Śiva, The Glance of Viṣṇu

By Swāmī Śrī Bhaktivedānta Tripurāri

Out of love for all the jīvas, the Lord glances at material nature to manifest them, that they may come to meet their maker and love him. Śiva is this glance of Viṣṇu, it is the glance of love for all jīvas. It is said that God decides to become many. All the baddha-jīvas are in a homogeneous form within Mahā-Viṣṇu and upon his awakening, out of love for the jīvas, he causes them to again become many by glancing over material nature. This goes on in perpetual cycles of creation and annihilation. It is said that Viṣṇu does not associate with material nature. Material nature does not take precedence over him. He is intimately associated only with his svarūpaśakti, which is his own nature and which conquers him, Rādhā conquers Kṛṣṇa.

All the devotees conquer Kṛṣṇa under the influence of this svarūpaśakti. But the māyāśakti does not conquer Kṛṣṇa. Viṣṇu does not associate with māyā. But by glancing, he goes there. It is said in the Bible when you glance at a woman, you go there. Just by glancing you are implicated. So Viṣṇu glances at māyā and in that sense goes there. That glancing is Śiva, all the jīvas’ consciousness in touch with material nature, activating material nature and the whole world starts again.

It is said in Vedānta-sūtra that the world is about love. We may think, “What? This world is a place of misery, suffering. How is it about love?” In fact, all theologians have to deal with this problem: the world is full of suffering, God is full of love, but God created the world. How do we harmonize this? Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism has this idea: out of love for all the jīvas, the Lord glances at material nature to manifest them, that they may come to meet their maker and love him. And within the world he goes to canvass them, he gives the scripture, so that they may learn how to regulate their lives and come to him. But being of the stamp of himself, a unit of consciousness with will, they don’t always take advantage. Still, he comes after them. This glance of Viṣṇu; this is Śiva; it is the glance of love for all jīvas. So how we can not appreciate Śiva?

It is said in Padma Purana there are ten offenses to chanting the holy name. The second offense is to consider Lord Śiva different from Viṣṇu. Sometimes it is also rendered, “to consider the names of the demigods to have equal efficacy as that of Lord Viṣṇu.” But it may be rendered in another way, “to consider the difference between Śiva and Viṣṇu.” Śiva means auspicious. Kṛṣṇa is all-auspicious, so Śiva is also a name for God.


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