Nāma-aparādha: The Second Offense

To Regard the Names and Qualities of Śiva as Independent of Viṣṇu

Among the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, Śiva has a very special place. Moreover, Śiva is also one of the guṇa-avatāras. In the Purāṇas, he is often portrayed as the Supreme Lord, Īśvara. There is also a large community of Hindus who accept Śiva as the Supreme Lord. If you read the second offense against the name, it appears very ambiguous. It seems to forbid any distinction between the names of Viṣṇu and Śiva. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī clarifies the true meaning of the second offense in the following anuccheda.

Anuccheda 265.4

[In connection with the second offense,] the following conclusion is also heard:

Whatsoever in existence is glorious, opulent, or powerful, know that indeed to be manifested from but a portion of My splendor. (Gītā 10.41)

As Śrī Balarāma said: “Brahmā, Śiva, and even I Myself are but portions of His [Kṛṣṇa’s] portions” (SB 10.68.37).

Bhagavān Kapila also said:

Śiva became śiva, or “auspicious,” by accepting upon his head the sacred water of the Gaṅgā, which is the best of rivers, because it issued forth from the water that washed the feet of Bhagavān. (SB 3.28.22)

And as Brahmā said:

I evolve the universe as appointed by Him, and Śiva dissolves it under His supervision, while He Himself [Bhagavān Hari], endowed with the three potencies, preserves it in His form as the Puruṣa. (SB 2.6.32)

Similarly, we find these statements from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, cited in Madhva’s commentary on Vedānta-sūtra (1.3.3):

Bhagavān Janārdana is called Rudra, because He dispels the disease of material existence (rujam), Īśāna, because He rules over all (īśana), and Mahādeva (the Great God), because of His supreme glory (mahattva). Bhagavān Viṣṇu is called Pinākī, because He is the support of those who drink (pibanti) the bliss of the transcendental abode (nāka), having become liberated from the ocean of material existence. He is called Śiva (benevolent), because He is the very embodiment of beatitude (sukhātmakatva), and Hara (the destroyer), because He is the annihilator of all. He is called Kṛttivāsa (He who is adorned with a garment of skin), because as the Immanent Self, He dwells in and impels the body, which is covered with skin (kṛtti). Viṣṇu Deva is called Viriñci, because He sets loose the creative energy (recana) in a most unique manner (vi, i.e., viśeṣa-prakāra). He is designated as Brahman (the Infinitely Expansive), because He is the source of all expansion (bṛṁhaṇa), and as Indra (the lord of heaven), because of His supreme majesty (aiśvarya). In this manner, only one Supreme Being (Puruṣottama), who performs extraordinary deeds, is glorified in the Vedas and the Purāṇas by many different names.

And in the Vāmana Purāṇa:

There is no doubt that Nārāyaṇa and other names are used for others as well, yet Bhagavān Viṣṇu alone is proclaimed as the one and only refuge of all other names.

And in the Skanda Purāṇa:

With the exception of the names that are unique to Him, such as Nārāyaṇa, Bhagavān Puruṣottama bestowed other names upon the devas, just as a king invests his ministers with administrative authority over his entire kingdom, excluding his private quarters.

And in the Brahma Purāṇa:

Bhagavān Keśava awarded even some of His own particular names to others. To Brahmā He gave the names Caturmukha (the four-headed one), Śatānanda (the delight of hundreds), and Padmabhu (the lotus-born); and to Śiva He gave the names Ugra (the fierce one), Bhasmadhara (he whose body is smeared with ashes), Nagna (the naked one), and Kapālī (he who wears a garland of skulls).

In this manner, it is well-known [from scriptures] that Bhagavān Viṣṇu is the Immanent Self of all the devas and of all living beings (sarvātmakatva). For this reason, if a person even thinks, or perceives, that the name, qualities, and other attributes of Śiva are distinct from those of Viṣṇu—in other words, that they are manifested by Śiva’s own independent potency—he is an offender.

If the sixth grammatical case [the genitive case] had been used in the verse with the intent to point out the nondistinction (abheda) between Śiva and Viṣṇu, then the word ca, “also,” should have been inserted after viṣṇoḥ. [If the word ca, “and,” had been placed after viṣṇoḥ, it would have given the exact opposite meaning. The translation would then have been as follows: “One who considers the name, qualities, and other attributes of Śiva ‘and’ Śrī Viṣṇu as different (bhinnam) displeases the name.” Śrī Jīva’s point here is that since the word ca is omitted from the statement, the verse’s intent is not to advocate absolute nondistinction (abheda) between Śiva and Viṣṇu.] To show the supremacy of Bhagavān Viṣṇu, the honorific śrī has been used only before the word Viṣṇu. Therefore, even in the compound śiva-nāmāparādhaḥ, “an offense to the auspicious name,” which appears in the statement of the ninth offense, the word śiva primarily indicates Śrī Viṣṇu. Accordingly, in the list of the 1000 names of Viṣṇu, the names Sthāṇu (the immovable one) and Śiva also refer to Viṣṇu.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa

The basic principle of all śāstra is that there is only one Absolute Truth. This is stated in the very beginning of Bhāgavata Purāṇa (1.2.11), which has been established by Jīva Gosvāmī in Tattva Sandarbha as the supreme authority in the matter of the ascertainment of the Absolute. This Absolute Truth is identified as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is designated as SvayaBhagavān, or God in His ownmost original and essential being (SB 1.3.28). No one is independent of Him (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1, Gītā 10.8). This fact has been demonstrated in Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha (Anucchedas 1–29). This implies that no one is equal to Him, and thus there is no possibility of anyone being superior to Him. Arjuna confirms this in his prayers (Gītā 11.43). Kṛṣṇa Himself says that there is nothing superior to Him (Gītā 7.7).

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī cites various verses to show that the original meaning of all names, such as Śiva, is Viṣṇu. This is also confirmed from the use of the word śiva for Viṣṇu in the description of the offenses (Padma PurāṇaBrahma-khaṇḍa 25.17), cited in this anuccheda. Thus, to consider the name and qualities of Śiva as equal to or independent of Kṛṣṇa is ignorance and also an insult to Kṛṣṇa. Being displeasing to the name, it is therefore an offense. This is analogous to addressing and respecting a minister as the emperor in the latter’s presence while disregarding the actual emperor and calling him a minister.

As regards the second offense, one should not misconstrue the meaning of the statement śivasya śrī viṣṇor ya iha guṇa-nāmādi sakalaṁ dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu harināmāhitakaraḥ to mean “One who considers the name, qualities, and other attributes of Śiva as different (bhinnam) from the name, qualities, and other attributes of Bhagavān Viṣṇu, displeases the name.” Such a meaning could be expressed if the word viṣṇoḥ were understood to be in the sixth case. In such instance, the word “ca” should have been used in place of yaḥ. But according to the meaning given by Jīva Gosvāmī, the word viṣṇoḥ is in the fifth case, and this understanding is in harmony with the fact that Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate manifestation of Absolute Reality.

(to be continued)

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