Sri Sridhara Swamin at the beginning of his commentary to the Srimadbhagavatam writes an invocation: माधवोमाधवावीशौ सर्वसिद्धिविधायिनौ। वन्दे परस्परात्मानौ परस्परनुतिप्रियौ॥

I bow to Mādhava and Umādhava (Shiva) who are both 'Isha-s' Supreme Lords. They are capable of bestowing all accomplishments (to their devotees). They are both the selves of each other and both love to engage in the stuti of each other.

This idea of Hari-Hara abheda is admitted in the Smarta samparadaya. The smartas of Karnataka and Andhra chant these mantras as part of their daily three-time sandhyavandanam:

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 ।[Skandopaniṣat]

[(obeisance to Śiva who is of the form of Viḷṣṇu, and to Viṣṇu of the form of Śiva. Śiva's heart (self) is Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu's self is Śiva. Just as Viṣṇu is fully verily Śiva, so too Śiva is fully verily Viṣṇu. As I do not see any difference between them, let me be prosperous and long-lived. Let there be no difference between Śiva and Keśava.

Is the above concept admissible in vaishnavism?

  • Vaishnavas also don't see a difference between Shiva and Vishnu but they have a different interpretation of what is equal and non difference. Shiva and Vishnu are definitely selves of each other. It is a wrong thing to say they see difference. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 7:42
  • The Swaminarayan sect is the only Vaishnava sect that accepts Hari-Hara abheda.
    – user9969
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 8:07
  • //hey have a different interpretation of what is equal and non difference// Their interpretation is different from whom ? Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 8:16
  • You should use @ username to reply to users on comment thread. It is different from Samrtas and Advaitans that Shiva and Vishnu are the selfs of each other and equal. @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Keshav gave direct quotes of Swami Sahajananda in his answer to your question about Swami Narayana sect. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 9:32
  • @Sarvabhouma Well Sahajananda Swami clearly says Narayana and Shiva are one and the same God of the Vedas.
    – user9969
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


As explained by someone in one of the comments, the Swaminarayan sampradaaya is the only Vaishnava sampradaaya which follows Hari-Hara abheda. Most other Vaishnava sampradaayas consider Vishnu to be Brahman and Shiva to be a vibhuti of the Sankarshana Vyuha of Vishnu. Shiva, Brahmaa, Nara, Surya, etc., are considered to be jeevas and expansions of Vishnu, while they are not directly considered to be Vishnu. Rather, Sankarshana is the indweller of Shiva, and his Paramaatma.

This is because these facts are said so in the Paancharaatra aagamas, which are a group of Vaishnava aagamas. Smaartas ignore a major part of the Paancharaatra aagamas, but most Vaishnavas do not reject them.

शंकराख्यो महारुद्रः प्रादुर्भावान्तरं हि तत्

"Shankara (also known as MahaRudra) belongs to pradurbhava-antaras".

-Shri Paushkara Samhita

Praadurbhaava antaras refer to jeevas, who are expansions of Vishnu, and not directly Vishnu. Hence, Vishnu's vibhuti's are contained in them, but they are not the same as Vishnu. For this reason, we consider many devatas to be jeevas and expansions of Vishnu, but not God. Moreover, the Paancharaatra has been written by Naaraayana Rshi, an avataara of Vishnu himself. Hence, we consider them more reliable, than the works of any scholar or saint, like Shripaada Adi Shankaracharya or even Rshi Vikhaanasa, the sage who started the Vaikhaanasa system of aagamas.

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  • But we have Veda Vyasa, who is 'another form of Vishnu' saying emphatically: रुद्रो नारायणश्चैव सत्त्वमेकं द्विधा कृतम्। लोके चरति कौन्तेय व्यक्तिस्थं सर्वकर्मसु।। 12-350-27a 12-350-27b. ಇದು [Rudra and Narayana are only two manifestations of One Principle.......] Also, 'Vishnu's vibhuti' is not different from Vishnu. In the Vibhuti Yoga of Bh.Gita 10th chapter, Krishna says 'I am ....' referring to each of his vibhutis. If vibhutis are removed from Vishnu, then the splendor of Vishnu is no longer there. Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 13:12
  • @vsubrahmanian - vyasa is a post and krishna-dvaipayana was amsha-avatara of vishnu. like parashuram. ashvathama is the next vyasa. vasishta himself used to be a vyasa. regarding one-ness - see this comment - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/50755/…
    – ram
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 4:04
  • @vsubrahmanian Vibhuti refers to the presence of Vishnu as Paramaatma, or the indweller of those entities. He is omnipresent in all entities, so is he in the devatas. That's why his vibhuti is said to exist in the devatas. This doesn't meant that the devatas are his own avataaras. They are living entities, and different from Eeshvara. Similarly, in the Maitri Upanishad, jeevas are spoken as manifestations of Eeshvara, just as all living entities are said to be manifestations of Brahman. This is the concept of vibhutis. Commented May 8, 2022 at 15:52
  • @mar Yes, but Maadhva Vaishnavas, like me, consider Krshna-Dvaipayana Vyaasa to be a direct avataara of Shri Vishnu and not a portion of him, unlike Shiva, Brahmaa or the other devatas. Commented May 8, 2022 at 16:00

The Varkari Sampradaya of Maharashtra is the only Vaishnava sampradaya, which to my knowledge accepts Hari-Hara abheda in a similar sense smartas do.

As Tukaram Maharaj states:

अभंग – 99

हरीहरां भेद । नाहीं करूं नये वाद ॥१॥ एक एकाचे हृदयीं । गोडी साखरेच्या ठायीं ॥ध्रु.॥ भेदकासी नाड । एक वेलांटीच आड ॥२॥ उजवें वाम भाग । तुका म्हणे एकचि अंग ॥३॥ enter image description here

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  • Thanks for this reference about Tukaram. How about Naamdev, Jnaaneshwar, etc. on the idea of Hari-Hara abheda? Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 15:07
  • @vsubrahmanian Haven't read any of Naamdev's works. Regarding Jnaneshwar, All I remember right now is a passing reference from his work 'Amritanubhava'. In the 62nd verse of the 9th chapter of Amritanubhava, he speaks of Hari-Hara essentially being one body only, whose labels of different names and forms get dissolved in the state of mukti/para bhakti. Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:16
  • I will need to read his abhangs later to see if I can find a more explicit reference for the Hari-Hara abheda concept. Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:26
  • some readings mention it as the 61st verse. Just a small note Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 9:29
  • Thanks for the response. Very helpful. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 12:22

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