The Destroyer

Lord Shiva “…At the end of the millennium, the Lord Himself in the form of Rudra (Shiva), the destroyer, will annihilate the complete creation as the wind displaces the clouds.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.10.43)

Scriptures of all major religions deal with the issue creation to some degree. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible deals with the beginning of time and which things were created in which order. In a similar fashion, the Vedas also detail the lineage of man and how the universe was first created. On the flip side of creation is dissolution; a topic not often broached.

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva The Vedas tell us that the current creation isn’t the only one to have ever existed. Rather the universe is created and destroyed repeatedly in a cycle. Lord Krishna is considered the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the first created being is Lord Brahma. Krishna manages the material world in the form of three guna avataras: Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma represents the mode of passion, for he is deputed with creating everything in this material world, including begetting progeny. All human beings, and all other living entities for that matter, can trace their lineage back to Lord Brahma. He begets children, and in turn those children rule over the earth. Manu is considered the first man. Actually the term “man” has its origin in Manu, the progenitor of human beings. In the Bible there is the story of Noah and his arc, and in the same manner, the Vedas tell us that Manu survived the universal flood through the help of Krishna’s fish avatara, Matsya.

Each creation goes on for a full Yuga, which is millions of years. After this period expires, the world is destroyed by a universal fire caused by Lord Shiva. If one reads the Ramayana and other Vedic literatures such as the Puranas, they will find many references to this fire, which is often referred to as the fire of dissolution. It serves as a great reference point when trying to describe the intensity of someone’s weapon blast or some other calamity. “He released his arrows and the entire sky looked like the fire of dissolution.” Statements along these lines are found throughout the Vedas. So even people who lived along ago knew about how the creation would be destroyed. In fact, many great personalities of the past have actually witnessed the world’s destruction and lived to tell about it. Markandeya Rishi describes it in great detail in a conversation he has with the Pandava brothers. His description is found in the Mahabharata, wherein he tells of how the whole earth was destroyed and afterwards the only person he saw standing was Lord Narayana, who is Krishna’s four-handed form.

Lord Krishna Therefore we can take the statements regarding the destruction of the world as fact. One may wonder why the world has to be destroyed in the first place. The answer is that this material world and everything in it are temporary. Many scholars tend to think of this world as being false. Brahma-satya jagat-mithya is a common phrase uttered by transcendentalists, which means that only Brahman, the impersonal feature of God, is true and everything else in the world is false. Pains and pleasures are certainly real, but they don’t last forever, thus it is more accurate to describe the material world as temporary rather than false. Due to this fact, everything that is created must inevitably be destroyed. Where there is birth, there is death. This is guaranteed.

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain…” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

“What goes up, must come down” is another common phrase that describes this same principle. It is for this reason that Lord Shiva sets fire to this world at the appropriate time, destroying anything and everything.

Lord Rama was an incarnation of Krishna during the Treta Yuga. He came to earth in the form of a pious prince who was dedicated to the welfare of His father Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya. Rama was all set to be enthroned as the new king when, by the influence of Dashratha’s youngest wife Kaikeyi, the plans suddenly changed. Rama’s half-brother Bharata was instead chosen as the successor and Rama was at the same time ordered to live in the forest for fourteen years. Rama had three younger half-brothers, with Lakshmana being the one He was closest to. Just as Lord Vishnu, or Krishna, incarnated as Rama, so Lord Ananta Shesha Naga incarnated as Lakshmana. One will often see pictures of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha sitting alongside His wife, Goddess Lakshmi. They are usually found sitting on Ananta Shesha Naga, enjoying the protection of his unlimited hoods. Since he is God’s support in the spiritual world, he assumed the same role on earth as Rama’s brother.

Lord Rama had no problem with the new plans, for He wanted to maintain the good name of His father. During those times, kshatriya kings took honor and truth to be very serious matters. Once they promised something, they had to deliver it. Dashratha had promised Kaikeyi any two boons of her choosing on a previous occasion, thus it was his duty, or dharma, to fulfill those promises. However, since Rama was his favorite son, someone he couldn’t live without, Dashratha seriously contemplated reneging on his promises. Lord Rama sensed this and thus quickly accepted the order so as to prevent Dashratha’s potential transgression of the rules of propriety.

Lakshmana All set to depart for the forest, Lakshmana was quite saddened and angry at the same time. He couldn’t believe someone would treat his brother this way. “How can the king do this? Rama has done nothing wrong. Everyone loves Him; even His enemies can find no fault in Him.” These were the thoughts that went through his mind. What a wonderful person. Lakshmana had not a selfish bone in his body. His whole life was dedicated to Rama’s welfare. Such a brother, and devotee for that matter, is very hard to find.

“Oh best of men (Rama), using my arrows I will make all of Ayodhya desolate should they turn against You. I will kill all those who side with Bharata or wish him well. During such a time, acting in a soft manner will only bring about disgrace. If our father, being instigated by Kaikeyi, turns out to be our enemy, I will imprison him, or even kill him, myself.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 21.10-12)

In the above mentioned statement, Lakshmana is boldly declaring his commitment to Rama. He is trying to coax Rama into taking over the kingdom by force. “Don’t worry my brother. You are the rightful heir to the kingdom. I will defend and protect You from anyone who objects to the idea of Your coronation.” Lakshmana was willing to fight even his father and other siblings. Now in reality there was no need for this since Bharata and Dashratha were equally as devoted to Rama. But Lakshmana’s mood of devotion is quite wonderful to see.

Lakshmana’s commitment to even destroy the entire city of Ayodhya with his arrows is rather noteworthy. Lakshmana is considered an incarnation of an expansion of Lord Narayana known as Sankarshana. Ananta Shesha Naga is an expansion of Sankarshana.  Sankarshana is almost equally as powerful as God Himself, thus he has every power to cause the same universal destruction brought about by Lord Shiva. For this reason, it is not a good idea to cross Lakshmana. God should be worshiped and adored, and most certainly not vilified or criticized. Lakshmana took great offense to the treatment shown His brother, thus we should pay careful attention to not offend God and His devotees in any way.

Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana Creation and destruction are guaranteed, for that is the nature of the material world. Besides the collective whole being destined for destruction, we as individuals will also suffer the same fate eventually. All our prized possession and family ties can be severed at any moment. For this reason, we should take up the process of devotional service immediately. If we become pure devotees of Krishna, we will gain the favor of Lakshmana. Just as he can destroy anything at will, Lakshmana can just as easily protect all the great devotees of the Lord. By gaining his favor, we can be assured that our souls will enjoy an eternal blissful life in the spiritual world after our time on earth is finished.

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