Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18
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Brahma and Vishnu witness the Fiery Lingam
12/10/2019 revised. Copyright
Once upon a time, the Yogin of yogins cum
master of Maya was having his siesta on a bed of coiled snake. He had the
goddess of wealth, Mahalakshmi by his side with his attendants. Brahma, the
Vedic scholar of scholars, dropped in on Vishnu by happenstance unannounced.
Haughty Brahma fired off a salvo of insults at Vishnu, for he thought that
Vishnu was not paying respects to a scholar of such colossal intelligence and
learning. Brahma put the lotus-eyed Vishnu on the defensive by blaming him for
being haughty. Brahma told Vishnu that he was his Lord, and respect was not
forthcoming from Vishnu. He suggested that Vishnu would have to perform
expiatory rites to erase the infraction and called him the most wretched of the
Vishnu, a cool god under all circumstances, was so shocked that his hair, including the mark of Srivatsa, stood on end. He bristled up with anger, and such was the anger that seethed inside him when Hiranyaksa took the earth to the bottom of the ocean, and Lord Vishnu in the form of Boar had to rescue Bhumidevi, the Earth Goddess, who was hanging to Lord Boar’s tusk by the toenails. He was boiling inside, but being Mayin, he was cool outside. He invited Brahma to sit on his snake couch and accorded him formalities of reception fit for the Lord of Creation. He, in a concerned voice, asked him why his face was contorted and showed agitation and why his eyes were blazing with the fire of anger. He never saw such angry eyes before, which was almost equal to the fire emitted by Sankarshana at the beginning of the fiery dissolution of the Universe.
Brahma said to Vishnu that he traveled at the speed of wind, mind, and time, that he expected him to receive him with an honor fit for the Creator and protector of the Universe and that he was his protector too. Vishnu replied, “Sonny, you sprang from me. But for me, your existence would not have come about. What are you talking about? Remember, you were born on the lotus of my navel. You are talking nonsense, and your words are frivolous.” They were arguing back and forth, quoting citations about the superiority of one over the other. It soon worsened, and they were fighting like (Rocky Mountain) goats (Oreamnos americanus,[their Indian cousins]) who try to defend and augment their harem, with a band of females watching from a safe distance sporting a mirthful grin on their faces.
Both of them summoned Vedas to tell them who the unchanging entity in the Universe was. They assumed a human form and voice. Rgveda said that Rudra was the repository of all Bhutas (elements) and origin of everything, and he was the highest entity. Yajurveda said that Siva was the object of worship, sacrifice and meditation and that Siva was the sole Seer. Samaveda said that the Universe existed because of Siva, he was the object of meditation by Yogins, and that he was the Light of the Universe. Atharvaveda said that Siva was the most auspicious One beyond all misery, that he was the Lord of gods, and that devotees obtained the vision of Siva. Brahma and Vishnu then went ahead and leveled attacks on Siva's personal appearance and hygiene. They said, " You (Vedas) lost your mind, relevance, and meaning. You have no wisdom. Siva is naked, of yellow complexion, and laden with dust. He is ugly, and his dress is atrocious. He rides a bull, he wears a matted russet hair, and he wears snakes around his neck. How is it possible he could be Brahman?
Pranava (OM) glorified Siva about his Sakti, effulgence, eternality, and Bliss. Brahma and Vishnu were unconvinced on account of Maya of Siva having sway on them.--Siva Purana
Brahma was seated on his graceful Swan, his vehicle of choice, and not to be outdone, Vishnu was sitting on his glorious Garuda, the possessor of power and devotion. They fought and fought, and feathers were flying all around. Soon blows were exchanged, and they stepped back to regroup and use more lethal weapons. The Devas and other celestials, who always enjoyed a good fight, started gathering to witness the battle of the Kalpa. They came in aerial cars and hung in the midair for a while, but soon began to scamper, looking for a vantage point to witness the mother of all fights. They knew that they had to share their stories with their consorts; the one with the best story always got the best review. They knew this was no ordinary fight like what they always had with the Asuras. This battle was unique: a battle between the Creator and the Preserver. They had high regard for both because their very existence depended on the fighting gods. They took a stand, and it was to stay neutral and out of the way. They showered flowers from celestial trees, which have both ripe fruits and flowers in full blossom at the same time.
Brahma and Vishnu entertained thoughts on weapons of mass destruction. Vishnu shot arrows on the chest of Brahma. It was an endless rain of arrows, and Brahma started looking like he was growing steely hairs on his chest. The arrows rained and rained, and it was like the rain that Indra sent to the cowherds, Gopis and the animals, who took shelter under the Govardhana hill held aloft by Lord Krishna. Brahma returned the favor and sent a shower of arrows to Vishnu. The Devas and the Celestials were shaking in fear and wonder. They never saw a fight of this intensity; the battle with Asuras was a picnic compared to this. Vishnu, the cool, collected, benevolent God of great Grace, started showing traces of annoyance towards Brahma and uttered a few Mantras (like the software program [and hardware of the modern-day weapons]) and shot the Mahesvara weapon. Brahma was so agitated knowing the launch of such a weapon that he sent an antimissile missile called Pasupata weapon. The missiles met in the air and destroyed each other. (The idea of missiles and antimissile missiles existed in Indian Mythology.)
Soon they realized that they were equal in weapon systems, called a truce, and went to Siva for arbitration. Siva, the Supreme Brahman, who bears the Trident (!), is the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer of the Universe, and no one (I mean no one) exceeds him in Obscuration and Grace (Tirobhava and Anugraha). Nothing moves in this world and Universe (including galaxies, high seas, air, and land) from Brahma to a blade of grass without his knowledge and consent. Such is his Greatness. Siva is the Creator of the Universe, and Intel (intelligence) flows into him in a continuous stream. They (Brahma and Vishnu) both knew Siva’s Abode, the summit of Kailas, where the God who sports the moon on his forelocks lives. Kailas shone like a thousand suns, and the peak was of the shape of Omkara (OM), the first sound of the Universe. Brahma and Vishnu hung their heads in deep reverence and entered the Palace of palaces, the abode of Siva. They went into the council chamber. There he was, the Lord of the Universe, Siva himself. He sat on the Throne of thrones, studded with precious diamonds and gems of all kinds. Uma sat beside him. His right leg rested on the knee of the left leg. His lotus-like hands rested on his legs. He was auspiciousness personified. His attendants were standing all around him. The attending celestial ladies were fanning him. The sound from the recital of Vedas praising his virtues filled the large chamber. Tears of joy ran down from the eyes of Devas when they witnessed this grandeur. The auspicious Lord was conferring his Grace on everyone. The Devas fell prone like sticks and performed Danda-Pranama to the Lord by falling prostrate towards the feet of Lord Siva with all eight parts of their body on the floor: the outstretched hands, the chest, the forehead, the eyes, the throat, the body, the knees, and the feet. What a spectacle of respect, reverence, devotion, and Grace!
Siva called the Devas to come close and addressed them in the manner of a parent to children (Vatsalya). He inquired about their welfare and wondered aloud why they were so concerned about the fight between Brahma and Vishnu. He smiled at them benignly and used sweet words to soothe them, saying that he was already aware of the battle and that he would do everything in his power to prevent any catastrophe. He announced that he would personally lead his army and ordered the commanders to get their men ready for war (a strategy). Hundreds of commanders went out and readied their men and weapons. The army set in motion with accompanying the music. The Lord himself mounted a vehicle shaped like Omkara; His sons, Ganas (attendants), Devas (gods), Indra, and other celestials, were in tow. The banners were flapping in the wind, showers of flowers were pouring down from the sky; music filled the air; chowries and fans cooled the commanders, and goddess Parvati and Pasupati (Siva) went to the battlefield. (Siva without Sakti [goddess Parvati, the Sakti or power of Siva] is unthinkable.)
Siva, on the way to the battlefield, suddenly disappeared into thin air. There was a sudden silence; the music stopped, and the attendants and field commanders wondered what happened to their Lord, the Commander-in-Chief.
Meanwhile, Brahma and Vishnu were wondering whether the missiles, Mahesvara and Pasupata, launched by them reached their target. As the missiles were cruising in the sky, they left in their trail a tail of fiery flame which burned the three worlds. Upon seeing what looked like the end of the world by fire, the incorporeal (bodiless) form of Siva assumed the terrifying form of a colossal tower of fire with no ends at sight.
Brahma and Vishnu, seeing the column of fire, exchanged glances and words, wondering what it was. They never saw a fire of this magnitude and shape. According to Linga Purana (Chapter 17), a pillar of flame with a thousand tongues appeared in front of them. It had no beginning, no end, no middle, and no distinct parts. It was beyond comprehension and explanation. The Eternal First letter A appeared on the right side of the column of fire, the letter U on the left side, the letter M in the middle, and the sound of AUM came from the end. In a flash, the configuration changed. Vishnu saw the First Syllable A in the south, which appeared as a brilliant disk of the sun. The letter U appeared in the north and had the fiery brilliance of the fire. The letter M appeared in the middle and looked as bright as the full moon. Towering all these elements, Lord Siva appeared as a pure crystal, which was the fourth dimension, which had no interior or exterior, and no duality of opposites. It was void and Bliss. It was the Source itself. Lord Vishnu, the Mayin of mayins, was himself deluded by the Maya of Siva. They agreed that they had to find the ends of this fiery column. There was no benefit if both went together in search of the bottom and the top. So saying Vishnu took the form of a Boar (he looked like a moving glob of black collyrium—Linga Purana) and went in search of the bottom end of the column of Fire. The Black Boar measured a hundred Yojanas in length and ten Yojanas in girth (1 Yojana = 8 miles). It was as big as Mount Meru. It had glistening curved white teeth. It had the splendor exceeding that of the sun and a grunt louder than a thousand thunderclaps. Its body on closer inspection was multicolored, and its legs were short. Brahma assumed the form of a swan and flew at the speed of wind, mind, and thought to find the top of the column. Vishnu dug and burrowed his way through the netherworlds and utterly exhausted, not seeing the bottom, came back to the battlefield in dejection. Brahma, flying higher and higher hoping to reach the top, saw a flower falling from above him. This flower dropped from the head of Siva as Siva was laughing at the childish fight between Brahma and Vishnu. Brahma, noticing the flower, asked it who was wearing it and why it was falling. The talking flower replied that he was falling from the middle of the fiery column for eons, that it never saw the top of it, and that it would be impossible for Brahma to reach the top. Brahma hit upon the idea of recruiting a false witness in the talking flower who would back his claim that he (Brahma) reached the top of the column. He bowed again and again to the Ketaki flower and persuaded the flower to conspire with him. On reaching the battleground and seeing Vishnu thoroughly depressed and unhappy, Brahma jumped for joy. Siva Purana mentions that Vishnu admitted to Brahma his failure to find the bottom of the fiery column was worse than a eunuch’s inability to mount a conjugal response (7.26). Brahma addressed Lord Hari (Vishnu), saying that he found the top and the Ketaki flower was his witness. The flower supported what Brahma said and spoke in words confirming what Brahma said to Vishnu. Vishnu paid homage to Brahma and worshipped him ritually in sixteen ways. Siva, the True Witness of the Universe and the Repository of intel (intelligence), came out of the fiery column to punish Brahma for his false claim and a false witness. Vishnu, on seeing Lord Siva, immediately stood up in respect, paid homage, fell prostrate at his feet, and held them. He spoke to Siva, saying that out of foolishness, ignorance, delusion, and false pride, he undertook the journey to find the ends of his body of the fiery column, which was unfathomable. He wanted a full pardon and forgiveness and wondered aloud whether this was a divine sport of Lord Siva to test and teach him a lesson.
Lord Siva told Vishnu that he admired his honesty and adherence to the truth, though, in a moment of temporary delusion, he wanted to be the Lord of the Universe. He further stated that from then on, he would be equal to him in every way and that he would appropriately receive from his devotees. Vishnu was glad to hear from Siva that he would have his separate temples of worship, idols, images, devotees, festivals, rituals, and rites. Devas witnessed all these happenings in the Hall of Siva.
Mahadeva (Siva) created from his glabella (forehead between the eyebrows) a person by name Bhairava for the specific purpose of teaching a lesson to Brahma and to redress his misplaced pride, untruth, and false testimony. Bhairava knelt before Lord Siva, waiting for orders. Shiva ordered Bhairava (Lord Fear himself) to cut the lying head off from Brahma’s five head cluster with a sword. Bhairava caught hold of the tuft of the lying head of Brahma, the fifth head that pronounced the falsity and menacingly shook the sword. His body shook like a plantain tree caught in a storm, his jewels fell here and there, his clothes became loose and slid down, the garland was hanging around his neck askew, the once-glorious tuft was mussed up, and the head fell at the feet of Bhairava.
Acyuta (Vishnu) standing by Lord Siva saw all that happened, was shocked, saddened and overtaken by compassion, shed rivers of tears on the compassionate feet of the Lord, begged him to spare Brahma’s life, held his palms together as a mark of reverence and prattled like a baby. Vishnu continued to speak to Siva, saying that He (Siva) was the one who gave Brahma the five heads, that He was the one who cut off his fifth head and that He should spare his life. Siva turned towards the four-headed Brahma and told that henceforth, he would receive no honors any more and that no temple would exist for him. He turned to the talking and yet wilted Ketaka flower, guilty of perjury, and told that henceforth, the Ketaka flower would not be used or worn by Him (remember that it fell off his head before) and the Devas in worship. But out of consideration and compassion, Siva told that Ketaka flowers are for decorative purposes only. That was the fall of the Ketaka flower from Grace.
Brahma, Vishnu and the Devas praised the Lord who, having been pleased, declared that henceforth, that day would be celebrated as “Sivaratri, the night of Siva.” Anyone who worships the Lord in the form of Linga on that day would benefit from merits equal to one year of worship. Linga confers joy, salvation, and complete liberation from samsara. Since the fiery Linga rose like a mountain of fire, the Linga would become famous as Red (Aruna, meaning red) mountain. In Tamil Nadu, the Arunachala mountain of Tiruvannamalai represents the fiery Linga. Worshipping the Linga form confers five kinds of salvation: Salokya, Samipya, Sarupya, Sarsti, and Sayujya.
The dead soldiers and attendants of Lord Brahma and Vishnu came back to life from the Grace of Siva. He told them that he has two forms: the Manifest and the Unmanifest. Siva is formless and Unmanifest Brahman; Linga is his manifest form. Brahman is Brahmatva, and Linga is the embodied Isatva. The symbolic fiery column is his Brahmatva. Siva performs fivefold duty: creation, maintenance, destruction, veiling and Grace. Sarga is creation, Sthiti is preservation, Samhara is destruction, Tirobhava is veiling, and Anugraha is liberation. The Lord’s activities are in evidence in the five elements: Creation in the earth, maintenance in water, destruction in the fire, veiling in the wind, and Grace in ether.
The five faces of Siva preside over these five activities. Brahma and Vishnu receive the portfolio of creation and maintenance, respectively, Rudra is in charge of destruction, and Mahesa (Mahesvara) in charge of veiling. But Grace, the fifth function, is the exclusive right, privilege, and portfolio of Sadasiva. Siva tells that Brahma and Vishnu forgot their assignments and regarded themselves as Mahesa, the giver of Grace, which is impossible. This lack of knowledge was because of the failure to worship Lord Siva by Brahma and Vishnu. He urged them to resume worship of him. He taught them the Omkara mantra. 'A' comes from the north face, 'U 'comes from the west face, 'M' comes from the south face, and the Bindu comes from the east face. Nada, the mystical sound, comes from the middle face, the one pointing to the sky. Mantra Om, pervading Name, and form is Siva and Sakti. Om is also the origin of Namasivaya, the five-syllabled Mantra. Siva, in the presence of Ambika, his consort, placed his hands on the heads of Brahma and Vishnu and taught them the Mantra, when they were facing north. Mantra, Yantra, and Tantra accompanied worship performed by Brahma and Vishnu, who repeated the Mantra three times. Mantra is a magical formula based on a sound, a syllable, a word, a phrase or a verse which, when chanted in silence, solo, or chorus, creates wholesome vibrations and energy. Yantra is a mystical diagram made of alphabets, syllables, and line drawings etched on metals and stones, whose purpose is to invoke God for progeny, health, wealth, etc. The computer circuit board is a comparable analogy for Yantra. Tantra is the sacred text comprised of descriptive, instructive, and prescriptive scriptures about religion, science, practices (Pranayama, breathing exercises), and mystical knowledge. Yantra is the hardware, Mantra is the coded computer language, and Tantra is the software application.
Brahma and Vishnu held their hands against their chest with opposing palms as a mark of reverence and paid their fees by dedication to the cause. They sang his glory. Siva's qualities are the following: formlessness full of luster; the Soul of all souls, including theirs; the origin of Pranava, Om; and the Creator, the Preserver, and the destroyer. Siva proceeded to instruct Brahma and Vishnu on Pranava and five-lettered Mantra, Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya, and later vanished into thin air.
Notes from Exodus.
When God's servant Moses led his people out of Egypt, they were directed by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. It is interesting to note the pillar of fire is another manifestation of fiery Lingam. Cloud and fire are the God's guiding elements. It appears that all the elements that Hindus consider as Brahman or God came to the rescue of Moses and his people. Clouds and fire served as guide; the waters parted as the wind blew and held the sea back as two walls to their left and right. When the wet mud clogged the chariots of the pursuing Egyptians, the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon and discomfited the host of Egyptians.