(The below is a paper contributed to the Ramnad Session of the Saiva Siddhanta Maha Samaja. - Ed. S.D.)
Bow to the Lord, God of Gods, Mahadev. I must admit that I have been highly honored by offering me an occasion to address such a learned assembly on "The worship offered to Siva by Gods."
All foreigners and many of the Indians think that the form of common religion in India is Polytheism. Many readers of Hindu mythology are led to take such a mistaken view and it must be fairly admitted that the bulk of the Hindus believe in too many gods; but it is through ignorance. The innumerable saints that flourished in different ages and different parts of the country and the present seekers after God are great monotheists. One who carefully reads the voluminous works containing high thoughts on religious philosophy will soon find that this supreme God is one Parabrahma.
Of the several epithets applied after deliberate thoughts by great sages of old to this Supreme Lord "Siva" and "Brahma" are often met with in the great Upanishads which may be said to be the brief exposition of the meaning of these epithets of the Lord. The word "Siva" comes from "Si" to lie down and is explained as:
Translation – Siva lies down in the form of Pranalinga in the cavity of the heart of animals. This short definition contains three ideas. (i) God is said to lie down, vide Chhandogya Upanishat (i.e., where this Lord the Divine manhood sleeps). The idea of sleeping shows that the Lord is desire less and He is a mere witness of all and among the three states or complete rest corresponds to (ii) The second idea is of the cavity of the heart. It is the chief abode of God. In the great Upanishats no mention of the Lord is made without this idea. Words like Guhasyam, Guhahitam, Guhvareshtham are found to have been formed on the above analogy of Siva; numerous quotations from the Upanishats can be given Guha.*
[*This is the great Daharopasana – the heart worship. The highest ideal of the worship of the Lord. The Hindu Trinity of gods did this worship as their penance for thousands of years.]
(iii) The third idea of prana explains the whole theory of Daharavidya. Prana itself is called in the Brahmasutras as Brahma. and etc. Such are the three ideas that are briefly expressed in one word Siva. Siva is therefore the most proper epithet for the Supreme Lord.
Now the second and the most frequent epithet is Brahman or Parabrahman as distinguished from the god Brahma – one of the Trinity. The great Sivacharyas like Srikantha Appaya Dikshita and others wrote voluminously to prove that this Parabrahma is the same Siva-tattva. It is now needless to enter into the particulars; suffice it to say that the two epithets Siva and Parabrahma represent the same Supreme Lord. In the Taittiriyopanishat the sentence means that "the ever-existing endless knowledge is Brahma". To one who knows that such Brahma is in the cavity of the heart, it is sufficient to show that the two expressions mean the same Lord. This Lord is not one of the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra who may be said to be the different aspects of the Lord. In the Mandukyopanishat the sentence i.e., Siva is the fourth element, goes to prove that Siva is not one of the Trinity. The destroyer Kala Rudra or Mahesa is mistaken to be the Siva-tattva. Samhara Rudra is one of the several Rudras, appointed to Lord over the universe. ‡
This fourth element called Siva-tattva is therefore quite different from the destructive element called Samhara Rudra and His remembrance is held very holy and auspicious. He is adored by all gods and sages and is therefore styled as Mahadeva and Mahesvara (In name and in sense he is great Lord).
This one Lord is the - the one and non-dual element and the principle adored by the sages who established perfect monotheism in the Bharat Land. This is in the Vedas called Rudra There is only One Rudra and nothing else is existing and all that is Rudra. Bow to that Rudra. In some Vedic verses this Supreme Lord is called Soma.*
[* Soma is the originator of Air, Fire, Sky, Sun, Indra, Vishnu and of even senses. Umayasahitah devah SOmah, and in the Sri Rudra namah Somayacha, Rudrayacha.]
He is also styled as Triyambaka i.e., the Father of the three gods in etc. The word Ambaka (father) is from Amba the mother and is formed on the analogy of Soma and Samba. The Lord is thus supposed to be ever with His primordial energy (Sakti) which is the cause of the universe. So Sakti Visishtadvaita is the form of philosophy preached by this monotheism of India.
Let us now think how polytheism is believed or actually kept in India among the ignorant. The principal among the various reasons seems to be that the epithet applicable to that Supreme Lord Siva were through spite or through devotion or through some other unknown reasons equally applied to those of the Trinity and the mythology has such a stronghold on the Indian minds that they cannot distinguish true things. (ii) The second reason is that there is a rule in India that one who worships the Lord becomes God himself. So the greatest devotees of that Lord are from time immemorial worshipped as God. But the rule is true of those that are One with the Lord and are still living in this world. The worship of such a saint is even believed better or more valued than the worship of the symbol of the Lord, but the rule is extended too far and Idols of such saints are worshipped even after they leave the world. This shows their intense devotion, but is the cause of the hated Idol-worship and the form of polytheism. Care is taken in the scriptures to avoid such worship, but the idea has such a strength on the Indian minds that it has crept unknowingly from a time that cannot be settled. (iii) In the Shatsthala philosophy six deities Sadasiva, Parasiva, Isvara, Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma represents the six categories, five elements and one atma. In the panchavitkarana school the latter five represent the five entities called pancha maha bhuta. In the trivitkarana school the last three i.e., the Trinity only is believed. There is some connection of the three systems, the ignorance of which leads to such results. This connection cannot be well understood unless one refers to Agamanta.
Now let us go to that Siva-tattva. How to worship this eternal? The description or the particular features of this Lord is nowhere given. The Vedas say that this One is indescribable. So the symbol or the Lingam is only preferred as an object of worship which reaches the Lord. In the Bharata Sara Sangraha by Appaya Dikshita (Sholapur edition, Warad series) the following verse is found;
Translation – "That which is the Lingam or symbol of the Parabrahma is called Kshetrajna; who is able to accept it? and what are his characteristics? please tell me." One who has travelled through several holy places in India and has particularly marked the several objects of worship will come to know that (i) Sivalingam is established in several holy places, (ii) that all gods except Siva are worshipped in the particular forms, (iii) and that Siva is nowhere worshipped in any form other than the Lingam. Though one may see in many kshetras the images of Nandi, Vishnu, Ganapati, Hanuman, Lakshmi etc., but on close observation he will learn that the particular Deity worships the Lingam which is necessarily preserved in the temple. Great many of my friends who visited the temples of their family deities were asked by me whether they saw in the temple or on the image the Lingam. No, was the answer. This is because they fail to observe it through carelessness. Excepting a few temples that have been established of late, very many Deities wear the Lingam on their heads or hands and some are represented to sit before the Lingam as a worshipper would do.
Instances of the above state of things are too many to give here. However I wish to give some in support of what I say.
(i) The Vithoba of Pandharpur is an incarnation of Vishnu and wears the Lingam on the head. Great Vaishnavite writers such as Ramdas – the Spiritual preceptor of Sivaji the great – refer to this fact. In 1909 Mr. Enthoven, the secretary of the Archaeological Society of Bombay, first doubted the fact, and on producing a picture and some Marathi works of known authors he admitted the fact.
(ii) The Bhagwanta of Barsi District Sholapur, whose presentation on the twelfth day Dvadasi called in Marathi Barus from which the name of the town is derived, before the Royal sage Ambarisha (which story is described in Ambarisha Mahatma &c.) is also an image of Vishnu and wears the Lingam on the head.
(iii) The other deities Tulaja Bhavani of Tulajapur in N.S.Narsimha of Narasingpur, District Poona, Jagadamba of Savadatti, District Belgaum, Sri Lakshmi of Kolhapur, Virabhadra and Maruti in several places are all represented to wear the Lingam with great devotion. I am unable to give instances in this part of the country however I hear there are some.
The stories of worships offered to Siva by other Gods are numerous in all scriptures. They are easily swept off by some strange arguments such as each one of the Trinity was an adorer of the other and mythology is to be very carefully accepted and so on. But such arguments cannot be long maintained if one observes that all deities in several holy places worship the Lingam as stated above. Before going to the Pouranic accounts of the worship of the Lord by all other gods I want you gentlemen to mark the above geographical feature which is the direct perception of things and then give some value to the things to be said hereafter from the Puranas and receive them as Aptavakya sentences of the Rishis one of the recognized proof.
Now gentlemen, I take first the case of Vishnu. For fear of digression I do not wish to speak anything about Vishnu's being one of the Saktis of Siva or about the philosophical questions that Vasudeva is Prakriti or Jiva &c. Let us take him to be the Valiant God, the Destroyer of the Demons, as he is so described in the Puranas. He is also said in the same Puranas that among the gods Vishnu is the greatest Siva Bhakta (Devotee of Siva). He is called the second Nandikesvar as Ravana proved such a devotee of Siva as to offer all his heads to win over the favor of the Lord and thereby he became so powerful. God Nandikesvar selected Vishnu to be a greater and firmer devotee of Siva and hence equal to cut off Ravana.*
[* Vide Ramayana-sara-sangraha by Appaya Dikshit (Warad series). The gods overcome by anxiety for the increasing power of the Demon Ravana sought the advice of Siva. The Nandi who was the Door-keeper said to them;
"He will be killed by none else than Vishnu who has worshipped the Lingam in such a high samadhi etc."]
Vishnu is said to have worshipped Siva for sixty thousand years on the Mount Mynaka. With a little time at my disposal I cannot quote all the circumstances when Vishnu offered his services to the Lord. In the Ramavatar the incarnation of Rama, Rama's devotion to Siva-Lingam can be observed by the marks at the Hampi kshetra or by the establishment of the Lingam called Papavinasini on the Mount Srisaila in the Nizams States or above all the well-known Ramesvar-Lignam founded by Rama in the Deccan not very far from this place. In several incarnations Vishnu established the Lingam in several places which are all known as great Holy places and are visited by thousands of pilgrims. They are known as:
(1) Bhmiesvara at Draksharam, (2) Govindesvara at Dvaravati, (3) Visvesvara at Benares, (4) Matsyesvara at Lanka, (5) Kurmesvara on the Mount Kurmagiri, (6) Varahesvara at Gaya or (at Allahabda), (7) Narasimhesvara at Aubala near mount Sri Saila in the N.S (8) Vamanesvara at Trichakrija, (9) Parasuramesvara at Makulakula, (10) Ramesvara at Setu, (11) Balabhadresvara on Mount Ramagiri, vide Virasaivamrita Purana in Canarese.
Next comes Brahma. God Siva is allegorically said to have been born from the fore head of Brahma, the third of the Trinity. The yogis contemplate upon God and see Him just in the middle of their eyes. Brahma practiced this penance for a long time and was then able to see the Form of the Lord on the fore-head. This story is given in Kalika Khanda and Suta Samhita etc.
O Viprah! The four-headed God for creating the universe practised a long and hard penance, and the Graceful God presented himself just in the middle of the nose and the fore-head. He is also described as having worshipped the Lord on various occasions. The Lingam established by Brahma is still known as Brahmesvara. With other gods Brahma is to have practised the penance called Varada Sankar the story being given in the Padma Purana.
All gods owe their various powers to the grace of God Siva. Brahma's creative power, Vishnu's power of vanquishing the demons. Indra's lordship over Svarga are all fruits of the worship of Siva Siva is the Perception of all gods. He is Greater than the great. In the Siva-dharma Sastra, the following account is given
i.e., all gods obtained their respective duties through the Lord's favour earned by the worship they offered to Him in the Linga form of various metals. Refer to chapter IV of the Siva Ratnakara (Warad series).
Not only are all gods are described as always worshipping the Lingam, but they are also said to wear the Lingam through utter devotion. In the Sankara Samhita
In the same way the same account is given in Siddhanta Shikhamani. The purport of which is that all gods wear the Lingam on different parts of their bodies with great devotion. The same is represented in temples other than the Linga-temples. In the Lepakshi the image of Rama is represented to wear the Lingam in the left palm of the hand. The Gayatri the progenitor of the Vedas prescribes the same. The subject cannot be closed without a few words on the devotion of great sages. Shown to Siva, Brigu has kicked the breast of Vishnu for rivalling for superiority with the supreme Lord. The kick is called Srivathsa. Krishna became disciple of Upamanyu to receive the initiative ceremony Biksha in the worship of the Lord Siva. The sage Gautama once cursed his guests to be averse to the devotion of Siva. The sage Agastya advised Siva-gita to Rama. The sage Vyasa preached Siva-bhakti in the Puranas. So also Dadhichi Kadyapa and others were all great devotees of Siva. In conclusion all Devas and Rakshas believed in One God and their worship of the Lingam was of the highest order of Daharopasana. Long Long ago monotheism was the only form of Religion in India. The degeneration of the future days is a mark of utter ignorance of the True Religion. Let God Siva be graceful to destroy the darkness of ignorance and spread light of knowledge about the supreme soul.
- M. M. K.