Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 5 Chapter 1



Chapter I

On the superiority of Rudra over Viṣṇu

1-5. The Riṣis said:

“The great legendary story, the life of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, supremely divine, destructive of all sins, has been narrated by you, O Sūta!

But, O Blessed One! You, though highly intelligent, have dwelt on it not at a great length; hence many doubts are cropping up in our minds. A very difficult tapasyā was performed by Vāsudeva the part incarnate of Viṣṇu, who had to go to forest to worship Śiva.

Next, it has been known that the Devī Pārvatī, the part incarnate of the Great Mother, the Mother of the universe, the Supreme, and Perfect who offered boons to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

How did it then come to pass that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, being himself the God, had to worship Pārvatī and Mahādeva? Is it that Śrī Kṛṣṇa was inferior to Mahādeva and Pārvatī? This is our doubt.”

6-7. Śūta spoke: -

“Hear then, the reasons, O noble Riṣis! That I heard from Vyāsa; I will now sing before you those meritorious deeds Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”

The son of Parīksit, the intelligent Janamejaya had also the same doubts that you now have, when he heard the story before from Vyāsa; and he asked the same questions that you now ask.”

8-11. Janamejaya said:

“O son of Bhagavatī! I have heard from you much about the Supreme Goddess, the Highest Cause; still the doubts are not leaving me.

O Fortunate One! Kṛṣṇa the Deva of the Devas, the Viṣṇu incarnate, worshipped Śambhu and had to perform dire penances; this is my great wonder!

He is the soul of all the Jīvas, the One Ruler and Lord of this world and He is able to confer all the Siddhis; how is it, then, that the Lord Hari had to perform very difficult asceticism like an ordinary mortal,

He who is able to create this universe, moving and non-moving, He who is able to preserve and destroy it, why did He practise such a terrible penance.”

12-54. Vyāsa said:

“True it has been said by you that Vāsudeva the Janārdana, is the destroyer of the Daityas and He is able to create and preserve the Devas and do all other acts for them.

But the Great Lord assumed a human body; therefore he had to perform his duties like a man and observe the Varṇa and Āśrama Dharmas pertaining to human beings.

Respecting the elderly persons, worshipping the spiritual teachers, doing service to the Brāhmaṇas, adoring and propitiating the Devas, feeling sorrow at times of sorrow, feeling pleasure at times of happiness, feeling dejection or expressing censure or scandal, or having sexual intercourse with women, in other words, to feel lust, anger, greediness and other passions when their proper time arises.

All these are natural to all human beings; how can, then, Śrī Kṛṣṇa though intrinsically of pure qualities, become Nirguṇā (devoid of human qualities) when he assumed a human body which is Saguṇā, i.e., with qualities.

O Ruler of men! The extinction of the Yādava race by the curse of Gāndhāri, the daughter of Subala, and the curse of a Brāhmin, Kṛṣṇa's leaving his human coil, the stealing away of his wives, the robbing of their wealth on the way by the dacoits of the Āvīra tribe, Arjuṇa's becoming powerless to hurl any weapons on those dacoits, Kṛṣṇa's not knowing anything about the stealing away of Pradyumna and Aniruddha from his Dvārakā palace, these all correspond verily to exertions and failings appropriate to human bodies.

Again the Ṛiṣi Nārāyaṇa is the part incarnate of Viṣṇu, and Vāsudeva is the part incarnate of the Ṛiṣi Nārāyaṇa; hence what wonder is there, if Vāsudeva be seen to adore and propitiate Śiva?

Śiva is the God of gods; and He is the Lord of all the causal bodies that exist; in the state of Suṣupti (deep sleep).

In this respect, Śiva is the creator of Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu worships Him in this light.

Rāma, Kṛṣṇa and others are all part incarnations of Viṣṇu; so there is no wonder if they worship Śiva.

The letter A is Bhagavān Brahmā; the letter “U” is Bhagavān Hari; the letter “M” is Bhagavān Rudra and the half letter m is Maheśvarī, the Supreme Mother of the universe.

The sages, therefore, consider Viṣṇu superior to Brahmā; they again consider Rudra superior to Viṣṇu and Mahēśvari (Turīya State) again superior to Rudra.

The speciality of the half letter is that it can never be uttered; it is the symbol of the Eternal Devī. In all the Śāstras, therefore, the superiority of the Devī is established. Viṣṇu is superior to Brahmā; Rudra is superior to Viṣṇu.

Therefore no doubt can arise in Kṛṣṇa's worshipping Śiva. It is through the will of Śiva that a second Rudra originated from the forehead of Brahmā to offer boons to him (i. e., to Brahmā). This second Rudra is venerable and entitled to all worship; what to speak of the First Rudra?

O King! It is through the proximity of the Devī that the importance and superiority of Śiva is thus established. Thus the incarnations of Hari arise in yugas after yugas through the intervention of the Yoga Māyā; so there is no need to discuss on this point.

Why to Achyuta alone, to Brahmā and Śiva also She gives troubles for getting involved into incarnations, She the Yoga Māyā who is indirectly, with the twinkling of Her eyes, creating, preserving and destroying this universe.

It is the Yoga Māyā that caused Kṛṣṇa to be transferred from his lying-in chamber to the village Vraja and then protected him in the house of the cowherd Nanda; afterwards took him to Mathurā for the destruction of Kamsa, whence he was led again out of Jārāsandha’s fear to the city Dwārkā.

It is She that created from Her Own Self the eight Nāikās (the leading mistresses) and also sixteen thousand and fifty women for the pleasure and enjoyment of Kṛṣṇa Bhagavān, the incarnation of Ananta (Viṣṇu Bhagavān); thus Kṛṣṇa Bhagavān was made completely subservient to them just like a perfect slave.

When a young woman, though she is alone, can bind a man down by the network of Māyā, like strong iron chain, what wonder is there that the sixteen thousand and fifty women would make Kṛṣṇa play in their hands like a Śūka bird and make him an instrument to serve any purpose that they liked.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa got himself so much under the control of Satyabhāmā that He went gladly under her commands to Indra's heavens to get the Pārijāta flowers. There he had to fight with Indra and subsequently stole away the Pārijāta tree and gave it to Satyabhāmā as a very valuable ornament to be kept in her room.

Behold! The same Kṛṣṇa, by His own prowess, defeated Śiśupāla and others for the preservation of religion and then stole away Rukmiṇī, the daughter of Bhīma and afterwards married her as his legal wife; where is the rule, then observed that it is a sin to take away another's wife?

Thus all embodied beings get themselves subdued by Ahaṁkāra and do acts, good or bad, confounded and deluded by the network of Moha that always drags one down below.

From the Mūla Prakriti are born Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Hara and from the Tāmasic Ahaṁkāra of Prakriti is created this whole cosmos, moving and non-moving. The lotus- born Brahmā becomes free when he is free from Ahaṁkāra; otherwise He becomes engaged in this world’s affairs.

When freed from this Ahaṁkāra, all the Jīvas become free; and their houses, wealth, wives, sons and brothers are quite powerless to tie them down; but when bound by Ahaṁkāra, the Jīvas come under their control.

O king! This Ahaṁkāra is the cause bondage to all the beings:

“I am the doer, this work is done by my power; or this I will do myself”

- thinking thus, the embodied beings fall themselves under this bondage.

An earthen pot cannot be made without earth; no effects can be visible without a cause; consequently Viṣṇu is preserving this universe, because of this Ahaṁkāra (imposed on him by Prakriti).

The human beings are always drowned in their cares and anxieties simply because they are bound by this Ahaṁkāra; when they become free from this Ahaṁkāra, their cares and anxieties at once vanish.

Moha (delusion) comes out of Ahaṁkāra; world and the enjoyments thereof come out of Moha; otherwise how can it be accounted for, that Hari and others, the mine of all good and auspiciousness, take their several incarnations in various wombs?

Neither Moha nor this world comes to those that are bereft of Ahaṁkāra. Men are of three kinds: Sāttvic, Rājasic, and Tāmasic;

O king! Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva are sprung respectively from the Rājasic, Sāttvic, and Tāmasic Ahaṁkāras. In these three, the three Ahaṁkāras are always to be found, so the Munis, that have realised the Real Essence, declare:

They are all bound by this Ahaṁkāra; there is no doubt in this.

The Pundits of dull intellect, and deluded by Māyā declare that Viṣṇu takes various incarnations out of his own free will; for when it is seen that men of even inferior intellects do not entertain any desire to enter into the wombs, painful and terrible; how will Viṣṇu, then, the Holder of the discus, like to come into this womb!

The slayer of Madhu, the Vaiṣṇavas say, entered all at once into the wombs of Kauśalyā and Devakī, full of faeces and other dirty things, of His own free will.

But you must think out what happiness can Madhusūdana, quitting his Vaikuṇṭha Heavens, attain in this womb, full of so many troubles, and where arise, like poisons, hundreds of cares and thoughts to torment an individual! Especially when it is seen that human beings perform asceticism, sacrifice Yajñas and do various charities, that they would avoid thus entering in wombs, which is very painful and terrible.

How can Bhagavān Viṣṇu be called independent? If so, He would never have yielded to enter into various wombs.

Therefore, O king! Know this that this whole universe is under the control of Yoga Māyā; the Devas, men, birds, what more everything from Brahmā down to a blade of grass are all under the control of Yoga Māyā.

Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Hara all are bound by the rope of Her Māyā. So they roam easily by Her Māyā from womb to womb like a spider.

Here ends the First Chapter of the Fifth Book on the superiority of Rudra over Viṣṇu in the Mahā Purāṇam of Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa, consisting of eighteen thousand verses.