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Discussions specifically related with the various aspects of practice of bhakti-sadhana in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Shiva's worship - Is'nt it relevant to attain Krishna?

Som - Tue, 05 Nov 2002 15:58:10 +0530
Jai Radhe Shyam!

Dear Vaishnavas,

Had a query which I had seen in some other forum as well:

Lord Shiva is considered to be the topmost Vaishnava - "Vaishnavanam yatha shambhu" and Krishna says that He likes the devotee of His devotee - "Bhaktair bhakta jana priya" in Bhagavatam. So does the Gaudiya Vishnavism consider worship of Lord Shiva as a valid way of attaining Krishna?

Hari Hari!
Madhava - Tue, 05 Nov 2002 18:19:30 +0530
The saying "vaiSNavAnam yatha zambhuH" appears in a series of verses in the 12th canto of the Bhagavata which demonstrate how the Bhagavata is the supreme among the Puranas. The Lord gives several examples, "Just as among the rivers, Ganga is supreme, among Devas Acyuta is supreme, among Vaishnavas Sambhu (Shiva) is, and so Bhagavata is among the Puranas."

However, despite this we are aware of scriptural statements which present the glory of Yamuna even superior to the glory of Ganga. To say that something is "the greatest" is often a form of praise, rather than an absolute ontological statement. That being said, it is certainly a fact that the Bhagavata is supreme among the Puranas. However, we do know that among devotees, the Vraja-gopis are the supreme.

The Vraja-gopis, again, have declared that Giriraja Govardhana is "haridAsa-varyo", the greatest among the servants of Hari. Thus everyone is entitled to their perspective, but upon observing the subject matter from a neutral position, we inevitably come to conclude that the bhakti-bhava of the Vraja-gopis reigns supreme in the kingdom of love of God.
Madhava - Tue, 05 Nov 2002 18:38:48 +0530
As for the worship of Sri Shiva, it is permissible to worship him in the capacity of a devotee of the Lord. However, one must not whimsically begin to worship in a particular manner, but must certify that the worship he undertakes will be conducive to the particular kind of devotion the sadhaka aspires for. For instance, we do not worship the queens of Dvaraka, for their bhakti-bhava is different from that for which we aspire.

Hence we worship Sri Shiva in his descent as Advaita Acarya Prabhu, the crest-jewel of Gauranga-parshadas, who is a joint avatara of Sri Sadashiva (the original form of Sambhu, a qualified amsa of Vishnu) and Mahavishnu. On account of Prabhu's absorption in Gaura-lila, and through Gaura-lila in Vraja-bhava, this form of worship is guaranteed to bring us to the farther shore of the ocean of bhakti.

We may also worship Gopisvara Mahadeva, the form of Sri Shiva who protects the Rasa-dance in a gopi-svarupa. The history of Gopisvara is very famous. He stands on the edge of Vamsi-vata, where Syamasundara plays the fifth note of His flute, alluring the Vraja-gopis from their homes to join Him in the circle of Rasa, and protects the crest-jewel of Vraja-pastimes.

We praise him as follows:

user posted image

vRndAvanavani-pate! jaya soma soma-maule
gopIzvara! vraja-vilAsi-yugAGghri-padme
prema prayaccha nirupAdhi namo namaste

"O gatekeeper of Vrindavana! O Soma, all glories to you! O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipable for the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Narada! O Gopisvara! Desiring that you bestow upon me prema for the lotus feet of Shri Shri Radha-Madhava who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhama, I offer pranamas unto you time and again!"

Additionally Sri Mahadeva protects the holy dhama from all four directions, and we honor and worship him as the protector of the dhama. He presides in Vraja as Gopisvara in Vrindavan, Bhutesvara in Mathura, Nandisvara at Nandagrama, Kamesvara at Kamyavana, Cakalesvara at Govardhan and Kundesvara at Radha Kund. As such, he is worthy of our respect and worship. Any Vaishnava who desires the mercy of the holy dhama must not neglect to pay homage to Sri Shiva who protects the dhama.

However, such worship is often not a daily duty, but rather an occasional duty. By occasional I mean that it is not incorporated into the daily routine of sadhana, but rather whenever a murti of Sri Mahadeva is met, we pay homage to him.
Som - Wed, 06 Nov 2002 13:38:33 +0530
Jai Radha Madhav,

Thanks very much for your answer Madhavananda Ji.

Thus everyone is entitled to their perspective, but upon observing the subject matter from a neutral position, we inevitably come to conclude that the bhakti-bhava of the Vraja-gopis reigns supreme in the kingdom of love of God.

I fully agree with you here.

I have full faith in Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead - Bhagavan.

But, one more question here - What about the different Puranas etc. which say that Lord Shiva is the Supreme or Devi Durga is the Supreme?

How does a Vaishnava approach when someone asks about this?

Hari Hari!
Mina - Wed, 06 Nov 2002 23:52:59 +0530
It is best to be diplomatic, for it is not our purpose to alienate Shaivites or Shaktas.  Simply explain that from the understanding we have of the teachings given by Vaishnava acharyas in our tradition and commentaries on the Gita and Bhagavata Purana Shiva and Durga are worshippable Deities, yet They are expansions of Vishnu and Lakshmi.   There really is no need to defend that position, nor should they feel the need to defend the position that Vishnu and Lakshmi are expansions of Shiva and Durga.  One of Nitai's Sanksrit professors, as Smarta Brahmin from Waltair in Andhra Pradesh once quipped to me about how Vaishnavas have their own peculiar ideas about Hinduism.  I was torn between striking up a debate with him and keeping silent.  I chose to not say anything and let it pass.  I think that was a wise course, as their was little chance of convincing a highly educated Brahmin about something he already was well acquainted with.
Madhava - Thu, 07 Nov 2002 02:07:42 +0530
It is a common understanding that the maha-puranas are divided in three categories according to the three modes of nature, the sattvika-puranas being focused on Vishnu, the rajasika-puranas being focused on Brahma, and the tamasika-puranas being focused on Shiva. I do not have a reference to the theory from the scriptures themselves at hand, though, and would be interested to know if anyone else has.

At any rate, the desire tree of the Vedas has enough fruits for people from all walks of life to help them in their gradual evolution in approaching the Lord. We take it that Bhagavata is the ripest fruit from this tree of wisdom, the sweetest among all. But each according to his taste, as nobody can force another into a particular mode of worship.
Ekesuara das - Fri, 08 Nov 2002 21:00:05 +0530
Why Did Lord Caitanya Accept Siva Prasada. from Locana das thakura´sSri Caitanya Mangala. The next morning, Mahaprabhu again visited the Deity of Viraja, who grnts liberation to any one who sees her. After paying obeisances and leaving the temple, lord Caitanya displayed symptoms of transcendental ecstasy of Ekamraka (present day Bhubanesvara), where lord Siva and Parvati reside. Upon seeing the temple dome, Gauranga began running out of intense eagerness to see the temple. A beatiful flag billowed atop the temple. Mahaprabhu offered obeisances to the temple flag before entering Ekamraka, an abode of Lord Siva abounding in Siva Temples. Along with the town´smain Siva linga called¨Visvesuara¨, there are ten million Siva lingas. One feels apprenhensive about making an offense when he walks into Ekamraka. The earth of Ekamraka appeared like sandesh The water of all holy places meets in Bindu Sarovara,Differents places of pilgrimage also exist here. Lord Gaurahari offered respects to the deites of Siva and Parvati.Upon seeing them all the devotes forgot the troubles of traveling. Gauranga became numb and staggered in ecstasy as he looked at Mahesa. His lips turned red, tears streamed down his eyes, and bumps of ecstasy formed on his body as lord Caitanya chanted prayers to Lord Siva, The devotes also recited suitable prayers. In appreciation, the temple priest offered Siva´prasada scents, sandalwood pulp and a fragant flower garland to Sri Krsna Caitanya. Then the Lord retired to the home of a devote. He took some rice prasada from the devotes and rested peacefully. The next morning Gauranga bathed in Bindu Sarovara, paid obeisances to Mahadeva and continued to Nilacala. laugh.gif Now Listen carefully to a story in this connection. Once Damodara Pandit asked Murari Gupta, ¨Murari, why did Lord Caitanya accept the nirmalya (Prasada) of lord Siva.According to a curse of Bhrgu Muni, Siva´prasada is not acceptable.Yet why did Gauranga accept it.Mahaprabhu is himself the lord of the Brahmanas.SO,why did he violate the Vedic injunctions. Murari Gupta said.¨Listen, Damodara. How can i know the mind of lord.I´llanswer you according to my understanding.If you find it acceptable, then take it in your heart. If someone differentiates betwen hari and hara when he worships Lor Siva, and therefore refuses to accept Siva´prasada,he commits an offense and suffers the curse of Brigu muni. ¨Why¨. Because his consciouness is contaminated. He dont understand the glories to LOrd Siva. But he who Accepts both Hari and Hara as one and faithfully accepts Siva´prasada becomes beloved to both Lord Krsna and Siva. Öne certainly pleases Lord Siva with his food offerind, if he remembers that Lord Siva is the Greathest Vaishnava.One becomes free from material bondage by taking such remnants.Actually, when Lord Siva saw Lord Caitanya taking his Darsana, he joyfully accepted Gauranga as his guest. The curse of brigu is meant for materialist devoid of Krsna consciousness. If someone worships Lord Siva in a friendly mood, he certainly develops his love for Sri Krsna. Sri Gauranga came to teach the proper path of perfection for people in general. Damodara Pandit said¨Murari, you have kindly removed all my misgivings, and made everyone else happy too. Thus Locana das describes the transcendental pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.