ksiram yathä dadhi vikära-vishesha-yogät

sanjäyate na hi tatah prthagastihetoh

yah sambhutäm api tathä samupaiti käryäd

govindam ädi-purusam tam aham bhajämi


Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither same as, nor different from its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Shambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.


PURPORT by H.D.G. Srila BhaktiSiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur

(The real nature of Shambhu, the presiding deity of Mahesa-dhäma, is described.) Shambhu is not a second Godhead other than Krsna. Those, who entertain such discriminating sentiment, commit a great offense against the Supreme Lord. The supremacy of Shambhu is subservient to that of Govinda; hence they are not really different from each other. The nondistinction is established by the fact that just as milk treated with acid turns into curd; so Godhead becomes a subservient when He Himself attains a distinct personality by the addition of a particular element of adulteration. This personality has no independent initiative. The said adulterating principle is constituted of a combination of the stupefying quality of the deluding energy, the quality of nonplentitude of the marginal potency and a slight degree of the ecstatic-cum-cognitive principle of the plenary spiritual potency. This specifically adulterated reflection of the principle of the subjective portion of the Divinity is Sadäsiva, in the form of the effulgent masculine-symbol-god Shambhu from whom Rudradeva is manifested. In the work of mundane creation as the material cause, in the work of preservation by the destruction of sundry asuras and in the work of destruction to conduct the whole operation, Govinda manifests Himself as guna-avatära in the form of Shambhu who is the separated portion of Govinda imbued with the principle of His subjective plenary portion. The personality of the destructive principle in the form of time has been identified with that of Shambhu by scriptural evidences that have been adduced in the commentary. The purport of the Bhägavata slokas, viz., vaiñsavänäm yathä sambhu, etc., is that Shambhu, in pursuance of the will of Govinda, works in union with his consort Durgädevi by his own time energy. He teaches pious duties (dharma) as stepping-stones to the attainment of spiritual service in the various tantra-sästras, etc., suitable for jivas in different grades of the conditional existence. In obedience to the will of Govinda, Shambhu maintains and fosters the religion of pure devotion by preaching the cult of illusionism (Mäyäväda) and the speculative ägama-sästras. The fifty attributes of individual souls are manifest in a far vaster measure in Shambhu and five additional attributes not attainable by jivas are also partly found in him. So Shambhu cannot be called a jiva. He is the lord of jiva but yet partakes of the nature of a separated portion of Govinda.


Birth of Lord Brahma, the adi kavi

So, this evening we are celebrating the very holy occasion of Mahashivaratri. I would like to speak briefly from the Srimad Bhagavatam. There is a vast wealth of information and stories in regard to Lord Shankar in the Bhagavat Purana. And of course, it would take many days to discuss all of them. So we would like to just attempt to describe a drop of the glories of this great, great personality on this most holy evening. It is described in the 3rd Canto of the Bhagavatam how Lord Shankar appears as the guna avatar within this world. It is described that in the beginning of creation, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Garbhodakshayi Vishnu, when he decides to create this cosmic manifestation to facilitate the independent desires of the living entities who have gone astray from His loving service, He lies in the Causal Ocean and by His sweet will a lotus flower grows from His naval. Upon that lotus flower, Lord Brahma is born. Lord Brahma, not knowing what is to be done and what is not to be done, he is in a bewildered condition. At that time, the Supreme Lord from within his heart instructs him to perform tapasya, to engage in sacrifice for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. And through this tapasya, Lord Brahma is empowered by Narayana with all of the faculties required to create everything within this cosmic creation.


Appearance of Lord Shiva

There is a Brahma within each universe. It is described that Lord Brahma, at one stage of the process of creation, from his own mind are born the four Kumaras. Being his original sons, he instructs them to procreate and to produce offspring to populate the universe. But the four Kumaras, being very, very intelligent, being born from the mind of Brahma himself, have no desire to have wife, children and engage in this family business of producing offspring. So they deny the request of Lord Brahma. Now understand that Lord Brahma, although he is a pure jiva, an unadulterated devotee of the Lord, he is especially impregnated in his heart with rajoguna or the mode of passion because it is the mode of passion which is the principle of creation within this world. Just like we can understand this very practically. Just for a man or woman to procreate offspring, first there must be passion and that passion induces them to engage in sex life and from sex life creation takes place. So Lord Brahma is the predominating deity, who is the controller of the mode of passion throughout this universe. So being very much influenced by the mode of passion, he becomes very angry at his sons, the four Kumaras for not obeying his order. But at the same time it is described in the Bhagavatam that Lord Brahma knows that they are very advanced spiritually and they are denying his request because they have a higher goal in mind and therefore they are glorious. But still the thought that they are disobeying his instruction, he becomes very internally angry. But he controls it, does not manifest it. He keeps it within himself. Now anger is born from the mixture of rajoguna and tamoguna, passion and ignorance. From the great, great stirring of passion and ignorance within the heart of Brahma, this energy is released from between his two eyebrows. And from that place a beautiful young child is born, whose color is blue and red. Blue is the color of tamoguna and red is the color of the rajoguna. So this child, who is born of the passion and ignorant condition of Lord Brahma, begins to cry. He begins to cry “My dear father, where should I go and what should I do?” Because he was crying, he was named by Brahma — Rudra. Rudra means one who is coming from tears. Rudra means crying I believe. So Lord Brahma at that time instructed his son on behalf of the Lord to predominate over the mode of tamoguna or ignorance. Now because this material existence is essentially in the mode of ignorance, therefore it is described that this Lord Rudra is the predominating deity of the entire material creation. But try to understand that this is not simply a result of passion and ignorance. But Lord Shankar… Shankar means that he is the support of the entire creation, the entire universe. Lord Shankar is none other than a plenary portion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He is utterly pure, He is Godhead, He is above and the master of all jiva atmas. But the Supreme Lord, for the sake of incarnating in these guna avatars, He accepts the influence of rajoguna and tamoguna upon Himself just for the purpose of engaging in this very important, essential universal function. Therefore Lord Shiva is none other than Krsna or Narayana. But different in the sense that by His own sweet will He accepts subordination and influence by tamoguna. Now we cannot say that he is contaminated by tamoguna. It is not a contamination; it is simply by His own sweet will, a mixture, for the sake of being the predominating Lord of those who are in this mode of material nature. Therefore Lord Shiva, because He is accepting this position, He is considered the most merciful of all personalities. Therefore it is said “vaisnavanam yatha shambhu”:  that Shambhu or Shiva is the most glorious, most worshipable of all devotees of Lord Krsna or Narayana.

After Shankar was born, Lord Brahma explained to him “Now, my other four sons, the Kumaras, they will not procreate. So now you produce offspring.” So Shankar began to produce offspring in exceedingly large quantities. But all his offspring were very prominently in rajoguna and tamoguna. And therefore they were very, very fiery angry personalities and they were just marching throughout every corner of the universe causing tremendous havoc and destruction. And he was just continuing to just create, create, create. And then Lord Brahma told him “My dear son, please let me do the creating. You go into the forest. There is a mountain, you go on that mountain in the jungle and you sit in peaceful meditation until I call upon you, at the time of destruction.”  He said “You simply go and you meditate on the beautiful form of our master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana” So at that time Lord Shiva, giving up his position as a creator, He began to perform tapasya and sit in sublime state of Samadhi fixing his mind, his consciousness on the divine form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way, the most common picture of Lord Shiva that we see is when he is sitting in the lotus posture, in this peaceful state of divine meditation.

“Vaisnavanam yatha shambhu”: The devotees of Lord Hari worship Shiva as the greatest of all vaishnavas. Sometimes people ask at Rameshwaram, sethu bandha ksetra, in the south Indian province. We read in Ramayana that Lord Shri Ramchandra was worshiping with great devotion the form of Lord Shiva. So therefore, there is a great argument about who is supreme: Ram or Shiva. We see that Shiva is worshiping Ram and Ram is worshiping Shiva. Of course “vaisnavanam yatha shambhu”. From the point of view of the Bhagavat and the Ramayan, we understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Ram, is always taking the greatest pleasure in worshiping the feet of His devotees.

sädhavo hrdayam mahyam

sädhünäm hrdayam tv aham

mad-anyat te na jänanti

näham tebhyo manäg api

Lord Narayana explains that “My devotee, he has given up everything only for My sake. Therefore I give up everything for the sake of My devotee. My devotee worships Me with all his heart and therefore I worship My devotee with all My heart. My devotee knows nothing but Me and I know nothing but My devotee. My devotee is always subordinate to My love and I am always subordinate to the love of my devotee.”

Just like we find in Krsna Lila, when Sudama Vipra, who was a very gentle and pure Brahman, servant of the Lord, when he came to Dwaraka. Because of his pure devotion, the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, who was at that time in the role of Dwarakadish, the king of Dwaraka, He got off His own throne and He put Sudama Vipra on that throne. And with His own hands He washed the lotus feet of Sudama. And He began to offer praise and prayers of love. And Rukmini, the very goddess of fortune, engaged in the menial service of fanning him with a chamara. In this way the Supreme Lord shows that He is always anxious to worship the feet of His devotees. So Lord Sri Ramchandra, in this spirit he worshiped the greatest of all of his devotees.


Lord Shiva the greatest devotee

In the Bhagavatam it describes what is the quality of the greatest devotees of the Lord, who is most perfectly exemplified in the personality of Shankar? What is the most pleasing service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead that captures the Lords heart? It is the quality of compassion. It is the quality of the willingness to make sacrifice for the upliftment of the Lord’s fallen children. And Lord Shiva is the supreme embodiment of this principle. We find many, many examples in this regard. In the Bhagavat it describes that at one time the demon Mayadanava attacked all the devatas and the devotees. And he ´created 3 formidable cities that were flying in the air. It was called the Tripura. And these cities were so formidable due to the expert architectural design. Just like in the Middle East now, they are having too much trouble attacking the Iraqis because they have created cities underground. They have created these trenches, very deep trenches that go way deep down. And they are having too much trouble trying to get through this architectural design. But Mayadanava built 3 cities flying in the sky that were far, far more sophisticated in their defensive and offensive measures to attack the innocent people in all the world. So in this condition everyone was in great frustration. So it was Lord Shankar himself who was called upon by the devotees in great desperation. It was the Supreme Lord Narayana who instructed the devotees to go to Lord Shankar. ‘He is the greatest of all. I want him to get the credit.’ Narayana Himself could have done it. But He loves to see His devotees get more credit than Him. Just as Krsna could have killed all the Kurus within one second, He wanted Arjuna to get the credit. So Lord Shankar with his formidable bows and arrows, he destroyed these three cities and thus he became known as tripurari.

Para dukha dukhi

There is another incidence in the Bhagavatam, at the time of the churning of the ocean of milk. The suras and the ausuras, the demons and the demigods, were on two ends of the mountain called Mandar. They wanted to churn the ocean in order to extract amrit or nectar. But as they were churning, the first thing that came out from the ocean was something called halahal, which is a deadly, deadly poison. This poison was so intense and so powerful that everyone around understood that this poison is spreading, it is growing in all directions and it is soon going to destroy all life within the entire universe. They did not know what to do. So the Supreme Lord Narayana Himself, who loves to glorify His purest and most intimate devotees, He led them all to that holy place known as Kailash, way high in the Himalayas. And there all of the devatas headed by Narayana Himself, they all began to offer their prayers with love to Lord Shiva. And in a helpless tone they said, ‘Please Lord Shankar, you are the Supreme Person within this universe because you are the pure representative of Narayana Himself. You are manifesting all the divine powers and potencies of the Supreme Godhead by your pure surrender unto His Lotus Feet, by your constant meditation of love. Therefore kindly save us from this imminent destruction that is upon us.’ At that time, Lord Shankar turned to his wife and he spoke ‘My dear Bhavani, just see how all these living entities have been placed in danger because of the poison produced from the churning of the ocean of milk. It my duty to give protection and safety to all living entities struggling for existence. Certainly it is the duty of the master to protect his suffering dependents. People in general, being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are always engaged in animosity towards one another. But the devotees, even at the risk of their own temporary lives, try to save them. My dear gentle wife Bhavani! When one performs benevolent activities for others, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Hari is very pleased. And when the Lord is pleased, I am also pleased along with all living creatures. Therefore let me drink this poison for all the living entities may thus become happy because of me.’ And thus after informing Bhavani in this way, Lord Shiva began to drink this deadly, deadly poison. This poison had swelled to become like an ocean. But by his great mystic power, he concentrated it to fit within the size of the palm of his hand. You can imagine the concentrated deadliness of this poison! And with the spirit of being willing to suffer and even give up his life in order to show kindness to others, he took this poison and placed it in his mouth and drank it. When it came into his throat, his throat turned black due to the very venomous effects.

And because of this, Lord Shankar is sometimes known as NeelKantha or Kaalakantha. And the devotees of the Lord consider this to be the most beautiful decoration on the body of Lord Shiva. Although by material conditions it is considered to be a blemish, because he accepted this blemish upon his body as an act of pure love and kindness to all living beings exclusively for the pleasure of God, he accepted this hardship, this is one of the most beautiful, beautiful of all the characteristics of the supreme person Shankar. So in drinking this poison, Lord Shiva is demonstrating the true quality of how to render the greatest, the highest pleasure and service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no greater pleasure than being willing to risk one’s life and make all sacrifice for the upliftment and welfare of others. Para dukha dukhi A devotee of the Lord is not concerned with his own happiness and distress. But he is very sensitive toward the happiness and distress of others. And what is the greatest welfare work? The greatest welfare work is to guide and lead a person on the path to eternal life. And therefore we find throughout the ages that those personalities who truly dedicate themselves for the highest welfare work of humanity, by Krsna’s arrangement they are often persecuted. Why are they persecuted? It is not by accident. It is not due to some previous bad karma. They are put in hardships and sufferings because Krsna wants to glorify that devotee to show how intensely he is willing to accept any consequences to spread His glories and bring the suffering out of their condition of sorrow. In the glorification of Krsna’s holy name, it is described that all living beings in this age of Kali can be removed from the ocean of sorrow, the ocean of birth and death. Therefore those personalities who are in the most loving association of the Lord, who want to do the topmost service to please the Lord, they are not concerned simply with sitting in a holy place and enjoying the atmosphere. They are willing to risk everything and anything for the purpose of uplifting the world.

We also read in the Bhagavatam how Lord Shiva, his only purpose, his only desire in life is simply to glorify and please the Personality of Godhead. There is a story also in the Bhagavat where Lord Shankar, by his own free will, allows himself to be bewildered by Mohini Murti. And he allows himself to be put in the most embarrassing position of chasing after an unmarried woman right in the presence of his wife and his disciples. And afterward, when he comes to his senses, is he ashamed? Is he embarrassed? No. He is proud. He is proud that Krsna is so great that He can do this to me. Krsna is so great that if He wants to put me in illusion, let me be in illusion. What do I care what anyone says or thinks. This is Krsna’s potency. How wonderful is my Lord! This is the utter selfless pure heart of the greatest of vaishnavas.

So it is described that we should not try to imitate such great personalities, but we must follow in their footsteps. “Mahäjano yena gatah sa panthäh” there are 12 mahajans. Yamaraj describes who they are in the 6th canto of Bhagavatam. One of this is Lord Shambhu or Lord Shiva. Shiva means one who invokes all auspiciousness in all directions. And to follow in his footsteps does not mean to ‘Om namah shivaya’ shoo… (sound of smoking) and smoke bhang and ganja and hashish [Laughter]. That is not the mission of Lord Shiva. Of course many people feel that this is the way to worship Lord Shiva. After all, Lord Shankar, it is a fact that sometimes he did like this. But the great acaryas explain that he also drank the ocean of poison. If you want to imitate one thing, you must be able to duplicate all the other things. If you can drink the ocean of poison, then you have the right to smoke ganja and drink bhang. If you cannot drink the ocean of poison, you should not try to imitate him in any way. Just like Lord Krsna, He danced with gopis. And some unscrupulous devotees of Krsna feel that the best way to understand Krsna is to dance with gopis. And they find the nicest young girls they can and say now I invoke gopi bhava in you. Let us dance and enjoy. After all, Krsna is Gopijana Vallabha. He is the enjoyer of the gopis. But my dear friend, He is also Girivaradhari, which means he is the lifter of Govardhan hill. So first lift Govardhan hill, because He did that before he danced with the gopis. After you lift Govardhan hill, then yes, dance with gopis. But if you cannot lift Govardhan hill, don’t imitate Krsna. Follow what He says. Similarly, if you cannot drink the ocean of poison, which invoked greatest fear even in great demigods like Indra, then don’t try to imitate his other activities. But Lord Shankar, how merciful, how compassionate, that he is willing to go to the lowest classes of the most sinful people in civilization even, to try to uplift them. For those who are in the darkest regions of the mode of ignorance. Therefore he dresses and he behaves in such a way just to attract their minds to gradually come to the platform of dharma. He covers his body with crematorium ashes. He wears venomous snakes on his body. Why? Because he wants to help those persons with such consciousness identify with him and worship him as their worshipable Lord and thus bring them to the highest truth. Therefore his sacrifice is unparalleled. And it is the sacrifice of pure unalloyed compassion in his devotion to Lord Hari. So therefore this night of Mahashivaratri is a very, very important evening for all the vaishnava devotees of the Lord.

When Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was going on his travels throughout the south India, in the record of the Caitanya Caritamrita, we read of how he visited innumerable temples of Lord Shankar, where He worshiped him with great devotion and love. And it is also described, I believe it was on the mountain called Rishabh hill. Lord Caitanya secretly went to a meeting place and there Lord Shiva and Parvati incarnated in the disguise of Brahmans and they spent many days together in the ecstasy of love. And Parvati was cooking for Lord Caitanya everyday to His great satisfaction. So yes, to worship Lord Shankar is a very, very integral necessity within the lives of the great vaishnavas. But the worship is not the same as most people who worship Shankar within the society today. Because you see, although Lord Shiva, in his heart, is in the highest level of pure devotion, he is assuming the role of a demigod. And practically 99% of the society of India, they only understand him in his role of a demigod. What is the purpose of a demigod? To give material benedictions to those who are less intelligent who think that the perfection and the goal of life is material prosperity. Lord Shiva is known as Ashutosh, which means that he is very easily pleased. Therefore we find that those who worship Lord Shiva make lots of money very fast. Those who worship Lord Shiva can also attain mystic powers very fast. Unfortunately even demons who worship him get power and money very fast. After all Ravana was a devotee of Shankar. He worshiped Shiva with great devotion and Shiva fulfilled his desires. He gave him power, he gave him money, he gave him the reign to control practically the whole of the world, to make him undefeatable. Only God Himself, the master of Shiva, had the potency to destroy him. No one less than Ram could destroy Ravana because of the benedictions of Lord Shankar. You see as a demigod, as Ashutosh, he is obliged if you perform proper tapasya to give whatever you want, whatever your motive is.

We also read in tenth canto of Bhagavatam about one asura of the name Vrkasura. He was cutting out his own flesh and offering it to Lord Shankar, chanting loudly, howling his names and offering it in the sacred fire. He was about to cut off his own head. Finally Shankar said “Alright, what do you want?” “I want the benediction that whoever’s head I touch, it will crack and that person will die”. Lord Shankar said “Ah! Alright. I know you are an evil man. But still you have pleased me. I must give you the benediction. It’s not good for you, but what to do? This is what you want. To pay the price, I have to give it to you.” So the first thing he did is he wanted to touch Shiva’s head because he was too much falling in love with his wife Parvati and thinking I cannot enjoy Parvati as long as Shiva is around. So the first thing is let me get rid of him. So Lord Shiva ran away and he was chasing. It was a question of honor. He gives a benediction and it doesn’t work, that’s a disgrace to his honor. And at the same time, if it works then he no longer is alive. So he ran away. At that time, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a small boy and he went to Vrkasura and said “What are you doing?” “I am going to touch Shiva’s head and take his life.” “Ha-ha… You think Lord Shiva’s benedictions actually work. Ha-ha… they never work. I have seen so many times” [Laughter]. “What do you mean they never work?” He said “Yeah. You will touch his head, nothing will happen, everyone will laugh at you, you will lose your reputation, you will be dishonored, it will be worse than death, what you will do?” “Ah! No, no. I have seen.” “Now what should I do, what should I do?” “Well first you should test to see if it works before you put yourself, in a private place, test before you make a big embarrassment now. Alright touch your head” “Alright.” He died. So you see, in this way, Lord Shiva is Ashutosh. He gives material benedictions, whether it’s good for you or not, if you approach him in his role as a demigod or devata. But Lord Hari, people are not very inclined to worship Him. Why? Because Krsna does not give you what you want, He gives you what you need. Hari means one who steals. If it is good for you to have lots of money and great mystic powers, Lord Hari can give you all mystic powers and all great wealth as he did for Maharaj Yudhistir, Maharaj Ambarish, Maharaj Priyavrat and so many other great personalities. But if it is not good for you, you can worship Him for money and you may end up with nothing. You may worship Him for mystic powers and you may end up in an embarrassed condition, insulted by all. This is the supreme mercy

 yasyäham anugrhnämi harishye tad-dhanam shanaih

Krsna says “My supreme compassion upon My devotee is sometimes I take everything away so that devotee has no pride left. He just cries out for Me helplessly. Hey Krsna! Hey Govinda! Then at that time, he is ready to receive my divine love, pure Bhakti”. So that is why we find there are many people who approach the demigod aspect of Lord Shiva because he easily gives benedictions. But the greatest benediction is the benediction of Bhakti, divine love. And therefore we find in the Srimad Bhagavatam that Lord Shiva, for those who are materialistically inclined, he gives them whatever benedictions they want. But for those who are sincere to understand the Absolute Truth, sincere on the path of liberation, we find that Lord Shiva is always directing people to the worship of Lord Narayana, as in the case of the Pracetas, the sons of King Pracinibarhishad. They approached Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva taught them beautiful songs and praise of Lord Narayana because he saw that they cared for nothing of this world. They truly wanted the highest benediction. If they asked for mysticism, he would have given them great powers of control [background darshan is opened with bell ring “Jai Sri RadhaGopinath”]. They asked for the highest goal of life, they asked for the highest liberated state. Lord Shiva taught them beautiful prayers, his own personal prayers in the glorification of Lord Hari. So those who worship Lord Shiva for that divine purpose of life, He is spiritual master. He is always directing us to the lotus feet of Sri Sri RadhaGopinath by his example, by his words.

Thank you very much.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.