Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Lingodbhava- Lord Shiva’s superiority over Brahma & Vishnu

At the time, when nothing existed, only Brahman existed. Brahman, the God Almighty. Impersonal and devoid of attributes. Then, Brahman wished “Let there be creation.” For this, the Brahman produced the cosmic egg, Brahmanda, also known as Hiranyagarbha. This egg contained the entire creation in its unmanifest state. Within, there were two embryos. One had five heads and another had four arms. The four-armed embryo was none other than Vishnu and the five-faced one was Brahma. Vishnu layed on the fluid within the egg, the cosmic ocean while Brahma floated on its waters in sitting position. They grew together, unknown of each other. Vishnu meditated upon that Supreme Brahman to get a glimpse of it, and in this process, achieved Nirvana by conquering his inner desires. Thus, his desires took the form of a thousand hooded giant cobra, Sesha, which became Vishnu’s servant. Vishnu accepted Sesha’s service by accepting him as his bed. On the other hand, Brahma, through his meditation, invoked the doctrine of creation within him.

Once, after many million years, Brahma opened his eyes and looked around himself. There was no sun, no moon, neither land, nor stars. There was no one around him. He was all alone, surrounded by the waters of cosmic ocean. He wondered “I know that I am Brahma, the primordial progenitor. The creation is latent in me in its inert form. But am I all alone? Is there no one other than me?” Thinking thus, Brahma started roaming. After roaming for many thousand years, Brahma saw Vishnu, lying on the coils of serpent Sesha. He thought “At last, I finally found someone who was born after me.” He approached Vishnu and asked “Ho there! Who are you? And why don’t you get up in my honour?” Vishnu replied “I am Vishnu. The future sustainer of the creation. But who are you? And why don’t you bow before me?” Brahma raised his eye-brows in anger and said “I am Brahma. The future creator of the entire creation. So you must honour me as your superior, for you cannot sustain unless I create.” At this Vishnu smiled and said “But how will your creation survive, if I don’t sustain? So it is you who must honour me as your superior.” Brahma was taken aback by Vishnu’s answer. But then retaining his composure, Brahma said “Seems you don’t believe my superiority. Enter in my body and see, entire creation is within me.” Vishnu thought for a while, and then taking a minuscule form, entered Brahma’s body through his mouth.

“Wow!” Vishnu’s jaws dropped as he witnessed all the planetary, solar and lunar systems,
millions of galaxies, stars, planets, comets, all organisms in their embryonic forms, embedded within Brahma’s body. Vishnu then came out from Brahma’s mouth and said with a grin “Is that all you got? All this is present in me as well. See it yourself if you don’t believe.” Now Brahma took a minuscule form and entered Vishnu’s body through his mouth. Brahma was aw-struck on seeing entire creation in its manifest form within Vishnu. Vishnu meanwhile thought of a mischief. He closed all the pores on his body, including his nostrils, mouth and ears. Brahma, imprisoned inside Vishnu cursed “That cunning vile creature has duped me! How dare he?” Seething in anger, Brahma started looking for an exit. After some hundred years, he found an opening and emerged out of Vishnu from it. This opening was Vishnu’s navel. A sprout first emerged from Vishnu’s navel, and then took thousands of years to develop into a lotus bud. When the bud bloomed into a flower, Brahma was seated in its centre. The moment he emerged, Vishnu caught hold of the lotus-stalk and started shaking it. Brahma cried for help “stop it!” The moment Vishnu stopped, Brahma toppled down from the lotus. He growled like a beast “How dare you play tricks on me!” Vishnu now lost his cool and thundered like a cloud “Silence! I have given birth to you from my navel. No you are my son and I am your father. And a good son shouldn’t raise his voice in presence of his father. So keep quite and respect me.” Brahma was stung by Vishnu’s words. For a moment, he couldn’t think clearly. Then his faces turned red and his beard, moustache and hair turned white out of anger. Letting a wild yell escape his mouth, Brahma leapt at Vishnu. But Vishnu vanished and Brahma fell on his faces. Vishnu reappeared behind Brahma and laughed gleefully “The great creator has fallen down! Ha, ha, ha!” 

Brahma muttered under his breath “I will kill you.” Brahma immediately invoked a long -bow and shot volleys of arrows at Vishnu. Vishnu stopped laughing and uttered a shrill high-pitched cry, which rendered Brahma’s arrows inert. Shocked, Brahma shot Brahmashira missile. At this, the mighty Vishnu drew his Sharanga bow and released a Narayanastra missile. Both missiles collided and caused an explosion, which was bright like a thousand million suns. The impact was such that both were thrown far away from each other and were knocked unconscious. Upon regaining consciousness, Brahma shot the dreaded Brahmastra missile. On seeing Brahma’s formidable nuclear missile charging like a bull towards himself, Vishnu invoked his most formidable weapon, the Sudarshana discus. Vishnu released it to destroy both Brahma and his weapon once for all. The discus, with its millions shark like teeth, charged towards Brahma, leaving a trail of fire behind it. But the moment the two weapons were about to collide with each other, a pillar of fire descended between the two weapons and absorbed both.

Brahma and Vishnu were wonder-struck on seeing the pillar. Their weapons dropped from their limp hands. Suddenly, the pillar spoke up in a commanding voice “I will decide who among the two of you is superior. Whoever of you can measure my base or tip and returns to this very point, will be declared the winner and the superior one.” On hearing the prophecy, Vishnu transformed into a boar, Varaha and Brahma transformed into a swan, Hamsa. Varaha dived down to measure the base while Hamsa flew upwards to measure the tip of the pillar. Many million years passed and neither Varaha nor Hamsa succeeded. Varaha realized that the pillar is endless and is thus superior to him. So he started retreating. On the other hand, Hamsa saw a Ketaki flower on his way. He asked the flower “Ketaki, is it the tip of this pillar?” The flower replied “No. Infact, this pillar has no base, no end. It is endless.” Hamsa asked “But how is it possible?” The Ketaki flower replied “I don’t know, even though I was present even before you were born. You are simply wasting your time and effort in trying to measure it. But who are you and why are you trying to measure it?” Hamsa replied “I am  Brahma. I am competing with Vishnu to measure this pillar. But since it is impossible and I am tired, it will be a tie. Oh fragrant flower, will be a false witness and lie to Vishnu that I succeeded in measuring its tip? In return, I will give you an exalted place among flowers.” The flower replied “Deal.”

After some time, both Varaha and Hamsa returned to the starting point and transformed back into their original selves. The pillar asked in a booming voice “Vishnu, did you succeed?” Vishnu joined his hands and said “No, My Lord. I didn't. But I have learnt that this pillar is the only supreme, without a second. This pillar is like pure consciousness, which has no beginning, no end.” Then the pillar asked “Brahma, did you succeed?” Brahma proudly proclaimed. I succeeded. I am the winner. I am the supreme. No one is superior to me.” Vishnu joined his hands before Brahma and said “Pardon me, master. I concede my defeat. I accept you as my superior.” The pillar yelled out “Brahma has lied.” Brahma trembled in fear. With tattering teeth, he said “I…I am not lying. This flower is witness.” Suddenly, the shining pillar glowed with much greater sheen, and started taking a shape.
When it finally took its shape, Brahma and Vishnu were astonished. They witnessed what they could never imagine in their dreams as well. Before them, stood a figure.

 Androgynous. It was half male, half female. The right half was male and the left half was a female. They asked “who are you?” The figure said “I am that Supreme Brahman, who has given birth to you. I am unmanifest, yet manifest. I am impersonal, yet personal. I am neither masculine, nor feminine, nor neutral. Yet I am male, I am female and I am neutral. I am Ardhanarishvara. I am Neelalohita. I am Shiva. I am Shakti. I am Purusha. I am Prakriti. I am everything. I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I am both mother and the father. And to ensure the smooth functioning of universe, I am becoming two, though I am really one” Saying thus, the right and left halves separated and became to different individuals.

At the right side stood a male figure with three eyes and snow-white skin. He was clad in tiger-skin. His hair was matted and tied into a bun above the head. He wore ornaments of brown beads known as Rudraksha. He wore a cobra Vasuki around his throat as a necklace. His tout chest and muscular torso was covered by an elephant skin angavastram. He had five faces and ten arms. He held a shining trident, a battle-axe, an antelope, fire, Pinaka long-bow, Pashupatastra missile, thunderbolt, khatvanga (skull-topped staff), lasso, sword and damru (small-drum). He was none other than Lord Shiva.  
On his left, stood a lady, of sky-blue complexion. She too was three-eyed and had four arms. With one she held a scimitar, with another a severed head, and other two were held open to bestow blessing and fearlessness. She was clad in red garments and wore a garland of skulls. Her head was adorned with a crown. She wore jewelries like bangles, bracelets, armlets, necklaces, belt, anklets, finger & toe rings, ear-studs and a nose-ring. She was none other than Goddess Mahakali.

Lord Shiva said “Brahma, since you lied in my presence and tried to dupe my devotee Vishnu, I curse you that you will never be worshiped by anyone, in contrast to Vishnu, who will be worshiped in all his incarnations.” Brahma said “Who do you think you are? I am the supreme, not you.” At this, Devi Mahakali said “You will be punished for speaking with Shiva like this.” Immediately, a ferocious figure appeared in the scene. This person was three-eyed and had four arms. He held a battle-axe in one hand and was pitch-black in colour. His hair was flowing. Eyes blazed with fury. This figure wore a tiger-skin and a garland of skulls. This was Lord Shiva’s form, Bhairava. Uttering a thunderous blood-curdling roar, Bhairava charged to kill Brahma. Vishnu, taking pity upon Brahma, joined his hands, bowed at the Lotus feet of Lord Shiva and Devi Mahakali, and requested “My Lord! My Lady! You are merciful. Please spare Brahma. He did all this out of his ignorance. I am sure he will change his ways if given one chance. Please ask Lord Bhairava to retreat.” On the other hand, Bhairava caught Brahma and started to behead him. Though Lord Shiva called him back, but till then, Lord Bhairava had cut-off the fifth head of Brahma. Once the egoistic head was removed, Brahma turned into a saintly person. He accepted Vishnu as his master and praised Lord Shiva and Devi Mahakali and Lord Bhairava by singing hymns.

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