Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18
Brahma and Vishnu witness the Fiery Lingam
12/08/2015 revised. Copyright
Once upon a time, the Yogin of yogins and the 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 to be 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 wretches.
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 his 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 fire of anger. He never saw such anger in his eyes before, which was almost equal to the fire emitted by Sankarshana at the beginning of 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 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 greatest 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 on account of Siva, that he was meditated upon 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 vision of Siva. Brahma and Vishnu then went ahead and leveled attacks on Siva's personal appearance. 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 russet matted 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 not convinced on account of Maya of Siva having a sway on them.--Siva Purana
Brahma was seated on his graceful Swan, his vehicle of choice, and not to be outdone, Vishnu was seated on his glorious Garuda, the possessor of power and devotion. They fought and fought, 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 fight of the kalpa. They came in aerial cars and hung in the midair for a while, but soon started to scamper looking for 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 was special: a fight between the Creator and the Preserver. They had a 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 fight 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 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 besides 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 being
the creator of the Universe, Intel (intelligence) flows into him in a
continuous stream. They (Brahma and
Vishnu) both knew Siva’s Abode, the summit of
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 fight 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 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; 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 most terrifying form of a huge tower of fire with no ends at sight.
Brahma and Vishnu
upon 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
mutually that they had to find the ends of this fiery column. Nothing could be
accomplished 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
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 be honored in an appropriate manner. Vishnu was glad to hear from Siva that he would have his own 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 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 shook the sword in a menacing way. 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 not be honored any more and that no temple would be built 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 could be used for decorative purposes. 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.” Any one 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, Arunachala
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 Isatva,
the embodied form. 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 earth, maintenance in water,
destruction in 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, Mahesa (Mahesvara) in charge of veiling. But Grace, the fifth
function is the exclusive right, privilege, and function 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 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 northern face, U comes from the western face,
M comes from the southern face and the Bindu comes from the eastern face.
Nada, the mystical sound comes from the middle face, the one pointing to the
sky. Name and form are pervaded by mantra,
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 is without form; full of luster; the Soul of all
souls including theirs; the origin of Pranava,
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 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.