Mahanidhi Swami

Shiva-tattva or the identity, function and position of Lord Shiva is the one of the most difficult spiritual truths to comprehend.

Confusion arises from the fact that Lord Shiva has different forms and abodes that are situated either in ignorance, pure goodness or complete transcendence. In addition, the individual names of these forms and abodes are interchangeable depending on the scriptural reference.

For example, some scriptures say the completely transcendental Sankara is the source of the material Shiva. And other scriptures say Sankara is a name of one of the Rudras, the material expansions of Shiva that madly dance in ignorance at the time of universal destruction. One Vedic scripture says one thing, and another says the opposite. What is the result? CONFUSION!

Both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva have a variety of forms and expansions within the spiritual and material realms. The easiest way to understand the Vishnu-Shiva relationship is by accepting Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy of “achintya bheda adheda tattva”, which means that God, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, is inconceivably, simultaneously one with and different from His own multifarious energies.

This two part article will present the Gaudiya Vaisnava conclusions (siddhanta) regarding Lord Vishnu and Shiva.

  1. Source of Shiva:

Bhagavan Sri Krishna expands into four forms known the chatur-vyuha comprising Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha.

Sadashiva and Maha-Visnu arise from Sankarsana; Garbhodakasayi Vishnu arises from Pradyumna; and Kshirodakashayi Vishnu (Paramatma) arises from Aniruddha.

In other words, Sri Krishna in His form as Lord Sankarsana expands as Sadashiva. However, Sri Krishna alone is the supreme, the origin and cause of all causes. In Gita (10.8), Sri Krishna emphatically proclaims this: “I am the source of everything and everything emanates from Me, aham sarvasya prabhavo, mattah sarvam pravartate.”

“Lord Shiva knows that Sankarsana is the original cause of his own existence, and thus he always sits in trance meditating upon Lord Sankarsana.” (SB 5.17.16.)

  1. Abode of Sadashiva

Sadashiva’s abode is called Sadashiva Loka, and it is situated above the material universe, slightly below Goloka. It is eternal, spiritual, inexhaustible, full of eternal happiness, and devoid of any disease.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada: “The abode of Shiva lies outside the material universe and all its seven coverings.” (Brhad Bh. I.2.96)

Srila Rupa Goswamipada: “Shiva’s abode is manifest in the northeast part of Vaikunthaloka.” (Laghu Bh. I.5.298) “Sadashiva Loka is attained by the best of Lord Shiva’s devotees who know that Shiva is nondifferent from Sri Krishna and not by others.” (BBT tika, Brhad Bh. I.2.96)

III. Oneness: Sadashiva is Narayana

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhusana: “Sadashiva is without a trace of tamo-guna. He is the cause of all causes, and He is the Narayana vilasa form (anga-bhuta) of svayam-rupa Krishna (svayam-prabhoh). In the Taittiriya Upanisad, the names Narayana, Acyuta and Shiva are used to indicate only one person.” (tika Laghu Bh. I.2.31) “The Sadashiva mentioned in the Brahma-samhita is a vilasa expansion of Krishna, a form of Narayana. (tika Laghu Bh. I.5.298)

Vilasa are the expanded forms of Godhead endowed with different degrees of potency from the original Godhead, Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Sri Jiva Goswamipada (Paramatma Sandarbha 17): “Brahma-samhita (5.8,10) says that Lord Sadashiva is a direct expansion of Lord Vishnu. However, the other Shiva, the demigod Shiva, is not a direct expansion of Lord Vishnu.”

Vrindavana das Thakura: “While visiting the Lingaraja Shiva temple in Bhubaneshvar, Sri Chaitanydeva manifested symptoms of ecstasy. And a favorite kirtan mantra of Gauranga Mahaprabhu was a praising of the combined form of Krishna Hari and Shiva “Hari-Hara;” (hari-haraya nama krsna yadavaya namah).

Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “Lord Sadasiva is transcendental to the three modes of material nature. He is the vilasa expansion of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. And Sadasiva is also the source of the Siva serving as one of the guna avataras. Thus Sadasiva is equal to Lord Vishnu, superior to Lord Brahma, and superior to and separate from the conditioned, guna-bound jivas. (Bhagavatamrita-kana) [Shiva is Shiva-tattva; jivas are jiva-tattva]

Srila Prabhupada: “In the Vayu Purana there is a description of Sadashiva in one of the Vaikuntha planets. That Sadashiva is a direct expansion of Lord Krishna’s form for pastimes. It is said that Lord Shambhu [Shiva] is an expansion from the Sadashiva in the Vaikuntha planets (Lord Vishnu)” (Cc. 1.6.79 pur.)

Sadashiva Mahavishnu Sri Advaita Prabhu ki jai!

Shankara Bhagavan ki jai! Vaishnavanam Yatha Shambu ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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