A Lecture Based On Sri Brhad-Bhagavatamrta
Holland, July 3, 1997
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
On one of the occasions when Sri Narada Muni met with Lord Shiva
Sri Narada has gone to Sankara, Lord Siva, and is glorifying him; "You are very near and dear to Lord Krsna. Not only that, you are Krsna's manifestation; you are non-different from Him. You can give moksa, liberation, and also krsna-prema." Hearing Narada glorify him in numerous ways, Sankara became somewhat angry and said, "Your glorification of me is all false. I am not very dear to Krsna - not at all - but I want to be. I want to be Krsna's beloved, but actually I am not. I've done so many things against Him."
Sankara had performed a number of activities that were apparently opposed to Krsna, such as giving a benediction to Ravana, as well as other activities opposed to krsna-bhakti. He told Narada, "You know, my boy, what no one in this world can do, Krsna tells me to do." When the demigods were churning the ocean, first came poison - maha-poison. It was very dangerous and the entire world was burning by it." The demigods had approached Krsna, who told them to worship Sankara and request him to swallow that poison. So they worshipped Sankara and told him, "O Sankara, save us! No one else can save us." Sankara at once took that poison and drank it. He took it in his mouth, but he didn't want to take it in his stomach. This was because he considered, "Oh, Krsna is in my heart, and the poison will affect Him". He therefore took it only in his throat. His throat was burned and it thus turned blue.
In kali-yuga many persons wanted to worship Krsna, God, thinking, "He should fulfill all our desires. Simply by worshipping Krsna or His incarnations, He will be pleased and satisfy our worldly, material desires." In this way they began to worship - not to please Krsna, but only because they wished that He would very easily arrange all of their needs. Sri Krsna thought, "This is very dangerous." He called Sankara and told him, "Tell all the false devotees that, "You yourself are Brahma. Brahma satyam jaganmitya jiva brahma evanapara. This world is false. Jiva is Siva, jiva is Brahma, all these souls are Brahma. There is no need to worship any other God. You are God Himself. You are Paramabrahma."
Sankara told Krsna, "Can you please tell someone else to do this? I am not qualified to do this service."
Krsna replied, "No, you will have to do it. In the entire world I see no one else qualified to do this."
Now Sankara told Narada, "At last, I had to agree with this, and I preached everywhere, You are Brahma, you are Brahma, you are Brahma. The whole world is false.' Now, I am so much regretting this. Why am I making all these jivas so offensive? It is an offense, I know. But yet, to carry out the orders of Lord Krsna, I am doing this. Because He sometimes orders me in this way, I am not His dear one.
"Also, you know that I always wear ashes from the burial grounds, and I always wear skulls. I have trigunas, three qualities: satya, rajas, and tamas (material goodness, passion and ignorance). All my associates are like bhutas (ghosts) and pisachis (witches). So actually I am not qualified to be Krsna's dear one."
Narada then said, "Prabhu, don't cheat me. I know something. I have heard that the enemies of Krsna and the Pandavas, or the enemies of any bhaktas, worship you, and you give them some benediction. But that benediction is not totally foolproof. There is always some loophole there. Actually you cheat them to please your Lord Sri Krsna. I know that whatever you do, you do to please Krsna. You are His dearest friend."
In Mahabharata there was a king named Jayadratha who was the brother-in-law of Duryodhana. Duryodhana had given his sister, Dushala, to Jayadratha, and so he was also like the brother-in-law of the Pandavas. Once Jayadratha tried to take Draupadi as his wife, and he put her on his chariot by force. Weeping, she told him, "I am the wife of the Pandavas. If they come, they will punish and kill you." Jayadratha was so arrogant, however, that he did not hear what she said. In the meantime, Rsi Narada came to the Pandavas and told them, "Oh, I saw Jayadratha take away Draupadi, and she is weeping!" At once Bhima and Arjuna ran after him, and Jayadratha saw that they were coming very quickly. Bhima left his chariot and began to run faster than Jayadratha's horses. Arjuna told Bhima, "I am going to arrest and kill Jayadratha. You should take care of the rest of the Pandavas." He thus took his bow and arrows, and by those arrows he created a fire that surrounded the chariot of Jayadratha. Jayadratha was captured in that fire and could not move. At once Arjuna and Bhima arrested him, bound him to the chariot, and took him to the place where Yudhisthira was staying with Draupadi and the others.
Bhima told Yudhisthira "I want to kill him. Please order me to kill him". Arjuna also said, "Jayadratha has performed a heinous act; he should be killed." Yudhisthira said, "We should take the case to Draupadi, and whatever she orders we will do". This was because it was Draupadi whom Jayadratha had taken. They went to Draupadi and kept Jayadratha at her feet. Draupadi was now very merciful. Although Bhima repeatedly said, "I want to kill him at once", Draupadi told them, "Don't kill him. Forgive him, because he is our brother-in-law. If you kill him, your sister will be a widow and she will weep forever."
Indian wives are always very chaste. They can give their lives for their husbands. Their husbands may give them up or divorce them, but these women will never give up their husbands. Rama left Sita, but Sita never left Rama. This is Indian Vedic culture, and we should try to follow this because Parama-pujyapada Srila Swami Maharaja wanted it. Both husband and wife should help each other. You should never think, "I will give up my husband." First follow Varnasrama-dharma, and then bhakti will come. When you are matured, then you can choose to either give it up or not give it up; no harm. But now you should try to follow Varnasrama-dharma. Some of the devotees were not following, and Srila Swami Maharaja was worried. Males and females should both be like this - very chaste. You can give up your life, no harm, because your soul will never die. However, if given to anyone, be chaste like this. Otherwise you can also give up Lord Krsna. So practice here. Take a vow that, "In my life I will never divorce; I will never give up my husband (or wife)." Then you will be chaste and you will never give up Krsna. Nowadays it is very easy to give up Gurudeva and to take a new one - like western women. In a second, for nothing, they can change their husbands. Although it may be a problem for their children, they are accustomed to act in that way. We should try to change this habit.
So Draupadi said, "Your sister will be a widow, and she will weep for her entire life." Bhima and Arjuna asked Sri Krsna, "What should we do? We have promised to kill Jayadratha, and now Draupadi is telling us that we should forgive him." Krsna replied, "If a man is very much respected but requires punishment, then he should be dishonored; and this will be like death." Arjuna then shaved his head, keeping five sikhas, and he shaved one side of his face while leaving the other side half-shaved. This system is practiced in France, and nowadays it is a very good fashion. But Jayadratha was insulted there, and he felt totally humiliated.
When Bhima and Arjuna released him, Jayadratha thought, "It was better to die than to live." He vowed, "I will somehow take revenge." He therefore did not go to his home. Instead he went to Kailasa and performed very severe austerities there. After some months he gave up all food, water, and everything else, and he was about to die.
At that time Sankara came and asked him, "What do you want?" Jayadratha said, "I want to take revenge against the Pandavas. I want to defeat all the Pandavas and kill them."
Sankara told Jayadratha, "You can defeat the Pandavas once, and only Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva; but not Arjuna"
Jayadratha said, "If you cannot give me a benediction to my full satisfaction, then you should give me the benediction that neither Arjuna nor anyone else can kill me."
Sankara replied, "If anyone kills you by cutting off your head, then, if it falls on the ground, that person who made your head land on the ground will die immediately. Your life will be saved and your head will be joined back to your body. However, if your head goes to your father, and your father throws it on the ground, then you will remain dead. If someone kills you hundreds and thousands of times, you will not be able to be killed, but if your father throws your head anywhere, then you will be killed."
Jayadratha was satisfied. He thought, "My father will never do this!" Later, when the Mahabharata battle was fought, Arjuna cut off Jayadratha's head with his arrow. It was evening and the sun was setting, and his father was doing arpana to the Sun-god (offering some water). In the meantime, Arjuna shot Jayadratha's head into the hands of his father. Without thinking, his father tossed it on the ground, opened his eyes and said, "What is this wet thing?" But it had already gone from his hand. He now saw that this was the head of his son and began to cry, "O my son, O my son! You are now dead." Thus, if Sankara gives any benediction to the enemies of Lord Krsna's devotees, there is always some loophole. He is so clever, and he is always serving Krsna.
There was a very big demon named Tripurasura, who performed severe austerities to please Sankara. When Sankara came, Tripurasura told him, "I want a benediction that I can make three airplanes. They should be managed only by mind, so that when I order them to go to heaven, they will go there. They should not be like present-day machines. They should do as I wish. In summer they should be air-conditioned. If two men are seated, then there should be only two seats. And if I want to travel on the airplanes with hundreds of thousands of persons, then that many seats should be arranged. They should never fall down due to mechanical difficulty. Never. They should be made of gold, copper, and silver, and they should be equipped with all kinds of weapons.
After attaining his benediction, Tripurasura began to fight with Lord Sankara himself. Sankara fled and took shelter of Krsna. Tripurasura also had a khupa, a well, and that well was full of nectar. If anyone would try to kill him, he could at once take that nectar and then he would not die. Sankara was very worried. Because so much warfare was going on between them, he took shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna. In order to save him, Krsna, as Visnu, then took the form of a cow. That cow drank all the nectar from the well, after which Sankara was able to kill Tripurasura and the other demons. We can see here that Sankara even gives benedictions to his own enemies, knowing that Krsna will save him.
So don't fear. Sri Krsna will save you if you offer yourself to Him. He has promised, "Sarva dharma parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva papebhyo moksayisami ma sucah." If you give your whole responsibility - your intelligence, your senses, your everything - to Krsna, He will take all responsibility for you. Don't fear. No sufferings or sorrows of any kind will come to you. Arjuna killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers, but he did not have to taste the fruit of that. In other words, He did not have to suffer from the results of his actions. Ajamila committed so many sinful activities, but he also did not have to taste the fruit of that. He went to Vaikuntha. So you should try to give all your responsibilities, Varnashrama-dharma and everything to Krsna - and be happy forever. Then only you can enter into bhakti.
Sankara is always serving Krsna. Narada knows this fact, but he wanted to glorify Sankara so that everyone will know that he is very near and dear - and non-different from Krsna. How? "Saksad haritvena samasta sastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya vande guroh sri caranaravindam". Here saksad haritvena means priyatvena haritvena. He is very near and dear. "Vaisnavanam yata sambhu - he is the greatest Vaisnava".
Sankara-tattva is extremely complex. Brahma-tattva is not so complicated; he is always jiva-tattva. And sometimes, when there is no qualified jiva, Lord Visnu himself comes as Brahma. But Sankara is not like this. He is not jiva-tattva. Where does he live? Beyond Brahmaloka. After passing through the eight kinds of material coverings, after crossing the Viraja, Muktidhama, Mahakalapuram, and then Brahmaloka, there is the planet of Sankara. There he is known as Sadasiva, and he is Visnu-tattva.
For any reason, if something sour is put into milk, it becomes yogurt. Yogurt is nothing but milk. It has all the potencies that are in milk, like ghee and so forth, but it is not milk. Milk can become yogurt, but yogurt cannot become milk. Sankara is like that. He is not an ordinary jiva. Sometimes, but very rarely, there may be a reason that Sadasiva cannot come to this world - if he is engaged in his destruction of the universe, or anything like that. In that case a qualified jiva can work as Siva; temporarily, but not permanently. So you should always try to honor Lord Sankara.
I can tell some pastimes of Sankara from Srimad Bhagavatam and Skanda Purana. When Sri Ramacandra was making the bridge to go to Sri Lanka with his hundreds of thousands of soldiers, He established a Siva-linga of Ramesvara. When it was established, all the male human beings were glorifying Sankara, shouting, "Ramesvara ki jayaho! Ramesvara ki jaya! They were calling Ramesvara "Rama Isvara". "You are isvara; you are the God of Rama." Thus they used the name Ramesvara. The Demigods were not happy or satisfied by this. They said, "Ramas ca asau isvarah". Rama is God, and Sankara is also God. Both of them are the same. Hearing this, the Sankara-sila (linga or stone) broke. Sankara came out from it and told them, "You are all foolish; you do not know my tattva, the established truths regarding my identity. Rama is my God, and that is why I am called Ramesvara."
Common people generally don't know very much, and so they thought that Ramesvara meant that Sankara is the God of Rama, and that Rama is controlled by Sankara. The demigods were of the opinion that Rama and Sankara are the same and both are God. But Lord Siva, Sankara himself, told them, "I am not the God of Rama. Rama is my beloved and my God." Sankara is called Ramesvara because of this. He himself told this.
We see in Srimad Bhagavatam that once Sankara went to the council of Prajapati Daksa, and everyone there was honoring Daksa. Daksa Prajapati had given his daughter in marriage to Sankara, so he thought that Lord Siva was like his son. He offered pranamas to Brahma because he was his father, but not to Sankara. All were honoring Daksa except Sankara, who was only sitting and chanting, "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Daksa Prajapati felt insulted, cursed Lord Siva, and so many incidences took place after that. Sankara returned to Kailasa. From that time on Daksa thought Sankara his enemy, but Sankara never thought like this.
One day, in Treta-yuga, Sankara and his wife Sati came to Dandakaranya Forest. At that time Rama had been living in the forest for 14 years with Sita and Laksmana, to obey the order of his father, King Dasaratha. Now Ravana had stolen away Sita and taken her to Lanka. Rama was now weeping so much, and Laksmana was trying to pacify Him. The more Laksmana tried to pacify Him, however, the more He wept. He was asking the trees of Pancavati, "O Pancavati! Have you seen Sita? Where has She gone? O deer, have you seen Sita?" And He was crying - bitterly weeping - asking the Godavari River, "O Godavari, have you seen My dear Sita? Where has She gone? Why has She left me?" Rama became mad in separation.
Sankara came with Sati to the Dandakaranya Forest to see Rama's divine pastimes and to take darsana of Him. Sankara was very moved and his heart was melting, He offered sasthang-pranama (full obeisances, with all the eight limbs of the body touching the ground) to Rama, and glorified Him, saying, "O, these pastimes are so beautiful and marvelous that anyone's heart will melt to see them." He then did parikrama from very far, far away, weeping, "O these pastimes are so beautiful". When he did his final pranama and was ready to go back to Kailasa, Sati asked, "My beloved, to whom are you doing pranama?" Sankara told Sati, "Rama is my worshipful deity. I always worship Him." She told her husband, "Why? I see that Rama is like an ordinary man, weeping for His wife. Even I know where Sita is, and He does not know and He is weeping? He is not strong enough to bring Sita back? He is very weak; so He must be a man, not God. Why are you doing pranama to Him? Who is He?" Sankara told Sati, "You are ignorant; you do not know that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." She had no belief or trust, so Sankara told her to test Him somehow.
Sankara went from there and rested under a banyan tree. Sati changed her form to look like Sita, went to the place where Rama was searching for Sita, and came in front of Rama. Rama was weeping, "Oh Sita, where are you, where are you?" Sati thought, "If I appear before Rama as Sita, then He will look at me and He will at once come and embrace me, saying "Oh, I have received my Sita." And He will be happy." But Rama was ignoring Sati. Again and again she came in front of Him, yet He was looking away. Then He told her, "Mother, why are you roaming here alone? Where is Sankara?" Sati wondered how Rama knew who she really was. Now she was afraid and did pranama to Rama. Then she saw that all the trees, all the creepers, and everything else became Rama and Sita. Wherever she looked, here and there and everywhere, she only saw Sita Rama, Sita Rama, Sita Rama. Rama showed Sati that, "Sita is never separated from Me, She is always with Me. I am doing this pastime for all human beings, so they will remember My lila."
Sati realized, "Sankara can never be ignorant. He was right and I was wrong." After Sati offered pranama and stood up, she saw that now Rama was there alone with Laksmana, and He was still weeping. "Oh Sita, where are you, where are you?"
Sati then went back to the place where Sankara was waiting under the banyan tree, and he asked her, "Have you tested Him to see who He is?" Sati replied, "Prabhu, what can I do? I believed you and I didn't test Him." She told a lie. You should always have faith in your Guru. Sankara was the Guru of Sati, but she did not believe him when he had told her that Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If a disciple does not obey his Gurudeva, what will happen? His bhakti and spiritual life will go down. Never tell any falsehoods to your Gurudeva, otherwise you again go to hell. She lied to Sankara, saying "I have not tested Him." But Sankara saw in his trance that she had tested Him, and he saw how she had become Sita. He considered, "She has taken the form of Sita, who is my mother. She is therefore not my wife; now she is my mother. Now I will always treat her as my mother." When he made this vow, the demigods at once showered flowers from heaven, and they praised him, "You have made such a marvelous vow." Sati asked her husband, "What vow have you made?" But he was silent and never said anything.
When they returned to their cottage in Kailasa, Sankara gave Sati a seat in front of him. The wife can sit on the left side of her husband, and the mother always sits in front, as a guru. In the same way, a disciple should not offer pranama to his Gurudeva while keeping his left side to him. The disciple should always sit at the front of his Gurudeva, and ask some very good questions with honor. If the disciple does not do this, he is not a disciple. He should ask some questions - not always being silent. He should serve and inquire from the Guru. "Tad vidhi pranipatena pariprasna." Questions should be there - not with a challenging mood, but to learn. So Sankara gave Sati a seat in front.
Sati thought, "Sankara has left me. He is treating me like his mother because I took the form of Sita. In this body he will not accept me as his wife, so I'll have to give up this body." After some time, Sankara went into a trance for hundreds and thousands of years, and Sati was feeling grievous separation. She was ready to give up her body.
One day, after Sankara had returned to external consciousness, Sati saw that so many goddesses were going to the palace of her father, Daksa, because a very good sacrifice was taking place there. Daksa's daughters were also going there, and he had invited everyone except for Sankara. Sati also wanted to go, but she asked Sankara first. He replied, "A woman can go without an invitation to see her Gurudeva, or her father and mother; but if a father thinks that her husband is his enemy, then the wife should not go to see him. You know that your father thinks I am his enemy, although I never think like this. At the same time I cannot order you to not go there. You must decide." Sati left that place and went to her father's house, and there she saw that Daksa Prajapati was dishonoring Sankara. At once she became furious and left her body by burning to ashes, with the help of a fire that came from her heart. Here we see that Sankara's worshipful diety is Rama, and because Sati took the form of Sitadevi, he left her. So he is a chaste Vaisnava, and he is always serving.
Don't have any doubt in your Gurudeva. You should test him before initiation, and after initiation you should have very firm belief in him. Don't give him up. If he is a madhyama adhikari, and not so much qualified, then you can go to a siksa-guru, taking your Gurudeva's permission. He must give permission. If he does not give permission, then he is not a pure devotee. There is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru. Both are the same. Sometimes the siksa-guru may be higher, and sometimes the diksa-guru may be higher. No harm. If the guru does not know all siddhanta, conclusive philosophical truths, but he is a Vaisnava with very firm belief in Krsna, drdha-sraddha, then don't give him up. Serving him and honoring him, you can go to a siksa-guru, but you'll have to honor him. However, if he's offensive to his Gurudeva, he is not following the line of bhakti, he has so much wrong attachment and he is fallen, at once give him up. That guru cannot help you, and he will create so many problems for you. So give up this guru forever, and accept a new initiation from any bona-fide Guru who can give this bhakti and take you to Krsna.
All good qualities are in Sankara.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami has written that some Vaisnavas don't observe Siva Caturdasi, the appearance day of Lord Siva or Sankara. In Hari Bhakti Vilasa he has written that Vaisnavas should honor Sankara, and they may observe that date. I observe that date. I know Sankara, because in his form of Bankandi Mahadeva in Vrndavana he was the friend of Sanatana Gosvami. He became Bankandi Mahadeva from Gopisvara. Do you know this history?
When Sri Sanatana Gosvami became old, Sankara told him, "Now you are old. You should not come daily to see me, because you are coming from so very far away. Sanatana Gosvami replied, "I should come. I cannot change this habit." Then Gopisvara Mahadeva said, "Then I'm going to come very near to you - as Bankandi Mahadeva." He thus became Bankandi Mahadeva and resided very near the Madana Mohana Temple. Srila Sanatana Gosvami is also the very dear friend of Cakralesvara Mahadeva in Govardhana. He also used to be with Sankara in Kamyavan, where he is known as Kamesvara. He cannot be without Sankara.
As Nandisvara, Sankara has become the mountain of Nandagaon. He wanted that all Krsna's pastimes be performed on his back. Regarding Brahma, he has become Brahma-parvata in Varsana. Because he is so near to Radhika, he is therefore our Gurudeva
These are the tattvas. We should try to honor Sankara as a great Vaisnava and as Guru. Don't dishonor him. We don't worship him separately, but we can observe Siva Caturdasi and glorify him in relation to his relationship with Sri Krsna. We should offer pranama to him with prayers like:
vrndavanavani-pate! Jaya soma soma maule
prema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namaste
"O gatekeeper of Vrndavana! O Soma, all glories to you! O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipable by the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Narada! O Gopisvara, desiring that you bestow upon me that prema for the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhama, I offer obeisances unto you time and again."
Sankara is telling Sri Narada that Prahlada Maharaja is superior to him. Why? Because he is "tricky". He does this only to give some encouragement to worldly persons. Actually, Prahlada cannot go to Vrndavana, but Sankara, as Gopisvara, resides there. As Hanuman, Sankara is always with Rama. As Bhima, he is with Krsna. When Hanuman and Bhima combine together in Kali-yuga, they become Madvacarya, our Sampradaya-guru.
Thus, Lord Sankara serves in so many ways, and we should always honor him as our Guru. He is hundreds of thousands of times superior to Prahlada because he knows and meditates on asta-kaliya-lila. Parvati also meditates on asta-kaliya-lila. This is very secret, yet they both do it. Although Sankara is so much superior and more worshipful than Prahlada, still he says that Prahlada is superior. Why? There are some reasons which I will explain later.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari Bol!
Devotee: In the Gita Krsna says, " Of all the Rudras, I am Sankara."
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] Here Krsna is telling about His vibhutis. Vibhuti means opulence. Arjuna is an opulence, and Sankara also. The Pepal tree is an opulence, and gava, cows, are also, but they are not Krsna Himself. In this way, so many things and personalities represent Krsna's opulence -- things that are very near and dear to Him.