What forms of God are considered to be the Supreme Being? Lord Krishna says about demigods that who worship demigods will get material desires, but to get moksha one must worship me only.

Are Ganesha, Mother Parvathi, Mother Lakshmi, Karthikeya are also supreme beings?

Some people say the five forms of god are considered Supreme. Some say that Lord Krishna is supreme. Some say that Lord Siva is supreme. I believe that both Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu (including his avatars) are supreme.

Which one is right and on what basis one can say that a Lord is supreme?

  • 3
    Advaitist answer: when God is Himself formless, it has no meaning to say "which form is supreme". It is God who is Supreme, not His forms. The forms are considered supreme only because of the Lord that resides in them. It is the same God (Ishwara) that resides in all forms, be it Sri Krishna, Lord Shiva, Lord Narayana. All are One. At different times, in different stories, one form seemed to be superior to the other, but those are just personal visions (a Vaishnava saint would have a vision of Sri Vishnu, a Saiva saint would have a vision of Siva). Both visions are valid, for all are One.
    – Sai
    Nov 14, 2014 at 20:34
  • Like another question which asked whether Vishnu or Shiva is supreme, this question would lead to too much sectarian arguments, because it's clearly a core difference between the different sects of Hinduism. Jan 12, 2015 at 6:47
  • Sankaracharya established the 6 matas (he is Sanmata sthApanAcArya) and these 6 forms-viz- vishnu, shiva, devi, surya, ganapati and subrahmanya are the supreme forms of god.
    – user1195
    Sep 11, 2017 at 10:00
  • This is not an opinion-based Q. There is a definite hierarchy of divinity .
    – user1195
    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Here is a Gaudiya Vaishnava perspective through scriptural basis. Anything said, in this matter, without the scriptural basis is useless so sorry if it is lengthy but it constitutes only tiny part of what I wanted to say :)

I will begin by quoting some Upanishad verses [All citations from vedabase.com]:

Katha Upanisad 2.2.13 nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman

He is the prime eternal among all eternals. He is the supreme living entity of all living entities, and He alone is maintaining all life.

Svetasvatara Upanisad (3.8–9) says:

vedaham etam purusam mahantam aditya-varnam tamasah parastat tam eva viditvati mrtyum eti nanyah pantha vidyate ’yanaya

yasmat param naparam asti kiñcid yasman naniyo no jyayo ’sti kiñcit vrksa iva stabdho divi tisthaty ekas tenedam purnam purusena sarvam

“I know that Supreme Personality of Godhead who is transcendental to all material conceptions of darkness. Only he who knows Him can transcend the bonds of birth and death. There is no way for liberation other than this knowledge of that Supreme Person.

“There is no truth superior to that Supreme Person, because He is the supermost. He is smaller than the smallest, and He is greater than the greatest. He is situated as a silent tree, and He illumines the transcendental sky, and as a tree spreads its roots, He spreads His extensive energies.”

Now, who is the Supreme among all living entities? In order to help us understand this Lord Krishna has descended on this planet and performed pastimes that are impossible for any human to perform and boldy declared that He is the Supreme Person. His declarions are intact in Bhagavad Gita. Here are some:

Bg 10.8

aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

Bg 7.7

mattah parataram nanyat kiñcid asti dhanañ-jaya mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-gana iva

O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

Bg 10.2

na me viduh sura-ganah prabhavam na maharsayah aham adir hi devanam maharsinam ca sarvasah

Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages.

After Krishna spoke 10+ chapters of the Gita, including above three, Arjuna says:

Bg 10.12-13

arjuna uvaca param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan purusam sasvatam divyam adi-devam ajam vibhum ahus tvam rsayah sarve devarsir naradas tatha asito devalo vyasah svayam caiva bravisi me

Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.

However Arjuna wanted a practical proof so that in future fools won't claim that they are Supreme. So Krishna shows His universal form in which He shows everything including all the devatas. While showing the form, Krishna says:

Bg 11.6

pasyadityan vasun rudran asvinau marutas tatha bahuny adrsta-purvani pasyascaryani bharata

O best of the Bharatas, see here the different manifestations of Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Asvini-kumaras and all the other demigods. Behold the many wonderful things which no one has ever seen or heard of before.

Then He also shows the form of four handed Visnu form and finally His beautiful two handed form. Then He says:

Bg 11.54

bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya aham evam-vidho ’rjuna jñatum drastum ca tattvena pravestum ca paran-tapa

My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.

So Lord Krishna, right from the beginning, acted as the Supreme. When He was a couple of days old He killed Putana demon. When He was about 6 years old He lifted Govardhana hill. Inspite of His performing wonderful deeds, specifically saying that He is the Supreme and showing the universal form as well it is not easy to accept this and understand the mystery. That is why He says only by unalloyed devotional service can we understand Him. So for those who have are not surrendered, and not free from the false ego, they cannot engage in His bhakti. And with out being situated in His bhakti it is not possible to accept Krishna as the Supreme.

However as far as the scriptures, as cited above, and Krishna's words are concerned He is the Supreme. And when I say Krishna the Vishnu-tattva is included. But He is the primeval form from Whom other Vishnu-tattvas come as well (Remember Krishna has showed a sample four armed Vishnu form also outside of the Vishva-rupa).

  • Shouldn't we consider that wherever Lord Krishna says 'I', he refers to 'Lord Shiva' also?
    – user12458
    Nov 19, 2014 at 10:32
  • No, not always. However when He says in Gita 10.23 'Of all the Rudras I am Lord Siva' and other similar statements we should consider like that. Nov 21, 2014 at 5:27
  • 2
    But isn't a Supreme being definition is 'The one who is responsible for creation, ruling and destruction of the universe.' If so, then whenever we say Lord Krishna, there we also mean Lord Siva and Lord Bramha also. The names are only for the jobs that Supreme being do and no job can be considered either superior or inferior to the other. So, we can confirm that when the term 'Supreme being' is used it means all the Trimurthis. Am i right?
    – user12458
    Nov 21, 2014 at 14:27
  • Creation, maintenance and destruction are only some aspects (in fact secondary) of the Supreme and doesn't constitute the complete Absolute Truth. The Lord exists eternally in the spiritual world and taking care of material world is a small aspect of His activities. Absolute Truth is the source of everything and according to Bhagavatam and Gita, that Absolute Truth is Krishna. And in regards to the definition of God you can see this article, harekrishna.com/col/books/SRE/SSR/def-god.html, specifically the Vishnu Purana reference. Nov 21, 2014 at 17:23
  • Also, Krishna says that he Lion among animals , Skandha among devas etc...But that doesn't mean Skandha is the supreme and Lion is Supreme..When Krishna is saying is he so among so , he is just saying the things that are best are his vibhutis...The statement Shankara among Rudras should also be seen in the same light. Lord Narayana/Krishna/Vishnu alone is declared as supreme in vedas and accepted by all the three main principle acharyas Adi shankara, Sri Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya.
    – user808
    Dec 13, 2014 at 15:22

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