Understanding Lord Shiva
(Click to enlarge image of Krishna's infinite manifestations—description below)

Indian man: Swāmījī, Śiva is not another name of God?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śiva is next to God. Just like yogurt, dahī. You know dahī? What is this dahī?

Indian man: Curd milk.

Prabhupāda: Milk, but it is not milk. Dahī is not anything but milk, but it is not milk. Similarly, Lord Śiva is nothing but Viṣṇu, but it is not Viṣṇu. Is it clear now?

Indian man: Yes.

Prabhupāda: You can say, "Well, dahī is nothing but milk." Yes. But it is not milk. If instead of milk you take dahī, the result will be different. And if you take milk instead of dahī, the result will be different, although the milk and dahī is the same thing, same ingredients. So you have to understand in that way. Lord Śiva is nondifferent from the Supreme Lord. Everyone is nondifferent from Supreme Lord, but he's still different. This is the perfect philosophy, acintya-bhedābheda, simultaneously one and different.

Indian man: Swāmījī, in all the temples in Mauritius especially, the supreme deity, whom everybody comes...

Prabhupāda: Supreme deity is Viṣṇu.

Indian man: But we consider Lord Śiva to be the supreme deity, because we...

Prabhupāda: But that is your lack of knowledge. I have already explained that, that yogurt is not different from milk. It is milk, but still it is not milk. You have to understand like that. Lord Śiva is not different from Viṣṇu, but he's still not Viṣṇu.

Indian man: No, but do we offer the prayer first to Śiva...?

Prabhupāda: That you do. There is no harm. Lord Śiva is also called Mahādeva. Amongst the demigods, he is the chief. So if you worship Lord Śiva... We also worship Śiva. It is not that we disrespect Śiva. We offer our utmost respect to Lord Śiva. But that does not mean that he is the Supreme Lord.

Indian man: The difference that is there, Swāmījī...

Prabhupāda: Difference I have already explained. You cannot understand?

Indian man: No, no, we pray Śiva first, and then we go to pray Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: So that you do. There is no harm. There is no harm. But you should understand what is Śiva and what is Viṣṇu. If you offer first prayer to Lord Śiva, there is no harm. It is good. He is... Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ (SB 12.13.16). He is our spiritual master. He is Vaiṣṇava. Why not offer first respect to him? Then... But if you take Lord Śiva as the Supreme, that is insult. You are giving me respect as spiritual master, but if you give me overestimation, that "You are the king of the whole world," that is insult. That is insult. That is not prayer. If you offer me prayer as I am befitting, then it is all right. But if you give me prayer for which I am not befitting, that is insult. That is insult. So you must know what is the position of... Lord Śiva is Vaiṣṇava; he is the greatest devotee; he is the number one demigod—and everything is all right. But if you say that he is the Supreme, then he will feel insulted, that "What is this nonsense saying?" So don't insult him in that way. That will go against your credit. He doesn't like that.

(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Mauritius, October 5, 1975)

Pictured above (Bhagavad-gita 10.41): A sampling of Krishna's infinite manifestations, both in the spiritual and material worlds. Outer circle (clockwise beginning from the upper left-hand corner): Indra carrying the thunderbolt, the Himalayas, Lord Shiva with the Ganges River in his hair, the moon, the horse Ucchaihsrava, the transcendental om, Kapila, Rama, flower-bearing Spring, Kamadhuk, Arjuna, Vyasadeva, Prahlada, the shark, Vasuki, Skanda, Varuna, Yamaraja, the lion, Kuvera, Agni and Airavata. Inner circle, clockwise (beginning from four-headed Lord Brahma sitting on the lotus flower): Brahma, Narada, Garuda, the sun, the ocean, Lord Vishnu, Ananta, Krishna in the center encircled by the holy names—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
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