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Lord Shiva, a Pure Devotee of Krishna

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by Satsvarupa Das Adhikary
(ISKCON—Boston)

Once, at the dawn of the universal creation a great sacrifice was performed by the leaders of mankind,—namely Marichi, Dakha and Basistha. All great personalities, powerful sages, philosophers and demigods, along with their followers assembled. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva were also present. When Dakha, the leader of the Prajapatis (the first progenitors of the universe), entered into the assembly his bodily luster was so bright that practically everyone else present seemed insignificant. Influenced by Dakha’s luster, they gave up their places and stood in respect. Lord Brahma is considered to be the first living entity of the universe and the creator of all the material planets and entities. Lord Brahma is directly empowered by the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna or Vishnu, and so he was logically presiding at the head of the assembly. Although Lord Brahma did not rise to honor Dakha, he adequately welcomed him with words and asked him to take a seat of honor. Lord Shiva alone remained seated without showing any respect to the effulgent Prajapati. Dakha was very offended seeing Lord Shiva sitting there, and instead of taking his seat, Dakha began to speak strongly against him.

So begins the history of a great sacrifice and misunderstanding between Dakha and Lord Shiva, which resulted in widespread destruction. It is fully related in the Fourth Canto of Srimad Bhagwatam, the Vedic scripture which deals exclusively in the narration of the transcendental Pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, and His pure devotees.

Lord Shiva is a pure devotee of Lord Krishna, who is accepted as the Supreme Lord by the purport of all Vedic literature, Upanishads, Puranas and Vedanta Sutra, and by the disciplic succession of spiritual masters. The intelligent human being who worships the Supreme Lord Krishna or His immediate expansion, Vishnu, is called a “Vaishnava.” And in the Vaishnava Purana it is stated that Sambhu (Lord Shiva) is the greatest Vaishnava: “Vaishnavanan natan Sambhu.” Lord Shiva himself declares, in the Shiva Purana, that one should take to devotional service of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. Being a pure devotee and a confidential deputed agent of Krishna, Lord Shiva is beyond reproach in all his actions.

But Dakha spoke against Lord Shiva: “All sages and brahmins and firegods present here, please hear me with attention as I am speaking about the manners of gentle persons. I am not speaking out of ignorance or envy.” Dakha very tactfully presented to the assembly that he was going to make a sensible speech, and not out of enviousness. Although he was speaking like a man in ignorance by intending to attack Lord Shiva’s behavior, and although all present were perfectly aware of the exalted position of Lord Shiva, yet Dakha was so envious that he tried to cover his poisonous statements with a plea for gentleness and nonenviousness. He then launched verbally into Lord Shiva and said that he has ruined the good name of the demigods and that he is unclean. Dakha then stated, “Although Lord Shiva has already accepted a position subordinate to me, by marrying my daughter, yet he is not respectful to his father-in-law.” The fact was that Lord Shiva’s wife, Sati, was the daughter of Dakha and they had married under the instructions of Lord Shiva’s father, Lord Brahma. Since Lord Shiva was actuallly the son-in-law of Dakha, one might ask, why did he not stand up and pay respects when Dakha arrived, and that might have prevented the total holocaust which, as we shall see, soon followed. The answer is that at the time Dakha entered, Lord Shiva was meditating, as he always is, on the Form of the Supreme Lord who dwells in the hearts of all creatures. As the greatest Vaishnava, he was in trance of ecstasy, meditating on the One God of all Being and Nonbeing who is alone factually worthy of all our reverence. In meditation, he might not have seen Dakha enter the arena of the sacrifice. But Dakha took the opportunity of cursing him because he was holding an envious attitude toward him for a long time.

Actually, those who are self-realized think of everybody as a temple of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as He resides in everyone’s body. The respect paid to the body is not paid to the material body, but to the Presence of the Supreme Lord within the body. By offering obeisances to the Supersoul, Lord Shiva had already offered respects to the Supersoul of Dakha and there was no need of offering respects to Dakha’s body. But Dakha, not being a transcendentalist, could not appreciate Lord Shiva’s irreproachable behavior. To be always in meditation on the Supreme Lord is not a conjurer’s trick or something to be imitated. Nor is it anything like meditating on the impersonal void. Just as we are persons, but limited to our individual bodies, so the Supreme Lord Krishna is an individual Person, but He is at the same time one and different from the creation. He is Single, One without a second, and yet He is all-pervading. By His Mercy He is present in everyone’s heart, giving the intelligence and pure memory whereby one can go back to Him for personal association in eternal bliss and all knowledge. Lord Shiva then was fixed in mind on the Absolute and therefore he should not have been reproached. Dakha however was thinking only in bodily, materialistic terms, and considered his body insulted by the behavior of his exalted son-in-law. Before the great assembly he vilified Lord Shiva.

Dakha said: “Shiva remains in the filthiest places like the crematorium, and his companions are ghosts and demons and he remains like a madman. He never bathes regularly and puts a garland made of the skulls of dead bodies around his neck for ornamentation. He is very dear to the crazy beings in the mode of ignorance. On the request of Lord Brahma I handed over my chaste daughter to him although he is devoid of all cleanliness and his heart is filled with nasty things.”

The name Shiva is auspicious, and yet those who do not bathe regularly are supposed to be in association with the ghosts and crazy creatures. Lord Shiva appeared like that, but his actual transcendental position is that he is very kind to persons who are in the darkness of the mode of ignorance, the drunkards and the unclean. He is so compassionate on the lowest of the low that he gives such creatures shelter and gradually makes them elevated to spiritual understanding. This is the explanation of Lord Shiva’s transcendental position, according to the authoritative literature. It is stated in the Vedas that Lord Shiva is all-auspicious, so by his association even the most fallen souls can be elevated. In the creation of the Supreme Lord there are different kinds of living creatures, some of them are in the quality of goodness, some in the quality of passion and some in ignorance. Lord Vishnu takes charge of the persons who are advanced Vaishnavas or Krishna conscious, Lord Brahma takes charge of the persons who are very much attached to material activities, but Lord Shiva is so kind that he takes charge of persons who are grossly in ignorance and whose behavior is less than the animals.

Dakha cursed Lord Shiva out of envy and called him the lowest of the demigods and not worth being offered oblations or taking part in the sacrifice. One of the great commentators on the Srimad Bhagwatam, Sri Viswanath Chakravarty, says in regard to this curse of Dakha by which Lord Shiva was cut off from participating in the sacrifice, that it was an indirect blessing for Lord Shiva. As the greatest devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead it is not worthy that Lord Shiva should eat and sit with materialistic persons like the demigods who might be a distraction to his prosecution of devotional service. So he was saved from the calamity of their non-Krishna conscious association.

Dakha was a very powerful mystic brahmin, but under the deadly influence of anger, he declared he could not bear to carry on in the presence of the unclean Lord Shiva, and so he left the area of sacrifice. All the sages and Lord Brahma requested Dakha, “Please do not leave our company”-but in spite of all requests Dakha left the place under the effect of cruel anger. In the Bhagavad Gita it is advised that anyone interested in spiritual advancement must avoid lust, anger and passion, but Dakha was attacked by all three. Nandikesvar, one of the chief associates of Lord Shiva, also caught the evil influence of anger, and he prepared to curse Dakha as well as all the brahmins present there who merely sat by and tolerated the cursing of Lord Shiva. Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta writes of this situation: “There is a longstanding dissension among the neophyte Vaishnavas and Shivites, by which they are always at loggerheads. Some brahmins are not admirers of Lord Shiva and might enjoy his being cursed, but this is due to their ignorance of Lord Shiva’s position (as the greatest Vaishnava).” Nandikesvar in his anger did not follow the example of Lord Shiva who was silent and tolerant. Nandikesvar could not tolerate the insult to a Vaishnava and he countercursed Dakha and his followers, stating that whoever supported Dakha would be bereft of transcendental knowledge of the soul and devoid of knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He called Dakha a pretentious householder, with only superficial knowledge of the Vedas; and such a person, he stated, although following the rules and regulations of the Vedas, will be attached to the temporary material sex happiness as the all-in-all, with no knowledge of the spiritual, eternal, blissful life. Lord Shiva’s aide further deemed that whoever attacked Lord Shiva would be doomed to continue seeking happiness in the nescience of materialistic education and working for mundane rewards, and would therefore continue perpetually in the cycle of birth and death. Such attacks on the brahmins are applicable to the so-called brahmins of the present Age of Kali who claim brahminical or spiritual status simply on the basis of heredity or birth in a family of brahmins. In the scripture Vedanta Sutra, it is stated that the human form of life is meant for realizing the Supreme Brahman or Absolute Truth and that is the real business of a brahmin. But the so-called brahmins cursed by Nandikesvar were more interested in living for maintaining the perishable material body and elevating their family position. And worst of all they refused to recognize the pure devotee of the Lord, in the personality of Lord Shiva. Ignited by the envy of Dakha, Nandikesvar wrongly cursed all the brahmins present in a nondiscriminate condemnation. The whole issue became so complicated that those who were not strong enough forgot their positions, and cursing and counter-cursing went on in the great assembly.

As a reaction to Nandikesvar’s cursing, the brahmin sage, Brighu, delivered a brahminical curse to all followers of Lord Shiva, as follows: “One who takes the vow of satisfying Lord Shiva or who follows those principles certainly becomes an atheist, as he becomes diverted from the scriptural injunction.” It is understood that the devotees of Lord Shiva sometimes imitate the characteristics of Lord Shiva rather than follow his example. Lord Shiva once drank an ocean of poison, so the followers of Lord Shiva, without being able to drink even a fragment of poison, imitate him and take intoxicants.

Brighu delivers the curse that if somebody follows such principles of intoxication, he must become an infidel against the principles of Vedic regulation. Lord Krishna Himself declares in the Bhagavad Gita that He descends and corrects the regulative principles when there is too much general disregard of the prescribed rules for spiritual progress. So anyone seriously interested in prosecuting spiritual life has to follow the footsteps of the Supreme Lord, the scriptures and the teachings of His deputed controllers or Mahajans. We have to follow their example, and we are warned not to imitate Krishna or His controllers. Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill in His Childhood Pastime while on earth, and no human being can possibly imitate Him in this. Lord Shiva is a Mahajan or authority in Krishna Consciousness and his unusual activities on behalf of Krishna may be completely independent of the injunctions of the scriptures. But his followers may not assume his stature. The Srimad Bhagwatam plainly states, “One should not try to drink an ocean of poison, imitating Lord Shiva.” Brighu further states that the followers of Lord Shiva will turn against the conclusion of the scriptures. It is confirmed in the Padma Purana that Lord Shiva himself (as Sri Shankaracharya) was ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to preach impersonal philosophy for a particular purpose, just as Lord Buddha preached the philosophy of nirvana for a particular purpose. These purposes are mentioned in the scriptures, in those instances where it is required to preach some philosophical doctrine which is against the Vedic conclusion. In the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva says to his wife Parvati, “In the Kali Yuga, in the body of a brahmin [Shankara], I will preach the Mayavadi [impersonal] philosophy in order to baffle the atheists.” So it is found that the followers of Lord Shiva are mostly Mayavadi impersonalists who believe in becoming one with the Supreme. Lord Shiva himself, however, by virtue of austerity and devotion, is more conversant with the actual constitutional position of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. As stated in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishna is the Supreme Soul and we are His Parts and Parcels; our position is qualitatively one with God, but eternally subordinate in quantity. The most elevated persons, the pure devotees, engage their lives, minds and intelligence in all varieties of service to the Whole Spirit, Krishna. Lord Shiva, as the greatest Vaishnava, was fully aware of all such intricacies, but Brighu cursed both Shiva and his followers as one in fault. He said, “The vow of worshiping Lord Shiva is so foolish that they imitate and keep bunches of hair on their heads and live the life of wine and flesh indulgence and do not take baths.” Brighu’s point is that those who live without any spiritual regulation are foolish and become devoid of transcendental knowledge. He curses Nandikesvar and says, “Not due to my cursing shall you become an atheist, but you are already situated as an atheist and therefore condemned.”

When the cursing and recursing was going on, Lord Shiva was silent and sober and didn’t speak a word. Lord Shiva is described as always tolerant, but he became sorry at the unnecessary anger. In order to stop them, he left the arena of the sacrifice, and his disciples followed.

Dakha’s Second Sacrifice

Thereafter Dakha began another performance of sacrifice, and he deliberately did not invite Lord Shiva. Generally, although such sacrifices were meant for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, yet all the demigods, and especially Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, were always invited; otherwise the sacrifice was not complete. But Dakha, being very proud of his position as chief of the Prajapatis, and envious and inimical to Lord Shiva, thought to avoid them. He could understand that the purpose of sacrifice is to please the Supreme Lord. His supposed logic in avoiding Lord Shiva was that if Vishnu is satisfied by his sacrifice, then what was the need of satisfying His followers? But Lord Krishna says, “Worshiping My devotees is better than worshiping the Lord Himself.” And in the Shiva Purana it states, “The best mode of worship is to offer oblations to Vishnu, and better than that is to worship the devotees of Krishna.” Dakha’s Shiva-less sacrifice was therefore inauspicious from the start.

But, many sages and demigods from all parts of the universe, with their wives nicely dressed and decorated, were attending the sacrificial ceremony. When Sati, the daughter of Dakha, saw that from all directions the beautiful wives in fine clothing were going there along with their husbands in airplanes, she too became anxious to go and approached her husband, Lord Shiva. She proposed to him that if he would desire to go to the ceremony, then they could go. Being a woman, Sati had some attachment for dressing up and participating in social functions and meeting her relatives in the assembly. But Lord Shiva was a different personality, and not interested in material enjoyment. Sati pleaded that she was not so transcendentally advanced as her great husband and therefore still had a strong desire for a nice social, family gathering; so she begged that they might dress with ornaments and go there like the others. But on hearing reference to Dakha’s sacrifice, Lord Shiva remembered the heart-piercing malicious speeches delivered at the last sacrifice, and he became sorry at heart. There is a question raised here: Why did a liberated personality like Lord Shiva feel so unhappy due to the cruel words of Dakha? The answer is that Lord Shiva is an expansion of Vishnu, assigned as controller of the material quality of ignorance. Although he is completely self-realized and enlightened, yet because he is in charge of the material mode of ignorance, he is sometimes affected by the pleasure and pain of the material world. In the spiritual world one may also feel sorry, but in that absolute existence, either pleasure or so-called pain is full of bliss. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna appeared on the Earth in Vrindaban, He had childhood pastimes in which He was chastised by His foster mother Yasoda, and He sometimes cried. But His shedding tears is not in the mode of ignorance. Also, when Krishna played with the cowherds girls, the gopis, it sometimes appeared that they were distressed, but actually that feeling was full of bliss. The temporary material world is declared by the Vedic knowledge to be a perverted reflection of the eternal Kingdom of God, so every variety of feeling that exists here in the material world also exists originally in the spiritual world. But in the spiritual world all the varieties of apparent pleasure and pain are perceived as eternal bliss, whereas in the material world, there is a dualistic perception of pleasure and pain due to the contamination of the modes of passion and ignorance. Lord Shiva is self-realized but due to his contact while in charge of the material mode of ignorance, he could feel sorrow. His position is therefore unique. He is sometimes called almost-God. He is compared in the Brahma Samhita to yogurt. Lord Vishnu the Supreme Personality of Godhead is compared to milk. Yogurt is also milk, but due to fermentation it has become changed. That is the position of Shiva: he has the full godly qualities but he is changed because of contact with matter. Only Vishnu the Supreme Personality of Godhead is 100 percent transcendental and above the material manifestation. Even when He enters the material atmosphere He enters as the Purifier and spiritualizes all matter in contact with Him. As the greatest worshiper of Vishnu, Lord Shiva willingly accepts the position of serving as controller of the mode of ignorance, and he is called the shelter of the most fallen.

Lord Shiva could foresee that as soon as Sati would reach the house of her father, Dakha, being so puffed up with the mistaken identification of the body as the self, would be angry with her although she was faultless. Therefore he ordered her not to go. As the wife of Lord Shiva, she would certainly be insulted by Dakha and his followers; Shiva told her that no one can bear such family insults and that it would be equal to her death if she went. But Sati made womanly pleas. She addressed her husband as he who has no equal in the material world. She knew that no one can match Lord Shiva in his equality to everyone, so why then wasn’t he acting equally toward her by letting her go to the ceremony? It is described that Sati took shelter of a woman’s last weapon—weeping—and she began walking back and forth in the rooms, like a swinging pendulum, divided in mind whether to obey her husband or to go to her father’s sacrifice. At one point she begged her husband calling him Blue-Throated One. Lord Shiva is known widely by this name for a compassionate feat he once undertook. Once some demons and demigods took a sea journey in order to churn the ocean for the purpose of producing nectar. The first effect at churning, however, produced only poison, but Lord Shiva in anxiety that some less strong persons might drink it, took the ocean of poison himself and held it in his throat—which turned blue. Sati called him Blue-Throated and intimated, “You are so kind to others, why not to me?” Finally Sati forcibly left her husband’s protection and started out alone towards Dakha’s house.

When Lord Shiva saw Sati bent on going, he sent his men with her, and he also followed seated on his bull and accompanied by thousands of disciples. When Sati reached Dakha’s house she was greeted only by her mother and sisters. Dakha, her father, completely ignored her. On account of her association with Lord Shiva, he forgot all his affection for his own daughter. Such is the material-familial conception of love, that even by the slightest provocation all intimate affection is gone and a whole relationship is finished. Sati was grieving over this insult and at the same time, as she looked over the arena of sacrifice, she saw that there was no oblation or sacrificial offering being made to Lord Shiva. At once she became angry and looked as if she were about to burn her father just with her eyes. Whenever one offers oblations in the fire, Lord Shiva is one of the demigods honored by the chanting of the mantra, Namah Shivayah Swaha. But under Dakha’s instructions the brahmins deliberately omitted Shiva’s offering and were not uttering that mantra. She became doubly insulted. The followers of Lord Shiva, the ghosts, were ready to do harm to Dakha, but Sati stopped them in the name of her husband. She was so angry and sorry, however, that she began to condemn Dakha and his sacrifice, speaking in the presence of the large gathering. Anger is usually abominable and leads to the destruction of intelligence. But Sati’s anger was special. Regarding such anger, which is transcendental, Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta writes as follows: “When Vishnu and the Vaishnava are insulted, one should be angry. Lord Chaitanya, who is the preacher of nonviolence, meekness and humility, became angry when the Vaishnava Nityananda was insulted by Jagai and Madhai, and He wanted to kill them. That should be the attitude when Vishnu and the Vaishnava are blasphemed or dishonored. One should not be tolerant when a person is offending Vishnu or a Vaishnava.” So Sati spoke personally to Dakha in her devotional anger:

“Lord Shiva is the most beloved personality of all living entities—he is universal. Nobody is his enemy, nobody could envy him—only one who is envious by nature. Only you could find fault in him. If somebody has just a little good quality Lord Shiva magnifies it, but you have found fault with such a great soul.” Lord Shiva is so magnanimous that he grants his followers whatever they desire. He is sometimes called Asutos, or one who is satisfied very easily. Once a devotee of Lord Shiva asked the irregular benediction from Lord Shiva that whoever the devotee would touch, that person’s head would fall off. Lord Shiva granted him as he desired. Such a benediction was not very good because the devotee tried to touch the head of Lord Shiva as soon as he was given the power. Still, Lord Shiva considered the devotee’s good quality, that he had come to him and worshiped him and satisfied him.

Sati continued before her father and all persons gathered: “Lord Shiva is the friend of all living entities. He fulfills all desires of the common man as well as the higher personalities who are seeking after transcendental bliss. You think yourself superior to Lord Shiva as his father-in-law and you call him inauspicious for associating with the demons in the burning crematorium, with the locks of hair thrown all over his body and garlanded with human skulls—but greater personalities than you, such as Lord Brahma, honor Lord Shiva by accepting flowers offered to his feet. So you do not know that he is always transcendental. He must be, otherwise, why would such a person like Brahma worship him?” Offering many arguments based on authoritative Vedic information, Sati as a chaste wife, faithfully defended her husband from the slander of her father, Dakha. She certainly spoke in the spirit of eulogy as it was her duty to elevate Lord Shiva to the highest position; but it was not on sentiment, but by facts. Lord Shiva is not an ordinary entity. Someone may take the narrative of Sati as imaginative and conclude that there is no such person as Lord Shiva, but that is not the conclusion of the pure devotees who accept the authority of scriptures and the living chain of spiritual masters in disciplic succession. Doubt-ridden and cynical persons think that there can be no one as wonderful as Lord Shiva. This is because they themselves are limited in body and mind, and they ascribe their limitations to all personalities. Actually it is not so wonderful that there are powerful controllers of universal affairs such as Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma and other demigods. Even in common affairs the president of the country is the final authority in government, and yet he has agents who assist him in his mission. Similarly, the Supreme Controller, God, or Krishna, expands Himself into qualitative incarnations like Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and He also empowers ordinary living entities with unusual powers and long duration of life in accord with His inconceivable will. In common affairs or in the workings of nature, men of a poor fund of knowledge see everything as happening automatically. But mature examination to the end of things reveals that there is also personal control behind the wonderful happenings in government, science and nature. The space ships are not flying independently across the sky without the control by the brains of great scientists on earth; the staggeringly complex electronic computers cannot work without the human touch. Similarly, the gigantic space satellites called planets are controlled by a Great Intelligence or God. If artists study and labor so hard to paint the image of a flower, and never duplicate its original freshness and beauty, then who can seriously think that the thousands of varieties of natural flowers are produced “automatically” without the touch of the superior Artistry? Storms at sea, the movements of the luminaries in the sky as well as the movements of our hands and fingers, can all be traced to a power beyond our limited selves, to a Supreme Controller, the Cause of all causes, the Personality of Godhead. The wisdom of submissive reception of authoritative scripture enables one to understand what is inconceivable to the mundane senses and mental speculations of strictly materialistic scientists or philosophers. Those who hear and live in the spirit of devotional service have it revealed to them through the heart, with complete sane conviction, that there is a Controller. And to them it is understandable that for His Pleasure He can expand into multi-energies and personalities for control of universal affairs.

All the Vedic literatures describe Lord Shiva as the agent of destruction. When annihilation is due in the cyclical course of time, after a fabulously long time span by human standards, it is Lord Shiva who is the personal destroyer of the world systems. And until that time he willingly serves as the master of the mode of ignorance and offers his compassion to the most degraded souls so that they can be gradually elevated and have hopes of going back to Home, back to the Kingdom of God. We have specific information about the character of Lord Shiva from Vedic literature, the scripture which is likened to the mother of the conditioned souls. In ordinary life, the mother is the sole authority for knowing who one’s father is. So if we want that information on how the controllers of the universe are acting, where they reside and what they are doing, we have to turn to the authority or mother, Vedic scriptures. It is not a question of imagination, but of knowledge. The impersonalists or atheists who say that the scriptures are merely stories can never gain entrance into the Pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His associates like Lord Shiva.

Sati was not merely talking. She was deeply mortified to be so intimately connected to Dakha who had committed offenses at the lotus feet of Lord Shiva. Sati said to Dakha: “I have this body produced by you. And I am therefore connected with you and very much ashamed. I shall not any more bear this unworthy body which is received from you who have blasphemed Lord Shiva. If someone takes poisonous food, the best thing is to vomit.” As the potency of Lord Shiva, his wife Sati could have easily killed Dakha. But to best save her husband from ill fame, as if he had no power to himself fight Dakha, she decided to give up her own body. The Vaishnava feels personally at fault for even hearing blasphemy against Lord Krishna or His pure devotee. The body being the source of her unhappiness, she decided to quit her body at once. Dressed in yellow garments, Sati sat on the ground facing the northern side, closed her eyes and became absorbed in the mystic yoga process. She took the required sitting posture, and then carried the life air upwards towards the navel and gradually raised it to the heart and towards the pulmonary passage, and from there she raised the life force between her eyebrows; meditating on the lotus feet of Lord Shiva, she became cleansed of all taints of sin and then quit her body in blazing fire by meditation on fiery elements. Srimad Bhagwatam states, “When the body of Sati was annihilated by anger, there was a great tumultuous roar heard all over the universe.” Most astonishing was that Dakha remained disrespectful and unmoved by his chaste daughter and made no attempt to stop her death. Dakha was supposed to provide for all living entities, and his own daughter deserved the most respectful treatment. While the assembled persons were still talking among themselves about the passing away of Sati, Lord Shiva’s attendants made ready to kill Dakha and rushed at him with their weapons. As they were coming forward forcibly, the sage Brighu saw the danger and immediately uttered mantras and hymns by which the destroyers of sacrificial performances can be killed. As soon as Brighu offered oblations in the fire thousands of demigods became manifested in the fire and they began to attack the ghosts and attendants of Lord Shiva, scattering them in all directions.

Lord Shiva was at a distance from the sacrifice, but when he was informed that his wife was dead due to Dakha’s insult and that his associate soldiers were driven away he became angry. The Srimad Bhagwatam describes his fury: “Lord Shiva in anger pressed his lips with his teeth and from the bunch of hair on his head he snatched a piece of hair that blazed like fire, and laughing like a madman he dashed the hair to the ground. Then appeared a personality as tall as the sky, equipped with thousands of weapons and arms, of a black color and as bright as three suns.” Lord Shiva sent this gigantic demon of personified anger to kill Dakha. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna declares, “Of generals I am Lord Shiva,” so he is the most formidable of commanders. Led by the demon of anger his army swept into the sacrificial arena and prepared to plunder everything in sight. Seeing the approaching army, the brahmins and their assembled women were filled with anxiety, all due to the danger created by Dakha. In fact the wife of Dakha foresaw, “This is the same Lord Shiva who at the time of dissolution destroys the worlds.” So there was no comparing the tiny power of Dakha to that of Lord Shiva. Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes, “At the time of dissolution, Lord Shiva with his trident in hand dances over the rulers of different planets and his hair is scattered like the clouds over all directions, and he deluges the different planets with torrents of rain. “

The followers of Lord Shiva are described as running around the sacrificial arena with bodies like shark-fish. They pulled down the pillars of the altars, entered residential and kitchen departments, broke pots and urinated on the sacrificial ground. Some of them blocked the way of the fleeing sages and shackled the women. Two priests who had shown their teeth during the cursing of Lord Shiva had their teeth extracted by the soldiers of Lord Shiva, and a continuous shower of stones was set up, so that all the members of the sacrifice were in miserable condition and running for fear of their lives. It is described that such horrible fighting was not exactly on an inimical basis; everyone present was very powerful, and they all wanted to show their strength by Vedic mantra or mystic power.

Finally Dakha was beheaded by the giant-like personality created by Lord Shiva. The party of Lord Shiva gave out joyful exclamations and the brahmins in charge of the sacrifice also exclaimed in grief at the death of Dakha in such a manner. Dakha’s head was thrown on the sacrificial fire and the whole area was set on fire by the followers of Lord Shiva who then departed for their master’s place in Kwelas.

The defeated and injured demigods, priests and all members of the sacrificial assembly then approached Lord Brahma with great fear. They offered their obeisances and spoke in detail to him of all that had happened. Lord Brahma already knew what had happened, and having known beforehand he did not attend the sacrifice. When he had heard everything from the members, he replied: “You cannot have happiness if you blaspheme great personalities like Lord Shiva.” Lord Brahma said it was good for Dakha that he had been killed, otherwise, without that punishment, he would have committed more and more offenses and would be entangled in future lives. Knowing Lord Shiva’s easy, compassionate nature, Lord Brahma advised: “If you go to him without any reservation of mind and surrender unto him and ask to be excused at his Lotus Feet, he is very easily pleased and it will be nice. He has recently lost his wife and is afflicted by the unkind words of Dakha. So go and beg his pardon, who is so powerful that by his anger all the planets can be destroyed.”

After instructing all the demigods, Lord Brahma took them along with him and left for the place known as Kwelas Hill, the abode of Lord Shiva. Srimad Bhagwatam describes Kwelas as having different kinds of mountains, filled with valuable trees and plants and deer. There are different types of waterfalls with transparent water. Peacocks, cuckoos and other birds are always vibrating as if in rhythmic tune. There are many varieties of flowers, animals like the forest cow and buffalo, and plenty of decorated lakes. All the demigods were struck with wonder at the opulence of Kwelas. Under a huge banyan tree where it was silent and with unbroken shade, Lord Shiva sat as grave as time eternal, and the demigods approached him. He was encircled by famous saintly persons like the four Kumaras and Narada. Lord Shiva sat with his left leg on his right thigh and his right hand raised in the position of teaching or Tarkamudra, with the fingers opened and the second finger raised. He was instructing the saint Narada, and it is understood that if Narada was forming the audience, the topic must have been bhakti, or devotional service to Krishna. Brahma very respectfully payed obeisances to Lord Shiva on behalf of the party of the demigods. Lord Brahma requested that the priests whose limbs had been broken by the jaws of Lord Shiva’s soldiers be restored by Lord Shiva’s grace. “Please accept your portion of the sacrifice and let it be properly completed.” Lord Shiva was pacified by this, and he spoke as follows: “My dear father, Brahma, I do not mind the offenses created by the demigods because they are childish and less intelligent, and I do not take a serious view of it, but whatever I have done is just to punish them in order to set them right.” By this, Sambhu (Lord Shiva) expressed his desire for everyone’s welfare and asserted that he had chastised only in the way a father punishes his son, not as an enemy. All the priests’ injuries were gradually healed and even Dakha was revived to life by Lord Shiva’s placing the head of a goat on his trunk. Although he had a goat’s head and a human trunk, Dakha was revived in his previous individual consciousness, because it is not the head or bodily construction that makes individuality but the spirit soul whose symptom is consciousness. When he saw Lord Shiva, just by his presence, Dakha became purified in mind. Tears rolled from his eyes and he was finally sorry and affected by the death of his daughter Sati. He could hardly express himself in prayers, overwhelmed with nonduplicitous love and respect for Lord Shiva. “Although I was punished by you for my ignorance, I understand that you have not withdrawn your mercy. I know both yourself and Lord Vishnu are kind to the friends of brahmins.”

After begging forgiveness from Lord Shiva, and with the permission of Lord Brahma, Dakha again began the sacrifice in the regular way with fire and oblations. And first they offered oblations of the Holy Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, in order to make the whole situation purified. Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta writes in this matter: “Performance of sacrifice is a very difficult task. In this present Age of Kali (Age of Quarrel) those who are intelligent know it is neither possible to perform the costly sacrifices nor to invite the demigods to participate. Therefore in this age, the Srimad Bhagwatam recommends Samkirtan Yajna (chanting of the Holy Names) as the means to keep the balance of social peace and prosperity and attain spiritual perfection. Samkirtan Yajna means to chant the Holy Names, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and invite people and distribute Prasadam. This sacrifice will please all the demigods, and there will be peace and prosperity. The difficulty of performing Vedic rituals is that if you do not satisfy even one demigod out of many hundreds and thousands, just as Dakha could not satisfy Lord Shiva, then there is disaster. But in this age the performance is simplified by the chanting of Hare Krishna. And by pleasing Krishna all the demigods become satisfied automatically.”

The sacrificial arena had been desecrated by the followers of Lord Shiva and the recitation of the Name of Vishnu was required to sanctify the procedure. Of course Lord Shiva was now present, and he is all-auspicious, but because in the past his followers had broken the arena and passed urine and done many obnoxious things, so only by chanting the Name of Vishnu in devotion was purity found again. And as complete benediction to this famous Yajna, Lord Narayan (Vishnu) appeared there, seated on the shoulder of Garuda His birdcarrier, and illuminated the whole arena. Lord Vishnu is described as of a beautiful transcendental blackish hue, dressed in yellow garments and many ornaments and appearing in an eight-armed form bearing conch, shell, wheel, club, lotus, arrow, bow, shield and sword and being extraordinarily beautiful. Just His smile was pleasing to the whole world and captivated the audience of Dakha, Brighu and all present.

Lord Shiva, beholding the personified object of his constant meditation, bowed and spoke in ecstacy before the Supreme Controller of the worlds. He said: “My dear Lord, my mind and consciousness are always fixed on Your Lotus Feet, which are the Source of all benedictions and fulfillment of desires. They are worth worshiping. With my mind fixed in meditation on Your Lotus Feet I am no longer disturbed by persons who blaspheme, claiming that my activities are not purified. I do not mind their accusations and I excuse them out of compassion, just as You are compassionate to all living entities.” So here is the key to the character of Lord Shiva. By his own declaration the most powerful personality in the material world never forgets his transcendental relationship as servant of the Lord; and he continues always in Krishna Consciousness in order to remain free from material afflictions. Without such personal meditation on the Supreme Lord, no one can be free of contaminating material activities, characterized by the disadvantages of birth, death, disease and old age and the struggle for existence. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna assures that the dedicated soul who serves with love will never be vanquished by the material devastations. He says: “You simply surrender unto Me and I will give you protection.” The practical example of Lord Shiva’s worship is that liberation means, not some negative, temporary abeyance of trouble by meditation on the void, but practical eternal engagement in loving service to the Personality of Godhead. Those who cannot surrender their own personality, by submissive hearing, unto the Supreme Person must return again and again to the round of birth and death for attempted enjoyment and suffering in the material world. That is the verdict of the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagwatam.

By the grace of Lord Vishnu the sacrifice was completed to His full satisfaction.

Finally, out of so many incidences that make up Lord Shiva’s eternal career, and prove him glorious, there is one activity which is offered as his most glorious pastime in association with the Supreme Lord Krishna. This activity is stated in the Third Canto of Srimad Bhagwatam: “The blessed Lord Shiva becomes all the more blessed by bearing on his head the holy waters of the Ganges, which has as its source the water that washed the Lord’s Lotus Feet. His Feet are like a thunderbolt hurled to shatter sin stored in the mind of the devotee meditating on him.” The gist of this incident is a reference to the entrance into the material world of the sacred river Ganges which flows through many planetary systems. Lord Shiva carried this water down in his hair when it first emanated from the Causal Ocean which is the outside covering of this universe. By carrying this water, the auspicious Lord Shiva becomes even more auspicious. No one should laugh at or attempt to criticize Lord Shiva’s unconventional activities or foolishly attempt to imitate him as a so-called Shivite. Lord Shiva is great for doing humble service unto the Greatest. He is no voidist or impersonalist speculating on the Absolute as we often hear him described. With half-closed eyes and beautiful austere form, seated in meditation, he fixes his mind on the dearmost object, his Lord. And that is why he is called the greatest Vaishnava.

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