Who is the greatest: Adi Shakti, Shiva or Vishnu?



Sources: Mentioned below the write-up!

In Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma, there are three main sects: Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism. Scholars and great devotees from all of these sects have contributed in the development of Sanatan Dharma and the propagation of Dharmic philosophies through the epics, puranas, stories and legends of these sects. They have an equal and collective contribution in the development of the great Sanatan Dharma.

But unfortunately, these days a very few number of narrow-minded followers from all of these sects waste their time, energy and effort in arguing about the supremacy of the deity/form they worship instead of learning and imbibing the values associated with these deities and their scriptures (like Bhagavad Geeta and Shivarahasya Purana).

Frustration while encountering bigoted views and inquisitiveness to find out who is the supreme form drove me to research and prove which is the greatest deity/form of all. Read on:

Who is the greatest God? (By Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami in Hinduism Today):

Rivalries abound in the world, even among Hindus, who occasionally vie for the supremacy of their Deity: Vishnu or Siva?

Have you ever heard a discussion between two or more Hindus as to who is greater, Vishnu or Siva? As is the case with many philosophical issues in Hinduism, there is, of course, more than one point of view.

Historically, the rivalry of sects has occasionally become violent. In 1760 two great throngs vying for supremacy clashed on the final day of bathing at the Kumbha Mela in the holy city of Haridwar. Violence ensued and Saiva and Vaishnava naga babas turned the festival into a killing ground. In all, 18,000 monks died that day.

In modern times, the rivalries are more verbal than physical, but they are real and not infrequent. In fact, they arise more lately, because Saivas and Vaishnavas are mixing freely. A Hindu family’s friends and neighbors are just as likely to be from another sect – unlike in olden days when sectarian communities were more isolated and homogenous. Plus, these days one can find Vishnu and Siva side by side in the same temple, something unheard of even 50 years ago. Such temple arrangements themselves confuse worshipers, provoking them to wonder, “Who is the greatest among the Gods?”

  1. Our first answer is based on the Vaishnava scripture Srimad Bhagavatam (also called Bhagavata Purana), in which Lord Vishnu/Krishna is the Supreme, all-embracing God of all Gods. The Bhagavatam enjoins devotees of Lord Krishna to not disrespect Lord Siva, but to worship Him as the greatest of the devotees of Lord Krishna. In other words, a Krishna bhakta also prays to Lord Siva, but asks Siva to assist him in attaining devotion to and the favor of Supreme Lord Krishna. The Bhagavatam also contains a story about Siva seated in meditation, eyes closed, chanting on japa beads. It is stated that He is meditating on Lord Vishnu’s transcendental form and chanting Vishnu’s holy names. In the Bhagavatam, Siva is subservient to Lord Vishnu, though He is above the category of an ordinary living being, or jiva. In this position Siva is sometimes referred to as a demigod. In this answer, which represents a Vaishnava point of view, Vishnu is proclaimed to be greater than Siva.
  2. A second answer is found in a story from the Saiva scripture Siva Purana. Brahma and Vishnu were engaged in an argument about who was greater. The dispute grew so intense that the world was threatened. The devas requested Lord Siva to intervene. Siva appeared before them in the form of a fiery column of light, called Jyotirlinga, of which they could perceive neither the beginning nor the end. A contest was devised by the two: the one who first found either end of the Jyotirlinga would prevail as the greater. Vishnu mounted his boar (varaha) and tunneled downward through the nether worlds; Brahma, mounting his swan (hamsa), ascended through the upper worlds. Failing to find the bottom, and totally exhausted, Vishnu returned to the surface. Brahma, failing to find the summit, resorted to a dishonest ruse. Encountering a ketaki flower falling through space, Brahma cajoled it to falsely testify that He had reached the pillar’s summit. Upon returning to the surface, he was boasting of his achievement when suddenly Lord Siva appeared in the middle of the Jyotirlinga and unequivocally declared Himself to be beyond their ken and thus the greatest. Brahma was castigated by Lord Siva for his deceit. Thus Brahma is not worshiped in any temple in India, except in Pushkar, a few miles from Ajmer, in Rajasthan. In this answer, which represents a Saiva point of view, Siva is manifestly greater than Vishnu.

Sometimes the rivalry between the Vaishnavite’s staunch adoration of Lord Vishnu and the Saivite’s steadfast adoration of Lord Siva goes to extremes. This is illustrated in a classic story that took place at the Shankaranarayana Temple in the Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, where the main murti is one half Siva (Shankara) and the other half Vishnu (Narayana). One day an overly zealous Saivite entered the temple to worship the Lord. Before offering incense, he plugged the nostril of Vishnu with cotton to prevent Him from enjoying the fragrance. Seeing that happen, a bigoted Vaishnavite made his offering, plugging Siva’s nostril so only Vishnu would enjoy the offering. The story demonstrates the foolish nature of fanatical sectarianism.

How is it that one Purana extols Vishnu as the Supreme and another elevates Siva? Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, explained, “Vishnu Purana glorifies Vishnu and in some places gives a lower position to Siva. Siva Purana glorifies Siva and gives a lower status to Vishnu. This is only to instill and intensify devotion for the respective Deity in the hearts of the devotees. In reality, no Deity is superior to another. You must understand the heart of the writer.” Swami’s commentary continues, providing a third answer to our question. “Accordingly, the scriptures hold that Vishnu and Siva are ultimately the same. Smarta theologians have cited many references to support this point. For example, they interpret verses both in the Sri Rudram, the most sacred mantra in Saivism, and the Vishnu Sahasranama, one of the most sacred prayers in Vaishnavism, to show this unity… Sri Sankara also has said in very clear terms that Siva and Vishnu are the one, all-pervading Soul.” In this answer, which represents a Smarta point of view, Vishnu and Siva are equal; and more precisely, they are identical.

This same teaching is found in the Shikshapatri, a Vaishnava text: “The Vedas proclaim Narayan and Shiv as one and as Brahmaswarup – God’s true nature – and, therefore, they should be known accordingly.” The author enjoins the devotees: “In the month of Shravan they shall worship or engage the services of pious Brahmin devotees to worship Shiv with Bilva-patras and the like.”

Sometimes the story of the worship of Sankaranarayana by the bigoted Vaishnavite and overly zealous Saivite is marshalled as proof that sectarianism is inherently narrow-minded and all Hindus would be better off being nonsectarian. However, there is another approach to sectarianism, which is the ground for our fourth answer to the question “Who is greater, Vishnu or Siva?” We can call this the tolerant, sectarian approach. The Tamil Lexicon, published by the University of Madras, contains these terse but excellent definitions: “Saivam: The religion which regards Siva as the Supreme Being and is exclusively devoted to His worship, of sixteen sects. Vaishnavam: The religion which holds Vishnu to be the Supreme Being.”

A tolerant sectarian Hindu accepts both of these points and does not conclude that one is true and the other false. They are simply two different names and two different concepts of the Supreme Being. The idea that there can be multiple valid viewpoints about the Supreme is certainly a core Hindu concept. It is captured in the Rig Veda (1.164.46): Ekam Sat viprah bahudha vadanti, “Truth is One, sages describe it variously.”

Renowned philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, president of India from 1962-1967, offers a definition of Hinduism that stresses the same point. “The Hindu recognizes one Supreme Spirit, though different names are given to it.” The conclusion of this tolerant sectarian viewpoint is the same as the Smarta’s – “Vishnu and Siva are equal.” The basis for this conclusion, though, is different. Here the reason they are equal is that each is the Supreme Being to a different Hindu denomination.

Clearly there is a need for a tolerant, rather than a fanatical or bigoted, sectarianism in today’s Hindu world. One of the reasons is that many temple societies outside of India have shrines or adjacent temples to both Siva and Vishnu, with priests of both traditions working closely together, and devotees of both denominations attending.

We had the privilege of attending the 2004 kumbhabhishekam of the Siva temple at the invitation of the Hindu Temple Society of Greater Atlanta. Siva’s sanctum was built adjacent to a temple for Venkateshwara, Lord Vishnu, which had been constructed years earlier. During our visit, we were greatly impressed that Vaishnava priests were helping in the Saiva ceremonies and vice versa. The smooth working together of these two priesthoods, and of Siva’s and Venkateswara’s devotees, was uplifting and encouraging. It shows how well these traditions can cooperate and blend their energies without giving up their distinct beliefs and customs. I have observed this inter-denominational harmony elsewhere, including the Hindu temple in Memphis, Tennessee, which, in addition to Vaishnava and Saiva priests, also engages priests of the Smarta tradition.

In this area, my guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, gave some helpful advice to his followers, who are, of course, Saivites: “Siva’s devotees, with hearts as big as the sky, love and accept Smarta, Sakta and Vaishnava Hindus as brothers and sisters, even if not accepted by them, and keep harmony by not discussing differences.”

The next time you are involved in a discussion about who is superior, Vishnu or Siva, feel better prepared, as you now have four different points of view to which you can confidently refer. And who knows, you may be inspired to develop a fifth point of view – such is the nature of Hinduism!

“Best Answer” awarded in Yahoo Answers:

Harihara is the name of a combined deity form of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) from the Hindu tradition. Also known as Shankaranarayana (“Shankara” is Shiva, and “Narayana” is Vishnu), Harihara is thus worshipped by both Vaishnavites and Shaivities …….Lakshmi says “You and Vishnu are both same, the Paramaatma. Please help me!”. Shiva says “Soodari! How do you know that we both are same? Who told you?”. Lakshmi says, “Once Mahavishnu Himself told me this……..I am doing Shankara-dhyaanam. He is Eshwara. He is the same as Me. All learned people know that. If someone is my devotee but still hates Shiva, he will fall into naraka”.

my answer:

1. Mahavishnu: Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism.
The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatma (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. The Puranabharti also describes each of these Dasavatara of Vishnu. Among these ten principal Avatara described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future. In the commentary of creator Brahma in Vishnu Sahasranamam, he refers to Vishnu as “Sahasrakoti Yuga Dharine”, which means that these incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales, the avatars and their stories show that god is indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and unbelievable. The Bhagavad Gita mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma and vanquish negative forces, the forces of evil that threaten Dharma, as also to display His divine nature in front of the conditioned/fallen souls. In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten avatara, most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna. The Vaishnavite viewpoint, explains that the greatest benefit can be had from Vishnu.

2. Shiva:

Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. In images, He is represented as a handsome young man immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara, the demon of ignorance in His manifestation of Nataraja, the Lord of the dance. Adi Sankara, in his interpretation of the name Shiva, the 27th and 600th name of Vishnu sahasranama, the thousand names of Vishnu interprets Shiva to have multiple meanings: “The Pure One”, or “the One who is not affected by three Gunas of Prakrti or “the One who purifies everyone by the very utterance of His name.” Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu sahasranama, further elaborates on that verse: Shiva means “the One who is eternally pure”. Shiva have several incarnations, known as Avatars. Adi Shankara, Hanuman, Virabhadra and more. His Forms Nataraja, Dakshinamurti, Ardanareeshwara, Tripurantaka, and aparts from this Linga swarupa.

3. Who is Supreme – Shiva or Vishnu?

No space here to repeat, hence please read the 2nd paragraph of this answer and continue. Annamaacharya, the great Devotee describes Shiva and Vishnu. His description itself will give answer.

For Vaishnavas You are Vishnu
For Vedaantas You are Parabrahma
For Shaivas and other bhaktas You are Shiva
For Kaapaalikas You are Kaala-Bhairava
For Shaakteyaas You are Shakti
For people with alpa-buddhi You appear as alpam
For people who know Your Garima and have Ghana-buddhi You are a Ghana
For people who are Sharanaagati You are Venkateshvara

Naarada, coming under Vishnu maaya, gives shaapam to Vishnu: (This is one of the reasons of Shri Raama avatar) Naarada says “Swami! Please forgive Me. I, coming under influence of Your maaya, got ahankaar and did Your ninda. Please tell Me what can save Me from this ghora-paapam”. Vishnu says: “O Priya Naarada! You go and do paaraayana of Shankara Shatanaamams. Then You will get Shaanti. Shiva is whom I respect the most. Even by mistake dont forget this. One who doesnt have Shiva-anugraham cannot be My Bhakta. Believe this … Then My maaya wont affect you.”

There is no competition between Shiva and Vishnu since both are one called Harihara. Shiva and vishnu are one. Please don’t fight in the name of God. Follow your own way in worshipping – Good message from you through this question.

“shivashya hridayam vishnuh vishnushya hridayam shivah”

Answers from Quora:

1.) Vishnu represents the ever-transforming culture existing in society. As times change, the values that form a culture change and Vishnu’s avatars act accordingly. Thus, his Ram avatar and Krishna avatar are significantly different in character but were celebrated nonetheless because they played according to the rules of the existing value systems during those times. The Krishna avatar also encouraged humans to bend rules when required to uphold righteousness. Thus, Vishnu represents the joy and luxury society and culture can provide but also advises that a culture should welcome change and not be too strict with rules.  Vishnu encourages humans to take part in society and be a valuable contributor to the development of both, the self and the fellow human beings (or all the creatures in the universe for that matter).

Shiva, on the other hand, is not interested in the dynamics and mechanics of the cultures of the world. He is interested only in understanding the Truth of the universe and in his quest for attaining supreme bliss or joy. Thus, he stays away from society and meditates, hardly wanting to participate in what he believes to be the mundane existence of human life. He represents the desire in humans to understand the point of living. Why there is a universe in the first place and if there is, why do we perish. Shiva’s penance, according to me, urges humans to realize that the physical world and the universe we live in is an illusion, and the only way out of this illusion, is by understanding the Self.

So basically, the fight between Vishnu and Shiva is basically a fight within our own ideologies. Do we accept the world the way it is and participate fully in its society? Or do we renounce this illusion and try to find the ultimate truth which will help us escape the Karmic circle of life and death.

Most of the stories which show battles between Vishnu and Shiva or their avatars, were created by devotees of either ideology. In the end, it is you who decides whether you want the Vishnu within you to triumph or the Shiva with you to triumph, or even try to achieve a balance between both ideologies within you. One can derive strengths and insights from both these philosophies by being open to these teachings. After all, how you live is your own story and nobody can take that away from you.

2.) This question has only one answer, and that is that Shiva and Vishnu are just 2 different forms of the same entity.

Vishnu is the emitter of positivity and Shiva is the absorber of negativity. Thus, in a way both of them perform the same task. Now if u talk about their battle, it would cause no result as Vishnu is a devotee of Shiva and Shiva is a devotee of Vishnu. None of them is supreme.
As a matter of fact, Vishnu in his incarnations had always worshiped Shiva. It may be Parshuram, Ram or Krishna. And Shiva has always been very much devoted to Lord Rama. Also, as we know, the greatest devotee of Lord Rama, Hanuman, was an “anshavatar” of Shiva. Hence we again see, both of them just cant exist without each other.
So, let us respect both of them equally as an insult to one would cause an insult to other.

3.) As per the Shastras:
Lord Shiva & Lord Vishnu hold each other in highest regard & are fond of each other (considering each other with the relation of Bandhu ( brother), Isht ( Lord) & sakha ( friend) of the other. This has been specifically mentioned in various Hindu ( Sanatana) Religious texts also.
In Ramacharitmanas Rama the incarnate of Lord Vishnu declares .. Shiv Drohi mam Das Kahava So na Sapnehu Mohi na bhava.” Similar declaration is done by Lord shiva .. who adheres Lord Narayana to be his favourite.

As per Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran & Shri Ramacharitmanas .. Lord Rama proclaims Rameshwaram as ‘ the one ..who is Ishwara of Rama’ whereas Lord Shiva responds Rameshwaram to be ‘ Rama .. who is the Ishwara.. the one ‘.

Lord Shiva is so immersed in chant­ing Lord Ram’s name that, as per scriptures, he liberates every soul (even an insect) who dies in Kashi (Benares), by Chanting Lord Ram’s name in the ear of him…His love for the Lord also comes forth in his prayer ” Jai Raam Rama Ramanam Shamanam… ”
Our ancient scriptures thus proclaim again & again Lord Shiva & Lord Shri Hari to be one & unified force who are worshipped by one & all .. A mortal should thereby desist from comparing one with the other who are both equals .. Such sins are also not taken in good light by the lord.

4.) To stop the quarrel between Shaivaites and Vaishnavites as to who among  SHIVA and VISHNU was greater Sri Shankaracharaya explained:

“Shivaya Vishnu roopaya , shivarupaya Vishnuve , shivashca hirdhayagam Vishnu , Vishnuscha hridayagam shive “

Meaning: Shiva is in the form of Vishnu, as Vishnu is in the form of Shiva  . Shiva is in the heart of Vishnu as Vishnu is in the heart of Shiva. ONE CANNOT be without the OTHER
Meaning (scientific theory)
Energy is in matter and matter is in energy, one cannot be without the other.
It would be like asking one side of the coin to fight with the other.

The ultimate aim of Hindu philosophy is to see oneness, not just in Shiva and Vishnu, but in all of universe.
Sri Rama, and Sri Krishna being avatars of Vishnu, were great devotees of Shiva. In Srimad Bhagavatham, it is mentioned that during before Mohini avatar, Shiva visited Vishnu in Vaikuntha. Then Vishnu prostrates before Shiva. In another instance, when Mother Parvathi asks Shiva that who is the entity, whom Shiva prays continuously, Shiva informs Her that He prays on the sacred name Rama. Hanuman being an avatar of Shiva is the greatest devotee of Sri Rama. So, both revere each other and the secret lies in knowing that both are One.

As per Advaita Vedanta of Shankaracharya, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are two among five facets of Brahman, others being Durga, Ganesha and Surya. If we see Atharva Veda, there is mention of Lord Shiva taking incarnation as Lord Vishnu at the beginning of time, and in Bhagavad Gita Vibhuti Yoga chapter, Lord Krishna says that he (Vishnu) is fourth among eleven Rudras, who are incarnations of Lord Shiva as childrenof Vedic Goddess Surabhi.  So anyhow Shiva and Vishnu are two facetsof the same Brahman. Hence, the battles are symbolic and no matter who wins, it signifies the invinciblity of Nirguna Brahman. This is with accordance with the Brahmasutra Bhasya of  Shankaracharya. Hope this clarifies.

5.) Again and again, repeatedly, in different languages, in different ways, the Wise keep telling us ordinary folk, who are liable to make mistake after mistake, that:

There is only ONE, without Another. Let us call it what we will. Paramatman, Shiva, Vishnu, Allah, Godhead, etc. etc. The language and the form is the creation of our small and limited minds. It matters not a jot to THAT which is  formless and nameless and beyond the attributes we assign IT. Every thing and action of this manifested Universe is only a reflection of this ONE. But we having imprisoned ourselves in “me and mine and you and yours, and mine versus yours” have this great need to identify things we like with ‘ours’ and things we do not like as ‘ not ours’. From this ignorance of  ‘ I and the Other’ is born Fear, the root of all evils.

It is this fear that leads to conversions of ‘others’ to be like ‘us’, genocides, slaughter of innocent animals, mass eradication of forests and species, the terrible Himsa arising from unbridled technology, the very slaughter of our Bhudevi herself. All the evils of this world.

But again it is in the attempts to Conquer this ignorance and fear that the wonders of compassion and empathy are born. We see and worship the ONE in the Tree, Snake, Stone, Mountain, Saint, Baby, Star, Water, Lightning – the list is as large as the Universe! My perceiving and worshipping the IT in a spider at the corner of my room, is as stupendous as your worship of the IT as one among millions crowding in front of that vast stone monument.

It is only fools who say “The ONE is this and not that.” The Wise say “The ONE is this, and that, and All that you know And Also do not know!”

Seeing that ONE in All is wisdom, and fearlessness. Not being able to see is ignorance and fear. Knowing that All is IT is the way of the Wise. Thinking that All is Apart from IT is the way of the foolish.

Regarding all this reference to Sanskrit, Scriptures, the supposed battle at the Kumbha Mela, etc. etc. they are All valid IF they say the above truth. They are invalid if they state different. The interpretation and understanding of them is valid  when they state the above truth. The interpretation and understanding of them are invalid if they do not stat this trurh.

We belong to the Bharatiya Culture of absolute freedom to think, question, and grow, that has bred people like Nakkeeran who had the gumption to say “Even if Siva himself says something wrong is right, it does not make it right. A wrong is a wrong. A right is a right. ” So what is Sanskrit and what is Scripture but insignificant, inconsenquential ghosts of the lesser human mind UNLESS  they state the Truth? What to speak of comparison between Shiva and Vishnu. These days there are quarrels among the Vaishnavas themselves: some regard Vishnu as swayam-bhagvan while the others proclaim Krishna as supreme.

From Wikipedia:

According to Hindu mythology, Adi Para Shakti—the Goddess, Devi—is the Supreme Being. She is also known as “Parma” means supreme, “Satya” means the Truth as per many shakta texts. The Devi Bhagawata Mahapurana suggests that Adi Parashakti is the original creator, observer and destroyer of the whole universe.

As per Shaktism, Adi Parashakti appeared as Divine Pure Eternal Consciousness i.e. Shoonya Bindu, the divine zero feminine energy, which then expresses itself as prakriti (Universal Nature).

Hence Adi Parashakti is Parama Prakriti. Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari is the original manifested form of Mother Adi-Parashakti. Goddess Parvati/Durga is Adi- Parashakti herself and is the perfect incarnation of Lalita Tripura Sundari . Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari, the goddess of power and beauty, is considered as her saguna svarupa (Manifested form). That is, Lalita Tripura Sundari is the truest material form of the Goddess, possessing the three qualities (Sattva, rajas, or tamas). However, the Goddess Adi Para Shakti is also considered to be truly supreme spirit without form (Param Atman). She is the Great Goddess, and therefore the source of all other goddesses. She is supreme and regarded as the “Absolute Truth” in Shaktism.

Faith Column – The Hindu

Para Tatva

One who perceives the underlying oneness in creation realises peace. The legends and stories about saints, kings, devotees, etc, in the Puranas enable the common man to come to an intuitive understanding of this abstract Truth, said Swami Paramasukhananda in a discourse.

Daksha’s hatred for Siva is transformed to bhakti when his ignorance about the Supreme Truth is broken and wisdom dawns in him. After the yagna Daksha had planned was disrupted, the celestial beings along with Brahma approach Siva to show mercy on them. They had not opposed Daksha’s extreme behaviour. Siva is extolled as the Supreme Deity in the famous Siva Stuti at this juncture.

Daksha is repentant after being chastised, and, once again performs the yagna. This time the offerings to the celestial beings are duly made. At that time Vishnu appears and explains the truth that Brahma, Vishnu and Siva though three in form are one entity. The Lord, though one and without a second, assumes the three forms, respectively of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva for creation, preservation and dissolution of the world. No difference in the three exists except in attributes.

Scriptures hail this Supreme Brahman as above all Gunas and as the very embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda, the eternally existing Truth which is the essence of consciousness and bliss. Though He is the ultimate principle, He is also the personal God who creates the perceptible world by His Prakriti and also resides in the heart of every being. He is the enjoyer of all sacrifices. He stirs our hearts to devotion and answers our prayers and is the source and sustainer of values. He enters into personal relationship with us in worship and prayer.

Final Verdict:

As Sri Krishna said in the Bhagavad Geeta, the true form of the Lord is the infinite, “nirguna” (without attributes or qualities), unimaginable, undefinable “Virat-roop” which is beyond the grasp of finite little mortals like us! Arjuna upon seeing the Virat-roop (which too was adjusted to account for Arjuna’s finite intelligence) of the Lord trembles with fear. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Geeta that these forms and the relationship the devotees form with them lead to the same destination i.e. the Infinite. Therefore, being devoted to Sri Krishna as a friend or to Adi Shakti (the Supreme Spirit without attributes or qualities) as a son are one and the same things. Love, faith and devotion to any form ultimately reaches the Parabrahman. Love, faith and devotion are collectively known as “Bhakti”. Meerabai loved Sri Krishna as a devoted wife. Even the man-made word “Parabrahman” or “Krishna” created by human intelligence is inadequate to define the infinite Divinity pervading the whole universe and also existing apart from it. Therefore, it is the true love and devotion that matters and not the form in which it is invested for all forms ultimately emanate from the same Supremeness! Only Bhakti (Love, Faith,Devotion) which has the characteristic of being infinite and unquantifiable like the Infinite God can reach him and not narrow-minded considerations of which form to consider supreme and which not to. Bhakti which is same as love can be stretched to infinite. For instance, can anyone say that he/she has reached the maximum limit of loving his/her children? Forms are the mediums for expressing our Bhakti towards the Almighty. Bhakti is the means as well as the end. In Bhagavad Geeta, Sri Krishna himself declared that I am infinite love (“main prem hi prem hu Arjun, prem hi prem!”). That is why, having love in one’s heart for any form is okay, as long as there is true love.

Any form can be “Sampoorna” (complete or perfect) from the perspective of Bhakti-yog but through the prism of Gyaan-yog (Jnana-yog) no finite form can ever be complete or perfect so as to define the Infinite Divinity. Also no gender can be attributed to God, he/she is above all that. That is why, some sects worship God through meditation on “Om” (”  “) which is considered as a sound containing all the vibrations of the universe. Therefore, there never arises any question of dispute as to which form or deity is the greatest. All forms are “sampoorna” and at the same time none is! This is the nature of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma.

Therefore, all of the following statements are refutable:

  • There is no other Supreme Personality of Godhead but Krishna. (Krishnaism)
  • There is no other supreme deity but Shiva. (Shaivism)
  • Only Vishnu is the Main Supreme aspect of Divinity. (Vaishnavism)
  • There is no other Supreme being but Adi Shakti. (Shaktism)
  • There is no other form of God but only Nirguna. (Fundamentalist Nirguna worshipper)
  • There is no God but Allah. (Islam)
  • Jesus is the only son of God. (Christianity)
  • There is no other God but A (or B or C). (any other sect or religion)

I am fed up with all of these assertions and I accept only the Bhakti related aspects of the above sects (mentioned in brackets) and reject all unilateral bigoted views! In Bhakti, I call Krishna as Adi Purusham and Shiva as Sansara Saram. In Jnana, a finite mortal like me cannot even imagine to know the true Virat-roop of the Infinite Lord. For that one has to first transform from finiteness to infiniteness, in other words attain God itself. For now, Ram, Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Murugan, Ganesha, Adi Shakti and Om are one and the same thing to me. Love and worship any form or no-form (nirguna) but don’t ostracize worshippers of other forms. Instead of arguing over silly theories, invest these energies in opposing the real bad things (adharma) happening all around us: animal slaughter, adultery, poverty, inequality, etc.

Hari Om Namah Shivaya… 🙂

-Ribhu V.


Shiva & Vishnu


Viraat-swaroop Darshan


Adi Shakti – the Supreme Spirit without attributes or qualities (Painter: Ananda Vdovic, http://www.anandasart.com )

Sources & References:


3 thoughts on “Who is the greatest: Adi Shakti, Shiva or Vishnu?

  1. The painting of Devi, where you wrote “Adi Shakti – the Supreme Spirit without attributes or qualities” was painted by me. Its real title is “Flying Home”. You will find many more Deva and Devi paintings on my website AnandasArt.com
    I paint all the Devas and Devis, but unfortunately not a single person in India buys them! Please, when you use my painting, write my name and website under it, so people can find me:
    painter: Ananda Vdovic, http://www.anandasart.com
    I would appreciate it. Thank you.
    Ananda Vdovic

    Liked by 1 person

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