original temple and Srila Sanatana Gosvami's residence. Seeing this, Sanatana Gosvami became overwhelmed with transcendental ecstasy, and from that day on he visited Bankhandee Mahaadev every day.

Wherever he was, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, he could not live without his beloved Lord Shiv – Gopeeshwar Mahaadev and Banakhandee Mahaadev in Vrindaa Van, and Kaameshwar Mahaadev in Kaamya Van. In Govardhan he would stay near his very dear friend, Chakreshwar Mahaadev, who acquired the name when he served Govardhan Hill and the Brij Vaasee by holding up his trident like a Chakra, protecting them from the torrential deluge sent by King Indra.

Prior to this, Lord Shiv had asked Shree Krishn for the boon to witness His childhood pastimes. Krishn ordered him to situate himself in Nand Gaaon in the form of a hill. Shiv followed this order and became Nandeeshwar Hill, and he thus became known as Nandeeshwar. (Lord Brahmaa became Brahm Parvat, the mountain in Shree Mati Raadhikaa's birthplace, Barsaanaa. Because Brahma is so near to Raadhikaa, he is also our Guru Dev.)

We offer obeisance to Lord Shiv with prayers like this:

vrindaavan vani-pate, jaya som som-maule,  sanaka-sanandan-sanaatan-naradedya
Gopeeshwar Brij-vilaasee yugaanghri-padme,  prem prayachchh nirupadhi namo namaste
(Sankalp Kalpadrum - 103)

[O Gatekeeper of Vrindaa Van! O Som, all glories to you! O you whose forehead is decorated with the Moon, and who is worshippable by the sages headed by Sanak, Sanandan, Sanastan and Naarad, O Gopeeshwar, Desiring that you bestow upon me Prem for the lotus feet of Sri Sri Raadhaa-Maadhav, who perform joyous pastimes in Brij Dhaam, I offer obeisance unto you time and again.]

By Shiv's Benediction

A Braahman in Kaashee once prayed to Lord Shiv - "I want to give my daughter in marriage, but I have no money. Please give me money." Lord Shiv told him, “Go to Vrindaa Van and meet with Srila Sanatana Gosvami. You can ask him to give you some wealth for your daughter's marriage." The Braahman went to Vrindaa Van, on foot, and there he asked the villagers there for the whereabouts of a person named Sanatana Gosvami. As they all knew him, they pointed out his residence.

Srila Sanatana Gosvami was practicing Bhajan near the Yamuna River at Kaaliya-hrid, the former abode of the very poisonous snake named Kaaliya. Kaaliya-hrid was close to the Yamunaa, and therefore its surrounding area was full of sand. Srila Sanatana Gosvami wore only a loincloth. He used to go begging door-to-door for a small amount of Prasaad (Krishn's food remnants), and would take as his meal only one dry Chapaatee (flat bread), with no salt.

When the Braahman arrived at his cottage and told him - "I went to Shankar Mahaadev, and he told me to meet you. He said you will give me some wealth for my daughter's marriage.” Sanatana Gosvami replied - "I have no possessions. You can see that I have nothing but a loincloth." Then he thought - "Oh, Shiv cannot tell a lie. He is my bosom friend." Thinking of Lord Shiv and contemplating further, he remembered a touchstone he had once disregarded and then forgotten. So he said to the Braahman - "Go to the Yamunaa and remove some of the sand, and there you will find a touchstone. It is somewhere in the sand, though I don’t remember where."

The Braahman found the jewel, touched it to iron, and the iron turned into gold. He was very, very happy that Lord Shiv had told him to come to Vrindaa Van, and thought with gratitude, "My prayer has been answered by him." On the way home, however, his greed for money increased and he began thinking, "Why did Sanatana Gosvami keep the touchstone in the sand? It had no use there. He must have still more valuable jewels."

He thus returned, and Sanatana Gosvami asked him - "Why have you come back?" He replied, "I have come back because I know that you have more valuable jewels than this." Sanatana Gosvami then said, "Go and throw the touchstone in the Yamunaa. The Braahman did so with all his power, and then Sanatana Gosvami said to him - "Come here. Come here.” He gave him the Mantra, “Hare Krishn Hare Krishn Krishn Krishn Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” and said - "I do not have worldly jewels, but I have transcendental jewels. The jewel of Lord Krishn and Shree Raadhaa will come to you in a very short time. So remain here. Your daughter’s marriage will take place automatically. Stay here and chant Hare Krishn." That Braahman followed his instruction and became a very elevated saint.



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Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on February 12, 2013