When he came to his consciousness, he understood that he had offended a great, learned and saintly person. At that time he very humbly and respectfully prayed to Jaḍa Bharata. He now wanted to understand the deep meaning of the philosophical words used by Jaḍa Bharata, and with great sincerity, he begged his pardon. He admitted that if one offends the lotus feet of a pure devotee, he is certainly punished by the trident of Lord Śiva.
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Siva (SB cantos 5 - 6)
SB Canto 5
Because Brahmā was born directly from Lord Viṣṇu, he is called ātma-yoni. He is also called bhagavān, although generally bhagavān refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Viṣṇu or Lord Kṛṣṇa). Sometimes great personalities—such as demigods like Lord Brahmā, Nārada or Lord Śiva—are also addressed as bhagavān because they carry out the purpose of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Brahmā is called bhagavān because he is the secondary creator of this universe.
Lord Brahmā, the supreme person within this universe, said: My dear Priyavrata, kindly hear attentively what I shall say to you. Do not be jealous of the Supreme Lord, who is beyond our experimental measurements. All of us, including Lord Śiva, your father and the great sage Mahārṣi Nārada, must carry out the order of the Supreme. We cannot deviate from His order.
Of the twelve great authorities in devotional service, four—Lord Brahmā himself, his son Nārada, Svāyambhuva Manu and Lord Śiva—were present before Priyavrata. They were accompanied by many other authoritative sages.
Why one is induced to perform certain acts despite his desire to do something else is indicated herein. One cannot disobey the orders of the Supreme Lord, even if one is as powerful as Lord Śiva. Lord Brahmā. Manu or the great sage Nārada. All these authorities are certainly very powerful, but they do not have the power to disobey the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There are many excellent verses, famous all over the world, concerning the activities of Mahārāja Priyavrata. He is so celebrated that his activities are compared to those of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes a sincere servant and devotee of the Lord is also called bhagavān. Śrī Nārada is called bhagavān, and Lord Śiva and Vyāsadeva are also sometimes called bhagavān. This designation, bhagavān, is sometimes conferred upon a pure devotee by the grace of the Lord so that he will be very highly esteemed. Mahārāja Priyavrata was such a devotee.
The priests were certainly unhappy to have called the Supreme Lord from Vaikuṇṭha for such an insignificant reason. A pure devotee never wants to see the Lord unnecessarily. The Lord is engaged in various activities, and the pure devotee does not want to see Him whimsically, for his own sense gratification. The pure devotee simply depends on the Lord's mercy, and when the Lord is pleased, he can see Him face to face. The Lord is unseen even by demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. By calling on the Supreme Lord, the priests of Nābhi Mahārāja proved themselves unintelligent; nonetheless, the Lord came out of His causeless mercy. All of them therefore wanted to be excused by the Lord.
Both King Indra and Ṛṣabhadeva, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, are described as bhagavān. Sometimes Nārada and Lord Brahmā are also addressed as bhagavān. The word bhagavān means that one is a very opulent and powerful person like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Nārada or Indra. They are all addressed as bhagavān due to their extraordinary opulence.
The Supreme Lord is master of all demigods; therefore the demigods are His servants. The Vaiṣṇava accepts them as servants of the Supreme Lord, and he worships them directly. In the Brahma-saṁhitā, the important demigods—Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā and even the incarnations and expansions of Lord Kṛṣṇa like Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and all the other viṣṇu-tattvas, as well as the śakti-tattvas like Durgādevī—are all worshiped by the process of worshiping Govinda with the words govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi **. A Vaiṣṇava worships the demigods in relation to Govinda, not independently. Vaiṣṇavas are not so foolish that they consider the demigods independent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Of the two energies manifest (spirit and dull matter), beings possessing living force (vegetables, grass, trees and plants) are superior to dull matter (stone, earth, etc.). Superior to nonmoving plants and vegetables are worms and snakes, which can move. Superior to worms and snakes are animals that have developed intelligence. Superior to animals are human beings, and superior to human beings are ghosts because they have no material bodies. Superior to ghosts are the Gandharvas, and superior to them are the Siddhas. Superior to the Siddhas are the Kinnaras, and superior to them are the asuras. Superior to the asuras are the demigods, and of the demigods, Indra, the King of heaven, is supreme. Superior to Indra are the direct sons of Lord Brahmā, sons like King Dakṣa, and supreme among Brahmā's sons is Lord Śiva. Since Lord Śiva is the son of Lord Brahmā, Brahmā is considered superior, but Brahmā is also subordinate to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because I am inclined to the brāhmaṇas, the brāhmaṇas are best of all.
Brāhmaṇas who are pure Vaiṣṇavas always engage in the Lord's service and are devoid of any desire for material gain. The brāhmaṇas do not worship demigods like Lord Brahmā, Indra or Lord Śiva for any material comfort. They do not even ask the Supreme Lord for material profit; therefore it is concluded that the brāhmaṇas are the supreme living entities of this world.
All the learned scholars have given their opinion. The mind is by nature very restless, and one should not make friends with it. If we place full confidence in the mind, it may cheat us at any moment. Even Lord Śiva became agitated upon seeing the Mohinī form of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and Saubhari Muni also fell down from the mature stage of yogic perfection.
Because the goddess Durgā satisfies Kṛṣṇa, we should therefore offer respects to goddess Durgā. Because Lord Śiva is nothing but Kṛṣṇa's functional body, we should therefore offer respects to Lord Śiva. Similarly, we should offer respects to Brahmā, Agni and Sūrya. There are many offerings to different demigods, and one should always remember that these offerings are usually meant to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
My dear sir, I am not at all afraid of the thunderbolt of King Indra, nor am I afraid of the serpentine, piercing trident of Lord Śiva. I do not care about the punishment of Yamarāja, the superintendent of death, nor am I afraid of fire, scorching sun, moon, wind, nor the weapons of Kuvera. Yet I am afraid of offending a brāhmaṇa. I am very much afraid of this.
Offending a brāhmaṇa is very dangerous, and this was known to Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa. He therefore frankly admitted his fault. There are many dangerous things—thunderbolts, fire, Yamarāja's punishment, the punishment of Lord Śiva's trident, and so forth—but none is considered as serious as offending a brāhmaṇa like Jaḍa Bharata. Therefore Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa immediately descended from his palanquin and fell flat before the lotus feet of the brāhmaṇa Jaḍa Bharata just to be excused.
O my dear lord, you are the friend of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the friend of all living entities. You are therefore equal to everyone, and you are free from the bodily conception. Although I have committed an offense by insulting you, I know that there is no loss or gain for you due to my insult. You are fixed in your determination, but I have committed an offense. Because of this, even though I may be as strong as Lord Śiva, I shall be vanquished without delay due to my offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava.
Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya 13) says:
- śūlapāṇi-sama yadi bhakta-nindā kare
- bhāgavata pramāṇa—tathāpi śīghra mare
- hena vaiṣṇavere ninde sarvajña ha-i
- se janera adhaḥ-pāta sarva-śāstre ka-i
"Even if one is as strong as Lord Śiva, who carries a trident in his hand, one will nonetheless fall down from his spiritual position if he tries to insult a Vaiṣṇava. That is the verdict of all Vedic scriptures."
"One who blasphemes a Vaiṣṇava cannot be protected by anyone. Even if a person is as strong as Lord Śiva, if he blasphemes a Vaiṣṇava, he is sure to be destroyed. This is the verdict of all śāstras. If one does not care for the verdict of the śāstras and dares blaspheme a Vaiṣṇava, he suffers life after life because of this."
The pious wives of the Yakṣas act as personal maidservants to assist Bhavānī, the wife of Lord Śiva. Because they drink the water of the River Aruṇodā, their bodies become fragrant, and as the air carries away that fragrance, it perfumes the entire atmosphere for eighty miles around.
The Seventeenth Chapter describes the origin of the Ganges River and how it flows in and around Ilāvṛta-varṣa. There is also a description of the prayers Lord Śiva offers to Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, part of the quadruple expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
With two steps, Lord Vāmana covered all three planetary systems and pierced the covering of the universe with the toes of His left foot. A few drops of water from the Causal Ocean leaked through this hole and fell on the head of Lord Śiva, where they remained for one thousand millenniums. These drops of water are the sacred Ganges River.
In the Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is the only male. There he lives with his wife, Bhavānī, who is attended by many maidservants. If any other male enters that province, Bhavānī curses him to become a woman. Lord Śiva worships Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa by offering various prayers, one of which is as follows: "My dear Lord, please liberate all Your devotees from material life and bind all the nondevotees to the material world. Without Your mercy, no one can be released from the bondage of material existence."
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: In the tract of land known as Ilāvṛta-varṣa, the only male person is Lord Śiva, the most powerful demigod. Goddess Durgā, the wife of Lord Śiva, does not like any man to enter that land. If any foolish man dares to do so, she immediately turns him into a woman. I shall explain this later (in the Ninth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam).
In Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is always encircled by ten billion maidservants of goddess Durgā, who minister to him. The quadruple expansion of the Supreme Lord is composed of Vāsudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa, the fourth expansion, is certainly transcendental, but because his activities of destruction in the material world are in the mode of ignorance, He is known as tāmasī, the Lord's form in the mode of ignorance. Lord Śiva knows that Saṅkarṣaṇa is the original cause of his own existence, and thus he always meditates upon Him in trance by chanting the following mantra.
Sometimes we see a picture of Lord Śiva engaged in meditation. This verse explains that Lord Śiva is always meditating upon Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa in trance. Lord Śiva is in charge of the destruction of the material world. Lord Brahmā creates the material world, Lord Viṣṇu maintains it, and Lord Śiva destroys it. Because destruction is in the mode of ignorance, Lord Śiva and his worshipable Deity, Saṅkarṣaṇa, are technically called tāmasī. Lord Śiva is the incarnation of tamo-guṇa. Since both Lord Śiva and Saṅkarṣaṇa are always enlightened and situated in the transcendental position, they have nothing to do with the modes of material nature—goodness, passion and ignorance—but because their activities involve them with the mode of ignorance, they are sometimes called tāmasī.
The most powerful Lord Śiva says: O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You in Your expansion as Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa. You are the reservoir of all transcendental qualities. Although You are unlimited, You remain unmanifest to the nondevotees.
Lord Śiva continued: All the great sages accept the Lord as the source of creation, maintenance and destruction, although He actually has nothing to do with these activities. Therefore the Lord is called unlimited. Although the Lord in His incarnation as Śeṣa holds all the universes on His hoods, each universe feels no heavier than a mustard seed to Him. Therefore, what person desiring perfection will not worship the Lord?
From that Supreme Personality of Godhead appears Lord Brahmā, whose body is made from the total material energy, the reservoir of intelligence predominated by the passionate mode of material nature. From Lord Brahmā, I myself am born as a representation of false ego known as Rudra. By my own power I create all the other demigods, the five elements and the senses. Therefore, I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than any of us and under whose control are situated all the demigods, material elements and senses, and even Lord Brahmā and I myself, like birds bound by a rope. Only by the Lord's grace can we create, maintain and annihilate the material world. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Being.
A summary of creation is given in this verse. From Saṅkarṣaṇa, Mahā-Viṣṇu expands, and from Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu expands. Lord Brahmā, who was born of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, fathers Lord Śiva, from whom all the other demigods gradually evolve. Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu are incarnations of the different material qualities. Lord Viṣṇu is actually above all material qualities, but He accepts control of sattva-guṇa (the mode of goodness) to maintain the universe. Lord Brahmā is born from the mahat-tattva. Brahmā creates the entire universe, Lord Viṣṇu maintains it, and Lord Śiva annihilates it. The Supreme Personality of Godhead controls all the most important demigods—especially Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva—exactly as the owner of a bird controls it by binding it with a rope. Sometimes vultures are controlled in this way.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Bhadraśravā, the son of Dharmarāja, rules the tract of land known as Bhadrāśva-varṣa. Just as Lord Śiva worships Saṅkarṣaṇa in Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Bhadraśravā, accompanied by his intimate servants and all the residents of the land, worships the plenary expansion of Vāsudeva known as Hayaśīrṣa. Lord Hayaśīrṣa is very dear to the devotees, and He is the director of all religious principles. Fixed in the topmost trance, Bhadraśravā and his associates offer their respectful obeisances to the Lord and chant the following prayers with careful pronunciation.
O supreme unconquerable Lord, when they become absorbed in thoughts of material enjoyment, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, as well as other demigods and demons, undergo severe penances and austerities to receive my benedictions. But I do not favor anyone, however great he may be; unless he is always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet. Because I always keep You within my heart, I cannot favor anyone but a devotee.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.14.15) it is stated:
- na tathā me priyatama
- ātma-yonir na śaṅkaraḥ
- na ca saṅkarṣaṇo na śrīr
- naivātmā ca yathā bhavān
Here Kṛṣṇa plainly says that His devotees are more dear to Him than Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa (the original cause of creation), the goddess of fortune or even His own Self. Elsewhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.20) Śukadeva Gosvāmī says,
- nemam viriñco na bhavo
- na śrīr apy aṅga saṁśrayā
- prasādaṁ lebhire gopī
- yat tat prāpa vimuktidāt
The Supreme Lord, who can award liberation to anyone, showed more mercy toward the gopīs than to Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva or even the goddess of fortune, who is His own wife and is associated with His body.
It is fashionable for materialistic persons to compete with the power of God. When so-called scientists try to manufacture living entities in their laboratories, their only purpose is to defy the talent and ability of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called illusion. It exists even in the higher planetary systems, where great demigods like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and others reside.
In the Caitanya-bhāgavata it is said:
- kholāvecā sevakera dekha bhāgya-sīmā
- brahmā śiva kāṅde yāra dekhiyā mahimā
- dhane jane pāṇḍitye kṛṣere nāhi pāi
- kevala bhaktira vaśa caitanya-gosāñi
"Behold the great fortune of the devotee Kholāvecā. Lord Brahmā and Śiva shed tears upon seeing his greatness. One cannot attain Lord Kṛṣṇa by any amount of wealth, followers, or learning. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is controlled only by pure devotion. "
According to general understanding, there are originally three deities—Lord Brahmā, Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva—and people with a poor fund of knowledge consider Lord Viṣṇu no better than Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva. This conclusion, however, is invalid.
It may be argued that the demigods are as important as Lord Viṣṇu because the names of the demigods are different names of Viṣṇu. This, however, is not a sound conclusion, for it is contradicted in the Vedic literatures. The Vedas declare:
- candramā manaso jātaś cakṣoḥ sūryo ajāyata; śrotrādayaś ca prāṇaś ca mukhād agnir ajāyata; nārāyaṇād brahmā, nārāyaṇād rudro jāyate, nārāyaṇāt prajāpatiḥ jāyate, nārāyaṇād indro jāyate, nārāyaṇād aṣṭau vasavo jāyante, nārāyaṇād ekādaśa rudrā jāyante.
"The demigod of the moon, Candra, came from the mind of Nārāyaṇa, and the sun-god came from His eyes. The controlling deities of hearing and the life air came from Nārāyaṇa, and the controlling deity of fire was generated from His mouth. Prajāpati, Lord Brahmā, came from Nārāyaṇa, Indra came from Nārāyaṇa, and the eight Vasus, the eleven expansions of Lord Śiva and the twelve Ādityas also came from Nārāyaṇa."
In the smṛti Vedic literature it is also said:
- brahmā śambhus tathaivārkaś
- candramāś ca śatakratuḥ
- evam ādyās tathaivānye
- yuktā vaiṣṇava-tejasā
- jagat-kāryāvasāne tu
- viyujyante ca tejasā
- vitejaś ca te sarve
- pañcatvam upayānti te
"Brahmā, Śambhu, Sūrya and Indra are all merely products of the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is also true of the many other demigods whose names are not mentioned here. When the cosmic manifestation is annihilated, these different expansions of Nārāyaṇa's potencies will merge into Nārāyaṇa. In other words, all these demigods will die. Their living force will be withdrawn, and they will merge into Nārāyaṇa."
Therefore it should be concluded that Lord Viṣṇu, not Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As a government officer is sometimes accepted as the entire government although he is actually but a departmental manager, so the demigods, having achieved power of attorney from Viṣṇu, act on His behalf, although they are not as powerful as He. All the demigods must work under the orders of Viṣṇu. Therefore it is said, ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya (CC Adi 5.142). The only master is Lord Kṛṣṇa, or Lord Viṣṇu, and all others are His obedient servants, who act exactly according to His orders.
Below Atala is the planet Vitala, wherein Lord Śiva and his wife Gaurī reside. Because of their presence, a kind of gold is produced called hāṭaka.
Below Sutala is the planet Talātala, the abode of the demon Maya. This demon is always materially happy because he is favored by Lord Śiva, but he cannot achieve spiritual happiness at any time.
The next planet below Atala is Vitala, wherein Lord Śiva, who is known as the master of gold mines, lives with his personal associates, the ghosts and similar living entities. Lord Śiva, as the progenitor, engages in sex with Bhavānī, the progenitress, to produce living entities, and from the mixture of their vital fluid the river named Hāṭakī is generated. When fire, being made to blaze by the wind, drinks of this river and then sizzles and spits it out, it produces gold called Hāṭaka. The demons who live on that planet with their wives decorate themselves with various ornaments made from that gold, and thus they live there very happily.
It appears that when Bhava and Bhavānī, Lord Śiva and his wife, unite sexually, the emulsification of their secretions creates a chemical which when heated by fire can produce gold.
It is said that for spiritual realization one must follow great personalities like Lord Brahmā, Devarṣi Nārada, Lord Śiva and Prahlāda Mahārāja. The path of bhakti is not at all difficult if we follow in the footsteps of previous ācāryas and authorities, but those who are too materially contaminated by the modes of material nature cannot follow them.
Beneath the planet known as Sutala is another planet, called Talātala, which is ruled by the Dānava demon named Maya. Maya is known as the ācārya (master) of all the māyāvīs, who can invoke the powers of sorcery. For the benefit of the three worlds, Lord Śiva, who is known as Tripurāri, once set fire to the three kingdoms of Maya, but later, being pleased with him, he returned his kingdom. Since that time, Maya Dānava has been protected by Lord Śiva, and therefore he falsely thinks that he need not fear the Sudarśana cakra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this chapter, Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes Ananta, the source of Lord Śiva. Lord Ananta, whose body is completely spiritual, resides at the root of the planet Pātāla. He always lives in the core of Lord Śiva's heart, and He helps him destroy the universe. Ananta instructs Lord Śiva how to destroy the cosmos, and thus He is sometimes called tāmasī, or "one who is in the mode of darkness." He is the original Deity of material consciousness, and because He attracts all living entities, He is sometimes known as Saṅkarṣaṇa. The entire material world is situated on the hoods of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa. From His forehead He transmits to Lord Śiva the power to destroy this material world.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said to Mahārāja Parīkṣit: My dear King, approximately 240,000 miles beneath the planet Pātāla lives another incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the expansion of Lord Viṣṇu known as Lord Ananta or Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa. He is always in the transcendental position, but because He is worshiped by Lord Śiva, the deity of tamo-guṇa or darkness, He is sometimes called tāmasī. Lord Ananta is the predominating Deity of the material mode of ignorance as well as the false ego of all conditioned souls. When a conditioned living being thinks, "I am the enjoyer, and this world is meant to be enjoyed by me," this conception of life is dictated to him by Saṅkarṣaṇa. Thus the mundane conditioned soul thinks himself the Supreme Lord.
Because this forgetfulness is created by Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is sometimes called tāmasī. The name tāmasī does not indicate that He has a material body. He is always transcendental, but because He is the Supersoul of Lord Śiva, who must perform tamasic activities, Saṅkarṣaṇa is sometimes called tāmasī.
At the time of devastation, when Lord Anantadeva desires to destroy the entire creation, He becomes slightly angry. Then from between His two eyebrows appears three-eyed Rudra, carrying a trident. This Rudra, who is known as Sāṅkarṣaṇa, is the embodiment of the eleven Rudras, or incarnations of Lord Śiva. He appears in order to devastate the entire creation.
In each creation, the living entities are given a chance to close their business as conditioned souls. When they misuse this opportunity and do not go back home, back to Godhead, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa becomes angry. The eleven Rudras, expansions of Lord Śiva, come out of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa's eyebrows due to His angry mood, and all of them together devastate the entire creation.
The following quotations from Caitanya-bhāgavata (Ādi-khaṇḍa, 1.48-52 and 1.58-69) tell of the glories of Lord Ananta:
- ki brahmā, ki śiva, ki sanakādi 'kumāra'
- vyāsa, śuka, nāradādi, 'bhakta' nāma yāṅra
"Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras (Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanāt-kumāra), Vyāsadeva, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and Nārada are all pure devotees, eternal servants of the Lord.
SB Canto 6
By chanting the holy name of the Lord, Ajāmila had met four order carriers of Lord Viṣṇu. They were very beautiful and had quickly come to rescue him. Yamarāja now described them. "The Viṣṇudūtas are all pure devotees of the Lord, the Supreme Person in regard to the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this cosmic manifestation. Neither King Indra, Varuṇa, Śiva, Brahmā, the seven ṛṣis nor I myself can understand the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord, who is self-sufficient and beyond the reach of the material senses. With material senses, no one can attain enlightenment about Him. The Lord, the master of the illusory energy, possesses transcendental qualities for the good fortune of everyone, and His devotees are also qualified in that way. The devotees, concerned only with rescuing the fallen souls from this material world, apparently take birth in different places in the material world just to save the conditioned souls. If one is somewhat interested in spiritual life, the devotees of the Lord protect him in many ways."
Yamarāja continued, "The essence of sanātana-dharma, or eternal religion, is extremely confidential. No one but the Lord Himself can deliver that confidential religious system to human society. It is by the mercy of the Lord that the transcendental system of religion can be understood by His pure devotees, and specifically by the twelve mahājanas-Lord Brahmā, Nārada Muni, Lord Śiva, the Kumāras, Kapila, Manu, Prahlāda, Janaka, Bhīṣma, Bali, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and me. Other learned scholars, headed by Jaimini, are almost always covered by the illusory energy, and therefore they are more or less attracted by the flowery language of the three Vedas, namely Ṛg, Yajur and Sāma, which are called trayī. Instead of becoming pure devotees, people captivated by the flowery words of these three Vedas are interested in the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. They cannot understand the glories of chanting the holy name of the Lord. Intelligent persons, however, take to the devotional service of the Lord. When they chant the holy name of the Lord without offenses, they are no longer subject to my rulings. If by chance they commit some sinful act, they are protected by the holy name of the Lord because that is where their interest lies. The four weapons of the Lord, especially the club and the Sudarśana cakra, always protect the devotees. One who chants, hears or remembers the holy name of the Lord without duplicity, or who prays or offers obeisances to the Lord, becomes perfect, whereas even a learned person may be called to hell if he is bereft of devotional service."
Yamarāja said: My dear servants, you have accepted me as the Supreme, but factually I am not. Above me, and above all the other demigods, including Indra and Candra, is the one supreme master and controller. The partial manifestations of His personality are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, who are in charge of the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this universe. He is like the two threads that form the length and breadth of a woven cloth. The entire world is controlled by Him just as a bull is controlled by a rope in its nose.
I, Yamarāja; Indra, the King of heaven; Nirṛti; Varuṇa; Candra, the moon-god; Agni; Lord Śiva; Pavana; Lord Brahmā; Sūrya, the sun-god; Viśvāsu; the eight Vasus; the Sādhyas; the Maruts; the Rudras; the Siddhas; and Marīci and the other great ṛṣis engaged in maintaining the departmental affairs of the universe, as well as the best of the demigods headed by Bṛhaspati, and the great sages headed by Bhṛgu are all certainly freed from the influence of the two base material modes of nature, namely passion and ignorance. Nevertheless, although we are in the mode of goodness, we cannot understand the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What, then, is to be said of others, who, under illusion, merely speculate to know God?
Lord Brahmā, Bhagavān Nārada, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras, Lord Kapila (the son of Devahūti), Svāyambhuva Manu, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and I myself know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhāgavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. It is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead.
In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa refers to bhāgavata-dharma as the most confidential religious principle (sarva-guhyatamam, guhyād guhyataram). Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, "Because you are My very dear friend, I am explaining to you the most confidential religion." Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "Give up all other duties and surrender unto Me." One may ask, "If this principle is very rarely understood, what is the use of it?" In answer, Yamarāja states herein that this religious principle is understandable if one follows the paramparā system of Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras and the other standard authorities. There are four lines of disciplic succession: one from Lord Brahmā, one from Lord Śiva, one from Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, and one from the Kumāras. The disciplic succession from Lord Brahmā is called the Brahma-sampradāya, the succession from Lord Śiva (Śambhu) is called the Rudra-sampradāya, the one from the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, is called the Śrī-sampradāya, and the one from the Kumāras is called the Kumāra-sampradāya. One must take shelter of one of these four sampradāyas in order to understand the most confidential religious system. In the Padma Purāṇa it is said, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ: if one does not follow the four recognized disciplic successions, his mantra or initiation is useless. In the present day there are many apasampradāyas, or sampradāyas which are not bona fide, which have no link to authorities like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the Kumāras or Lakṣmī. People are misguided by such sampradāyas. The śāstras say that being initiated in such a sampradāya is a useless waste of time, for it will never enable one to understand the real religious principles.
Dakṣa was first born during the reign of Svāyambhuva Manu, but because of offending Lord Śiva he was punished by having the head of a goat substituted for his own head. Thus insulted, he had to give up that body, and in the sixth manvantara, called the Cākṣuṣa manvantara, he was born of the womb of Māriṣā as Dakṣa. In this connection Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura quotes this verse:
- cākṣuṣe tv antare prāpte
- prāk-sarge kāla-vidrute
- yaḥ sasarja prajā iṣṭāḥ
- sa dakṣo daiva-coditaḥ
"His previous body had been destroyed, but he, the same Dakṣa, inspired by the supreme will, created all the desired living entities in the Cākṣuṣa manvantara." (SB 4.30.49) Thus Dakṣa regained his previous opulence and again begot thousands and millions of children to fill the three worlds.
The impersonalists imagine the various demigods to be forms of the Lord. For example, the Māyāvādīs worship five demigods (pañcopāsanā). They do not actually believe in the form of the Lord, but for the sake of worship they imagine some form to be God. Generally they imagine a form of Viṣṇu, a form of Śiva, and forms of Gaṇeśa, the sun-god and Durgā. This is called pañcopāsanā. Dakṣa, however, wanted to worship not an imaginary form, but the supreme form of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
As Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: (BG 7.7) "There is no truth superior to Me." Aham ādir hi devānām: (Bg 10.2) "I am the origin of all the demigods." Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: (BG 10.8) "I am superior to everyone, even Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the other demigods." These are the conclusions of the śāstra, and one who accepts these conclusions should be considered a first-class philosopher. Such a philosopher knows that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Lord of the demigods (deva-deveśvaraṁ sūtram ānandaṁ prāṇa-vedinaḥ).
Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the Manus, all the other demigods in the higher planetary systems, and you prajāpatis, who are increasing the population, are working for the benefit of all living entities. Thus you expansions of My marginal energy are incarnations of My various qualities.
Although Prajāpati Dakṣa is not on the same level as Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, he is compared to them because he engages in the service of the Lord. In the service of the Personality of Godhead, it is not that Lord Brahmā is considered very great while an ordinary human being trying to preach the glories of the Lord is considered very low. There are no such distinctions. Regardless of whether materially high or materially low, anyone engaged in the service of the Lord is spiritually very dear to Him.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that Dakṣa was given the facility for unlimited sexual intercourse. In Dakṣa's previous life he was also known as Dakṣa, but in the course of performing sacrifices he offended Lord Śiva, and thus his head was replaced with that of a goat. Then Dakṣa gave up his life because of his degraded condition, but because he maintained the same unlimited sexual desires, he underwent austerities by which he satisfied the Supreme Lord, who then gave him unlimited potency for sexual intercourse.
The purport of this song is that Nārada Muni, the great soul, plays a stringed instrument called a vīṇā, vibrating the sound rādhikā-ramaṇa, which is another name for Kṛṣṇa. As soon as he strokes the strings, all the devotees begin responding, making a very beautiful vibration. Accompanied by the stringed instrument, the singing seems like a shower of nectar, and all the devotees dance in ecstasy to the fullest extent of their satisfaction. While dancing, they appear madly intoxicated with ecstasy, as if drinking the beverage called mādhurī-pūra. Some of them cry, some of them dance, and some of them, although unable to dance publicly, dance within their hearts. Lord Śiva embraces Nārada Muni and begins talking in an ecstatic voice, and seeing Lord Śiva dancing with Nārada, Lord Brahmā also joins, saying, "All of you kindly chant 'Hari bol! Hari bol!' "
Sarūpā, the wife of Bhūta, gave birth to the ten million Rudras, of whom the eleven principle Rudras were Raivata, Aja, Bhava, Bhīma, Vāma, Ugra, Vṛṣākapi, Ajaikapāt, Ahirbradhna, Bahurūpa and Mahān. Their associates, the ghosts and goblins, who are very fearful, were born of the other wife of Bhūta.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that Bhūta had two wives. One of them, Sarūpā, gave birth to the eleven Rudras, and the other wife gave birth to the associates of the Rudras known as the ghosts and hobgoblins.
Pūṣā had no sons. When Lord Śiva was angry at Dakṣa, Pūṣā had laughed at Lord Śiva and shown his teeth. Therefore he lost his teeth and had to live by eating only ground flour.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King, once upon a time, the King of heaven, Indra, being extremely proud because of his great opulence of the three worlds, transgressed the law of Vedic etiquette. Seated on his throne, he was surrounded by the Maruts, Vasus, Rudras, Ādityas, Ṛbhus, Viśvadevas, Sādhyas, Aśvinī-kumāras, Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas and by great saintly persons. Also surrounding him were the Vidyādharas, Apsarās, Kinnaras, Patagas (birds) and Uragas (snakes). All of them were offering Indra their respects and services, and the Apsarās and Gandharvas were dancing and singing with very sweet musical instruments. Over Indra's head was a white umbrella as effulgent as the full moon. Fanned by yak-tail whisks and served with all the paraphernalia of a great king, Indra was sitting with his wife, Śacīdevī, who occupied half the throne, when the great sage Bṛhaspati appeared in that assembly. Bṛhaspati, the best of the sages, was the spiritual master of Indra and the demigods and was respected by the demigods and demons alike. Nevertheless, although Indra saw his spiritual master before him, he did not rise from his own seat or offer a seat to his spiritual master, nor did Indra offer him a respectful welcome. Indra did nothing to show him respect.
The distinction between the demigods (devas) and demons (asuras) is that the demigods are all devotees of Lord Viṣṇu whereas the demons are devotees of demigods like Lord Śiva, Goddess Kālī and Goddess Durgā. Sometimes the demons are also devotees of Lord Brahmā. For example, Hiraṇyakaśipu was a devotee of Lord Brahmā, Rāvaṇa was a devotee of Lord Śiva, and Mahiṣāsura was a devotee of Goddess Durgā. The demigods are devotees of Lord Viṣṇu (viṣṇu-bhaktaḥ smṛto daiva), whereas the demons (āsuras tad-viparyayaḥ) are always against the viṣṇu-bhaktas, or Vaiṣṇavas. To oppose the Vaiṣṇavas, the demons become devotees of Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā, Kālī, Durgā, and so on. In the days of yore, many long years ago, there was animosity between the devas and the asuras, and the same spirit still continues, for the devotees of Lord Śiva and Goddess Durgā are always envious of Vaiṣṇavas, who are devotees of Lord Viṣṇu. This strain between the devotees of Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu has always existed. In the higher planetary systems, fights between the demons and the demigods continue for a long, long time.
Herein we see that Viśvarūpa made for the demigods a protective covering, saturated with a Viṣṇu mantra. Sometimes the Viṣṇu mantra is called Viṣṇu-jvara, and the Śiva mantra is called Śiva-jvara. We find in the śāstras that sometimes the Śiva-jvara and Viṣṇu-jvara are employed in the fights between the demons and the demigods.
May Lord Madhusūdana, who carries a bow very fearful for the demons, protect me during the fifth part of the day. In the evening, may Lord Mādhava, appearing as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, protect me, and in the beginning of night may Lord Hṛṣīkeśa protect me. At the dead of night (in the second and third parts of night) may Lord Padmanābha alone protect me.
There are four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions, namely the Brahma-sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya, the Śrī sampradāya and the Kumāra-sampradāya. If one wants to advance in spiritual power, one must receive his mantras from one of these bona fide sampradāyas; otherwise he will never successfully advance in spiritual life.
My dear King Parīkṣit, as Rudra, being very angry at Antaka (Yamarāja) had formerly run toward Antaka to kill him, Indra angrily and with great force attacked Vṛtrāsura, who was surrounded by the leaders of the demoniac armies.
O King, when all the asuras came onto the battlefield, headed by Vṛtrāsura, they saw King Indra carrying the thunderbolt and surrounded by the Rudras, Vasus, Ādityas, Aśvinī-kumāras, Pitās, Vahnis, Maruts, Ṛbhus, Sādhyas and Viśvadevas. Surrounded by his company, Indra shone so brightly that his effulgence was intolerable to the demons.
Thereafter, the demigods, the great saintly persons, the inhabitants of Pitṛloka and Bhūtaloka, the demons, the followers of the demigods, and also Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the demigods subordinate to Indra all returned to their respective homes. While departing, however, no one spoke to Indra.
Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the other demigods returned to their respective abodes, but Indra did not, for he was disturbed at having killed Vṛtrāsura, who was actually a brāhmaṇa.
Indra's sins were diminished by the influence of Rudra, the demigod of all directions. Because Indra was protected by the goddess of fortune, Lord Viṣṇu's wife, who resides in the lotus clusters of Mānasa-sarovara Lake, Indra's sins could not affect him. Indra was ultimately relieved of all the reactions of his sinful deeds by strictly worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Then he was called back to the heavenly planets by the brāhmaṇas and reinstated in his position.
As Kṛttikādevī, after receiving the semen of Lord Śiva from Agni, conceived a child named Skanda (Kārttikeya), Kṛtadyuti, having received semen from Citraketu, became pregnant after eating remnants of food from the yajña performed by Aṅgirā.
My dear King, in former days Lord Śiva and other demigods took shelter of the lotus feet of Saṅkarṣaṇa. Thus they immediately got free from the illusion of duality and achieved unequaled and unsurpassed glories in spiritual life. You will very soon attain that very same position.
The Seventeenth Chapter is summarized as follows. This chapter describes Citraketu's receiving the body of an asura, or demon, because of joking with Lord Śiva.
After personally talking with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, King Citraketu enjoyed life in his airplane with the women of the Vidyādhara planet. Engaging in the congregational chanting of the glories of the Lord, he began flying his plane and traveling in outer space. One day while traveling like this, he wandered into the bowers of Sumeru Mountain, where he came upon Lord Śiva embracing Pārvatī, surrounded by an assembly of Siddhas, Cāraṇas and great sages. Seeing Lord Śiva in that situation, Citraketu laughed very loudly, but Pārvatī became very angry at him and cursed him. Because of this curse, Citraketu later appeared as the demon Vṛtrāsura.
When Citraketu spoke in this way, all the members in the great assembly in which Lord Śiva and Pārvatī were present were astonished. Then Lord Śiva began speaking about the devotees of the Lord. A devotee is neutral in all conditions of life, whether in the heavenly planets or hellish planets, whether liberated from the material world or conditioned by it, and whether blessed with happiness or subjected to distress.
One time while King Citraketu was traveling in outer space on a brilliantly effulgent airplane given to him by Lord Viṣṇu, he saw Lord Śiva, surrounded by Siddhas and Cāraṇas. Lord Śiva was sitting in an assembly of great saintly persons and embracing Pārvatī on his lap with his arm. Citraketu laughed loudly and spoke, within the hearing of Pārvatī.
For Pārvatī to be embraced by Lord Śiva was natural in a relationship between husband and wife; this was nothing extraordinary for Citraketu to see. Nonetheless, Citraketu laughed loudly to see Lord Śiva in that situation, even though he should not have done so. Thus he was eventually cursed, and this curse was the cause of his returning home, back to Godhead.
Citraketu said: Lord Śiva, the spiritual master of the general populace, is the best of all living entities who have accepted material bodies. He enunciates the system of religion. Yet how wonderful it is that he is embracing his wife, Pārvatī, in the midst of an assembly of great saintly persons.
Lord Śiva, whose hair is matted on his head, has certainly undergone great austerities and penances. Indeed, he is the president in the assembly of strict followers of Vedic principles. Nonetheless, he is seated with his wife on his lap in the midst of saintly persons and is embracing her as if he were a shameless, ordinary human being.
Citraketu appreciated the exalted position of Lord Śiva, and therefore he remarked at how wonderful it was that Lord Śiva was acting like an ordinary human being. He appreciated Lord Śiva's position, but when he saw Lord Śiva sitting in the midst of saintly persons and acting like a shameless, ordinary man, he was astonished. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks that although Citraketu criticized Lord Śiva, he did not offend Lord Śiva like Dakṣa. Dakṣa considered Lord Śiva insignificant, but Citraketu expressed his wonder at Lord Śiva's being situated in that way.
Ordinary conditioned persons generally embrace their wives and enjoy their company in solitary places. How wonderful it is that Lord Mahādeva, although a great master of austerity, is embracing his wife openly in the midst of an assembly of great saints.
The word mahā-vrata-dharaḥ indicates a brahmacārī who has never fallen down. Lord Śiva is counted among the best of yogīs, yet he embraced his wife in the midst of great saintly persons. Citraketu appreciated how great Lord Śiva was to be unaffected even in that situation. Therefore Citraketu was not an offender; he merely expressed his wonder.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, after hearing Citraketu's statement, Lord Śiva, the most powerful personality, whose knowledge is fathomless, simply smiled and remained silent, and all the members of the assembly followed the lord by not saying anything.
Citraketu's purpose in criticizing Lord Śiva is somewhat mysterious and cannot be understood by a common man. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, however, has made the following observations. Lord Śiva, being the most exalted Vaiṣṇava and one of the most powerful demigods, is able to do anything he desires. Although he was externally exhibiting the behavior of a common man and not following etiquette, such actions cannot diminish his exalted position. The difficulty is that a common man, seeing Lord Śiva's behavior, might follow his example. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.21):
- yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
- tat tad evetaro janaḥ
- sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
- lokas tad anuvartate
"Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." A common man might also criticize Lord Śiva, like Dakṣa, who suffered the consequences for his criticism. King Citraketu desired that Lord Śiva cease this external behavior so that others might be saved from criticizing him and thus becoming offenders. If one thinks that Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the only perfect personality whereas the demigods, even such demigods as Lord Śiva, are inclined to improper social affairs, he is an offender. Considering all this, King Citraketu was somewhat harsh in his behavior with Lord Śiva.
Lord Śiva, who is always deep in knowledge, could understand Citraketu's purpose, and therefore he was not at all angry; rather, he simply smiled and remained silent. The members of the assembly surrounding Lord Śiva could also understand Citraketu's purpose. Consequently, following the behavior of Lord Śiva, they did not protest; instead, following their master, they remained silent. If the members of the assembly thought that Citraketu had blasphemed Lord Śiva, they would certainly have left at once, blocking their ears with their hands.
Not knowing the prowess of Lord Śiva and Pārvatī, Citraketu strongly criticized them. His statements were not at all pleasing, and therefore the goddess Pārvatī, being very angry, spoke as follows to Citraketu, who thought himself better than Lord Śiva in controlling the senses.
Although Citraketu never meant to insult Lord Śiva, he should not have criticized the lord, even though the lord was transgressing social customs. It is said, tejīyasāṁ na doṣāya: one who is very powerful should be understood to be faultless. For example, one should not find faults with the sun, although it evaporates urine from the street. The most powerful cannot be criticized by an ordinary man, or even by a great personality. Citraketu should have known that Lord Śiva, although sitting in that way, was not to be criticized. The difficulty was that Citraketu, having become a great devotee of Lord Viṣṇu, Saṅkarṣaṇa, was somewhat proud at having achieved Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa's favor and therefore thought that he could now criticize anyone, even Lord Śiva. This kind of pride in a devotee is never tolerated. A Vaiṣṇava should always remain very humble and meek and offer respect to others.
A Vaiṣṇava should not try to minimize anyone else's position. It is better to remain humble and meek and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. The word nirjitātmābhimānine indicates that Citraketu thought himself a better controller of the senses than Lord Śiva, although actually he was not. Because of all these considerations, mother Pārvatī was somewhat angry at Citraketu.
Alas, Lord Brahmā, who has taken his birth from the lotus flower, does not know the principles of religion, nor do the great saints like Bhṛgu and Nārada, nor the four Kumāras, headed by Sanat-kumāra. Manu and Kapila have also forgotten the religious principles. I suppose it to be because of this that they have not tried to stop Lord Śiva from behaving improperly.
This Citraketu is the lowest of kṣatriyas, for he has impudently overridden Brahmā and the other demigods by insulting Lord Śiva, upon whose lotus feet they always meditate. Lord Śiva is personified religion and the spiritual master of the entire world, and therefore Citraketu must be punished.
All the members of the assembly were exalted brāhmaṇas and self-realized souls, but they did not say anything about the conduct of Lord Śiva, who was embracing the goddess Pārvatī on his lap. Citraketu nonetheless criticized Lord Śiva, and therefore the opinion of Pārvatī was that he should be punished.
One should be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of Vaiṣṇavas, of whom Lord Śiva is the best. While instructing Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu described an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava as hātī mātā, a mad elephant. When a mad elephant enters a nice garden, it spoils the entire garden. Similarly, if one becomes like a mad elephant and commits offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, his entire spiritual career is halted. One should therefore be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava.
Mother Pārvatī was justified in punishing Citraketu, for Citraketu impudently criticized the supreme father, Mahādeva, who is the father of the living entities conditioned within this material world. The goddess Durgā is called mother, and Lord Śiva is called father. A pure Vaiṣṇava should be very careful to engage in his specific duty without criticizing others. This is the safest position. Otherwise, if one tends to criticize others, he may commit the great offense of criticizing a Vaiṣṇava.
Since Citraketu was a devotee of the Lord, he was not at all disturbed by the curse of mother Pārvatī. He knew very well that one suffers or enjoys the results of one's past deeds as ordained by daiva-netra-superior authority, or the agents of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He knew that he had not committed any offense at the lotus feet of Lord Śiva or the goddess Pārvatī, yet he had been punished, and this means that the punishment had been ordained. Thus the King did not mind it. A devotee is naturally so humble and meek that he accepts any condition of life as a blessing from the Lord.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: O King Parīkṣit, subduer of the enemy, after Citraketu satisfied Lord Śiva and his wife, Pārvatī, he boarded his airplane and left as they looked on. When Lord Śiva and Pārvatī saw that Citraketu, although informed of the curse, was unafraid, they smiled, being fully astonished by his behavior.
Thereafter, in the presence of the great sage Nārada, the demons, the inhabitants of Siddhaloka, and his personal associates, Lord Śiva, who is most powerful, spoke to his wife, Pārvatī, while they all listened.
Lord Śiva said: My dear beautiful Pārvatī, have you seen the greatness of the Vaiṣṇavas? Being servants of the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, they are great souls and are not interested in any kind of material happiness.
Lord Śiva, the husband of Pārvatī, told his wife, "My dear Pārvatī, you are very beautiful in your bodily features. Certainly you are glorious. But I do not think that you can compete with the beauty and glory of devotees who have become servants of the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Of course, Lord Śiva smiled when he joked with his wife in that way, for others cannot speak like that. "The Supreme Lord," Śiva continued, "is always exalted in His activities, and here is another example of His wonderful influence upon King Citraketu, His devotee. Just see, although you cursed the King, he was not at all afraid or sorry. Rather, he offered respect to you, called you mother and accepted your curse, thinking himself faulty. He did not say anything in retaliation. This is the excellence of a devotee. By mildly tolerating your curse, he has certainly excelled the glory of your beauty and your power to curse him. I can impartially judge that this devotee, Citraketu, has defeated you and your excellence simply by becoming a pure devotee of the Lord." As stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, taror api sahiṣṇunā. Just like a tree, a devotee can tolerate all kinds of curses and reversals in life. This is the excellence of a devotee. Indirectly, Lord Śiva forbade Pārvatī to commit the mistake of cursing a devotee like Citraketu. He indicated that although she was powerful, the King, without showing any power, had excelled her power by his tolerance.
By using the word bhṛtya-bhṛtyānām, Lord Śiva pointed out that although Citraketu provided one example of tolerance and excellence, all the devotees who have taken shelter of the Lord as eternal servants are glorious. They have no eagerness to be happy by being placed in the heavenly planets, becoming liberated or becoming one with Brahman, the supreme effulgence. These benefits do not appeal to their minds. They are simply interested in giving direct service to the Lord.
Durgā—the goddess Pārvatī, the wife of Lord Śiva—is extremely powerful. She can create, maintain and annihilate any number of universes by her sweet will, but she acts under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, not independently.
The Māyāvādī philosophers may be very proud of their so-called knowledge, but because they do not understand Vāsudeva (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti (BG 7.19)), they do not understand the world of duality, which is a manifestation of Vāsudeva's external energy. Therefore, unless the so-called jñānīs take shelter of Vāsudeva, their speculative knowledge is imperfect. Ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninaḥ. They simply think of becoming free from the contamination of the material world, but because they do not take shelter at the lotus feet of Vāsudeva, their knowledge is impure. When they actually become pure, they surrender to the lotus feet of Vāsudeva. Therefore, the Absolute Truth is easier to understand for a devotee than for jñānīs who simply speculate to understand Vāsudeva. Lord Śiva confirms this statement in the following verse.
Neither I (Lord Śiva), nor Brahmā, nor the Aśvinī-kumāras, nor Nārada or the other great sages who are Brahmā's sons, nor even the demigods can understand the pastimes and personality of the Supreme Lord. Although we are part of the Supreme Lord, we consider ourselves independent, separate controllers, and thus we cannot understand His identity.
Lord Śiva places himself as one of the nondevotees, who cannot understand the identity of the Supreme Lord. The Lord, being ananta, has an unlimited number of forms. Therefore, how is it possible for an ordinary, common man to understand Him? Lord Śiva, of course, is above the ordinary human beings, yet be is unable to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Śiva is not among the ordinary living entities, nor is he in the category of Lord Viṣṇu. He is between Lord Viṣṇu and the common living entity.
In effect, Lord Śiva told Pārvatī, "Both Citraketu and I are always very dear to the Supreme Lord. In other words, both he and I are on the same level as servants of the Lord. We are always friends, and sometimes we enjoy joking words between us. When Citraketu loudly laughed at my behavior, he did so on friendly terms, and therefore there was no reason to curse him." Thus Lord Śiva tried to convince his wife, Pārvatī, that her cursing of Citraketu was not very sensible.
Here is a difference between male and female that exists even in the higher statuses of life-in fact, even between Lord Śiva and his wife. Lord Śiva could understand Citraketu very nicely, but Pārvatī could not. Thus even in the higher statuses of life there is a difference between the understanding of a male and that of a female. It may be clearly said that the understanding of a woman is always inferior to the understanding of a man. In the Western countries there is now agitation to the effect that man and woman should be considered equal, but from this verse it appears that woman is always less intelligent than man.
It is clear that Citraketu wanted to criticize the behavior of his friend Lord Śiva because Lord Śiva was sitting with his wife on his lap. Then, too, Lord Śiva wanted to criticize Citraketu for externally posing as a great devotee but being interested in enjoying with the Vidyādharī women. These were all friendly jokes; there was nothing serious for which Citraketu should have been cursed by Pārvatī. Upon hearing the instructions of Lord Śiva, Pārvatī must have been very much ashamed for cursing Citraketu to become a demon. Mother Pārvatī could not appreciate Citraketu's position, and therefore she cursed him, but when she understood the instructions of Lord Śiva she was ashamed.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King, after hearing this speech by her husband, the demigoddess (Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva) gave up her astonishment at the behavior of King Citraketu and became steady in intelligence.
The great devotee Citraketu was so powerful that he was quite competent to curse mother Pārvatī in retaliation, but instead of doing so he very humbly accepted the curse and bowed his head before Lord Śiva and his wife. This is very much to be appreciated as the standard behavior of a Vaiṣṇava.
Upon being informed by Lord Śiva, mother Pārvatī could understand that she was wrong in cursing Citraketu. King Citraketu was so exalted in his character that in spite of being wrongly cursed by Pārvatī, he immediately descended from his airplane and bowed his head before the mother, accepting her curse.
Being cursed by mother Durgā (Bhavānī, the wife of Lord Śiva), that same Citraketu accepted birth in a demoniac species of life. Although still fully equipped with transcendental knowledge and practical application of that knowledge in life, he appeared as a demon at the fire sacrifice performed by Tvaṣṭā, and thus he became famous as Vṛtrāsura.
Since King Bāṇa was a great worshiper of Lord Śiva, he became one of Lord Śiva's most celebrated associates. Even now, Lord Śiva protects King Bāṇa's capital and always stands beside him.