Why did Rama worship Shiva?

by Chaitanya CharanDecember 31, 2016

Answer Podcast

Transcribed byNayanasundari Devi Dasi

QuestionWhy did Rama worship Shiva?

Answer (short)

  • Rama demonstrates the ideal Dharmic behavior of worshipping Devatas, as per that specific time.
  • Rama did it because He knew that Ravana was Shiva’s devotee and He would have to kill Ravana soon so He wanted to appease Shiva.
  • Shiva should not be worshipped as the Supreme.

Answer (long)

Rama, when He descends in this world, He acts as an ideal human being. In the Ramayana, He is not acting as God. Valmiki Ramayana starts with the question, who is an ideal human being, what are the qualities of an ideal person? Rama demonstrates the ideal dharmic behavior. So in accordance to that, He bows down to the sages, performs Yagnas, He Himself is Yagneshwar, but He performs Yagnas.  He does whatever rituals are expected of an ideal human being at that time. Worshipping Shiva is not a problem at all. Even Krishna devotees can worship Shiva. Lord Chaitanya would also go to Shiva temple and dance. The confusion happens when Shiva is treated as Supreme.

So first of all, in Valmiki Ramayana, the incident of Rama worshipping Shiva is not there. It has primarily come from the Tulsi’s “Ram Charit Manas”. But even if Lord Rama did that, the point is there is nothing wrong in worshipping the devatas when one is demonstrating the example of an ideal human being. And as devotees, we can also worship Shiva but we should not think of him as the Supreme. We can seek his blessings to become a better devotee of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya has written something called as ShivaAshtakam – 8 verses glorifying Lord Shiva, not mentioning that Lord Shiva is the Supreme but mentioning how exalted a devotee he is.

Now why Rama worships specifically Shiva and not any other devata? The reason is that Ravana had worshipped Shiva, and he had got most of his powers from Shiva. So Lord Rama knew that in the ensuing battle He would have to kill Ravana. So He wanted to appease Lord Shiva that he is your devotee but he has done something wrong so I have to kill him. So what He did was a part of the reverential culture of that time.  It is not an indicative in any way that He is not the Supreme.

In fact, after Ravana is killed, at that time, all the Devatas come, including Indra, Brahma & Shiva. Brahma declares that actually Ravana was the scourge of the earth and You have a done a great work for the devatas as You have freed the earth from a terrible demon.

So we see that although Rama worshipped Shiva, Shiva also acknowledges Rama’s supremacy. That’s the first time in Valmiki Ramayana that Rama’s divinity is directly mentioned. Brahma tells in the presence of Shiva that, You are Vishnu who has descended to this world and You have fulfilled the purpose of Your descend now.

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Chaitanya Charan

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