Why does Shiva Puarana say that Shiva is the source of Brahma and Vishnu?
Transcribed by: Keshavgopal Das
Question: Why does Shiva Purana say that Shiva is the source of Brahma and Vishnu?
Answer: Different Puranas are meant for people at different levels of consciousness. Matsya Purana says that some Puranas are in mode in goodness, some in passion and some in ignorance. Based on the mode of a person, they will be naturally attracted to a form of worship. Vedic literature is quite clear that worship has to be whole-hearted for it to be effective. If some people are in the mode of ignorance, then they will be naturally attracted to worship Lord Shiva because he lives in crematorium, he puts ashes on his body, there are characters who eat bhaang etc. Lord Shiva himself is transcendental but he by his appearance and actions attracts people who, are in the mode of ignorance. Therefore, people who are attracted to him, they need to hear about him. They need to be inspired to worship him by which they will get elevated. When a Purana is dedicated to glorifying a particular devata, it will glorify that devata only. The Purana will not say that you worship Shiva, but he is not supreme. Then those who are attracted to Lord Shiva will not worship him.
Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita 7.21-7.22
yo yo yaam yaam tanum bhaktaḥ, shraddhayaarcitum icchati
tasya tasyaacalaam shraddhaam, taam eva vidadhaamy aham
“I am in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship some demigod, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to that particular deity.”
sa taya shraddhaya yuktas, tasyaaraadhanam ihate
labhate ca tataḥ kaamaan, mayaiva vihitaan hi taan
“Endowed with such a faith, he endeavors to worship a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.”
In these two verses Krishna is saying that whichever form someone desires to worship, Krishna gives them the faith to worship that devata. On worshipping he gets the desires fulfilled. However, the desire is fulfilled by Krishna’s arrangement. Krishna is not a jealous god rather he is a zealous god. He is zealously concerned about elevating us. For those worshiping Lord Shiva, Krishna says I give them the faith to worship Lord Shiva. One way of giving that faith is through scripture that glorify Lord Shiva. By worshiping Lord Shiva, they get elevated. From mode of ignorance they can rise upward and that is a significant elevation for them.
One example to illustrate this point. Bible has this idea that one should worship only one god and no other god. The Biblical idea is that of a jealous god – worship no other gods. Gita’s revelation is not that of a jealous god but zealous god. He is zealously concerned about our relation.
There is a story of prodigal son in Old Testament. There was a son of a wealthy person who demanded his father to give his share of inheritance. His father agreed. The son took the wealth and he squandered it all. He became a pauper, suffered at lot, somehow managed to survive living a very pitiable life. Finally, he decided to come back home. When he reached back, the father welcomed him with open arms. Father was delighted to see him back. We are like the prodigal son and god is like a loving father. This story describes how god’s love is so glorious. He welcomes us back without question when we come back to him.
Gita explains that god’s love is so glorious that not only he just welcomes us back when we return to him, but he also works for our well-being when we are away from him. One another story explain this.
There was a prince who had a quarrel with the King, his father. The prince leaves his father. The King, still worried about the prince, sends one of his ministers to wherever the prince is staying outside the kingdom. The minister persuades the prince to come back. He says to the prince, “You are working here, you hardly get anything over here. You work for me, you will get much more.” The prince agrees. He comes and works for the minister. Although the prince has not come back home to the palace but the princes come back to the home kingdom. He is indirectly in the jurisdiction of the King. At that time, he simply serves the minister, gets the salary and lives. The prince will be inspired to serve the minister if he understands how powerful, wealthy, kind, influential he is. He is no longer a prince, he is the pauper right now, but if he understands that the minister is such a big person, he will be inspired to serve. What happens is, by such an arrangement, the King gets the prince back in the kingdom. Gradually, as prince’s past resentment goes away, he becomes more open minded and open hearted. Eventually the prince may come back to King also.
Similarly, bhakti literature describes that the devatas are like the ministers. When the soul is gone away from god, soul is not ready to come back and surrender to god. Then the devatas act as representatives to whom the soul can worship, connect, and become gradually elevated. For that purpose of intermediate elevation, the devatas are glorified profusely.
Therefore, if we see the statement of Shiva Purana in proper context, then we can appreciate the purpose of such a statement. All the Puranas are written by Srila Vyasadeva. He wrote Srimad Bhagavatam in the maturity of his realization. In the Bhagvatam, he gives the highest conclusion. Bhagvatam (12.13.16) say:
nimna-gaanaaṁ yatha ganga, devaanaam acyuto yatha
vaishnavaanaam yatha shambhuh, puranaanaam idam tatha
“Just as the Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Shambhu [Shiva] the greatest of Vaishṇava, so Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the greatest of all Puraṇas.”
In this verse, it is mentioned, vaishnavaanaam yatha shambhuh (Shiva is the greatest of Vaishnava). There is nowhere in Shiva Purana, which correspondingly say that – shaivanaam yatha vishnuh (Vishnu is the greatest of Shaiva). There is a purpose and progression in the Vedic body of knowledge. If we forget the purpose and progression, then the Vedic body of knowledge may seem contradictory. Once we start to see that purpose and progression, then we will see that they are all working together in symphony to elevate the soul from its present consciousness to either all the way to perfection or one step towards perfection.
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