Another point, as previously mentioned, is that within the glance of Maha-Vishnu over maya is the element of time, which starts the agitation within the energy of maya, or the pradhana. This is what starts the process of creating and separating the various material elements. This element of time has been identified as Shambhu, the personality of the destructive principle. It is also this Shambu in the form of Rudra who later appears at the end of time to bring about the destruction of the universe.

       So, Shiva is considered to be an expansion of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, Krishna, and is called Hara as such, and is transcendental to the material qualities. However, in his activities of destroying the world at the end of time, he is in touch with the mode of ignorance, or tamo-guna, and then he is considered as one of the living entities, called Rudra.

       It is further explained that Lord Krishna expands a portion of His plenary portion, Lord Vishnu, who assumes the form of Rudra when it is time to dissolve the cosmic manifestation. Lord Vishnu does this for accepting the association of the material mode of ignorance. Thus, Rudra is but another expansion of the energy of Lord Krishna, although not a personal expansion. Rudra, Lord Shiva, has various forms, which are transformations brought about by the different degrees of association with maya. Although Rudra is on a higher level than the jiva-tattvas, the individual living beings, he still cannot be considered a personal expansion of Krishna. Thus he is considered like a jiva.15

       Although many people worship Lord Shiva, Shiva worships Lord Krishna. The Shiva Purana states that Shiva is the Supreme, however, this is in regard to his power over the material world. After all, it is he who assists in the annihilation of the material creation, so he has power over the universe. But no scripture ever says that Shiva is the Supreme Lord of any of the Vaikuntha planets or of Goloka Vrinadavana, or any part of the spiritual domain. Such precincts belong only to Lord Krishna and His personal expansions. That is why Lord Shiva is always pictured absorbed in meditation. He is meditating on Lord Sankarshana, who is represented by the snakes on Shiva?s body. Since Shiva is the origin of the mundane egoistic principle, one who is a worshiper of Lord Shiva as a devotee of Sankarshana can be freed from the false, material ego.16


   Shiva is often pictured doing his Tandava dance of destruction. He is seen with four hands and one leg up, as an expert dancer, and one leg dancing on a small person called the Apasmara-purusha. In two of his hands he holds the damaru drum and fire. The drum represents sound which is supported by ether. This is a sign of further creation after the annihilation or destruction. Fire represents the Pralayagni, or the fire of universal destruction. Thus, Shiva holds the symbols of cyclical universal creation and annihilation. The other two hands represent protection and blessing for those who take refuge of him or of his spiritual knowledge. The Apasamara upon whom Shiva stands symbolizes the ignorance which make us lose our clarity and consciousness of our real identity. This also signifies our succumbing to the process of death without spiritual preparation. Shiva is shown dancing on this ignorance for the good of the devotees who take refuge.

       How Shiva assists in the cosmic annihilation is described in the Puranas. This process of cyclical destruction at the end of each day of Brahma is explained in the Vishnu Purana (Book Six, Chapters Three & Four). It states that at the end of 1,000 cycles of the four yugas the earth is almost exhausted. A great scarcity of food ensues, which lasts 100 years. Because of the lack of food, all beings become weak and slow, and finally perish entirely. Lord Vishnu then assumes the character of Rudra (a form of Lord Shiva), the destroyer, and descends to reunite all of His creatures within Himself. He enters into the seven rays of the sun, causing all moisture in the oceans, rivers, soil, and living bodies to evaporate. The whole earth is dried up. Thus fed with abundant moisture, the seven rays dilate into seven suns, whose radiance glows everywhere and sets the three planetary systems and the lower system of Patala on fire. The three planetary systems become rugged and deformed throughout their mountains, rivers, and seas as they are consumed by these suns. The earth alone remains, destitute of moisture, resembling the back of a turtle.

       Then Lord Hari, in the form of Rudra, who is the fire of time, destroyer of all things, becomes the scorching breath of Ananta Sesha, Sankarshana, and reduces the lower planetary system of Patala to ashes. The great roaring fire makes its way up through the universe to earth and destroys it. A vast whirlpool of flame then spreads to the higher region of the demigods and puts them all to ruin. The three planetary systems appear like a frying pan surrounded by flames that consume all things. The inhabitants of the upper planetary systems then move higher to Maharloka, and when that becomes too hot, those who desire final liberation depart for the higher regions of Janaloka.

       Elsewhere in the Bhagavatam (5.25.3), it states that Lord Shiva plays a significant role in the final and ultimate annihilation of the universe, which takes place at the end of Brahma?s life. ?At the time of devastation, when Lord Anantadeva [Ananta Sesha, Sankarshana] desires to destroy the entire creation, He becomes slightly angry. Then from between His two eyebrows appears three-eyed Rudra, carrying a trident. This Rudra, who is known as Sankarshana, is the embodiment of the eleven Rudras, or incarnations of Lord Shiva. He appears in order to devastate the entire creation.?

       The Brahma Purana (124.16) explains that it is the imperishable Lord Krishna who assumes the form of Rudra to bring all the elements and living beings back into Himself in the process of annihilation.

       After Shiva appears in this way, he begins to do his dance of dissolution, dancing wildly to the beat of his drum. ?At the time of dissolution, Lord Shiva?s hair is scattered, and he pierces the rulers of the different directions with his trident. He laughs and dances proudly, scattering their hands like flags, as thunder scattered the clouds all over the world.?17 Lord Shiva?s dancing causes such a commotion that it brings in the clouds that cause the universe to become inundated with water, which is what happens next as the process of annihilation continues (which I have fully described in my book The Vedic Prophecies).


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