From: Swami B.K. Giri
Date: April 3, 2008 4:33:47 PM EDT
To: Ratnanabha dasa
Subject: Re: question’s
Dear Ratnanabha Prabhu,
Please accept my humble dandavat pranams in remembrance of our Divine Masters.
I have studied your email carefully and, while I think I know what you want, it is not so clear.
I did not want to keep you waiting any longer for a response, however, so I will tell you what little I know from memory and what I can ascertain through some research.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj told us there are, I believe, 5 tattvas that are very difficult to understand. I don’t recall all of them but, Shiva tattva was one. So, already you have introduced a subject that Srila Guru Maharaj warned us is very difficult.
Fortunately, you have already done some research yourself and offered a variety of thoughts descriptive of Shiva. Your confusion seems to be harmonizing all of them as they appear diverse and in some instances contradictory. They are not, but may appear so due to insufficient knowledge of the subject, which we both admit.
I searched many of Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s books to refresh my memory of the ideas I’m stating here but could not find the references I sought. I assume, therefore, that what I remember is from hearing from him directly or from a tape. As such, I cannot offer a quotation to support all my statements.
That said, another item I recall is that Srila Guru Maharaj said Shiva has two aspects, one residing in the spiritual world and one in the material. This I will explain below.
The confusion, as I see it, lies in the fact that when the term “Shiva” is used, it is often done without reference to which aspect of Shiva is being referred to.
There is a Shiva Loka in the spiritual sky where the eternal, divine aspect of Shiva as some particular shakti of Krishna resides with his followers.
“We are interested in understanding this gradation: what is the Viraja river, what is the spiritual sky, the planet of Lord Shiva, the Vaikuntha world of Vishnu, Lord Rama’s Ayodhya, and then Krsna in Dwaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavana? We want to know the realistic view of the whole gradation of devotional thought.” — SGHG
There is another Shiva Loka within the material universe where Sri Shiva, as a demigod and devotee of the Lord “vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh“, resides with his wife goddess Parvati and their followers.
“I have so much indifference towards this world that I am mainly interested in knowledge and penance; This holds the better portion of my interest. Whatever little inclination I have for devotional service to Narayana is very negligible. Sometimes I have such an apathetic spirit towards Narayana that I even fight with Him in favor of one of my disciples! I am disgusted with my position. Penance, power, mystic yoga perfection, and indifference to the world; that is my business.” Srila Sridhar Maharaj stating Lord Shiva’s talk with Narada — SSK
Srila Sridhar Maharaj then explains that this Shiva represents jnana-misra bhakti “This is jnana-misra bhakti, or devotional service mixed with empiric speculative knowledge.”
It is also here (the mundane side), where Shiva sits, meditating in the uppermost portion of this universe, and catches the Ganges water on his head as it flows from the toe of Lord Vishnu.
This may also help:
“Devotee: The conditioned soul has some attraction to Lord Shiva in Mahesa Dhama. What is Lord Shiva’s position?
Srila Guru Maharaj: His position is as a master of this Maya, Illusory Potency. He is not a slave of misunderstanding. Although he remains in the relativity of misunderstanding, he remains in a masterly position.” — SGD Vol. 2
Here in a letter from Srila Swami Maharaj the question is answered very nicely:
“Regarding your question, you may refer to Adi-lila, Chapter 6, Text 79 along with the purport, (Caitanya-caritamrta). The answer is there. The basic understanding is that Sada-Shiva is an expansion of Maha-Vishnu and that same Sada-Shiva incarnates as Advaitacarya. Therefore, since Advaitacarya is an incarnation of Sada-Shiva who is non-different from Maha-Vishnu, we can say that Advaitacarya is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu. It can be said both ways, that He is an incarnation of Sada-Shiva or Maha-Vishnu.” — Letter to: Mr. Vincent Karl – Mayapur 6 April, 1975
And, from the Adi-lila, Chapter 6,Text 79:
“ananta brahmande rudra — sadasivera amsa
gunavatara tenho, sarva-deva-avatamsa
Rudra, who is an expansion of Sadashiva and who appears in unlimited universes, is also a gunavatara [qualitative incarnation] and is the ornament of all the demigods in the endless universes.
… Sometimes it is found that Rudra is compared to Brahma and considered a living entity. But when Rudra is explained to be a partial expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is compared to Sesha. Lord Siva is therefore simultaneously an expansion of Lord Vishnu and, in his capacity for annihilating the creation, one of the living entities. As an expansion of Lord Vishnu he is called Hara, and he is transcendental to the material qualities, but when he is in touch with tamo-guna he appears contaminated by the material modes of nature. This is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Brahma-samhita. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, it is stated that Lord Rudra is always associated with the material nature when she is in the neutral, unmanifested stage, but when the modes of material nature are agitated he associates with material nature from a distance. In the Brahma-samhita the relationship between Vishnu and Lord Siva is compared to that between milk and yogurt. Milk is converted into yogurt by certain additives, but although milk and yogurt have the same ingredients, they have different functions. Similarly, Lord Siva is an expansion of Lord Vishnu, yet because of his taking part in the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, he is considered to be changed, like milk converted into yogurt. In the Puranas it is found that Siva appears sometimes from the heads of Brahma and sometimes from the head of Vishnu. The annihilator, Rudra, is born from Sankarshana and the ultimate fire to burn the whole creation. In the Vayu Purana there is a description of Sadasiva in one of the Vaikuntha planets. That Sadasiva is a direct expansion of Lord Krishna’s form for pastimes. It is said that Sadasiva (Lord Sambhu) is an expansion from the Sadasiva in the Vaikuntha planets (Lord Vishnu) and that his consort, Mahamaya, is an expansion of Rama-devi, or Lakshmi. Mahamaya is the origin or birthplace of material nature.”
Actually, your quotation from the conversation between Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Sridhar Maharaj is very appropriate and clear. The only uncertainty there is how Maha-vishnu and Sadashiva can be the same. I think that is made clear in the above purport.
The Sadashiva who is the direct expansion of Maha-vishnu is the Shiva on the Vaikuntha (spiritual) side of the viraja river. The demigod Shiva, or Sadashiva, who resides in the Kailasa on the prakrti side of the Viraja is an expansion of the other Shiva (from the Vaikuntha side).
You also ask, “Also, if Lord Shiva is the destroyer at the end of time would that make him immortal?” Everyone is immortal.
Your next question:
“Sometimes we hear that Lord Shiva came from between the eyes of Lord Brahma after he got angry with Narada Muni, but in the Brahma Samhita it says Sambhu came from between the eyes of Maha Vishnu.”
Again, the difference is between the Shiva of the prakrta side and the aprakrta side. The Shiva manifest from Lord Brahma must be the demigod. The Shiva from Maha-vishnu is the Shiva above Viraja.
“Also we hear that in some kalpas there is no jiva to take the position of Brahma so Lord Vishnu takes that position. So in the case where Sambhu manifested, was it Lord Vishnu taking the part of Brahma?”
There is a Shiva for every universe whether created by a “jiva” Brahma or a “Vishnu” Brahma.
Brahma is the creator within each universe and is addressed as such by Lord Shiva in the Bhagavatam description of the Daksha Yajna: mahadeva uvaca nagham prajesa balanam varnaye — SB 4.7.2
Srila Swami Maharaj translates this, in part, as “My dear father, Brahma, I do not mind the offenses created by the demigods.” The direct translation of praja-isha is “O lord of created beings” when Mahadev addresses Brahma but, Swami Maharaja simply says “father”.
The translation continues, “Because these demigods are childish and less intelligent…” Childish comes from the word balanam which means “of the children”. Taken in another sense, the verse could be expressed in this way, “My dear father, Brahma, I do not mind the offenses created by the demigods who I regard (varnaye) as your other children.”
Because Lord Vishnu will not have direct contact with the mode of ignorance an agent is deputed for this purpose. One of those agents is Shambhu.
“According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, sambhos tu tamo-‘dhisthanatvat kajjalamaya-suksma-dipa-sikha-sthaniyasya na tatha samyam: “The sambhu-tattva, or the principle of Lord Shiva, is like a lamp covered with carbon because of his being in charge of the mode of ignorance. The illumination from such a lamp is very minute. Therefore the power of Lord Shiva cannot compare to that of the Vishnu principle.” — Adi 2.89
This also answers the question of Lord Shiva’s position in relation to that of Lord Vishnu.
I pray this finds you well in all respects. Please convey my regards to the other devotees there in your association.