Shiva works for the benefit of everyone, and tries to help the living beings make spiritual advancement. This is why he has his own line of disciplic succession. This is also why he says to the  sons of King Pracinibarhi, ?Any person who is surrendered to the Supreme Personality of God, Lord Krishna, the controller of everything, is very dear to me.?1

       The sons of the King were going to practice austerities to worship Lord Vishnu and while searching for a suitable place happened to find Lord Shiva. His bodily luster was like molten gold, his throat was bluish, he had three eyes, and was accompanied by musicians who were glorifying him. Shiva is the protector of the pious and those of gentle behavior. So he was pleased to speak to the princes the way he did. He continued in this way:

       ?A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. I, Lord Shiva, and other demigods attain these planets only after the destruction of the material world. You are all devotees of the Lord, and as such I appreciate that you are as respectable as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. I know in this way that the devotees also respect me and that I am dear to them. Thus no one can be as dear to the devotees as I am.?2

       In this way, a devotee of Krishna does not disrespect Lord Shiva, but worships him as the greatest of devotees of Lord Krishna. A Krishna bhakta also prays to Lord Shiva, but asks Shiva to assist him in attaining the favor of Lord Krishna, and not merely for material benefits. As we find in the Tulasi Ramayana (Uttara-Kanda, Doha 45), Lord Rama says ?With joined palms I lay before you another secret doctrine: without adoring Sankara (Lord Shiva) man cannot attain devotion to Me.? So in this way, Shiva can assist us in attaining devotion to Lord Krishna and His expansions.


   After Lord Shiva had spoken to the sons of King Pracinabarhi, he relates a particular mantra for their benefit, which is pure and auspicious for anyone who wants to attain the ultimate goal of life. This mantra is called Shiva?s Song, and consists of verses 33 to 79 of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of the Forth Canto in Srimad-Bhagavatam. He starts his prayer with this verse:

       ?O Supreme Personality of Godhead, all glories unto You. You are the most exalted of all self-realized souls. Since You are always auspicious for the self-realized, I wish that You be auspicious to me. You are worshipable by virtue of the all perfect instructions You give. You are the Supersoul; therefore I offer my obeisances unto You as the supreme living bring.?

       Through the remaining 45 verses of this prayer, Lord Shiva praises the many qualities, characteristics, and powers of the Supreme Being in the form of Lord Krishna. At the end of many years in which the sons of the King, called the Pracetas, repeated this prayer everyday, Lord Vishnu Himself appeared to them. He said, ?Those who will offer Me the prayers composed by Lord Shiva, both in the morning and in the evening, will be given benedictions by Me. In this way they can both fulfill their desires and attain good intelligence.?3

       Also in the Bhagavatam (4.6.42-53), we can see Lord Shiva?s greatness among the demigods. During the disastrous ritual of Daksha, who displayed great dislike toward Shiva and Shiva?s wife, Durga (Sati) immolated herself in fire. Sati was Daksha?s own daughter and could not tolerate the insults her father made toward her husband, Shiva. So while in meditation she burst into flames. Thereafter, Lord Brahma and the demigods went to pacify Lord Shiva. Brahma consoled Shiva and addressed him as ?My dear Lord,? and called him the controller of the entire universe, the combination of mother and father of the universe, and the Supreme Brahman, beyond this creation. Therein we can see that Brahma, the partial creator of the universe, offers praises to Lord Shiva as a superior. This is to appease Lord Shiva, since it is known that his anger can annihilate the universe.

       When the ritual was able to continue and Daksha offered the clarified butter with the mantras from the Yajur-veda, Lord Vishnu appeared there in His original form as Narayana. As described in the Bhagavatam (4.7.18-29) as soon as Lord Vishnu appeared, all the demigods, including Lord Brahma, Shiva, the Gandharvas and sages, immediately offered their respectful obeisances. In the presence of Lord Vishnu?s glaring effulgence from His body, everyone else?s luster faded. Everyone offered their prayers to Him. Therein, Lord Shiva addresses Lord Vishnu, ?My dear Lord, my mind and consciousness are always fixed on Your lotus feet, which, as the source of all benediction and the fulfillment of all desires, are worshiped by all liberated sages because Your lotus feet are worthy of worship. With my mind fixed on Your lotus feet, I am no longer disturbed by persons who blaspheme me, claiming that my activities are not purified. I do not mind their accusations, and I excuse them out of compassion, just as You exhibit compassion toward all living entities.?

       After all the personalities had offered their prayers to Lord Vishnu, He replied to Daksha, ? Brahma, Shiva and I are the supreme cause of the material manifestation. I am the Supersoul, the self-effulgent witness. But impersonally there is no difference between Brahma, Lord Shiva and Me. I am the original Personality of Godhead, but in order to create, maintain and annihilate this cosmic manifestation, I act through My material energy, and according to different grades of activity, My representations are equally named. One who is not in proper knowledge thinks that the demigods like Brahma and Shiva are independent, or he even thinks that the living entities are independent. A person with average intelligence does not think the head and other parts of the body to be separate. Similarly, My devotee does not differentiate Vishnu, the all-pervading Personality, from anything or any living entity. One who does not consider Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or the living entities in general to be separate from the Supreme, and who knows Brahman, actually realizes peace; others do not.? 4

       What this indicates is the interdependence of the demigods on Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is the ultimate cause of the universal creation. Lord Brahma was born out of Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva was  born from Lord Brahma. It is the energy that comes from Lord Vishnu, in the form of Lord Brahma and Shiva, that creates and annihilates the universe. Lord Brahma is manifested for the continuation of the creation, while Lord Shiva assists in the annihilation. In this way, they are interconnected and work together like parts of a single body. Yet, they all play distinct and significant roles in the affairs of the cosmos, but are dependent on Lord Vishnu. When we see that all living beings are expansions from the Supreme Lord and His energy, then one can achieve real peace.

       In fact, it is said that these sages and devotees who see with such equal vision become worshipable by Lord Shiva, Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Once when Lord Shiva was traveling, he met the great sage Markandeya as he was coming out of his yogic trance. At that time,  Markandeya offered prayers to Lord Shiva who blessed the sage and then asked if there were any benedictions that the sage wanted. As described in the Bhagavatam (12.10.19-22)  Suta Gosvami said: ?Lord Shiva, the foremost demigod and the shelter of the saintly devotees, was satisfied by Markandeya?s praise. Pleased, he smiled and addressed the sage. Lord Shiva said: Please ask me for some benediction, since among all givers of benedictions, we three--Brahma, Vishnu and I--are the best. Seeing us never goes in vain, because simply by seeing us a mortal achieves immortality. The inhabitants and ruling demigods of all planets, along with Lord Brahma, the Supreme Lord Hari and I, glorify, worship and assist those brahmanas who are saintly, always peaceful, free of material attachment, compassionate to all living beings, purely devoted to us, devoid of hatred and endowed with equal vision. These devotees do not differentiate between Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and me, nor do they differentiate between themselves and other living beings. Therefore, because you are this kind of saintly devotee, we worship you.?

By Stephen Knapp

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