Lord Shiva as a Gopi
Lord Shiva as a Gopi
(Lecture given by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on Maha-Shivaratri Day)
Five thousand years ago, the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Divine Bliss descended in the form of Shri Krishna. At that time, to get a glimpse of Shri Krishna, Lord Shiva came as a Gopi. A naive question that some people have is “Who is Lord Shiva?” “Who is Bhagavan Shankar?” Some people have this confusion. Is He a soul? Or is he a God? In other words, is he a Divine saint (Maha purush) or God (Param purush)?
Different scriptures have written different things. It is also written that Shiva is the Supreme Lord in Sri Rudram, Yajur Veda and other Veda mantras – He is God himself. The Absolute, Supreme power. And it is also written that He is not God. Then what is He? He is a guna-avatar, a descension of God. Vishnu is the avatar (descension) of sattva-guna, Brahma of rajo-guna, Shiva of tama-guna. Don’t think that the descension of a guna contains that guna. These are Divine gunas.
You are all under material gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas (goodness, passion, ignorance). But Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar are descensions of God. The avatars of God are no different from God. I have told you many times, that there are no big avatars and small avatars. Be it any avatar: guna-avatar, avesha-avatar, vaibhav avatar, prabhava-avatar, paravasta-avatar, etc. How can there be a difference between avatars? There is not even a difference between God and his realised devotees. The scriptures say, “The one who knows you is no different from you.” So some saints took Lord Shiva to be a descension. And some saints took him to be only a maha-purush, like all ordinary souls. Yes, he is God realised and beyond Maya.
Just like the Gopis attained the Supreme bliss of Maha-raas. Lord Shiva went to Maha-raas in the same way. When he reached the Maha-raas, the gatekeeper Gopis stopped him. “Who are you?” “I am Shankar.” The gopis retorted, “Which Shankar?” Lord Shiva was taken aback, “What do you mean? I am the Governor of the universe. I can burn the entire world down in an instant.” The gopis replied, “That’s fine, but which universe are you the Governor of?”
Just like we have many states in our country. Each state has a different governor. And above them all is the President. In the same way, in God’s creation, there are infinite universes. Verses in the Padma Purana mention that even if all the specks of dust on earth are somehow counted, even then the number of universes cannot be counted. Each of these countless universes has a Brahma, a Vishnu and a Shankar. And each universe is of a different size. Some are small, some are big, some are even bigger and Brahma is said to have that many heads according to the size of the universe.
This universe that you are in is very small. Our Brahma has only four heads. In some universes, Brahma has ten, a thousand or even a million heads. His head is only one. The number is just a matter of speaking. So the gopi asks,”Which Brahma’s universe are you a Governor of?” Shiva said, “I am a Governor of the four-headed Brahma’s universe.” The Gopi replied, ”Why didn’t you say so? You spoke as though you are the absolute God.” Wait here, I will have to seek permission. Males are not allowed here. Be it Shankar, Brahma or Vishnua. No one can enter.” So the Gopi went to Radha Rani. Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort, who was already there, smiled naughtily – “Good thing, he was stopped at the gate. He was so proud of being a male.”
Radha Rani instructed, “Let him come, but he must be in a female form.” We all know Shiva in Gopi form (Gopeshwar Shankar). You must have seen his temple in Braj. So Lord Shiva went to Maha-raas as well, just like other gopis. Rare few eligible souls went to Maha-raas and amongst them was Lord Shiva. In other words, Lord Shiva attained the greatest possible state of Divine Love. So amongst these three, either He is the supreme power or he is the descension of the Supreme Power or he is a soul who is an eternal associate of God. No one can say that he was an ordinary material soul.
Either he is an eternal associate of God. Like the flute of God that you have heard of so much, Lord Shiva himself had become that flute of Lord Krishna in Braj. Just imagine, on one hand, He is the universal Governor of tamo-guna and on the other hand, He becomes such a flute that it enchants the greatest of paramhansas. These are divine pastimes that God enacts by taking on countless forms. Hence, in reality, there is no difference between God and Shiva.
Lord Ram worships Shiva and establishes his deity in Rameshwaram. Lord Krishna worships Shiva, Shiva worships Lord Krishna. All these are God’s Divine pastimes. Don’t ever think one is greater or smaller. Whether one worships Shiva, Vishnu, Ram or Krishna. All of them will go beyond and cross Maya. However, there is one important difference that must be considered. When Lord Krishna is in the form of Shiva, his activities and pastimes cannot attract us souls.
For example, if you meditate on Lord Shiva’s adornments, you will get scared. You all chant “Namo Shiva, Namo Shiva” but if Lord Shiva were to suddenly manifest here, you will all faint out of fear. You will not even be able to run away. Those fearsome serpents; that garland of human skulls and if his associates were to accompany his procession, then you will be in a worse pitiable state. In the Ramcharitmanas, it is described – “Some have no head, while some have many heads. Some have no limbs while some have many limbs. Some have many eyes, while some have no eyes. Some have colossal bodies, while some are just bones.” It is a fascinating Divine procession.
If you hear a story about ghosts, witches, or spirits, or if you see them in a movie, then you will have nightmares the whole night. That is how brave you are! Then what would happen if you actually saw Lord Shiva with his associates? That form of his is uniquely divine. That same form is described throughout the Vedic scriptures. Our mind will not be attracted quickly by that form and those pastimes of God. Whereas our mind is quickly attracted to the pastimes of Lord Ram and Krishna. They are not different entities. Don’t make a mistake of thinking that one is bigger or smaller.
But do understand that we all want that form of our mother and father, where there is only love and love. When a mother lovingly looks at the child with open arms, “Come to my lap.” The child wants that form. And if the mother is angry, the child looks at her form from a distance and walks away. “Now is not a good time to go near her,” he thinks. Just like Narasimha, Kacchapa, Varaha and various other descensions of God. It is not just a matter of his form as Shiva, God’s pastimes in these forms are similarly not as attractive.
Hence, when all the forms are one and the same, why don’t we choose that form which can quickly attract our mind? Wherever there is Lord Krishna, there will definitely be Lord Shiva. There is not even a question of them being separate. They are one and the same.
(We, at Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat, would like to take this opportunity to wish all our devotees a very Happy Maha-shivaratri)
*A brief introduction of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj*
(Known by His devotees as Shri Maharajji)
The original title of Jagadguruttam (‘Greatest Spiritual Teacher of the World’) was bestowed upon Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on January 14, 1957 by ‘Kashi Vidvat Parishad’ (a council of 500 greatest scholars saints of India). He composed divine texts like ‘Prem Ras Madira’, ‘Prem Ras Siddhant’, and ‘Radha Govind Geet’ to lead us on the right path of devotion. He also gave priceless monuments as gifts to the world which include - Bhakti Mandir located in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh, Prem Mandir located in Vrindavan Dham, and Kirti Mandir located in Barsana Dham. Shri Maharajji also built hospitals for the impoverished, the Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Vrindavan, Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Barsana, and another one in Pratapgarh. All three help millions of underprivileged to gain free access to medical care. His Kindergarten, School, and College for impoverished girls Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education is located in Kunda and provides completely free education.