Shiv Ratri

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It is an offence to consider Lord Siva or Lord Brahma to be equal to or independent of the Supreme Lord. But it is also an offence to disrespect the devotees of the Lord. As such, it will certainly be an offence if one fails to offer due respect to Lord Siva.

Lord Siva is a very special personality, and one must make sure to understand siva-tattva properly, to ensure that one is saved from committing any offences. Some people take Lord Siva to be the Supreme Lord, equal to Lord Visnu, but that is certainly not correct, as he is not untouched by the modes of nature. Being the predominating deity of the mode of ignorance and responsible for the destruction of the material universes, he is in contact with maya. Thus he is not situated in pure goodness as Lord Visnu is. But to consider him an ordinary jiva bound by the modes of nature would also be a grave offence, as he is the master and husband of Durga-devi, the external energy of the Lord. This raises the question as to who  Lord Siva actually is. He is not the Supreme Lord, but he is also not a jiva. Who is he? What is this special tattva known as siva-tattva? The answer to this most intriguing question is given by Lord Brahma in his Brahma-samhita,  

kṣīraḿ yathā dadhi vikāra-viśeṣa-yogāt
sañjāyate na hi tataḥ pṛthag asti hetoḥ
yaḥ śambhutām api tathā samupaiti kāryād
govindam ādi-puruṣaḿ tam ahaḿ bhajāmi

Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither same as, nor different from, its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Sambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.

Yoghurt is a transformation of milk and  cannot be considered to be separate from milk. At the same time, it no longer functions as milk,  having been transformed. Similarly Lord Siva is certainly not an ordinary jiva, but he is also not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. 

It has been mentioned in the sastras that a perfected living entity can have up to fifty transcendental qualities, but only the Lord has 64 qualities. And only Lord Siva possesses 55 qualities. Such is the inconceivable position of Lord Siva. It then becomes necessary to understand how one should show due respect to such a great personality. And for this our acaryas have said, “vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh – Sambhu, Lord Siva, is the best amongst the Vaisnavas and should therefore be offered great respect. 

Lord Siva himself is always engaged in meditating upon his most worshipful Lord and glorifying his names, forms, qualities and pastimes. There are numerous pastimes wherein Lord Siva has the most wonderful exchanges with Lord Rama and Lord Krsna. It is Lord Siva who composed the famous Radha-Kripa-kataksa-stotra. Lord Siva is also ksetrapal, or the protector of the dhama. No person can enter the abode of the Lord without first receiving the permission and blessings of Lord Siva. In Sridham Vrindavan, Lord Siva is present as Gopesvara-Mahadeva, as he once took on the form of a gopi with the help Vrnda-devi and tried to enter the rasa dance. Seeing this new “gopi” in their midst, all the gopis enquired from ‘her’ about her name, village and family. Lord Siva, however, had not received all these attributes from Vrnda-devi and was therefore unable to answer them. Seeing that this gopi was not actually one of them and was not even introducing herself properly, they concluded that she was not fit to participate in the rasa dance and wanted this new ‘gopi’ to leave. At that time Sri Krsna revealed the true identity of the gopi as Lord Siva and requested the gopis to be merciful upon him. Since then Lord Siva has been guarding the rasa-mandala, allowing only qualified devotees to enter into the most confidential pastimes of the Lord.

Sri Sivaratri is fast approaching and to properly honour this day, we should try to understand the exalted position of Lord Siva as the best of the Vaisnavas, so that we may be able to give him due respect and veneration as an exalted Vaisnava. Let us therefore pray to Lord Siva to bless us with suddha-krsna-prema so that some day we may be able to serve Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara in Their Vraja pastimes.