Vishnu & Shiva, who is the Supreme?

Who is Supreme, Shiva or Vishnu/Krishna? The discussion rages on, and some will never accept. But what do the authoritative sources say?

Harish V, 28 Nov 2018

Hare Krishna !
Please accept my humble obeisances!

All Glories to Sri Sri Guru & Gauranga!

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I would like to know, how the incarnation of Lord Narasimha came to an end after slaying Hiranyakashipu. I read in SB 7.10.31 that the Lord disappeared after being worshipped by Brahmā,

SB 7.10.31 — Nārada Muni continued: O King Yudhiṣṭhira, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is not visible to an ordinary human being, spoke in this way, instructing Lord Brahmā. Then, being worshiped by Brahmā, the Lord disappeared from that place.

This query was asked by my friend who came across an article which describes the story of Sharabha (Shiva’s form), GandaBerunda (Vishnu’s form) and Pratyankira (Durga’s form). Apparently Lord Narasimha was calmed down by defeat, by Sharabha (Shiva’s form) and Pratyankira (Durga’s form). It is stated that Lord Narasimha became the devotee of Shiva after the fight.

These incidents are described in the literatures relating to Lord Shiva.

He questioned me about the supremacy of Krishna based on this story which I could not effectively answer.

Request your guidance.

your servant,
Harish V

Filip Misic, 29 Nov 2018

Dear Harish,

Your question is very intellectually satisfying and is one worth asking. Even though I myself am not very learned in all the scriptures, especially those relating to the devatas, I shall make an attempt to shed some light into this topic and thus make a ground from which devotees may also further elaborate on the subject.

This story of Lord Nrisimhadeva, becoming calmed down by defeat from Lord Siva and Durga and then praising Lord Siva, is indeed a remarkable story, considering that we as devotees of Sri Krishna worship Sri Nrisimhadeva as the Supreme Lord. But in order to analyse this narration (which will be incomplete because we would have to read the full story to get the full picture), we have to state the facts that we already know from shastras, and in this light observe this narration of Lord Shiva.

Actually, from the narrations of the Bhagavat-Purana, Lord Shiva is known as a pure devotee of Lord Krishna, if not the purest. Just like Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee of Krishna, and could hereby produce millions of Vaishnavas by his presence, similarly Lord Shiva is a pure Vaishnava. So just see how devoted Shiva must be to Lord Vishnu; in fact, Lord Shiva is often depicted as being fixed in samadhi, meditation. But who or what is he meditating on? He is meditating on Lord Narayana, paramesvara, the Supreme Controller.

We may refer to the prayers given by Lord Shiva to Krishna in the 8th Canto of the Bhagavatam to support these statements. When Lord Shiva heard of the pastimes of Hari where He appered as a woman to captivate the demons and enable the devatas to drink the nectar, he went to meet Lord Hari. After arriving, Shiva offered respect to Vishnu and spoke as follows:
śrī-mahādeva uvāca
deva-deva jagad-vyāpiñ
jagad-īśa jagan-maya
sarveṣām api bhāvānāṁ
tvam ātmā hetur īśvaraḥ
“Lord Mahādeva said: O chief demigod among the demigods, O all-pervading Lord, master of the universe, by Your energy You are transformed into the creation. You are the root and efficient cause of everything. You are not material. Indeed, You are the Supersoul or supreme living force of everything. Therefore, You are Parameśvara, the supreme controller of all controllers.”
This is very remarkable, because Shiva is himself addressing the Lord as the Supreme (sarvesam api bhavanam tvam atma hetur isvaraha): “You are the supreme living force of everything and therefore you may be called isvara.” In a following verse, Shiva also states: (ananda-matram avikaram ananyad anyat) “You are always in transcendental bliss, You are changeless, You are seperated from everything but yet You are everything.” These statements given by Shiva are very significant. Also, it is not that he is speaking allegorically or that there is some hidden meaning to this. No. He is addressing the Lord like this in order to show his position as subordinare to Lord Hari. Remarkably enough, soon after this, wishing to see the beautiful female form of the Lord that he had heard of, Shiva becomes captivated by Mohini-murti. It is actually narrated s follows: “His sense became agitated, Lord Shiva, victimized by lusty desires, began to follow Her, just as a lusty elephant follows a she-elephant.” (SB.8.1.27) How could it be that if Shiva was the source of all material and spiritual, that he becomes captivated by his own energy? This is actually not possible for the Supreme Lord. Shiva was running like a dog after Mohini-murti and he even discharged semen uncontrollably due to the amazing features of Srimati Mohini. Actually it is not that Siva was covered by maha maya, the material energy, because being a pure devotee of Krishna he is firmly fixed in transcendence. Rather, this was a show of Krishna´s yoga-maya, internal energy, which so captivated Siva. After this event Lord Siva understood his position and that of Lord Vishnu completely, and after circumambulating the Lord, Siva took permission and returned to his abode. So there is not really anything unclear about this, Shiva is subordinate to Krishna, who is the source of all that exists.

However, now one may question why this narration of Nrisimhadeva being defeated by Shiva is at all there? If Krishna is the Supreme Lord, how can His expansion become defeated by a jiva? It is actually very simple. Lord Siva is not just any ordinary jiva, but he is a pure Krishna-bhakta. And because Krishna is so pleased by the devotional service of His pure devotees, He is owned by these devotees. Just like in the First Canto Krishna wishes to glorify His devotee Bhishma by allowing Yudhisthira to be perplexed just so he can hear the council of Bhishmadeva and become relieved. In fact, when Krishna arrived at Bhishma´s deathbed with arrows in him, He even bowed down to Him (SB 1.9.4). So Krishna will sometimes allow Himself to be seemingly degraded in order to glorify His pure devotee. So similarly, this narration of Sri Nrisimhadeva and Lord Siva can be examined in this light. Nrisimhadeva put himself in a low position and allowed Siva to conquer Him just in order to glorify Siva. Lord Siva is a greta mahatma and he is know to be the destroyer of cosmic manifestation at the time of annihilation. So his strength is truly remarkable. But even though Sri Nrisimhadeva allowed Hiself to be beaten by Shiva, it does not mean that therefore Siva is higher than Narayana. This would be a conclusion made by somebody who is not receiving the Vedas from a bona fide authority and is concocting his on mental speculations about the narrations of the shastras, while not even studying the Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad-gita. This is a very intimate topic, and we as sadhikas cannot really understand the transcendental relationships between Krishna and his devotees. We have the tendency to analyse stories from a material perspective, when in fact the narrations of the Vedas are transcendental.

Narrations like this are not so much read by Vaishnavaas, but they are very pleasing to devotees of Lord Shiva. Vaishnavas do not read stories like this, beacause they wish to rather read narrations which glorify the Lord. Just like the compiler of the Vedas Sri Vyasadeva arranged the Srimad Bhagavatam, which is filled with topics related to Lord Hari and His devotees. Bhagavatam is considered to be the ripended fruit of Vedic literature. This is the opinion of the great devotee Suta Goswami (nigama kalpa-taror galitam phalam (SB 1.1.3)) and all the acharyas like Ramanujacharya, Vishnu Swami, Madhvcarya, coming down from the disciplic succession started by Krishna Himself. These personalities were situated on the highest platform of transcendence, namely love of God, and therefore we choose to follow in their footsteps. And as for the converstaion you had with your friend, we should be aware with whom we have philosophical discussions. Just like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advised that we should not associate with mayavadis, because they can illusion our intelligence by their false conclusion of the Vedas. So similarly we should not associate, or at least consult, with people who are not performing sravanam kirtanam (unless we are very learned in shastra and can defeat their arguments). Because without the regulatory chanting of the Lords Holy Names a person should be known to possess a demoniac mentality. In this mentality nobody can come to the perfect conclusion of the Vedic literature (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo (BG 15.15)), which is to surrender ones life to Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (aham adir hi devanam (BG 10.2)).

I hope my explanation and my view of this matter has not been expressed in too much length. I hold this subject a very important topic amongst devotees of Krishna and therefore have chosen to speak on this matter. I encourage anybody to further elaborate on this.

Hoping this proves to be helpful to you,

your servant, Filip

Harish V Menon, 30 Nov 2018

Hare Krishna Filip Prabhuji,

Please accept my humble obeisances!

Thank you so much for your enlightening explanation !

your servant,
Harish V

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 01 Dec 2018
Hare Krishna!

Thank you for the question and the heartfelt answer.

Here is my (short) response:

  1. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead per Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam
  2. Sri Veda Vyasa composed 18 Puranas, 6 are in mode of ignorance, 6 in the mode of passion, and 6 in the mode of goodness
  3. Of the 6 in the mode of goodness, 1, Srimad Bhagavatam is in the mode of pure goodness
  4. Bhagavad Gita is regarded even by Adi Shankara (widely accepted as an incarnation of Lord Shiva, and also with scriptural evidence) as the topmost Upanishad – please read the introduction of Bhagavad Gita As It Is.
  5. Something beneficial can certainly be learned from all Puranas and all Vedic literature, but not the Supreme Absolute Truth, which is available perfectly only in Srimad Bhagavatam
  6. In the Bhagavad gita, it is clearly mentioned about faith in the various modes, how faith in the mode of ignorance accepts religion to be irreligion and irreligion to be religion.

But we don’t want to argue anything with anyone – we follow the authority of the disciplic succession – we are like the soldiers in a minefield walking behind the minesweeper, we step exactly where the soldier in front of us has stepped, we don’t deviate from the realized Acharyas in our disciplic succession. If someone wants to follow, good, otherwise they are welcome to stay in the material world until they come to their senses.

In general, there is one saying I heard from one of our spiritual masters in ISKCON…
“you can lead the horse to the water, you can’t make him drink,
you can lead a man to wisdom, you can’t make him think”.

Urging everyone to please carefully read the Bhagavad Gita As It Is and Srimad Bhagavatam ourselves. Or at least this article http://www.krishna.com/brahma-vishnu-shiva

your servant,
Mahabhagavat Das
dasadas.com

Filip Misic, 01 Dec 2018
Yes, this is nicely said.

your servant, Filip

Priya Harinath, 01 Dec 2018


Jaya!! Thank you Harish Prabhuji for the wonderful question and thank you Filip Prabhu and Mahabhagavat Das Prabhu for the enlightening and amazing answers. We are really fortunate to be part of this wonderful Vaisnava sanga.

your humble servant
Priya Harinath

Nikhil Mishra, 02 Dec 2018

Hare Krsna
All glories to Srila Guru and vaishnava devotees

It was wonderful to read conversations over this topic. I am unable to stop myself to put my points also here, which are not directly from Srimad Bhagavatam, but somehow I loved them while I researched this topic during my own dilemma.

Kindly forgive me and correct me if you find any discrepancy or offensive here.

Indeed relation between Lord Hari and Lord Shiva is very sweet. Both try to belittle themselves in order to glorify other. And I thoroughly love reading such kathaa/stories.

I see Adi shankaracharya (incarnation of Lord Shiva) saying
“bhaja govindam bhaja govindam govindam bhaja mudha mate”
I.e.
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
Worship Govinda, oh fool

And in in another revered scripture “Ram Charit Manas” by Goswami Tulsidas , i read Lord Ram proclaiming
“shiva darohi mama bhagata kahava so nara sapanehu mohi na pava
sankar bimukh bhagati chaha mori so naraki mudha mati thori”

Summary Translation :
one who consider himself/herself devotee of Mine but have repellency from Lord Shiva, such person can not find Me even in his/her dreams. If a person insult Shiva and desires My devotion , then he is a fool and worth going to hell.

So I bow down to Lord Hari and Lord Shiva who play Lila’s which are inconceivable by my little intellect.

Hari bol
Nikhil


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Author: Mahabhagavat Das SDA

I am a formally initiated disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari. My spiritual master was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1971. He is the author of the famous Ultimate Self Realization Course. Check it out at www.joincourse.com.

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