Srimad Bhagavatam 8.7.22
tvam ekaù sarva-jagata
taà tväm arcanti kuçaläù
tvam ekaù—Your Lordship is indeed; sarva-jagataù—of the three worlds; éçvaraù—the controller; bandha-mokñayoù—of both bondage and liberation; tam—that controller; tväm arcanti—worship you; kuçaläù—persons who want good fortune; prapanna-ärti-haram—who can mitigate all the distresses of a sheltered devotee; gurum—you who act as a good advisor to all fallen souls.
O Lord, you are the cause of bondage and liberation of the entire universe because you are its ruler. Those who are advanced in spiritual consciousness surrender unto you, and therefore you are the cause of mitigating their distresses, and you are also the cause of their liberation. We therefore worship Your Lordship.
Actually Lord Viñëu maintains and accomplishes all good fortune. If one has to take shelter of Lord Viñëu, why should the demigods take shelter of Lord Çiva? They did so because Lord Viñëu acts through Lord Çiva in the creation of the material world. Lord Çiva acts on behalf of Lord Viñëu. When the Lord says in Bhagavad-gétä (14.4) that He is the father of all living entities (ahaà béja-pradaù pitä), this refers to actions performed by Lord Viñëu through Lord Çiva. Lord Viñëu is always unattached to material activities, and when material activities are to be performed, Lord Viñëu performs them through Lord Çiva. Lord Çiva is therefore worshiped on the level of Lord Viñëu. When Lord Viñëu is untouched by the external energy He is Lord Viñëu, but when He is in touch with the external energy, He appears in His feature as Lord Çiva.
His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaja
The unique position of Lord Shiva
In this chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam we find that by the desire and guidance of Lord Sri Vishnu, the demons and the demigods together, on the pretense of great crisis in their life, are approaching Lord Shankar. They are approaching him with the same words of praise as they would praise the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Of course we know that Lord Shiva has a very special and unique position. He is gunavatar. Beyond his manifestation in this material creation Lord Shiva is none other than the supreme Lord Vishnu, but just as explained in Brahmasamhita, when milk is touched by a culture it becomes Yogurt and therefore it eternally becomes different than milk having different qualities. Although it is essentially the same substance. Similarly when Lord Vishnu accepts the external covering upon Himself, He becomes Lord Shiva. In this way they are simultaneously one and different. The living entity is Jivatatva but Lord Shiva is never to be considered as Jiva tatva. He is considered to be Shiva tatva. He is a category of his own. He is Vishnu but has eternally manifested in such a way that he does not exhibit the same qualities as Vishnu. Lord Shiva is considered the param Vaishnava, the supreme Vaishnava. “vaiñëavänäà yathä çambhuù”- that there is no vaishnava who is greater than Lord Shiva. In his position he has taken the role of a devotee of Lord Narayan. And therefore all vaishnavas of all bona fide sampradayas worship Lord Shiva as the greatest of all devotees.
In Vrindavan, sometimes we see the murti of Lord Shiva sitting in his traditional pose, in the lotus position sitting in meditation or “Samadhi”. Of course in Vrindavan the idea is that Lord Shiva is meditating on the divine lila of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. In this way he is constantly immersed. His mind is constantly fixed on the lotus feet of Lord Shyamsundar.
The Lord worshipping His own devotee
So one who takes shelter of the lotus feet of Lord becomes dearer to the Lord. And if one wants to actually give pleasure to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one must first offer his respect and gain the blessings of such a great soul. In fact Lord Sri Ramachandra Himself, at the holy place of Rameswaram at the time of the battle with Ravana at Sri Lanka, worshipped Lord Shiva. And this is the cause of bewilderment to many persons. That if Lord Ramachandra is the supreme absolute truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Shiva is His devotee, then why is He worshiping as such? Because the Lord takes great pleasure in worshipping His devotee.
Just as in Dwarka, when Sudama vipra came to the home ofKrishna, He also worshiped this brahmana. He washed Sudama’s feet with His own lotus-like hands and Rukmini, the goddess of fortune, fanned him with the chamar to give him pleasure. Similarly at Rameswaram the Supreme Personality of Godhead worshipped His devotee Lord Shiva with great love to show the glory of the devotee. The first offence to the holy name is, “To blaspheme the devotees, who are dedicating their lives to uplift others by propagating the holy name. The Lord Himself worships His devotees. So what is our position, to disrespect such a great soul?
“api cet su-duräcäro
bhajate mäm ananya-bhäk
sädhur eva sa mantavyaù
samyag vyavasito hi saù”
Krishna says in the 9th chapter of Bhagavad-Gita that even if one commits abominable activities, if such a person is my devotee, I consider him a sadhu. So what is your position? To question and justify and blaspheme such a person? So this is a person engaged in abominable activities, Krishna considers him as saintly and offers him all respect. What to speak of a pure devotee, who is dedicated in body, mind, and words to the service of the lotus feet of the Lord. How exalted, how magnanimous, how worshippable are such a person’s lotus feet.
Consequences of offending someone dear to the Lord
Therefore to even accidentally offend such a person is very dangerous. What to speak of doing so willingly? Therefore one should be very careful. Vaishnava aparädha is considered the mad elephant offence. It may take you life times and life times and life times to develop your garden of bhakti and if a mad elephant comes into that garden, within a moment the whole garden is torn to pieces. Similarly by offending the great souls, all of our spiritual progress is uprooted, at least for the time being and we see in the case of Daksha, during the sacrifice that he was performing, he disrespects Lord Shankar. How did he disrespect, he was seeing him according to material vision. “arcye visnau siladhir gurusu naramatir Vaisnave jati buddhir”. It is said that one who sees the worshippable deity to be made of wood or stone, one who sees the charanamrita to be simple ordinary water, one who sees guru to be an ordinary man with material vision, or one who sees the vaishnava belonging to any particular country, cast, or creed, such person is of a hellish mentality. His consciousness is born of the hellish planets. So this is the great question that one must always be aware of, not to ever see the great souls with material vision.
Daksha offending Lord Shiva
Daksha was seeing that here is Lord Shiva, the fact is he is always associating with ghosts, persons who are deeply drenched in the mode of ignorance. Usually you can tell a man by its company. He is engaged in activities that are apparently in the mode of ignorance. He smokes hashish, smokes the ganja. He also wears crematorium ashes on his body, which is an activity of worship in the mode of ignorance, tama guna. He frequently goes to the place of crematoriums, the places which are untouchable. In the traditional Vedic system, if you are at a crematorium to see a funeral, you are not even allowed to go into the temple for so many weeks. Lord Shiva does his bhajans in those places. He wear serpents surround his neck.
So Daksha, who actually unfortunate, was too familiar with Lord Shiva. Familiarity leads to contempt. This is a great danger. People who become too familiar with great souls, especially the spiritual master, their tendency is to see him very ordinary, just like judging him according to material calculations and gradually commits offenses. So Daksha happened to be the father in law of Lord Shiva. His daughter Sati was Lord Shiva’s wife. Daksha was seeing Lord Shiva, due to this familiarity, in a very material way rather than seeing the depth of his great surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was simply seeing these external apparent contradictions in Lord Shiva’s behaviors. Therefore Daksha began to insult Lord Shiva and due to this offence, he lost everything. He lost his fame, he lost his very daughter. She could not tolerate it. This is the nature of a devotee.
A devotee cannot tolerate hearing Vaishnava aparädha. Sati was so angry and so much distressed by hearing her worshipable Lord, her guru maharaja, her husband Lord Shiva being insulted. She took her very life. She sat with her body in fire through the yogic process, because she was thinking that Daksha is my father, he has given me this body, but I do not want any relationship with him. He has polluted my ears and my heart. This is actually the seriousness with which a devotee sees vaishnava aparädha. It is said in the scriptures that if one is hearing a vaishnava being offended, one must either soundly defeat that person on argument to shut his mouth or one must take that person’s life or one must cut that person’s tongue out or one take one’s own life because his heart has been polluted by hearing this aparädha or one must immediately leave the place. So Sati after hearing the contaminating words, decided that this life was no longer fit because she had heard such an offence to a devotee. So she decided to burn it within the fire of Yoga.
Then of course, Daksha, he had his head cut off and was given the head of a goat as reaction. You have to understand that Daksha was a very highly religious man. In many ways, he was a guru of his own right. He was not just an ordinary person. He was one of the prajapatis, that means he was very highly learned in sashtra. He was performing tremendous sacrifices exactly according to the Vedas. He was factually more religious and more spiritually minded than practically anyone today, but even such a person, in such an exulted position, offended a great soul. He was punished very severely by the mercy of Lord.
Other instances of Vaishnava aparädha
Throughout the Vedic literatures we find how intolerably the Lord sees the offences against his devotees. In Caitanya-caritamrita there is the story of Gopal Chapal. Gopal Chapal offended Srivas Thakur. He was considering Srivas Thakur, after all he was a grihasta. He had children and he had wife, what so great about him? He thought him to be an ordinary man and accused him of being a worshiper of goddess Durga for material purposes. He even arranged all the Durga Puja paraphernalia one night outside of his house. He brought the town’s people and said, “You see – he is worshiping Durga”. Srivas Thakur said, “Yes, of course! I am worshiping Durga”. Srivas Thakur was not slightest concerned for his name and fame. But the next day Gopal Chapala came down with leprosy and of course he was a very wealthy and very religious man in his own right. He was banned for living in the community of Dvijas. He had to stay on the banks of Ganges alone as a beggar.
One day Lord Caitanya was passing by. Gopal Chapal fell at His feet begging forgiveness, “Please I am sorry for what I have done, please cure me from this horrible suffering disease”. Then Lord Caitanya just looked at him with great anger and said, “Because you have offended My devotee, there is no salvation for you, you will suffer. Not only in this life, but for millions of births you will suffer”. Lord Caitanya just walked on. The Lord is all merciful but not to one who offends His devotees. Then sometime later Lord Caitanya was walking by that area again. Gopal Chapal, he was actually genuinely repentant for the offence that he had committed to the Lord’s devotee Srivas Thakur and he begged, “Please whatever You want to do with me but I will never offend Your devotee again”. Then the Lord said, “If you get the blessings of Srivas Thakur then you can be saved”.
So Gopal Chapal went to Srivas Thakur and with a heart of genuine sincerity, not just superficially, and gravity begged Srivas Thakur, “Please forgive me”. And of course Srivas Thakur thought, what have you done? But this is the fact that he went through, that process with the sincere heart, not just as a formality but he was really repentant. The Lord cured him of his leprosy and Gopal Chapal actually became a very good devotee of Srivas Thakur and other vaishnavas. Similarly we read about Gopal Chakravarti. He publicly insulted Haridas Thakur and because of that insult he also attained leprosy. His fingers fell up and he lost everything suffering a terrible condition of life. There are so many examples.
In Srimad Bhagavatam we have the story of Durvasa Muni, such a great yogi, such a great religious person. But due to his offence against Ambarish maharaja, there was no salvation for him anywhere, even at the feet of Vishnu. Narottam Das Thakur has prayed, “My dear Lord Govinda, You are tolerant even against offences to Yourself”. If one offends Krishna, by chanting the holy name one can be purified, but if one offends His devotees, there is no salvation for that person. Unless that person completely humbles himself at the feet of such a great soul.
Krishna, how much could He emphasize it? His own family, the Yadu Dynasty, He arranged for them to leave the planet as a reaction of an offence against the devotees. Some of the members of the Yadu Dynasty dressed Samba up as a pregnant woman because they wanted to ridicule some of the great sages like Narada Muni, Parvat Muni, and some others. They brought Samba before. They said, “O great sages, you see past, present, and future. Tell us what the young lady will give birth to – a boy or a girl.” And then they revealed that he was really Samba and started laughing at these great sages. Thinking we are Kshatriyas and are very powerful than these brahmanas. They were seeing them in an ordinary way. Narada Muni understood that their mentality was offensive against vaishnavas. So Narada muni said, “You will give birth to a lump up iron that will be the cause of the destruction of the entire Yadu Dynasty”. Then they became very much afraid and then right then and there from Samba’s stomach came a lump of Iron. So Srila Prabhupada explains in the first canto in purport that this is the gravity of an offense against a devotee that Krishna showed. That even if you are His own family members, the greatest people on earth, the Yadu Dynasty, the whole dynasty will be destroyed if you offended a devotee.
Then the story of Ramchandra Khan, due to his offense against Srila Haridas Thakur, not only was he put in prison but all his wealth was plundered, his whole family members were put in the prison and whole village and city where he was living was completely devastated. It is explained that the offence against a devotee is so serious that not only you but your family and your whole society around you has to pay the consequences.
Pleasing the Lord by pleasing His devotees
So we are giving these examples just to show how dear the devotee is to the Lord. Just as the Lord accepts so much offence, when we offend His devotees, you can imagine how much pleasure he gets when you praised His devotees, when you glorify His devotees. “mad-bhakta-püjäbhyadhikä”.Krishnatold Uddhava, “One who calls himself My devotee is not My devotee. But one who calls himself the devotee of My devotee, he is My most beloved devotee”.
“yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädo yasyäprasädän na gatiù kuto ‘pi”. One who attains the mercy of guru gets the mercy ofKrishna. One who cannot get the mercy of guru, he cannot get the mercy of Krishna, no matter what else he does.Krishnaarranges so that he is not approached directly. He is approached through the grace of the great souls, the sadhus. So Lord Shiva is the representative here, the supreme spiritual master, the great vaishnava and the glory of Lord Shiva, that makes him so infinitely dear to Vishnu, is about to be shown through this most wonderful pastimes of the Srimad Bhagavatam. In order to show compassion to the fallen souls, who are in great distress, Lord Shiva is about to drink the “halahala” the great poison which is originating from the ocean of milk. He is about to risk his life and accept a very torturous suffering condition.
It is described that there is no superior service that one can offer to Krishna than the willingness to suffer, pain, and to risk one’s life to up lift others because Krishna is the father and he loves all of his children and one who is willing to take great risk to rescue one of his children becomes the dear most to his heart. Even in this ordinary world, if a child is in great danger and somebody risks his life and even enduring great pain and suffering to save the child, how dear that person would be to the father and mother. There would no person more dearly in the world. So similarly this is the position of Krishna that he loves each and every one of His parts and parcels infinitely and one who is willing, even at the cost of emanating death or pain to uplift even one of such persons becomes the dear most to the Lord. ThereforeKrishnasays, “One who instructs this transcendental knowledge to others is most dear to Me and never be anyone more dear to Me”. So glorifying such a person is the supreme glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Of course to glorify such a person means to glorify from one’s heart, to glorify through one’s activities through one’s life.
Questions & Answers
Maharaj : In the purport Srila Prabhupada explains like this. But that is not the subject of what we are discussing in class today.
Is there any other questions?
Answer : “manuñyäëäà sahasreñu kaçcid yatati siddhaye”. Out of many persons, one even endeavors through this knowledge. And of those who endeavor, hardly even one knows what is mentioned. It takes a very very sincere soul to leave his pride behind and become the humble servant of the servant. The question is do we have any inclination to let go our material pride. Even in very high spiritual positions we can become envious of someone who is doing great work. In the material world we do not like anyone to do things that excel us. And in spiritual circles even though you may become quite spiritually advanced on one level, if you do not give up your pride, you will think like this. It will be intolerable for you to see someone else advancing or being more empowered than you. And therefore you try yourself first by tearing that person down. So we have to be very much aware of this envy of pride as last of the enemies to leave us. Ahankar, false ego. To give up lust, to give up anger, to give up greed is very difficult. But after all these things are given up, pride is very very powerful force within your heart. That’s the most painful and difficult of all the anarthas to give up.
Answer : He did not offend him. If you read the Srimad Bhagavatam, you find that it is Krishna’s Yoga maya. It was not due to envy. Krishna put him in a situation, where there will not be hardly an offense. Put him in a situation because you want the Srimad Bhagavatam to be spoken. That wasKrishna’s arrangement that had nothing to do with pride or envy. He is simply being used as a puppet inKrishna’s hands. So that the Srimad Bhagavatam would be spoken.
Thank you very much. Hare Krishna