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Glory of Shri Kameshwara Part VII: Nāsadīya Sūkta

“Nāsadīya-sūkta” is a wonderful hymn which keeps everyone puzzled. Even the scientists of all the countries remain interested to dig deeper into its details. This is the hymn which is contemplated upon even by physicists who try to find details about subatomic particles (such as boson)

For the ease in relating the connecting verses, I’ve split this commentary into parts such that – in the first part we would discuss the first four verses combined together and in the subsequent parts we would discuss the remaining three verses independently.

Translation of the first four verses has been adapted from Griffith’s translation; and the last three verses have been translated referring to the Hindi translation of Indian author because that made more sense to my mind.

nāsadīya-sūkta – Verses 1 to 4

The first four verses are cited below.

“nāsadāsīn no sadāsīt tadānīṃ nāsīd rajo no vyomāparo yat |
kimāvarīvaḥ kuha kasya śarmannambhaḥ kimāsīd ghahanaṃ ghabhīram ||1
na mṛtyurāsīdamṛtaṃ na tarhi na rātryā ahna āsītpraketaḥ |
ānīdavātaṃ svadhayā tadekaṃ tasmāddhānyan na paraḥ kiṃ canāsa ||2
tama āsīt tamasā ghūḷamaghre.apraketaṃ salilaṃ sarvamāidam |
tuchyenābhvapihitaṃ yadāsīt tapasastanmahinājāyataikam ||3
kāmastadaghre samavartatādhi manaso retaḥ prathamaṃ yadāsīt |
sato bandhumasati niravindan hṛdi pratīṣyākavayo manīṣā ||”4 (Rig Veda 10:129:1-4)

“Then was neither non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? And what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of warmth was born that Unit. Thereafter rose kāma (Desire) in the beginning, kāma, the primal seed (retaḥ) and germ of Spirit. Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent”.

Commentary with Reasoning & Analysis:

The word ‘asat’ is very cryptic and its menaing has always to be understood as per the context. For example – Here this hymn says there was neither ‘sat’ nor ‘asat’; however Taittiriya Upanishad states “asadvā idṁ agrē āsīt | tatō vai sad jāyatā |”, which means, “There was ‘asat’ in the beginning, from which ‘sat’ manifested”.

Well, they look contradictory but that is not the case. “asat” has multiple meanings –

  • asat – meaning “non-existence”: In this context this applies to such things which cannot be practically said to exist e.g., Son of a barren woman (assuming she was barren right from her puberty). In this case there is no possibility of her having a son (Unless some medical miracles are done such as test tube babies or surrogate mothering etc.). Therefore here asat implies – non-existence
  • asat – meaning, “neither existence nor non-existence”: In this context asat means “mithyā”; i.e., things which apparently exist but in reality they do not. For instance – in my dream I might be a Superhero protecting this world and who could fly; but before the dream and after waking up, the ground reality remains that I am a normal person who cannot fly. This is “mithyā”.
  • asat – meaning, “non existence of Saguna forms”: When “sat” is taken to refer to “saguna” form then “asat” means, total unmanifest state. In Taittiriya verse the term ‘asat’ indicates the unmanifest state of Brahman from which the manifested (sat) emerged;

Therefore in this nāsadīya-sūkta, “na asat āsīt nō sad āsīt” refers to the “neither existence nor non-existence” clause hence the total phrase means “mithya”. So, let’s discuss the hymn now.

In the beginning neither there was “jagat” nor there any “saguna” form. Only the Kāmēśvarā existed in his unmanifest state of attributeless Braḥman! He, Shiva, needs to be called as ‘Kāmēśvarā’ in this context, because he was the one who desired to become many and that desire (Kāma) gave shape to him, and he manifested as many (mobile and immobile).

As already seen in Nandikēśvara Kāśikā analysis, in the beginning when there was nothing, there existed Shiva in the form of “a-kāra” which represents the state of Pure Conciousness. From it emerged all the alphabets. Prakāśarūpī Kāmēśvara denoted by “a” united with his Vimarśarūpī Śaktī, Kāmēśvarī denoted by “i” and created this world using their Mātrikā forms. The combination of “a” and “i” is called as the “kāmabīja” as stated in below verse. And this is what is meant by the “seed (retas)” that is described in nāsadīya-sūkta verse 4 cited above.

“akāraṁ sannidhīkr̥tya jagatāṁ kāraṇatvataḥ |
ikārassarvavarṇānāṁ śaktitvāt kāraṇaṁ mataṁ ||7
jagatsraṣtumabhūdvānchchā yadā hyāsīttadābhavat |
kāmabījamiti prāhurmunayō vēdapāragaḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 07-08)

“Due to the nearness of the syllable ‘i’ (ikāra) with that of the syllable ‘a’ (akāra), the syllable ‘i’ is the cause of the universe and due to its prospective nature, it is the cause of all the alphabets in the varṇamāla (7). When there arose desire to create the universe, then the world became (i.e., came into existence). The seers who were learned in Vedas called it ‘kāmabīja’ (the seed of desire) (8)”.

Interestingly, Shiva Purana, has a conversation between Nārada and Brahmā; where the former enquires the latter about the story of Lord Shiva right from how he manifested to how he married Parvati and so on. Brahmā tells him that after the great dissolution, for a long time there was nothing – only lord Shiva existed in his unmanifest state, and then he “desired” to create – Due to that desire he assumed his transcendental form as ‘Sadashiva’ and alongwith his Shakti he created this entire universe. The interesting aspect of that discourse is that it exactly says whatever is said in, nāsadīya-sūkta! This is a strong evidence that Veda-Vyasa never treated Shiva as any demi-god, rather Shiva was (and always is) the Supreme Brahman described in Upanishads! Let’s see Shiva Purana verses now.

Shiva Purana describes the origin theory as follows.

“brahmā unāca |
yaccrutvā sarvalôkānā̃ sarvapāpakṣayô bhavēta |
tadahaṁ tē pravakṣyāmi śivatatvamanāmayaṁ ||” (Śiva Purāṇa 2:06:2)

“[Brahma Said:] That (history), hearing about which, in this world, every sin gets destroyed, that salubrious shiva-tatwam I would narrate to you”.

It says, in the beginning when there was nothing, neither existence, nor non-existence, only one entity existed whom sages contemplate in their heart. Note down how closely the below narration matches with the first three verses of the “nāsadīya-sūkta”.

“mahāpralayakālē ca naṣṭē sthāvarajangamē |
āsīttamômayaṁ sarvamanarkagrahatārakaṁ ||4
acandramanahôrātramanagnyanilabhūjalaṁ |
apradhānaṁ viyaccūnyama nyatējôvivarjitaṁ ||5
adruṣṭatvādirahitaṁ śabdasparśasamujjhitaṁ |
avyaktagandharūpaṁ ca rasatyaktamadiṅmukhaṁ ||6
itthaṁ satyaṁ dhatamasē sūcibhēdhyē nirantarē |
tatsadbhrahyēti yacchrutvā sadēkaṁ pratipadyatē ||7
itīdruśaṁ yadā nāsīdyattatsadasadātmakaṁ |
yôginỗ tarhitākāśē yatpaśyanti nirantaraṁ ||” (Śiva Purāṇa 2:06:4-8)

“When the time of Mahapralaya (great dissolution) commenced, all the mobile and immobile creation got destroyed, when there was darkness all over because of the absence of planets, constellations, stars, and sun. When there was neither moon, nor day, nor night, nor fire, nor wind, nor earth, nor water, and nether was pradhana and Sky nor any other luminary. There was neither sound, nor touch nor any dear substance, smell, rupa, taste, directions etc., everything were concealed. In that very dense darkness there existed He the Brahman denoted by ‘Sat’ (satbrahman). When in that way there was neither ‘sat (existence)’ nor ‘asat (non-existence)’ that state which Sages always contemplate inside the Akasa (sky) within their heart”.

Then it further describes the nature of the Shiva who existed in his unmanifest form as follows.

“abhidhattē sa cakitaṁ yadastīti śrutiḥ punaḥ |
satyaṁ jñānaṁanantaṁ ca parānandamparammahaḥ ||11
apramēyamanādhāramavikāramanākruti |
nirguṇaṁ yôgigamyañcasarvavyāpyēkakārakaṁ ||” (Śiva Purāṇa 2:06:11-12)

“Even Shruti (Vedas) in amazement about him calls him to be of the nature of existence, knowledge, limitlessness, supreme bliss and Supreme being. He is unfathomable, without support, changeless, and formless, can be seen only through the eye of yoga, and is all pervasive and undivided form”.

Then it says that there arose a desire in him, the desire to become many as follows.This verse is same as the fourth verse of “nāsadīya-sūkta” – the wordings are different but implied meaning is same. Here “ichcha” is used instead of “kāma” to refer to “desire”.

“yasyētthaṁ saṁvikalpantē sañjñāsañjñôkttiḥ sma vai |
kiyatā caiva kālēna dvitīyēccābhavatkila ||” (Śiva Purāṇa 2:06:14)

“That (Shiva) who is denoted by these many choices of names, in what duration desire arose in him to become many?”

Then, Brahma narrates how Shiva from his Nirguna form assumed a Saguna form (Eshwara). Well, we have already seen in previous sections that the form of Eshwara (called Sadashiva) is seen as composed of akśarās.

“amūrtē yatparākhyaṁ vai tasya mūrtissadāśivaḥ |
arvācīnāḥ parācīnā īśvaraṁ taṁ jagurbudhāḥ ||” (Śiva Purāṇa 2:06:18)

“That para-tatwam which is formless, when it assumes form, he becomes Sadashiva. His form is turned outwards and turned towards [i.e., his faces are turned everywhere which again means he is omniscient]. It is he whom sages call as Ishvara”.

Even Suta Samhita explains the same “nāsadīya sūkta” story about “kāma (desire)” of Shiva as being instrumental behind creation as follows. Only the technical terms vary in all these narrations – such as – Shiva Purana uses “ichcha” word in place of kāma, Suta Samhita uses “sa ēkśhat” – however all these words of Sanskrit are synonymous to kāma and all mean “desire” alike.

“ātmasaṁjnaḥ śivaḥ śuddha ēka ēvādvayaḥ sadā |
agrē sarvamidaṁ dēvā āsīttanmātramāstikāḥ ||2
tatō nānyanmiṣat kiṁchitsa punaḥ kālapākataḥ |
praṇināṁ karmasaṁskārātsvaśaktigatasattvataḥ |
sa ēkśhat jagatsarvaṁ nu sr̥ujā iti śaṁkaraḥ ||3
sa punaḥ sakalānētāṁllōkānātmīyaśaktitaḥ |
yathāpūrvaṁ kramēṇaiva surā asr̥ujat prabhuḥ ||”4 (sūta saṁhitā 4:2:2:2-4)

“Before this entire visible world came into existence, there existed the pure, non-dual, loner, Shiva of the name of Atman (2). Apart from him there was no other mobile or immobile entity that existed. Based on time all the causal-seeds of karmas of all the jivas which remained absorbed in his Maya-Shakti, from them that Shankara (with the thought of creating the world), desired, “Let me create this world!”(3). That lord with the aid of his Shakti, had projected this world as it was in the previous cycle (4)”.

Further Svetaswatara Upanishad narrates the same story and says that when there was neither existence, nor non-existence; there was Shiva alone. This again points towards Bhagawan Shiva being the sole object revealed in nāsadīya-sūkta.

“yadātamas tan na divā na rātrir na san na cāsac chiva eva kevalaḥ |
tad akṣaraṃ tat savitur vareṇyaṃ prajñā ca tasmāt prasṛtā purāṇī ||” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:18)

“When there is complete absence of the darkness of ignorance, then what is experienced is neither day nor night; neither existence nor non-existence; only one pure Siva (the blessed) alone is there; that is indestructible; that is adorable light of even Savitri; – and the ancient wisdom proceeded thence”.

Even Mahabharata calls out Kama as identical to Rudra as mentioned in below verse.

“sanātanō hi saṅkalpaḥ kāma ityabhidhīyatē |
rudrasya tējaḥ praskannamagnau nipatitaṁ ca yat ||” (MBH 13:85:11)

“Will is eternal. That Will is known by the name of Kama and is identical with Rudra’s seed a portion of which fell into the blazing form of Agni”.

Therefore, with the above analysis, and also together with the Nandikēśvara’s explanation of Maheshvara Sutras, which we have seen in previous section – it is clear beyond doubt that Nāsadīya Sūkta is verily a hymn which talks about creation from Bhagawan Shiva alone!

nāsadīya-sūkta – Verse 5

“tiraścīno vitato raśmireṣāmadhaḥ svidāsī |
retodhāāsan mahimāna āsan svadhā avastāt prayatiḥ parastāt ||” (Rig Veda 10:129:5)

“Then the light of (causal elements) as rays extended in all the directions, even downward and even in upward directions. In that light are visible the jivas bearing their vasanas and karmas, as well as the liberated ones. Svadha prakriti remains below and Parameshvara’s effort remains above”.

Commentary with reasoning & Analysis:

Creation is cyclic in nature, and the karmās and vāsanās of the Jivas are registered (in the cosmic mind, Hiranyagarbha). From that register, in every new cycle they are re-projected till the Jivas gain knowledge and attain kaivalya mukti. Till the time the kāraṇa-dēha (causal body) which is a product of avidyā (ignorance) remains alive, Jivas keep coming to life in every new creation. This is also evident from the below verse of Suta Samhita.

“ātmasaṁjnaḥ śivaḥ śuddha ēka ēvādvayaḥ sadā |
agrē sarvamidaṁ dēvā āsīttanmātramāstikāḥ ||2
tatō nānyanmiṣat kiṁchitsa punaḥ kālapākataḥ |
praṇināṁ karmasaṁskārātsvaśaktigatasattvataḥ |
sa ēkśhat jagatsarvaṁ nu sr̥ujā iti śaṁkaraḥ ||3
sa punaḥ sakalānētāṁllōkānātmīyaśaktitaḥ |
yathāpūrvaṁ kramēṇaiva surā asr̥ujat prabhuḥ ||”4 (sūta saṁhitā 4:2:2:2-4)

“Before this entire visible world came into existence, there existed the pure, non-dual, loner, Shiva of the name of Atman (2). Apart from him there was no other mobile or immobile entity that existed. Based on time all the causal-seeds of karmas of all the jivas which remained absorbed in his Maya-Shakti, from them that Shankara (with the thought of creating the world), desired, “Let me create this world!”(3). That lord with the aid of his Shakti, had projected this world as it was in the previous cycle (4)”.

Shiva creates the world with the aid of his Shakti. Before creation Shiva remains in unmanifest state. When desire arises in him, his Shakti agitates him for creation. Therefore he becomes Active and is called as ‘Eshwara’. Shiva remaining active for the effort of creation is referred as “prayatiḥ parastāt” in this verse, where “prayatiḥ” refers to “effort”, and “parastāt” refers to “above”.

Shiva cannot create anything without the help of his Prakriti. When Shiva is the Prakāśa, he needs his consort i.e., Vimarśa to unite for the task of creation. This phenomenon has already been discussed in “nandikēśvara kāśikā” earlier – Citing the relevant verse here for quick reference.

“ākārō brahmarūpaḥ syānnirguṇassarvavastuṣu |
chitkalāṁ iṁ samāśritya jagadrūpa uṇ īśvaraḥ ||” (nandikēśvara kāśikā 03)

“The letter ‘a’ is the form of Brahman devoid of attributes dwelling in all objects, combined with the letter ‘i’ which is the consciousness, the letter ‘u’ is the ‘īśvara’ (lord) of the universe”.

Even the same has been stated in Bhagawad Gita as follows.

“ajo ’pi sann avyayatma bhutanam isvaro ’pi san |
prakritim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atma-mayaya ||” (BG. 4.6)

“Though (I am) unborn and of essence that knoweth no deterioration, though (I am) the lord of all creatures, still, relying on my own nature (prakriti) I take birth by my own (powers) of Maya”.

When he creates the universe (golden-egg) he enters within that and manifests himself into various forms including the Jivas from the previous creation whose karmas were left to be burnt. He spreads his forms in all the directions. This is inferred as the ‘rays’ extending in all directions in the current verse of this sūkta.

“tasmād virāḷ ajāyata virājo adhi pūruṣaḥ |
sa jātoatyaricyata paścād bhūmimatho puraḥ ||” (Rig Veda 10:90:5)

“From him Virāj was born; again Puruṣa from Virāj was born. As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward over the earth”.

The same is explained in Svetaswatara Upanishad as follows.

“tváṃ strī́ tváṃ púmān asi tváṃ kumārá utá vā kumārī́ |
tváṃ jīrṇó daṇḍéna vañcasi tváṃ jātó bhavasi viśvátomukhaḥ |” (Svetasvatara Upanishad IV:3)

“Thou art woman, Thou art man; Thou art youth and maiden too. Thou as an old man totterest along on a staff; it is Thou alone who, when born, assumest diverse forms”.

nāsadīya-sūkta – Verse 6

“ko addhā veda ka iha pra vocat kuta ājātā kuta iyaṃvisṛṣṭiḥ |
arvāgh devā asya visarjanenāthā ko veda yataābabhūva ||” (Rig Veda 10:129:6)

“[He] The Prajapati-Parameshvara (denoted by ‘Ka’) verily knows, and in this matter, the auspicious lord alone tells us from where this creation has come and from whom this originated. The Gods are later than this world’s production – Who knows then whence it first came into being?”

Commentary with Reasoning & Analysis:

It is lord Shiva alone who exist when all others vanish in time. From him again they take their form and shape. Really, no one exists who can know the secrets of creation better than lord Shiva. How does the lord tell us about the creation? The answer is – through the medium of Vedas which he breathed forth and bestowed upon Brahma and Vishnu at the beginning of creation. Vedas are the words of Shiva.

From Shruti alone we gain all the secrets of the creation. All other gods, who understand Vedas, repeat the message of the Vedas but there exists none other than Shiva and Shakti who witnessed the creation firsthand. Still, when the words of Vedas too do not clarify the hidden secrets about creation or about the primordial being; they always resort to Bhagawan Rudra to know about his true nature from his own mouth.

We’ll see evidences for this below. This is a testimony to the fact that the original Supreme Being viz., – Mahadeva alone knows the creation secrets in their true meaning. All other gods including Indra, Vishnu and Brahma are later than the creation; hence they too have their own doubts (however great they might have been in knowledge).

Therefore, all the gods, instead of wandering anywhere, directly resort to Kailasha and enquire Shiva about his true nature as follows.

“oṃ dēvā ha vai svargaṁ lōkamāyaṁstē rudramapṛcchan ‘kō bhavān? iti’ ||” (Atharvasiras Upanishad 01)

“Om! Once upon a time the Devas resorted to the world of Bliss (Kailasa); and the Devas addressed Rudra thus, “who are you?”

In reply to their sincere inquiry, Bhagawan Rudra narrates about his true nature of being the primordial Supreme Being.

“sō’bravīdahamēkaḥ prathamamāsaṁ vartāmi ca bhaviśyāmi ca nānyaḥ kaścinmattō vyatirikta iti ||” (Atharvasiras Upanishad 02)

“He replied: “I alone was in the beginning; I am now; and will be in the future. There is none but me””.

Then Bhagawan Rudra narrates about his nature and says he is Brahman. The same phenomenon we see in Shiva Gita which is a discourse by lord Shiva to Sri Rama and is present in Padma Purana. There Sri Rama enquires Shiva about his true form and how he creates the universe.

The answer is exactly similar to what we have seen in Atharvasiras Upanishad above. Shiva tells Rama that in ancient times once Brahma and other gods wanted to know about Shiva’s nature and waited upon him on the mountain. Shiva playfully stole their existing knowledge also. They enquired, “Who are you?”, and then Shiva told him what he is!

“śrībhagavānuvāca ||
sādhu pṛṣṭaṁ mahābhāga durajñaēyamamarairapi|
tatpravakṣyāmi tē bhaktyā brahmacaryēṇa suvrata [4]
pāraṁ yāsyasyanāyāsādyēna saṁsāranīradhēḥ |
dṛśyantē pañcabhūtāni yē ca lōkāścaturdaśa [5]
samudrāḥ saritō dēvā rākṣasā ṛṣayastathā |
dṛśyantē yāni cānyāni sthāvarāṇi carāṇi ca [6]
gandharvāḥ pramathā nāgāḥ sarvē tē madvibhūtayaḥ |
purā brahmādayō dēvā draṣṭukāmā mamākṛtim [7] ||”

(Padma purāṇa:śiva gīta:vibhūti yōga: 4-7)

“Sri Bhagavan said: O Rama! Very wisely, you have asked a very significant question indeed! The answer to this is not known to the very Gods. Therefore I would detail out to you that secret information, Listen carefully! All these visible five elements, fourteen worlds, seven oceans, seven mountains, all gods, demons, sages, entire mobile and immobile creation, gandhervas, Pramadhas, Nagas, everything has manifested from my portion only. At first Brahma and other deities desired to know my true form”.

“mandaraṁ prayayuḥ sarvē mama priyataraṁ girima |
stutvā prāñjalayō dēvā mā̃ tadā purataḥ sthitāḥ [8]
tāndṛṣṭvātha mayā dēvāna līlākulitacētasaḥ |
tēṣāmapahṛtaṁ jñaānaṁ brahmādīnā̃ divaukasāma [9]
atha tē’pahṛtajñaānā māmāhuḥ kō bhavāniti |
athābruvamahaṁ dēvānahamēva purātanaḥ [10] ||” (Padma purāṇa:śiva gīta:vibhūti yōga: 8-10)

“They assembled near the mandara mountain which is my favorite mountain. After assembling there, they stood near with folded hands and sang hymns in my praise. Knowing their desire, out of playful mood i had stolen away their knowledge. Then when I appeared, they under ths stupor of ignorance, questioned me “Who are you?” In that context i addressed them and said: O gods! I’m the Adi-Anadi-Purusha (oldest primordial being)”.

Then the discourse what Padma Purana narrates in Shiva Gita is exactly similar to what Atharvasiras Upanishad narrates. Therefore, from this we can understand that when the very gods have doubt regarding the primordial being, and when they desire to know the secrets of creation, they resort to the one and only god – Bhagawan Rudra!

nāsadīya-sūkta – Verse 7

iyaṃ visṛṣṭiryata ābabhūva yadi vā dadhe yadi vā na |
yo asyādhyakṣaḥ parame vyoman so aṅgha veda yadi vā naveda ||” (Rig Veda 10:129:7)

“From whom this varegated creation originated or in whom it is contained or not contained.
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, if (someone else says he knows) perhaps he knows not”.

Commentary with Reasoning & Analysis:

Vedas may be interpreted in various ways by other narrators. Only Shiva and Shakti are capable of revealing the creation secrets in the right sense. This is why however great may be the knowledge of other gods; their knowledge is still limited when it comes to knowing the Supreme Shiva in his true form and knowing about the way the creation takes place. As seen in the commentary in the previous verse, when the very gods have doubts, they always approach Mahadeva to listen to his words.

This is why creation secrets are best known to that Shiva who is seated in “sahasrāra” which is otherwise called as “paramē vyōman” and witnesses this world through the aperture in the head which is the divine eye; he alone knows the secrets of creation in their right meaning. If some other gods say, they know it truly – then – they know not!

In fact, all knowledge proceeds from Shiva as stated in the below verse from Taittiriya Aranyaka.

“iśānaḥ sarvavidyānāṁ īśvaraḥ sarvabhūtānāṁ | braḥmādhipatirbraḥmanō’dhipatirbraḥmā shivō mē astu sadāśivōṁ ||” (Taittariya Aranyaka 10:21:1)

“May the Supreme who is the ruler of all knowledge, ishana, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas and the one overlord of Hiranyagarbha, be benign to me. That Sadasiva described thus and denoted by Pranava (OM)”.

So, the true import of all knowledge remains only with Shiva. Only and only, by his grace others may be able to know the Vedas to whatever extent Shiva wants them to know. Difference in knowledge levels and the capacity to comprehend varies based on the “adhikāra-bhēda (variations in eligibility)”. This is why after explaining at length about many superior attributes of Mahadeva, Veda Vyasa admits that is it impossible for him to recite about all the attributes of Bhagawan Mahadeva, even if he continually narrates about him for a thousand years!

“vēdāḥ sāṅgōpaniṣadaḥ purāṇādhyātmaniścayāḥ|
yadatra paramaṁ guhyaṁ sa vai dēvō mahēśvaraḥ|
īdṛśaśca mahādēvō bhūyā̃śca bhagavānajaḥ||107
na hi sarvē mayā śakyā vaktũ bhagavatō guṇāḥ|
api varṣasahasrēṇa satataṁ pāṇḍunandana||” (MBH 7:202:107-108)

“Whatever is highly mysterious in the several branches of the Vedas, in the Upanishads, in the Puranas, and in those sciences that deal with the soul, is that God, viz., Maheswara, Mahadeva is even such. That God is, again, without birth. All the attributes of that God are not capable of being enumerated by me even if, O son of Pandu, I were to recite them continually for a thousand years”.

This is why the all knowledgeable son of Ganga who had mastered all śāstrās from the best of the best preceptors viz. Br̥haspatī, Vaśiṣtha, Śukrāchārya and Parṣurāma; expressed his inability to explain the nature of Mahadeva when enquired by Yudhishthira.

“bhīśma uvāca | aśkthōhaṁ guṇāna vaktũ mahādēvasya dhīmata | yō hi sarva gathō na ca sarvatra druśyatē | brahmā viśṇu surēśāṇā̃ sṛśṭā ca prabhurēva ca | brahmādaya pisācānta yaṁ hi dēvā upāsatē | prakṛtīnā̃ paratvēna purusaḥasya ca yaḥ paraḥ | cinthyatē yō yōgavidbhi ṛśībhiḥ tatva darśibhiḥ | akśaraṁ para braḥma asaca sadasaca ya | prakṛtĩ purusaḥã caiva kśōbhayitvā tsvatējasā | brahmanā masṛjata tasmāda dēva dēva prajāpati | |” (MBH 13:14:3-6)

“BhIshma said.’I am quite incompetent to recite the virtues of Mahadeva of highest intelligence. He pervades all things in the universe and yet is not seen anywhere. He is the one who created Brahma, Vishnu and other devas, He is their master. All the deities, from Brahma to the Pisachas, adore and worship him. He transcends both Prakriti (Pradhana) and Purusha, he is being meditated upon by great sages who know the truth. He is indestructible and Supreme Brahman. He is both existent and non-existent. Agitating both Prakriti and Purusha by means of His energy, He created therefrom the universal lord of creatures, viz., Brahmā”.

Likewise, even though in Shiva Purana lord Shiva bestows Vedas to Brahma and also to Vishnu (I.e., as the first guru of them, he teaches Vedas to both Brahma and Vishnu), Vishnu is the one who understood about Shiva to a larger extent than Brahma. However, Shiva cannot be understood totally by them. This is expressed by Brahma himself as stated below.

“śivatatvaṁ mayānaiva viṣṇunāpi yathārthataḥ |
jñātañca paramaṁ rūpamadbhutaṁ ca parēṇa ca ||” (Śiva purāṇa 2:06:3)

“Neither the principle of Shiva nor his supreme wonderful forms have been understood by me or by Vishnu in its entirety”.

Then in ‘kUrma purANa’ lord Shiva himself says that even great sages do not comprehend mahAdeva and umA entirely, only viShNu and umA knows him as quoted in below verse. This is not a contradiction with above verse from Shiva purANa. We need to understand them by correlating with each other. What this means is – Neither gods nor great sages truly know the supreme nature of Shiva and Uma. Not even Brahma and Vishnu know truly. However, compared to all other gods (including Brahma) Vishnu knows Shiva to a larger extent. So, to the extent Shiva is knowable for us, till that extent only viShNu knows him, so viShNu is the ideal one to seek knowledge about shiva.

“na me viduḥ paraṃ tattvaṃ devyāścha na maharṣayaḥ ||159b
eko ‘yaṃ veda viśvātmā bhavānī viṣṇureva ca |
ahaṃ hi niṣkriyaḥ śāntaḥ kevalo niṣparigrahaḥ ||” (kūrma purāṇa 1:15:159b-160)

“Not even the great sages know the supreme reality of mine as well as of devi umA. This soul of the universe viz. viShNu and bhavAnI alone know me. I am the unattached, peaceful, absolute, and devoid of attractions”.

[The same is stated by Bhishma in Mahabharata as, “Only Narayana, O son, that bearer of the discus and the mace, can comprehend Mahadeva”. (MBH 14: SECTION XIV)]

This is because Narayana’s austerities, his balanced mind and his devotion (towards Maheshwara) was superior to that of Brahma’s hence he gained closest proximity to Mahadeva. Hence in this universe after Uma, and Nandi, if at all anyone understands Mahadeva to the greatest extent – that is – Narayana! Hence he is to be chosen as the Guru to reach to Shiva!

Before ending this section let me mention here that, I do not claim that I am capable of understanding Shiva and Shakti completely. However, whatever little I have understood, analyzed and explained in this thesis, is all surely due to the grace of Mahadeva and Uma; and whatever gaps exist in my understanding, they all are purely mine. I’m always a seeker of their grace and will always be!


From the extensive research and analysis done in this article, we conclude the following:

Bhagawad Gita verse BG 10:33 (aksharanam a-karo ’smi), which means, “among all the alphabets I am “a-kara”, encompasses the entire theory of creation in it and it is the syllable of Shiva and hence Bhagawad Gita’s this verse is talking about lord Shiva alone.

Bhagawad Gita verse BG 14:03 (mama yōnir mahad braḥma tasmin garbhaṁ dadhāmy ahaṁ) and also BG 14:04 (tāsāṁ braḥma mahad yōnir ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā) talk outwardly about womb and the process of impregnation, but we have seen that the entire process works with the exchange of mātrikās (alphabets) and is totally a process that revolves around Shiva and Shakti. Therefore this verse of Bhagawad Gita is again a glorification of Shiva-tatwam alone

Bhagawan Rudra is the Purusha of Vedas and his consort Tripurasundari is the one described as the Vāk in Vedas. It is from their union in their fourth quadrant of Vāk aspect (vaikharī), that they breathe forth Vedas (speech) and from that Vaikharī speech creation takes its form and shape.

We have seen this analysis in terms of:

Vedic evidences (Section 3), and found that Rudra (Purusha, or Prana or Visvakarma, or Twashta) is identical with Vak and it is from them that creation proceeded through the union of their Mātrikā-Swarūpa (i.e., varṇamālā).

Evidences from Puranas (Section 4), and found that Puranas attest the same truth and explain creation through Mātrikās of the varṇamālā.

Evidences from Puranas and Mahabharata (Section 5), and found that Mahabharata says creation proceeds from Vedas (speech) and that’s what Puranas have also stated.

Evidences from “nandikēśvara kāśikā” (Section 6) which is a commentary on ‘Mahēśvara Sūtras’ – hence it is as authentic as “Pāṇiṇī’s Aṣṭhādhyāyī” (since both have their origin in the 14 aphorisms of Mahēśvara). Moreover, it is totally in agreement with what Vedas say about creation and is in agreement with Advaita Vedanta theory; hence this is a valid Pramāṇa.

Additionally, based on the extensive research and analysis done, we all are clear about who the original Lord Kāma is, and by any good means it was not possible for us to not understand that the Kāma Sūkta is a hymn to Bhagawān Rudra (Shiva); yet, for additional emphasis and for bringing more clarity, I have presented my commentary alongside and established that Kāma-Sūkta is a hymn to Bhagawan Rudra alone.

We have seen that Nāsadīya-Sūkta is verily a hymn describing about the creation from Lord Shiva alone and the Supreme Being whom it refers as the one present prior to creation, who was breathing without wind – is doubtlessly Bhagawan Shiva in his ‘nirguṇa’ aspect. We have seen two Puranas and Upanishad establishing this fact in addition to what our analysis has concluded.

As a side note in the Appendix (Section 9) we have refuted the wrong understanding of śankara-bhāṣya on Mātrikās and Vināyakās.

With this, we have come to the “end” of this article only, but this marks the “beginning” of a new understanding of the divine secrets behind creation!

“O my dear father Kāmēśvarā and my dearest mother Kāmēśvarī! Whatever you have taught me, I might or might not have succeeded in reproducing on paper without any loss of knowledge; still then, I being your infact, and my mind being small, I believe, you would accept this write-up from the pen of your child, with all your love and care. I offer this massive commentary on Bhagawad Gita verses (BG 10:33, BG 14:03, and BG 14:04) along with the commentaries on Nandikēśvarā-Kāśikā, Kāma-Sūkta, and Nāsadīya-Sūkta; to your lotus feet”.

|| ētat sarvaṁ śrī lalitā-kāmēśvara parabraḥmārpaṇamastu ||

Explore Glory of Shri Kameshwara Part IIIIIIIVV, VI

The article has been republished from the author’s blog with permission.

This Series was first published on India Facts.

Featured Image Credits: kailash-mansarovaryatra

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