Swami Sivananda: “Siva and Vishnu are one and the same entity. They are the names given to the different aspects of the all-pervading supreme soul or the Absolute. ‘Vishnu is the heat of Siva and likewise Siva is the heart of Vishnu.’ The one and the same Lord manifests Himself as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva when He is associated with the universal process of creation, preservation and destruction. It is only gross ignorance to argue and fight over the relative merits of Vishnu and Siva.
Swami Sivananda: “A Saivite is a devotee of Lord Siva. A Vaishnavite is a devotee Of Lord Vishnu. Upasana means worship or sitting near God. Upasaka is one who does Upasana. Upasana or Aradhana leads to realisation of God. A bigoted Virasaivite entertains hatred towards Lord Vishnu, Vaishnavites and Puranas which treat of Vishnu. He never enters a Vishnu temple. He never drinks water from a Vaishnavite. He never takes food with a Vaishnavite. He never repeats the name of Hari. He speaks ill of Lord Hari, Vaishnavites and Vishnu Purana. He thinks that Lord Siva is superior to Lord Vishnu. He never reads Vishnu Purana. Is this not the height of folly? Is this not extreme ignorance? He has not understood the true nature of Lord Siva. He has no idea of true religion. He is a fanatic, a bigot, a man of little understanding, a narrow sectarian, with a very small constricted heart. He is like a frog in the well which has no idea of the vast ocean.
“A bigoted Vira Vaishnavite entertains hatred towards Lord Siva, Saivites and Siva Puranas which treat of Lord Siva. He never enters a Siva temple. He never makes friendship with a Saivite. He never drinks water from the hands of a Saivite. He also behaves exactly like the Virasaivite. The lot of this man is also highly deplorable.
“There is a temple in Sankaranarayanar Koil in the Tirunelveli district (Tamilnadu), where the idol has one half of it depicted as Siva and the other half as Vishnu. The inner significance of this is that Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu are one. Sri Sankaracharya also has said in very clear terms that Siva and Vishnu are the one all-pervading Soul.
“On one occasion, a Virasaivite entered the temple in Sankaranarayanar Koil to worship the Lord. He offered incense. He plugged the nostrils of Vishnu with the cotton as the fumes were entering His nose also. After that a Vira Vaishnavite entered the temple and he also offered incense. He plugged the nostrils of Siva as the fumes were entering His nose also. Such is the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of sectarians. A devotee should have a large, broad heart. He must see his tutelary deity in all aspects of the Lord and in all forms. He can have intense love for his Ishtam in the beginning, to intensify his devotion for that particular deity (Prema-nishtha), but he should have equal devotion to the other forms of the Lord also.
“Siva and Vishnu are one and the same entity. They are essentially one and the same. They are the names given to the different aspects of the all-pervading Supreme Soul or the Absolute. ‘Sivasya hridayam vishnur-vishnoscha hridayam sivah—Vishnu is the heart of Siva and likewise Siva is the heart of Vishnu’.
“The sectarian worship is of recent origin. The Saiva Siddhanta of Kantacharya is only five hundred years old. The Vaishnava cults of Madhva and Sri Ramanuja are only six hundred and seven hundred years old respectively. There was no sectarian worship before seven hundred years.
“Brahma represents the creative aspect; Vishnu, the preservative aspect; and Siva, the destructive aspect of Paramatman. This is just like your wearing different garbs on different occasions. When you do the function of a judge, you put on one kind of dress. At home you wear another kind of dress. When you do worship in the temple, you wear another kind of dress. You exhibit different kinds of temperament on different occasions. Even so, the Lord does the function of creation when He is associated with Rajas, and He is called Brahma. He preserves the world when He is associated with Sattva Guna, and He is called Vishnu. He destroys the world when He is associated with Tamo-Guna, and He is called Siva or Rudra.
“Brahma, Vishnu and Siva have been correlated to the three Avasthas or states of consciousness. During the waking state, Sattva predominates. During the dream state Rajas predominates and during the deep sleep state Tamas predominates. Hence Vishnu, Brahma and Siva are the Murtis of Jagrat, Svapna and Sushupti states of consciousness respectively. The Turiya or the fourth state is Para Brahman. The Turiya state is immediately next to the deep sleep state. Worship of Siva will lead quickly to the attainment of the fourth state.
Vishnu Purana glorifies Vishnu and in some places gives a lower position to Siva. Siva Purana glorifies Siva and gives a lower status to Vishnu. Devi Bhagavata glorifies Devi and gives a lower status to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. This is only to instil and intensify devotion for the respective deity in the hearts of the devotees. In reality, no deity is superior to another. You must understand the heart of the writer.
“May you all realise the oneness of Siva and Vishnu! May you all be endowed with pure subtle intellect and proper understanding!”
Swami Bodhinatha Velanswami: (Transcript): “Good morning everyone. Happy New Year. Happy New Ritau. We’re preparing some talks for our Memorial Day weekend at the end of May visit to Hindu Temple of Atlanta. We went there last year as you may recall and they’re unique in the Hindu temples in North America in that they’ve built two large size temples fairly close to one another.
The original one is for Venkateswara and the new one is for Siva under the name Ramalingeswara. So they have a two temples, Balaji and a Siva temple right next to each other and separate. Which is a nice statement in itself so anyway I’ll read part of the talk. This part is, it’s in the middle, didn’t want to read the whole thing because it’s, you’ve heard part of it before, even part of this you’ve heard before but it’s part of a larger talk on Hindu solidarity.
So it draws on our Hindu solidarity editorial, the idea of which is that by unity and diversity the Hindus standing together want to maintain their diverse traditions despite the fact that there are those who say we shouldn’t.
You know we should all adopt the Baghavad Gita as our main scripture and we should all worship the same Deities and so forth. That’s the only way Hinduism will be powerful and understood. A unity in oneness. So Gurudeva of course said no, that would take all the power out of Hinduism. Hinduism’s power lies in it’s diverse traditions so we need to have a Hinduism with diversity. So it’s part of that talk.
Speaking again of our visit to this temple last May, we were greatly impressed by the fact that on many evenings the Vaishnava priests would help in the Siva ceremonies and vice versa. The smooth, harmonious working together of the Vaishnava and Saiva priests and the Siva and Venkateswara devotees was uplifting and encouraging, showing how well these two traditions are able to cooperate and blend their energies, without giving up their distinct beliefs and customs.
There are many scriptures in Hinduism and unfortunately one category of secondary scripture, the Puranas, can be used as the basis for clashes and disagreements between worshippers of Vishnu and worshippers of Siva. This is because the Puranas give us some stories where Vishnu is superior to Siva and other stories where Siva is superior to Vishnu.
There is a verse in the Saivite Scripture ‘Tirumantiram’ that addresses this problem:
On a visit a few months ago to London, this is written to be read at the end of May so it was actually just last week. [laughs] On a visit a few months ago to London we were invited to speak at the Neasden temple of the BAPS Swaminarayan fellowship. They of course are staunch Vaishnavas and thus it is unusual for them to invite a Saivite swami to speak at their weekly satsang. However, they know us well and trust that we will convey an appropriate message.
One of the major points included in my talk was that we share a mutual respect and tolerance for each other’s traditions and mentioned that unfortunately such respect and tolerance does not always exist between Vaishnavites and Saivites, between worshippers of Vishnu and worshippers of Siva.
I then went on to elaborate by saying that In their scripture the Shikshapatri, their founder Bhagwan Swaminarayan states:
Bhagwan Swaminarayan also enjoins his devotees:
“In the month of Shravan, they shall worship or engage the services of pious Brahmin devotees to worship Shiv with Bilva-patras and the like.”
And finally he indicates his devotees shall fast on Shivratri and celebrate this festival with great reverence.andquot; And of course, on the physical and visible side there is also a side shrine to Shiva in their Mandir.
I then mentioned that in our founder’s writings, Gurudeva makes this statement on religious tolerance that:
“Siva’s devotees, with hearts as big as the sky, love and accept Smarta, Sakta and Vaishnava Hindus as brothers and sisters, even if not accepted by them, and keep harmony by not discussing differences.”
Also in our temple we have a side shrine with the image of Shankaranarayana, He’s up, up here I can’t see him, half Siva, half Vishnu, which of course symbolizes the unity of Siva and Vishnu.
A prominent Smarta Hindu leader, Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, also speaks of the oneness of Siva and Vishnu in his book ‘Lord Siva and His Worship.‘ He begins by explaining that there is a temple in the Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu called the Sankaranarayanar Koil where the idol has one half of it depicted as Siva and the other half as Vishnu.
To quote Swamiji: “The inner significance of this is that Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu are one. Shri Sankara also has said in very clear terms that Siva and Vishnu are the one all pervading Soul. On one occasion, a Virasaivite entered the temple in Sankaranarayanar Koil to worship the Lord.This is a classic story. He offered incense. He plugged the nostrils of Vishnu with the cotton as the fumes were entering His nose also. After that a Vira Vaishnavite entered the temple and he also offered incense. He plugged the nostrils of Siva as the fumes were entering His nose also. Such is the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of sectarians. A devotee should have a large, broad heart. He must see his chosen deity in all aspects of the Lord and in all forms.”
Swami Sivananda then states: “Siva and Vishnu are one and the same. They are essentially one and the same.”
In another portion of the book Swami Sivanada has an interesting explanation of why the various puranas extol one deity over another. To quote him: “Vishnu Purana glorifies Vishnu and in some places gives a lower position to Siva. Siva Purana glorifies Siva and gives a lower status to Vishnu. This is only to instill and intensify devotion for the respective deity in the hearts of the devotees. In reality, no deity is superior to another. You must understand the heart of the writer.”
Swami Sivananda concludes by saying: “May you all realize the oneness of Siva and Vishnu. May you all be endowed with pure subtle intellect and proper understanding.”
By these statements of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and Swami Sivananda we can see clearly that enlightened Hindu leaders of Vaishnavite, Saivite and Smarta traditions all stress the essential unity of Siva and Vishnu.
The October 2003 issue of our magazine Hinduism Today has an important eight page article on the four denominations of Hinduism from which I would like to quote: “Hinduism is a family of religions with four principle denominations — Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. This single perception is essential for understanding Hinduism and explaining it accurately to others. Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, Hindus all worship a one Supreme Being though by different names. For Vaishnavites, Lord Vishnu is God; for Saivites, God is Siva; for Shaktas, Goddess Shakti is supreme; and for Smartas, the choice of deity is left to the devotee.”
The article goes on to compare the four denominations in terms of their history, beliefs, practices and scriptures and is quite informative. We also reprinted the article as a separate pamphlet for use in classrooms as a teaching tool in presenting the topic of Hinduism’s four main denominations.
The Hindu Temple of Atlanta is making an important contribution to the clarity of Hinduism in the US by having separate temples for Balaji and Siva. In the traditional Hindu temple, the main sanctum is for the Supreme Being. Balaji is the supreme being to Vaishnavites and Siva is the Supreme Being to Saivites.
This may seem self-evident but this central point is sometimes missed when both deities are placed in the same temple. With two Supreme Beings in the same temple, philosophical clarity is easily lost resulting in the youth finding Hinduism to be confusing.
For example, we know of Siva-Vishnu temples which on their web site describe Siva as the destroyer and Vishnu as the preserver. Of course, this is not how knowledgeable Saivites and Vaishnavites look at it. To Saivites, Siva is the Supreme Being and therefore performs all three actions of creation, preservation and destruction. To Vaishnavites, Vishnu is the Supreme Being and therefore performs all three actions of creation, preservation and destruction.
That we worship the Supreme Being is clearly the view of Hinduism’s primary scriptures, shruti, the Vedas and Agamas. So that’s that point, Siva and Vishnu are one. Three points of view huh, convincing, Vaishnavite, Saivite and Smarta.
Swaminarayan: “Shlok 47: No distinction shall be made between Narayan and Shiva, as they are both proclaimed as Brahmanswarupa by the Vedas. [Ubhyorbrahmanrupera Vedeshu Pratipadanat]
Those who think of God differently to this, where Narayan or Shiva are defamed in some way are insulting God. Shatanand says that such people should have their eyes removed. Such a person is blind to the truth and can never be enlightened to that truth.
Many Shastras speak of the oneness of Narayan and Shiva. Our ancient Shastras in some instances speak of Narayan as supreme and in other instances speak of Shiva as supreme. Both views should be accepted as correct, hence they should be accepted as the one and the same. The following Veda scriptures are Shaiva in context as they speak of Shiva as Brahman:
Atharvashikha, Atharvashisha, Shetasvataria, Mantropanishad, Kaivalyopanishad.
The following speak of Vishnu as the supreme Brahman:
Mahanarayanopanishad, Narayaropanishad, Mahopanishad, Shubhalopanishad.
Thus the four Vedas sing only the oneness of Shiva and Narayan.
Shrimad Bhagwat’s Fourth Chapter explains, “Those who find indifference in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and recognise the oneness in them obtain eternal peace.”
The Eighth Chapter adds, “Shiva Brahma and Vishnu are thy manifested forms, which create, maintain and destroy the universe at thy will. Thou is Ishwara who delivers Moksha (Salvation). Thou is Parabrahman (the Supreme Lord).”
Narad Pancharatra succinctly states:
Shivo Harirhariha Shakshatchiva Eva Nirupitaha |
Shivadveshi Haridrohi Vishnum Nityam Bhajanapi ||
‘Shiva is Hari and Hari is none other than Shiva. An enemy of Shiva is an enemy of Hari, even though he may daily worship Vishnu.’
Bhattacharya has said, “I have looked in the Puranas, Upapuranas, Vedas, Smrutis and all other such Shastras, but have not come across anything to suggest a difference in Shiva and Vishnu.”
God himself has said, “Those who find difference in the two of us fall to the Hells.”
Shree Dhar Swami prays, “I humbly bow before Vishnu and Shankar who are one, who revere one another and who provide for all.”
Vallabhacharaya, a famed Vaishnava, in similar fashion says, “Glory to thee, who is honoured as Brahman in the Vedanta – Lord of the three worlds – Mahadev.”
Lord Swaminarayan has gone out of his way to glorify both Vaishnav and Shaiva Sampradais in order to get back to the true Vedic teachings. We must conform to this dream of Lord Swaminarayan’s by never uttering a word contrary to the Lord’s standpoint.
We must always, with love, observe the Vratas of Lord Shiva and bow respectfully to the icons of Shiva. It does not in anyway fault our devotion to Lord Vishnu by doing so — indeed it strengthens devotion for Vishnu.
Narayan and Shiva are one and the same. They are, if you like, two sides of the same coin. That coin being the Supreme Godhead.
[Admin’s Note: If you were to look up the references that Sripada Swaminarayan have referred to in (Hare Krsnas’) Srila Prabhupada’s rendition of the Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 4:4 & 8), you would not see anything close to what Swaminarayana had mentioned. It is deeply regrettable that Srila Prabhupada, a Vira (aka Veerya) Vaishnavite, in his proverbial provincialism, had perverted, warped and miscoloured the text and contruction. The same would be the case when Srila Prabhupada re-told the story of Daksha in Canto 6 of Srimad Bhagavatam. (A unbiased rendition and commentary can be found here: http://srimadbhagavatham.blogspot.com/2006/03/story-27-story-of-daksha-prajaapathi-3.html) ]
Swami Haridhos Giri: “Lord Siva is described in “Ruthram” as “Tai-karaa-naam pathayeh namo namaha”. The meaning of this Vedic pronouncement is “The leader of thieves.”
Therefore, there is no difference between Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu: “Tai-karaa-naam pathayeh”, essentially, means “the thief’s husband.” In other words, Lord Siva is the husband of Lord Vishnu, who is, as the aforesaid sloka says, is “the thief”.
That is, if Lord Vishnu is Lord Siva’s wife, then, Lord Vishnu is none other than Sakthi herself: one cannot exist without the other.
Source: Swami Haridhos’ speech