Posted by: adbhutam | April 29, 2015

The Role of Lord Śiva in the Bh.Gītā 11th Chapter

The Role of Lord Śiva in the Bh.Gītā 11th Chapter

The Eleventh Chapter of the Śrīmadbhagavadgītā is called the ‘Viśvarūpa adhyāya’. It is in this chapter the depiction of the Cosmic form of Brahman was shown to Arjuna. There is a stage in the show where the cosmic event of destruction of the created universe occurs. Upon witnessing the graphic details of the destruction Arjuna, terribly frightened, pleads with the Lord to stop the show and resume the benign, usual, form.

In the course of the show, the Lord reveals to Arjuna who indeed he is, upon Arjuna asking:

आख्याहि मे को भवानुग्ररूपो
नमोऽस्तु ते देववर प्रसीद ।
विज्ञातुमिच्छामि भवन्तमाद्यं
न हि प्रजानामि तव प्रवृत्तिम् ॥ 11.31 ॥

11.31 Tell me who You are, fierce in form. Salutation be to you, O supreme God; be gracious. I desire to fully know You who are the Primal One. For I do not understand Your actions!

The Lord replies:

श्री भगवानुवाच
कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो
लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः।
ऋतेऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे
येऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः।।11.32।।

11.32 The blessed Lord said I am the world-destroying Time, [Time: The supreme God with His limiting adjunct of the power of action.] grown in stature and now engaged in annihilating the creatures. Even without you, all the warriors who are arrayed in the confronting armies will cease to exist!

तस्मात्त्वमुत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्।
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वमेव
निमित्तमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन्।।11.33।।

11.33 Therefore you rise up, (and) gain fame; and defeating the enemies, enjoy a prosperous kingdom. These have been killed verily by Me even earlier; be you merely an instrument, O Savyasācin (Arjuna).

It is interesting to note that in the 12th Canto which is the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata there are these verses (12.352.72-76) addressed by Lord Krishna to Arjuna, post-war:

मया त्वं रक्षितो युद्धे महान्तं प्राप्तवाञ्जयम्।।
यस्तु ते सोग्रतो याति युद्धे संप्रत्युपस्थिते।
तं विद्धि रुद्रं कौन्तेय देवदेवं कपर्दिनम्।।
कालः स एव विहितः क्रोधजेति मया तव।
निहतांस्तेन वै पूर्वं हतवानसि यान्रिपून्।।
अप्रमेयप्रभावं तं देवदेवमुमापतिम्।
नमस्व देवं प्रयतो विश्वेशं हरमक्षयम्।।
यश्च ते कथितः पूर्वं क्रोधजेति पुनः पुनः।
तस्य प्रभाव एवाग्रे यच्छ्रुतं ते धनंजय।।

The translation of these verses as available here:

Protected by me in the great battle, thou hast won a great victory. That Being whom, at the time of all thy battles, thou beheldest stalking in thy van, know, O son of Kunti, is no other than Rudra, that god of gods, otherwise called by the name of Kaparddin. He is otherwise known by the name of Kāla, and should be known as one that has sprung from my wrath. Those foes whom thou hast slain were all, in the first instance, slain by him. Do thou bend thy head unto that god of gods, that lord of Umā, endued with immeasurable puissance. With concentrated soul, do thou bend thy head unto that illustrious Lord of the universe, that indestructible deity, otherwise called by the name of Hara. He is none else than that deity who, as I have repeatedly told thee, has sprung from my wrath. Thou hast, before this, heard, O Dhananjaya, of the puissance and energy that reside in him!'”

What is striking in the above translation is those two lines, highlighted, and shown here:

A.      // He is otherwise known by the name of Kāla//


B.       //Those foes whom thou hast slain were all, in the first instance, slain by him.//

These two lines correspond to the two lines of the two verses of the Bh.Gītā 11th chapter shown above, again shown here:

कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः। (11.33A)

I am the world-destroying Time, [Time: The supreme God with His limiting adjunct of the power of action.] grown in stature and now engaged in annihilating the creatures.]


मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वमेव निमित्तमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन्   11.33 B

[These have been killed verily by Me even earlier; be you merely an instrument, O Savyasācin (Arjuna).]

What transpires from the comparison of the Bh.Gītā verses and the MBh. verses is:

Brahman, who is the cause of the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world, in the form of Rudra, the aspect of Brahman engaged in the function of dissolution, is called Kāla, time. When the appropriate time comes, everything that has originated, comes to an end. That ending is effected by this power called Time, named Rudra. All creatures attain their end when their destined time comes. This is pre-determined. The actual mode of their end, by disease or being killed by any force of the nature or humans, is only instrumental. This is stated by the BG 11.33B. Arjuna, who is shown the cosmic form in its destruction aspect is being instructed thus: You are a mere instrument in the causing the death of these people who are your opponents. They have all been already put an end to by Destiny, Me.

Though one would get the feeling, quite naturally, by reading the Bh.Gītā 11th chapter that it is Lord Krishna that is the one engaged in the destruction act and he is the one that is ‘kāla’, the Time, and that he is the one that has ‘slain’ everyone ‘even before’ Arjuna would execute the actual killing, yet, from Sri Krishna’s personal instruction, post-war, to Arjuna, in the MBh. shows us in no unmistakable terms that the entity involved in the destruction (during the viśvarūpa-show of the BG during the war) and the one that has actually destined all those to die even before Arjuna would actually kill, is none other than Lord Śiva.

The first-person usages as ‘I’, ‘me’, by Krishna in the BG refers to Śiva, as per the MBh. verse. In other words, Brahman, in the form of Rudra, Kāla, effects the destruction. This shows that the cosmic function of creation, sustenance and destruction is carried out by Brahman through these three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. The One Brahman alone takes these three forms.

Interestingly, the commentary of Shankarachārya to the 11th ch. of the Bh.Gītā does not mention Śiva among those present in the cosmic form. This is precisely because it is Śiva who is the one conducting, performing, the destruction function and therefore not within the cosmic form. The juxtaposing of the BG and the MBh. verses also brings out the fact of Śiva-Viṣṇu abheda, which fact even Krishna brings out explicitly in the MBh. section that is annotated above. There, in Krishna’s words, Nārāyaṇa says to Śiva:

यस्त्वां वेत्ति स मां वेत्ति यस्त्वामनु स मामनु।
नावयोरन्तरं किंचिन्मा तेऽभूद्वुद्धिरन्यथा।।   12.352.67

अद्यप्रभृति श्रीवत्सः शूलाङ्को मे भवत्वयम्।
मम पाण्यङ्कितश्चापि श्रीकण्ठस्त्वं भविष्यसि।। 12.352.68


Hari, then addressed the illustrious Īśāna and said these words:–He that knows thee, knows me. He that follows thee, follows me. There is no difference between thee and me. Do thou never think otherwise. The mark made by thy lance on my chest will from this day assume the form of a beautiful whirl (śrīvatsānka), and the mark of my hand on thy throat will also assume a beautiful shape in consequence of which thou shalt, from this day, be called by the name of Śrīkanṭha.

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय शिवरूपाय विष्णवे । शिवस्य हृदयं विष्णुः विष्णोश्च हृदयं शिवः ॥८॥ यथा शिवमयो विष्णुरेवं विष्णुमयः शिवः । यथान्तरं न पश्यामि तथा मे स्वस्तिरायुषि ॥९॥ यथान्तरं न भेदाः स्युः शिवकेशवयोस्तथा । देहो देवालयः प्रोक्तः स जीवः केवलः शिवः ॥१०॥

The above verses from the ‘skandopaniṣat’ bring out the oneness of Shiva and Viṣṇu. There are such verses in the Mahabharata too, for example, in the Vanaparva:

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय विष्णवे शिवरूपिणे । दक्षयज्ञविनाशाय हरिरुद्राय वै नमः ॥

Om Tat Sat










  1. Some verses from Sri Rudram commentary at Kamakoti website.

    नमो विरूपेभ्यो विश्वरूपेभ्यश्च वो नमः

    Here Shiva is portrayed as formless and also taking on the cosmic form (vishvarupa).

    नमो अग्रेवधाय च दूरेवधाय च ।

    अग्रेवधाय च- To one who stands ahead of his devotees in the battlefield and kills the enemies, दूरेवधाय च- to one who destroys the strength, valour etc. of the enemies of devotees, who are at a great distance, even before commencement of battle.

    That he fights the battle standing ahead of his devotees is described as under by Arjuna in Mahabharata in Drona Parva.
    “संग्रामे शास्त्रवानीकं शरौघैर्विमृदन्नहम् ।
    अग्रतो लक्षये यान्तं पुरुषं पावकप्रभम् ।।
    ज्वलन्तं शूलमुद्यम्य यां दिशं प्रतिपद्यते ।
    तस्यां दिशि विशीर्यन्ते शत्रवो मे महामते ॥
    ततो दग्धानरीन् सर्वान् पृष्टतोनुदहाम्यहम् ।
    तेन भग्नानरिगणान् मद्भग्नान्मन्यते जनः ॥“
    “While felling the enemies with arrows in the battlefield, I find a Person standing ahead of me. He is brilliant like Agni, with a Trisula in the hand. In whichever direction he goes, my enemies in that direction are burnt and killed by him. I follow him and attack the same persons, who have already been attacked by him. Onlookers are unaware of this truth and think that my enemies have indeed been attacked and felled by me.

    That Sri Parameswara drains away the strength etc. of the distant enemies even before commencement of battle has also been stated by Sri Krishna to Arjuna in Santhi Parva in Mokshadharma Prakaranam.
    “यस्तु तेह्यग्रतो याति युद्धे संप्रत्युपस्थिते ।
    तं विद्धि रुद्रं कौन्तेय……………… and
    निहतान् तेन वै पूर्वं हतवानसि वै रिपून् ।
    अप्रमेयप्रभावं तं देवदेवमुमापतिम् ।
    भजस्व प्रयतो नित्यं विश्वेशं हरमव्ययम् ॥“
    “Arjuna! Know that the person whom you saw going in front of you during the war is Rudra. You killed those enemies whom he initially attacked and killed. Hence adore with a controlled mind, that Umapati, Devadeva, of immeasurable greatness, Lord of the universe, the Changeless.”

    With the view that he and Parameswara are the same, Gitacharya states in the Gita ‘मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वमेव’, i.e. these enemies were killed by me alone earlier. Hence there is no conflict between his statements in Mokshadharma and Gita.

    The import of this mantra is that as Parameswara alone is the cause of victory, those desirous of victory should worship Sri Parameswara alone.”


  2. From the Varahapurana:

    वराहपुराणम्/अध्यायः १४५

    श्रीवराह उवाच।।
    अहं यत्र शिवस्तत्र शिवो यत्र वसुन्धरे ।।
    तत्राहमपि तिष्ठामि आवयोर्नान्तरं क्वचित् ।।१ ०८।।
    शिवं यो वन्दते भूमे स हि मामेव वन्दते ।।
    लभते पुष्कलां सिद्धिमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ।। १०९ ।।

    वराहपुराणम्/अध्यायः ५८

    सश्रीकं च हरिं पूज्य रुद्रं वा चोमया सह ।
    या श्रीः सा गिरिजा प्रोक्ता यो हरिः स त्रिलोचनः ।। ५८.३ ।।

    एवं सर्वेषु शास्त्रेषु पुराणेषु च पठ्यते ।
    एतस्मादन्यथा यस्तु ब्रूते शास्त्रं पृथक्तया ।। ५८.४ ।।

    रुद्रो जनानां मर्त्यानां काव्यं शास्त्रं न तद्भवेत् ।
    विष्णुं रुद्रकृतं ब्रूयात् श्रीर्गौरी न तु पार्थिव ।
    तन्नास्तिकानां मर्त्यानां काव्यं ज्ञेयं विचक्षणैः ।। ५८.५ ।।

    • ओन्नमश्शिवाय​। 🙏🏼 dīpaka mahodaya

      भूरिशः धन्यवादाः श्रीमन् (I’d like to sincerely thank you mahodaya) for quoting these beautiful references. Let me paste few verses which are above & below those verses as well.

      अन्यच्च ते प्रवक्ष्यामि तच्छृणुष्व वसुन्धरे।
      अन्तर्गुह्यं परं श्रेष्ठं यन्न जानन्ति मोहिताः॥ १०५ ॥

      I’ll tell you other thing, listen, it’s innermost secret, which is high & excellent & it’s not known to people due to मोहः।

      शिवो मे दक्षिणस्थाने तिष्ठन्वै विगतज्वरः।
      लोकानां प्रवरः श्रेष्ठः सर्वलोकवरो हरः॥ १०६ ॥

      शिवः resides on my right side with freed from any feverishness (meaning free from distress/ means calm) that हरः who is chief/distinguished & most excellent of all the लोकाः।

      तं ये विन्दन्ति ते देवि नूनं मामेव विन्दति।
      ये मां विदन्ति देवेशि ते विदन्ति शिवं परम्॥ १०७ ॥

      O bhū-devi, Those who know him will assuredly know me & those who know me will know शिवः the highest!

      Actually विदन्ति & विन्दन्ति are derived from विदॢँ धातुः (विदॢँ लाभे), so it’s used in the sense of obtain/gainवराहपुराणम्/अध्यायः_१४५

      The 58th chapter in which dīpaka mahodaya has quoted भेदः was censured over there among हरिहरः & श्रीर्गौरी & furtherly it’s stated that one who otherwise perceives the difference is just a नास्तिकः & this fact is known to विचक्षणाः (clear sighted ones/विद्वांसः)

      Only after this, he has stated

      एवं ज्ञात्वा सलक्ष्मीकं हरिं संपूज्य भक्तितः।
      मन्त्रेणानेन राजेन्द्र ततस्तं परमेश्वरम्॥ ५८.६ ॥

      Only with this perception हरिः together with लक्ष्मीः should be worshipped with भक्तिः with prescribed मन्त्राः

      Thanks again for the superb references! 💐💐💐💐💐

    • I always say that the people whoever unnecessarily blasphemes शिवः-शङ्करः (जगद्गुरुः)-अद्वैतम्-पञ्चायतनपूजा are indeed पाषण्डिनः/अधमाः (म्लेच्छाः) which is verily mentioned here as नास्तिकाः & अधमाः which also resembles पाषण्डिनः, पाखण्डिनः as well.

      It’s very clearly mentioned as follows:

      एवं सर्वेषु शास्त्रेषु पुराणेषु च पठ्यते।
      एतस्मादन्यथा यस्तु ब्रूते शास्त्रं पृथक्तया॥ ५८.४ ॥
      रुद्रो जनानां मर्त्यानां काव्यं शास्त्रं न तद्भवेत् ।

      The अभेदः was declared in all the शास्त्राणि/पुराणानि, but anyशास्त्रम् & काव्यम् which states otherwise is unworthy.

      सश्रीकं च हरिं पूज्य रुद्रं वा चोमया सह ।
      या श्रीः सा गिरिजा प्रोक्ता यो हरिः स त्रिलोचनः॥ ५८.३ ॥

      One should worship श्रीः WITH हरिः “OR” रुद्रः WITH उमा, It’s stated as that who is श्रीः she is गिरिजा & that who is हरिः he is त्रिलोचनः

      विष्णुं रुद्रकृतं ब्रूयात् श्रीर्गौरी न तु पार्थिव।
      तन्नास्तिकानां मर्त्यानां काव्यं ज्ञेयं विचक्षणैः॥ ५८.५ ॥

      विष्णुः should be considered as रुद्रः & श्रीः is considered as गौरी & those who do not perceive this way are considered as नास्तिकाः & अधमाः by विचक्षणाःवराहपुराणम्/अध्यायः_५८

    • Thanks a ton for these sweet references. I think you must write a paper and make it an e-book on this topic.

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