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Thread: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

  1. #1

    Smile One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Pranams, Namaste.

    As a follow up to the "One God" thread, in which it was discussed how Hindus following sanAtana-dharma conceive of God with its conception of one Brahman and yet many deities, I would like to start a thread discussing how this subject is treated in the Puraanas. Readers are encouraged to read the arguments from the above thread to see how this subject is treated in shruti, and how people interpret those shrutis.

    The question to be answered is this. Are all devas mentioned in our scriptures merely different forms of the same God, or are they all different entities? This is hardly a trivial question. If the former is true, then it should not matter to whom a Hindu directs his prayers and meditation in order to get liberation. If the latter is true, then we have to know who is the deity to worship to get liberation.

    Unfortunately, this subject matter tends to stir up negative feelings among some who have deeply-entrenched, sectarian views on the subject. It is a fact that God-concepts among Hindus vary quite a bit, as do beliefs, practices, traditions, and other parts of the overall world-view. Hence, the goal of this posting is not to provide an understanding which will satisfy the sectarian preferences of all Hindus. Rather, this is an attempt to cut through the prevailing misconceptions and provide an evidence-based view of the subject for those who are not rooted in a particular conception of Hinduism. I request that we use this thread not to argue competing ideologies, but merely to review and reflect on the evidence that is presented.

    Although some of the evidence presented will discuss the supremacy of a specific deity over other deities, it is not the intention of this thread to start a "Vishnu vs Shiva" debate. In fact, for the purposes of this analysis, I will also provide evidence showing that even pramaanas quoted by non-Vaishnavas also uphold the idea of a deva hierarchy, rather than the incorrectly-held, modern view that all deities are the same. It is my view that the idea of "all devas are same" is a modern corruption of sanAtana-dharma, and that ancient Hindus for the most part viewed the devas as different but distinct beings, with one deity among them being identified as the Supreme Brahman (Vishnu for Vaishnavas and Shiva for Shaivas). Hence, we will only concern ourselves for now only with the concept of deva-hierarchy vs deva-equality.

    It is a fact that the Puraanas have been subject to sectarian interpolations over the years. This has rendered them inconsistent as a whole, and thus their authority depends on their not contradicting shruti. Thus, we are not going to establish that the Puraanas are consistent. We will only discuss the fact that the concept of deva-hierarchy is accepted as a given in most of the Puraana. The Puraanas are still an integral part of the Hindu tradition. Almost all of our stories and legends are derived from them. It is said that the Puraanas constitute the fifth Veda, and that they exist to teach people who are otherwise unqualified to study the Veda what the meaning of the Vedas is. Hence, we cannot simply dismiss them.

    I will be posting translation excerpts mostly from online sources. Readers are encouraged to cross-examine the translations in any publication of their choosing. As you read each story, ask yourself whether it upholds the idea that the devas are same, or that they are different.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  2. #2

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:


    Ironically enough, we will start this series on deva-hierarchy by discussing a similar debate that was had by the sages. The following story is recorded in the bhAgavata purANa, 10th skandha, 89th adhyAya. I am quoting from the BBT translation but you can review alternate translations, one of which is online here.

    Please read the verses with an open mind, and deliberate on the questions that follow.

    SB 10.89.1: Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Once, O King, as a group of sages were performing a Vedic sacrifice on the banks of the Sarasvatī River, a controversy arose among them as to which of the three chief deities is supreme.
    SB 10.89.2: Eager to resolve this question, O King, the sages sent Lord Brahmā's son Bhṛgu to find the answer. First he went to his father's court.
    SB 10.89.3: To test how well Lord Brahmā was situated in the mode of goodness, Bhṛgu failed to bow down to him or glorify him with prayers. The lord became angry at him, inflamed into fury by his own passion.
    SB 10.89.4: Though anger toward his son was now rising within his heart, Lord Brahmā was able to subdue it by applying his intelligence, in the same way that fire is extinguished by its own product, water.
    SB 10.89.5: Bhṛgu then went to Mount Kailāsa. There Lord Śiva stood up and happily came forward to embrace his brother.
    SB 10.89.6-7: But Bhṛgu refused his embrace, telling him, "You are a deviant heretic." At this Lord Śiva became angry, and his eyes burned ferociously. He raised his trident and was about to kill Bhṛgu when Goddess Devī fell at his feet and spoke some words to pacify him. Bhṛgu then left that place and went to Vaikuṇṭha, where Lord Janārdana resides.
    SB 10.89.8-9: There he went up to the Supreme Lord, who was lying with His head on the lap of His consort, Śrī, and kicked Him on the chest. The Lord then rose, along with Goddess Lakṣmī, as a sign of respect. Coming down from His bedstead, that supreme goal of all pure devotees bowed His head to the floor before the sage and told him, 'Welcome, brāhmaṇa. Please sit in this chair and rest awhile. Kindly forgive us, dear master, for not noticing your arrival.
    SB 10.89.10-11: "Please purify Me, My realm and the realms of the universal rulers devoted to Me by giving us the water that has washed your feet. This holy water is indeed what makes all places of pilgrimage sacred. Today, my lord, I have become the exclusive shelter of the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī; she will consent to reside on My chest because your foot has rid it of sins."
    SB 10.89.12: Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Bhṛgu felt satisfied and delighted to hear the solemn words spoken by Lord Vaikuṇṭha. Overwhelmed with devotional ecstasy, he remained silent, his eyes brimming with tears.
    SB 10.89.13: O King, Bhṛgu then returned to the sacrificial arena of the wise Vedic authorities and described his entire experience to them.
    SB 10.89.14-17: Amazed upon hearing Bhṛgu's account, the sages were freed from all doubts and became convinced that Viṣṇu is the greatest Lord. From Him come peace; fearlessness; the essential principles of religion; detachment with knowledge; the eightfold powers of mystic yoga; and His glorification, which cleanses the mind of all impurities. He is known as the supreme destination for those who are peaceful and equipoised — the selfless, wise saints who have given up all violence. His most dear form is that of pure goodness, and the brāhmaṇas are His worshipable deities. Persons of keen intellect who have attained spiritual peace worship Him without selfish motives.
    SB 10.89.18: The Lord expands into three kinds of manifest beings — the Rākṣasas, the demons and the demigods — all of whom are created by the Lord's material energy and conditioned by her modes. But among these three modes, it is the mode of goodness which is the means of attaining life's final success.
    SB 10.89.19: Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The learned brāhmaṇas living along the river Sarasvatī came to this conclusion in order to dispel the doubts of all people. Thereafter they rendered devotional service to the Supreme Lord's lotus feet and attained His abode.
    Questions for reflection:

    1) In this story, the sages doing yagnas at the SarasvatI River wanted to know which of the three main Ishvaras was the Supreme. Did they consider the possibility that all three are the same Supreme Deity? Is such a possibility alluded to in this chapter? If so, is there any evidence that contradicts such a reading?

    2) Bhrgu was related to Brahmaa as son and to Shiva as brother. These two great souls would not be angered as easily as you or I. Yet Bhrgu managed to anger both of them by his deliberately disprespectful behavior. We can take it as a given that his behavior was outrageous and would have angered anyone, what to speak of such great souls as Lord Brahmaa and Lord Shiva. Yet, he failed to anger Vishnu? What is the Bhaagavatam saying about Vishnu in contrast to the other two deities?

    3) With Brahmaa, Bhrgu failed to offer respect, while with Shiva he deliberately uttered harsh words. With Vishnu, he actually kicked him on the chest. Are we supposed to believe that these three insults are equal in magnitude, or are they different in terms of their outrageousness? If the latter, then which insult were we meant to believe was the greatest of the three insults?

    4) After being insulted, Vishnu begins to pacify Bhrgu in various ways, suggesting that his "sins" have been removed by Bhrgu's touch. Is the Bhaagavatam really trying to tell us that Vishnu is, like us, a mortal being subject to karma? Or is this behavior of Vishnu's supposed to be an act of humility characteristic of goodness?

    5) At the end of the story, a comment is made to the effect that goodness (sattva) is the means of achieving the highest goal. Was the undisturbed behavior of Vishnu despite being kicked in the chest an attempt by the author to relate this to sattva? If so, why was only Vishnu able to react this way but not Brahmaa or Shiva?

    6) Does this story leave you with the conclusion that Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are the same deity? Or do you see differences between these three deities as far as the bhAgavata purANa is concerned?

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  3. #3

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    For our second vignette, we will review an excerpt from the Devii Bhaagavata Puraana, located at the Sacred Texts website. The Devii Bhaagavata is not one of the major puraanas according to the listings found in other Puraanas. However, it does have significance for people following in the various Shakta traditions. Again, note here that the focus is on determining whether all devas are same, or if there is hierarchy among devas.

    In this particular section, a question is asked as to why Sri Krishna, who is identified in many Vedaantic traditions as the Supreme Brahman, did puja to Rudra. Note that the Puraana alludes to many of the same events that are chronicled in the sAttvik purANas which are more widely accepted, yet it comes to different conclusions about deity-hierarchy. This is a translation of devI bhAgavata purANa 5.1.12-54, located here:

    S’iva is the God of gods; and He is the Lord of all the causal bodies that exist; in the state of Susupti (deep sleep). In this respect, S’iva is the creator of Visnu and Visnu worships Him in this light. Râma, Krisna and others are all part incarnations of Visnu; so there is no wonder if they worship S’iva. The letter A is Bhagvân Brahmâ ; the letter “U” is Bhagvân Hari; the letter “M” is Bhagvân Rudra and the half letter m is Mahes'varî, the Supreme Mother of the universe. The sages, therefore, consider Visnu superior to Brahmâ; they again consider Rudra superior to Visnu and Mâhes'varî (Turîya State) again superior to Rudra. The speciality of the half letter is that it can never be uttered; it is the symbol of the Eternal Devî. In all the S'âstras, therefore, the superiority of the Devî is established. Visnu is superior to Brahmâ; Rudra is superior to Visnu. Therefore no doubt can arise in Krisna's worshipping S’iva. It is through the will of S’iva that a second Rudra originated from the forehead of Brahmâ to offer boons to him (i. e., to Brahm&#226. This second Rudra is venerable and entitled to all worship; what to speak of the First Rudra? O King! It is through the proximity of the Devî that the importance and superiority of S’iva is thus established. Thus the incarnations of Hari arise in yugas after yugas through the intervention of the Yoga
    Questions for reflection

    1) This passage mentions four deities: Devii, Shiva (Rudra), Vishnu (Krishna), and Brahmaa. Does it treat all four deities as the same, or does it establish a hierarchy amongst them?

    2) Is the hierarchy established here consistent with that seen in all other purANas?

    3) Does the author ever state that the different deities are the same, and that one can worship any deity and get the same result?

    Addendum: I apologize for how the quote got cut off. What it was saying is that the incarnation of Hari arise in yugas after yugs through the intervention of the Yoga-Maya.
    Last edited by philosoraptor; 27 June 2012 at 05:51 PM.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  4. #4
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    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Agree completely.....The idea of "all gods are the same" is unsupported in shruti itself....not to speak of the puranas.

    A small note the previous thread you made one mistake with reference to the so-called tamasic puranas.The main Shaivite purana is the vayu purana and not the shiva purana.And Shaivism anyway does not accept any of the puranas,including the shaivite ones.

  5. #5

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Quote Originally Posted by Omkara View Post
    Agree completely.....The idea of "all gods are the same" is unsupported in shruti itself....not to speak of the puranas.

    A small note the previous thread you made one mistake with reference to the so-called tamasic puranas.The main Shaivite purana is the vayu purana and not the shiva purana.And Shaivism anyway does not accept any of the puranas,including the shaivite ones.
    Namaste Sri Omkar,

    I thank you for the correction. I was aware that different Puraanic lists were inconsistent with regard to the Vaayu Puraana - some have Shiva Puraana listed in its stead. It is only recently that I have become aware of the points you mentioned. I'm puzzled though - why wouldn't Shaivites accept the Shaivite Puraanas? Is it just an issue of historical indifference or are there specific doctrinal conflicts which these texts have introduced?

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  6. #6

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:


    For the seekers who are following this thread of "one deity vs many deities, one of whom is supreme," I thank you for reading this far. I have chosen another excerpt to illustrate the point being made. This one is from the Bhaagavatam, but it is a passage which glorifies Lord Shiva. As always, feel free to check the translation and be satisfied with it for the purposes of our discussion - I am merely using what is available freely and online just for convenience.

    First, some background. This section occurs after the chapter on the yagna of Daksha Prajaapati. Daksha had become arrogant and insulted Lord Shiva, whom he felt should have shown his respect being his son-in-law, and who thus had misunderstood Lord Shiva's position. He extended this disrepsect to Shiva's wife Satii, who, being insulted, immolated herself in Daksha's hall. This infuriates Shiva, who sends a demon to destroy the yagna which is being attended by devas and devarshis.

    SB 4.6.1-2: All the priests and other members of the sacrificial assembly and all the demigods, having been defeated by the soldiers of Lord Śiva and injured by weapons like tridents and swords, approached Lord Brahmā with great fear. After offering him obeisances, they began to speak in detail of all the events which had taken place.
    SB 4.6.3: Both Lord Brahmā and Viṣṇu had already known that such events would occur in the sacrificial arena of Dakṣa, and knowing beforehand, they did not go to the sacrifice.
    SB 4.6.4: When Lord Brahmā heard everything from the demigods and the members who had attended the sacrifice, he replied: You cannot be happy in executing a sacrifice if you blaspheme a great personality and thereby offend his lotus feet. You cannot have happiness in that way.
    SB 4.6.5: You have excluded Lord Śiva from taking part in the sacrificial results, and therefore you are all offenders at his lotus feet. Still, if you go without mental reservations and surrender unto him and fall down at his lotus feet, he will be very pleased.
    SB 4.6.6: Lord Brahmā also advised them that Lord Śiva is so powerful that by his anger all the planets and their chief controllers can be destroyed immediately. Also, he said that Lord Śiva was especially sorry because he had recently lost his dear wife and was also very much afflicted by the unkind words of Dakṣa. Under the circumstances, Lord Brahmā suggested, it would behoove them to go at once and beg his pardon.
    SB 4.6.7: Lord Brahmā said that no one, not even himself, Indra, all the members assembled in the sacrificial arena, or all the sages, could know how powerful Lord Śiva is. Under the circumstances, who would dare to commit an offense at his lotus feet?.
    SB 4.6.8: After thus instructing all the demigods, the Pitās and the lords of the living entities, Lord Brahmā took them with him and left for the abode of Lord Śiva, known as the Kailāsa Hill.
    SB 4.6.9: The abode known as Kailāsa is full of different herbs and vegetables, and it is sanctified by Vedic hymns and mystic yoga practice. Thus the residents of that abode are demigods by birth and have all mystic powers. Besides them there are other human beings, who are known as Kinnaras and Gandharvas and are accompanied by their beautiful wives, who are known as Apsarās, or angels.
    SB 4.6.10: Kailāsa is full of mountains filled with all kinds of valuable jewels and minerals and surrounded by all varieties of valuable trees and plants. The top of the hill is nicely decorated by various types of deer.
    SB 4.6.11: There are many waterfalls, and in the mountains there are many beautiful caves in which the very beautiful wives of the mystics are found.
    SB 4.6.12: On Kailāsa Hill there is always the rhythmical sound of the peacocks' sweet vibrations and the bees' humming. Cuckoos are always singing, and other birds whisper amongst themselves.
    SB 4.6.13: There are tall trees with straight branches that appear to call the sweet birds, and when herds of elephants pass through the hills, it appears that the Kailāsa Hill moves with them. When the waterfalls resound, it appears that Kailāsa Hill does also.
    SB 4.6.14-15: The whole of Kailāsa Hill is decorated with various kinds of trees, of which the following names may be mentioned: mandāra, pārijāta, sarala, tamāla, tāla, kovidāra, āsana, arjuna, āmra-jāti (mango), kadamba, dhūli-kadamba, nāga, punnāga, campaka, pāṭala, aśoka, bakula, kunda and kurabaka. The entire hill is decorated with such trees, which produce flowers with fragrant aromas.
    SB 4.6.16: There are other trees also which decorate the hill, such as the golden lotus flower, the cinnamon tree, mālatī, kubja, mallikā and mādhavī.
    SB 4.6.17: Kailāsa Hill is also decorated with such trees as kata, jackfruit, julara, banyan trees, plakṣas, nyagrodhas and trees producing asafoetida. Also there are trees of betel nuts and bhūrja-patra, as well as rājapūga, blackberries and similar other trees.
    SB 4.6.18: There are mango trees, priyāla, madhuka and ińguda. Besides these there are other trees, like thin bamboos, kīcaka and varieties of other bamboo trees, all decorating the tract of Kailāsa Hill.
    SB 4.6.19-20: There are different kinds of lotus flowers, such as kumuda, utpala and śatapatra. The forest appears to be a decorated garden, and the small lakes are full of various kinds of birds who whisper very sweetly. There are many kinds of other animals also, like deer, monkeys, boars, lions, ṛkṣas, śalyakas, forest cows, forest asses, tigers, small deer, buffalo and many other animals, who are fully enjoying their lives.
    SB 4.6.21: There are varieties of deer, such as karṇāntra, ekapada, aśvāsya, vṛka and kastūrī, the deer which bears musk. Besides the deer there are many banana trees which decorate the small hillside lakes very nicely.
    SB 4.6.22: There is a small lake named Alakanandā in which Satī used to take her bath, and that lake is especially auspicious. All the demigods, after seeing the specific beauty of Kailāsa Hill, were struck with wonder at the great opulence to be found there.
    SB 4.6.23: Thus the demigods saw the wonderfully beautiful region known as Alakā in the forest known as Saugandhika, which means "full of fragrance." The forest is known as Saugandhika because of its abundance of lotus flowers.
    SB 4.6.24: They also saw the two rivers named Nandā and Alakanandā. These two rivers are sanctified by the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda.
    SB 4.6.25: My dear Kṣattā, Vidura, the celestial damsels come down to those rivers in their airplanes with their husbands, and after sexual enjoyment, they enter the water and enjoy sprinkling their husbands with water.
    SB 4.6.26: After the damsels of the heavenly planets bathe in the water, it becomes yellowish and fragrant due to the kuńkuma from their bodies. Thus the elephants come to bathe there with their wives, the she-elephants, and they also drink the water, although they are not thirsty.
    SB 4.6.27: The airplanes of the heavenly denizens are bedecked with pearls, gold and many valuable jewels. The heavenly denizens are compared to clouds in the sky decorated with occasional flashes of electric lightning.
    SB 4.6.28: While traveling, the demigods passed over the forest known as Saugandhika, which is full of varieties of flowers, fruits and desire trees. While passing over the forest, they also saw the regions of Yakṣeśvara.
    SB 4.6.29: In that celestial forest there were many birds whose necks were colored reddish and whose sweet sounds mixed with the humming of the bees. The lakes were abundantly decorated with crying swans as well as strong-stemmed lotus flowers.
    SB 4.6.30: All these atmospheric influences unsettled the forest elephants who flocked together in the sandalwood forest, and the blowing wind agitated the minds of the damsels there for further sexual enjoyment.
    SB 4.6.31: They also saw that the bathing ghāṭas and their staircases were made of vaidūrya-maṇi. The water was full of lotus flowers. Passing by such lakes, the demigods reached a place where there was a great banyan tree.
    SB 4.6.32: That banyan tree was eight hundred miles high, and its branches spread over six hundred miles around. The tree cast a fine shade which permanently cooled the temperature, yet there was no noise of birds.
    SB 4.6.33: The demigods saw Lord Śiva sitting under that tree, which was competent to give perfection to mystic yogīs and deliver all people. As grave as time eternal, he appeared to have given up all anger.
    SB 4.6.34: Lord Śiva sat there, surrounded by saintly persons like Kuvera, the master of the Guhyakas, and the four Kumāras, who were already liberated souls. Lord Śiva was grave and saintly.
    SB 4.6.35: The demigods saw Lord Śiva situated in his perfection as the master of the senses, knowledge, fruitive activities and the path of achieving perfection. He was the friend of the entire world, and by virtue of his full affection for everyone, he was very auspicious.
    SB 4.6.36: He was seated on a deerskin and was practicing all forms of austerity. Because his body was smeared with ashes, he looked like an evening cloud. On his hair was the sign of a half-moon, a symbolic representation.
    SB 4.6.37: He was seated on a straw mattress and speaking to all present, including the great sage Nārada, to whom he specifically spoke about the Absolute Truth.
    SB 4.6.38: His left leg was placed on his right thigh, and his left hand was placed on his left thigh. In his right hand he held rudrākṣa beads. This sitting posture is called vīrāsana. He sat in the vīrāsana posture, and his finger was in the mode of argument.
    SB 4.6.39: All the sages and demigods, headed by Indra, offered their respectful obeisances unto Lord Śiva with folded hands. Lord Śiva was dressed in saffron garments and absorbed in trance, thus appearing to be the foremost of all sages.
    SB 4.6.40: Lord Śiva's lotus feet were worshiped by both the demigods and demons, but still, in spite of his exalted position, as soon as he saw that Lord Brahmā was there among all the other demigods, he immediately stood up and offered him respect by bowing down and touching his lotus feet, just as Vāmanadeva offered His respectful obeisances to Kaśyapa Muni.
    SB 4.6.41: All the sages who were sitting with Lord Śiva, such as Nārada and others, also offered their respectful obeisances to Lord Brahmā. After being so worshiped, Lord Brahmā, smiling, began to speak to Lord Śiva.
    SB 4.6.42: Lord Brahmā said: My dear Lord Śiva, I know that you are the controller of the entire material manifestation, the combination father and mother of the cosmic manifestation, and the Supreme Brahman beyond the cosmic manifestation as well. I know you in that way.
    SB 4.6.43: My dear lord, you create this cosmic manifestation, maintain it, and annihilate it by expansion of your personality, exactly as a spider creates, maintains and winds up its web.
    SB 4.6.44: My dear lord, Your Lordship has introduced the system of sacrifices through the agency of Dakṣa, and thus one may derive the benefits of religious activities and economic development. Under your regulative principles, the institution of the four varṇas and āśramas is respected. The brāhmaṇas therefore vow to follow this system strictly.
    SB 4.6.45: O most auspicious lord, you have ordained the heavenly planets, the spiritual Vaikuṇṭha planets and the impersonal Brahman sphere as the respective destinations of the performers of auspicious activities. Similarly, for others, who are miscreants, you have destined different kinds of hells which are horrible and ghastly. Yet sometimes it is found that their destinations are just the opposite. It is very difficult to ascertain the cause of this.
    SB 4.6.46: My dear Lord, devotees who have fully dedicated their lives unto your lotus feet certainly observe your presence as Paramātmā in each and every being, and as such they do not differentiate between one living being and another. Such persons treat all living entities equally. They never become overwhelmed by anger like animals, who can see nothing without differentiation.
    SB 4.6.47: Persons who observe everything with differentiation, who are simply attached to fruitive activities, who are mean minded, who are always pained to see the flourishing condition of others and who thus give distress to them by uttering harsh and piercing words have already been killed by providence. Thus there is no need for them to be killed again by an exalted personality like you.
    SB 4.6.48: My dear lord, if in some places materialists, who are already bewildered by the insurmountable illusory energy of the Supreme Godhead, sometimes commit offenses, a saintly person, with compassion, does not take this seriously. Knowing that they commit offenses because they are overpowered by the illusory energy, he does not show his prowess to counteract them.
    SB 4.6.49: My dear lord, you are never bewildered by the formidable influence of the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore you are omniscient and should be merciful and compassionate toward those who are bewildered by the same illusory energy and are very much attached to fruitive activities.
    SB 4.6.50: My dear Lord Śiva, you are a shareholder of a portion of the sacrifice, and you are the giver of the result. The bad priests did not deliver your share, and therefore you destroyed everything, and the sacrifice remains unfinished. Now you can do the needful and take your rightful share.
    SB 4.6.51: My dear lord, by your mercy the performer of the sacrifice (King Dakṣa) may get back his life, Bhaga may get back his eyes, Bhṛgu his mustache, and Pūṣā his teeth.
    SB 4.6.52: O Lord Śiva, may the demigods and the priests whose limbs have been broken by your soldiers recover from the injuries by your grace.
    SB 4.6.53: O destroyer of the sacrifice, please take your portion of the sacrifice and let the sacrifice be completed by your grace.

    SB 4.7.1: The sage Maitreya said: O mighty-armed Vidura, Lord Śiva, being thus pacified by the words of Lord Brahmā, spoke as follows in answer to Lord Brahmā's request.
    SB 4.7.2: Lord Śiva said: My dear father, Brahmā, I do not mind the offenses created by the demigods. Because these demigods are childish and less intelligent, I do not take a serious view of their offenses, and I have punished them only in order to right them.
    SB 4.7.3: Lord Śiva continued: Since the head of Dakṣa has already been burned to ashes, he will have the head of a goat. The demigod known as Bhaga will be able to see his share of sacrifice through the eyes of Mitra.
    SB 4.7.4: The demigod Pūṣā will be able to chew only through the teeth of his disciples, and if alone, he will have to satisfy himself by eating dough made from chickpea flour. But the demigods who have agreed to give me my share of the sacrifice will recover from all their injuries.
    SB 4.7.5: Those who have had their arms cut off will have to work with the arms of Aśvinī-kumāra, and those whose hands were cut off will have to do their work with the hands of Pūṣā. The priests will also have to act in that manner. As for Bhṛgu, he will have the beard from the goat's head.
    SB 4.7.6: The great sage Maitreya said: My dear Vidura, all the personalities present were very much satisfied in heart and soul upon hearing the words of Lord Śiva, who is the best among the benedictors.
    SB 4.7.7: Thereafter, Bhṛgu, the chief of the great sages, invited Lord Śiva to come to the sacrificial arena. Thus the demigods, accompanied by the sages, Lord Śiva, and Lord Brahmā, all went to the place where the great sacrifice was being performed.
    SB 4.7.8: After everything was executed exactly as directed by Lord Śiva, Dakṣa's body was joined to the head of the animal meant to be killed in the sacrifice.
    SB 4.7.9: When the animal's head was fixed on the body of King Dakṣa, Dakṣa was immediately brought to consciousness, and as he awakened from sleep, the King saw Lord Śiva standing before him.
    SB 4.7.10: At that time, when Dakṣa saw Lord Śiva, who rides upon a bull, his heart, which was polluted by envy of Lord Śiva, was immediately cleansed, just as the water in a lake is cleansed by autumn rains.
    SB 4.7.11: King Dakṣa wanted to offer prayers to Lord Śiva, but as he remembered the ill-fated death of his daughter Satī, his eyes filled with tears, and in bereavement his voice choked up, and he could not say anything.
    SB 4.7.12: At this time, King Dakṣa, afflicted by love and affection, was very much awakened to his real senses. With great endeavor, he pacified his mind, checked his feelings, and with pure consciousness began to offer prayers to Lord Śiva.
    SB 4.7.13: King Dakṣa said: My dear Lord Śiva, I committed a great offense against you, but you are so kind that instead of withdrawing your mercy, you have done me a great favor by punishing me. You and Lord Viṣṇu never neglect even useless, unqualified brāhmaṇas. Why, then, should you neglect me, who am engaged in performing sacrifices?
    SB 4.7.14: My dear great and powerful Lord Śiva, you were created first from the mouth of Lord Brahmā in order to protect the brāhmaṇas in pursuing education, austerities, vows and self-realization. As protector of the brāhmaṇas, you always protect the regulative principles they follow, just as a cowherd boy keeps a stick in his hand to give protection to the cows.
    SB 4.7.15: I did not know your full glories. For this reason, I threw arrows of sharp words at you in the open assembly, although you did not take them into account. I was going down to hell because of my disobedience to you, who are the most respectable personality, but you took compassion upon me and saved me by awarding punishment. I request that you be pleased by your own mercy, since I cannot satisfy you by my words.
    SB 4.7.16: The great sage Maitreya said: Thus being pardoned by Lord Śiva, King Dakṣa, with the permission of Lord Brahmā, again began the performance of the yajña, along with the great learned sages, the priests and others.
    SB 4.7.17: Thereafter, in order to resume the activities of sacrifice, the brāhmaṇas first arranged to purify the sacrificial arena of the contamination caused by the touch of Vīrabhadra and the other ghostly followers of Lord Śiva. Then they arranged to offer into the fire the oblations known as puroḍāśa.
    SB 4.7.18: The great sage Maitreya said to Vidura: My dear Vidura, as soon as King Dakṣa offered the clarified butter with Yajur Veda mantras in sanctified meditation, Lord Viṣṇu appeared there in His original form as Nārāyaṇa.
    SB 4.7.19: Lord Nārāyaṇa was seated on the shoulder of Stotra, or Garuḍa, who had big wings. As soon as the Lord appeared, all directions were illuminated, diminishing the luster of Brahmā and the others present.
    SB 4.7.20: His complexion was blackish, His garment yellow like gold, and His helmet as dazzling as the sun. His hair was bluish, the color of black bees, and His face was decorated with earrings. His eight hands held a conchshell, wheel, club, lotus flower, arrow, bow, shield and sword, and they were decorated with golden ornaments such as bangles and bracelets. His whole body resembled a blossoming tree beautifully decorated with various kinds of flowers.
    SB 4.7.21: Lord Viṣṇu looked extraordinarily beautiful because the goddess of fortune and a garland were situated on His chest. His face was beautifully decorated with a smiling attitude which can captivate the entire world, especially the devotees. Fans of white hair appeared on both sides of the Lord like white swans, and the white canopy overhead looked like the moon.
    SB 4.7.22: As soon as Lord Viṣṇu was visible, all the demigods — Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, the Gandharvas and all present there — immediately offered their respectful obeisances by falling down straight before Him.
    SB 4.7.23: In the presence of the glaring effulgence of the bodily luster of Nārāyaṇa, everyone else's luster faded away, and everyone stopped speaking. Fearful with awe and veneration, all present touched their hands to their heads and prepared to offer their prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Adhokṣaja.
    SB 4.7.24: Although the mental scope of even demigods like Brahmā was unable to comprehend the unlimited glories of the Supreme Lord, they were all able to perceive the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by His grace. Only by such grace could they offer their respectful prayers according to their different capacities.
    SB 4.7.25: When Lord Viṣṇu accepted the oblations offered in the sacrifice, Dakṣa, the Prajāpati, began with great pleasure to offer respectful prayers unto Him. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the master of all sacrifices and preceptor of all the Prajāpatis, and He is served even by such personalities as Nanda and Sunanda.
    SB 4.7.26: Dakṣa addressed the Supreme Personality of Godhead: My dear Lord, You are transcendental to all speculative positions. You are completely spiritual, devoid of all fear, and You are always in control of the material energy. Even though You appear in the material energy, You are situated transcendentally. You are always free from material contamination because You are completely self-sufficient.
    SB 4.7.27: The priests addressed the Lord, saying: O Lord, transcendental to material contamination, by the curse offered by Lord Śiva's men we have become attached to fruitive activities, and thus we are now fallen and therefore do not know anything about You. On the contrary, we are now involved in the injunctions of the three departments of the Vedic knowledge under the plea of executing rituals in the name of yajña. We know that You have made arrangements for distributing the respective shares of the demigods.
    SB 4.7.28: The members of the assembly addressed the Lord: O exclusive shelter for all who are situated in troubled life, in this formidable fort of conditional existence the time element, like a snake, is always looking for an opportunity to strike. This world is full of ditches of so-called distress and happiness, and there are many ferocious animals always ready to attack. The fire of lamentation is always blazing, and the mirage of false happiness is always alluring, but one has no shelter from them. Thus foolish persons live in the cycle of birth and death, always overburdened in discharging their so-called duties, and we do not know when they will accept the shelter of Your lotus feet.
    SB 4.7.29: Lord Śiva said: My dear Lord, my mind and consciousness are always fixed on Your lotus feet, which, as the source of all benediction and the fulfillment of all desires, are worshiped by all liberated great sages because Your lotus feet are worthy of worship. With my mind fixed on Your lotus feet, I am no longer disturbed by persons who blaspheme me, claiming that my activities are not purified. I do not mind their accusations, and I excuse them out of compassion, just as You exhibit compassion toward all living entities.
    SB 4.7.30: Śrī Bhṛgu said: My dear Lord, all living entities, beginning from the highest, namely Lord Brahmā, down to the ordinary ant, are under the influence of the insurmountable spell of illusory energy, and thus they are ignorant of their constitutional position. Everyone believes in the concept of the body, and all are thus submerged in the darkness of illusion. They are actually unable to understand how You live in every living entity as the Supersoul, nor can they understand Your absolute position. But You are the eternal friend and protector of all surrendered souls. Therefore, please be kind toward us and forgive all our offenses.
    SB 4.7.31: Lord Brahmā said: My dear Lord, Your personality and eternal form cannot be understood by any person who is trying to know You through the different processes of acquiring knowledge. Your position is always transcendental to the material creation, whereas the empiric attempt to understand You is material, as are its objectives and instruments.
    SB 4.7.32: King Indra said: My dear Lord, Your transcendental form with eight hands and weapons in each of them appears for the welfare of the entire universe, and it is very pleasing to the mind and eyes. In such a form, Your Lordship is always prepared to punish the demons, who are envious of Your devotees.
    SB 4.7.33: The wives of the performers of the sacrifice said: My dear Lord, this sacrifice was arranged under the instruction of Brahmā, but unfortunately Lord Śiva, being angry at Dakṣa, devastated the entire scene, and because of his anger the animals meant for sacrifice are lying dead. Therefore the preparations of the yajña have been lost. Now, by the glance of Your lotus eyes, the sanctity of this sacrificial arena may be again invoked.
    SB 4.7.34: The sages prayed: Dear Lord, Your activities are most wonderful, and although You do everything by Your different potencies, You are not at all attached to such activities. You are not even attached to the goddess of fortune, who is worshiped by the great demigods like Brahmā, who pray to achieve her mercy.
    SB 4.7.35: The Siddhas prayed: Like an elephant that has suffered in a forest fire but can forget all its troubles by entering a river, our minds, O Lord, always merge in the nectarean river of Your transcendental pastimes, and they desire never to leave such transcendental bliss, which is as good as the pleasure of merging in the Absolute.
    SB 4.7.36: The wife of Dakṣa prayed as follows: My dear Lord, it is very fortunate that You have appeared in this arena of sacrifice. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You, and I request that You be pleased on this occasion. The sacrificial arena is not beautiful without You, just as a body is not beautiful without the head.
    SB 4.7.37: The governors of various planets spoke as follows: Dear Lord, we believe only in our direct perception, but under the circumstances we do not know whether we have actually seen You with our material senses. By our material senses we can simply perceive the cosmic manifestation, but You are beyond the five elements. You are the sixth. We see You, therefore, as a creation of the material world.
    SB 4.7.38: The great mystics said: Dear Lord, persons who see You as nondifferent from themselves, knowing that You are the Supersoul of all living entities, are certainly very, very dear to You. You are very favorable toward those who engage in devotional service, accepting You as the Lord and themselves as the servants. By Your mercy, You are always inclined in their favor.
    SB 4.7.39: We offer our respectful obeisances unto the Supreme, who has created varieties of manifestations and put them under the spell of the three qualities of the material world in order to create, maintain and annihilate them. He Himself is not under the control of the external energy; in His personal feature He is completely devoid of the variegated manifestation of material qualities, and He is under no illusion of false identification.
    SB 4.7.40: The personified Vedas said: We offer our respectful obeisances unto You, the Lord, the shelter of the quality of goodness and therefore the source of all religion, austerity and penance, for You are transcendental to all material qualities and no one knows You or Your actual situation.
    SB 4.7.41: The fire-god said: My dear Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You because by Your favor I am as luminous as blazing fire and I accept the offerings mixed with butter and offered in sacrifice. The five kinds of offerings according to the Yajur Veda are all Your different energies, and You are worshiped by five kinds of Vedic hymns. Sacrifice means Your Supreme Personality of Godhead.
    SB 4.7.42: The demigods said: Dear Lord, formerly, when there was a devastation, You conserved all the different energies of material manifestation. At that time, all the inhabitants of the higher planets, represented by such liberated souls as Sanaka, were meditating on You by philosophical speculation. You are therefore the original person, and You rest in the water of devastation on the bed of the Śeṣa snake. Now, today, You are visible to us, who are all Your servants. Please give us protection.
    SB 4.7.43: The Gandharvas said: Dear Lord, all the demigods, including Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā, Indra and Marīci and the great sages, are all only differentiated parts and parcels of Your body. You are the Supreme Almighty Great; the whole creation is just like a plaything for You. We always accept You as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we offer our respectful obeisances unto You.
    SB 4.7.44: The Vidyādharas said: Dear Lord, this human form of body is meant for attaining the highest perfectional objective, but, impelled by Your external energy, the living entity misidentifies himself with his body and with the material energy, and therefore, influenced by māyā, he wants to become happy by material enjoyment. He is misled and always attracted by temporary, illusory happiness. But Your transcendental activities are so powerful that if one engages in the hearing and chanting of such topics, he can be delivered from illusion.
    SB 4.7.45: The brāhmaṇas said: Dear Lord, You are sacrifice personified. You are the offering of clarified butter, You are the fire, You are the chanting of Vedic hymns by which the sacrifice is conducted, You are the fuel, You are the flame, You are the kuśa grass, and You are the sacrificial pots. You are the priests who perform the yajña, You are the demigods headed by Indra, and You are the sacrificial animal. Everything that is sacrificed is You or Your energy.
    SB 4.7.46: Dear Lord, O personified Vedic knowledge, in the past millennium, long, long ago, when You appeared as the great boar incarnation, You picked up the world from the water, as an elephant picks up a lotus flower from a lake. When You vibrated transcendental sound in that gigantic form of a boar, the sound was accepted as a sacrificial hymn, and great sages like Sanaka meditated upon it and offered prayers for Your glorification.
    SB 4.7.47: Dear Lord, we were awaiting Your audience because we have been unable to perform the yajñas according to the Vedic rituals. We pray unto You, therefore, to be pleased with us. Simply by chanting Your holy name, one can surpass all obstacles. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You in Your presence.
    SB 4.7.48: Śrī Maitreya said: After Lord Viṣṇu was glorified by all present, Dakṣa, his consciousness purified, arranged to begin again the yajña which had been devastated by the followers of Lord Śiva.
    SB 4.7.49: Maitreya continued: My dear sinless Vidura, Lord Viṣṇu is actually the enjoyer of the results of all sacrifices. Yet because of His being the Supersoul of all living entities, He was satisfied simply with His share of the sacrificial offerings. He therefore addressed Dakṣa in a pleasing attitude.
    SB 4.7.50: Lord Viṣṇu replied: Brahmā, Lord Śiva and I are the supreme cause of the material manifestation. I am the Supersoul, the self sufficient witness. But impersonally there is no difference between Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Me.
    SB 4.7.51: The Lord continued: My dear Dakṣa Dvija, I am the original Personality of Godhead, but in order to create, maintain and annihilate this cosmic manifestation, I act through My material energy, and according to the different grades of activity, My representations are differently named.
    SB 4.7.52: The Lord continued: One who is not in proper knowledge thinks that demigods like Brahmā and Śiva are independent, or he even thinks that the living entities are independent.
    SB 4.7.53: A person with average intelligence does not think the head and other parts of the body to be separate. Similarly, My devotee does not differentiate Viṣṇu, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead, from any thing or any living entity.
    SB 4.7.54: The Lord continued: One who does not consider Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva or the living entities in general to be separate from the Supreme, and who knows Brahman, actually realizes peace; others do not.
    SB 4.7.55: The sage Maitreya said: Thus Dakṣa, the head of all Prajāpatis, having been nicely instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, worshiped Lord Viṣṇu. After worshiping Him by performing the prescribed sacrificial ceremonies, Dakṣa separately worshiped Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva.
    SB 4.7.56: With all respect, Dakṣa worshiped Lord Śiva with his share of the remnants of the yajña. After finishing the ritualistic sacrificial activities, he satisfied all the other demigods and the other people assembled there. Then, after finishing all these duties with the priests, he took a bath and was fully satisfied.
    SB 4.7.57: Thus worshiping the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu by the ritualistic performance of sacrifice, Dakṣa was completely situated on the religious path. Moreover, all the demigods who had assembled at the sacrifice blessed him that he might increase his piety, and then they left.
    SB 4.7.58: Maitreya said: I have heard that after giving up the body she had received from Dakṣa, Dākṣāyaṇī (his daughter) took her birth in the kingdom of the Himalayas. She was born as the daughter of Menā. I heard this from authoritative sources.
    SB 4.7.59: Ambikā [goddess Durgā], who was known as Dākṣāyiṇī [Satī], again accepted Lord Śiva as her husband, just as different energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead act during the course of a new creation.
    SB 4.7.60: Maitreya said: My dear Vidura, I heard this story of the Dakṣa yajña, which was devastated by Lord Śiva, from Uddhava, a great devotee and a disciple of Bṛhaspati.
    SB 4.7.61: The great sage Maitreya concluded: If one hears and again narrates, with faith and devotion, this story of the Dakṣa yajña as it was conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, then certainly one is cleared of all contamination of material existence, O son of Kuru.
    Some questions for reflection:

    1) Shiva's anger results in several devas being mauled, mutilated, or getting limbs amputated. Are these devas different forms of Shiva? Or are they different beings from Shiva?

    2) Brahmaa leads the other devas (here translated as "demigods") to pacify Lord Shiva. He tells them that they cannot fully understand the position of Lord Shiva. Is it reasonable to think that different forms of one God in the form Brahmaa and devas do not understand God in the form of Shiva?

    3) The Bhaagavatam teaches that Shiva is the mind-born son of Brahmaa, and this is reflected by Shiva offering obesiances to Brahmaa. Yet Brahmaa glorifies Shiva as the controller of the universe and its origin. This seems to reflect that while Shiva is formally younger to Brahmaa (as son to father), in actuality his position is much higher.

    4) Shiva tells Brahmaa that he considers the devas to be childish and deluded by mAyA, and so he punishes them to teach them a lesson. Is this consistent with the idea that devas are different froms of Shiva?

    5) Later, when Vishnu appears, all other devas including Brahmaa and Shiva and devas led by Indra offer him prayers. Is this consistent with the idea that they are all one and the same God? Is the Bhaagavatam really trying to teach us that they are all the same God?

    6) Later in the chapter, Vishnu explains that those who see all entities as separate, as opposed to seeing them as part of the same Brahman, do not know peace. In light of the fact that the clear differences between these different devas has been illustrated in the previous shlokas, is this really telling us that we are all the same God, and does such a conclusion follow naturally from the previous shlokas? If so, then does it mean that the great Shiva also does not know peace because he saw other devas as inferiors who needed to be taught a lesson? Or is this verse instead speaking of realizing a kind of oneness in which distinction, differences, and hierarchy continue to exist?

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  7. #7

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post
    Namaste Sri Omkar,

    I thank you for the correction. I was aware that different Puraanic lists were inconsistent with regard to the Vaayu Puraana - some have Shiva Puraana listed in its stead. It is only recently that I have become aware of the points you mentioned. I'm puzzled though - why wouldn't Shaivites accept the Shaivite Puraanas? Is it just an issue of historical indifference or are there specific doctrinal conflicts which these texts have introduced?
    The only Puranas that appear to have any devotional value are -

    1. Vishnu
    2. Bhagavatam
    3. Devi Bhagavatam - A minor shakta purana, but often considered THE Bhagavata Purana of the main eighteen.

    There are many puranas which are not in the known list - by Buddhists, Jains and Southern Tamils. Some of them may still be in active use like the periyapuranam, etc.

  8. #8

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Quote Originally Posted by shiv.somashekhar View Post
    The only Puranas that appear to have any devotional value are -

    1. Vishnu
    2. Bhagavatam
    3. Devi Bhagavatam - A minor shakta purana, but often considered THE Bhagavata Purana of the main eighteen.
    In every listing I have seen within the Puranas, I've never seen anything to suggest that the Bhagavatam listed was in fact the Devi Bhagavatam.
    Last edited by philosoraptor; 03 July 2012 at 11:08 AM.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  9. #9

    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post
    In every listing I have seen within the Puranas, I've never seen anything to suggest that the Bhagavatam listed was in fact the Devi Bhagavatam.
    The argument is by followers of the Devi Bhagavatam.

    The Matysa Purana describes every Purana. It describes the Bhagavata as follows.

    That in which ample details of duty are described, and which opens with (an extract from) the Gáyatri; that in which the death of the Asura Vritra is told, and in which the mortals and immortals of the Sáraswata Kalpa, with the events that then happened to them in the world, are related; that, is celebrated as the Bhágavata, and consists of eighteen thousand verses.

    This description applies to the Devi Bhagavata just as much as it applies to the Vaishnava Bhagavata.The Devi Bhagavata also claims to be authored by Vyasa and calls itself a Maha-Purana.

    Arguments against the Devi Bhagavata -

    As early as the 11th century, Al Beruni, who visited India listed the Puranas and described the Bhagavata as celebrating the virtues of Vasudeva.

    The Padma is explicit that the Bhagavatam is a Vaishnava text.

    The Vaishnava Bhagavatam is clearly more popular and widespread than the Devi Bhagavatam.

  10. #10
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    Re: One Deity, or One Brahman vs Many devas? What the Puraanas say:

    Periya Puranam??

    It is not part of the 18 available (authentic and accepted purana)

    Periya Puranam is tamil version and composed by the famous Sekkirzhar and the subject matter of this puranam is the famous Nayanmars of Tamil Shaiva Siddanta. Not sure why you have inserted this here just because it has the title ending with "puranam"??

    vaisnavanam naradiyam ca tatha bhagavatam subham
    garudam ca tatha padmam varaham subha-darsane

    sattvikani puranani vijneyani subhani vai
    brahmandam brahma-vaivarta markandeyam tathaiva ca

    bhavisyam vamanam brahmam rajasani nibodha me
    matsyam kaurmam tatha laingam saivam skandam tathaiva ca

    agneyam ca sad etani tamasani nibodha me

    They are the only puranas accepted by the traditions which deals with Vedic subjects.

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