Once when the entire world was overburdened by the increasing military power of demons in the form of kings, mother earth assumed the shape of a cow and approached Lord Brahmā for relief, Sympathetic to mother earth's lamentation, Brahmā, accompanied by Lord Śiva and other demigods, took the cow-shaped mother earth to the shore of the milk ocean, where he offered prayers to please Lord Viṣṇu, who lay there on an island in transcendental ecstasy.
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Siva (SB cantos 10 - 12)
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
Thereafter, having heard of the distress of mother earth, Lord Brahmā, with mother earth, Lord Śiva and all the other demigods, approached the shore of the ocean of milk.
After Lord Brahmā understood the precarious condition of the earth, he first visited the demigods headed by Lord Indra, who are in charge of the various affairs of this universe, and Lord Śiva, who is responsible for annihilation. Both maintenance and annihilation go on perpetually, under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.8), paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām. Those who are obedient to the laws of God are protected by different servants and demigods, whereas those who are undesirable are vanquished by Lord Śiva. Lord Brahmā first met all the demigods, including Lord Śiva. Then, along with mother earth, they went to the shore of the ocean of milk, where Lord Viṣṇu lies on a white island, Śvetadvīpa.
The demigods, such as Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, King Indra, Candra and Sūrya, are all subordinate to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
As for Keśava, ka means Brahmā, and īśa means Lord Śiva. The Personality of Godhead captivates both Lord Brahmā and Lord Mahādeva, or Śiva, by His transcendental qualities. Therefore He is called Keśava. This opinion is given by Sanātana Gosvāmī in his Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī commentary.
It is said that all the demigods, accompanied by Tri-nayana, Lord Śiva, went to the shore of the ocean of milk and offered their prayers through the mantra known as puruṣa-sūkta. From this statement it is understood that the demigods cannot directly approach Lord Viṣṇu, who lies on the ocean of milk, or enter His abode.
Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, accompanied by great sages like Nārada, Devala and Vyāsa and by other demigods like Indra, Candra and Varuṇa, invisibly approached the room of Devakī, where they all joined in offering their respectful obeisances and prayers to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can bestow blessings upon everyone.
Bhava, Lord Śiva, is always jubilant in chanting the holy name of the Lord.
The protection given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be compared to the protection given by the demigods. It is said that Rāvaṇa was a great devotee of Lord Śiva, but when Lord Rāmacandra went to kill him, Lord Śiva could not give him protection.
Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, accompanied by great sages like Nārada and followed by many other demigods, had now invisibly appeared in the house of Kaṁsa. They began to pray for the Supreme Personality of Godhead in select prayers which are very pleasing to the devotees and which award fulfillment of devotional desires.
Various demigods, beginning from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and even Viṣṇu, are supposed to be the creator, maintainer and annihilator of this material world, but actually they are not. The fact is that everything is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, manifested in varieties of energy.
Persons who are not in real knowledge think that Brahmā is the creator, Viṣṇu the maintainer and Śiva the annihilator and that the different demigods are intended to fulfill diverse purposes. Thus they create diverse purposes and worship various demigods to have these purposes fulfilled (kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ prapadyante 'nya-devatāḥ (BG 7.20)). A devotee, however, knows that these various demigods are but different parts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that these parts need not be worshiped.
A yogī is fully absorbed in thoughts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for he has no other business than to think of the Lord always within the heart. It is also said:
- samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
- mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
- bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
- padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
"For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the demon Mura, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. His goal is paraṁ padam, or Vaikuṇṭha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step." (SB 10.14.58) This process is recommended here by authorities like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva (svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ (SB 6.3.20)), and therefore we must take to this process in order to transcend nescience. This is very easy, but we must follow in the footsteps of great personalities, and then success will be possible.
After thus offering prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, the Transcendence, all the demigods, with Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva before them, returned to their homes in the heavenly planets.
The devatās, the demigods, fortunately understood the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus they offered their prayers. Then Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā led the demigods in returning to their homes.
For the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this material world, the Lord appears as the guṇa-avatāras-Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara.
Śuklam, or 'whiteness,' is the symbolic representation of the Absolute Truth because it is unaffected by the material qualities. Lord Brahmā is called rakta, or red, because Brahmā represents the qualities of passion for creation. Darkness is entrusted to Lord Śiva because he annihilates the cosmos.
Lord Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is celebrated as possessing a blackish color, Lord Śiva is whitish, and Lord Brahmā is reddish, but according to Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in the Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī-ṭīkā, this exhibition of colors is not what is referred to here.
To destroy the demons, the Lord becomes angry, and therefore He assumes the form of Lord Śiva.
Although everything emanates from Kṛṣṇa, He is ultimately a person. Aham ādir hi devānām: (Bg 10.2) He is the origin of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, and from them many other demigods are manifested.
The brāhmaṇas, the cows, the Vedas, austerity, truthfulness, control of the senses and mind, faithfulness and mercy are among the different parts of the body of Viṣṇu, who is the origin of all the demigods, including Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva.
Asuras are generally devotees of mother Durgā, Śakti, or of demigods, especially Lord Śiva.
The demigods boast uselessly while away from the battlefield. Only where there is no fighting can they show their prowess. Therefore, from such demigods we have nothing to fear. As for Lord Viṣṇu, He is in seclusion in the core of the hearts of the yogīs. As for Lord Śiva, he has gone to the forest. And as for Lord Brahmā, he is always engaged in austerities and meditation. The other demigods, headed by Indra, are devoid of prowess. Therefore you have nothing to fear.
Lord Viṣṇu, the Supersoul within the core of everyone's heart, is the ultimate enemy of the asuras and is therefore known as asura-dviṭ. He is the leader of all the demigods because all the demigods, including Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, exist under His protection. The great saintly persons, sages and Vaiṣṇavas also depend upon Him. To persecute the Vaiṣṇavas, therefore, is the only way to kill Viṣṇu.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always situated within the core of the heart of the pure devotee, and He is always offered prayers by such worshipable personalities as Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. Because Kṛṣṇa embraced Pūtanā's body with great pleasure and sucked her breast, although she was a great witch, she attained the position of a mother in the transcendental world and thus achieved the highest perfection. What then is to be said of the cows whose nipples Kṛṣṇa sucked with great pleasure and who offered their milk very jubilantly with affection exactly like that of a mother?
While the gopīs who had gathered were crying for Kṛṣṇa, the demon fell from the sky onto a big slab of stone, his limbs dislocated, as if he had been pierced by the arrow of Lord Śiva like Tripurāsura.
One who equates Nārāyaṇa even with great exalted demigods like Lord Śiva or Lord Brahmā is a pāṣaṇḍī, an agnostic. No one can equal Nārāyaṇa.
When Pārvatī asked Lord Mahādeva, Lord Śiva, what is the best method of upāsanā, or worship, Lord Śiva answered, ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param. Viṣṇūpāsanā, or viṣṇv-ārādhana, worship of Lord Viṣṇu, is the highest stage of perfection, as realized by Devakī.
From these dealings between mother Yaśodā and Kṛṣṇa, we can understand the exalted position of a pure devotee in loving service to the Lord. Yogīs, jñānīs, karmīs and Vedāntists cannot even approach Kṛṣṇa; they must remain very, very far away from Him and try to enter His bodily effulgence, although this also they are unable to do. Great demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva always worship the Lord by meditation and by service. Even the most powerful Yamarāja fears Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, as we find in the history of Ajāmila, Yamarāja instructed his followers not even to approach the devotees, what to speak of capturing them. In other words, Yamarāja also fears Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's devotees. Yet this Kṛṣṇa became so dependent on mother Yaśodā that when she simply showed Kṛṣṇa the stick in her hand, Kṛṣṇa admitted to being an offender and began to cry like an ordinary child.
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, this entire universe, with its great, exalted demigods like Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā and Lord Indra, is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yet the Supreme Lord has one transcendental attribute: He comes under the control of His devotees. This was now exhibited by Kṛṣṇa in this pastime.
Neither Lord Brahmā, nor Lord Śiva, nor even the goddess of fortune, who is always the better half of the Supreme Lord, can obtain from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the deliverer from this material world, such mercy as received by mother Yaśodā.
Lord Brahmā is bhṛtya, a servant of Kṛṣṇa, and he is ādi-kavi, the original creator of this universe (tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye (SB 1.1.1)). Nonetheless, even he could not obtain such mercy as mother Yaśodā. As for Lord Śiva, he is the topmost Vaiṣṇava (vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ). What to speak of Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, is the Lord's constant companion in service, since she always associates with His body. But even she could not get such mercy. Therefore Mahārāja Parīkṣit was surprised, thinking, "What did mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja do in their previous lives by which they got such a great opportunity, the opportunity to be the affectionate father and mother of Kṛṣṇa?"
Although the nitya-siddha expansions of Kṛṣṇa always remain with Kṛṣṇa, if those engaged in sādhana-siddhi follow in the footsteps of Kṛṣṇa's nitya-siddha associates, such sādhana-siddhas also can easily attain Kṛṣṇa without difficulty. But there are those who are attached to bodily concepts of life. Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, for example, have very prestigious positions, and thus they have the sense of being very exalted īśvaras. In other words, because Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are guṇa-avatāras and have exalted positions, they have some small sense of being like Kṛṣṇa. But the pure devotees who inhabit Vṛndāvana do not possess any bodily conception.
Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva were great devotees of Lord Śiva, but because of material opulence they became so extravagant and senseless that one day they were enjoying with naked girls in a lake and shamelessly walking here and there. Suddenly Nārada Muni passed by, but they were so maddened by their wealth and false prestige that even though they saw Nārada Muni present, they remained naked and were not even ashamed.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King Parīkṣit, because the two sons of Kuvera had been elevated to the association of Lord Śiva, of which they were very much proud, they were allowed to wander in a garden attached to Kailāsa Hill, on the bank of the Mandākinī River. Taking advantage of this, they used to drink a kind of liquor called Vāruṇī. Accompanied by women singing after them, they would wander in that garden of flowers, their eyes always rolling in intoxication.
This verse mentions some of the material advantages afforded to persons associated with or devoted to Lord Śiva. Apart from Lord Śiva, if one is a devotee of any other demigod, one receives some material advantages. Foolish people, therefore, become devotees of demigods.
Everything—the mind, the body and all the sense organs—should be engaged in Kṛṣṇa's service. This is to be learned from expert devotees like Nārada, Svayambhū and Śambhu. This is the process. We cannot manufacture our own way of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for it is not that everything one manufactures or concocts will lead to understanding God.
We should always remember that Kṛṣṇa is the only supreme master and that everyone else is His servant (ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya). Be one even Nārāyaṇa or Lord Śiva, everyone is subordinate to Kṛṣṇa (śiva-viriñci-nutam). Even Baladeva is subordinate to Kṛṣṇa. This is a fact.
"A person who considers demigods like Brahmā and Śiva to be on an equal level with Nārāyaṇa must certainly be considered an offender."
It is forbidden to compare Nārāyaṇa even to demigods like Brahmā and Śiva, what to speak of others.
- yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ
- samatvenaiva vīkṣeta
- sa pāṣaṇḍī bhaved dhruvam
- (CC Madhya 18.116)
"One who considers demigods like Brahmā and Śiva to be on an equal level with Nārāyaṇa must certainly be considered an offender." We should not equate the demigods with Nārāyaṇa, for even Śaṅkarācārya has forbidden this (nārāyaṇaḥ paro'vyaktāt). Also, as mentioned in the Vedas, eko nārāyaṇa āsīn na brahmā neśānaḥ: "In the beginning of creation there was only the Supreme Personality, Nārāyaṇa, and there was no existence of Brahmā or Śiva." Therefore, one who at the end of his life remembers Nārāyaṇa attains the perfection of life (ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ (SB 2.1.6)).
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
To persons ignorant of Your actual transcendental position, You appear as part of the material world, manifesting Yourself by the expansion of Your inconceivable energy. Thus for the creation of the universe You appear as me (Brahmā), for its maintenance You appear as Yourself (Viṣṇu), and for its annihilation You appear as Lord Trinetra (Śiva).
Yet even though the extent of the good fortune of these residents of Vṛndāvana is inconceivable, we eleven presiding deities of the various senses, headed by Lord Śiva, are also most fortunate, because the senses of these devotees of Vṛndāvana are the cups through which we repeatedly drink the nectarean, intoxicating beverage of the honey of Your lotus feet.
O girls! The dust of Govinda's lotus feet is so sacred that even Brahmā, Śiva and the goddess Ramā take that dust upon their heads to dispel sinful reactions.
One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: One day the cowherd men, eager to take a trip to worship Lord Śiva, traveled by bullock carts to the Ambikā forest.
The inhabitants of Vraja were astonished to see the mighty power of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Dear King, they then completed their worship of Lord Śiva and returned to Vraja, along the way respectfully describing Kṛṣṇa's powerful acts.
O pious mother Yaśodā, your son, who is expert in all the arts of herding cows, has invented many new styles of flute-playing. When He takes His flute to His bimba-red lips and sends forth the tones of the harmonic scale in variegated melodies, Brahmā, Śiva, Indra and other chief demigods become confused upon hearing the sound. Although they are the most learned authorities, they cannot ascertain the essence of that music, and thus they bow down their heads and hearts.
Commence the bow sacrifice on the Caturdaśī day in accordance with the relevant Vedic injunctions. In ritual slaughter offer the appropriate kinds of animals to the magnanimous Lord Śiva.
Those lotus feet are worshiped by Brahmā, Śiva and all the other demigods, by the goddess of fortune, and also by the great sages and Vaiṣṇavas. Upon those lotus feet the Lord walks about the forest while herding the cows with His companions, and those feet are smeared with the kuṅkuma from the gopīs' breasts.
Encircling the Lord and worshiping Him were Nanda, Sunanda and His other personal attendants; Sanaka and the other Kumāras; Brahmā, Rudra and other chief demigods; the nine chief brāhmaṇas; and the best of the saintly devotees, headed by Prahlāda, Nārada and Uparicara Vasu. Each of these great personalities was worshiping the Lord by chanting sanctified words of praise in his own unique mood. Also in attendance were the Lord's principal internal potencies—Śrī, Puṣṭi, Gīr, Kānti, Kīrti, Tuṣṭi, Ilā and Ūrjā—as were His material potencies Vidyā, Avidyā and Māyā, and His internal pleasure potency, Śakti.
There are still others, who worship You, the Supreme Lord, in the form of Lord Śiva. They follow the path described by him and interpreted in various ways by many teachers.
The water of the river Ganges has purified the three worlds, having become transcendental by bathing Your feet. Lord Śiva accepted that water on his head, and by that water's grace the sons of King Sagara attained to heaven.
How pious are the tracts of land in Vraja, for there the primeval Personality of Godhead, disguising Himself with human traits, wanders about, enacting His many pastimes! Adorned with wonderfully variegated forest garlands, He whose feet are worshiped by Lord Śiva and goddess Ramā vibrates His flute as He tends the cows in the company of Balarāma.
Kettledrums resounded in the sky as Brahmā, Śiva and other demigods, the Lord's expansions, rained down flowers upon Him with pleasure. They chanted His praises, and their wives danced.
O lotus-eyed one, great souls like Lord Śiva hanker to bathe in the dust of Your lotus feet and thereby destroy their ignorance. If I cannot obtain Your mercy, I shall simply give up my vital force, which will have become weak from the severe penances I will perform. Then, after hundreds of lifetimes of endeavor, I may obtain Your mercy.
I am extremely unfortunate, for the creator is not favorably disposed toward me, nor is the great Lord Śiva. Or perhaps Śiva's wife, Devī, who is known as Gaurī, Rudrāṇī, Girijā and Satī, has turned against me.
(Princess Rukmiṇī prayed:) O mother Ambikā, wife of Lord Siva, I repeatedly offer my obeisances unto you, together with your children. May Lord Kṛṣṇa become my husband. Please grant this!
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Kāmadeva (Cupid), an expansion of Vāsudeva, had previously been burned to ashes by Rudra's anger. Now, to obtain a new body, he merged back into the body of Lord Vāsudeva.
"Goddess Lakṣmī, Lord Brahma, Lord Śiva and the rulers of the various planets place the dust of His lotus feet on their heads, and to protect the codes of religion, which He has created, He assumes pastime incarnations at various times. How may that Supreme Personality of Godhead become pleased with me?"
Knowing that great sages who have renounced the sannyāsī's daṇḍa proclaim Your glories, that You are the Supreme Soul of all the worlds, and that You are so gracious that You give away even Your own self, I chose You as my husband, rejecting Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the rulers of heaven, whose aspirations are all frustrated by the force of time, which is born from Your eyebrows. What interest, then, could I have in any other suitors?
O infallible Kṛṣṇa, let each of the kings You named become the husband of a woman whose ears have never heard Your glories, which are sung in the assemblies of Śiva and Brahmā. After all, in the households of such women these kings live like asses, oxen, dogs, cats and slaves.
King Parīkṣit said: The best of the Yadus married Bāṇāsura's daughter, Ūṣā, and as a result a great, fearsome battle occurred between Lord Hari and Lord Śaṅkara. Please explain everything about this incident, O most powerful of mystics.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Bāṇa was the oldest of the hundred sons fathered by the great saint Bali Mahārāja, who gave the whole earth in charity to Lord Hari when He appeared as Vāmanadeva. Bāṇāsura, born from Bali's semen, became a great devotee of Lord Śiva. His behavior was always respectable, and he was generous, intelligent, truthful and firm in his vows. The beautiful city of Śoṇitapura was under his dominion. Because Lord Śiva had favored him, the very demigods waited on Bāṇāsura like menial servants. Once, when Śiva was dancing his tāṇḍava-nṛtya, Bāṇa especially satisfied the lord by playing a musical accompaniment with his one thousand arms.
The lord and master of all created beings, the compassionate refuge of his devotees, gladdened Bāṇāsura by offering him the benediction of his choice. Bāṇa chose to have him, Lord Śiva, as the guardian of his city.
Bāṇāsura was intoxicated with his strength. One day, when Lord Śiva was standing beside him, Bāṇāsura touched the lord's lotus feet with his helmet, which shone like the sun, and spoke to him as follows.
Hearing this, Lord Śiva became angry and replied, "Your flag will be broken, fool, when you have done battle with one who is my equal. That fight will vanquish your conceit."
Lord Rudra, accompanied by his son Kārtikeya and the Pramathas, came riding on Nandi, his bull carrier, to fight Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa on Bāṇa's behalf.
A most astonishing, tumultuous and hair-raising battle then commenced, with Lord Kṛṣṇa matched against Lord Śaṅkara, and Pradyumna against Kārtikeya.
With sharp-pointed arrows discharged from His bow Śārṅga, Lord Kṛṣṇa drove away the various followers of Lord Śiva—Bhūtas, Pramathas, Guhyakas, Ḍākinīs, Yātudhānas, Vetālas, Vināyakas, Pretas, Mātās, Piśācas, Kuṣmāṇḍas and Brahma-rākṣasas.
Lord Śiva, wielder of the trident, shot various weapons at Lord Kṛṣṇa, wielder of Śārṅga. But Lord Kṛṣṇa was not in the least perplexed: He neutralized all these weapons with appropriate counterweapons.
After bewildering Lord Śiva by making him yawn with a yawning weapon, Lord Kṛṣṇa proceeded to strike down Bāṇāsura's army with His sword, club and arrows.
After Lord Śiva's followers had been driven away, the Śiva-jvara, who had three heads and three feet, pressed forward to attack Lord Kṛṣṇa. As the Śiva-jvara approached, he seemed to burn everything in the ten directions.
Seeing this personified weapon approach, Lord Nārāyaṇa then released His own personified fever weapon, the Viṣṇu-jvara. The Śiva-jvara and Viṣṇu-jvara thus battled each other.
The Śiva-jvara, overwhelmed by the strength of the Viṣṇu-jvara, cried out in pain. But finding no refuge, the frightened Śiva-jvara approached Lord Kṛṣṇa, the master of the senses, hoping to attain His shelter. Thus with joined palms he began to praise the Lord.
The Śiva-jvara said: I bow down to You of unlimited potencies, the Supreme Lord, the Supersoul of all beings. You possess pure and complete consciousness and are the cause of cosmic creation, maintenance and dissolution. Perfectly peaceful, You are the Absolute Truth to whom the Vedas indirectly refer.
Thus addressed, the Māheśvara-jvara bowed down to the infallible Lord and went away. But Bāṇāsura then appeared, riding forth on his chariot to fight Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Śiva felt compassion for his devotee Bāṇāsura, whose arms were being cut off, and thus he approached Lord Cakrāyudha (Kṛṣṇa) and spoke to Him as follows.
Śrī 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.
At the front of the party Lord Kṛṣṇa then placed Aniruddha and His bride, both beautifully adorned with fine clothes and ornaments, and surrounded them with a full military division. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa took His leave of Lord Śiva and departed.
Whoever rises early in the morning and remembers Lord Kṛṣṇa's victory in His battle with Lord Śiva will never experience defeat.
The battlefield, strewn with the dismembered chariots, horses, elephants, humans, mules and camels that had been cut to pieces by the Lord's disc weapon, shone like the gruesome playground of Lord Bhūtapati, giving pleasure to the wise.
After the King's son Sudakṣiṇa had performed the obligatory funeral rituals for his father, he resolved within his mind: "Only by killing my father's murderer can I avenge his death." Thus the charitable Sudakṣiṇa, together with his priests, began worshiping Lord Maheśvara with great attention.
Satisfied by the worship, the powerful Lord Śiva appeared in the sacred precinct of Avimukta and offered Sudakṣiṇa his choice of benedictions. The prince chose as his benediction a means to slay his father's killer.
Lord Śiva told him, "Accompanied by brāhmaṇas, serve the Dakṣiṇāgni fire—the original priest—following the injunctions of the abhicāra ritual. Then the Dakṣiṇāgni fire, together with many Pramathas, will fulfill your desire if you direct it against someone inimical to the brāhmaṇas." So instructed, Sudakṣiṇa strictly observed the ritualistic vows and invoked the abhicāra against Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The almighty Lord, the internal and external witness of all, understood that the monster had been produced by Lord Śiva from the sacrificial fire. To defeat the demon, Kṛṣṇa dispatched His disc weapon, who was waiting at His side.
"The dust of Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet, which is the source of holiness for all places of pilgrimage, is worshiped by all the great demigods. The principal deities of all planets are engaged in His service, and they consider themselves most fortunate to take the dust of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa on their crowns. Great demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and even the goddess of fortune and I, are simply parts of His spiritual identity, and we also carefully carry that dust on our heads. And still Kṛṣṇa is not fit to use the royal insignia or even sit on the royal throne?
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the worshipable master of even planetary rulers like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, yet as soon as He saw that Nārada Muni had arrived, He joyfully stood up along with His ministers and secretaries to receive the great sage and offer His respectful obeisances by bowing His head.
Even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva 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.
The utensils used in the sacrifice were made of gold, just as in the ancient Rājasūya performed by Lord Varuṇa. Indra, Brahmā, Śiva and many other planetary rulers; the Siddhas and Gandharvas with their entourage; the Vidyādharas; great serpents; sages; Yakṣas; Rākṣasas; celestial birds; Kinnaras; Cāraṇas; and earthly kings—all were invited, and indeed they all came from every direction to the Rājasūya sacrifice of King Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Pāṇḍu. They were not in the least astonished to see the opulence of the sacrifice, since it was quite appropriate for a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Having thus made his vow, the foolish King proceeded to worship Lord Paśupati (Śiva) as his deity by eating a handful of dust each day, and nothing more.
Lord Śiva said, "So be it." On his order, Maya Dānava, who conquers his enemies' cities, constructed a flying iron city named Saubha and presented it to Śālva.
The Supreme Lord then traveled through the kingdoms of Kerala and Trigarta, visiting Lord Śiva's sacred city of Gokarṇa, where Lord Dhūrjaṭi (Śiva) directly manifests himself. After also visiting Goddess Pārvatī, who dwells on an island, Lord Balarāma went to the holy district of Śūrpāraka and bathed in the Tāpī, Payoṣṇī and Nirvindhyā rivers. He next entered the Daṇḍaka forest and went to the river Revā, along which the city of Māhiṣmatī is found. Then He bathed at Manu-tīrtha and finally returned to Prabhāsa.
King Parīkṣit said: Those demigods, demons and humans who worship Lord Śiva, a strict renunciant, usually enjoy wealth and sense gratification, while the worshipers of the Supreme Lord Hari, the husband of the goddess of fortune, do not.
Śrī Śukadeva said: Lord Śiva 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 Śiva worships his manifestation in any one of these elements, the devotee obtains all sorts of corresponding enjoyable opulences.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Lord Brahmā, Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Śiva and others are able to curse or bless one. Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are very quick to curse or bestow benedictions, my dear King, but the infallible Supreme Lord is not.
Nārada told him: Worship Lord Śiva and you will soon achieve success. He quickly becomes pleased by seeing his worshiper's slightest good qualities—and quickly angered by seeing his slightest fault.
He became pleased with ten-headed Rāvaṇa, and also with Bāṇa, when they each chanted his glories, like bards in a royal court. Lord Śiva then bestowed unprecedented power upon each of them, but in both cases he was consequently beset with great difficulty.
(Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued:) Thus advised, the demon proceeded to worship Lord Śiva at Kedāranātha by taking pieces of flesh from his own body and offering them as oblations into the sacred fire, which is Lord Śiva's mouth.
Vṛkāsura became frustrated after failing to obtain a vision of the lord. Finally, on the seventh day, after dipping his hair into the holy waters at Kedāranātha and leaving it wet, he took up a hatchet and prepared to cut off his head. But at that very moment the supremely merciful Lord Śiva rose up out of the sacrificial fire, looking like the god of fire himself, and grabbed both arms of the demon to stop him from killing himself, just as we would do. By Lord Śiva's touch, Vṛkāsura once again became whole.
Lord Śiva said to him: My friend, please stop, stop! Ask from me whatever you want, and I will bestow that boon upon you. Alas, you have subjected your body to great torment for no reason, since I am pleased with a simple offering of water from those who approach me for shelter.
Upon hearing this, Lord Rudra seemed somewhat disturbed. Nonetheless, O descendant of Bharata, he vibrated oṁ to signify his assent, granting Vṛka the benediction with an ironic smile, as if giving milk to a poisonous snake.
To test Lord Śambhu's benediction, the demon then tried to put his hand on the Lord's head. Thus Śiva was frightened because of what he himself had done.
As the demon pursued him, Lord Śiva fled swiftly from his abode in the north, shaking with terror. He ran as far as the limits of the earth, the sky and the corners of the universe.
The great demigods could only remain silent, not knowing how to counteract the benediction. Then Lord Śiva reached the luminous realm of Vaikuṇṭha, beyond all darkness, where the Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa is manifest. That realm is the destination of renunciants who have attained peace and given up all violence against other creatures. Going there, one never returns.
The Supreme Lord, who relieves His devotees' distress, had seen from afar that Lord Śiva was in danger. Thus by His mystic Yogamāyā potency He assumed the form of a brahmacārī student, with the appropriate belt, deerskin, rod and prayer beads, and came before Vṛkāsura. The Lord's effulgence glowed brilliantly like fire. Holding kuśa grass in His hand, He humbly greeted the demon.
The Supreme Lord said: If this is the case, We cannot believe what Śiva says. Śiva is the same lord of the Pretas and Piśācas whom Dakṣa cursed to become like a carnivorous hobgoblin.
If the words of Lord Śambhu prove untrue in any way, O best of the demons, then kill the liar so he may never lie again.
The celestial sages, Pitās and Gandharvas rained down flowers to celebrate the killing of sinful Vṛkāsura. Now Lord Śiva was out of danger.
Lord Hari is the directly manifest Absolute Truth, the Supreme Soul and unlimited ocean of inconceivable energies. Anyone who recites or hears this pastime of His saving Lord Śiva will be freed from all enemies and the repetition of birth and death.
Bhṛgu then went to Mount Kailāsa. There Lord Śiva stood up and happily came forward to embrace his brother.
But Bhṛgu refused his embrace, telling him, "You are a deviant heretic." At this Lord Śiva became angry, and his eyes burned ferociously. He raised his trident and was about to kill Bhṛgu when Goddess Devī fell at his feet and spoke some words to pacify him. Bhṛgu then left that place and went to Vaikuṇṭha, where Lord Janārdana resides.
Do not minimize my ability, which was good enough to satisfy Lord Śiva, O brāhmaṇa. I will bring back your sons, dear master, even if I have to defeat Death himself in battle.
After touching pure water, offering obeisances to Lord Maheśvara and recollecting the mantras for his celestial weapons, Arjuna strung his bow Gāṇḍīva.
The nine Yogendras are liberated souls who travel freely to the planets of the demigods, the perfected mystics, the Sādhyas, the heavenly musicians, the Yakṣas, the human beings, and the minor demigods such as the Kinnaras and the serpents. No mundane force can check their free movement, and exactly as they wish they can travel as well to the worlds of the sages, the angels, the ghostly followers of Lord Śiva, the Vidyādharas, the brāhmaṇas and the cows.
The lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are sought even by the greatest of demigods, such as Brahmā and Śiva, who have all accepted the Supreme Personality of Godhead as their life and soul. A pure devotee of the Lord can never forget those lotus feet in any circumstance. He will not give up his shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord for a single moment—indeed, not for half a moment—even in exchange for the benediction of ruling and enjoying the opulence of the entire universe. Such a devotee of the Lord is to be considered the best of the Vaiṣṇavas.
In the beginning, the original Supreme Personality manifested the form of Brahmā through the material mode of passion in order to create this universe. The Lord manifested His form as Viṣṇu, the Lord of sacrifice and protector of the twice-born brāhmaṇas and their religious duties, to maintain the universe. And when the universe is to be annihilated the same Supreme Lord employs the material mode of ignorance and manifests the form of Rudra The created living beings are thus always subject to the forces of creation, maintenance and destruction.
My dear Lord, You are the Mahā-puruṣa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I worship Your lotus feet, which are the only eternal object of meditation. Those feet destroy the embarrassing conditions of material life and freely award the greatest desire of the soul, the attainment of pure love of Godhead. My dear Lord, Your lotus feet are the shelter of all holy places and of all saintly authorities in the line of devotional service and are honored by powerful demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā. My Lord, You are so kind that You willingly protect all those who simply bow down to You with respect, and thus You mercifully relieve all the distress of Your servants. In conclusion, my Lord, Your lotus feet are actually the suitable boat for crossing over the ocean of birth and death, and therefore even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva seek shelter at Your lotus feet."
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Lord Brahmā then set off for Dvārakā, accompanied by his own sons as well as by the demigods and the great Prajāpatis. Lord Śiva, the bestower of auspiciousness to all living beings, also went, surrounded by many ghostly creatures.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: After Brahmā, along with Lord Śiva and the other demigods, thus offered prayers to the Supreme Lord, Govinda, Lord Brahmā situated himself in the sky and addressed the Lord as follows.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O greatly fortunate Uddhava, you have accurately revealed My desire to withdraw the Yadu dynasty from the earth and return to My own abode in Vaikuṇṭha. Thus Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and all other planetary rulers are now praying for Me to resume My residence in Vaikuṇṭha.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Uddhava, the Supreme Lord gives life to every living being and is situated within the heart along with the life air and primal sound vibration. The Lord can be perceived in His subtle form within the heart by one's mind, since the Lord controls the minds of everyone, even great demigods like Lord Śiva. The Supreme Lord also assumes a gross form as the various sounds of the Vedas, composed of short and long vowels and consonants of different intonations.
My dear Uddhava, neither Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, the goddess of fortune nor indeed My own self is as dear to Me as you are.
Among the demigods I am Indra, and among the Vasus I am Agni, the god of fire. I am Viṣṇu among the sons of Aditi, and among the Rudras I am Lord Śiva.
Among sacred and flowing things I am the holy Ganges, and among steady bodies of water I am the ocean. Among weapons I am the bow, and of the wielders of weapons I am Lord Śiva.
O most magnanimous Lord, the instructions on this process of Deity worship first emanated from Your lotus mouth. Then they were spoken by the great Lord Brahmā to his sons, headed by Bhṛgu, and by Lord Śiva to his wife, Pārvatī. This process is accepted by and appropriate for all the occupational and spiritual orders of society. Therefore I consider worship of You in Your Deity form to be the most beneficial of all spiritual practices, even for women and śūdras.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Thus questioned by the most affectionate Uddhava, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme controller of all controllers, who takes the entire universe as His plaything and assumes the three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, began to reply, lovingly displaying His all-attractive smile.
Neither Brahmā nor his sons, headed by Rudra, nor any of the great sages who are masters of the Vedic mantras can understand the function of Your mystic power. Because Your illusory potency has covered their sight, they remain ignorant of how Your mystic power works. Therefore, what can I, such a low-born person, possibly say?
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then Lord Brahmā arrived at Prabhāsa along with Lord Śiva and his consort, the sages, the Prajāpatis and all the demigods, headed by Indra.
A few of the demigods, however—notably Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva—could ascertain how the Lord's mystic power was working, and thus they became astonished. All the demigods praised the Lord's mystic power and then returned to their own planets.
Lord Kṛṣṇa brought the son of His guru back from the planet of the lord of death in the boy's selfsame body, and as the ultimate giver of protection He saved you also when you were burned by the brahmāstra of Aśvatthāmā. He conquered in battle even Lord Śiva, who deals death to the agents of death, and He sent the hunter Jarā directly to Vaikuṇṭha in his human body. How could such a personality be unable to protect His own Self?
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has elaborately described in various narrations the Supreme Soul of all that be—the Personality of Godhead, Hari—from whose satisfaction Brahmā is born and from whose anger Rudra takes birth.
O brāhmaṇa, in the present age of Vaivasvata Manu, the leaders of the universe, led by Brahmā and Śiva, requested the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the protector of all the worlds, to save the principles of religion. O most fortunate Śaunaka, the almighty Lord, exhibiting a divine spark of a portion of His plenary portion, then appeared in the womb of Satyavatī as the son of Parāśara. In this form, named Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa, he divided the one Veda into four.
Lord Brahmā, Bhṛgu Muni, Lord Śiva, Prajāpati Dakṣa, the great sons of Brahmā, and many others among the human beings, demigods, forefathers and ghostly spirits—all were astonished by the achievement of Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi.
Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said: O Almighty Lord, how can I possibly describe You? You awaken the vital air, which then impels the mind, senses and power of speech to act. This is true for all ordinary conditioned souls and even for great demigods like Brahmā and Śiva. So it is certainly true for me. Nevertheless, You become the intimate friend of those who worship You.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Lord Rudra, traveling in the sky on his bull and accompanied by his consort, Rudrāṇī, as well as his personal associates, observed Mārkaṇḍeya in trance.
Lord Śiva replied: Surely this saintly brāhmaṇa does not desire any benediction, not even liberation itself, for he has attained pure devotional service unto the inexhaustible Personality of Godhead.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Having spoken thus, Lord Śaṅkara—the shelter of pure souls, master of all spiritual sciences and controller of all embodied living beings—approached the sage.
Because Mārkaṇḍeya's material mind had stopped functioning, the sage failed to notice that Lord Śiva and his wife, the controllers of the universe, had personally come to see him. Mārkaṇḍeya was so absorbed in meditation that he was unaware of either himself or the external world.
Understanding the situation very well, the powerful Lord Śiva employed his mystic power to enter within the sky of Mārkaṇḍeya's heart, just as the wind passes through an opening.
Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya saw Lord Śiva suddenly appear within his heart. Lord Śiva's golden hair resembled lightning, and he had three eyes, ten arms and a tall body that shone like the rising sun. He wore a tiger skin, and he carried a trident, a bow, arrows, a sword and a shield, along with prayer beads, a ḍamaru drum, a skull and an ax. Astonished, the sage came out of his trance and thought, "Who is this, and where has he come from?"
Opening his eyes, the sage saw Lord Rudra, the spiritual master of the three worlds, together with Umā and Rudra's followers. Mārkaṇḍeya then offered his respectful obeisances by bowing his head.
Mārkaṇḍeya worshiped Lord Śiva, along with Umā and Śiva's associates, by offering them words of welcome, sitting places, water for washing their feet, scented drinking water, fragrant oils, flower garlands and ārati lamps.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Lord Śiva, the foremost demigod and the shelter of the saintly devotees, was satisfied by Mārkaṇḍeya's praise. Pleased, he smiled and addressed the sage.
Lord Śiva said: Please ask me for some benediction, since among all givers of benedictions, we three—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and I—are the best. Seeing us never goes in vain, because simply by seeing us a mortal achieves immortality.
Mārkaṇḍeya, having been forced by Lord Viṣṇu's illusory energy to wander about for a long time in the water of dissolution, had become extremely exhausted. But Lord Śiva's words of nectar vanquished his accumulated suffering. Thus he addressed Lord Śiva.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus worshiped and glorified by the eloquent statements of the sage Mārkaṇḍeya, Lord Śarva (Śiva), encouraged by his consort, replied to him as follows.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Having thus granted Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi benedictions, Lord Śiva went on his way, continuing to describe to goddess Devī the accomplishments of the sage and the direct exhibition of the Lord's illusory power that he had experienced.
The Bhāgavatam also describes the creation of demigods, animals and demoniac species of life; the birth of Lord Rudra; and the appearance of Svāyambhuva Manu from the half-man, half-woman Īśvara.
Also narrated are how Lord Kṛṣṇa, in the battle with Bāṇāsura, defeated Lord Śiva by making him yawn, how the Lord cut off Bāṇāsura's arms, and how He killed the master of Prāgjyotiṣapura and then rescued the young princesses held captive in that city.
I bow down to that unborn and infinite Supreme Soul, whose personal energies effect the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material universe. Even Brahmā, Indra, Śaṅkara and the other lords of the heavenly planets cannot fathom the glories of that infallible Personality of Godhead.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Unto that personality whom Brahmā, Varuṇa, Indra, Rudra and the Maruts praise by chanting transcendental hymns and reciting the Vedas with all their corollaries, pada-kramas and Upaniṣads, to whom the chanters of the Sāma Veda always sing, whom the perfected yogīs see within their minds after fixing themselves in trance and absorbing themselves within Him, and whose limit can never be found by any demigod or demon—unto that Supreme Personality of Godhead I offer my humble obeisances.
The Brahmā Purāṇa consists of ten thousand verses, the Padma Purāṇa of fifty-five thousand, Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa of twenty-three thousand, the Śiva Purāṇa of twenty-four thousand and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam of eighteen thousand. The Nārada Purāṇa has twenty-five thousand verses, the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa nine thousand, the Agni Purāṇa fifteen thousand four hundred, the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa fourteen thousand five hundred, the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa eighteen thousand and the Liṅga Purāṇa eleven thousand. The Varāha Purāṇa contains twenty-four thousand verses, the Skanda Purāṇa eighty-one thousand one hundred, the Vāmana Purāṇa ten thousand, the Kūrma Purāṇa seventeen thousand, the Matsya Purāṇa fourteen thousand, the Garuḍa Purāṇa nineteen thousand and the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa twelve thousand. Thus the total number of verses in all the Purāṇas is four hundred thousand. Eighteen thousand of these, once again, belong to the beautiful Bhāgavatam.
Just as the Gaṅgā is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Śambhu (Śiva) the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas, so Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the greatest of all Purāṇas.