Shivaratri is the celebration festival for Lord Shiva, one of the three presiding deities of the material world. To manage the material world, Lord Krishna incarnates as three guna avatars, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Shiva. Guna means qualities, and each of the deities preside over a specific quality of material nature. Lord Vishnu represents the mode of goodness, Lord Brahma the mode of passion, and Lord Shiva the mode of ignorance or darkness.
Lord Shiva is known as Mahadeva, or the great god or demigod. He is known as the highest demigod because he is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu or Krishna. Lord Shiva is always seen seated in a yoga posture and meditating, for his mind is in deep concentration on the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. Like other demigods, he has been deputed by Lord Krishna to provide material benedictions to those who worship him. Lord Shiva is generally the demigod to go to for people in the mode of ignorance. People in the mode of ignorance usually crave material benedictions and they know that Lord Shiva is very easily pleased, so they go to him to fulfill their desires.
There have been many examples in the past where demons worshipped Lord Shiva in order to obtain things that weren’t for used for good purposes. The evil Rakshasa demon Ravana worshipped Lord Shiva and was granted many powers through him. He used these powers to wreak havoc throughout the world, until he was finally stopped by Lord Krishna Himself through His incarnation as Lord Rama. Another demon named Vrikasura once asked Lord Shiva for the benediction that would enable him to kill anyone simply by placing his hand on their head. Lord Shiva granted this wish and the demon immediately tried to place his hand on Lord Shiva’s head in order to kill him. Lord Vishnu then intervened and tricked the demon into killing himself. Prior to becoming a great sage, Vishwamitra Muni was a kshatriya king and he worshipped Lord Shiva in order to procure weapons that he would later use to attack the noble sage Vashishta. Vishwamitra was defeated and he eventually became a very pious brahmana.
In all these instances, we see that Lord Shiva was easily pleased based on austerities, and not necessarily the qualities of the person performing them. Though he is a boon granter, Lord Shiva is best known for being a great Vaishnava, or devotee of Lord Vishnu. In the Brahmavaivarta Purana, after Lord Shiva takes birth, he tells Lord Krishna that he wants to spend all his time thinking of Him. Lord Krishna tells Shiva that he must get married to Goddess Parvati, but not to worry, because Parvati will only increase his devotion to Him. In this way, we see that Lord Krishna and Shiva have always had a loving relationship. Lord Shiva is also the narrator of the story of Lord Rama found in the Brahmananda Purana, which forms the basis of the Ramacharitamansa of Tulsidas. Lord Shiva beautifully narrates the life and pastimes of Lord Rama to his wife Parvati. He explains that Lord Rama is the Supereme Personality of Godhead, and that devotion to Him is the highest perfection of life. Since he always resides in the city of Kashi in India, Lord Shiva whispers the name of Rama into the ear of anyone who dies there. In this way, people who give up their bodies in Kashi are granted liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Bearing all this in mind, Lord Shiva deserves the utmost respect from Vaishnavas. The proper way to worship him is to ask him to grant us the same level of devotion for Krishna that he has. In this way, we will be performing the highest worship of Lord Shiva.
Krishna’s Mercy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering Krishna prasadam to one and all.
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