“There are two mahaa-phala daayaka Vrukshas. One by the name Vaasudeva and the other by the name Vaamadeva. They differ only in their sumas (flowers) (‘su’ is replaced by ‘ma’ in their names), but both give the same phalas (fruits, which is moksham)”. It is also often said, “How much one does not see the difference between Shiva and Vishnu, that much his aayu will increase”.
One day, when Lakshmi and Vishnu were together in vihaaram, Lakshmi sees Ucchaishravam, her brother, the horse of Revanta who is the son of Surya. Engrossed in seeing her brother, she does not reply to the repeated calls of Vishnu. Seeing her attraction, Vishnu gives her shaapam to go to Bhulokam in the form of a horse and come back to Vaikuntam only after getting a son equal to Himself! She comes to Bhuloka to experience the shaapam and realizing that none other than her brother, Shiva can help her calm Vishnu, she immediately does a tapas for Him and Shiva appears to save her soodari. Lakshmi says “You and Vishnu are both same, the Paramaatma. Please help me!”. Shiva says “Soodari! How do you know that we both are same? All learned people know that. Who told you?”. Lakshmi says, “Once Mahavishnu Himself told me this. Seeing Him in deep Daiva-dhyaanam, I asked Him “During Samudramanthanam, I thought you were the greatest of all and hence chose you. Devaadideva! Who is better than you that you are in dhyaanam of Him?”. Mahavishnu replied “I am doing Shankara-dhyaanam. He is Eshwara. He is the same as Me. All learned people know that. If someone is my devotee but still hates Shiva, he will fall into naraka”.
Saying this, She asks Shiva to pursuade Vishnu to bless Her with a child. Shiva sends Chitrarupa as a duta to convince Vishnu. Vishnu immediately accepts and comes to Bhuloka and blesses Lakshmi with Ekaveera, who is equal to Vishnu Himself. From Ekaveera came forth the Haihaya dynasty, of which the most noted king is Kartavirya Arjuna (Ekaveera’s grandson).
Once when Naarada, the avatar of Vishnu, recited prayers glorifying Lord Shiva as the supreme controller of the universe, Lord Shiva, the best of Vaishnavas, at once covered his ears and angrily replied, “I am not the Lord of the universe, nor an object of Krishna’s mercy! I am just a poor aatma always hankering for the favor of the servants of His servants.” (Thus in this small story, Naarada, avataar of Vishnu, glorifies Shiva as the Paramaatma and Shiva glorifies Vishnu as the Paramaatma!)
The story of Hanuman, who is the 11th avataar of Shiva and Raama, the purna avataar of Vishnu also reveals the same. Both of them acheived great tasks:
- Restricting the great samudram, Raama along with His entire army crossed the satpa-samudras! Hanuman, in one small jump, crossed it!
- In the greatest, unparalleled ghora-yuddham, which was never seen before or will ever be seen, Raama killed Raavana! Hanuman killed Mairaavana, who was many times stronger than Raavana, with great ease!
- Krishna lifted Govardhana giri, balanced on his little finger and saved the lives of Gopaalas! Hanuman brought the Sanjeevani Parvatam from Himaalayas to Lanka and saved Lakshmana!
- Raama melted a stone, with the touch of His lotus feet, for Ahalya! Hanuman melted a stone with His sweet Gandharva gaanam!
Though they did great tasks like this, always Hanuman worshipped Raama, with great Vinayam. And Raama worshipped Shiva with unparalleled devotion. (If one closely observes, for Paramaatma these tasks are not at all difficult/big. For He does everything right from Shrushti to Layam. And He only resides in everyone and gives life. However, since we cannot even imagine His power, we praise Him for these “small” tasks only :) )
Impressed by the great tapas of Viṣhṇu for Paramaśiva, Śiva gave Viṣhṇu the Sudarshana Cakram.
Annamaacharya, the great Vaak-geya-kaaraka of Aandhra Pradesh, in one of his divya sankeertana “Enta maatramuna evvaru talichina ….” says:
How much ever one imagines that much only are You:
- For Vaishnavas You are Vishnu
- For Vedaantas You are Parabrahma
- For Shaivas and other bhaktas You are Shiva
- For Kaapaalikas You are Kaala-Bhairava
- For Shaakteyaas You are Shakti
- For people with alpa-buddhi You appear as alpam
- For people who know Your Garima and have Ghana-buddhi You are a Ghana
- For people who are Sharanaagati You are Venkateshvara
Once Shri Krishna, the avataar of Mahaavishnu, came to Upamanyu maharshi, when he was at Himaalayas. Shri Krishna said “Upamanyu muniindra! You are the greatest in the Shiva Bhaktas. I came here to do Tapas of Paramashiva to get santaanam. Please teach Me Shaiva-vidhi and vidhaanam”.
Upamanyu replied “O Shri Krishna! I know who You are. Shiva puuja is not new to You. Though You know it, to make everybody know, I will tell You …” Saying thus, Upamanyu told Shri Krishna how to do Shiva-aaraadhana.
This happened after the episode of Naarada, coming under Vishnu maaya, gives shaapam to Vishnu: (This is one of the reasons of Shri Raama avatar)
Naarada says “Svaami! Please forgive Me. I, coming under influence of Your maaya, got ahankaar and did Your ninda. Please tell Me what can save Me from this ghora-paapam”. Vishnu says:
“O Priya Naarada! You go and do paaraayana of Shankara Shatanaamams. Then You will get Shaanti. Shiva is whom I respect the most. Even by mistake dont forget this. One who doesnt have Shiva-anugraham cannot be My Bhakta. Believe this … Then My maaya wont affect you.”
Once Vyaasa Bhagavaan came under the influence of Shiva-maaya and started telling in his Pravachanams that Vishnu is greater than Shiva. Once Nandeeshvara also heard Vyaasa Bhagavaan saying this. Vishnu Murty then appeared before Veda Vyaasa and told Him “O Maharshi! Dont you know that I and Shiva are the same? Knowing this why are you telling like this in your pravachanams?” Veda Vyaasa then had great pashchaattaapam and asked Kshama from Nandeeshvara.
The phalam of Vishnu Pooja is Shiva Bhakti — the example is that of Arjuna. Arjuna ofcourse was the greatest Shri Krishna Bhakta. But it was Shiva who gave Arjuna moksham, when Arjuna was born as Bhakta Kannappa, in the great Kaalahastsi Kshetram.
Similarly the phalam of Shiva Pooja is Shri Raama Bhakti — the examples are stories of Kaaka Bhushundi and Valmiki Maharshi. Kaaka Bhushundi was a great Shiva Bhakta and hence Shiva grants him Raama Bhakti Saamraajyam. Valmiki did tapas for Shiva using the Panchaakshari mantram given to him by the great Saptarshis and as a result became the Aadi Kavi and wrote the great Raamaayanam.
Raasaleela. It was the day when the “punya-vruksham” of Gopikas delivered its ripe fruits, called Moksham. It was the day when the Aaraadhana of Gopikas was blessed by Lord Krishna. Gopikas realized Shri Krishna, the Sarvaantaryaami, everywhere. As a result of their Aaraadhana-bhakti they realized the paramaatma’s poorna-svaroopam with each one of them. Who could miss watching the Raasaleela, where the Lord showered His Karuna-jyotsna ? All the Brahma-aadi devatas were present.
Parama Shiva, the greatest bhakta of Shri Krishna, was also present in the form of a Gopika. Shri Krishna, who is always in nirantara-shiva-dhyaanam, searched for Parameshvara. Finally He realized that Shiva is none other than one of the Gopikas having sampoorna aanandam of dancing with Him. Shri Krishna paramaatma then does stuti of Eshvara and asks to bless them by staying there at Vrundaavanam by the name of Gopeeshvara.
Even today we can visit Lord Shiva, in the form of Gopeeshvara, at Vrundaavanam.
—Contributed by ShobhitKaushik
“Thiruthangal Uuranai”- Thirumangai aazhwar mangalasanam.
Banasuran was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He once prayed to Shiva to bestow him with thousand arms so that he can play the mrudangam during his rudrathandavam. Shiva too did so. But instead of playing the instrument with his thousand arms he started fighting battles against one and all. Instigated by this malicious act Shiva said “ A person equal to me shall severe your thousand hands.” Usha was the daughter of Banasura. She once saw in a dream that a young prince played with her. She immediately wanted to know who he was. Chitralekha started drawing hundreds of pictures which did not yield the expected result. She then drew the pictures of Yadava rulers like Balarama, Krishna, Pradyumna and Anrudha. As soon as she sketched the picture of Anirudha Usha was only too excited. “It is he, It is he”- she exclaimed. Chitralekha being a yogini atonce brought Anirudha to her chamber even as he was sleeping atop his house. They then played there for a long time. Some spy who oversaw all this complained to Banasura who arrested Anirudha for no fault of his. Lord Krishna fought a tough battle. Banasura sought the refuge of Shiva who faught on his side. Lord Krishna severed all of Banasura’s hands except four. Krishna then told Shiva “ Iam you and you are me. Those who show hatred against me or you though a devotee of either shall attain hell. I as Brahma create, as Rudra destroy and as Vishnu protect. Your devotee is mine and my devotee is yours.I shall not kill Banasura, he being a descendent of Prahlada.” Thus Banasura was consoled and Anirudha was married to Usha. Rudra showed false anger at Banasura and asked him never to join his bhutaganas. A repenting Banasura asked for parihara when he said that a dip in the holy waters of Papavinashini teertha at Thiruthangal will cleanse him of his sin. Banasura did so and rejoined Rudragana. Thus those who visit this kshetra will beget their lost status and also beget a good groom. Victory be to him who visits this kshetra.
—- Contributed by Karthik Raman, from Shri Hariji’s blog
Morals in the Story:
- Shiva and Vishnu are the same.
- Both Raama and Hanuman did such super-human tasks, but they were never having even a bit of Ahankaar. They always were humble (see Setu-bandhanam story).