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Keshi Suktam and the Sharabha-Narasimha episode

The keSi sUkta is a stuti of bhagavAn as the antaryAmin of Brahma and Rudra in the context of the samudra mathanam incident. In that charitra, bhagavAn appeared in various manifestations as Ajita (who churned the poison), Kurma (who upheld the Mandara), Dhanvantri (who appeared with medicine), the indweller of Rudra (who drank the poison), Mohini (who misled the asurAs) and Vishnu (who married srI mahAlakshmi).
In particular, this entire sUkta is devoted to one incident – the drinking of the hAla hAla poison. The bhAgavatam records that when that poison came out of the ocean, the devas resorted to the indweller of Rudra (nArAyaNa) and thus, bhagavAn used Shiva as his vibhUti to drink up the poison. That the devas only resorted to nArAyaNa as the supreme brahman and eulogised him in the stuti for that section (as opposed to Shiva) – is proven here in the blog :
Shiva was used as a vessel for bhagavAn to drink up the poison. Why didn’t bhagavAn do it directly? Because Shiva, by virtue of his merit, had performed severe austerities to attain the position of the lord of the devas. The mahAbhArata records this as follows –
mahAdEva: sarvamEdhEMahAthmAhuthvaa aathmAnam dEvadEvO BhabhUva visvAn lOkAn vyApya vishtabhya keerthyA virAjathE dhyuthimAn KrutthivAsa: --MahAbhAratha: 20.12
(Meaning): The noble soul known as “mahAdeva” (shiva) performed the sarvamEdha yAga , where He offered Himself as Havis and became the greatest among DevAs. He shines brilliantly in all the worlds with His jnAna, took on eight kinds of radiant forms (ashtamUrthy) and became renowned (keerthimAn ,DhyutimAn virAjathE).
Since Shiva had acquired merit, the gracious bhagavAn fulfilled the fruits of his penances by allowing him to swallow the poison and thus lead the devas as their head. However, it should be understood that Shiva was a vibhUti and the actual act of containing the poison was done by bhagavAn only through the medium of Shiva. This is stated by Shiva himself in the following pramAnAs, which serve as upabrahmaNas for the keSi sUkta:
taMdR^iShTvA ghora saN^kAshaM prAdurbhUtaM mahAviSham.h | dhyAtvA nArAyaNaM devaM hR^idaye garuDadhvajam.h || (~BrahmAndapurANa)

(Meaning): Seeing that terrible poison emerging, (Shiva) meditated on the Lord Vishnu, Garudadhvaja, residing in his heart.
Another purANa says:
yenajIrNaM cha garaLaMkaNThasthaM cha kapAlinaH |antarAtma dhR^itaM tasyahR^idaye garuDadhvaja ||

(Meaning): It is only due to Shiva's meditating on Vishnu, that he was able to digest the terrible poison, right in his neck.
(Note the reference to Shiva as “kapAlinaH”. He had a skull attached to his hand as a result of brahma hatya dosha, which was removed by the grace of vishNu. Highlighting this, the purAna says he prayed to the same vishNu to digest the poison).
In Garuda purana, Shiva tells Parvati:
aprakAshamidaM devi guhyAd guhyataraM padam.h | purAham abdhimathane patagendra viShAvaham.h | avadhyaM garalaM ghoramaJNbhujam amR^itaMyathA ||

(Meaning): O Devi, this is not a well known fact. At the time of samudra-mathana, before consuming poison, I meditated on the Lord. (It is due to his mercy that ) I was able to drink it as easily as I had the nectar (amR^ita)
This one is well known in the mantra-shAstras:
achyutAnanta govinda mantrato.apsushubhaM param.h | OM iti sampuTIkR^ity ajapan viShadharo.aharat.h ||
(Meaning): Lord Shiva did 'abhimantraNa' of the poison with the most auspicious mantra: OM achyutAnantagovinda OM' and then consumed the poison.
Another purANa says:
nAmatraya prabhAvAchcha viShNossarvagatasyavai |viShaM tadabhavajjIrNaM lokasamhArakAraNam.h |

(Meaning): Due to the chanting of the 'nAmatraya' (three names) of that all-pervading Vishnu, that terrible poison, which could have destroyed the worlds, was digested ('jIrNam.h').
Despite all these pramAnAs, some miscreants keep ignoring all this and throwing feeble minded accusations at vaiSnavas. This endeavour is aimed as a rebuttal to the following article:
The Keshi Sukta has been quoted by vaiShnavas to show that Shiva was used as an instrument to drink the poison by vishNu. In the above link, the author says that the mantra in question does not say anything about halahala viSha, but only talks about the sun taking up water with the marutgaNas or vaidyutAgni as per sayana bhAshya.
In particular, srI vedAnta desikan, in his daShavatAra stOtra, hints that this mantra in the kEshI sUkta talks of vishNu drinking the poison through Rudra and saving the devas.
Please note that sayana bhAshya is not an epitome of perfection. Indeed, it was this bhAshya that interpreted the SatarudrIyam as a meaningless description of rivers, forests, dogs, thieves, potters, fishermen, ponds, arrows, bows, etc with a feeble attempt to say that all this was a description of “viSvarUpa”. Sayana clearly did not understand that every word in the Rudram was a metaphor for the tattvas.
Even in this case, exactly what tattva jnAna is obtained by a meaningless interpretation that it is the sun which takes up water? When krishNa says “vedaishca sarvair aham eva vedyaH”, shouldn’t the meaning be related to Brahman, cit or acit, ie, a description of tattvas? So, what is the jnAna obtained from knowing the sun takes up water? Therefore, Sayana bhAshyam is incorrect.
Context is key for any interpretation, without which it is completely wrong. Ignorant of this, the author of that link makes random accusations like vaiShnavas spew venom and etceteras – the usual stuff that vishNu dvEshIs normally do.
However, to further prove this position, it can be seen that not only smriti, but also shruti, and in particular the keSi sUkta, clearly outlines this fact – that vishNu, as the indweller of shiva, was the actual drinker of the poison.
With that, let us begin. This is the commentary on keSi sUkta of the Rgveda, where the topic dealt is the swallowing of the hAla hAla viSha.
keśyagniṃ keśī viṣaṃ keśī bibharti rodasī | keśīviśvaṃ svardṛśe keśīdaṃ jyotirucyate ||
Meaning: The One who abides in Brahma and Rudra, governs the one (Shiva) who leads the devas, the One who abides in Brahma and Rudra bears the poison (as the antaryAmin of Rudra), the One who abides in Brahma and Rudra, supports (the jIvAs in) the Earth and Celestial Regions (by protection). The One who abides in Brahma and Rudra bears his non-material body designated as “vishvaM” as it is full of auspicious attributes. He supports, ie, sustains all this for the perception of the supreme abode designated as “svaH” (ie, liberation). This Lord who abides in Brahma and Rudra is called “jyOthi” or the supreme light .
“keSI” – This refers to Lord nArAyaNa who is the antaryAmin of brahma and rudra as he has them as his body. “Ka” refers to Brahma and “Isa” refers to Shiva. “keSi” – ka iSa asmin asti iti keSi – he who abides in Brahma and Rudra is “keSi”. Just as “sharIrI” refers to one who abides as the indweller of a “sharIra”, “keSi” refers to one who abides in Ka (Brahma) and Isa (Rudra).
The Upanishads elsewhere refer to bhagavAn as “kEshAnta” – he who is the source, limit or indweller of Ka and Isha. The meaning is same for “keSi” as well.
“keSI” is repeated each time to emphasise that bhagavAn ALONE performed all the actions of – 1) Empowering Rudra to drink the poison, 2) bearing the actual poison in the throat of Rudra without harm, 3) Saving  the Earth or samsAra mandalam and hence the devas from the poison. “bibharti” must be taken in conjunction with each word. Here is the detailed explanation:
“keSyaghnim bibharti” – “agni” refers to Shiva who is the leader of the devas – “agrEnayatI” – means one who leads. As Shiva is the leader of the devas, he is referred to here as “agni” and hence was made the instrument of drinking the poison. “keSi” is sriman nArAyaNa, who governs or rules over this Shiva as he is the indweller of the latter and thus empowers Rudra to consume the poison.
“keSi viSam bibharti” –The Lord, acting through Rudra, bore the hAlA-hAlA viSam and prevented it from harming the world. This shows he alone was responsible for nullifying the effects of the terrible poison. He did this through the vibhUti of Rudra, whom he governs as the indweller.
“keSi rodasI bibhartI” – The Lord saved all the worlds from the deadly poison this way. He alone did this and no-one else. Thus, he is the sole protector of the jIvAs in samsAra.
“keSi viSvambibharti svardR^ishe” – Not content with such protection, he manifests a glorious form made of suddha sattva that is “viSvaM” or full of auspicious attributes for the enjoyment of the jIvAs. This is another form of protection, which is for the satisfaction of the jIvAs.
“svardRi^she” = svaH +drshe” = Why does he support all the above mentioned acts and attributes? For the perception of the supreme abode by the jIvAs, ie, he wants to liberate the jIvAs.
“keSidam jyotir uchyatE” – Because of this, the Lord who abides in Brahma and Rudra is known as “jyOtI” - “nArAyaNaparOjyOtir” – This Lord is verily sriman nArAyaNa, who is the supreme light. Bhattar interprets “jyOtir” nAma in the sahasranAma as referring to him leading one to liberation.
munayo vātaraśanāḥ piśaṅgā vasate malā | vātasyānudhrājiṃ yanti yad devāso avikṣata ||
Meaning: The jIvAtmAs, who are “munis” by nature wear the ropes (attachments), connected with the mind which moves ceaselessly like the wind (vAta), which are tawny-hued impurities as it of the form of desire (pishangAH mala-s). They attain, or experience the impulse/force (dhrajiM) of the mind (vAta), which the indrIyAs (devas) entered into (avikShata).
As Rudra represents the mind and the hAla-hAla viSha represents the experience of the indrIyAs in the inner meanings of samudra mathanam, it is appropriate that this sUkta, from this rk onwards, describes the state of the mind/indrIyAs.

After describing paramAtma as the one who swallowed poison and saved the devas, this rk describes the mindset of the devas who approached paramAtma for help. From here on in, the rks can be taken in both the specific context of samudra mathanam and the general context of elaborating the tattvas.
What is the specific context? For, the previous rk described bhagavAn as the means by providing the example of samudra mathanam incident. But he helped the devas by his actions only after they surrendered to him. Therefore, this rk elaborates from the perspective of the devas who surrendered to the Lord after realizing their helplessness. They realised their helplessness by reflecting on the nature of their existence and the jivAtma.
“munayO” – The jIvAtma in it’s essential nature is a sesha of bhagavAn.  It is signified by the “Makara” of AUM as it is a muni by its’ essential nature (mananam karOti iti muni). The devas in the samudra mathanam context are “munis” because they are constantly reflecting on the truths. These truths are elaborated below.
“vAtarasanAh” – The mind is referred to as the wind as it is ceaselessly moving from one thought to another and is difficult to control. The ropes connected to the mind are the attachments born of karma-vAsanas from previous births. Thus, though the jIvA is a muni by its’ essential nature, its’ svabhAva (dharma bhUta jnAna) is constricted by the ropes which are the attachments/karma-vAsanas.
“pisangA malA” – These “ropes” or attachments which are the cause of births and deaths are of the form of or arise from desire or rajas which is symbolised by tawny color. This desire is like dirt that obscures the true nature of the jivA that is like a diamond. Just as dirt obscures the radiance of a diamond, the desire results in karmas that cover the jivA like dirt and contract its attributive knowledge.
“vAtasyAnudhrAjim” –The jIvAs, despite being muni, is thus, impelled forcefully by the mind towards attachments. This emphasises the helplessness to wean oneself away from the senses and stop the cycle of births and deaths.
“yanti yad devasO avikSita” – Such a mind has the indrIyAs under control. The indrIyAs” are called “deva” as they make objects shine out to the jIvA.
Thus, this describes the mindset of the devas when they saw the hAlahAla viSham. They were aware of their own helplessness and the need for surrendering to the Supreme Brahman.
The bhAgavatam in this context states - arakSyamAṇAḥ saranaM sadASivam” (8.7.19)–The devas felt incapable of protecting themselves from the poison. With full knowledge, they surrendered to the Lord nArAyaNa who is the indweller of Shiva as they knew he would act through the latter.
“sadASivam” refers to nArAyaNa who is eternally auspicious and hence that is the nature of Shiva who is the body (and vibhUti) of nArAyaNa according to srI veerarAghavAchArya. The article on samudra mathanam stOtra in this blog shows that the devas only praised vishNu and resorted to him – this has been proven by the commentary of srI veerarAghavAchArya. In the Gita, srI KrishNa says “mA sucha:” – “Do not grieve”. Thus, self-surrender provides protection from sorrow.
In addition, this sUkta has also clarified that it is keSi, the indweller of Brahma and Rudra, who bore the poison.
unmaditā mauneyana vātānā tasthimā vayam | śarīredasmākaṃ yūyaṃ martāso abhi paśyatha ||
Meaning: Agitated (by desire) by virtue of our intellect or understanding (dharma-bhUta-jnAnA), we (the devas/baddha jivAs) have become situated in wind, ie, the state of ceaseless transmigration. O you jIvAs, who are bound in samsAra (martasA)! Know (the true nature of) our bodies (as different from the self)!
“unmAdita” – Refers to being excited by material desires.
“maunEyanaH” – Here, our “mananam” here refers to our attributive knowledge or dharma-bhUta-jnAna, which is contracted due to karmas and hence directly associated with attachments or desire.
vAtAn AtasthimA vayam - We, the devas, are traversing in samsAra as a result of this, moving from birth to birth ceaselessly like wind which never stays in one place.
“yUyam martasaH abhipashyata sharIredasmAkam” – Therefore, know our bodies are different than our selves and thus do not be swayed by attachments.
It is valid to take the context in two ways – 1) the specific prayer of the devas to bhagavAn as the antaryAmin of rudra for swallowing the poison, 2) the general prayer of all jivAs to bhagavAn for liberation from samsAra.
After all, the specific context does indeed incorporate the general as its ultimate meaning. As mentioned before, in the incident, Rudra signifies the mind and the poison signifies the experience of the indrIyAs. The antaryAmin of the Mind/Rudra, is paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa who is surrendered to. The devas set an example for all baddha jivAs to surrender to bhagavAn.
antarikṣeṇa patati viśvā rūpāvacākaśat | munirdevasya-devasya saukṛtyāya sakhā hitaḥ ||
Meaning: The muniH (jIvA/Shiva) who is agreeable to his essential nature of “seshatva” (hitaH) and friend to all as he sees everyone equally (sakhA), who belongs (as a property of/dependent on/vibhUti of) to the effulgent god (devasya) for the purpose of acting well or in a manner agreeable to the Lord of SrI (devasya saukR^ityAya), traverses (patati) through the intermediate region becoming fully manifested of the nature of Brahman and accessible, ie, entering in all forms (avacAkashat vishvA rUpA)
This rk has a double meaning in that it describes 1) The nature of Shiva, who was made a vessel by bhagavAn to swallow the poison on the appeal of the devas, as well as 2) the characteristics of the liberated self. I will give both meanings.
“muni” – As explained earlier, muni refers to the essential nature of the jIvAtma denoted by “ma”. At the same time, it denotes one (Shiva) who is always reflecting on his dependence on the Lord and that he is the servant of the Lord. Such a person is of sAttvika bhAva as he has no ego. This describes the position of Shiva as a jnAni – the bhAgavatam says “vaiSNavAnAM yathA shambhu:” “Shiva has no illusions and is fully aware of his subservience on the Lord.
He is “hitaH” as he is agreeable to his true nature of seshatva or servitude. He is “sakhA” as he sees that everyone is identical in their essential nature and that the same Brahman is in everyone, so he has no animosity.
He belongs to the Lord who is effulgent in that he is a property/vibhUti who is dependent on bhagavAn.
As he is a property of bhagavAn, he acts in manner pleasing to bhagavAn and srI devi, ie, his sole aim is to see the Lord happy. This is mentioned by Shiva himself in the bhAgavatam:
puḿsaḥ kṛpayato bhadresarvātmā prīyate hariḥprīte harau bhagavati prīye 'haḿ sacarācaraḥ tasmādidaḿ garaḿ bhuñje prajānāḿ svastirastu me…. SrimadBhagavatam, 8.7.40 

Translation: Hari--  the soul of all -- (sarvātmā hariḥ), is pleased (priyate) when one performs benevolent acts for others. When Lord Hari is pleased all living beings including me are pleased. Hence, let there be welfare for all living beings from my act of swallowing this poison.
The reference to “sarvAtma hariH” shows that Shiva was situated in full knowledge that the act he was about to undertake was empowered by his antaryAmin (Hari) and he did not consider himself as superior to other living beings and thought of himself as a vibhUti. He had sama-darSana.
The second meaning for “saukRtya” in the sense of the liberated jivAs is that they perform services to bhagavAn at all times, all places and in all states.
Note that “devasya” is used two times. The first time, “deva” refers to bhagavAn who is effulgent. Thus, it denotes bhagavAn alone, though even his effulgence is due to SrI on his chest. The jIvAtma is said to belong to this paramAtma.
The second “devasya” is interpreted as “Lord of SrI”. For “deva” signifies his vAtsalya guNa, which arises only because of his association with srI. Thus, the jIvAtma acts in a manner agreeable, ie, performs services to the Lord in association with SrI. Meaning, one should not perform services ignoring srI mahAlakshmi.
The first time, only bhagavAn was referred as Lakshmi is a jIvAtma and hence, does not own the jIvAtmas like bhagavAn does. The second time, both are mentioned as both receive services from the jIvAtma.
“antarikṣeṇa patati viśvārūpā vacākaśat”This part applies to the liberated selves. In the case of Shiva, it can be taken that it applies to a jnAni like him after liberation. The idea is that the liberated selves manifest the nature of Brahman and the 8 characteristics like apahatapApmatva, etc. They do not have a body due to karma (arUpAvat); they may be embodied in suddha sattva rUpa or even disembodied according to their will and they travel everywhere signified by “antarikSena patati” at will as well, being unharmed or untouched by karma.
Should they wish to be embodied, they can assume infinitely many forms of any size, shape or dimension (vishva rUpAH). These forms are taken to serve the Lord wherever he is.
vātasyāśvo vāyoḥ sakhātho deveṣito muniḥ | ubhausamudrāvā kṣeti yaśca pūrva utāparaḥ ||
Meaning: By the intellect (deva) is the jIvAtma (muni) impelled (towards Brahman), who is friendly (Sakha) with the mind (vAyu), who is swollen or full (ashva) of that which is desired, ie, sama-damAdhi Atma guNas (vAtaH). Away from the two collections (of punya and pApa karmas) abides he (the individual self) who is prior or ancient (as compared to prakrti) and also inferior (to paramAtma).
This is a continuation of the previous mantra and describes the jnAni. It can again be taken in a more specific context as a description of Shiva’s role in the samudramathanam incident and also in the general context of a jnAni.
“muni” – Again, refers to the jIvA who is a muni by essential nature, or Shiva who is meditating on Brahman.
“deva” – refers to the intellect or dharma-bhUta-jnAna which illumines external objects to the jIvAtma. The intellect impels the jnAni towards Brahman
“vAyu sakhA” – The jnAni is friendly with the mind. As is well-known, the mind can be both an enemy or a friend depending on whether it sways the jIva towards attachments or towards paramAtma.
“ashva vAtaH” – Quoting the brihAdAraNyaka Upanishad - “his body swelled (ashvat), thus it came to be called “ashva”. Thus, “ashva” refers to being swollen, or rather, being full. The jIva who is a jnAni, is full of that which is desired (vAtaH), which are the Atma guNas beginning with sama-dama vide the gita slOka “buddhir-jnAnam asammohaH kṣhamA satyaṃ damah samah...”
In the context of samudra mathanam, Shiva swallowed the poison as a service to bhagavAn. The devas surrendered to bhagavAn for succor. Thus, they were all jnAnIs
“ubhau samudrAvA” – “samudra” in the Upanishads refer to the collection or aggregation of elements. So, anything that is an aggregate can be designated as “samudra”. Here “ubahu samudra” refers to the two collections of punyaand pApa karmas. The liberated self is freed (ava) from punya and pApa karmas.
“pUrva utA paraH” – The individual self is superior to prakrti, hence designated pUrva. However, he is inferior to paramAtma even after liberation, ie, he serves paramAtma. Hence, he is also “apara”.
apsarasāṃ ghandharvāṇāṃ mṛgāṇāṃ caraṇe caran | keśīketasya vidvān sakhā svādurmadintamaḥ ||
Meaning: The Lord who is the indweller of Brahma and Rudra (keshi) moves about (carati) in the (nature of being the) support (caraNa) of those who are opposed to desire (apsarasAM), those who kill their pride (gandharvANAM) and the desirous (mRgANAM). The One who abides in Brahma and Rudra, knows this desire (of the devas), is a friend (well-disposed to the devas), self-dependent and of a most delightful nature.
During the samudra mathanam, bhagavAn helped the devas attain the nectar. The devas fall in the category of aishwaryArtIs who wanted the material benefit of immortality. However, bhagavAn states in the Gita that he regards as mahAtmAs all 4 categories of bhaktas – the arTa, artArtin, jignyAsu and jnAni. So, this rk shows that he is the refuge for not just aishwaryArtIs like the devas, but for all groups.
“apsarasAm” – “sarasa” refers to desire. “apa” refers to those opposed to desire. These are the kaivalyArtis or jignyAsus who remain detached and meditate on the bliss of the individual self.
“gandharvAnAm” – “gandha” refers to ahamkAra and “arva” (arvati) refers to the act of killing it. This refers to the jnAnIs who meditate on paramAtma with the knowledge that they are seshas, ie, servants and hence have no ego.
“mRgAnAm” – “paSu” or “mRga” refers to anger or desire. This refers to aishwaryArtis who seek new material weath (arTa) or those who have lost their property and want it restored (artArtin).
“keSi ketasya vidvAn” – The Lord knows this desire of the devas – that the poison should not harm them -  as he is the indweller of Brahma and Rudra which is an indication of his supremacy and antaryAmitvam
“sakhA” – He is well-disposed to the devas. So, not only does he know the desire of the devas, but he will fulfil it as he is favourable to them.
“svAdhur” – he is self-dependent unlike the devas including Brahma and Rudra who are dependent and can help them by himself. In other words, he does not need Rudra to drink the poison; he can do it himself. It was he who empowered Rudra to withstand the effects of the poison and thus perform this act for his own merit.
“madintamaH” – he is of a most delightful nature, ie, full of auspicious attributes. In other words, he is sweeter than the nectar that the devas wanted and is the true nectar to be sought after.
Once again, both the general and specific (samudra mathanam context) meanings are present in this rk.
vāyurasmā upāmanthat pinaṣṭi smā kunannamā |  keśīviṣasya pātreṇa yad rudreṇāpibat saha ||
Meaning: Ajita, who is vAyu as he moves towards his devotees, ie, the devas  and hurts the asurAs (kunannamA), churned the ocean to bring up (the poison) for (Rudra). He who is the indweller of Brahma and ISa(keSI), making Rudra as the instrument (vessel), drank the poison.
The individual meanings of the words in the rk are as follows:
vAyuH – Ajita, He who moves towards his devotees (the devas), asma – for Rudra, upAmanthat – stirred up, ie, churned the ocean to bring up (the poison), pinasHTismA – hurt, kunannamA – that which is hard/violent (the asurAs), keSI - He who abides as the self of Brahma (ka) and Siva (Isa), viShasya – of the poison pAtrEna - as a vessel (instrument), yad – which, rudrEna saha - making Rudra, apibat - drank
Having explained all the tattvas in a specific way (pertaining to the samudra mathanam) as well as in a more general way (pertaining to all jivAs and not just those involved in the samudra mathanam), the sUkta concludes by pointing out that the poison was drunk by bhagavAn using rudra as his instrument.
“vAyuH”is a name of vishNu and occurs in the sahasranAma. This name is interpreted by Bhattar as “he who moves towards his devotees” as mentioned before. The name suits Ajita, the form of bhagavAn who churned the Ocean perfectly. Ajita came to help the devas churn the ocean when they were fatigued. In order to ensure the devas obtained the amRta, he cleverly employed the asurAs by tempting them with the amRta as well and later on made sure that despite their hard work, the asurAs did not overcome the devas. So, Ajita favoured the devas over the asurAs and hence he is vAyuH.
This Ajita, known as vAyuH, was one manifestation of bhagavAn. The other manifestation of bhagavAn who helped the devas was the antaryAmin of Rudra. He is addressed here separately from Ajita as “keSI” – etymologically as seen earlier, the name means “he who abides in, or is the inner self of Ka and ISa”.
In order to differentiate AjitA and the antaryAmin of Rudra as two different avatArAs, the rk thus uses the terms "vAyu" and "keSI" to connote each of them based on their deeds.
The term “Rudra” is used to denote Shiva here. “Rudra” means “One who weeps” – rOdayati iti rudra. He got this name because he wept on being born after realising he was “anapahatapApma” or not cleansed of karmas. So, by using this name, the rk asserts two things –
  1. As Shiva cried due to his “anapahatapApmatva”, bhagavAn made him the instrument to drink the poison and hence enabled Shiva to cleanse his karmas (as he has acted in favour of bhagavAn). What pleases bhagavAn is puNya, what displeases him is pApa karma. Shiva thus acquired merit in this incident.

  1. Since Shiva is known as “Rudra” – One who wept on being born due to karmas, he is not capable of drinking the poison independently. He only drunk it because the antaryAmin empowered him to. This meaning also comes out in addressing him as Rudra here.

  1. In comparison to the devas, Shiva was called “agni” in the first rk – he who leads the devas. That is an indication of Shiva’s glory as the chief of the devas. But here, in comparison to nArAyaNa, he is rudra – one who weeps because he still has karmas – this indicates he is a jivAtma subject to nArAyaNa.
Thus, this mantra shows that Rudra was used as an instrument, ie, a vibhUti of bhagavAn, and that that it was Rudra’s inner self, namely nArAyaNa, who drank the poison by using the former as his instrument. And this also corroborates the stuti of Shiva in the bhAgavatam being interpreted as pratIkOpAsaNa and Shiva referring to Hari as “sarvAtma” in the same section. 
Sharabha and Narasimha
Now that we have seen the kEshi sUkta, let us get something else finished here as well, this has been something of a loose end. It is a sad thing that whenever a simple google search is done on Narasimha, we get biased shaiva stories claiming that Sharabha killed Narasimha. This story has no basis whatsoever because:
  1. Narasimha is Parabrahman and cannot be overcome by anybody.

  1. This story goes against the meaning of the authoritative shAstra.

  1. This story is only found in the tAmasa purAnas like shivapurAna, which are fit to be rejected and have been done so by all vedAntins.
As if this story was not enough, there is another addition in the form of “pratyangira devi” doing the rounds, whereby Narasimha was suppressed by Sharabha and Sharabha in turn was suppressed by Pratyangira Devi (supposedly a form of Parvati)!
Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see the deep ignorance and absurdity of these stories. While the sharabha story is found in the tAmasa purAnas, this “pratyangira devi” story is found in the mArkendEya purAna, which again, is a rAjasa purAna and fit to be discarded. The idea of one deity progressively suppressing the other only evokes laughter and shows the inherent tAmasatva of these stories.
The truth regarding the Sharabha-Narasimha incident
The anger of Narasimha, which persisted after the destruction of Hiranyakasipu, frightened the devas, upon which they approached Shiva and sought his help. Shiva, being flattered by their praises, was overcome by tamOguNa. Although Shiva is a yOgi by nature who is always meditating on Sankarshana (and hence, Narasimha), this time, due to tamO guNa which is vishNu mAyA, his intellect became clouded and he was unable to recognise Narasimha as his own upAsya mUrthy. Thus, he appeared in the form of Sharabha to engage in battle with Bhagavan.
Narasimha destroyed Sharabha in battle with his mere nails as he did in the case of Hiranyakasipu. The great sri Vaishnava AchAryan, srIkUrEsha, reiterates this in his work, “srIathimAnushastava” as follows:
kreeDaavidhE: parikaras tava yaa tu maayaasaa mOhinee na katam asya tu hanta! jantO:!Hi! Martya simha vapus tavat tEjasOmsESambhur bhavan hi sarabha: salabhO babhoova //
(~SrI AthimAnusha Stava)
Meaning: Oh bhagavAn (sriman nArAyaNa)! Your mAya indeed benumbs the intellect of all living beings. Did not Shiva who took the form of a strange and mighty animal (supposed to have eight legs and wings) called Sharabha get burnt down in just one small spark of your rage like a moth that perishes in the blaze of fire??
A great scholar, Sri Srinivasacharya swami quotes an ancient SlOka on these lines:
namOstu narasimhaaya lakshmee sthiti jitakudE /yad krOdaagnou puraa roudra: Sarabha: salabhaayatE //
Meaning: Salutations to Narasimha, who is situated in Lakshmi, and plays (?). By whose fire of anger, the body of the ferocious Sharabha was burnt to ashes like a moth perishing in a blaze.
The AchAryan here is alluding to the destruction of Sharabha being an effortless act of Narasimha, who is sarvasaktan, and tavasastavIyan (stronger than the strongest). Here, the quality of agatitagaTanA sAmarthyam (reconciling contradictions) is also seen in BhagavAn Narasimha. While normally a Sharabha is stronger than a Lion, this was a case where a Sharabha was killed by a Lion. This was indeed an astonishing leela of bhagavAn!
The incident of Narasimha killing Sharabha is justified by the sAttvika purAnas, which alone are authority and faithful to shruti. Here are the pramAnams quoted by both sri Vaishnava AchAryas and mAdhvas (slokas culled from rAmAnuja and mAdhva discussion groups):
hantum abyaagatam roudram sarabham narakEsaree /Nakhair vidaarayaamaasa hiraNyakasipum yathaa // (~varAha purAna)
Meaning: The half-man, half-lion (Narasimha) killed the violent Sharabha who had approached him (for battle) by lacerating Sharabha with his nails in a similar manner as in the case of Hiranyakasipu.
tau yudhyamAnau cha chiraM vegena balavattamau |na samaM jagmaturdevau nR^isiMhasharabhAkR ^itI ||tataH kR^iddho mahAkAyo nR^isiMho bhImavikramaH |sahasrakarajAnatra tasya gAtre nyaveshayat. h ||patitaM bhImamatyugraM nR^isiMhaH sharabhaM ruShA |jaghAna nishitaistIxNaiH nakhairnakhavarAyud haH || sharabhe tasmin.h raudre madhuniShUdanam. h |tuShTuvuH puNDarIkAxaM devA devarShayastathA || (~Padma Purana)
Meaning: The two powerful devas -  Narasimha and Sharabha, who have no equal  in the Universe, fought a prolonged, fierce and violent battle. As a result of that altercation, the large bodied Narasimha (and thus superior in prowess), who possesses terrific valor that controls the asurAs and prevents anything from going against his will (bhIma vikramaH), whose limbs appeared to have a thousand nails (ie, limitless power in his nails) was angered. Being in (that state of) rage, Narasimha, who is terrible to the adharmIs (bhIma) and becomes extremely formidable when the adharmIs continue to remain bent on adharma (ugra), killed Sharabha using his sharp and fierce nails. Sharabha had incited the Slayer of Madhu to wrath and so, the lotus eyed one (pundarIkAksha) was appeased by (the prayers) of the devas and devarishis.
“madhusUdhana” – “madhu” refers to rAjO guNa which in turn is the cause for desire, that leads to anger that is tamO guNa. Just as the Lord killed the asura madhu, so did he kill Sharabha who possessed anger born of tamO guNa.
“pundarIkAksha” – Since he has lotus like eyes that are reddish due to always looking at the golden complexion of the compassionate srI mahAlakshmi, the Lord is easily assuaged and made peaceful due to the mediatorship of lakshmi.
He resurrected Shiva back to life upon the prayers of the devas.
nikR^itya bAhUrushirA vajrakalpamukhairna khaiH |merupR^iShThe nR^isiMhena sharabhashchAtha so.apatat.h || (~vAmana purAna)
Meaning: Chopping off many heads (of Sharabha) with his nails that were equal to adamantine (vajra), Narasimha who towered like Meru (mountain), also (in addition to hiranyakasipu) overcame Sharabha.
a chaJNchupaJNchAnana maShTapAdaM paxadvayADhyaM ghananIlagAtram. h |sphuranmahAtIvrasah asrahastaM sahasrashastraM sharabhasvarUpam. h ||karadAdaya pratyekaM mukhaM chaJNchupuTadvayam. h |vidArya cha nR^isiMhastaM hiraNyakashipuM yathA | (~kUrma purAna)
Meaning:The form of Sharabha had a beak, the face of a lion, with 8 feet and limbs which were a dense black color. It was throbbing with the intensity (of anger), had bloodied hands, with a thousand weapons. Narasimha, acting mercilessly as in the case of hiranyakasipu tore apart with his hands (ie, nails), the beaks on every single one of Sharabha’s faces at their folds.
tataH kshaNena sharabho nAdapUritadiN^ .hmukhaH |abhyAshamagamadviSh Norvyanadadbhair avasv anam.h ||sa tamabhyAgataM dR^iShTvA nR^isiMhaH sharabhaM ruShA |nakhairvidArayAmAsa hiraNyakashipuM yathA || (~Agni Purana)
Meaning: Thereupon, in a moment, the sound from Sharabha’s mouth intensified in all directions, approaching vishNu (the all-pervading one) with a terrible roar. Narasimha, having seen that arrival of Sharabha with that (sound), became furious and disposed (of Sharabha) with his nails as he did in the case of Hiranyakasipu.
Note the usage of “vishNu” – all-pervasive. The idea is that Sharabha was searching for and moving towards the One who is already everywhere and hence can never be caught unawares – such is the wonder of the incident. BhagavAn can appear out of the pillar in an instant and as the isavasya Upanishad says, he overtakes the moving as he pervades everywhere. So, the question of Sharabha arriving unlooked for does not arise.
All these clearly shows that Narasimha destroyed Sharabha. The purAnas state further that when Narasimha was appeased by PrahlAda, he resurrected Shiva back to life upon the prayers of pArvati.
As a random extra bit of information, “Sharabha” is a name of vishNu as well and occurs in the sahasranAma (atulas sharabhO bhIma) and is interpreted by srI parAsara bhattar as the destroyer of the adharmIs (sRnAti iti sarabhaH).
Therefore, the supremacy of Narasimha alone is seen in this incident.


  1. Veerashaiva, Subbu has indulged in his favorite pastime - trying to "refute" our articles. Take a look at his hilarious diatribes on our recent "keshi sUkta" article:

    Well, note that he hardly addresses any of the points in the article and digresses into a jumble of gibberish among which is interspersed random and irrelevant quotes from vishnu sahasranama, madhusudhana saraswati and others. I think everyone on this blog understands him by now.

    However, let us address just two of his points which he makes. His accusation is as follows:

    Veerashaiva says: In his enthusiasm to vilify Śiva, the blogger has exhibited his ignorance of basic Sanskrit grammar. ...... The root ‘rud’, when used in the singular present third person (prathama puruṣa) is: ‘roditi’ as shown in the following dictionary:....What the blogger has given, however, is the causative form of the same root, which means ‘to make one weep..’:रोदयति { रुद् } rodayati { rud } verb caus. cause to weep or lament..."

    ANSWER: Fine, Fine. I don't see any need to whine about it. In a hurry, I simply copied and pasted "rodayati" from my older articles. It should be "rud-iti-rudra" for rudra when the name designates Shiva and "rodayati" when it designates narayana.

    No sanskrit ignorance, but unlike you who are spending your retirement on vitanda vada, we actually have lives outside of the net and hence sometimes make minor errors while typing up articles. Anyway, thank you for pointing it out.

    HBB, please make the change. First time Veerashaiva actually made sense in his life, I must say.

    Veerashaiva says: Now, when according to the blogger, Lord Śiva is a jñāni (which the blogger accepts), where is the need to ‘cleanse’ the karmas? The Mundakopanishat 2.2.9 says: भिद्यते–हृदयग्रन्थिश्छिद्यन्ते–सर्वसंशयाः। क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन्दृष्टे परावरे ॥ ९ ॥ [Upon obtaining the direct realization of the Supreme, all karma-s are destroyed…(excepting prārabdha karmas, which, however, have to be expended only by experiencing).]

    ANSWER: Maybe you haven't noticed, but we use "jnAni" in vishishtadvaitic terms. In vishishtadvaita, a jnAni is someone who realises he has karmas because he has understood his miserable plight. It is not the same as advaitic definition of jnAni. Basically, shiva is a jnAni who cried when he realised he had karmas and hence was cleansed of those karmas obstructing experience of Brahman.

    FYI, our interpretation of the mundaka is even different from advaita. We say that all karmas, including prArabdha are destroyed by direct perception. So clam up.

    As far as advaita goes, Sridhara clarifies in his vishNu purAna vyAkhyAna that shiva has the supreme knowledge of vishNu (paramEsvara) and his crying therefore is a play to obey his father Brahma (during the naming) since jnAnis do not cry. Note however, that Sridhara only says Shiva's crying was a play; he does not deny that shiva has prarabdha and also places shiva here as one who has vishNu jnAna and hence lower to vishNu.


  2. Contd...

    Veerashaiva says: when Śiiva has no karma to be ‘cleansed’ where is the question of the ‘drinking’ of the poison ‘cleansing’ him and his ‘acquiring’ merit?

    Answer: Duh.

    At birth, Shiva acquired names to cleanse himself of karmas obstructing his knowledge of Brahman. He became a yogi, but just like Vishvamitra, he is still prone to tamas (as evidenced by incidents when he fought vishNu, etc) and hence performs acts like swallowing poison and getting vishNu pAda teertha on his head to cleanse himself of karmas. As old karmas are cleansed, new actions often result in new karmas.

    Again, our Veerashaiva has no knowledge of Vishishtadvaita. Heck, even his advaita knowledge is half baked...or quarter baked, if such a word exists!

    Veerashaiva asks: How can the devas approach Śiva, who is a sinner, to save them

    Answer: Every guru, be it Shankara, Ramanuja or Madhva, are born due to prarabdha karma (of course, we sri vaishnavas believe acharya was an avatara of a nitya suri, adi sesha, but for the sake of veerashaiva, humor this argument). That doesn't make them unworthy of reverence. "sinner" does not mean Shiva is a bad person, merely that he, like everyone, has papa karmas too. The idea is that he is more elevated than the other devas and acts as a guru.

    Veerashaiva asks: hen Śiva has attained the position of ‘Mahādeva’ could he still be a ‘weeping’ baby?

    Answer: It was a name given to him by Brahma to cleanse him of his karmas. By the ascetic power of Brahma, whatever name he gave to Shiva became a reality. "Mahadevas sarvamedhe..." - here "Mahadeva" does not mean "Great Lord". "mahAn" refers to intellect and refers to his jnAna. This interpretation is necessary since he had this name by birth itself and only later became "devadeva" or lord of devas by performing a yajna.

    Veerashaiva says: Contrary to what the blogger reports, the deva-s praise Śiva as the Cause of creation, etc. Even otherwise, when Śiva is ‘loka samhāra kartā’ as per the VS bhashya of Shankara, and also the Praśnopaniṣat and bhāṣya, where the entire created universe is absorbed...

    Answer: And the comedy continues. Prasnopanishd, Prasnopanishad, Prasnopanishad, Siva, Siva, Siva. Veerashaiva is such a one dimensional person.

    You still ignore Shankara's opinion of Rudra as a tAmasa devata in "bhUta krt". The prasnOpanishad bhAshya is only an elaboration of vibhUtis for the sake of upAsana. Already explained and not dwelling on it further.

    Veerashaiva says: there is no reference in the Bhagavatam or any other puranas where the Amṛtamathanam event is alluded to that ‘Rudra was weeping because of his karmas’ when the churning took place.

    Answer: For a dull headed person like you, there is no reference. For everyone else who reads this blog and your diatribes, the references are plenty.


  3. Veershaiva says: Vaiśampāyana addresses Janamejaya and recounts Kṛṣṇa giving the etymology for His names. In that dialogue, Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna about the prayer the former made to Śiva for progeny:

    रुद्रो नारायणश्चैव सत्त्वमेकं द्विधा कृतम्। 12.350.27 a लोके चरति कौन्तेय व्यक्तिस्थं सर्वकर्मसु।। “ b It is one Truth that treads the world in the twin-form of Rudra and Narayana….

    Answer: What are they, siamese twins? Quoting Ganguly and you call us ignorant of sanskrit grammar!

    The simple translation is this - The tattvam of Rudra is nArAyaNa, as he is the antaryAmin of Rudra. Hence, "Rudra and Narayana are the same tattva only means, they are eka tattva by virtue of Rudra being the body of Narayana (yasya atma sarIra) and hence by sAmAnAdhikaraNyam, is equated to nArAyaNa. Just as "jack" denotes both jack's soul and jack's body, the term "Rudra" extends to his soul which is Narayana.

    That one tattva nArAyaNa appears as two - as the antaryAmin of Rudra and also in a suddha sattva form that is unique to himself. It is SharIrAtma bhAva.

    Veerashaiva says: I, Brahmâ and Lord S’iva as well, do not differ in being the supreme cause and Supersoul, the witness and the self-sufficient one of the material manifestation.) Him the Supreme Brahmân that is without a second, is as one Supersoul with both Brahmâ and S’iva, but the living ones who are not conversant with this, think of them as being separate. (53) The way a person sometimes does not make a difference between the head, hands and other parts of his own body, so does My devotee thus make no difference between living beings. (54) He who having the one nature of the three, verily does, of the Supersoul in all beings, not see the separateness, o brahmin, realizes the peace.’

    Answer: Same meaning. Note that he even says "there is no difference in other living beings". All this is not identity, but oneness because of the body-self analogy. SharIrAtma bhAva - everything is vishNu by virtue of being his body.

    Veerashaiva says: he Keṣī sūktam never has anything to do with the amṛta mathanam episode. Yet, the Mādhvas have taken it to be ‘Vāyu’ drinking up the essence of the poison and rendering it harmless for Śiva to ‘safely’ drink and not Visnu as the blogger has it. For Advaitins it is completely a different topic in that sūktam. There was no need for Nārāyaṇa to drink the poison ‘through’ Śiva and ‘give him the credit’.

    Answer: That is an argument between us, Madhvas and true Advaitins who are vaishnavas. Why are YOU butting in as you are neither of those?

    Whether madhvas interpret it as vAyu devata or true advaitins take a different approach, all 3 agree that vishNu is supreme. No difference in that aspect. Not for pseudo advaitins or veerashaivas like you.

    Veerashaiva: f the devas praise really was addressed to Nārāyaṇa, why did they all, along with Viṣṇu who was very much there, approach Śiva in His abode?

    Answer: Note that Vishnu is addressed in that bhagavata section repeatedly as Vaikunta. The etymology of the name is "he who connects the jiva in Yoga to Brahman. The devas approached shiva because - 1) it is the desire of bhagavan that he be worshipped as the antaryAmin of shiva, 2) the devas themselves were upAsakas and had sama drShti, for them, the vishNu in rudra was as directly perceptible as the vishNu standing with them, so no question of saying this was an indirect method 3) the devas being jnAnis knew that bhagavan as the antayAmin of shiva would do this act and not the other manifestations.

    It is silly to say this was indirect since the devas are superior beings and they could see the antaryAmin as clearly as the form of vishNu standing beside them. There is no difference in that respect for them. Only we cannot see it. They see brahman everywhere.

  4. Veerashaiva says: Rudra’, here is what Shankara says, as one of the meanings, for the word ‘Rudra’ in the Viṣṇusahasranāma bhāṣyam, citing a Śivapurāṇam (tāmasa purāṇa according to the blogger: verse:

    (114th): रुर्दुःखं दुःखहेतुं वा तद् द्रावयति यः प्रभुः । रुद्र इत्युच्यते तस्माच्छिवः परमकारणम् ॥ (samhitā 6, ch.9, verse 14) (‘Ruḥ’ means misery or the cause thereof. This is destroyed, melted away, by Rudra. Hence the Supreme Lord, Shiva, who is the Ultimate Cause (of creation, etc.) is called ‘Rudra’). Shankara is establishing the Hari-Hara abheda by citing the above verse for the name ‘Rudra’ in the VS.

    Answer: Shankara is only citing the tamasa puranas for the etymology. As we have repeatedly mentioned before, those parts of tamasa puranas which do not contradict shruti are acceptable. Shankara does not quote lingodbhava, etc but he, and also sri ramanuja, quote these sections from tamasa puranas. This etymology is only applied for vishNu here.

    Shankara himself clarifies rudra is under tamas and has an antarAtma in the same bhAshya for bhUta brt.

    Veershaiva says: Śrīdharaswāmin comments: तर्हि “यद्यद्आचरति श्रेष्ठः”इतिन्यायेनान्योऽपि कुर्यात् इत्याशङ्क्याह, नैतदिति । अनीश्वरो देहादिपरतन्त्रः यथा रुद्रव्यतिरिक्तो विषमाचरन्भक्षयन् । [Then, is it that whatever the Great ones do, that can be imitated/followed by others too? Not so. He who is not a master of his body-mind-senses, that is, one who is other than Rudra (who is a master of his body-mind-senses) were to consume that poison…]

    So, in the opinion of Śuka (Veda Vyāsa), Rudra is extraordinary and is held as an example of having accomplished the feat of drinking the poison and not affected by it

    Answer: Blah, blah, blah. Nobody denies Rudra has the mastery of body, senses etc and he drank the poison. Nobody denies Vishvamitra had the power to create svarga. These acts are due to their austerity and hence the ultimat glory is for narayana only.

    Then he rambles on and on without even referencing our articles with no purpose. He even quotes gita verse:

    I serve men in the way in which they approach me’ (Bha. Gî. IV, 11).//

    Which he fails to understand is only a reference to the forms of bhagavan which are uniquely his. If someone thinks a frog is brahman, it does not mean bhagavan is a frog.

    So much for that. I think this will do. His other ramblings in that write-up are jus off topic and need not be considered. If readers want clarifications, feel free to ask us.

  5. Additionally, it's amusing to note how Veerashaiva has run out of ideas. Besides desperately quoting ganguly translations and irrelevant chunks of advaita Bhashyas, he is unable to address anything directly and hence decides to exaggerate a simple proof reading error in which we wrote "rodayati" instead of "ruditi". And accuses us of sanskrit ignorance despite the fact that our blog suggedts the exact opposote. Considering that we do not copy paste like he does, and have just published an entire commentary, would it not be rational to conclude that it was a typo rather than claiming a single word error as an ignorance of sanskrit? Only a humongous attention seeking prat would make this the focal point of an argument.

    Note also, he asks stupid questions like "why devas seek the help of a sinner like Shiva?" etc. These are not even pUrvapakSha as they are simply born out of his own inadequate understanding of terminologies - they sound like the ravings of a desperate ignoramus. Case in point - he thinks the worship of antaryAmin is indirect and unnecessary when vishNu is already present. Does the sukta not indicate that the devas are "munis" who have a direct sakshatkara and can see the antaryAmin as well as viShNu beside them? They did not see Shiva there, they had tattva darshana and saw vishNu. And they eulogised that form which they knew would drink the poison - corroborated by the rk using different names "keSi" and "vAyu".

    Glad 5o see our blog is having the desired effect - destabilising the already degenerated mind of viTanda vadins.

  6. ADD:

    "hen Śiva has attained the position of ‘Mahādeva’ could he still be a ‘weeping’ baby?"

    I think by this Q, Veerashaiva means to ask how Shiva can be called as one who cries when he is now mahAdeva. After all, he only cried during his birth.

    The answer is that he is still known by that name as Brahma gave it to him. The rk calls him rudra specifically to remind that he was the one who cried at birth but now has become mahAdeva and was used as a vessel by narayana to drink the poison, thus showing how he has attained a venerable state by bhagavad krupa. I think we clarified that pretty well.

    This really is the last one. As I said before, readers can contact us for questions, though I doubt any true neutral has objections.

  7. Sorry to persist again with this, but just one more.

    Veerashaiva says: there is no reference in the Bhagavatam or any other puranas where the Amṛtamathanam event is alluded to that ‘Rudra was weeping because of his karmas’ when the churning took place.

    Answer : wow, incredible stupidity! We glossed over this part earlier because we didn't guess the lows your IQ could plummet to. You absolute dunce , nobody claims that rudra was crying during the samudra mathanam. The rk simply calls him "rudra" to highlight that this devata who cried because he had papa karmas during the time of his birth was now made a vessel by bhagavan to drink the poison - thus highlighting how bhagavan has fulfilled the desires of rudra by elevating him to such a lofty position as a prime vibhUti.

    It does not mean he is still crying, you twit. The significance of the rk calling shiva as rudra here is to show that the jivAtma used by bhagavan to drink the poison is the same one that cried recognising it's papa karmas during birth - nArAyaNa has elevated shiva in this manner by his grace and such acts add virtue to Shiva. We already explained the significance in the 3 points of the commentary given under this rk.

    Seems like you do not even understand English.

    I apologise to our readers for persisting with this argument despite promising to end it, but his stupidity is so chronic that it took some time to realise his understanding could be THIS bad. Just wow.

    Enough now.

  8. I think the ignoramus misunderstood this sentence we wrote in the article,. Not that anyone with some english knowledge would mistake it:

    "As Shiva cried due to his “anapahatapApmatva”, bhagavAn made him the instrument to drink the poison and hence enabled Shiva to cleanse his karmas (as he has acted in favour of bhagavAn). What pleases bhagavAn is puNya, what displeases him is pApa karma. Shiva thus acquired merit in this incident."

    What we meant here is that shiva cried during his birth and not that he cried during the samudra mathanam. At that time of his birth itself, he wanted to become great and renowned. He became known as rudra since then. The rk signifies that the same being who cried during his birth was made as a vessel by bhagavan and thus became exalted --- thus highlighting how bhagavan by his grace fulfills the desires of all.

  9. Dear Sri Aryamaa:

    Excellent analysis and replies.

    Thanks & Rgds,

    1. Thank you.

      On an unrelated note, readers might like to know that adi shankara's quote from the shiva purana for the etymology of rudra comes from a section of the kailasa samhita of shiva purana.This particular set of slokas explain the meanings of terms like "shiva", "maheshwara", "rudra" in a neutral manner - for instance, it says paramAtma is "shiva" because he is the substratum of all kalyana gunas and so on.

      This bunch of slokas is a sAttvika part of the tAmasa purana as it does not attribute these names to parvati pati and simply gives vedantic meanings. It has also been quoted by srI vaishnava acharyas like Sri parasara bhattar. In fact, Sri ranga ramanuja muni gives the same meaning of "maheshwara" as in this section of shiva purana while commenting on the svetasvatara upanishad and then explains that this maheshwara is Narayana.

      Several other such sattvika sections of shiva, skanda, linga puranas have been quoted by all sri vaishnava Acharyas, as well as advaitins and dvaitins. It is necessary to pick and choose carefully from the tamasa puranas as majority of their content is worthless barring such slokas, which is what all vaidikas have done.

      Just an extra bit of information for the interested. This is why we leave it to the wise acharyas who can navigate through the shastras.

  10. Veerashaiva has come back with another piffling response. We are quite tired of this loafer; but I think we should have simply ignored him from the start since he only speaks gibberish. Nonetheless, one last rebuttal. This will clarify everything and then no matter what tripe he posts, he can keep it.


  11. First, Veerashaiva seems gleeful that we actually answered his rebuttals. Its true, a mountain should never take notice of an ant. Also you would notice that there is not *one* place in his refutation where he addresses the keshi sUkta, but again long winding passages of shankara, advaita, etc.

    So, let us commence on this journey one last time. By this, I mean the last unless some reader bring up anything to us directly by email...


  12. Veerashaiva now gives a new spin to Shankara Bhashya on bhUta brt, bhUta krt - "तमोगुणमास्थाय स रुद्रात्मना भूतानि कृन्तति कृणोति हिनस्तीति भूतकृत् [(that very Pure Consciousness called Viśṇu) as Rudra, assuming Tamoguṇa, destroys all beings. Hence He is called ‘bhūtakṛt’.] Shankara is saying this not of Shiva but of Vishnu. The word ‘sa’ pronoun only refers to Vishnu and not Shiva. So, Shankara nowhere ‘opines’ that Rudra is a tāmasa devatā. In fact what Shankara says there, amounts to saying that Vishnu is the tāmasa devatā as Rudra"

    Answer: As usual, twist what is written. The antaryAmin in advaita is iSvara who is nirguNa brahman in essence. Here, Shankara identifies vishNu as "rudrAtmaNa" because tamas is a quality possessed by Vishnu *as the inner self* of Rudra. Thus, it shows he does not possess tamas directly, rather it is Rudra who possesses tamas and hence by virtue of antaryAmitvam, it is referred to Vishnu. Similarly for rajas, Shankara uses "virincarUpEna" which clearly means vishNu has rajas through the form of Brahma. Again, it is Brahma who creates through rajas. Vishnu through the form of Brahma also implies antaryAmitva but here "rUpena" is used as opposed to "AtmaNa" since creation is literally a transformation of brahma's body.

    Whereas, for protection, Shankara says "sattva prathishtaya" showing vishnu is verily saguna brahman. There is no "vishNu rupEna" or "visNorAtmana".

    Nobody is going to swallow your tripe that Vishnu refers to nirguNa brahman especially when it's the sahasranama. So shut it.

  13. Veerashaiva says: The queer logic of the bloggers gets exposed here too. They want all heroic acts like drinking the poison to be attributed to Vishnu but do not want the ‘tāmasa’ attribute to go to him. If Shiva is a vibhuti of Vishnu, as the bloggers claim, in drinking the poison, why and how does the same Shiva cease to be a vibhuti, that too when it is Vishnu, according to Shankara, that bears the tamoguna while engaging in destruction or while weeping?

    Answer: I leave this to the readers. His statements are so idiotic that it actually becomes funny! Not a modicum of understanding!

    Oh Veerashaiva, what a struggle your post retirement life is. Get a hobby like playing video games at least!

  14. Veerashaiva: He can never succeed in showing just one, let alone plenty, reference in support of ‘Rudra was weeping’ during the amrtha mathanam.’ Quite contrary to the claims of the bloggers, the very Bhagavatam describes the state of Shiva when the devas, finding themselves

    ANSWER: Ignoramus, we never said rudra was crying during the samudra mathanam. The significance of the rk using the name "rudra" as opposed to Shiva or girisha is to show that Shiva is an entity with papa karmas as he cried *during birth*. And hence, swallowing the poison is something that accrues merit for him, something that he cannot do independently. The rk simply points out that the same being who cried during birth due to karmas has now been elevated.

    So hard to comprehend, is it? That thick skull needs tapping. You don't understand english or Context. We seriously don't think anyone other than you required a spoon feeding when we wrote that vyakhyana . When the Satapatah itself shows he is named rudra on account of crying during his birth, it is implicit that it refers only to the fact that he has papa karmas.

    Note, the rk uses the name to show he has papa karmas. He is not crying now but the state of having karmas remains and hence it shows he was made a vessel to drink the poison.

  15. Veerashaiva: There is no advaitin who has commented on the Keshi suktam except Sayana who never takes it as related to the amrtha mathanam. So, bringing in advaitins of any color here is irrelevant. Also, it is only the bloggers’ pet theory that advaitins are vaishnavas. There is absolutely no evidence to that.}

    ANSWER: This is very funny. We write a vishishtadvaitic commentary on keshi sukta. You barge in with a rubbish article in which you quote Shankara, Sridhara, madhusudhana, etc. You do not have the know-how to refute ONE word of anything in the sukta, so you randomly digress into advaitic stuff that has no relevance to the subject in hand.

    You introduce this nonsense and then you accuse us of irrelevance?

    Additionally let us clarify one thing. Sayana/Vidyaranya and Appayya were of the same ilk. By their time shaiva philosophy had penetrated into advaita. So their commentaries hold no water and are not a pramANa to justify practices of ancient advaitins.

    Our poor Veerashaiva reveals his dilemma here - there is no commentary on keshi sukta he can cling to other than Sayana. Being the copy paste expert he is, this has crippled his ability to coherently refute our interpretations since the only other alternative is the mAdhva interpretation (which he again can't accept). Caught like a rabbit in a trap, he launched into an irrelevant rambling using advaitic copy paste work.

    So, you are sad no true advaitin has written a commentary on keshi sukta? Never fear. We have a clear indication that advaitins of the past would have no hesitation in accepting that it talks of shiva swallowing the poison due to the grace of vishNu. For, you forget Sridhara's statement in the bhagavata purana in the commentary for verse 8.7.21 where the devas begin their prayer to the antaryAmin of shiva:

    "nirguNa saguna caiva siva hariparAkramaih
    stuvantastu prajesAnA nAmayantAntaram tayoH"

    Shiva is praised with the parAkrama of Hari. This is the clear statement of Sridhara who elsewhere also clarifies rudra is a vishnu bhakta who is under tam guNa upAdhIs.

    This is a pretty good proof that ancient advaitins too had 5he same opinion. You can rant or twist their words but truth will always prevail.

  16. Veerashaiva says: It is an etymology of the Sivapuranam to refer to Shiva as the Paramakāraṇam and not Vishnu. So, Shankara’s citing it here is undoubtedly only to establish Hari-Hara abheda. Shankara would not cite an etymology that clearly applies to Shiva of the Shivapuranam in the VS unless he sees the abheda, and that too, not of the non-advaitin type of desperately adding that ‘as antaryāmi….shareera-Atma bhāva’ etc.

    Answer: Unfortunately for you, that "shiva" term specified as paramakaranam is also a common noun and applicable to narayana only. So Shankara used it directly to denote Hari. Makes all the more sense since he was commenting on Vishnu sahasranama. Ancient advaitins have several times taken shiva as a common noun.

    It is like the upanishad which states that the kAraNam is Shambhu which is again Narayana only. And even vaishnava acharyas have used it.

  17. Veerashaiva says: Shankara cites two seminal verses from the Bhaviṣyottara purāṇa in the introduction to the VS:

    Maheśvara (Śiva) says:

    विष्णोरन्यं तु पश्यन्ति ये मां ब्रह्माणमेव वा ।

    कुतर्कमतयो मूढाः पच्यन्ते नरकेष्वधः ॥

    [Those fools who, devoid of proper thinking, consider Me and Brahmā as different from Viṣṇu will be baked in the lowly hells.]

    ये च मूढा दुरात्मानो भिन्नं पश्यन्ति मां हरेः ।

    ब्रह्माणं च ततस्तस्माद् ब्रह्महत्यासमं त्वघम् ॥

    [Those fools, wicked ones, by seeing Me and Brahmā as different from Hari are committing the heinous sin of brahmahatyā.]

    Surely, Shankara, while citing these two, coming from Shiva, is not acknowledging the ‘antaryāmi type’ oneness. 

    Answer: Notice the comedy here. Our Veerashaiva desperately twists meanings and says "vishNu" means nirguNa brahman, madhu vidyA is a nirguNa vidyA etc wherever they occur. But in genuine places where Shankara indicates non duality at the paramArthika sat, he claims this is identity of deities!

    Trying to turn advaita upside down, are we?

    According to advaita, Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra are the same in essence (nirguNa tattva) and that is what Shankara implies by those verses. However, as Shankara himself shows in the bhAShya for bhUta brt, bhUta krt and Sridhara shows in bhagavata vyakhyana, under upAdhis, the 3 are differentiated. Vishnu only is under sattva upAdhis and hence alone is saguna.

  18. Veerashaiva says: The Bhāgavata clearly says: arakṣyamāṇāḥ śaraṇaḿsadāśivam A tattva darshi need not take refuge in anyone. He transcends all needs.

    Answer: Sadasivam is name of Narayana only. That whole section is a praise of "sarvatma hari" only. I need not say much here. Readers can refer to the advaitic, vishishtadvaitic and dvaitins commentaries for this section on our blog. Veerashaiva finds no quarter from even Sridhara who attributes siva's parakrama to hari.

  19. Veerashaiva:Why should the Rk remind anyone about Rudra’s weeping, which is after all a play according to Sridhara?

    Answer: Finally you understand that the rk wants to remind us Rudra wept during his birth. Good, its a start to growing a brain.

    The reason is because the rk reminds us that rudra wept as he had papa karmas and hence shows - 1) he is not paramatma, 2) he thus does not have the power to do things independently, 3) He requires the help of keSi, ie, vishNu to swallow the poison, 4) He gained punya from the incident, ie such deeds of rudra give him merit.

    Read the 3 points in the commentary. In fact, read our articles again. You might just grow a brain then.

    Veerashaiva:Also, why should one rely on that meaning for the name Rudra, while Shankara has cited from the Shivapuranam where the element: rur duḥkham duḥkhahetum vā tad drāvayati [He who eliminates the misery or the cause of misery is Rudra] not be taken?. After all the poison and the prospect of it destroying the devas did cause misery to them and Shiva by drinking it freed them of that misery. 

    Answer: Because 1) Shankara gives that etymology for Vishnu and the bhAShya is for vishNu sahasranAma, 2) Rudra is a created being who was given this name as he cried due to birth, 3) Rudra cannot grant moksha.

    That etymology is used for vishNu in Vishnu Sahasranama. Foolish to even claim vishnu sahasranAma which starts with kim ekam daivataM. is nirguNa brahman

  20. Veerashaiva says: What a pity!! Would someone want to become renowned and great by that negative epithet of Rudra with the ‘crying’ etymology? Whom do the bloggers want to deceive?

    Answer: This shows the exact quantity of your IQ. Shiva crying due to karmas is an indication of his knowledge of his true nature. It is actually a praise of his ability to recognise the truth.

    What a colossal ignoramus. Add to the fact that the name is clearly spelt out by Brahma in the Satapatha.

  21. Veerashaiva says: the above ‘clarification’ contradicts what the blogger himself claimed in another comment:

    // Veerashaiva says: there is no reference in the Bhagavatam or any other puranas where the Amṛtamathanam event is alluded to that ‘Rudra was weeping because of his karmas’ when the churning took place. Answer: For a dull headed person like you, there is no reference. For everyone else who reads this blog and your diatribes, the references are plenty.//

    Answer: haha. It's not like that. We misread what you had written earlier and thought you had said there is no reference to narayana being the drinker of the poison. We didn't think you were that stupid enough to think we claimed rudra was still crying!

    Not our fault if you are that bad. You write so much rubbish in a cramped space that we have no patience to go through it properly. And we also underestimated your stupidity. That is why this is the last time.

    You are well exposed now.

  22. Veerashaiva: The set of verses giving the etymology of select eight names of Shiva, which Shiva himself has selected, with which Shiva is to be worshiped. All the eight names are of Shiva only as specifically made clear in the verses themselves. To take them as ‘neutral’ is only pitiable. The particular section is about the ‘Pāśupata yoga’ which the purana says is based on the Shruti and is liberating in nature. This sādhana is ‘śreṣṭham’ says the purana. The eight names are ‘shiva pratipādakam’ as clearly says the purana (see line 24ab below)and not vishnupratipādakam.

    Answer: haha. Now who denies that the context of a tAmasa purana is a tAmasa devata?

    Vaidikas ate least bothered about context in a tamasa purana. What we meant is the select bunch of slokas talking about etymology are also quoted by srI vaishnava acharyas as they contain general meanings. There is no compulsion to accept the context of a tAmasa purana. Shankara has simply quoted the etymology for Rudra; and the fact that it is Vishnu sahasranama, where the bhAShya is for rudra nAma which occurs as a name of vishNu only makes it clear. "shiva paramakaranam" is only taken as vishnu here on account of those terms being common nouns. In fact that is what sri ranga ramanuja muni has done for the part on Maheshwara in that same section.

    The idea is that though the intent of the section is tAmasa, these slokas can be selected and applied in the right vaidika manner. Whereas, Shankara does not quote tales of lingodbhava, sharabha, pasupata aradhana etc precisely because those stories cannot be interpreted any other way; they are tamas. In contrast, Shankara quotes the harivamsa even where shiva says he and Brahma are sprung from vishNu, thus showing he accepts these stories.

    There are also alternate approaches to the tamasa puranas. For instance, under the vyakhyana for "tasya tathA kapyasam pundarIram eva akshini", Sri vaishnava acharyas quote the shiva purana where it says vishnu plucked out his eye and offered it to Shiva as a lotus. Then they explain that "even though the intent of the tAmasa purana is to denigrate vishnu, even in that context this purana admits vishnu alone as pundarikaksha and renowned for the beauty of his eyes"!

    This above reasoning is used by periyavacchan pillai, naM pillai in sri vaishnava sampradaya. Also of interest to note is that Sridhara uses the same logic in Vishnu Purana vyakhyana and writes "the preeminence of his (vishnu) pundarikakshatva is such that even the Siva Purana praises it!

  23. I apologise to our readers for entertaining this buffoon. We have been warned by the likes of Sri lakshminarayana and some Dvaitins regarding this character and yet we fall into the trap of humoring his tirades. I suppose it is simply sad to see how deliberate viTanda vAda becomes - if Veerashaiva seriously believed half the things he writes, he would be classified as a raving lunatic. It is clear that he picks and chooses - just before he used to say Sridhara's opinions are not necessary for advaita, now he chooses to quote Sridhara when he sees fit.

    This shall be our last communication with him.

  24. Just a clarification of my earlier statement:

    //The idea is that though the intent of the section is tAmasa, these slokas can be selected and applied in the right vaidika manner.//

    What I meant here is that though the slokas are nestled in a section of the shiva purana which has a tAmasa context, the actual meaning of the sloka, which is nothing but a general etymology of names, is sAttvika and hence can be used in the right vaidika manner. "sAttvika" is defined as that which imparts right knowledge and defining the term "rudra" as destroyer of misery is quite correct. The paramakAraNam is indeed "shiva"/"mahEshwara" as well - though it is not the devata of the tAmasa purAna but only the devata of all shAstra - nArAyaNa who is known by those names.

    Not unlike how pundarIkAkshatva is taken as pramAna from shiva purana by vaishnava acharyas even when the context is a tAmasa incident of vishNu worshipping shiva.

    Several such instances are seen in the writings of vedantins and more so in srI parAsara bhattar and srI mAdhva's works than Shankara. They use these verses appropriately.

  25. Another small correction regarding shankara's vishNu sahasranAma bhAshya:

    --- for protection, Shankara says "sattva prathishtaya" showing vishnu is verily saguna brahman. There is no "vishNu rupEna" or "visNorAtmana"----.

    That should be sattvaguṇam adhiṣṭhāya.

    One can read the explanation given by HBB for this in the link

  26. I am amazed by the time and energy being spent in writing blogs, defending sectarian interests and fighting for the supremacy of one form among the many forms of that Supreme Being. Even if Narayana or Shiva happen to see the mindless debates going on in their name they would probably have a hearty laugh at the predicament of human life wherein even gods are taken to divide people and create bitterness!!! From time immemorial, this debate of Shiva or Vishnu is going on. The very truth that there is and there has been debate on this subject shows that people have not understood the grand scheme created by Veda Vyasa for appealing to all type of people to follow the path of Dharma (where Dharma = God).

    It is absolutely ridiculous that some Vaishnava acharya accept Christ and Krishna to be same, says that Christians follow the teachings of Christ in its true spirit, but yet do not accept Shiva and Krishna to be same. For if he says that Christ is false in western countries and recommend that only Krishna is true, he would have been thrown out of the West and probably the organization he developed would have been wiped out in the bud. He was clever enough to just reconcile himself with Christ as he had an interest in growing the organization which is now spreading hatred in the name of Krishna Consciousness.

    I do not intend to waste my time in putting efforts to show the true color of these divisive fanatics. They have twisted and misinterpreted every Sanskrit verse to show that Vishnu or Krishna is supreme. Well, if that be the case, one can understand that Veda Vyasa is an avatar of Vishnu and whatever was written by him could very well be said to be written by Vishnu himself! Whatever supremacy of Shiva that has been said in the Scriptures is actually an avatar of Vishnu writing about the glories of Shiva!

    And to overcome this, these fanatics can go to the extent of claiming that wherever Shiva is praised as equal to Vishnu, it should only be an interpolation. Well there is no linguistic or literary support to prove these are interpolations. That way all the shaiva puranas could be treated as interpolations?! (into what?). There is one more method used by them namely calling these shaiva Puranas as tamasik. And this tamasik tag is given where? One of the most likely interpolations (agreed by many neutral authorities in Sanskrit grammar) in Padma Purana and other Vaishnava upa puranas.

    We should understand that Shiva Sahasranama finds place just after Vishnu Sahasranama in Mahabharata. All neutral scholars agree that it is not interpolated and both are genuine. This is sufficient to prove the mission of Veda Vyasa. That each one, by their own way, can and will reach the same God.

    1. Dear frog prince,

      The world of Vaidika religion is quite different from your little well. So stop croaking endlessly like this.

      I for one am amazed at the level of ignorance displayed by 'liberal advaitins' like you. Your shallow and parochial understanding of Vaishnavism, Vedas, and Vedanta is pitiable. You are not at fault all by yourself, for this is the widespread trend in India given the state of apathy that Hindu Indians have got themselves into.

      Not only are you too lazy and close-minded to look into the points and the in-depth analysis that we have provided here, but you also have the hubris and chutzpah to call us names. And we are not ISKCON followers, so stop this indecent blabber about how we pretend to accept Christ, for we do not. If you are decent, take up this issue elsewhere where it is relevant.

    2. // There is one more method used by them namely calling these shaiva Puranas as tamasik. And this tamasik tag is given where? //

      Shows how ignorant you are. We have provided an entire article on this (scroll to the top, look for the "Pages" section in the right-hand side) showing how the classification of Puranas into "sattva, rajas, and tamas" is explicitly mentioned in the Puranas themselves, and also logical reasons to accept them as such.

    3. Venkat G says : "We should understand that Shiva Sahasranama finds place just after Vishnu Sahasranama in Mahabharata. All neutral scholars agree that it is not interpolated and both are genuine. This is sufficient to prove the mission of Veda Vyasa. That each one, by their own way, can and will reach the same God"

      Who are these neutral scholars? For your kind information the great Shankara whom you tend claim as Shaiva/Advaitin and what not, has not even bothered to write a commentary on the spurious Siva Sahasranama. Had it really been part of original Mahabharata, why did Shankara choose Vishnu sahasranama and not the Siva Sahasranama (it appears just after Vishnu Sahasranama in the interpolated Mahabharata) This itself is sufficient to prove that your claim is absolutely dubious (BTW, venkat G claims that he knows the mission of Vyasa, WOW. Vyasa and Adi Shankara might be laughing his heart out looking at these pseudo advaitins)
      Anyone, who is truly neutral and sane enough, and had given a sincere reading to the Mahabharata, will surely agree that Siva Sahasranama is an interpolation, indeed.
      Also, using your own so called brilliant logic, there are so many neutral scholars who also completely agree that Siva sahasranama is spurious and nothing but an interpolation.

  27. In Aaryamaa's earlier comment, there is a verse of Sridhara Swami cited:

    "nirguNaM sagunaM caiva sivaM hariparAkramaih
    stuvantastu prajesAnA nAmayantAntaram tayoH"

    (the bindu "aM" was missing, possibly due to the transliteration software/font issues in Aaryama's mobile).

    "na amanyanta antAntaraM tayoH" (meaning, 'they did not consider the difference between the two') in no way implies aikya between hari and hara, as Subbu claims.

    Look at Jiva Goswami's explanation of Sridhara's statement, which fits well with other portions of Sridhara's commentary where the advaita-guru says Vishnu is superior to Siva:

    Jiva Goswami -- nirguNam ityAdi TIkApadye hariparAkramaiH iti anena hareH eva mUlatvam AyAtam | ata eva yat tadantaram asti tadapi stuti-tAtparyAt na amanyanta iti AyAti | stutishca "mahimnA stUyamAnA hi devA vIryeNa vardhante" iti vaidikanyAyena kAlakUTanAshanArtham | shrI hareH mUlatvaM tu svayaM shrI shivenaiva vakShyate --

    "puMsaH kR^ipayato bhadre sarvAtmA prIyate hariH | prIte harau bhagavati prIye.ahaM sacarAcaraH |"

    tathA navame --

    "vayaM na tAta prabhavAma bhUmni yasmin pare.anye.api ajajIvakoShAH | bhavanti kAle na bhavanti hIdR^ishAH sahasrasho yatra vayaM bhramAmaH" iti |

    "ete vayaM yasya vashe mahAtmanaH sthitAH shakuntA iva sUtrayantritA" ityAdi |

    Note that this same Subbu earlier said Sridhara's TIka on Srimad Bhagavatam is not a pramANa for advaitins, when we pointed out the following statement from the commentary:

    siddhAntastu --

    “guṇāḥ sattvādayāḥ śānta-ghora-mūḍhāḥ svabhāvataḥ
    viṣṇu-brahma-śivānāḿ ca guṇa-yantṛ-svarūpiṇām

    nāti-bhedo bhaved bhedo guṇa-dharmair ihāḿśataḥ
    sattvasya śāntyā no jātu viṣṇor vikṣepa-mūḍhate

    rajas-tamo-guṇābhyāḿ tu bhavetāḿ brahma-rudrayoḥ
    guṇopamardato bhūyas tad-amśānāḿ ca bhinnatā

    ataḥ samagra-sattvasya viṣṇor mokṣa-karī matiḥ
    aḿśato bhūti-hetuś ca tathānanda-mayī svataḥ

    aḿśatas tāratamyena brahma-rudrādi-sevinām
    vibhūtayo bhavanty eva śanair mokṣo’py anaḿśataḥ” iti

    Of course, he has no reply to these above statements of Sridhara, and hence had to say that Sridhara's commentary is not useful for Advaitins!

    Sridhara's commentary also says that Vaikuntha loka is eternal, not created, and is beyond the created universe.

    Somehow these statements are not to be believed, but Subbu's twisted interpretations on other portions of Sridhara's commentary are to be taken as true! How honest!!

    1. // "na amanyanta antAntaraM tayoH" (meaning, 'they did not consider the difference between the two') in no way implies aikya between hari and hara, as Subbu claims. //

      Correction: This should be - "na amanyanta antaraM tayoH".

  28. KuTarka vAdi says: From time immemorial, this debate of Shiva or Vishnu is going on. The very truth that there is and there has been debate on this subject shows that people have not understood the grand scheme created by Veda Vyasa for appealing to all type of people to follow the path of Dharma (where Dharma = God). 


    Well, my dear maharishi, since you understand "the grand scheme" as opposed to us lesser mortals, I suppose that means you are the avatara of some rishi and a cut above us, huh?

    You accuse us of text torturing. Fine, show us the places where we have used the texts improperly.

    firstly, there has been no debate from time immemorial. Yamuna muni clearly states that all vaidikas admitted vishNu alone as Parabrahman. This fact is further reteirated by vedAnta Desika who declares that adi Shankara was a vaishnava. Yes, the same vedanta desikan who also declared that advaita is Buddhism in disguise.

    Shaiva has and always will be a sect distinct from vedanta and true shaivas openly distance themselves from vedanta. No vedAntin was a shaiva until the 16th century.

    Additionally, look at how this has degenerated. Instead of genuinely trying to address the topic of keshi sukta, you talk about ISKCON and unrelated stuff, while Veerashaiva is unable to refute our interpretations.

    Veerashaiva's so-called arguments have been so far as follows:

    1. Vaishnavas want glory for vishNu only and deny shiva his share.

    2. Shiva does not need to cry.

    3. If Shiva is a "sinner", devas do not need to surrender to him.

    4. Devas are not tattva darshis.

    5. Worshipping "antaryamin" is "indirect" when vishNu himself was present.

    6. SharirAtma bhava is "desperate" (Note that his knowledge of vishishtadvaita is zero).

    7. Adi Shankara was not a vaishnava blah blah.

    8. I know some people who wear bhasma and worship rama, so this indicates abheda of deities! (he said this before elsewhere)

    These are not even worthy to be called "purvapaksha". They sound like questions posed by a third grader on the subject.

    A true scholar would attempt to refute us by first, 1) showing if rudra can be considered supreme according to shruti, 2) addressing the position of vishNu wrt rudra, 3) showing WHY the Keshi sukta cannot denote vishnu as the antaryAmin of rudra without whining that "oh you are calling rudra a sinner", 4) Maintaining relevance to the topic and sticking to it instead of digressing into a meaningless babble of half baked advaita.

    Of course, I am being hypothetical here. The fact is, none of these is possible since the shruti categorically claims vishNu as supreme. That is why viTanda vadins become viTanda vadins.

    1. Dear sir,
      You have done a great work in writing these blogs. Sri Hari's glory can never be faded when bhaktas like you are amidst us. It is quite sad that these anti-vaishnavas malign us using the name of institutions like iskcon and others... I myself am a person born in a traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava family and can assure that many of iskcon's teachings are foreign to this tradition. The teachings of Sri Chaitantya and the great Goswamins are completely vaidika and in accordance with shastra and unrelated to the many new inventions of cults like iskcon...
      I am pleased to see that you have quoted Sri Jiva ... as I am not very good at Sanskrit.. I request you ,if it is possible to translate that text.. I would also like to know which text it is from...

    2. Dear Reader,

      HBB will translate that for you shortly. It was his source.

    3. Dear Reader,

      Sincere Pranams.

      // Sri Hari's glory can never be faded when bhaktas like you are amidst us. //

      I take no merit in this matter. All merit go to our pUrvAcAryas. I am miniscule compared to their jnAna and bhakti.

      Jiva Goswami is essentially saying that the Sri Hari alone is the root cause of everything, as shown by Sridhara's TIkA padya "hari parAkramaiH" (with the glories of Hari). The devas did not consider (na amanyanta) the whatever difference exists between Hari and Shiva (yadantaram asti). Note that this means there is a difference, but only that the devas did not consider it in their praise. Not that there is none (in the vyAvahArika sense, as an advaitin would say). Sri Jiva then says that the hymn to shiva is really with the intent of destroying the kAlakUTa poison, and by the vaidika logic "The devas, when being praised with greatness, excel in power" ("mahimnA stUyamAnA hi devA vIryeNa vardhante" is the verse quoted. I am unable to locate its source).

      One suggestion, though. We should be careful not to use terms like "cult" against a group of Krishna devotees no matter how bitterly we differ from them on certain issues. The term should not be used casually and has has very negative connotations. I am not questioning your intentions, though. Neither do we agree fully with ISKCON on many issues, obviously.

    4. For that matter, we do not disrespect Shaivas either by calling them a "cult" either. The Shaiva Siddhantha tradition (such as that of the nAyanmars) is certainly ancient and unlike modern day kuTarka vAdIs, for the most part the ancient Shaivas conducted themselves with dignity, regarded themselves outside of the vedAntic fold and pursued their sAdhana according to their own inclinations/tendencies.

    5. Additionally, there is no need to bring in "hari parAkrama" if hari-hara abheda had been intended by Sridhara. For there is no context to bring it in if he considered it to be a stuti of Shiva. He only says this because according to him, it is Hari's prowess which is being praised here.

    6. Dear sirs,
      Whatever you say is true... I was overcome with emotions... I would be more careful in my future posts.. Actually in the internet, I have experienced that people have got wrong and misguided knowledge of the Gaudiya Sampradaya due to ISKCON's deviant teachings. Due to one such deviant 'tradition' the entire sampradaya is thought wrongly of.. Iskcon followers pass of as great vidwans without any knowledge of Sanskrit and interpret the works of the Goswamis in a faulty manner. I am just hurt that the vast majority of the more traditional Gaudiya sampradaya is not represented and other Hindus and even some vaishnavas think wrongly of the tradition.
      I apologize if I have offended you...

    7. Hi Niladri Choudary,
      I have a small question. ISKCON/Gaudiya Vaishnavas talk about Bhakti Vinod thakur (around 17-18 century) and his works where he represents Swami Ramanuja being reborn as a poor old man to witness Chaitanya's marriage. How valid is this? If it is correct does it not tantamount to act of upmanship by bhakti vinod thakur with out any valid proofs. Belittling a bhagavata tantamounts to serious bhaghavata apacharam that too acharyas of other vaishnava sampradayam, that too Swami Ramanujar, the biggest stalwart of Vaishnavism in general, would not please even Lord Krishna and is the biggest bhagavata apachara. Does bhakti vinod thakur belong to Gaudiya vaishnavism?

      Request the blog authors to allow this query though it is not the place for such queries.

      Thanks & Rgds,

    8. We have allowed your query because it was addressed to another person. If he responds, we will allow that to the extent it does not stretch beyond a couple of comments.

      For our part, as you rightly observed, this blog does not talk about such things. We would address it if we were writing a defense of vishishtadvaita, but we are not doing that here. Similarly we do not address the claims of madhvas who say adi shankara was an Asura etc in the mani manjari.

      The simplest way to avoid potential apachAra is not just to study which tradition is correct, but also to see what shAstra says about treating vishNu bhaktas belonging to incorrect traditions (presuming if you adhere to one of advaita, VA or dvaita, the other two are automatically incorrect vaishnava darshanas). You will probably find that the shAstra does not recommend insulting vaishnavas of such incorrect schools of thought as well.

      No more from our side on this subject.

    9. The opinion of a single person doesnot concern the sampradaya. Traditional Gaudiyas take the works of acharyas upto Baladeva vidyabhushana as authorative. The Goswamis and other acharyas never wrote any such thing. And instead they offered adequate respects to Sridhara ,Ramanuja,Madhava and even Shankara and quoted them in their works. We also share the same thought. Even if they don't share the same view as ours, the Vishnu bhaktas are deserved to be respected. Bhaktivinode is considered to be guru by mostly Gaudiya math and Iskcon which are new traditions deviated from Chaitanya tradition.

    10. I would like to add that Bhaktivinod thakur lived from 1838 to 1914, during the British reign, a time when Gaudiya siddhanta was already properly established. There was nothing that he could add more in it. Some of his philosophical works only describe what had been already taught by purvacharyas in simple language. And the stories he wrote were his own compositions.

    11. @krishna
      although u asked this ques. to another person...but since i m sympathiser of iskcon i felt obliged to give my opinion and discourage the misconception about srila bhakti vinod thakur...first of all no one is born as an ''old man'' atleast in my knowledge...gaudiya vaishnavas consider Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as an incarnation of Lord srila bhaktivinod thakur atleast from gaudiya vaishnava point of view has infact glorified taking part in supreme lord's pastime even as poor old man is glorious....the madhvas proudly proclaim that previous incarnation of thier acharya was that of a vanara...but that vanara body was also glorious....because that vanara ie. hanumanji is the greatest devotee of lord Rama...
      And about evidence...just as for VAs sri bhashya or any other work or statement of sri ramanuja is an evidence in for us who r the followers of bhaktivinod thakur his statement is the one forces u to follow his statement although u r welcome to believe...he just wrote what he realised personally...
      and to be honest i have read about this statement of srila bhaktivinod thakur from ur comment for the first to get the confirmed answer u should ask this ques. to some senior iskcon person or may be in some authorised iskcon or gaudiya forum....instead of the person who has little knowledge of iskcon or thier acharya.... of the main instruction of chaitanya mahaprabhu(and infact of all the respected acharyas of all the vaishnava traditions) is to spread the the holy name of Lord Krishna....and how wonderful it is that these ''Authentic Mahaprabhu followers'' who are so exalted by the virtue of taking birth in gaudiya families and hereditary propreiters of old temples have left the task of spreading holy name of Krishna and discouraging the mayavada philosophy on ''deviants'' like us....


    12. We do not want this discussion to continue here, so let this be the last post. Having said that, I cannot help but address some mistaken views since they have unfortunately been posted here.

      "so srila bhaktivinod thakur atleast from gaudiya vaishnava point of view has infact glorified taking part in supreme lord's pastime even as poor old man is glorious...."

      This is completely wrong. Because for one thing, Vishishtadvaitins do not consider sri chaitanya as an avatara of bhagavan. This is because his philosophy of achintya bheda abheda is a wrong conclusion according to sri vaishnavas and hence, what is said by that tradition does not warrant acceptance outside of that tradition. Even were it proven that sri chaitanya was an avatara, it would not be a worshippable avatara for sri ramanuja since a wrong philosophy was propagated by bhagavan in that avatara then. So, what bhaktivinoda thakura has said is definitely insulting for sri vaushnavas; especially so as it seems to be a clear concoction.

      There is no need for ISKCON to segregate "mayavada" from other philosophies like a judeo-christian concept of satan vs devil. In sri ramanuja's eyes, advaita, dvaita, achintya bheda abheda are all wrong paths and equally cannot lead to moksha in that birth. The only allowance given by vedanta desikan in rahasya traya saram is that compared to advaita, other traditions like dvaita accept the lord as real and hence are relatively better. But this again does not mean we can all gang up against advaita - rather, the acrimony between VA and Dvaita is as high as it is between advaita and the other darshanas. It is not as though "mayavada" is poison but other darshanas are not, to a vedantin who follows just one darshana that is not any of these.

      I have been talking from a sri vaushnava perspective, but it is the same fro. a dvaitin's or a gaudiya's viewpoint as well. Where to draw the line then? Well, sri vaishnavas accept other vaishnavas as mahatmas who will ultimately gain true knowledge and so respect them. But they do not worship these mahans.

      If bhaktivinoda thakura had said sri chaitanya is rama and Hanuman worshipped him, that's fine as Hanuman is accepted as a guru by all darshanas and claimed by each as one of their own.. But he claims sri ramanuja, an acharya who advocated a distinct philosophy, to worship sri chaitanya, which is just wrong.

      The same holds true if a sri vaishnava does the same to Adi Shankara or a madhva does it to a Gaudiya.

      Let us close the subject.

    13. go and read rig veda balitha sukta praises madhvacharya, vamana purana praises madhvacharya, vayu purana also praises madhvacharya, not only madhvacharya even padmanabha thirtha and vadiraja thirtha name is mentioned in vamana purana and ragavendra swami south indian famous saint, puranadara dasa is father of carnatic music all are followers madhvacharya so we dont care what other says

    14. Dear reader,

      What makes you upset? We have not denigrated madhvAcArya anywhere here and we consider him respectable.

      Please make your response relevant to the discussion. Otherwise such postings will not be approved in future.

      And if you do not care for what we say, why did you bother responding in our discussions?

    15. You are entitled to your interpretations of the sUktas. But it is ridiculous to expect us to accept such interpretations.

    16. This is not a site for debating advaita vs vishishtadvaita vs dvaita. Let me just clarify a few things and close the topic.

      1) We are Sri vaishnavas and therefore not inclined to interpret every reference to "vAyu" as Sri mAdhva or mukhya prANa/vAyu devatA, unless a proper proof exists which warrants such reference.

      2) The balittha sUkta is interpreted by dvaitins as describing the prowess of vAyu/hanumAn equated to srI mAdhva whereas Sri vaishnavas interpret that sUkta as pertaining to upAsaNa or bhakti yOga without references to specific personalities or deities.

      3) For every vAyu purANa quote describing the avatAra of Sri mAdhva, one can find a brahmAnda purANa quote describing the avatAra of Sri rAmAnuja as adi sesha or matsya purANa talking about srI shankara as an amSha of Shiva. So, unless the darshaNa is proven correct via debate, there is no obligation to accept such proofs of avatAra.

      4) If carnatic music is a standard for acceptance of a guru, then we have Sri RamadasaTl of the famous Bhadrachalam shrine snd Sri Tallapakkam Annamayya who was a Sri vaishnava making Tirupati itself a predominantly vaikhAnasa Sri vaishnava sthala, Ramananda and Tulasidas who were so influenced by the rAma bhakti in pillar look acharya's works that they spread rAma nAma throughout North India- much of the rAma bhakti in the north is derived from tulsidas' works. Vallabhacharya learned the nuances of temple worship at vAnamAmalai and brought those customs to Dwaraka. The influence of Sri rAmAnuja can also be seen at puri jagannatha (cite. Lakshmi shrine and Emar Mutt, which is a shortened form of "EmperumAnAr" mutt, a name of srI rAmAnuja.

      5) Sri vAdiraja tirtha was influenced by the "arayar sevais" of srirangam involving renditions of Sri vaishnava azhwar pasurams in tamil and was inspired to similarly communicate the message of dvaita in kannada. This began the carnatic movement of the mAdhva sampradaya.

      None if these factors are important for establishing the truth of a darshana. Only what us said in debate matters. As bhagavan himself says in gita, one in a million reach him and hence popularity/influence is not a factor to gauge authenticity.

      We respect srI mAdhva as we respect srI shankara and other gurus. We enjoy purandara data's krithis as much as we do annamayya's. Let us leave it at that.

    17. Dear all,

      We received some more stupid comments from that "vijay vittala" person talking some nonsense that "vishNu was not born in tamil nadu, adi sesha accomplished nothing, but vAyu accomplished everything, vyasarAja tirtha was rajaguru of vijayanagara empire, etc...". For obvious reasons, we did not allow it to be published.

      I thought veerashaiva and the author of the mahApaShupatastra were unique breeds on the internet, but it seems like there are some among our dvaitin friends as well. Can't blame sensible shaivas or vaishnavas for these characters I guess. Anyway, just FYI, this silliness stops here.

    18. There is something else which caught my attention. It's an interesting topic whose discussion I have observed for a long time, so perhaps this would be the ideal spot to clarify it once and for all. This Vijay Vittal person made the claim that balarAma was an avatAra of Adi Sesha. Actually, this is a common misconception of the sri vaishnava position. LakshmaNa was the pUrna avatAra of Adi Sesha and this can be clearly seen in his demeanor towards Sri Rama, which was one of absolute devotion and servitude. balarAma on the other hand, was an avatAra of bhagavAn himself, but with the amSha (AvEsha avatAra) of Adi Sesha. During balarAma's childhood, the Adi Sesha amSha predominated and he exhibited devotion to Krishna. When he was fully grown, bhagavad amSha predominated and he was more independent, even choosing to oppose krishNa (as part of the leela) and support dUryOdhana at times. That is the incredible leela of bhagavAn (to oppose his own avatAra) and not the character of adi sesha. At the same time, the adi sesha amSha was also there with balarAma till the end, as the vishNu purAna (I believe) describes a white serpent ascending the heavens after coming out of balarAma's body.

      This is also why balarama is often included among the count of bhagavad avatArAs, but lakshmaNa is not. It's not for the sake of being argumentative, but I have even seen some sri vaishnavas misunderstand balarAma as a pUrna avatAra of adi sesha, which is inaccurate according to our tradition.

      In contrast, the mAdhvas consider balarAma as an pUrna avatAra of adi sesha as they do not have the AvEsha concept in their system. This is where the two sampradAyas differ. Just FYI, we do not endorse arguments here.

    19. That person Vijay Vittala came back with some nonsense such as vishNu is not born in tamil nadu, vyasaraja tirtha was rajaguru of vijayanagara, adi sesha accomplished nothing, bhIma accomplished everything etc. Seems like he lacks a basic knowledge of how to enter into a vedAntic debate, and neither is this the place for it.

      So, we will not post his silliness here. Just something I'd like to clarify though. This ignoramus claimed balarAma was an avatara of adi sesha and sided with dUryodhana, so it means adi sesha was doing something wrong. He doesn't know that sri vaishnavas consider balarAma to be the avatara of adi sesha *with the amSha of bhagavan*. That is why balarAma is included in the count of bhagavad avatArAs, even in the purAnAs. In contrast, lakshmaNa, who was a pUrna avatAra of adi sesha without bhagavad AvEsha, and who exhibited perfect devotion to srI rAma, is not included in the count.

      Though balarAma was the avatAra of adi sesha, the AvEsha of vishNu (sankarshana) was in him and therefore, bhagavAn expressed himself through balarAma avatAra at times, especially in adulthood when he sided with dUryodhana, opposed krishNa, etc. This is nothing but the incredible leela of the Lord (the AvEsha in balarAma), who of course can even oppose himself (krishNa), expressing his shakti through adi sesha. The acts of devotion to krishNa was due to balarAma's nature as adi sesha, whereas the leelas of supporting dUryodhana, etc were that of bhagavAn.

      Dvaitins on the other hand, think that balarAma is an avatAra of adi sesha alone as they do not accept the concept of AvEsha avatAra in their system (they even accept parashurAma and veda vyAsa as pUrna avatAras whereas these are jIvAs with bhagavad AvEshAs for sri vaishnavas). We do not encourage further debate on this, but would ask future posters to first learn other sampradAyAs properly without mudslinging unnecessarily.

      This Vijay Vittala probably knows nothing about the nuances of debate and his blind faith in his dvaita darShana makes him over-enthusiastic perhaps. In that respect, he's no different to veerashaiva or the author of the mahApaShupatastra blog. In future, we will not allow his posts.

  29. Just one loose end that I think would interest the readers. This is regarding the etymology for "rudra" that Adi Shankara quoted from shiva purana. No need to give this much attention to it considering such quotes are normal, but we thought it would be interesting to show how vaidikas take such verses as sAttvika in detail. It has also been quoted by srI ranga rAmAnuja muni and explained how the context is only sAttvika despite the overall context of a tAmasa purAna.

    The purAnic verses beginning with "athavA sheshakalyAnaguNaikagana iSvara:" are taken as sAttvika in the purAna. Note that "shiva pratipAkadam" etc occurs before these verses and hence are rejected; as mentioned before, there is no compulsion to accept the context of a tAmasa purAna. From these lines onwards, the purAna provides the etymology for terms like "iSvara", "shiva", "rudra" and "mahEshwara" in a general manner. This is sAttvika as iSvara is a repository of auspicious attributes, etc.


  30. Contd from above...

    Under the vyAkhyAna for "mahEshwara" in the svEtAsvatAra, srI ranga rAmAnuja muni quotes the shiva purAna verse that immediately occurs next to what Shankara has quoted. This verse is "yaH para saH mahEshwara". The context of this line occurs in the explanation for the mahEshwara nAma where the purAna says in a nutshell - "puruSha (jivAtma) is superior to prakrti (denoted by mAya) and that which is superior (to the puruSha) is mahEshwara". SrI ranga rAmAnuja muni explains as follows - "yaH para" means, that which is superior to the aforementioned jivAtma is denoted by the "mahEshwara" sabda. Since jivAtma is denoted by "makAra", that which is superior to the jivAtma is denoted by "akAra". Since it is well known that "akArasya visnOH", it means nArAyaNa and no other god, alone is this mahEshwara. Note that the acharya says "no other god" to highlight that the name, even going by the shiva purAna, can only be attributed to nArAyaNa.

    Similarly, Shankara quotes the etymology for rudra which occurs next to this explanation of "maheShwara". It is a general explanation of how bhagavAn destroys the misery of bhaktas, therefore, he is "shiva paramakAraNam". It is useless to say that the purAna claims "shiva pratipAkadam" since Shankara does not quote it - it is rejected as a tAmasa intent. Shankara only quotes the part on etymology which is not attributed to pArvati pati. Therefore, all these names such as "tasmAt shiva paramakAraNam" are to be taken as that of nArAyaNa only.

    What this also shows, is that, even while quoting tAmasa purAnAs, there were certain sections which were quite popular among vaidikas as sattvika. The pramAnAs quoted from Shiva and Linga Puranas by Shankara are also quoted by parAsara bhattar and ranga rAmAnuja muni. The pramAna for pundarIkAkshatva quoted by nampillai etc is also quoted by Sridhara. So, these are well known sections of tAmasa purAnAs.

    The idea is that it is the behaviour of the shiva purAna to glorify a tAmasa devata. But in doing so, the purAna occasionally blunders into phases of sattva. Giving "yah para sa maheshwara" by the purAna is a self defeating argument of its own case of trying to project shiva as the possessor of the supreme since "yaH" in the context of superiority over the jivA denotes by nature the akAra vAchyan that is nArAyaNa.

    This mindset of the tAmasa purAnAs is a case of self-contradiction which is explained by KrishNa in the Gita as follows -adharmaḿ dharmam iti yā manyate tamasāvṛtā sarvārthān viparītāḿś ca buddhiḥ sā pārtha tāmasī (~Gita 18.32)

    Meaning: That Buddhi is of the nature of Tamas which is 'enveloped in Tamas' and 'reverses every value.' The meaning is that it regards Adharma as Dharma and Dharma as Adharma, existent as non-existent, and non-existent as existent, and higher truth as the lower and the lower truth as the higher, and thus reverses every value.

    The shiva purAna regards Shiva as supreme (adharma) and unfortunately quotes etymology in that context which is correct, is a great example of tamas.

    Veerashaiva's blabberings are worthless and we do not need to explain in detail since there is already an article on TAmasatva of purAnAs, but for the sake of the neutrals as well as vaiShnavas, we thought this bit would be an interesting addendum to the above mentioned article as well.

  31. One last note: "yaH" according to Bhattar in the context of Brahman always means "he who is well known in the shAstra". Hence, that is why srI ranga rAmAnuja muni additionally takes "yaH" in "yaH para saH mahEshwara" as akAra vAchyan nArAyaNa. Even when it occurs in the shiva purAna, such a general statement containing "yaH" denotes that Being well known as Parabrahman in the veda and hence is nArAyaNa only.

  32. (Reposted to correct certain errors)

    It is good to see Veerashaiva had a change of heart and accepted Sridhara. Now, before trying to mangle Sridhara's commentary, let him explain these clear statements that HBB quoted:

    guṇāḥ sattvādayāḥ śānta-ghora-mūḍhāḥ svabhāvataḥ
    viṣṇu-brahma-śivānāḿ ca guṇa-yantṛ-svarūpiṇām

    nāti-bhedo bhaved bhedo guṇa-dharmair ihāḿśataḥ
    sattvasya śāntyā no jātu viṣṇor vikṣepa-mūḍhate

    rajas-tamo-guṇābhyāḿ tu bhavetāḿ brahma-rudrayoḥ
    guṇopamardato bhūyas tad-amśānāḿ ca bhinnatā

    ataḥ samagra-sattvasya viṣṇor mokṣa-karī matiḥ
    aḿśato bhūti-hetuś ca tathānanda-mayī svataḥ

    aḿśatas tāratamyena brahma-rudrādi-sevinām
    vibhūtayo bhavanty eva śanair mokṣo’py anaḿśataḥ” iti

    I am requoting them to place on record that Veerashaiva will definitely ignore them just as he ignores similar statements of Shankara. I can also easily predict his typical blabber. He will now say, "jiva go swami is not an advaitin" while being oblivious to the fact that the guru's statement explaining the commentary was entirely neutral and only serves Sridhara's views. Elsewhere, when shiva appeared before Markandeya Sridhara adopts the same approach and openly says "sri narayana appeared in the form of shiva before markandeya".

    The simple explanation of "nirguNam sagunam caiva siva hariparAkramaih" - It means the devas are praising NirguNa and saguNa manner, with the parAkramam of hari. (corrected earlier statement).

    Additionally, note that for the verse which refers to shiva's actual act of swallowing the poison, he is referred to as "mahAdeva". Why "mahAdeva" and not any other name? Because this name of shiva is on account of his great intellect. So the verse says that Shiva who has great intellect consumed the poison. This intellect is nothing but meditation on Vishnu - vaishnava yatha shambhu.

    Similarly the Keshi sukta says "rudra was used as a vessel by keshi to drink poison" to indicate that a being who recognised and lamented about his papa karmas was made an instrument by bhagavan to drink poison, thus elevating the latter.

    So much for that.

    1. The simple explanation of "nirguNam sagunam caiva siva hariparAkramaih" - It means the devas are praising NirguNa and saguNa manner, with the parAkramam of hari. (corrected earlier statement).

      Double correction: It means the devas are praising Shiva in the NirguNa and saguNa manner, with the parAkramam of Hari. (corrected earlier statement).

      Apologies. Hard to type via mobile and view the sanskrit text.

  33. Dear Sri Venkat

    This is Lakshminarayana.

    I think it would be unfair to compare the bloggers with iskcon, which is what you seem to be doing. Unlike iskconites whose tradition is highly questionable and whose fanatical leanings are well-known, the bloggers of this website have vishishtha-advaita, which is a well established vedantic tradition, as their basis. Having said that, they also provide quotes from staunch advaitins like Sankara and Madhusudhana. If you disagree with them, you have to provide counter-quotes from scriptures or Acharyas and only then can a meaningful debate proceed. You cannot simply use your personal opinions or tar everyone with the same brush of iskcon. Request you to avoid doing this.

    Regarding the supremacy of Vishnu - All Vedantins agree that Vishnu is supreme. No doubt about that. There is only one another serious contender for that position and that is Shiva. (Devi, Ganapati, Skanda are no contenders if one has properly read the scriptures.) Let us leave all puranas completely aside, and focus exclusively on vedic literature and the two epics. Mahabharata says at multiple places that Rudra/Shiva was born from the wrath of Vishnu. Ramayana openly places Vishnu above Shiva. If you want references for these, you can find them in this blog itself. Or I can help you with it. I am sure the bloggers can also help you, if you request them properly. (On a different note, I can understand the frustration of the bloggers with people who attribute motives without reading anything, but I request the bloggers to be more patient in dealing with such kind of people).


    1. Dear Sri Lakshminarayana,
      While I agree with you that ISKCON is fanatical, I would request you to differentiate it from Gaudiya Vaishnavism which is by itself an authentic Vaishnava vedantic tradition...and whenever you criticize it or its followers to other people ,please do so to prevent them from getting wrong information about this great tradition... May Sri Hari bless you! Hope you will forgive me for my impertinence.

    2. We do not discriminate against ISKCON either in this blog. People of all philosophical backgrounds are welcome. No matter what ISKCON's philosophical leanings may be, if any ISKCON person is a true krishna bhakta who only wants to follow his guru, he will be given due respect by us. Bhagavad Ramanuja writes in his gita bhAshya 9.14-15 the following - that true jnAnIs who are vishishtadvaitins who worship bhagavan as One without a Second. But the ones who do not have this knowledge and indulge in general activities like nAma sankIrtana, etc are also mahAtmas and respected as such.

      This interpretation of bhagavad rAmAnuja is why our acharyas, despite insisting Vishishtadvaita as the ultimate truth and refuting other philosophies, never personally attacked Shankara, Madhva, Gaudiyas, etc and had respect for them as Vaishnavas. And we wish to preserve this great trait of sri vaishnava siddhAntha on this blog.

      I apologise personally to any ISKCON bhakta who may have been offended. Let us keep the atmosphere cordial here.

    3. hey plz dont criticize iskcon without proper knowledge...srila prabhupada was a true vaishnava...who preached vaishnavism all over the world at the age of is only due to him i know something about srila ramanujacharya and other great acharyas...even link of this blog i found on a iskcon site...he couldnt just go to west and declare straight away that all faiths r bogus,become a vaishnava...he had to face druggists,sex addicts,mayavadis,neo-vedantins,communists,athiests,atheistic scientists,chritians,muslims,hindu bogus babas in west and many other tamsik,dark people with outrageous philosophies stupid beyond belief but walled by careful jugglery of world and people of various other 'isms'...he had to develop conducive environment for them to understand sublime vaishnava philosophy...he took help of hari naam sankirtan...he cooked prasadam himself for dirty hippies and even washed thier plates...legibility,authenticity,ratioanality of vaishnavaism was tested at every moment through him from every criteria and perspective imaginable all over the world by various philosphers,scientists,so called intellectuals etc. and even his own discsiple for whom terms like krishna.vaishnava,vedas were either totally foriegn(so no question of accepting veda pramana by many in the beginning) or had wrong conception of it...he had to fight a war of logical arguments and churn out crude and subtle imperfections and stupidity of vairious philosophies,hypothesis and faiths(bloggers of this blog directly understand the pain undertaken to do so in small percentage relative to prabhupada) called pseudo gaudiya followers instead of helping him created barrier for him and criticised him for the sake of thier false ego and enviousness...along with aforementioned people he had to also face(with care) weeds(apasampradays)( generally incidental in every institutional structure)..of vaishnavas in general and great gaudiya sampradaya tree...namely prakrta sahajiyas,caste goswamis and brahamanas,sakhi bekhis,kattabhajjas etc...he never comporomised core philosophy of gaudiya vaishnavism...always reacted strongly against all false philosophy...he sometimes showed some liniency in insignificant issues like equating christ(refers to name of god not jesus christ) to what is the issue..saying god of bible or koran is krishna(not revealed directly but thier evidences)...(christ comes from greek word krishtos or krishta)...declaring someone bogus sitting behind computer screen is one thing...setting up powerful institution practicing the strict codes of bonafide vaishnavism in a foriegn land without patrons through 'past society rejects' converting them into pure vaishnavas from speck is another thing...

    4. i take critisism of iskcon from mayavadis or atheists as an anknowledgement of upheaval and botheration iskcon has created in their world of illusion...yes some differences exist in opinions of sri and gaudiya samapradayas but core philosophy is same...some differences r just like a humoungous mountain described from different angles...

    5. i appreciate the bloggers not only because of thier being vaishnavas(although this quality is more than enough for being likeable)...but for thier honesty,thier knowledge and research of various books and their quality (which is rarely found) of seeing and testing thier own bonafide beliefs from various perspective...thus developing and increasing the faith and knowledge of readers of this page including me (who is clearely in darkness but assures to be honest researcher of ultimate reality)...and also the value they give to various commentators of this page...i even appreciate the generous attitude they show towards insensible comments(even that helps)...plz carry ur work for as much time possible...

    6. i agree thier may be some imperfections in present iskcon...but every body who enters iskcon temple...doesnt become a perfect vaishnava immediately..after all is also an institution...but they regularly try to improve and follow guru parampara in a better way...they try to be progressive..within the limits of parampara...

    7. Dear Reader Gen X,

      Very well. Thanks for the appreciative comments. This however should not go without mentioning that there are parts that I heavily disagree with.

    8. Dear all,

      It was only fair that I allowed the comment of Gen X defending iskcon, since I allowed the comment of another valued reader who criticised iskcon. They have both had their say.

      I would request the above two readers not to continue on the topic of iskcon further, since it is off topic from this article.

      This string of comments started with one inconsiderate reader (Venkat G) needlessly bringing in iskcon, when he was unable to support his anti-Vaishnava stance logically. That is heavily condemned.

  34. (Contd.)

    If you come to vedic literature, the Satapatha brahmana and the brhadaranyaka upanishad exclusively attribute birth to Rudra/Shiva. The Rig veda says that Rudra derives his strength from Vishnu. No ifs and buts about it. It is a pretty straightforward verse (RV 7.40.5). The Rig Veda also says that Rudra cannot violate the Laws of Savitar (the deity of the famous Gayatri mantra). (Having said that, nobody is suggesting that Rudra/Shiva is unworthy of worship.) 

    Coming to Acharyas - There is not even a single place in his prasthana traya bhashyas, where the "supposedly-Saivaite" Adi Sankara considers Shiva as supreme. At many places he praises Vishnu and Vishnu alone as supreme. That should be food for thought. And as for Ramanuja and Madhwa, they are open vaishnavas.

    Coming to Shiva sahasranama (SS) and Shiva stutis in general, that occur in the mahabharata - even some indology scholars who have no axe to grind in the Vishnu vs Shiva debate have considered the SS and some Shiva stutis to be dubious in authenticity. If you want the references, please let me know. Also, if you read the Mahabharata with an open mind, you will realize that terms like "being eternal" and being the "Lord of the universe" are NOT always used in an absolute sense, because they occur in the same portion of the text where the deity in question (Shiva in this case) is referred to as having birth.

    If anybody is twisting the scriptures, it is Saivas like the author of the Mahapasupatastra blog, who has N number of twisted scriptures to his credit. I suggest you preach the same Vishnu=Shiva theory to him first before pursuing your misadventures in this blog.

  35. Please refer Shri Rama Bhujanga Stotram.

  36. A nice interpretation of Kesi suktam.

  37. Dear all,

    Regarding the keshi sUkta, we have some additional details to share.“keshI” refers to bhagavAn who is the antaryAmin of ka (Brahma) and Isa (Shiva). But we found out it can refer to another deity, who is the devatA for this sUkta.

    padma purANa samvAda between shiva and pArvati, extols the deity “vAyu” for drinking the hAla-hAla viShaM and refers to him as “kEshi” as follows:

    mahAviShaM mahAghoraMsaMvartAgnisamaprabham |dRRiShTvApradudruvuH sarve bhayArtA devamAnatAH |tatastadvidrutAndRRiShTvA brahmAlokapitAmahaH | jagAda vAyuM tarasAharerAj~nApuraHsaram | niHsheShaM kuru vAyotvaM lokasaMhArakaM viSham | tvadanyo nAstimad grastuM sarvajIvahitaM kuru | itidhAturvachaH shrutvA dashapramatirabravIt |

    bhakShayAmi harerAj~nAM puraskRRityavidhervachaH | harernAmochchAraNenatadbhaktyA cha visheShataH | sarvavyAdhiviShaMghoraM pAtre nyasya kare dadhat | bindumAtraMpRRithaggRRihya tadviShaM mardayaMstataH |parIkShaNArthaM chAnyeShAM devAdInAM chapArvati | mama haste dadau ki~nchidbhakShasvetimArutaH | iti nAmamAtreNa sahitaMmantrAnugrahamAdishan |tadvishaprAshanAdeva mama dAhobhyavardhata| jihvAgradhAraNAdeva mama prANA vinirgatAH |kRRipayA pavamAnasya tathA nAmatrayeNa cha |achyutAnantagovindanAmamAhAtmyataHshubhe | jIvitosmi tadA kAleviShNornAmatrayAdaho | pashchAttu tadviShaMsarvamekIkRRitya sa pAtrake | anAyAsAtpapauvAyuH sarveShAM rakShaNAya  cha | hareshchaprItaye devi brahmaNo vachanAttathA |RRichobruvaMshcha devasya keshItibrahmavAdinaH | itthaM vAyormahattvaM hiviShNubhaktasya pArvati | iti | (~ Padma Purana)

    These slOkas in a nutshell, say that bhagavAn summoned the deity known as “vAyu” and “pavamAna”, and by his orders, this deity drank the bulk of the poison (giving a portion to shiva) and saved the worlds with ease. This deity is mentioned to be the devata of the keshI sUkta.

    We are aware of how mAdhvas interpret this. I'm providing the sri vaishnava view. Readers can choose.

    This deity is Garuda, who is called vAyu here. The following are the pramANas.

    1) There are five forms of Sri Garutman, according to Sri SAtvata Samhita of pAncarAtra Agama-"Satya: SuparNa: Garuda: Tarkshyastu VihagEswara:", each of whom is the presiding deity for PrANa, apAna, vyAna, udAna and samAna. In that sense, Garuda is termed as “vAyu”. The context is appropriate, as Garuda, who is the presiding deity of prANa that sustains life, saved the lives of all by drinking the poison. 

    2) Garuda is also called vAyu on account of being the vAhana of the Lord, and he moves like wind. The context is also appropriate for this meaning, as the term “harerA~jnA” implies that at the command of the lord, he swiftly obeyed him, this swiftness at executing the command thus implied by the name “vAyu”.

    3) Garuda is called “pavamAna” because he is “vedAtma”, the embodiment of the Veda and thus purifies all. Alternatively, he is an amShaof SankarshaNa, who purifies the mind. He is called “kEshI” because he is “suparNa”, very brilliant and shining, thus he possesses rays of light (kEsha-s). Thus, Garuda is the devata for kEshI sUkta, which describes the Lord.

    4) Garuda can drink any posion as he, being the King of Birds, feeds on poisonous snakes. It is his prime ability.


  38. (Continued from above)

    Besides these, there are sufficient pramANas to prove that this deity is Garuda, as follows:

    taMdR^iShTvA ghora saN^kAshaMprAdurbhUtaM mahAviSham.h | dhyAtvAnArAyaNaM devaM hR^idayE garuDadhvajaM.h || ~ Brahma purANa

    Meaning: Seeing that terrible poison emerging, (Shiva) meditated on nArAyaNa, the effulgent God, Garudadhvaja, residing in the heart.

    Note the mention of “garudadhvaja” – The Lord who has Garuda as his banner. This implies that Garuda was instrumental in helping Shiva on behalf of the Lord.

    yEnajIrNaM ca garaLaMkaNThasthaM cakapAlinaH|antarAtma dhR^itaM tasyahR^idayEgaruDadhvaja ||

    Meaning: It was only due to kapAlin (Shiva) meditating on the Lord, who is garuDadhvaja, indwelling in the heart, that he was able to digest the terrible poison, right in his neck.

    Again, “garuDadhvaja” is mentioned. Why else, if not to highlight that he was the one who acted on behalf of the Lord for saving Shiva? His ability to kill and eat poisonous snakes thus implies that he was most suited to drinking the poison.

    Thus, garuDa is the “vAyu” mentioned in the incident as all logic points to it.

    If anyone is going to question why garuDa's name is not explicitly mentioned, the answer is because the context suits calling him "vAyu". Even in the mahabhArata, it is said "dharma saved Draupadi" instead of saying "krishNa" directly . Here "dharma" means krishNa, the eternal means (dharma), so it is a question of using names as per context.

    Of course, there is yuga bhEda– in some yugAs, shiva meditates on garuDa and nArAyaNa, and drinks all the poison himself (as per the account in the bhAgavataM). In other yugAs,garuDa directly appears to drink the poison.

    The keshI sUkta is thus a praise of paramAtma with garuDa as the devata. This can be taken as it has purANic sanction. Dual meanings for garuDa and nArAyaNa can be provided.

    We have already provided the meanings that pertain to paramAtma. I will shortly summarize the meanings that relate to garuDa as "keshI".

  39. Addendum: In the garuDa dandakam, shrI vedAnta desikan mentions the following:

    1) He hails garuDa as "prANApAnAdi bhedAt pratitanu maruta daivataM" based on the pAncharatra declaring garuDa's 5 forms as the presiding deities of the 5 prANas.

    2) The AchArya says garuDa destroys the poison of material attachments or samsAra.

    Then the most telling detail in the garuDa dandakaM. ShrI nigamAnta mahAguru then gives a beautiful description - the kaustubha maNi of the Lord always has the reflection of garuDa's form, as the latter is the vehicle of the Lord, by virtue of angle.

    AchArya claims that the kaustubha maNi is ever afraid of being contaminated by the hAlahAla viSha that arose out of the milky ocean and thus has garuDa's reflection to ward away the poison!

    Serms like the AchArya is clearly hinting the incidence of garuDa swallowing the poison. That settles it.

  40. With the above knowledge, let us look at the sUkta from the perspective of garuDa as the devata.

    “kEShi” means one who possesses “kESha-s” or rays of light. Garuda is known as “suparNa”, and he possesses feathers which are shining like rays of light. Thus, this name refers to him alone (besides the Lord, who is the referent of every name anyway).

    For the first rk, these are the meanings.

    1) The one who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, bears (as the vehicle) the Lord who is “agni” as he leads all out of samsAra and to moksha.

    2) The one who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, bore or endured the poison (hAlahAlaviSha)

    3) The one who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, sustains the body which is known as “earth” (rodasI) as he is the presiding deity of the prANas that nourish the body.

    4) The one who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, has the perception of the supreme abode (svardRsE) which is “viSvaM” or complete, as he is eternally liberated. 

    5) This kEshI (ie, such a one with the attributes described earlier), who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, is thus called “jyOti” as he is the “vedAtma”, the soul of the vedas, who illumines the meaning of the Vedas.

    The second and third mantrAs have the same meaning when taken for both bhagavAn as well as garuDa. No changes.

     (Continued below)

  41. Here is the meaning of the fourth mantra – “antarikShEnapatati…”

    “Garuda is the muni (one who meditates on the Lord), who is agreeable to his essential nature of seshatva (hitaH) as he is always serving the Lord as his vehicle and well-disposed to all jIvAs as he always brings the Lord swiftly to them in times of need, as he did for Gajendra the Lord of elephants (sakhA). He belongs (as a property/vibhUti) to the effulgent god, for the purpose of acting well or in a manner agreeable to the Lord of shrI (devasya saukR^ityAya), which is to bring him quickly to the devotees who are dear to him. He traverses through the samsAra mandala that is called “air” as it is full of jIvAs who are transmigrating ceaselessly (antarikShEnapatati), perceiving (avacakSte) the jIvas who are (in their natural condition), complete forms of the Lord (vishvArUpA).”

    The jIvAs are the body of the Lord and hence they are called “rUpAs” or forms. In their natural condition, when they are divested of karmas, they are omniscient and possess the 8 attributes of apahatapApmatva, etc, so they are called “viSvaM”. This rk says that Garuda is always perceiving them, ie, he knows their sufferings and is eager to bring the Lord to them, to save them.

    (Continued below)

  42. Now, the fifth mantra, vAtasyAsvo vAyoH…

    “By the deva (Garuda), is the muni (the jIva who meditates) impelled (towards Brahman, by cutting off material attachments), who is well-disposed (Sakha) with the jIva who is transmigrating ceaselessly in samsAra (vAyu), whose mind (vAtaH) is swollen or full (ashva) of material desires.  Away from the two collections (of puNya and pApa karmas) abides he (Garuda), who is prior or ancient (as he is a nitya sUri or eternally liberated) and also inferior to, ie, subordinate to paramAtma.”

    Garuda is known as the one who destroys the poison of material attachments. “pUrva utAparaH” means he is a nityasUri or eternally liberated, hence he is prior to the baddhasand muktAs. But he, being a jIva, is inferior to the Lord and dependent on him.

    The sixth mantra “apsarasAm” remains the same, whether it is taken as referring to the Lord or Garuda. In Garuda’s case “svAdurmadintamaH” – he is self-dependent, means that as he is eternally liberated, he is not dependent on anyone or anything other than the Lord. When taken as referring to the Lord, it means he is independent.

    (Continued below)

  43. Then, the last mantra here. “vAyurasmA upAmanthat…”

    “Ajita, who is vAyu as he moves towards his devotees, ie, the devas and hurts the asurAs (kunannamA), churned the ocean to bring up (the poison). Garuda, who is endowed with feathers like shining rays of light, together with Rudra, drank the poison.”

    As the purANa verse said, only “kEshI” denotes Garuda here. “vAyu” still denotes Ajita.

    There you go. This sUkta has garuDa as its’ devata, and thus can be interpreted in two ways, for both garuDa and paramAtma. This has been done.


  44. One last observation, as a clincher for this.

    In the sahasranAma, one of the names for bhagavAn is "vAyu vAhana". Bhattar's commentary is that "vAyu" signifies garuDa, the King of Birds, on account of his swift movement. The full meaning of the nAma is that bhagavAn uplifts those who have fallen in samsAra, using garuDa, who is "vAyu" as he is swift.

    So, we have a shAstric pramANa referring to garuDa as vAyu as well.


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