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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shiva Ratri 2009

Sādhu Bābā always gave me the best of everything. In 1982, when he saw me studying the Bhāgavat, he recommended the commentary of Rādhā-binod Goswāmī to me, because he was also a descendant of Advaita Prabhu. I found it a bit strange that he would not recommend Jīva Goswāmī or Śrīdhara Swāmī instead. Not that he excluded them in his advice, but now that I finally began to read Rādhā-binod Goswāmī, his Bhāgavat-commentaries in a Bengali volume I bought many years ago, I come to realize that this is another great gift of Gurudeva. The commentary is lucid and comprehensive, not only containing the gist of Jīva Goswāmī and Śrīdhara Swāmī's tikas but also adding many of his own realizations to it - an ācārya in his own right, like that other luminous descendant of Adwaita Prabhu, Śrī Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī, Sādhu Bābā's pitṛdeva. As a true descendant of Sītānāth (Sadāśiva) Rādhā-binod Goswāmī pleads here for observance of Śiva-rātri. Here is the English translation of his commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.34.1-4: "There is a doubt about whether Śiva Rātri is to be observed by Vaiṣṇavas. Those who claim it is not to be observed quote the following verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavata (4.2.28), quoted in Haribhakti Vilāsa (14.195-197)-

bhava-vrata-dharā ye ca ye ca tān samanuvratāḥ 
pāṣaṇḍinas te bhavanti sacchāstra-paripanthinaḥ

"Those who observe the Śiva vrata or who follow such persons act against the genuine scriptures and are atheists." Apart from this statement from Śrīmad Bhāgavata some opponents of Śiva vrata say that when Śrīman Mahāprabhu encouraged Vaiṣṇavācārya Sanātan Gosvāmī to write a Vaiṣṇava Smṛti He gave him a list of items that did not include Śiva Vrata. Śrī Kṛṣṇadās Kavirāja has made a list of these items in his Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya līlā, chapter 24), including Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī, Śrī Rāma Navamī, Vāmana Dwādaśī, Śrī Nṛsiṁha Caturdaśī - this also excluded Śiva Rātri. In this way there seemed to be a lot of support for the opponents of Śiva vrata who claimed it should not be observed by Vaiṣṇavas. Others, who are in favor of Vaiṣṇavas observing Śiva vrata, quote the following evidence from Padma Purāṇa -

śauro vā vaiṣṇavo vānyo devatāntara pūjakaḥ 
na pūja phalam āpnoti śiva rātri bahirmukhaḥ

(Haribhakti Vilāsa 14.188)

"Whether it is a worshipper of the sun, of Viṣṇu or any other God - if he is averse to Śiva Rātri he will not obtain the fruits of his worship of these deities."

This Padma Purāṇa verse is also quoted in the Haribhakti Vilāsa (14.64). How can these contradictory statements be reconciled? Śiva Rātri Vrata must certainly be observed to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Though Śiva Rātri is indeed not mentioned in the list in Caitanya Caritāmṛta of items the Haribhakti Vilāsa was to contain, still if we have a close look at the Haribhakti Vilāsa we see that the siddhānta is established there that Shiva Ratri Vrata is observed to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa,  the same goes for worship of Nṛsiṁha. The evidence from Haribhakti Vilāsa is the following (14.63):

śiva rātri-vrataṁ kṛṣṇa caturdaśyās tu phālguṇe
vaiṣṇavair api tat kāryaṁ śrī kṛṣṇa prītaye sadā


"The vow of Śiva Rātri is observed on the 14th day of the dark quarter of Phālgun. It is always to be observed by Vaiṣṇavas for the love of Śrī Kṛṣṇa."

There is more evidence for the fact that Śiva Rātri is certainly to be followed by Vaiṣṇavas. It is an offence to the chanting of Harināma to consider there to be a qualitative difference between Śiva and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the scriptures have instructed us to see Them as non different. By recognizing this non-difference while observing the Śiva Rātri vow one attains love of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Sanat Kumāra instructs the best of Munis Nārada as follows in the Padma Purāṇa (quoted in Haribhakti Vilāsa 11.283):

śivasya śrī viṣṇor guṇa nāmādi sakalaṁ dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu harināmāhitakaraḥ

("He who sees difference between the qualities and names etc of Lord Śiva and Viṣṇu certainly does injustice to Harināma", 2nd nāmāparādha). In the Hari-Hara Pratiṣṭha Varṇana in the Hayaśīrṣa Pañcarātra (quoted in Haribhakti Viläsa 14.192) the Lord has said:

yaḥ śivaḥ so'ham eveha yo'haṁ sa bhagavān śivaḥ
nāvayor antaraṁ kiñcid ākāśānilayor iva


"He who is Śiva is Me and He who is Me is Śiva. It is like the sky and the air - they are non different from each other too. So it is also with Us."

Śrī Sanātan Goswāmī comments in his Dig Darśinī Ṭīkā of Haribhakti Vilāsa 14.67:
śrī viṣṇor eka devaḥ śivaś cānyo deva ityevam anyatve bhāsamāne tan namaskārādikaṁ vaisnavānām ayuktam eva kintu yathā matsyādayo līlāvatāras tathā śrī śivaś ca guṇāvatāro'yam ityabhedena na doṣāvaham. api tu guṇa eva bhagavad bhakti viśeṣa eva paryavasānāt.
'If one argues, 'Śrī Viṣṇu is one God and Śiva is another God, so it is improper for Vaiṣṇavas to offer obeisances to Shiva', then this is to be refuted by saying that just as Matsya, Kūrma etc are Līlā-avatāras of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Śiva is a Guṇāvatāra of His. If one offers obeisances to Him or follows His vrata in this way there will be no fault in that, rather it will be a virtue, because it has become an act of devotion to the Supreme Lord."

APPENDIX
Some devotees have requested me to quote Haribhakti Vilāsa on Śiva Rātri. Actually, the gist of that is already included here in the blog by Prabhupāda Rādhā-binod Goswāmī; still, I will add here some more interesting verses of the approximately 40 verses about Śiva Rātri there -

parāt parataraṁ yānti nārāyaṇa-pārāyaṇāḥ;
na te tatra gamiṣyanti ye dviṣanti maheśvaram 
yo māṁ samarcayen nityam ekāntaṁ bhāvam āśritaḥ; 
vinindan devam īśānaṁ sa yāti narakāyutam

(Haribhakti Vilāsa 14.189)

The Supreme Lord told Bhṛgu Muni: 'Those who surrender to Nārāyan will go to the Supreme Abode, but those who hate Maheśvara (Śiva) will not go there. Those who always worship Me exclusively with great love but who also criticise Īśān (Śiva) will go to hell for 10.000 (years or births)."

Elsewhere the Lord says:

mad bhaktaḥ śaṅkara dveṣī mad dveṣī śaṅkara-priyaḥ
ubhau tau narakaṁ yāto yāvaccandra divākarau

(Haribhakti Vilāsa 14.191)

"Both My devotee who hates Śaṅkara and the devotees of Śaṅkara who hate Me will stay in hell as long as the sun and the moon exist."

In the Bahvṛca Pariśishta it is written:

śivāya viṣṇu-rūpāya śiva-rūpāya viṣṇave;
śivasya hṛdayaṁ viṣṇur viṣṇos ta hṛdayaṁ śivaḥ
yathā śivamayo viṣṇur evaṁ viṣṇumayaḥ śivaḥ;
yathāntaraṁ na paśyāmi tathā me svastir āyuṣaḥ

(Haribhakti Vilāsa 14.193-4)

Viṣṇu is the form of Shiva and Shiva is the form of Viṣṇu, Viṣṇu is Shiva's heart and Shiva is Viṣṇu's heart. Just as Viṣṇu is full of Shiva and Shiva is full of Viṣṇu,  and I can thus see no difference between Them, let me similarly have a long life."


kāryaṁ guṇāvatāratvenaikyād rudrasya vaiṣṇavaiḥ
vaiṣṇavāgratayā śraiṣṭhyāt sadācārasya tad vratam

(Haribhakti Viläsa 14.195)

'Because Shiva is one with Viṣṇu due to being a Guṇāvatāra, because Shiva is the greatest Vaiṣṇava and because it is an item of Sadācāra, the Vaiṣṇavas perform this (Shiva-rātri) vow."

In the Nāgara Khaṇḍa it is written:

yāni kānyatra liṅgāni sthāvarāni carāni ca; 
teṣu saṁkramate devas tasyāṁ rātrau yato haraḥ 
śiva rātris tataḥ proktā tena sā hara-ballabhā;
śuddhāpoṣyā ca sā sarvair viddhā syacce caturdaśī 
pradoṣa vyāpinī grāhyā shiva rātriḥ shiva priyaiḥ; 
rātrau jāgaraṇaṁ tasyāṁ yasmāt tasyām upoṣaṇam

'Mahādeva is present in all the mobile and immobile Shiva liṅgas on earth on the night of the fourteenth dark lunar day, hence it is named Śiva Rātri, the night of Shiva. It is dear to Hara (Shiva) On that Caturdaśī one must fast......." "Those who are dear to Shiva observe the evening of Shiva and hold a vigil that night, including fasting."

atha śiva vrata vidhiḥ (Now follows the description of the Shiva Vrata:)

sāyaṁ śivālayaṁ gatvā śucir ācamya ca vratī; 
kṛtvā śivāgre saṅkalpam ārabheta tad arcanam 
pañcākṣareṇa mantreṇa śata rudreṇa dvija; 
kṣīrādibhiś ca śuddhādbhir dhārayā snāpayec chivam
mahārcām vidhinā kṛtvā gandha puṣpitalādibhiḥ;
samarpya dhūpa dīpādīn śaṅkenārghyaṁ nivedayet

(Haribhakti Viläsa 14.209-211)

"In the evening the worshipper goes to the Shiva temple and takes a vow before Lord Shiva before commencing his worship. Brahmins worship with the 5-syllable mantra (Namaḥ śivāya) or with the Śata Rudra Mantra and then commence showering Lord Shiva with milk and other items (these include honey and ghī, Sanātan Goswāmī says in the ṭīkā). Then one offers sesame seeds, perfumes, flowers and other items, as well as lamps, incense and arghya in a conchshell."

atha tatra mantraḥ (Now the mantras for Śiva Pūjā:)

gaurī-ballabha deveśa sarpāḍhya śaśi-śekhara;
varṣa pāpa viśuddhārtham arghyaṁ me pratigṛhyatām
ācāryaṁ paripūjyātha dattvā tasmai ca dakṣiṇām; 
vidhivajjāgaraṁ kṛtvā prātaḥ pāraṇam ācaret


(Haribhakti Viläsa 14.212-213)

"Spouse of Gauri, lord of the Gods, beautified by snakes and the crescent moon! I am now offering You arghya to purify myself from the sins of a year - kindly accept it!" After offering arghya with this mantra one worships the ācārya and offers him dakṣiṇā. After the prescribed vigil one breaks the fast the next morning."

śiva vratasya māhātmyam asya sarvatra viśrutam; 
vyādho'pi mukto yat tādṛg lingārccā jāgaraṇādinā

(Haribhakti Viläsa 14.217)

'Such glorification of the Shiva vrata is well known everywhere. Even sinful hunters are liberated by worshipping the Linga and observing the vigil."

atha śiva rātri vrata māhātmyam "Now the glorification of the Śiva Vrata:"

svayambhu liṅgam abhyarccya sopavāsaḥ sajāgaraḥ; 
ajānann api niṣpāpo niṣādo gaṇatāṁ gataḥ
śivaṁ ca pūjayitvā yo jāgarti ca caturdaśīm; 
mātuḥ payodhara rasaṁ na pibet sa kadācana
...........
śrī kṛṣṇe vaiṣṇavānām tu prema bhaktir vivarddhate; 
kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasā-sāra-varṣa-rudrānukampayā


The Nāgara Khaṇḍa says: "A caṇḍāla once performed worship of the unborn Linga, fasted and observed the vigil, unaware and in ignorance. He was freed from sin and became an associate of Lord Shiva."
In the Skanda Purana: "Whoever performs Shiva Pūjā on Caturdaśī will never again drink from the breast of a mother (he/she will be liberated)."
Another śāstra says: "Any Vaiṣṇava who observes the Shiva vrata will increase his/her prema bhakti towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by the grace of Rudra, who showers the essence of the rasa of Kṛṣṇa Bhakti."

23 comments:

  1. In the evening the worshipper goes to the Shiva temple and takes a vow before Lord Shiva before commencing his worship.

    is there any particular time in the evening? OR Why not in the morning?

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  2. should offerings to Shiva ji be thakurji's prasadi?

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  3. is there any particular time in the evening?

    I am not aware of any particular time - sometime at dusk

    OR Why not in the morning?

    Shastra's rules are to be followed without argumentation. The vrata is called Shiva rAtri, which means 'night'. The fast precedes the vigil, which is the second leg of the vow.

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  4. should offerings to Shiva ji be thakurji's prasadi?

    If Thakurji means Sri Radha-Krishna, then yes, always, without fail!

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  5. Radhe Radhe

    Which group is denying observance of Shiva Ratri vrata?

    IGM observes it. I have received by email a very nice lecture by Srila Narayan Maharaj about Shiva Ratri.

    In their panjika this is the entry for 24 Feb:


    Caturdasi

    Siva Ratri (Ekadasi fasting)

    Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne, Murwillumbah, Perth, Port Morseby,
    Suva

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  6. Malati, there are different branches of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, and among them there are so many subbranches. The purports of Radhabinod Goswami are old, I dont know how old but they probably do not refer to IGM. Different branches of Gaudiya Math have different opinions and there are so many different parivaras in the wider GV world too. In the ISKCON GBC calendar for instance there is no fast mentioned on Shiva Ratri.

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  7. Radhe Radhe

    In the ISKCON GBC calendar for instance there is no fast mentioned on Shiva Ratri.

    Well, by now we should all know how ISKCON is. :-)

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  8. As I said, the purports of Radhabinod Goswami are much older than Iskcon, so they do not refer to Iskcon. In other words, throughout history, and it is hinted at in the Haribhakti Vilasa, via the Bhagavata 4th canto-verse, there have always been Gaudiya Vaishnavas who opposed Shiva Ratri vrata. It is a dispute as old as the sampradaya itself is.

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  9. Prabhu,

    What's your comment on Lord Shiva as a position like that of Lord Brahma?

    Do you have any verses from Sri Brhad Bhagavatamrta which talks about worshiping Lord Shiva?

    My understanding is that Lord Shiva is one among the Mahajana and a foremost devotee of Lord Hari. Is this statement true or false?

    Radhe Krishna

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  10. What's your comment on Lord Shiva as a position like that of Lord Brahma?

    As Gunavatara, Brahma is in charge of the mode of passion and Shiva in charge of the mode of darkness. Sadashiva is a transcendental murti of Vaikuntha, though.

    Do you have any verses from Sri Brhad Bhagavatamrta which talks about worshiping Lord Shiva?

    I am sorry I have no time to type them out now, but you can find them in chapters 2 and 3 of BB.

    My understanding is that Lord Shiva is one among the Mahajana and a foremost devotee of Lord Hari. Is this statement true or false?

    That is true. He is mentioned among the mahajanas in the 6th Canto of the Bhagavata.

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  11. Prabhu,

    Thanks for the answers. As a follow-up of my first question, I am wondering if Lord Shiva from the material universe has death and that (his) position will be taken by the qualified Jiva next in the list?

    Radhe Krishna

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  12. To my knowledge the Gunavatara is in charge of destroying the universe so it seems unlikely he will die before that job is done.

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  13. "He who sees difference between the qualities and names etc of Lord Shiva and Vishnu certainly does injustice to Harinama"

    Within ISKCON this namaparadha is often translated as, "It is an offense to consider the names of the demigods to be equal to, or independent of, the names of Lord Visnu." This has different implications than the translation you offer.

    Incidentally, it has been my experience (which is admittedly limited) that rank and file ISKCON members do not typically observe Siva-ratri.

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  14. He who sees difference between the qualities and names etc of Lord Shiva and Vishnu certainly does injustice to Harinama"

    Within ISKCON this namaparadha is often translated as, "It is an offense to consider the names of the demigods to be equal to, or independent of, the names of Lord Visnu." This has different implications than the translation you offer.

    Indeed. I presume Swamiji had a simple agenda to promote exclusive attention to Sri Krishna to his beginner followers. Here's the word-for-word: shivasya = of Shiva; sri visnoh = of Sri Visnu; guNa = attributes; nAma = names; Adi = beginning with; yah = whoever; iha = here; sakalam = all; dhiya = in attitude; bhinnam = difference; pasyet = sees; sah = he; khalu = surely; harinAma = harinAma; ahita-karah = performing unbeneficially. It was Sadhu Baba who first told me this was the proper translation, in December 1982. When he did so, he folded his hands together and said Shiv O Krishna - Ek "Shiva and Krishna are one". It is not the intention of this namaparadha text to promote equal worship of Shiva and Krishna, though - ArAdhyo bhagavAn vrajesha tanayaH "The worshipable Godhead is the son of Nanda Maharaja."

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  15. And I guess Sastras also quote that Sri Krishna is "purna" possessing all the qualities, however Sri Visnu tattvas and Lord Shiva lack some of them..

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  16. Couldn't "Shivasya Sri Vishnoh nama" also be translated as "the auspicious names of Sri Visnu"?

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  17. No, because:

    1. Both shivasya and vishnoh are in the genitive (possessive) case and that could not make shivasya an adjective to vishnoh.
    2. In the dozens of translations I have seen of this text over the last 27 years it has always been translated as 'of shiva and of vishnu'.
    3. If shivasya were an adjective of sri vishnoh the rest of the sentence would not make any sense either - 'guna namadi bhinnam' the qualities and names etc of Vishnu would not be different from whom or whose then?
    4. In the blog I quoted a huge amount of verses from Haribhakti Vilasa that confirm the oneness of Shiva and Vishnu. Indeed, Sanatan Gosvami's tika of HBV 14.67, which I quoted in the blog, is quoting the text of the 2nd offence just before the part that I quoted and is a direct commentary on the 2nd offence.
    5. In no case the Sanskrit text of the 2nd offence means 'to consider the names of the demigods to be equal to that of Lord Vishnu'.

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  18. By the way Advaita, you are not without a fun club of your own, which should be to your credit, nothing wrong with that. However, what is troubling, is your lack of humility to admit to your mistakes, or worse, to your not even perceiving them.

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  19. By the way Advaita, you are not without a fun club of your own, which should be to your credit, nothing wrong with that.

    I am not aware of any fun club or even fan club of my own, that is not really the point.

    However, what is troubling, is your lack of humility to admit to your mistakes, or worse, to your not even perceiving them.

    Humility is not my strongest point perhaps, but I did retract quite a few things - literal meaning of shastra (March 2006), employing everything in Krishna's service (October 2008), qualification for reading rasik books , the raganuga of the Yadavas (some time in 2005-6) to name a few.

    To readers of this blog - this may be a continuation of a debate taking place on my blog of March 20, 2009. Sorry for the time travel. BTW any further deflections from Jagat's misinterpretation of BRS 3.2.5 will be redirected to the blog of January 7.

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  20. But the same scripture tell is this:
    "yas tu narayanam devam brahma-rudradi daivataih samatvenaiva viksheta sa pashandi bhaved dhruvam"
    One who considers devatas like Brahma and Rudra to be equal to Sri Narayana becomes an atheist and an offender.
    (Hari bhakti Vilas 1.73).also quoted in Madhurya Kadambini...
    How can we reconcile these statements?

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  21. Niladri, the ācāryas want us to concentrate on worshipping Kṛṣṇa, that is why they quote such verses to discipline us. All kinds of worship are mentioned, recommended and condemned in all kinds of śāstras, according to dṛṣṭikoṇa (angle) of the school.

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  22. But isn't there a difference between the worship of Siva and Brahma and that of Narayana(Matsya kurma narasimha etc. and of course Sri Krishna) i.e. the visnu tattva dieties. Although siva(barring Sadasiva) and brahma are gunabataras, can they be treated as equal to Vishnu and his shvamsha incarnations?

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  23. It is to explain the oneness and difference between Śiva and Viṣṇu that this blog was made, with all its evidence from śāstra. I think the blog speaks for itself. As I am initiated in Advaita Parivāra and Lord Advaita is Lord Shiva Himself, naturally Śiva rātri bears more weight for us than for other Gaudiya Parivāras.

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