Another tale of the infamous god, one of the Three GODheads: Vishnu and Brahma being the others. Who won the debate of the Greatest God of all? Continue to read to find out, and learn more about the culture of India’s mythology through the exploration of the many Hindu gods.
Siva Accused pg 45 – 48 Myths & Legends of India
For some, Siva and the might of his lingam are the object of veneration. For others, that he should be worshiped in the form not only of a lingam but of a yoni too is a mark of his degradation. A story tells of how this came about because of the anger and curse of the sage Bhrigu.
He was one of many sages who were called by Manu, the first man – son of the creator Brahma – to debate who was the greatest god of all. They met on Mount Mandara, the highest mountain in the world, to perform a ritual sacrifice; but to whom should it be offered? Should it be Brahma or Siva? Or should it be Vishnu? Manu himself favored Vishnu, saying: ‘It is he whom we should worship, for he is wholly good, and is free of the passions that sully both Brahma and Siva. In his incarnations – Narayana, Krishna and Rama – he represents the Supreme Man, the finest human qualities.’
The sages listened to these words, and liked them, but they asked Bhrigu to visit the three great gods in turn, to establish whether Manu’s claims were true.
So Bhrigu – born by the wind – traveled first to Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. He walked up to Siva’s house, but the way in was barred by Nandin, his fearsome bull. ‘I have come to see Siva,’ said Bhrigu. ‘Let me in.’ ‘No!’ roared the bull. ‘No one can enter his house at the moment, for he is with his wife Parvati, and they are making love. If you do not turn back straight away, I shall gore you to death with my horns.’
Bhrigu was incensed by this. Celibate ascetic that he was, he was disgusted that a god, of all beings, should be so given over to physical desire. Before turning to leave the mountain, he directed his furious gaze at Siva’s closed door and cursed him, saying: ‘You are supposed to be a god, but in fact you are a fool, sunk in the darkness of lust. You are so carried away by your desires, that you pay no attention to me. As a Brahmin, I should have been received and honoured by you. Because you have behaved in this way, I condemn you to be worshipped henceforth in forms that befit your obsession: lingam and yoni, symbols of carnal indulgence. The offerings that will be made to you will be the water, food and flowers left over from the worship of other gods. And Siva’s worshipers, with their ash-smeared bodies and garlands of bones, will be denounced as heretics.’
Such was the force of this curse, that it reached the ears of Siva, immersed in passion though he was. He rose from the embrace of Parvati, and anger in his third eye flamed out so fiercely that it lit up the whole mountain. Bhrigu would have been blasted to death by it, but Parvati restrained her husband, imploring him to remember what a grievous sin it was to kill a Brahmin. So Bhrigu left safely, but not before saying with a sneering laugh: ‘Look at your feet, great god: see how foul and deformed they are by my curse! The water that will was them will never be touched by priests, and your lustful lingam will be worshipped only by the impure.’
Next, he went to Brahma, and sat down before him, expecting a better welcome. But Brahma remained immobile on his lotus seat, and too no notice of the safe, for he was wrapped in the ardor and energy of his creative nature. Not for him the serenity and placidity of pure goodness! How could worlds be created through desire? How could he make both good and evil without containing within himself both good and evil?
So Bhrigu angrily left him too, saying that one so absorbed in passionate thoughts could not be purely good, and did not deserve to be worshipped by Brahmins.
Then he went to Vishnu. When he found him, in his place on the shore of milk, he was shocked at first to see that he too, no less than Siva, was enjoying the attentions of his wife – the immaculate goddess Lakshmi. He lounged on the couch that was formed by Ananta, the serpent of eternity, and Lakshmi was massaging his feet with her lotus-like hands. Could it be that all three gods were the slaves of passion? Who would the sages worship if that was so?
Angrily, Bhrigu stamped with his left foot on the breast of Vishnu. But unlike Siva, Vishnu did not take offense: he rose at once, gentle and smiling, and said: ‘I thank you, great sage, for blessing me today with the dust of your feet. Nothing is more purifying than the touch of the feet of a Brahman. You are welcome here. We are profoundly honored by your presence.’
Vishnu and Lakshmi then honored and welcomed the sage with heavenly garlands and with sandalwood paste; and instead of the anger he had felt at first, joy and devotion filled his heart. Manu was right: Vishnu was the greatest god of all – wholly good, free of passions that sullied both Siva and Brahma.
Brigu returned to the gathering of sages on Mount Mandara, and said: ‘I have visited all three gods, and know now for certain that Manu is right. Vishnu is the one whom we should honor with our rituals today and always. Siva is wrapped up in lust, and Brahma too is ardent with the confused and unbalanced fire of creation. Only Vishnu is balanced, good and pure. His love for Lakshmi, and her love for him, is a pure love. Named Narayana, he represents the Supreme Man. Incarnated as Krishna and Rama, he is the noblest hero and the perfect husband. Worshiping him will bring release from sin.’
So the sages completed their sacrifice in honor of Vishnu; and for millions and millions of worshipers thereafter, Vishnu has remained supreme.
Lord Vishnu found on Jeff Glom‘s Pinterest