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Shiva-ratri. The Glories of Lord Shiva

Ravana - Among Best of Disciples of Lord Shiva 

Once, Devi Parvati asked Lord Shiva, “Who is the best brahmana?” Then Shivaji answered, “My disciple Ravana, he is the best brahmana.” Ravana was the son of a brahmana and he was, in the beginning, a nice person. However, he began to associate with demons and soon became one himself. Initially, he was very strict and followed all the rules and regulations. He also fought against the demon Kartavirya Arjuna, otherwise known as Sahasrarjuna. Sahasrarjuna kidnapped many queens and ladies, and since Sahasrarjuna did not follow the rules and regulations of society, Ravana became very angry and fought against him. In Vishnu Purana you can find this glorification of Ravana. It is a very nice story, perhaps I will tell this story another time. 

Moreover, Ravana always performed fire sacrifices very nicely and properly, following all the injunctions regarding brahminical activities. And Ravana himself compiled many Shiva-stotras and shlokas, because Ravana was a prominent disciple of Lord Shiva. If you read Ravana-stuti, your heart will melt. But later, he became a demon as he associated with demons (asat-sanga) and he became a complete atheist. Many people’s lives change in this way; some devotees become demons and some demons even become devotees, as gunas are always changing. Though, previously, Ravana was a sattvika brahmana, afterwards, by the influence of tamo-guna, he became completely absorbed with demonic ideas, and thus he kidnapped Sita, as well as performed many other sinful deeds.

Shivaji has two prominent disciples; one is Ravana, and the other is Janaka Maharaja, who always gives respect to Lord Shiva. 

Lord Shivaji once requested Devi Parvati, “Please call my disciple Ravana because he will perform the fire sacrifice for our palace.” Subsequently, Ravana performed this fire sacrifice which went on for one month. All the while he was properly chanting the vedic mantras “...Svaha, svaha!” Nowadays, if a sacrifice lasts for one hour, then many people will say, “Maharaja, stop! stop!…” as in many houses there are fire alarms which usually start beeping. 

Once everything was completed, Devi Parvati and Shivaji were ready to enter their new palace. But Shivaji said, “Still, our fire sacrifice is not complete, because we did not give dakshina (alms) to the brahmana.” If you don’t give dakshina to a brahmana, your fire sacrifice will not be complete. You see, Ravana did not ask for any dakshina. However, Shivaji stated that according to the rules and regulations, one must give dakshina to a brahmana, and only then, is your fire sacrifice complete. 

Thus, Lord Shiva instructed Devi Parvati, “Please give dakshina to Ravana.”

Devi Parvati replied, “I have no money, nothing!” Then Shivaji said, “I also have no money. But, we still have to give some dakshina to the brahmana.”

After some consideration, Lord Shiva told his disciple,“O Ravana, don’t worry! I will give dakshina to you. Because if I don’t give dakshina, then our fire sacrifice will be worthless.” Shivaji continued, “O Ravana, I am now going to give you a very nice dakshina as you performed this fire sacrifice for one month for us. Please, take this palace.” How generous Lord Shiva can be! He gave away his whole palace to his disciple. After hearing this, Devi Parvati was surprised and exclaimed, “Our house!”

Sankarshana Rama - Lord Shiva’s Worshipable Deity

One thing worth mentioning is that Lord Shiva always remembers his guru. Who is his guru?

Sankarshana Rama. For this regard, Lord Shiva adorns a snake around his two arms and his neck and always chants his guru’s name. Again, what is his guru’s name? Sankarshana Rama. He is an expansion of Balarama. Shivaji is always singing, “Pañca mukhe rāma rāma hare hare…” In this way, Shivaji always chants his guru’s name, Rama. Who does the name Rama refer to? Sankarshana Rama, Balarama. Shiva is always absorbed with his guru Balarama or Sankarshana Rama. 

Shiva Is Greatest of Vaishnavas

Lord Shiva also puts ashes all over his body. He has fully realised that everything is temporary and will eventually transform back to ash. Also, to clear a common misconception— Shivaji never consumes any ganja. Nowadays, some people think, “Oh, ganja or marijuana is Shivaji’s maha-prasada, so, take marijuana.” This type of incorrect philosophy only misleads people. How can this be possible? 

Shivaji is a Vaishnava, in fact, the greatest Vaishnava. Even ordinary Vaishnavas do not accept marijuana. Because our shastras state that when you receive diksha-mantra from a Vaishnava guru, you should carefully follow the four principles. And, what are the four principles?

First, no kinds of intoxication. Not even an ordinary Vaishnava can take intoxicants—how could Shivaji possibly accept ganja? Is your brain working or not? Still, some consume marijuana, arguing, “Oh, this is Shivaji’s maha-prasada. There are many shlokas within Bhagavatam, Ramayana or Mahabharata, stating that Shivaji is taking ganja, and now, this ganja is his maha-prasada.” These are the misconceptions of speculative people; there are those who are consuming ganja, incorrectly thinking, “This is Shivaji’s prasadam.” They are merely speculators who have just created this truth in their mind. Here is a simple way to understand this tattva — Shivaji is a Vaishnava. And how can any Vaishnava possibly take ganja? 

If you read Sanskrit words, sometimes you will seе mada, which means intoxication. Simultaneously, mada also means being very intoxicated with krishna-nama. As you see, mada means intoxication, yet, when used in conjunction with Lord Shiva, mada refers to intoxication with krishna-nama. Lord Shivaji becomes intoxicated by chanting the Lord’s holy names, not by taking ganja. Try to fully understand this concept. 

However, those who are materialistic, they want to consume ganja, thinking they are taking Shivaji’s maha-prasada. Okay, let’s presume that even if you were to say it was Shivaji’s maha-prasada, then one must also consider that Shivaji also drank an entire ocean of poison—  Did he not? Would you drink Shivaji’s poison maha-prasada? Who will take Shivaji’s poison maha-prasada

If you were offered poison, at that time, you would run away, saying, “No! No! I don’t take this type of maha-prasada.” Despite this truth, some still take ganja. And did Shivaji drink poison or not? So, according to that line of thinking, poison must also be considered as maha-prasada. So, here then, take this poison maha-prasada! For this regard, our shastras state:

naitat samācarej jātu

manasāpi hy anīśvaraḥ

vinaśyaty ācaran mauḍhyād

yathārudro ’bdhi-jaṁ viṣam

Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.30)

[One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behaviour of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behaviour, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.]

Viṣam refers to poison coming from the ocean, which came out when the demi-gods and demons churned this ocean. Afterwards, not even the demi-gods, demi-goddesses or demons, could consume that poison, only Lord Shiva could drink it. Actually, Shivaji did not drink all of the poison, he kept it in his throat. For this reason, one of his names is Nilakantha Shiva. Because, Lord Shivaji was thinking, “My Vishnu, my ishtadeva Vishnu, He resides in my heart and if I drink the poison, Vishnu will feel pain.” For this regard, he did not swallow the poison, rather, he kept the poison in his throat— which is why one of his names is Nilakantha Mahadeva. 

In this way, there are so many stories of Lord Shiva which one can speak about. Thus, all the Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis always offer respect to Lord Shiva. He is our greatest Vaishnava — vaishnavanam yatha shambhuh [Lord Shambhu is the greatest of Vaishnavas]. Lord Shiva will give mercy to you; if you completely surrender to him, he will give mercy.

Shiva Instructs Brahmana to Visit Srila Sanatana Gosvami

This morning I told the story of a brahmana. Once, in Kashi, there was a very poor brahmana who worshipped Lord Shiva for many years. In this time he never asked for any money from his ishtadeva. However, when his daughter matured and was ready for her marriage ceremony, he asked Shivaji, “O Lord Shiva, give me some money for my daughter’s marriage ceremony.” 

Nowadays, a marriage ceremony can be arranged very easily— just exchange garlands and it is complete. But, according to the Vedic culture, a Vedic marriage ceremony requires a lot of wealth, one has to spend a lot of money. Hence, the brahmana asked Lord Shiva, “Give some money for my daughter’s marriage ceremony.” Then, Lord Shiva answered, “Okay, you go to Vrindavana and meet with one sadhu, his name is Sanatana Gosvami, he is very wealthy and has a lot of money. He shall give some to you.” 

So, the brahmana arrived in Vrindavana, on the bank of Yamuna, in Madana-Mohana Ghera. There, he met with Sanatana Gosvami and said, “Lord Shiva has sent me, he told me you would give me some money for my daughter’s marriage ceremony.” However, Sanatana Gosvami was completely renounced and was always just chanting the holy names, japa-mantra. Nevertheless, the brahmana persisted, “Lord Shiva has sent me to get some money for my daughter’s marriage ceremony.” Sanatana Gosvami told him,“On the bank of the Yamuna, there is one dustbin...”  So there the brahmana found the dustbin where people normally throw away their trash. 

While searching through the dustbin, the brahmana found a very valuable stone called a touchstone, sparshamani. Then, he placed the touchstone onto iron and the iron transformed to gold. Then the brahmana was very happy. He thought, “Oh! When I return home, all the iron in my room can be touched and transformed into gold! Then, I will give lots of gold ornaments to my daughter. I will decorate her very nicely with these golden ornaments. I will also arrange a very nice, beautiful marriage festival.”

Have you ever attended or seen an Indian marriage ceremony before? In Gujarat, when we were doing Bhagavat-saptaha, just behind the place where we spoke our hari-katha, perhaps from the roof, you noticed a very large celebration with hundreds of offerings, including rice and sabji, and you could also hear the banging from the drums. It was a very big celebration which lasted about two or three days. 

So, the brahmana began returning to his home in Kashi. And then, he also received a little mercy from Lord Shivaji. 

On the way home, the brahmana began thinking, “Sanatana is a renounced person, yet, he threw this touchstone in the dustbin. Such a valuable thing! Why did he throw this valuable stone in the dustbin?” Seeking his answer, the brahmana again returned to Sanatana Gosvamipada and asked him, “Why did you throw this valuable touchstone away? And what wealth or money will you get from your chanting of the holy names, and doing bhajana and sadhana?” Then, Sanatana Gosvamipada explained, “This material gold and all other things are merely the cause of distress and unhappiness. However, I am searching for the highest spiritual wealth, which is called krishna-prema. If anyone receives krishna-prema, he is the best person and the richest. No one can ever steal his prema-dhana, the treasure of his love.” 

If you possess some wealth or money, then a thief will come and steal everything. I recall, just a few years ago, when we were staying in Florianopolis, someone here had their money and passports stolen by a thief. Yet, the thief could not steal their harinama or krishna-prema.

Devotee: But he took the japa-mala.

He also took the japa-mala? But, he cannot sell that japa-mala. In the same way, Sanatana Gosvamipada explained that in this material world, money is the cause of distress. However, if you attain krishna-bhakti or krishna-prema, you will become the richest person in the world. By the causeless mercy of Sanatana Gosvamipada and Lord Shivaji, the brahmana came to the realisation, “Why am I attached to this material wealth— to money?” 

Afterwards, the brahmana threw the touchstone into the waters of Yamuna. Then, he received diksha-mantra from Sanatana Gosvamipada and began performing bhajana and sadhana in Vrindavana. When he gave up his body, he attained Goloka Vrindavana. This is an example of the perfect mercy of Lord Shiva. Without Shivaji’s mercy, how can one possibly attain shuddha-bhakti and krishna-prema

Shivaji’s Duel with Lord Krishna 

Sometimes though, even Lord Shiva fights against Lord Krishna. 

The katha of Banasura takes place in the battlefield of Kashi. Banasura challenged Lord Krishna, Dvarakadhisha Krishna, and he fought against Krishna in this place. You see, Banasura maintained a friendship with the king of Kashi named Kashiraja, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. And on the battlefield, when Kashiraja arrived with his army, Lord Krishna cut off his head with His Sudarshana chakra. 

Thus, Shivaji became very angry with Krishna and attempted to fight against Him. Shivaji even brought his trident to fight against Krishna. Then, Dvarakadhisha Krishna said, “Oh, you have so much love and affection for your disciple Kashiraja that you are taking the side of the demons.”  

Lord Vishnu used His Sudarshana chakra. When Shivaji saw His Sudarshana chakra coming, he ran away as it chased behind him. Shivaji thought “Who will give me shelter?” The Sudarshana chakra was searching for him when he arrived in Jagannatha Puri. Then, Lord Jagannatha said, “O, Sudarshana chakra! You are Mine, so return back to Me because Shivaji is My parama-bhakta.” Thereafter, the Sudarshana chakra returned back to Vishnu’s hand in Jagannatha Puri. 

Shivaji became very ashamed and asked himself, “Why did I fight against my master, Lord Vishnu, Dvarakadhisha Krishna?” At that time, Lord Jagannatha said, “Okay, just stay in this place which will be named after you — Lokanatha Mahadeva.” Lokanatha Mahadeva is very close to Jagannatha Puri and Lord Shiva resides there.

So Shivaji is thinking, “Actually, Krishna has not given His mercy to me because He is angry with me.” Thus, he came to Navadvipa-dhama, as he realised, “Now Kali-yuga has come and this same Krishna appears in the form of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is the embodiment of munificence and magnanimity, and He will give me krishna-bhakti.” For this regard, Shivaji came to Navadvipa-dhama and performed hard austerities in Harihara-kshetra.

Thus, to remove the offences he committed to the lotus feet of Krishna, Lord Shiva atoned for them (prayashchitta) and destroyed them all by coming to Harihara-kshetra and performing bhajana and sadhana. So, when you go to Navadvipa-dhama, all of your offences will automatically be destroyed. Go to Navadvipa-dhama but do not commit any offences there, then, you will automatically receive the mercy of Sacinandana Gaurahari.

Date: 22 February 2020 Location: Chile


Transcriber: Mohini dasi (UK) Editors: Damodara dasa (UK), Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Photo: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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