- Oneness & Difference: Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
- Milk & Yogurt Analogy
In Brahma-samhita (5.45), Lord Brahma prays:
ksiram yatha dadhi vikare-visesa yogat
sanjayate na hi tatah prthag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam adi tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi purusam tam aham bhajami
Srila Prabhupada translation: “Milk changes into yogurt when mixed with a yogurt culture, but actually yogurt is constitutionally nothing but milk. Similarly, Sri Govindaji, assumes the form of Lord Shiva for the special purpose of material transactions. I offer my obeisances at Lord Govinda’s lotus feet.” (SB 9.9.7 p.)
Bhanu Swami translation: “I worship the Supreme Lord Govinda who becomes the form of Shiva who is said to be non-different from Govinda, but who is also different because of his contact with the transformations of prakåti, just as milk becomes yogurt, which can be said to be non-different from its cause, but acts in a different manner.”
Sri Jiva Goswamipada’s tika (Bs. 5.45): “In the example of milk and yoghurt only that part which illustrates cause and effect [Vishnu & Shiva] should be taken. In this world, milk changes into yogurt, but the Lord Vishnu does not change into Shiva.
“Although the verse says vikare-visesa yogat, a special transformation, Vishnu is unchanging just like cintamani. By His inconceivable energy, Lord Vishnu continues to exist as He was before, even though He also becomes Lord Shiva.” (Bhanu Swami trans.)
This analogy clearly establishes the oneness and difference between Vishnu and Shiva. Just as the origin of yogurt is milk, so the origin of Lord Siva is Vishnu, Krishna. Yogurt however, can never again can become milk, but milk can, whenever required, become yogurt…burfi or ice cream!
- Oneness in Prema:
The next quote beautifully describes the oneness and non-difference of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Srila Sanatana Goswamipada: “Vishnu is the form of Shiva and Shiva is the form of Vishnu. Vishnu is Shiva’s heart and Shiva is Vishnu’s heart. Just as Vishnu is full of Shiva, Shiva is full of Vishnu. Thus, I see no difference between Them, yathantaram na pashyami.” (HBV 14.193-4):
When asked about the Vishnu-Shiva oneness, Sri Advaita-vamsha Acharya 108 Sri Nikunja Gopala Goswami responded by bringing his two hands together while saying, “Shiva and Krishna are—One!”
Gaudiya Vaisnava Pandita Sri Krishna Dasji Maharaja, Bhakta Tirtha explained it thus: “Visnu and Shiva are one in name, qualities and prema—bhagavata bhakta prema abhinna! Shivaji is the bhakta shiromani, the crest jewel of all premi-bhaktas of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Lord Shiva is the bhakta avatara like Sri Advaita Prabhu in gaura-lila.
“However, Vishnu and Shiva are different in tattva; Vishnu being Vishnu-tattva and Shiva being Shiva-tattva. And also Krishna and Shiva are different in svarupa, rudra nahe krishnera svarupa nahe.”(Cc. 2.20.308).
- Offense of Seeing Two
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada: “Shambhu [Shiva] is not a second Godhead other than Krishna. Those, who entertain such discriminating sentiment, commit a great offense against the Supreme Lord [second nama-aparadha]. The supremacy of Shiva is subservient to that of Govinda; hence they are not really different from each other.” (Bs. 5.45 tika)
Srila Sanatana Goswamipada: “To consider Lord Shiva different from Krishna is a great fault; it’s considered a sin. Bhagavan Sri Krishna forgives offenses against Himself but not against Shiva.” (Brhad Bh. I.2.86)
The Padma Purana describes the second offense in chanting Krishna’s Holy Name as: “One who sees differences between any of Lord Shiva’s qualities and names and those of Sri Vishnu is an antagonist to hari-nama.”
“Lord Vishnu cannot tolerate offenses against Lord Shiva, because Lord Shiva is the greatest of Lord Vishnu’s empowered incarnations.” (BBT tika BB I.2.86
- Differences: Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “In the sense that the amsha (a part) and the amshé (complete source) are considered non-different [like the finger and body], Shiva is considered non-different from Krishna.” (SB 3.1.30 tika)
Sri Jiva Goswamipada: (Paramatma Sandarbha Anu. 18): “The Brahma-vaivarta Purana describes the difference between Vishnu and Shiva: Lord Shiva said, “I, Lord Shiva, and others, are not the Lord but single portions of Vishnu’s Shakti.”
Bhagavan Sri Baladevji: “Great devatas like Brahma and Shiva, and even the goddess of fortune and I, are simply parts of Krishna’s parts.” (SB 10.68.37)
Lord Vishnu and his various forms like Sadashiva have 60 transcendental qualities in varying amounts. However, Bhagavan Sri Krishna has 64 transcendental qualities in absolute perfect fullness and sweetness. Krishna’s four unique qualities are prema-madhurya, lila-madhurya, rupa-madhurya and venu-madhurya. Ordinary jivas of the material world can exhibit minute amounts of 50 qualities.
- Shiva the Devotee
Srila Sanatana Goswamipada: “Lord Rudra [Shiva] is the best of all the Vaisnavas (sarva-vaisnava-murdhanyo), and he propagates Vishnu bhakti (Vishnu-bhakti-pravartakah).” (Brhad Bh. I.3.10)
“Shiva is the greatest Vaiñëava because he initiates the teaching of pure devotional service. He founded the Rudra-sampradaya, one of the four authentic Vaisnava schools. He is more famous as a Vaisnava than as an incarnation of Vishnu.” (BB I.3.10 tika BBT)
Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja: “Sadashiva always says, ‘I am a servant of Lord Krishna,’” shiva, ‘muni Krishna dasa’. (Cc. 1.6.80)
Shiva is often thought to be non-different from Vishnu, but the following verse, spoken by Shivaji Himself, proves the difference by saying that Vishnu is the original cause of Shiva and all of creation.
Lord Shiva said, “I worship You [Vishnu], who are my most worshipable supreme controller, bhaje bhajany ishvaram, and the origin of the material creation, bhava-bhaavam.” (SB 5.17.18)
As said earlier, Shiva-tattva is a vast and deep ocean of truth, full of dancing waves of wisdom. And it all exists for the purpose of loving exchanges with the source of all love and of all creation—Bhagavan Sri Krishna. By carefully studying this essay, we are sure that one will clearly (more clearly) understand the oneness and difference of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Sadashiva Mahavishnu Sri Advaita Prabhu ki jai!
Shankara Bhagavan ki jai! Vaisnavam Yatha Shambu ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!