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Siva, Durga and Siva's expansions

(partially based on Brittanica CD. Version 97. Encyclopaedia Brittanica Inc., 1997)

Siva
On Siva vs. Visnu in non-Vaisnava sastras
Rama's superiority over Siva
Vaisnava vs. Saiva sastras
Durga
Sukadeva Gosvami
Nandi
Hanuman
Further details on Siva
Lord Siva: The Greatest Vaishnava
Ganesa - Remover of Obstacles

Siva

asya devasya mIhuSo vayA viSNoreSasya prabhRthe havirbhiH
vide hi rudro rudriyaM mahitvaM yAsiSTaM vartiraZvinAvirAvat
source

"With offerings I propitiate the branches of this swift-moving God, the bounteous Visnu. Hence Rudra gained his Rudra-strength: O Asvins, ye sought the house that hath celestial viands." (Rig Veda 7.40.5) source

mAdhavomAdhavAv Izau sarva-siddhi-vidhAyinau
vande parasparAtmAnau paraspara-nati-priyau

"I offer my obeisances to the two isvaras – Krsna, the husband of Ma (Laksmi), and Siva, the husband of Uma (Parvati), Who are the source of all ability and perfection. They are always united, and filled with mutual love and respect for each other." (one of the mangalacaranas from Sridhara Svami’s commentary on the first verse of the Bhagavatam)

"I bow down to Sri Krsna, the Lord of Yaduvansa, the bestower of bhakti, meditated on as situated in Oneself, holding Sudarsana cakra for His own lila and who has bestowed lordship over the beings to Mahadeva, the great enemy of Kandarpa. I bow down again and again to Him." (Narada Pancaratra 5.4.26)

"I bow down to someone in Nanda's palace. Reflected ten times in the nails of His lotus feet, Lord Siva worships Him as if in eleven forms." (MadhusUdana SarasvatI's 1st verse in his tika to his Bhagavad-bhakti-rasAyana)

"There are three things that are inconceivable: the position of Lord Siva, hladini sakti, and, yes, guru-tattva." (BR Sridhara Swami)

Siva ("Auspicious One"), is one of the members of the trimurti (Brahma, Visnu and Siva). He is in charge of the material mode of ignorance (tamo-guna) connected with the destruction of the universe. "The personality of the destructive principle in the form of time has been identified with that of Sambhu by scriptural evidences that have been adduced in the commentary." (Brahma-samhita 5.45p.) His position is between the living beings (jiva-tattva) and the Supreme Lord, Visnu (visnu-tattva), in the category of his own, siva-tattva.

Siva is usually depicted in painting and sculpture as white or ash-colored, with a blue neck (from holding in his throat the poison thrown up at the churning of the cosmic ocean, which threatened to destroy humankind), his hair arranged in a coil of matted locks (jatamakuta) and adorned with the crescent moon and the Ganges (he allowed her to trickle through his hair). He has three eyes, the third eye bestowing inward vision but capable of burning destruction when focused outward. He wears a garland of skulls and a serpent around his neck and carries in his two (sometimes four) hands a deerskin, a trident, a small hand drum, or a club with a skull at the end.

Siva is represented in a variety of forms: in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati and son Skanda, as the cosmic dancer (Nataraja), as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi, and as the androgynous union of Siva and his consort in one body, half-male and half-female (Ardhanarisvara). Among his common epithets are Sambhu ("Benignant"), Sankara ("Beneficent"), Pasupati ("Lord of Beasts"), Mahesa ("Great Lord"), Mahadeva ("Great God"), Rudra ("Crying"), Asutosa ("Easily pacified"), Bhutanatha ("Lord of Ghosts"), Tripurari ("Victor over the three demoniac cities") etc.

Brahma, the original creature in the universe, is the father of Rudra who appeared from his forehead when Brahma became angry at his sons, four Kumaras. (Srimad-Bhagavatam - SB - 3.12.4-10).

Rudra was given the following places for his residence: the heart, the senses, the air of life, the sky, the air, the fire, the water, the earth, the sun, the moon and austerity. (SB 3.12.11)

He has eleven other names: Manyu, Manu, Mahinasa, Mahan, Siva, Rtadhvaja, Ugrareta, Bhava, Kala, Vamadeva and Dhrtavrata. (SB 3.12.12)

Laghu-bhagavatamrta 2.26: "Siva appears in eleven forms and eight forms. Generally he has ten arms and five heads, with three eyes on each head." (e.g. Pasupatinath in Kathmandu)

Eleven wives of Rudra, Rudranis, are called Dhi, Dhrti, Rasala, Uma, Niyut, Sarpi, Ila, Ambika, Iravati, Svadha and Diksa. (SB 3.12.13)

Panca-vaktra Siva (five forms of Siva with five faces) are Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusa, and Isana. (SB 8.7.29, Garuda Purana 1.21)

CC Madhya 20.306: "'What is the value of a throne to Lord Krsna? The masters of the various planetary systems accept the dust of His lotus feet on their crowned heads. That dust makes the holy places sacred, and even Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Laksmi and I Myself, who are all portions of His plenary portion, eternally carry that dust on our heads.'

CC Madhya 20.307: "Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, expands a portion of His plenary portion and, accepting the association of the material mode of ignorance, assumes the form of Rudra to dissolve the cosmic manifestation.

CC Madhya 20.308: "Rudra, Lord Siva, has various forms, which are transformations brought about by association with maya. Although Rudra is not on a level with the jiva-tattvas, he still cannot be considered a personal expansion of Lord Krsna.

CC Madhya 20.309: "Milk is transformed into yogurt when it associates with a yogurt culture. Thus yogurt is nothing but milk, but still it is not milk.

CC Madhya 20.310: "'Milk changes into yogurt when mixed with a yogurt culture, but actually it is constitutionally nothing but milk. Similarly, Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, assumes the form of Lord Siva [Sambhu] for the special purpose of material transactions. I offer my obeisances at His lotus feet.'

CC Madhya 20.311: "Lord Siva is an associate of the external energy; therefore he is absorbed in the material quality of darkness. Lord Visnu is transcendental to maya and the qualities of maya. Therefore He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

CC Madhya 20.312: "'The truth about Lord Siva is that he is always covered with three material coverings — vaikarika, taijasa and tamasa. Because of these three modes of material nature, he always associates with the external energy and egotism itself.'

Lord Siva as the cosmic dancer Nataraja ("lord of dance") is one of the most famous deity forms, which include the magnificent Cola bronzes of the 10th-11th century. Siva is shown with four arms and flying locks dancing on the figure of a dwarf, the Apasmarapurusa (purusa meaning "man," and apasmara "forgetfulness," or "heedlessness"). The back right hand of Siva holds the damaru (hourglass-shaped drum); the front right hand is in the abhaya-mudra (the "fear-not" gesture, made by holding the palm outward with fingers pointing up); the back left hand carries agni (fire) in a vessel or in the palm of the hand; and the front left hand is held across the chest in the gajahasta (elephant-trunk) pose, with wrist limp and fingers pointed downward toward the uplifted left foot. The locks of Siva's hair stand out in several strands and are interspersed with the figures of Ganga (the River Ganges), flowers, a skull, and the crescent moon. His figure is encircled by a ring of flames (prabhamandala). This form of dance, which is the most common representation of Nataraja, is called in the classic Sanskrit treatises on dance the bhujangatrasa ("trembling of the snake").

The gestures of the dance represent Siva's five activities (pancakrtya): creation (symbolized by the drum), protection (by the abhaya-mudra), destruction (by the fire), embodiment (by the foot planted on the ground), and release (by the foot held aloft).

Other dances of Siva seen in sculpture and painting are the wild tandava, which he performs on cremation grounds in the company of his consort Devi, and the evening dance performed on Mount Kailasa before the assembly of gods, some of whom accompany him on various instruments.

In the Brahma-samhita he is said to be another form of Maha-Visnu, and is compared to a yogurt. Yogurt is nothing but milk, yet it is not milk. As yogurt is prepared when milk is mixed with a culture, the form of Lord Siva expands when the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in touch with material nature.

His paraphernalia symbolizes: moon - time measurement in months, three eyes - tri-kala-jna, snake around the neck - time measurement in years, necklace of skulls with snakes - changing of ages and begetting and annihilating of mankind.

One of his features is time (Bhagavad-gita 11.32: "Time I am", SB 3.5.26-27, Brahma-samhita 5.10), the separating factor between the material and spiritual world (SB 3.10.12) and a medium to perceive the Lord's influence (SB 3.26.16).

He is worshiped as one of the five deities in the pancopasana system established by Adi Sankaracarya, together with Surya, Ganesa, Durga, and Visnu. Its goals are dharma, artha, kama and an impersonal moksa. The final goal is Brahman. Visnu is considered an "impersonal Supersoul" (SB 2.3.24 p.) because the whole system is impersonal. See SB 6.4.34, p.

He is worshiped as the Supreme Lord by the Saiva (Saivite) groups and described as such in the tamasic Puranas - Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana, and Agni Purana. However, he is always depicted in the constant meditation on the Supreme Lord, Visnu. Lord Visnu, at the same time worships him as His foremost devotee: "Conquered by the intimate love of His devotee, Lord Krsna personally worships Siva just to glorify him." He is worshiped by Lord in His Rama-lila (Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.2.87) and blesses Him:

Ramayana 6.123.19
(Rama:) "See this island, located in the middle of the ocean, where My troops were stationed. At this place, the lord Shiva formerly bestowed his grace on Me."

Ramayana 6.126.51-52
"The illustrious Rama, the destroyer of enemies, happened to meet Indra the lord of celestials, Yama the lord of dissolution, Varuna the lord of waters, Maheshvara, the great lord (Shiva), Brahma the lord of creation as also Dasaratha (his deceased father) and was bestowed boons by them. sages and celestial masters who came there, too gave boons."

He is the greatest of Vaisnavas (SB 2.10.13, 5.17.22-23, Brahma-samhita 5.9-10). See the article below.

Lord likes to worship His exalted devotees (SB 4.24.30 p.), praises him (SB 8.7.45) and Siva in turn worships Him (SB 4.24.33-79, 9.10.12, 11.5.33) and accepts Him as the protector of everyone (SB 8.23.20-21).

On Siva vs. Visnu in non-Vaisnava sastras

Followers of Siva like Hiranyakasipu or Ravana oppose the worship of Visnu but followers of Visnu don't oppose the worship of Siva since it's often repeated that one can't be a devotee of Visnu and dishonor Siva.

Visnu sahasra namas include the name "Siva" and "Krsna" and Siva sahasra namas the name "Visnu". But Siva sahasra namas don't include the name "Krsna".

The story of Siva becoming lustful and following Lord Visnu in the temporary form of Mohini Murti found in the Bhagavata Purana 8.12 is also found in Satarudrasamhita within Siva Purana.

"The Lord visited Ziva-kAJcI and the nearby ViSNu-kAJcI. Being the original Supreme Person, ZrI MUla-saGkarSaNa ViSNu, ZrI NityAnanda was amused at the fanatical conflict that existed between the followers of Lord Ziva and Lord ViSNu." (Caitanya Bhagavata 1.9)

CBh 3.2.315-396 tells a story from Skanda Purana about Siva being conquered by Sudarsana cakra and the Lord Visnu then gave him Ekamra- vana (aka Bhuvanesvara north of Jagannatha Puri, Orissa) as his abode.

ata evoktaM skAndhe zrI-brahma-nArada-samvAde

vAsudevaM parityajya
yo 'nya-devam upAsate
sva-mAtaraM parityajya
zvapacIM vandate hi saH

In the Skanda Purana, in a conversation of Brahma and Narada it is said: "One who rejects Lord Krsna and worships another deity rejects his own mother and worships a dogeater woman." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.111)

tatraivAnyatra

vAsudevaM parityajya
yo 'nya-devam upAsate
tyaktvAmRtaM sa mUDhAtmA
bhuGkte halahalaM viSaM

In another place in the Skanda Purana it is said: "One who rejects Lord Krsna and worships another deity rejects nectar and drinks poison." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.112)

liGga-purANe

kim anyair bahubhir mantraiH
kim anyair bahubhir vrataiH
namo nArAyaNayeti
mantraH sarvArtha-sAdhakaH

In the Linga Purana it is said: "What is the use of other mantras? What is the use of other vows? The mantra Namo Narayanaya (Obeisances to Lord Narayana) fulfills all desires." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.136)

skAnde

pAdodakasya mAhAtmyaM
devo jAnAti zaGkaraH
viSNu-pAda-cyutA gaGgA
zirasA yena dhAritA
sthAnaM naivAsti pApasya
dehinAM deha-madhyataH

In the Skanda Purana it is said: "Lord Siva, who carries on his head the Ganga, which flows from Lord Visnu's feet, well knows the glory of the water that has washed Lord Visnu's feet. That is why sin can never touch him." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 9.63)

tatraiva zrI-zivoma-samvAde

vilayaM yAnti pApAni
pIte pAdodake hareH
kiM punar viSNu-pAdodaM
zAlagrAma-zilA-cyutam

In the Skanda Purana Lord Siva tells Goddess Uma: "When a person drinks the water that has washed Lord Hari's feet, all his sins perish. What, then, can be said when a person drinks the water that has washed the Salagrama-sila?" (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 9.68)

vizeSena haret pApaM
brahma-hatyAdikaM priye
pIte pAdodake viSNor
yadi prANair vimucyate
hatvA yama-bhaTAn sarvAn
vaiSNavaM lokam ApnuyAt

"O beloved, the act of drinking the water that has washed Lord Visnu's feet removes all sins, beginning with the sin of killing a brahmana. When a person who has drunk this water dies, he defeats all Yama's soldiers and goes to the world of Lord Visnu." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 9.69)

tatraiva zrI-ziva-kArttikeya-samvAde zrI-zAlagrAma-zilA-mAhAtmye
chinnas tena mahA-sena
garbhAvAsaH su-dAruNaH
pItAM yena sadA viSNoH
zAlagrAma-zilA-jalam

In the Skanda Purana, in the Sri Salagrama-sila-mahatmya, Lord Siva tells Karttikeya: "O great general, they who regularly drink the water that has washed the Salagrama-sila are rescued from having again to enter a mother's womb." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 9.70)

tad uktaM skAnde zivena

viSNoH pAdodakaM pItvA
pazcAd azuci-zaGkayA
AcAmati ca yo mohAd
brahma-hA sa nigadyate

In the Skanda Purana, Lord Siva explains: "A person who after drinking the water that has washed Lord Visnu's feet worries that he is still impure is a sinner. He is the killer of a brahmana." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 9.92)

zrI-vaikuNThaloka-prApakatvam
uktaM ca laiGge zrI-nAradaM prati zrI-zivena

vrajaMs tiSThan svapann aznan
zvasan vAkya-prapUraNe
nAma-saGkIrtanaM viSNor
helayA kali-mardanam
kRtvA svarUpatAM yAti
bhakti-yuktaM paraM vrajet

The Holy Name Takes One to Sri Vaikunthaloka
In the Linga Purana, Lord Siva tells Sri Narada Muni:

"A person who, while walking, sitting, sleeping, eating, and breathing, always chants, even casually or disrespectfully, the holy names of Lord Visnu, defeats the age of Kali, regains his original spiritual form, becomes a great devotee, and goes to the spiritual world." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.428)

viSNu-cintAmaNi zrI-zivomA-samvAde

aghacchit-smaraNaM viSNor
bahv-AyAsena sAdhyate
auSTha-spandana-mAtreNa
kIrtanaM tu tato varam

In the Visnu-cintamani, Lord Siva tells Goddess Uma: "With a great struggle it is possible to meditate on Lord Krsna. However, simply by moving the lips one can easily chant Lord Krsna's holy name. For this reason chanting the Lord's name is more effective than trying to meditate on Him." (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.453)

For quotes from Brhat-sahasra-nama-stotra see Sanatana Gosvami's commentary to HBV 1.118.

Rama's superiority over Siva

AropayitvA maurvIM ca pUrayAm Asa vIryavAn
tad babhaJja dhanur madhye narazreSTho mahAyazAH

Further, that dextrous one has stringed that bow with bowstring and started to stretch it up to his ear to examine its tautness, but that glorious one who is foremost among men, Rama, broke that [Siva's] bow medially. (RAmAyana 1.66.17)

Ramayana 6.20.25-26
(Sugriva:) "O, stupid Ravana! You along with your younger brother will not be left unkilled by Rama, even if you are protected by all including Indra (the lord of celestials) or even if you have disappeared (by virtue of conjuring trick) or obtained, the solar orbit or entered the nethermost subterranean region or even if approached the lotus feet of Shiva (the lord of Kailasa mountain)."

Ramayana 6.59.130
(Rama:) "Even if you seek refuge in the region of Indra the Lord of celestials or Yama the Lord of Death or the Sun or Brahma the Lord of Creation or Agni the Lord of Fire or Shiva the Lord of dissolution or in the ten regions, even in those abodes you will not elude Me from now on."

mahAdeva uvAca
zrI rAma rAma rAmeti rAme rAme manorame
sahasra nAma tat tulyaM rAma nAma varAnane

Lord Siva tells to his consort Devi Parvati: "O Delight of my heart, o beautiful-faced lady! I myself constantly enjoy the supreme bliss chanting the divine Name of my beloved as 'Sri Rama, Sri Rama' which is equal to reciting one thousand Names of Lord Visnu, Sriman Narayana." (Brhad Visnu Sahasra Nama stotra, Padma Purana 6.71.331 MUM e-edition p. 2548; 6.254.20 MUM e-edition p. 3335). More refs: Narada Pancaratra 4.3.223, quoted in: CC 2.9.32-33 p., Bhaktivinod Thakur - Harinama Cintamani 8; SB 1.19.6 p.

svapne jAgarane zazvat kRSNa dhyAna ratah zivaH
yathA kRSNas tathA zambhur na bhedo mAdhavezayoH

Sleeping or awake, Siva is constantly absorbed in meditation on Krsna. As is Krsna, so is Sambhu; there is no difference between Madhava and Isa. (Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Prakriti Khanda 2.56.61)

Vaisnava vs. Saiva sastras

etat te sarvam AkhyAtam guhyAd guhyatamam nRpa
rudra proktAni zAstrAni tAmasAny eva pArthiva
sammohanArtha lokAnAm proktavAn vRSabhadhvajaH
rahasi proktavAn devyA idam ekam haraH prabhuH

(Vasistha:) O king, I have told you all this topmost secret (108 names of RAma). O king, the sastras proclaimed by Rudra are tamasika. The bull-bannered one (Lord Siva) narrated them for deluding people. Lord Hara told this one in private to the Goddess. (Padma Purana 6.254.63-64, MUM e-edition p. 3339)

This topic is dealt with in Krsna sandarbha 29.69-70. The same passage is repeated in 41.69-70 and elaborated in Paramatma sandarbha 17.1-35 with more quotes.

Durga

Siva's female consort is known under various names as Uma, Sati, Parvati, Durga, Kali, and Sakti. The divine couple, together with their sons - the six-headed Skanda and the elephant-headed Ganesa - are inhabiting the Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas as well as the Mahesa-dhama on the border of the material world (Devi-dhama) and the spiritual world (Vaikuntha or Hari-dhama).

The original father, Krsna, says, aham bija-pradah pita: "I am the seed-giving father." That pita (father) is Lord Siva, Sambhu, and material nature (goddess Durga) is considered the mother. By their sexual union are all conditioned souls inserted into the material nature. The impregnation of material nature is wonderful because at one time innumerable living beings are conceived. Bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate (Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9).

In Bhagavad-gita Krsna describes Prakriti as His own (BG 7.5 - prakRtiM me parAm, 7.14 - mama mAyA), i.e. subservient to Him and Himself as superior to it (14.19 - guNebhyaz ca paraM). This is also parallelled in Vedanta-sutra 2.2.42-45. Since these two sastras are among the topmost, known as prasthana traya, this is the conclusive refutation of sakta vada.

Siva is the original material male and Durga the original material female. Durga is expansion of internal energy and Radharani is the quintessence of internal energy. In that sense Durga is expansion of Yogamaya and ultimately of Radharani.

48. Sri Madhvacarya who is completely absorbed in Krsna knowing that 'yajnamsa' is perfect and having reached Santipuri which is supremely attractive, that twice-born brahmin asked the Lord.
49. Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead and He is the cause of these worlds. Then what is the reason for some not worshiping Him and Him only? What is the root cause for one to worship demigods?
50. Those learned in the path of 'sakti' engage in sacrifices of violence and they worship the devas (demigods) in this world by sacrifices such as 'asvamedha'.
51. The son of Saci - the yajnamsa - on hearing this smilingly said, "For those in the mode of ignorance, who worship sakti (Durga), Krsna is not revealed as the Supreme Bhagavan."
52. "They are only interested in material sense gratification, absorbed in violence and meat eating. They enjoy other's wives and for these activities attain only the abode of Yama."
53. "These criminals, especially those engaged in the sin of killing other living beings, reach the abode of Yama. Devoid of the proper sentiments towards life, they have no realization that Bhagavan is superior to the material nature that they worship."
60. From voilent sacrfices both great pious results and great impious results can be achieved. Sri Krsna has put a stop to these violent sacrifices in the age of Kali, replacing them with another sacrifice.
61. On the first day of the waxing moon in the month of Kartika (Oct-Nov), the Lord has initiated a sacrifice which is known as Annakuta (Govardhana Puja).
62. The king of the devas, Indra, became displeased because his sacrifices were being stopped and so he tried to flood the land of Vraja. But the eternal energy of Krsna Who is compasssion personified intervened for the welfare of the inhabitants.
63. That energy, the divine mother in her beautiful form manifested from Krsna in the form of Radha.
64. By that energy, Bhagavan Sri Krsna held the Govardhana Hill. Due to this feat He has become worshipable as 'Giridhari' for ever.
65. In this divine form of Radha and Krsna, Brahman is eternally complete. In this form Krsna is not Bhagavan, yet as Radha Krsna, the energy and the energetic pleasure potency personified, is more perfectly Supreme, infact even more completely complete than Krsna alone.
66. Hearing this description from that person who is the personification of Radha Krsna combined [Sri Krsna Caitanya], Madhvacarya, who is very dear to Lord Hari, became even more fixed as a pure devotee of that Lord, and an eternal worshipper of Sri Krsna Caitanya. (Bhavisya Purana, Pratisarga Parva 19.48-53,60-66)

"Durga, worshiped by the people of this mundane world, is the Durga described above. But the spiritual Durga, mentioned in the mantra which is the outer covering of the spiritual realm of the Supreme Lord, is the eternal maidservant of Krsna and is, therefore, the transcendental reality whose shadow, the Durga of this world, functions in this mundane world as her maidservant. (Vide the purport of sloka 3.) (Brahmasamhita 44, p.)

5 Ganesa, Durga, Visvaksena, and other devas worship and serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His abode of Vaikuntha. The Ganesa, Durga and other devas mentioned here are different from the Ganesa, Durga and other devas present in the material world. This is so because the spiritual world of Vaikuntha is different from the material world. This is explained in the following words of Srimad Bhagavatam (2.9.10):
"In the personal abode of the Lord, the material modes of ignorance and passion do not prevail, nor is there any of their influence in goodness. There is no predominance of the influence of time, so what to speak of the illusory, external energy. It cannot enter that region. Without discrimination, both the demigods and the demons worship the Lord as devotees."
6 In this way the demigods of Vaikuntha are all internal potencies of the Sri Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the eighteen-syllable mantra glorifying Lord Krsna, the name "Durga" refers to the goddess who establishes the various activities of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is seen in the Vedas, Tantras, and other scriptures.
7 In the Narada-pancaratra, in a conversation of Sruti and Vidya, it is said:
"Because She is willing to suffer all troubles in order to worship and serve her beloved Lord and give Him nectar happiness that never stops, the goddess who is the potency of devotional service is called "Durga" by the saintly Vaisnavas."
8 This Goddess Durga is not different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed by the following words of Sri Gautamiya-kalpa:
"Goddess Durga is identical with Lord Krsna. Lord Krsna is identical with Goddess Durga." 9 This is also confirmed by the words:
"O Goddess Durga, You are the presiding Deity of the eighteen syllable mantra."
10 Some say that s the Supreme Lord's universal form (virat-purusa) is not different from His form in the spiritual world (maha-purusa), so the Durga in the material world is not different from the Durga in the spiritual world. The truth is that the Durga in the material world is a partial expansion of Goddess Maya. The Durga in the material world is engaged in the service of protecting the eighteen-syllable mantra. She is a maidservant of the Durga in the spiritual world, who is an internal potency of the Lord. She is not the deity that controls service to the Lord." (Bhakti sandarbha 285.5-10)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his purports on Sri Brahma Samhita, especially in 5.41 and 5.44, clearly describes Sri Durgadevi as sakti-tattva, who is related to the original sakti, RamA, as Lord Siva is related to Maha-Sankarsana.

It is described that as Lord Sankarsana gets reflected in the water of the Causal Ocean, and His reflection becomes Lord Sambhu, a tattva on his own, similarly Laksmidevi, or RamA, who is service the lotus feet of Maha-Sankarsana, gets reflected in the Causal Ocean thus manifesting as Sri Durgadevi. That is why Durgadevi is sometimes called jagal-laksmi, or 'Laksmi of this Universe".

There are a few references which shed some more light on the position of Srimati Durga devi:

"The Brahma-samhita says, chayeva yasya bhuvanani bibharti durga. Durga is not different from yogamaya. When one understands Durga properly, he is immediately liberated, for Durga is originally the spiritual potency, hladini-sakti, by whose mercy one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini-saktir asmad. The mahamaya-sakti, however, is a covering of yogamaya, and she is therefore called the covering potency. By this covering potency, the entire material world is bewildered (yaya sammohitau jagat). In conclusion, bewildering the conditioned souls and liberating the devotees are both functions belonging to yogamaya." (SB 10.1.69 add. notes)

There are two kinds of maya-yogamaya and mahamaya. Mahamaya is an expansion of yogamaya, and both these mayas are different expressions of the Lord's internal potencies. (SB 4.16.2 purp.)

yan maya-cestitam pumsah
sthity-utpatty-apyayaya hi
anugrahas tan-nivrtter
atma-labhaya cesyate

The Supreme Personality of Godhead acts through His material energy in the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this cosmic manifestation just to deliver the living entity by His compassion and stop the living entity's birth, death and duration of materialistic life. Thus He enables the living being to return home, back to Godhead. (SB 9.24.58)

aparam tv aksaram ya sa
prakrtir jada-rupika
srih para prakrtih prokta
cetana visnu-samsraya
tam aksaram param prahuh
paratah param aksaram
harir evakhila-guno 'py
aksara-trayam iritam

"The inferior infallible entity is that nature who manifests as the material world. The goddess of fortune, on the other hand, is known as the superior nature. She is pure consciousness and is under the direct shelter of Lord Visnu. While she is said to be the superior infallible entity, that infallible entity who is greater than the greatest is Lord Hari Himself, the original possessor of all transcendental qualities. In this way, three distinct infallible entities are described." (from Skanda Purana, quoted in SB 12.11.20 purp.)

"Vrajanatha: Among the servants of Lord Krsna in Gokula is mentioned someone named "Durga-devi". Who is that "Durga"?
Babaji: She is Yogamaya. She is the seed that grows into the changed forms accepted by the cit-sakti (spiritual potency). She stays in the spiritual world, and there she is considered identical with the Lord's internal potency. It is by her power that the Lord's spiritual potency is reflected as the material potency maya. The Durga of the material world is a maidservant of her, Yogamaya, who is the Durga of the spiritual world. This spiritual Durga assists in Lord Krsna's spiritual pastimes. Manifested as Yogamaya, in the spiritual world she makes the nectar of Lord Krsna's pastimes by convincing the gopis that they are married to others and Krsna is their paramour (parakiya-bhava). She also arranges for the Lord's rasa-lila pastimes." (Jaivadharma 14)

Together, Lord Siva's genitals and the vagina of goddess Durga are widely worshiped as linga-yoni. Tantrics are initiated into the worship of Siva-Sakti represented by linga-yoni (Brahma-samhita 5.9-10) by five articles, panca-ma ("five 'm'" - mamsa/meat, matsya/fish, mada/wine, mudra/gestures of hands and yogic postures, maithunya/sex). In tantra there are 2 paths - "right hand" (daksina-bhaga-marga) and "left hand" (vama-bhaga-marga). In right hand path the panca-ma articles are used only symbolically in temple worship; in left hand path the tantrics directly eat meat, fish, drink wine and engage in "yogic sex".

This type of sex is however different from the animalistic sex most people (pashus) engage in. Tantras state there're three types of men: pashu (literally 'animal'), vira ('hero', human level) and divya (deva level) corresponding to triguna.] Pashus enjoy the feelings caused by the flow of prana (see Asura) which create deep samskaras with the end result of "adho gacchanti tAmasAH" (BG 14.18). Vamamarga tantrics avoid moving the body (and thus the prana) and focus on energetic and mental connection, meditating on themselves as aspects of Shiva and Devi, ultimately understood as one reality. Thus the end is the well-known old advaita aka mayavada...

Related:
Maya
Mayavada
Gaudiya Vaisnavas and tantra tradition
Three gunas

Sukadeva Gosvami

Siva's expansion is Sukadeva Gosvami, the celebrated narrator of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Although not a formal sannyasi, he's mastered (svami) his senses (go).

"Suka, the son of Vyasa, who had been influenced by Vayu, was the incarnation of Rudra. He was born for the spread of knowledge in the world." (Garuda Purana 3.18.21)

In the Patala-khanda of Padma-Purana it is stated that Suka became the daughter of Upananda in Vrndavana, in order to take part in Krsna's pastimes. Another story says that in his past life he was a parrot of Radharani (therefore he cannot hear and speak her name without falling into ecstasy) and heard SB spoken to Parvati by Siva. When she fell asleep he imitated her voice and asked questions on her behalf so that Siva didn't recognize she does not listen to him.

On the birth of Sukadeva Gosvami

Dinadhyatma das: There are two valid stories which happened in different kalpas.

Mahabharata, Santi Parva ch. 323-333, says that Vedavyasa performed austerities and pleased Lord Siva who blessed him that he will have a son who will be equal to all five material elements potency. Vedavyasa was trying to create the sacrifical fire and Ghrtaci the Apsaras came there and Vyasadeva's mind was agitated. She left but Vyasadeva could not control his mind and his semen fell into the fire. When the fire was churned for the sacrifice a child was born who is Sukadeva Gosvami.

Skanda Purana, Nagara Khanda ch. 147, says that Vyasadeva married Jabali's daughter Pinjala (Vatika) and Suka was born from her. Suka stayed 12 years in the womb and only after Vyasa brought Krsna from Dwaraka who assured Suka that Maya won't touch him he came out of the womb.

According to "Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, ch. 36" his day is the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month, krsna-paksa Caturdasi (with crescent moon).

More info about him can be found in Brahma-vaivarta Purana.

Related:
Demigods
Srimad Bhagavatam
Lord Shiva rescued Lady Martin’s husband in Afghanistan
ditto
Visnu as Supreme in Rig Veda
Interpolations in the Mahabharata denying Visnu's supremacy (promoting Siva instead)
The Blue God of Judaism by Rabbi Robert dos Santos Teixeira, LMSW, with introduction by Bhakti Ananda Gosvami

Nandi

Siva's mount is the white bull Nandi whose deity sits opposite the main sanctuary of every Siva temple. He is one of Siva's chief attendants and occasionally is depicted as a bull-faced dwarf figure. Nandi is known also in a wholly anthropomorphic form, called variously Nandikesvara, or Adhikaranandi. In sacred cities such as Benares (Varanasi), certain bulls are given the freedom to roam the streets. They are considered to belong to the lord, and they are branded on the flank with the trident insignia of Siva.

NandI is Dharma bull from SB 1.16-17 according to Matsya Purana 95.3 (ed. Calcutta: Caukhamba Vidyabhavan, 1954):

dharmo 'yaM vRSarUpeNa nandI nAma gaNAdhipaH
dharmAn mAhezvarAn vakSyat yataH prabhRti nArada

Hanuman

Considered an expansion of Siva, he's an eternal servant-associate of Sri Rama and a prominent character in Ramayana. He's very popular all over India for his asutosa nature - being easy to please and quick to fulfil prayers.
Rama told Hanuman, His greatest devotee, that Sita and Rama would always stay in his heart, and Hanuman will remain as long as the Ramayana is told (Ramayana, Uttarakhanda - 7.39.16):

yAvad rAmakathAm vIra zroSye 'haM pRthivItale
tAvac charIre vatsyantu mama prANA na saMzayaH

Hanuman vowed: "O My Lord Rama, O valiant king, as long as I hear Your story told, I will remain in this body for you."

As stated in the Puranas, Hanuman perfected his life in servitude to his Lord and to this day constantly worships Rama in Kimpurusa varsa.

Related:
Hanuman stories

Further details on Siva

Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.2.79-97 by Srila Sanatana Goswami:

79 Siva is famous as the personal friend of Lord Visnu. In this universe I do not see anyone who is the object of the Lord's mercy as Siva.

80 Always intoxicated by the sweet nectar of Sri Krsna's lotus feet, Siva has lost all interest in material goals, in supreme power and opulence, and in varieties of sense-pleasure.

81 Eating Dhustura seeds and arka leaves, decorated with a garland of skulls, and his naked body smeared with ashes, Siva laughs at materialists like myself, who are addicted to sense-pleasures.

82 Wearing matted locks of disheveled hair, and eager to conceal his actual nature, he staggers about like a madman. On his head he happily carries the Ganges, which has washed the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. When he dances he destroys the universe.

83 Lord Krsna is so kind to him that not only does he have the power to grant the most valuable liberation to demigods like myself, but even his wife has that power.

84 Ah! All the residents of Sivaloka are liberated souls. By Siva's mercy how many of them are not only liberated, but are now pure devotees of Lord Krsna?

85 To consider Siva different from Lord Krsna is a great offense. The Supreme Personality of Godhead may forgive offenses committed to Him, but He does not forgive those committed against Siva.

86 When Tripuresvara, Vrkasura and other demons maddened by benedictions he gave them, placed Siva in a very dangerous position, Lord Krsna at once rescued him with words as sweet as nectar.

87 Conquered by the intimate love of His devotee, Lord Krsna personally worships Siva just to glorify him.

88-9 Lord Krsna personally asked Siva to drink the terrible poison produced from the churning of nectar. In this way Siva became worshiped by the Prajapatis, and showered with streams of great glory.

90 The Puranas sing of the mercy of Lord Krsna to Siva. You know this already. O sage, please remember his glories.

91 Sri Pariksit said: O affectionate mother, Narada offered obeisances to his spiritual master and was about to depart for Kailasa Hill when Brahma glanced at his son and said:

92 Sri Brahma said: Submissive to the loving service of Kuvera, Siva resides in Kuvera's place on Mount Kailasa in the material universe.

93 Assuming the role of the protector of the northern direction, Siva resides there, surrounded by his associates, and keeping very little material wealth.

94 The Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna becomes conquered by the loving service of devotees like myself, and for this reason He resides on my planet, on Svargaloka, and in many other places as well, and enjoys suitable pastimes there. (In the same way Siva resides in Kailasa because of the devotion of Kuvera.)

95 I quote the opinion of Vayu Purana "The planet of Siva is beyond the seven-fold coverings of the material world. It is eternal, transcendental, and full of bliss. Only the greatest servants of Siva may enter it."

96 In that place Siva is decorated with splendid transcendental garments and ornaments. There He is the master of great powers and opulences, and there he is surrounded by many associates as splendid and glorious as he.

97 In that place, even though the two of them are not different, Siva worships the supremely powerful and opulent Lord Sankarsana as his chosen Deity. Is this not very wonderful?

Lord Siva: The Greatest Vaishnava

What is the difference between Krsna and Siva?

Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Krsna to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Sri Krsna is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma up to the categories of the avataras who are all visnu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes.

kSIram yathA dadhi vikAra-vizeSa-yogAt
saGjAyate na tu tatah pRthag asti hetoH
yah sambhUtam api tathA samupaiti karyAd
govindam Adi-puruSam tam aham bhajAmi

"Milk changes into yogurt when mixed with a yogurt culture, but actually it is constitutionally nothing but milk. Similarly, Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, assumes the form of Lord Siva [Sambhu] for the special purpose of material transactions. I offer my obeisances at His lotus feet."

(The real nature of Sambhu, the presiding deity of Mahesa-dhama, is described.) Sambhu is not a second Godhead other than Krsna. Those, who entertain such discriminating sentiment, commit a great offense against the Supreme Lord. The supremacy of Sambhu is subservient to that of Govinda; hence they are not really different from each other. The nondistinction is established by the fact that just as milk treated with acid turns into curd so Godhead becomes a subservient when He Himself attains a distinct personality by the addition of a particular element of adulteration. This personality has no independent initiative. The said adulterating principle is constituted of a combination of the stupefying quality of the deluding energy, the quality of nonplenitude of the marginal potency and a slight degree of the ecstatic-cum-cognitive principle of the plenary spiritual potency. This specifically adulterated reflection of the principle of the subjective portion of the Divinity is Sadasiva, in the form of the effulgent masculine-symbol-god Sambhu from whom Rudradeva is manifested. In the work of mundane creation as the material cause, in the work of preservation by the destruction of sundry asuras and in the work of destruction to conduct the whole operation, Govinda manifests Himself as guna-avatara in the form of Sambhu who is the separated portion of Govinda imbued with the principle of His subjective plenary portion. The personality of the destructive principle in the form of time has been identified with that of Sambhu by scriptural evidences that have been adduced in the commentary. The purport of the Bhagavata slokas, viz., vaisnavanam yatha Sambhuh, etc., is that Sambhu, in pursuance of the will of Govinda, works in union with his consort Durgadevi by his own time energy. He teaches pious duties (dharma) as stepping- stones to the attainment of spiritual service in the various tantra-sastras, etc., suitable for jivas in different grades of the conditional existence. In obedience to the will of Govinda, Sambhu maintains and fosters the religion of pure devotion by preaching the cult of illusionism (Mayavada) and the speculative agama-sastras. The fifty attributes of individual souls are manifest in a far vaster measure in Sambhu and five additional attributes not attainable by jivas are also partly found in him. So Sambhu cannot be called a jiva. He is the lord of jiva but yet partakes of the nature of a separated portion of Govinda. (Brahma samhita 5.45 p.)

Can one get the same result by worshiping Siva or Krsna?

There is a Mission that regularly propounds that worship of any demigod will lead one to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or the supreme goal. But worship of demigods is thoroughly discouraged herein because even the greatest demigods like Brahma and Siva represent only part of the opulence of the Supreme Lord. He is the origin of everyone born, and no one is greater than Him. He is asamaurdhva, which means that no one is superior to Him and that no one is equal to Him. In the Padma Purana it is said that one who considers the Supreme Lord Krsna in the same category with demigods — be they even Brahma or Siva — becomes at once an atheist. (BG 10.42 p.)

There are many foolish persons who say that one can chant Hare Krsna or chant the name of Kali or Durga or Siva because they are all the same. If one thinks that the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the names and activities of the demigods are on the same level, or if one accepts the holy name of Visnu to be a material sound vibration, that is also an offense. (SB 3.15.25 p.)

In what way do devotees of Lord Krishna offer respect to Lord Siva?

It is said, vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Lord Siva is the best of all devotees. Therefore all devotees of Lord Krsna are also devotees of Lord Siva. In Vrndavana there is Lord Siva's temple called Gopisvara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Siva but Katyayani, or Durga, as well, but their aim was to attain the favor of Lord Krsna. A devotee of Lord Krsna does not disrespect Lord Siva, but worships Lord Siva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krsna. Consequently whenever a devotee worships Lord Siva, he prays to Lord Siva to achieve the favor of Krsna, and he does not request material profit. In Bhagavad-gita (7.20) it is said that generally people worship demigods for some material profit. Kamais tais tair hrta jnanah. Driven by material lust, they worship demigods, but a devotee never does so, for he is never driven by material lust. That is the difference between a devotee's respect for Lord Siva and an asura's respect for him. The asura worships Lord Siva, takes some benediction from him, misuses the benediction and ultimately is killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who awards him liberation.

Because Lord Siva is a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he loves all the devotees of the Supreme Lord. Lord Siva told the Pracetas that because they were devotees of the Lord, he loved them very much. Lord Siva was not kind and merciful only to the Pracetas; anyone who is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very dear to Lord Siva. Not only are the devotees dear to Lord Siva, but he respects them as much as he respects the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, devotees of the Supreme Lord also worship Lord Siva as the most dear devotee of Lord Krsna. They do not worship him as a separate Personality of Godhead. It is stated in the list of nama-aparadhas that it is an offense to think that the chanting of the name of Hari and the chanting of Hara, or Siva, are the same. The devotees must always know that Lord Visnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that Lord Siva is His devotee. A devotee should be offered respect on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and sometimes even more respect. Indeed, Lord Rama, the Personality of Godhead Himself, sometimes worshiped Lord Siva. If a devotee is worshiped by the Lord, why should a devotee not be worshiped by other devotees on the same level with the Lord? This is the conclusion. From this verse it appears that Lord Siva blesses the asuras simply for the sake of formality. Actually he loves one who is devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (SB 4.24.30 purport)

Should devotees of Krishna discourage others from worshiping Lord Siva?

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, in Winnipeg there is one very pious east Indian man who for many years has been worshiping somewhat, worshiping Lord Siva. And his wife is also a very quite chaste woman and sincere follower — and so were her parents — of Lord Siva. And he is reading your Bhagavad-gita. He visits our temple. And I have given him the first volume of Canto Four which discusses Lord Siva a great deal. And he has read in one of your purports that Krsna is more pleased when you worship His devotee than when you worship Him directly. And Lord Siva is a very great devotee of Krsna. So he has now interpreted that to mean that if he worships Lord Siva so nicely, then actually he is pleasing Krsna more. So he is experiencing some difficulty because of this and I'm not quite sure how to instruct him that actually...
Prabhupada: Difficulty?
Brahmananda: That... Our Godbrother has difficulty in replying to this interpretation that Krsna says, "You can please Me by worshiping My devotee," and Lord Siva is the devotee of Krsna. So therefore this man says, "Then I shall worship Lord Siva. In that way I shall please Krsna."
Prabhupada: But if he accepts Lord Siva is devotee of Krsna, then by worshiping Lord Siva he will be benefited. If he thinks Lord Siva is independent, then he will not be benefited.
Devotee (3): I've got him to accept that Lord Siva is devotee of Krsna, but there's no practical instruction in his worldly activities coming.
Prabhupada: No, vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: "Amongst the Vaisnavas, Sambhu, Lord Siva, is the greatest Vaisnava." So we worship Lord Siva as Vaisnava. He gives respect to Vaisnavas. So why not Lord Siva? Lord Siva is a big Vaisnava. But generally, the devotees of Lord Siva, they take Lord Siva is independent God. That is offensive. If you know that Lord Siva is also a devotee, you can give more respect to Lord Siva. Krsna will be pleased.
Devotee (3): Srila Prabhupada, he does not chant Hare Krsna, he chants om sivaya namah.
Prabhupada: That's all right.
Devotee (3): It's all right?
Prabhupada: He will gradually become devotee. When God, Lord Siva, will be pleased upon him, he will advise to worship.
Devotee (3): He is already trying to tell him to follow in your footsteps surely, so just before I left he said he will try once again to chant sixteen rounds of japa, Hare Krsna. He has tried already. He has a taste for...
Prabhupada: If he simply understands that Lord Siva is a Vaisnava and if he worships Lord Siva, then he will get the benefit. (room conversation, Chicago, July 9, 1975)

What is the relationship between Lord Siva and ghosts?

"Lord Siva, the king of the ghosts, sitting on the back of his bull carrier, travels at this time, accompanied by ghosts who follow him for their welfare."

Purport:
Lord Siva, or Rudra, is the king of the ghosts. Ghostly characters worship Lord Siva to be gradually guided toward a path of self-realization. Mayavadi philosophers are mostly worshipers of Lord Siva, and Sripada sankaracarya is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Siva for preaching godlessness to the Mayavadi philosophers. Ghosts are bereft of a physical body because of their grievously sinful acts, such as suicide. The last resort of the ghostly characters in human society is to take shelter of suicide, either material or spiritual. Material suicide causes loss of the physical body, and spiritual suicide causes loss of the individual identity. Mayavadi philosophers desire to lose their individuality and merge into the impersonal spiritual brahmajyoti existence. Lord Siva, being very kind to the ghosts, sees that although they are condemned, they get physical bodies. He places them into the wombs of women who indulge in sexual intercourse regardless of the restrictions on time and circumstance. (SB 3.14.24, p.)

Why do so many ladies worship Lord Siva?

Lord Siva is the husband of Sati, one of the sisters of Diti. Diti invoked the pleasure of her sister Sati so that Sati would request her husband to excuse her. Besides that, Lord Siva is the worshipable lord of all women. He is naturally very kind towards women, on whom even the uncivilized hunters also show their mercy. Since Lord Siva is himself associated with women, he knows very well their defective nature, and he might not take very seriously Diti's unavoidable offense, which occurred due to her faulty nature. Every virgin girl is supposed to be a devotee of Lord Siva. Diti remembered her childhood worship of Lord Siva and begged his mercy. (SB 3.14.36 p.)

Today in Hindu society, unmarried girls are still taught to worship Lord Siva with the idea that they may get husbands like him. Lord Siva is the ideal husband, not in the sense of riches or sense gratification, but because he is the greatest of all devotees. Vaisnavanam yatha Sambhuh: Sambhu, or Lord Siva, is the ideal Vaisnava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rama and chants Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Siva has a Vaisnava sampradaya, which is called the visnu Svami-sampradaya. Unmarried girls worship Lord Siva so that they can expect a husband who is as good a Vaisnava as he. The girls are not taught to select a husband who is very rich or very opulent for material sense gratification; rather, if a girl is fortunate enough to get a husband as good as Lord Siva in devotional service, then her life becomes perfect. The wife is dependent on the husband, and if the husband is a Vaisnava, then naturally she shares the devotional service of the husband because she renders him service. (SB 3.23.1 p.)

Why does Siva have snakes all over his body?

In order to get release from the false ego, one has to worship Sankarsana. Sankarsana is also worshiped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Siva are representations of Sankarsana, and Lord Siva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sankarsana. (SB 3.26.21 p.)

Do Vaisnavas take the prasada of Lord Siva?

It is said that among all the devotees of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Siva is the greatest. Thus the remnants of foodstuff left by him are accepted by other devotees as maha-prasada, or great spiritual foodstuff. The remnants of foodstuff offered to Lord Krsna are called prasada, but when the same prasada is eaten by a great devotee like Lord Siva, it is called maha-prasada. Lord Siva is so great that he does not care for the material prosperity for which every one of us is so eager. Parvati, who is the powerful material nature personified, is under his full control as his wife, yet he does not use her even to build a residential house. He prefers to remain without shelter, and his great wife also agrees to live with him humbly. People in general worship goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Siva, for material prosperity, but Lord Siva engages her in his service without material desire. He simply advises his great wife that of all kinds of worship, the worship of visnu is the highest, and greater than that is the worship of a great devotee or anything in relation with Visnu. (SB 3.14.26 p.)

What is the position of Lord Siva?

In the Vamana Purana it is said that the same Visnu expands Himself as Brahma and Siva to direct the different qualities. (CC Adi 5.104 p.)

Mahesvara, or Lord Siva, is not an ordinary living being, nor is he equal to Lord Visnu. Effectively comparing Lord Visnu and Lord Siva, the Brahma-samhita says that Visnu is like milk, whereas Siva is like yogurt. Yogurt is nothing like milk, but nevertheless it is milk also. (CC Adi 5.105 p.)

What does it mean that "Lord Siva is non-different from Krsna"?

Srila Jiva Gosvami in his Bhakti-sandarbha (213) has clearly explained that a pure devotee’s observation of the spiritual master and Lord Siva as being one with the Personality of Godhead exists in terms of their being very dear to the Lord, not identical with Him in all respects. (CC Adi 1.46 p.)

Who are the expansions of Lord Siva?

"Rudra, who is an expansion of Sadasiva and who appears in unlimited universes, is also a gunavatara [qualitative incarnation] and is the ornament of all the demigods in the endless universes."

Purport:
There are eleven expansions of Rudra, or Lord Siva. They are as follows: Ajaikapat, Ahibradhna, Virupaksa, Raivata, Hara, Bahurupa, Devasrestha Tryambaka, Savitra, Jayanta, Pinaki and Aparajita. Besides these expansions there are eight forms of Rudra called earth, water, fire, air, sky, the sun, the moon and soma-yaji. Generally all these Rudras have five faces, three eyes and ten arms. Sometimes it is found that Rudra is compared to Brahma and considered a living entity. But when Rudra is explained to be a partial expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is compared to Sesa. Lord Siva is therefore simultaneously an expansion of Lord Visnu and, in his capacity for annihilating the creation, one of the living entities. As an expansion of Lord Visnu he is called Hara, and he is transcendental to the material qualities, but when he is in touch with tamo-guna he appears contaminated by the material modes of nature. This is explained in Srimad- Bhagavatam and the Brahma-samhita. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, it is stated that Lord Rudra is always associated with the material nature when she is in the neutral, unmanifested stage, but when the modes of material nature are agitated he associates with material nature from a distance. In the Brahma-samhita the relationship between Visnu and Lord Siva is compared to that between milk and yogurt. Milk is converted into yogurt by certain additives, but although milk and yogurt have the same ingredients, they have different functions. Similarly, Lord Siva is an expansion of Lord Visnu, yet because of his taking part in the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, he is considered to be changed, like milk converted into yogurt. In the Puranas it is found that Siva appears sometimes from the heads of Brahma and sometimes from the head of Visnu. The annihilator, Rudra, is born from Sankarsana and the ultimate fire to burn the whole creation. In the Vayu Purana there is a description of Sadasiva in one of the Vaikuntha planets. That Sadasiva is a direct expansion of Lord Krsna’s form for pastimes. It is said that Sadasiva (Lord Sambhu) is an expansion from the Sadasiva in the Vaikuntha planets (Lord Visnu) and that his consort, Mahamaya, is an expansion of Rama-devi, or Laksmi. Mahamaya is the origin or birthplace of material nature. (CC Adi 6.79, p.)

Is Lord Siva worshiped through the taking of intoxicants?

We should always consider the position of the isvaras, or those who can actually control the movements of the sun and moon, as superior. Without such power, one cannot imitate the isvaras, who are superpowerful. Lord Siva drank poison to the extent of swallowing an ocean, but if any common man tries to drink even a fragment of such poison, he will be killed. There are many pseudo devotees of Lord Siva who want to indulge in smoking ganja (marijuana) and similar intoxicating drugs, forgetting that by so imitating the acts of Lord Siva they are calling death very near. Similarly, there are some pseudo devotees of Lord Krsna who prefer to imitate the Lord in His rasa-lila, or dance of love, forgetting their inability to lift Govardhana Hill. It is best, therefore, that one not try to imitate the powerful, but simply follow their instructions; nor should one try to occupy their posts without qualification. There are so many "incarnations" of God without the power of the Supreme Godhead. (BG 3.24 p.)

What is the nature of the worshipers of different devas (gods)?

When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of passion, one worships the sun-god, Vivasvan. When the mode of goodness is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Ganapati, or Ganesa. When the mode of passion is mixed with the mode of ignorance, one worships Durga, or Kali, the external potency. When one is simply in the mode of ignorance, one becomes a devotee of Lord Siva because Lord Siva is the predominating deity of the mode of ignorance within this material world. However, when one is completely free from the influence of all the modes of material nature, one becomes a pure Vaisnava on the devotional platform. (CC Madhya 24.330 p.)

Why did Lord Ramachandra worship Siva?

He (Lord Krsna and Lord Rama) likes to worship His devotee. Sometimes the father takes the child on his shoulder. Does it mean the child is more important than the father? They say [in] the Valmiki Ramayana, there is no such incidence as Ramacandra worships Siva. It is later on, interpretation. But even if He does so, what is the wrong here? (room conversation, Dec 23, 1975 Mumbai)

Mahabharata, Shanti Parva (12.328.15 onwards, dialogue between Lord Krsna and Arjuna) [machine-readable text of the MahAbhArata based on the Poona Critical Edition produced by Muneo Tokunaga, Kyoto, Japan]:

brAhme rAtrikSaye prApte tasya hy amitatejasaH
prasAdAtprAdurabhavat padmaM padmanibhekSaNa
tatra brahmA samabhavat sa tasyaiva prasAdajaH

In the brAhma muhUrta, at the end of the night, due to the mercy of the extremely brilliant Lord, a lotus emerged from His navel and in that lotus, Brahma was born, ofcourse, due to His grace.

ahnaH kSaye lalAtAchcha suto devasya vai tathA
krodhAviSTasya saGjaGYe rudraH saMhAra kArakaH
etau dvau vibudhashreSThau prasAdakrodhajau smRtau

At the end of the day, the Lord [present as antaryAmi of Brahma *] created Rudra out of krodha-guna, to enable him to be the 'samhara-karta'. Thus, these two 'fine-among-wise', Brahma and Rudra, are known to have been born out of grace and anger respectively.

* This interpretation is necessary because in the later sections of Moksadharma, Brahma addresses Rudra as a son.

tadAdeSita panthAnau sRSTi saMhAra kArakau
nimitta mAtraM tAvatra sarvaprAni varapradau

Thus, they carry out the instructed tasks of creation and destruction. However, they, the givers of boons to all the creatures, are just the agents.

kapardI jatilo mundaH zmazAna gRhas evakaH
ugravrata dharo rudro yogI tripura dAruNaH
dakSa kratu haraz caiva bhaga netra haras tathA

[Rudra has] braided hair with knot of an ascetic and rest of the head bald. He dwells in the home of graveyard, steadfast on vigorous penance as a yogi. He is ferocious to Tripurasura, destroyed Daksayajna and took away the eyes of Bhaga.

nArAyaNAtmako jJeyaH pANDaveya yuge yuge

O Arjuna, know that in every yuga, Rudra is 'nArAyaNAtmaka'. (This phrase can mean: one whose indweller is Narayana, one who is always immersed in Narayana.)

tasmin hi pUjyamAne vai devadeve mahezvare
sampUjito bhavetpArtha devo nArAyaNaH prabhuH

It is the Lord, the prabhu, the Narayana *IN* Maheshvara (the worshipable, the lord of the devas), who is actually worshiped.

aham AtmA hi lokAnAM viSvAnAM pANDu nandana
tasmAd AtmAnam evAgre rudraM sampUjayAmy aham
yadyahaM nArcayeyaM vai IzAnaM varadaM zivam
AtmAnaM nArcayet kazcid iti me bhAvitaM manaH

O son of Pandu, I am, indeed, the Atma, the indweller of this universe and the worlds. Therefore, I worship myself first, even when I worship Rudra. If I did not worship Rudra, the bestower of boons, in such a way (i.e., worshiping the indwelling Lord first), some would not worship Me, the indwelling Lord, at all - this is my opinion.

mayA pramANaM hi kRtaM lokaH samanuvartate
pramAnAni hi pUjyAni tatastaM pUjayAmyaham

Whatever I follow and give due worth as a pramaNa, the world follows that. Such pramanas have to be duly followed; therefore I follow them.

yastaM vetti sa mAM vetti yo anu taM sa hi mAm anu
rudro nArAyaNaz caiva sattvam ekaM dvidhA kRtam
loke carati kaunteya vyakti sthaM sarva karmasu

Whoever knows him, knows Me. Whoever follows him, follows Me. (Though) the world, in all its actions, worships two gods, Rudra and Narayana, it is actually one only who is worshiped.

na hi me kenacid deyo varaH pANDava nandana
iti saJcintya manasA purANaM vizvam Izvaram
putrArthaM ArAdhitavAn AtmAnaM aham AtmanA

O Son of Pandu, there is, of course, nobody who can grant Me boons. Knowing that well, I worship Myself, Who am the beginningless and universal power, known as Sarveshvara, for the sake of getting sons.

na hi viSNuH pranamati kasmai cidvibudhAya tu
Rta AtmAnam eveti tato rudraM bhajAmy aham

Indeed Visnu does not bow to any one [and even when He bows to Himself, He does so] for the sake of showing the path to the wise. Therefore, it is the truth that I worship myself even when I worship Rudra.

Lord Siva in Vraja, Mathura and Navadvip (Mayapur)

Sri Siva serves his Lord by protecting His dhamas and taking part in some of His lilas.

Four ancient murtis of Lord Siva residing at Mathura are known as dik-palas, protectors of directions. They stay in Mathura to protect the dhama. Bhutesvar Mahadev is the protector of western side of Mathura. Pippalesvar Mahadev resides near Visram ghat on the bank of Yamuna. He guards the eastern side of Mathura. Rangesvar Mahadev is the protector of the southern side, and Gokarnesvar Mahadev is he guardian of the northern side of the city.

Vrindavan

Gopesvar (Gopisvar) Mahadev is one of the most prominent deities in the Gaudiya-sampradaya and is mentioned in many Gaudiya writings. He is the very ancient protector of Sri Vrindavan Dham. It is said one cannot enter Vrindavan dham without his permission.

Nandisvar Mahadev

Nanda Maharaja's palace at Nandagaon is resting on top of the hill called Nandisvar Parvat. This hill is the incarnation of Lord Siva.

Bankhandi Mahadev

Bankhandi Mahadev is situated in the old part of Vrindavan at the junction of Banke Bihari Bazaar Road and Bankhandi Mahadeva Bazaar Road. Ban-khandi means "forest dweller".

Mayapur

Antardvip

The central zone of Navadvip dham is Antardvip, the island where Sri Caitanaya Mahaprabhu appeared. The center of Antardvip is Yoga pitha, the actual place of Mahaprabhu's appearance. Lord Siva resides eternally at this place as the Siva linga known as Ksetrapal Mahadev, and renders his eternal service of protecting the dhama. Ksetrapal Mahadev has been in Mayapur since the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Rudradvip

Rudradvip is just west of Antardvip. Thakur Bhaktivinod writes in Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya that as Nila Lohita, Lord Siva, constantly relishes Gaura kirtana in Rudradvip along with his associates, the eleven Rudras. As they are all intoxicated from chanting the different names of Lord Gauranga, they dance in great jubilation.

Simantadvip

Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur has described Simantadvip in his Bhakti Ratnakara as the place where Parvati devi performed austerities and received darshan and blessing of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. She put Mahaprabhu's red foot-dust on her simanta, the parting in her hair. Since then the island has been named as Simantadvip and it became the residence of Lord Siva and Parvati.

Godrumadvip

Thakur Bhaktivinod describes the island of Godrumadvip and deity of Hari-Hara. The Hari-Hara deity is a combined form of Lord Visnu and Lord Siva. Lord Visnu created this half black (Lord Visnu) and half white (Lord Siva) deity to show how dear and inseparable Lord Siva is to him.

Madhyadvip

When Lord Siva heard that Suta Gosvami was about to speak on the pastimes of Lord Caitanya here, he could not tolerate missing even one word. His anxiety to reach here in time was so intense that he even abandoned his normal carrier, the bull Nandi, and took up Lord Brahma's much faster hamsa (swan) carrier. The Hamsa Vahan temple houses the deity of Hamsa Vahan Siva but only three days a year. The rest of the year the murti is submerged in the nearby lake to cool him down.

These pastimes reveal how Lord Siva is absorded in relishing the nectar of Gaura-prema.

zrImad gopIzvaram vande zaGkaram karuNA mayam
sarva kleza haram devam vrNdAranya rati pradam

"I offer my respectful obeisances to Gopisvara, who is Lord Siva himself. He is very merciful, removes all troubles, and grants spiritual love in Vrindavan." (Bhakti Ratnakara 5.3741)

Ganesa - Remover of Obstacles
Satyaraja Dasa (c) BTG

The joyous elephant-faced deity known as Ganesa is revered by one billion Hindus worldwide, and though his worship has little place in the modern-day Hare Krsna movement, his personality and pastimes are part of ISKCON's heritage.

Ganesa is often seen as the creator and remover of obstacles, as the guardian at entrances and as a spiritually potent figure who can avert all evil influences. In popular Hindu lore he is thus the god to be worshiped first, before all religious ceremonies, public and private. Things tend to start off with Ganesa and this is reflected even in common idiomatic phrases. For example, in Maharashtra when a dedication or inauguration is to be performed, a Marathi speaker may refer to the occasion as Sri ganesa karane ("doing the Sri Ganesa"). Another such expression is ganapatice kele ("to conceive a child"). Similar phrases are found in other Indian languages.

Since Ganesa is considered the lord of beginnings, for the first installment in this series about the demigods we start with him.

According to the Vedic literature, behind the workings of the cosmos stand powerful controllers known as devas, or demigods. As we people in this world control our cars or homes, the devas control various aspects of the cosmos.

Ganesa is a popular hero whose image adorns the walls of shops, homes, and temples throughout India. Even for people unfamiliar with Indian culture or the Vedic literature, Ganesa is perhaps the easiest of all demigods to identify, with his human body, elephant head, and potbelly. He is usually pictured standing, sitting, or dancing, with his jolly elephant face looking straight ahead. Ganesa is at times depicted with quill on palm leaf, for as Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata, Ganesa served as the scribe to write it down.

Ganesa is missing one tusk, a piece of which can sometimes be found in one of his four hands. In another hand he sometimes holds a hatchet (parasu), which, according to some texts, is for cutting away illusion and false teachings. Another of Ganesa's hands often gestures fearlessness and reassurance (varada-hasta-mudra). He also holds a goad (ankusa) like that used by an elephant trainer, symbolizing his insistence on proper training or spiritual discipline. He sometimes holds a noose (pasa) used for restraining wild animals, here representing the restraint of passion and lustful desires. Sometimes he is seen holding sweets (modaka), for which he is said to have an inordinate fondness. Hence the belly.

Who is this strange-looking god, and what, if anything, does he have to do with the worship of Krsna or Visnu?

Vedic texts reveal that Ganesa is the son of Siva and Parvati, although his sonship like that of his half-brother, Skanda-Subrahmanya, is peculiar. According to one version, Siva "emits" from his body a handsome son who becomes a seducer of women. Parvati is offended by her son's exploits and curses him to have the head of an elephant and a big belly - in other words, to be ugly. Though with this he would seem fated to celibacy, he gradually settles down with two wives, Buddhi ("wisdom") and Siddhi ("success"), who can see beyond his physical ugliness.

As time passes, Ganesa becomes the commander of Siva's troops (gana-isa or gana-pati) and because he becomes famous as one who creates obstacles for the demons and removes obstacles for the demigods or the devotees, he is known as Vighnesvara ("lord of obstacles") and Vinayaka ("one who removes [obstacles]"). The "obstacle" theme also tells us why Ganesa uses a rat as his vehicle. As rodents generally succeed in gnawing their way through any obstruction, the rat, it is said, symbolizes Ganesa's ability to destroy every obstacle.

In another, more popular version of the Ganesa story, Parvati, wanting to seclude herself from her passionate husband, Siva, especially while bathing, creates a son from her perspiration and appoints him the guardian of her quarters. Soon after, when Siva seeks admission into Parvati's inner chambers, Ganesa, unaware of Siva's identity, refuses him, pushing him away from Parvati's door. Not one to be slighted, the enraged Siva summons his attendants (ganas) to do away with this bothersome upstart. But Ganesa defeats them one by one. Finally Visnu arrives and drawing upon His maya (mystic potency) He creates confusion on all sides. This enables Siva to cut off Ganesa's head.

Parvati, furious at what has become of her "son," decides to send a multitude of goddesses to harass the demigods. These celestial women succeed in making it clear to the noble gods that their queen can be appeased only if her guardian is revived. Siva then tells the gods to go north and cut off the head of the first living being they see. The head is to be mystically placed on the body of the decapitated Ganesa, who will then come back to external consciousness. As fate would have it, the first living being to cross the path of the gods is an elephant.

The various Ganesa stories described above - found primarily in the Siva Purana and the Brahma-vaivarta Purana - are somewhat divergent, and tradition accounts for this by placing the variations in different cycles of cosmic time. "Because of the distinction between kalpas [ages]," the Siva Purana explains, "the story of Ganesa's birth is told in different ways." The cyclical structure of Vedic time allows for repeated descents of the Lord and His devotees, so details of the pastimes may vary.

According to popular Indian tradition, Ganesa is a benign and helpful deity who brings success and assures worldly well-being. Since devotees of Krsna are more interested in spiritual realization than in worldly security, ISKCON tends to forgo the worship of Ganesa. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.23), "Those who are devotees of other gods and worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way." Lord Krsna uses the word avidhi purvakam, "in an inappropriate way." Why is such worship of demigods inappropriate? Because it is materially motivated. As Lord Krsna says, "Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods." (Bg. 4.12)

Since we are essentially spiritual beings in a material body, material rewards can never truly satisfy us. Only spiritual rewards are satisfying for a spirit soul. Therefore Srila Prabhupada concurring with the above two Gita texts, says "[To worship] Ganapati is not required, but sometimes we do it. Just like the gopis - they worshiped Goddess Durga, Katyayani. They did not require to worship her, but that was part of the social system. But they asked, Mother Katyayani, give us the opportunity to have Krsna as our husband. Their aim was Krsna." (Morning walk, Los Angeles, January 10, 1974)

So the worship of Ganesa, like that of his mother, Durga (Parvati), is not condemned, but it should be done for the proper reasons: Ganesa is a devotee of Lord Krsna and we can pray to him to remove obstacles on the road to Krsna consciousness. In this regard, Brahma-samhita (5.50) explains that Ganesa is Krsna's devotee. The success achieved by worshiping Ganesa depends on Lord Krsna and therefore such worship should ultimately be directed to Krsna: "For the power to destroy all obstacles to progress in the three mundane worlds, Ganesa holds on his elephant head the lotus feet of Govinda. I worship Govinda, Krsna, the primeval Lord."

(Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to Back to Godhead. He has written several books on Krsna consciousness. He and his wife live in New York City.)

Reason for Ganesa having one tusk

He broke one of his tusks because he agreed to write Mahabharata only if Vyasadeva will dictate nonstop. So because it was his condition he didn't had time to go and find new pen every time it get finished, so he used his own tusk.

Brahma-vaivarta Purana, 3rd (Ganesa) khanda, gives another version:

When Parasurama visited Kailasa he was prevented from seeing Siva by Ganesa. The ensuing dialogue between them ends in a fight in which Ganesa catches Parasurama's ax on one of his tusks, and become at once Ekadanta (one-tusked).

Ganesa and Vaisnavas

Srila Gopal Bhatta Gosvami compiled Sat Kriya Sara Dipika as a vaidic samskara manual for the Vaisnava. The usual samskara manuals are compiled by those who are interested in karma (accumulating material fruits), and prescribe worship of the devatas and pitrs for material prosperity. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami recognizing that most of the Vaisnavas are grhasthas, and that they should perform the samskaras, he has given a procedure that is not contradictory or offensive to the Vaisnava ideals.

The first half of his manual is an argument for the worship of Visnu to the exclusion of devatas, with ample scriptural evidence. Accordingly, in his practical procedure for samskaras, he substitutes worship of Visnu and His associates for worship of Ganesa, the material saktis, and planetary deities. Whereas worship of devatas (who are mixed devotees), brings only material auspiciousness, worship of Visnu and His associates (who are pure devotees), brings spiritual deliverance. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami cites the alternative for the Vaisnava according to the Padma Purana:

ananya sarano bhakto nama mantresu diksitah
kada cin narcayed devan ganesadims tu vaisnavah
yatra yatra surah pujya ganesadyas tu karminam
visvaksenam sa sanakam sanatana matah param
sananda sanat kumara pancaitan pujayet tatah

"The devotee interested in pure devotion to the Lord, and initiated with Vaisnava mantra should never worship Ganesa and other devatas. Wherever the karmis prescribe worship of Ganesa and the devatas, the Vaisnava should worship the pure devotees of Visnu. Thus instead of worshiping Ganesa to remove material obstacles, the devotee should worship Visvaksena and the four Kumara brothers to remove obstacles on the spiritual path." (Padma Purana)

In the same way, instead of worshiping the nine planetary deities one should worship the nine yogendras, and instead of worshiping the dik palas (protectors of the directions) one should worship the maha bhagavatas. Instead of worshiping the matr gana (sixteen expansions of Durga, in charge of material energy) one should worship the Lord's consorts who are the shelter of spiritual energies.

Visvaksena and Ganesa
Jayapataka Swami

The Vedas describe the guru as "sarva-devamayo guru". That all devas are within the spiritual master. By worshiping and respecting guru one respects the SPoG and also all devas. Also by worshiping spiritual master one removes obstacles in the path of devotional service (which is why one worships Ganesa). Therefore most Vaisnavas worship guru initially to remove all obstacles rather than worship Ganesa. I also heard Srila Prabhupada say to chant the Om ajnana mantra to remove offenses and that Ganesa worship was included in the guru worship. I hope that this is clear now.

I have been told by authorities on the Sri-sampradaya that according to their siddhanta in the Vaikuntha planets Visvaksena, the general or faithful assistant of Lord Visnu, removes obstacles and he is represented in the material world as Ganesa. So karma kandis worship Ganesa and Sri Vaisnavas worship Visvaksena and Gaudiya Vaisnavas worship guru.

Related:
Srimad Bhagavatam sloka (11.2.36) in Ganesha Arati
Demigods

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