Is there any Vedic verse that explicitly says Brahma and Shiva did not exist before creation?
Many verses say only Brahman existed before creation. But what about Brahma and Shiva?
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No. As per the Vedas and Upanishad. Shiv, Vishnu and Brahma are one. For ex:-eighth mantra of Kaivalya Upanishad.
स ब्रह्मा स शिवः सेन्द्रः सोऽक्षरः परमः स्वराट् । स एव विष्णुः स प्राणः स कालोऽग्निः स चन्द्रमाः॥८॥
- He is Brahma, he is Siva, he is Indra. He is the imperishable, supreme self illumined Lord. He alone is Vishnu. He is the life giving breath. He is time, he is fire, and also the moon.
So the Trinity of Hinduism are actually three forms of Superme God who created the whole world. Same thing is written in vishnav and shaiv Upanishads.
ॐ । अथ नित्यो नारायणः । ब्रह्मा नारायणः । शिवश्च नारायणः । शक्रश्च नारायणः । द्यावापृथिव्यौ च नारायणः । कालश्च नारायणः । दिशश्च नारायणः । ऊर्ध्वश्च नारायणः । अधश्च नारायणः । अन्तर्बहिश्च नारायणः । नारायण एवेदꣳ सर्वम् । यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् । निष्कलो निरञ्जनो निर्विकल्पो निराख्यातः शुद्धो देव एको नारायणः । न द्वितीयोऽस्ति कश्चित् । य एवं वेद । स विष्णुरेव भवति स विष्णुरेव भवति ॥ (एतद्यजुर्वेदशिरोऽधीते ।)॥२॥
- He is perennial. Narayana is Brahma. Narayana is Shiva. Narayana is Indra and Kaala (god of death). All directions are Narayana. All sides are Narayana. Inside and outside is Narayana. Narayana is what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Narayana is the only God who is blemish less, stain less, order less, end less and who cannot be described and when Narayana is there, there is no other second. He who knows this, becomes himself Lord Vishnu. Thus is read, the Upanishads of Yajur Veda.
The same thing is written about Rudra (Shiva) in Atharvashir Upanishad Mantra 2.
- He who is Rudra is verily the Lord; He who is Brahma, Bhuh, Bhuvah, and Suvah. Salutation to Him over and over, who is the head (Svhaa or the fourth)! Om, O goal of humanity, Thou art mukti formed. He who is Rudra is verily the Lord; He who is Vishnu is verily the Lord. He who is Mahesvara is verily the Lord. He who is Uma is verily the Lord. He who is Vinayaka is verily the Lord. He who is Skanda is verily the Lord. He who is Indra is verily the Lord.
So Upanishads are again and again saying the same thing that:-
Is there any Vedic verse that explicitly says Brahma and Shiva did not exist before creation?
Yes. For example this verse from the Maha Upanishad:
eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahmA neshAnaH
Only Narayana was there. Not Brahma, nor Shiva.
The modern day Mahopanishad is interpolated but this verse was cited by many ancient Vedantins including Yamunacharya, Ramanujacharya, Vedanta Desika, Yadavaprakasha, and Narayanacharya.
Also, this verse also exists in the Paingirahasya Brahmana in a slightly modified form with sandhis:
eko ha vai nārāyaṇa āsīn na brahmā na ca śaṅkaraḥ
The Paingirahasya Brahmana is an extinct Brahmana of the Rig Veda. Only some verses have survived through citations.
Also, according to the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Devas, Indra, Brihaspati, and Brahma are not the supreme Brahman because the bliss that they experience is much less than the bliss that Brahman experiences:
One hundred times that bliss of the Devas is one measure of the bliss of Indra, and likewise of a great sage who is free from desires.
One hundred times that bliss of Indra is one measure of the bliss of Brihaspati, and likewise of a great sage who is free from desires.
One hundred times that bliss of Brihaspati is one measure of the bliss of Pragâpati, and likewise of a great sage who is free from desires.
One hundred times that bliss of Pragâpati is one measure of the bliss of Brahman, and likewise of a great sage who is free from desires.
Because Brahman is mentioned apart from Prajapati, Brihaspati, Indra, and the Devas, it stands that those Devas are not Brahman according to this Upanishad.
The answer is both Yes and No.
To understand this we have to go to the basics first.
Oh man.! Its really gonna be a super-long answer.
To understand this we have to first understand nirguna brahman and saguna brahman.
According, to the Svet Up 3.7 which clearly states the following that higher Nirguna Brhmn is always greater than lower personal Saguna Brhmn, which Sri Adi Shankara quoted in his bhasyas also.
ततः परं ब्रह्म परं बृहन्तं यथानिकायं सर्वभूतेषु गूढम् । विश्वस्यैकं परिवेष्टितारमीशं तं ज्ञात्वाऽमृता भवन्ति ॥ ७ ॥
aa : than that ( the Personal Brahman ) higher बृहन्तम् infinite परम् supreme ब्रह्म Brahman यथानिकायम् ac cording to the bodies paxay in all beings TCH hidden . विश्वस्य of the universe एकम् single परिवेष्टितारम् enveloper ईशम् Gods तम् Him ज्ञात्वा realising अमृताः immortal भवन्ति become .
Higher than this Personal Brahman is the infinite Supreme Brahman , who is concealed in all beings according to their bodies , and who , though remaining single , envelops the whole universe . Knowing Him to be the Lord , one becomes immortal .
So, Nirguna Brahmana >>> Saguna Brahmana.
Now, we need to understand how Uma = Vishnu.
Rudra is the embodiment of all Devas. All devas are merely different manifestations of Sri Rudra Himself. On the right side of Rudra, there is the sun, then the four-headed Brahma, and then three Agnis (fires). On the left side, there exist Sri Umadevi, and also Vishnu and Soma (moon). (Rudra hridhaya upanishad )
Uma Herself is the form of Vishnu. Vishnu Himself is the form of the moon. Therefore, those who worship Lord Vishnu, worship Siva Himself. And those who worship Siva, worship Lord Vishnu. Those who envy and hate Sri Rudra, are actually hating Sri Vishnu. Those who decry Lord Siva, decry Vishnu Himself. (Rudra hridhaya upanishad ).
Rudra is the generator of the seed. Vishnu is the embryo of the seed. Siva Himself is Brahma and Brahma Himself is Agni. Rudra is full of Brahma and Vishnu. The whole world is full of Agni and Soma. The masculine gender is Lord Siva. The feminine gender is Sri Bhavani Devi. All the mobile and immobile creation of this universe, is filled up with Uma and Rudra. The Vyakta is Sri Uma, and the Avyakta is Lord Siva. ( Rudra hridaya upanishad ).
Same has been stated in harivamsa Parva as well for Rudra and Vishnu (who is actually Uma).
“rudramagnimayaM vidyAdviShNuH somAtmakaH smR^itaH | agnIShomAtmakaM chaiva jagatsthAvaraja~Ngamam |” (Harivamsa Parva 2-125-35).
“Remember that rudra has the aspect of fire and viShNu has the aspect of soma (nectar, moon). All the world including the fixed and movable beings have the combined aspects of fire and soma (shiva and viShNu)”.
Well, Vishnu is nothing but Rudra’s left portion and is identical with Uma. Therefore he is the male form of Uma but we can also say Rudra’s left portion belongs to both Rudra and Uma equally because it is a combination or merger of Uma with Rudra (Same with the right portion belongs to the both). This is the reason why the below verse further clarifies that Vishnu is a combination of Uma and Rudra.
“umaa sha~Nkarayogo yaH sa yogo vishhNuruchyate |” (Rudra Hridayopanishad 1:11).
“The combination of Uma and Sankara is Vishnu (viz child)”.
To know more about Uma=Vishnu, you can read this answer of mine.
Anyways, moving ahead from the above verses we came to know that Lord Vishnu is Vyakta (Saguna) while Bhagawan Shiva is Avyakta (Nirguna).
So, before going into deep let us understand how Narayana became supreme.
Purusha Sukta appeared first in Rig Veda 10.90. Narayana Maharshi was the 'Mantra Drashta'(seer) of the hymn. This Narayana Maharshi was later incarnated as Devaki putra Sri Krishna during Dwaparayuga. His counterpart Nara Maharshi was born as 'Arjuna'. By the grace of Lord Shiva, Narayana Mahrshi got the divine vision of Purusha. He was the first Human Rishi to realise the universal oneness and oneness of Atman in all beings. This non-dual knowledge made Narayana Rishi merge with Lord Shiva. Those who know Purusha will become, verily, like Purusha, the self of all beings.
Sathapatha Brahmana of Shukla yajurveda describes how Narayana Rishi became one with Purusha.:
"puruṣo ha nārāyaṇo'kāmayata atitiṣṭheyaṃ sarvāṇi bhūtānyahamevedaṃ sarvaṃ syāmiti sa etam puruṣamedham pañcarātram yajñakratumapaśyattamāharattenāyajata teneṣṭvātyatiṣṭhatsarvāṇi bhūtānīdaṃ sarvamabhavadatitiṣṭhati sarvāṇi bhūtānīdaṃ sarvam bhavati ya evam vidvānpuruṣamedhena yajate yo vaitadevam veda" ( Sathapatha Brahmana 13:6:1:1).
"Purusha Narayana desired, 'Would that I overpassed all beings ! would that I alone were everything- here (this universe) !' He beheld this 'five days' sacrificial performance, the Purushamedha and took it and performed offering therewith ; and having performed offering therewith, he overpassed all beings, and became everything here. And, verily, he who, knowing this, performs the Purushamedha, or who even knows this, overpasses all beings, and becomes everything here."
Lord Shiva is Veda-Purusha as confirmed in the Taittiriya Aranyaka 10:24:1 "purusho vai rudrah" means "Lord Rudra (Shiva) is the (Veda) Purusha."
To understand more about Purusha in detail you can read this answer of mine.
This incident is also mentioned in Mahabharata itself.
According to Mahabharata.: the below verses from the Drona Parva of the Mahabharata and the Harivamsa reveal the boon given by lord shiva to lord vishnu after 66000 celestial years of penance as thus.:
matprasādān manuṣyeṣu devagandharvayoniṣu aprameyabalātmā tvaṃ nārāyaṇa bhaviṣyasi ( Mahabharata 7 : 172: verse No. 74 ).
By the grace of me you will become Nārāyaṇa with unending strength among the deities, humans and Gandharvas.
kaś cit tava rujaṃ kartā matprasādāt kathaṃ cana api cet samaraṃ gatvā bhaviṣyasi mamādhikaḥ ( Mahabharata 7 : 172: verse No. 78 )
“Through my grace, none shall ever be able to cause thee pain by the weapon of thunderbolt or with any object that is wet or dry, or with any mobile or immobile thing. Thou shalt be superior to myself if thou ever goest to battle against me.'”*
This was again confirmed by Lord Siva to Lord Krishna before Lord Krishna was about to appear in battle against Vanasura as stated in the Harivamsa :
yathA mainAkamAshritya tapastvamakaroH prabho | tathA mama varaM kR^iShNa saMsmR^itya sthairyamApnuhi ||2-74-37
O lord ! O kR^iShNa! As you did penance staying on mainAka, you received a boon from me. Be firm in your mind, remembering that boon.
avadhyastvamajeyashcha mattaH shUratarastathA | bhavitAsItyavochaM yattattathA na tadanyathA || 2-74-38
You can not be killed, you can not be conquered, you will be more valiant than me. All this will happen as told by me. None will be able to change this. Otherwise, who else is able to dare appear before Lord Siva in the battlefield when He holds His trident?
In Mahabharata, Anushasana parva Bishma pitamaha says to Yudhistira.:
Rudra bhakthya thu krishnena jagat vyaptham mahathmana, Tham prasadhya thadha devam bhadaryam kila bharatha. Arthath priya harathwam cha sarva lokeshu vai yadhaa, Prapthavaaneva rajendra suvarnaakshan maheswaraath.(MBH 13:14:10-11).
"The Krishna, due to his devotion to Supreme Lord Rudra, Has spread all over the universe, Oh Bharatha, Oh king of kings, After making Lord Shiva pleased by his penance in Bhadrinath, He has attained the state of being more dear, Than all the worlds and all aspects of knowledge."
“Yuge yuge thu krushnena thoshitho vai maheswara | Bhakthya paramaya chaiva prathi sruthwa mahatmana |” (MBH 13:14:13).
“In every new Yuga has Krishna (by such penances) gratified Mahadeva. In every Yuga has Mahadeva been gratified with the great devotion of the high-souled Krishna“.
Again, In Mahabaratha, Lord Shiva says to Ashwatthama.:
satyaśaucārjava tyāgais tapasā niyamena ca kṣāntyā bhaktyā ca dhṛtyā ca buddhyā ca vacasā tathā ( Mh Bhar 10.7.60).
yathāvad aham ārāddhaḥ kṛṣṇenākliṣṭakarmaṇā tasmād iṣṭatamaḥ kṛṣṇād anyo mama na vidyate ( Mh Bhar 10.07.61).
"With truth, purity, sincerity, resignation, ascetic austerities, vows, forgiveness, devotion, patience, thought, and word, I have been duly adored by Krishna of pure deeds. For this there is none dearer to me than Krishna".
So, Narayana became one With Purusha Shiva and became everything and everyone.
Narayana Suktam verse(s) 4.:
*"**naaraayaNaH paraM brahma tattva.*n naaraayaNaH paraH | naaraayaNaH paro jyotiraatmaa naarayaNaH paraH |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.1.4).
"Narayana is the Supreme Reality designated as Brahman. Narayana is the highest (Self). Narayana is the supreme Light (described in the Upanishads). Narayana is the infinite Self".
So, Narayana is Parambrahma tatva.
Narayana Suktam verse(s) 13.:
*"R^itam satyaM paraM brahma purushha.n **kR^ishhNapi~Ngalam.h| uurdhvareta.n viruupaaksha.*n vishvaruupaaya vai namo namaH |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.23.1).
"Supreme Brahman, the Absolute Reality (Righteousness and Truth), is the androgynous Person the Umamaheshvara (or Ardhanareeshwara), dark blue and reddish brown in hue, absolutely chaste and possessing uncommon eyes (three eyes). Salutations to Him alone who is the Soul of the universe or whose form is the universe".
So, one is Saguna Brahman (Tattva) and other is Nirguna Brahman.
Let's come to the main topic.:
eko ha vai nārāyaṇa āsīn na brahmā na ca śaṅkaraḥ | sa munirbhūtvā samacintayat | tata ete vyajāyanta | vishve hirańyagarbho agniryamo varuńaviśhńūrudrendrāh ||
Narayana alone was there initially. Neither Brahma, nor Shankara. With the thought to create, he resolved. From then, everyone including Brahma, Agni, Yama, Varuna, Vishnu, Rudra, and Indra were born (~Paingini Rahasya Brahmana, Rig veda).
So, who is this Shankara.? He is one of the Rudras as stated in bhagwat gita
रुद्राणां शङ्करश्चास्मि वित्तेशो यक्षरक्षसाम् | वसूनां पावकश्चास्मि मेरु: शिखरिणामहम् || b.g. 10.23||
Amongst the rudras know Me to be Shankar; amongst the semi-celestial beings and demons I am Kuber. I am Agni amongst the vasus and Meru amongst the mountains.
If, not then i guess Narayana ≠ Vishnu. As the above verse clearly says. Vishnu was also not there at the beginning, he was born later.
Now, if you go by my explanation then then issue is immediately solved as b.g also states Vishnu as one of the adityas.
आदित्यानामहं विष्णुर्ज्योतिषां रविरंशुमान् | मरीचिर्मरुतामस्मि नक्षत्राणामहं शशी || b.g. 10.21||
Amongst the twelve sons of Aditi I am Vishnu; amongst luminous objects I am the sun. Know Me to be Marichi amongst the maruts, and the moon amongst the stars in the night sky.
As for Rudra, he is Kaal Agni Rudra, the destroying deity.
tamabravīdrudro 'sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodagnistadrūpamabhavadagniva rudro yadarodīttasmādrudraḥ ( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-10 ).
'Thou art Rudra And because he (Prajapati) gave him that name, Agni became such like (or, that form), for Rudra is Agni. ( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-10 ).
So, due to merging into Purusha Rudra he Narayana got the firm of all the deities.
Narayana Suktam verse(s) 12.:
"tasyaaH shikhaayaa madhye paramaatmaa vyavasthitaH | sa brahmaa sa shivaH sa hariH sendraH so.aksharaH paramaH svaraaT.h |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.2.12).
"Paramatman dwells in the middle of that flame. (Although He is thus limited) still He is the four-faced creator Brahmā, Siva, Hari (Vishnu), Indra, the material and efficient cause of the Universe and the Supreme Self-luminous Pure Consciousness".
So, if this Narayana was only Vishnu then the Shruti couldn't have used Hari as one of it's names. As they have used hari also, so, thes Narayana is Advaita Saguna Brahman.
Huh, Now let us see the Mahoponoshad verse.
"Eko ha vai nArAyaNa asIt, na Brahma, nEshana"
Only Narayana (saguna) was there, neither Brahma nor Ishana.
Now, who is Ishana.?
Ishana is not Shiva but he is the ruler aspect of Lord Shiva which is “Sun" in the Shiva Nava Murti. (9th is Kumara)..
"tamabravīdīśāno 'sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodādityastadrūpamabhavadādityo vāīśāna ādityo hyasya sarvasyeṣṭe so 'bravīdetāvānvā asmi mā metaḥ paro nāma dhā iti" (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3.17).
Translation: - "He (Prajapati) said to him (Rudra), 'Thou art Îsâna (the Ruler).' And because he gave him that name, the Sun became suchlike, for Îsâna is the Sun, since the Sun rules over this All. He said, 'So great indeed I am: give me no other name after that!'
So, Ishana is just 1/9 th portion of Lord Shiva. (As Kumara is the 9th form).
At the same time Ishana is also the one of the faces of Lord Shiva in 5 faces. So, 1/5th portion of Saguna Kaala.
According to Mahaupanishad itself Ishana is just a part of Shiva.
Mahaupanishad, chapter 6, verse 61 and 62.
शून्यं तत्प्रकृतिर्माया ब्रह्मविज्ञानमित्यपि । शिवः पुरुष ईशानो नित्यमात्मेति कथ्यते ॥ ६१॥ द्वैताद्वैतसमुद्भूतैर्जगन्निर्माणलीलया । परमात्ममयीशक्तिरद्वैतैव विजृम्भते ॥ ६२॥
That Brahman has been (identified with) emptiness (Shunya), Prakriti, Maya and also consciousness. It has also been said to be "Shiva, pure Spirit, (who is also identify with) the Purusha and the Lord Ishana, the eternal and the Self (atman). There flourishes but the non-dual Power that is the supreme Self through and through; it sportively builds up the universe with (factors) born of (both) duality and non-duality.
Thus, it is from Shiva that Ishana and the Self comes to being who is absolutely Nirguna Brahman.
According to Mahabharata, Shanti Parva.: SECTION CCCXLIII.
When that infinite waste of water only exists like Brahman without second, it is neither day nor night. Neither aught nor naught exists; neither manifest nor unmanifest. Then only undifferentiated Brahman existed. When such is the condition of the universe, the foremost of Beings, viz., springs from Tamas, the eternal and immutable Hari that is the combination of the attributes (of omnipotence and the rest), belonging to Narayana,...
So, Mahabharata clearly says that at 1st only nirguna Brahmana was there and from it came Narayana (saguna) and then from him came Ishana, Brahma, etc as told in Mahaupanishad.
Now, who is this Nirguna Parambrahma.? Lets see…
“yadaa.atamastaanna divaa na raatriH na sannachaasachchhiva eva kevalaH | tadaxara.n tat.h saviturvareNyaM praGYaa cha tasmaat.h prasR^itaa puraaNii |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:18).
“When there is complete absence of the darkness of ignorance, then what is experienced is neither day nor night; neither existence or non-existence; only one pure Siva is there; that is indestructible; that is adorable light and god of even Savitar (Sun) also; from that (Shiva) the ancient wisdom proceeded all over the world”.
Shiva Sankalpa Shuktam.:
योऽसौ सर्वेषु वेदेषु पठते ह्यज ईश्वरः । अकायो निर्गुणोऽध्यात्मा तन्मे मनः शिवसंकल्पमस्तु ।। 23
The one that is recited soundless in all the Vedas, that supreme lord (Ishwara), who is incorpeal (nirguna), non-pierceable self (atman), may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.-23
Now, why does this Nirguna Parambrahma Shiva, comes through Narayana and Brahma as Ishana and Rudra etc. Its because everyone is him only and he is identical with every one And everything.
अहं हि भगवानीशः स्वयं ज्योतिः सनातनः । परमात्मार परं ब्रह्म मत्तो ह्यन्यो न विद्यते ॥ ६.५१॥ (Ishvar Gita 6:51).
Meaning: - Know me (Shiva) to be the only Lord Îsâ, and I am Self-illlumining. Know me to be sanAtan (eternal). I am Parmatma and Param-Bramha, and there exist nothing which is not identical to me.
The whole universe, the created beings and whatever there is manifoldly and profusely created in the past and in the present in the form of the world, all that is indeed this Rudra. Salutations be to Rudra who is such. (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10:24:1).
Ishana is the antaryami or the soul of the universe including Narayana also.
एको हि रुद्रो न द्वितीयाय तस्थुर्य इमाँल्लोकानीशत ईशनीभिः।प्रत्यङ् जनास्तिष्ठति सञ्चुकोचान्तकालेसंसृज्य विश्वा भुवनानि गोपाः॥ (Svet. Upa 3.02 and Atharvasiras Upanishad 5.2).
“Rudra is truly One; for the knowers of Brahman do not admit the existence of a second, He is Ishana and he alone rules all the worlds by His powers. He dwells as the inner Self of every living being. After having created all the worlds, He, their Protector, takes them back into Himself at the end of time."
Krishna (Narayana) to Arjuna. (SECTION CCCXLII)
…..I (Narayana) am the Soul, O son of Pandu (Arjuna), of all the worlds, of all the universe. Rudra, again, is my Soul. It is for this that I always adore him. If I do not adore the auspicious and boon-giving Isana nobody would then adore my own self…
Ishana sarvavidyanam 𝗜𝘀𝗵𝘃𝗮𝗿𝗮 sarvabhutanam brahmadhipathi brahmanodhipathi 𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗺𝗮 shivo me asthu sadashiv om ||
Ishana is the source of everything, Ishvara is the indwelling Lord of all, he's the 𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗺𝗮𝗻 he's the Shiva who is the supreme primordial pranava (omkara) as Sadashiva.
Ishana is Pranava (OM).
Before the creation of the universe nothing existed except blissful consciousness omkara, then it emanated into universe and after the destruction of universe 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗮 alone exists and he recreates the universe.
Even Brahma and Vishnu worship that Ishana.
सर्वकरणानि मनसि सम्प्रतिष्ठाप्य ध्यानं विष्णुः प्राणं मनसि सह करणैः सम्प्रतिष्ठाप्य ध्याता रुद्रः प्राणं मनसि सहकरणैर्नादान्ते परमात्मनि सम्प्रतिष्ठाप्य ध्यायीतेशानं प्रध्यायितव्यं सर्वमिदं |(Atharvashika Upanishad 2:1).
“The pranava (the sound of Om) makes all the souls to bow before it. It is the one and only one which has to be meditated upon as the four Vedas and the birth place of all devas. One who meditates like that goes away from all sorrows and fears and gets the power to protect all others who approach him. It is because of this meditation only that Lord Vishnu who is spread every where, wins over all others. It is because Lord Brahma controlled all his organs and meditated upon it, he attained the position of the creator. Even Lord Vishnu , parks his mind in the sound (Om) of the place of Paramathma (ultimate soul) and meditates upon Îsâna. , who is most proper to be worshipped. All this is only proper in case of Îsâna.”.
Lord Shiva as Brahma and Vishnu.
Shiva became VISHNU:
“sá yád dhruvā́ṃ díśam ánu vyácalad víṣṇur bhūtvā́nuvyàcalad virā́jam annādī́ṃ kr̥tvā́ |” (Atharva Veda XV:14:5).
“He (Shiva), when he went away to the stedfast region, went away having become Vishnu and having made Virāj an eater of food”.
Shiva became Brahma Prajapati:
“sá yát prajā́ ánu vyácalat prajā́patir bhūtvā́nuvyàcalat prāṇám annādáṃ kr̥tvā́ |” (Atharva Veda XV:14:11).
“He (Shiva), when he went away to creatures, went away having become Prajāpati (Brahma) and having made vital breath an eater of food”.
Shiva as both father and son of Brahma and Vishnu.
Shiva puran says thus.:
“asādhāraṇakarmā cha sr̥ṣtyādikaraṇātpr̥thak | brahmāṇōpi ṣiraṣchhētā janakastasya tatsutaḥ |121 janakastanayaṣchāpi viṣṇōrapi niyāmakaḥ | bōdhakaṣcha tayōrnityamanugrahakaraḥ |” (Shiva Purana 7:02:31:121-122).
“His (Shiva’s) works are said to be uncanny because he (alone) carries out creation, preservation and destruction. He is the one who cut brahma’s head. He is the father of Brahma as well as his son. Similarly, He is the father of Vishnu as well as his son and he is also the controller of Vishnu. He confers knowledge on these two – Brahma and Vishnu and always showers his grace (upon them)”.
Which is also in sync with vedas.
“sá evá sáṃ bhúvanāny ā́bharat sá evá sáṃ bhúvanāni páry ait pitā́ sánn abhavat putrá eṣāṃ tásmād vái nā́nyát páram asti téjaḥ |” (Atharva Veda 19:53:4).
“He (Rudra) surely did bring hither all the beings (worlds), he surely did encompass all the beings (worlds). Being their father, he became their son; there is, verily, no other force, higher than he”.
Narayana Suktam verse(s) 1.:
*"sahasrashiirshha.n deva.n vishvaaksha.n **vishvashambhuvam.*h | vishva.n naaraayaNa.n devamaksharaM paramaM prabhum.h |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.1.1).
"This universe is the Eternal Being (Narayana), the imperishable, the supreme, the goal, multi-headed and multi-eyed (i.e., omnipresent and omniscient), the resplendent, the source of delight for the whole universe".
Narayana Suktam verse(s) 3.:
*"pati.n vishvasyaatmeshvaram shaashvatam ***shivamachyutam.*h | naaraayaNaM mahaaj~neya.n vishvaatmaanaM paraayaNam.h |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.1.3).
"The lord of the universe and the ruler of individual souls, who is permanent, supremely auspicious and indestructible, who has embodied Himself in man as his support (being the indwelling Spirit), who is supremely worthy of being known by the creatures, who is embodied in the universe and who is the Refuge unfailing".
As, you can see in Narayana Shuktam itself Narayana is called by names such as Vishva-Shambhuvam and Shiva-Achyutam and so on. As we All know Shambhu is the name of lord Rudra and Vishva and Achyutam are the names of Lord Vishnu. See the beauty how its done skillfully here.
Again, The both Nirguna and Saguna forms of Bhagawan Shiva is beautiful explained by Lord Vishnu to Maa Lakshmi in Padma Purana.
śrībhagavānuvāca | māyāmayamidaṃ devi vapurme na tu tātvikam | sṛṣṭisthityopasaṃhārakriyājālopabṛṃhitam || 16 ato’nyadātmanorūpaṃ dvaitādvaitavivarjitam | bhāvābhāvavinirmuktamādyaṃtarahitaṃ priye ||17 śuddhasaṃvitprabhālābhaṃ parānaṃdaikasuṃdaram | rūpamaiśvaramātmaikyagamyaṃ gītāsu kīrtitam ||” (Padma Purana:UK:175:16-18).
“[Lord Vishnu said]: O goddess (Lakshmi), this my body is illusory and not real, and is augmented with the mass of the acts of creation, maintenance and withdrawal. O dear one, the nature of the self is different form this. It is without duality and unity. It is free from existence and non-existence; and without beginning or end. It is pure consciousness, has acquired luster, is beautiful due to great joy, is the form of the Ishvara (Shiva), can be known only through the unity with the self, and this is what is told in the Gita”.
“īśvara uvāca | śriyaḥ śrutvā vacoyuktamitihāsapuraḥsaram | ātmānugāminīṃ dṛṣṭiṃ gītāṃ bodhitavānprabhuḥ ||20 ahamātmā pareśāni parāparavibhedataḥ | dvidhā tataḥ paraḥ sākṣī nirguṇo niṣkalaḥ śivaḥ ||21 aparaḥ paṃcavaktro’haṃ dvidhā tasyāpi saṃsthitiḥ | śabdārthabhedato vācyo yathātmāhaṃ maheśvaraḥ ||22 gītānāṃ vākyarūpeṇa yannirucchidyate dṛḍhaḥ | madīyapāśabaṃdho’yaṃ saṃsāraviṣayātmakaḥ ||23 yadābhyāsaparādhīnau paṃcavaktramaheśvarau | iti tasya vacaḥ śrutvā gītāsāramahodadheḥ ||24 idaṃ paravibhedena budhyate bhavabhīrubhiḥ | tamapṛcchadidaṃ lakṣmīraṃgapratyaṃgasaṃsthitam ||25 māhātmyaṃ setihāsaṃ ca sarvaṃ tasyai nyavedayat |26a” (Padma Purana:UK:175:20-26a).
“[Lord Shiva (Ishwara) said]: Having heard the proper words of Lakshmi, the lord told her the Gita, the vision leading one towards the self, along with an historical account. “O great lordess, I am the ‘self’ differentiated in two ways, – as higher and lower. The higher is a witness, attributeless, partless, Shiva. As the lower one, I am ‘panchavaktra (of five faces)’ it also remains in two forms. I, Maheshvara, am the self, am to be explained through the distinction in words and meanings, as, through the words of the Gita, my strong noose of the nature of objects in the worldly existence, is completely cut off; since (realization of my two forms) ‘Panchavaktra’ and ‘Maheshvara’, are dependent on its study“. Hearing these words of him (which were) the great ocean of essence of the Gita, those afraid of the worldly existence know it through the difference between this and that. Lakshmi asked thus to him. He told her about the Mahatmayam (greatness) along with the corresponding historical accounts (stories) in its major and minor details.”.
“śṛṇu suśroṇi vakṣyāmi gītāsu sthitimātmanaḥ ||26 vaktrāṇi paṃca jānīhi paṃcādhyāyānanukramāt | daśādhyāyā bhujāścaika udaraṃ dvau padāṃbuje ||27 evamaṣṭādaśādhyāyā vāṅmayī mūrtiraiśvarī | vijñeyā jñānamātreṇa mahāpātakanāśinī ||28 atodhyāyaṃ tadardhaṃ vā ślokamarddhaṃ tadardhakam | abhyasyati sumedhā yaḥ suśarmeva samucyate ||” (Padma Purana:UK:175:26b-29).
“[Lord Vishnu said]: O you, beautiful lady, I’ll tell you about my firm existence in the Gita. The five chapters are the five faces in order. The (next) ten chapters are the (ten) hands; one is the belly, and the (remaining) two are the lotus like feets. Thus the eighteen chapters are the divine forms of words. It, destroying great sins, should be known through knowledge only. Therefore, he, the very intelligent one, who studies a chapter, or half of it, or a verse of a half-verse is liberated like ‘Susharma’”.*
Now, why gita's 18 chapters are the body parts of Bhagawan Shiva, you can understand clearly by reading this answer of mine.
So, Lord Shiva is everything iN Advaita form.
Conclusion.: Nirguna Shiva ---> Saguna Narayana (Shakti) ---> Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Indra, etc.
I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..
Is there any Vedic verse that explicitly says Brahma and Shiva did not exist before creation?
Here is a partial answer. Yes, the Brihadaranyaka upanishad 1.4.11 mentions that Rudra (Shiva) was created by brahman, implying that Rudra did not exist before creation.
brahma va idamagra āsīdekameva; tadekaṃ sanna vyabhavat | tacchreyorūpamatyasṛjata kṣatram, yānyetāni devatrā kṣatrāṇi—indro varuṇaḥ somo rudraḥ parjanyo yamo mṛityurīśāna iti | tasmātkṣatrātparaṃ nasti; tasmātbrāhmaṇaḥ kṣatriyamadhastādupāste rājasūye, kṣatra eva tadyaśo dadhāti; saiṣā kṣatrasya yoniryadbrahma | tasmādyadyapi rājā paramatām gacchati brahmaivāntata upaniśrayati svām yonim; ya u enaṃ hinasti svāṃ sa yonimṛcchati, sa pāpīyān bhavati, yathā sreyāṃsaṃ hiṃsitvā || 11 ||
- In the beginning this (the Kṣatriya and other castes) was indeed Brahman, one only. Being one, he did not flourish. He specially projected an excellent form, the Kṣatriya—those who are Kṣatriyas among the gods: Indra, Varuṇa, the moon, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Death, and Iśāna. Therefore there is none higher than the Kṣatriya. Hence the Brāhmaṇa worships the Kṣatriya from a lower position in the Rājasūya sacrifice. He imparts that glory to the Kṣatriya. The Brāhmaṇa is the source of the Kṣatriya. Therefore, although the king attains supremacy (in the sacrifice), at the end of it he resorts to the Brāhmaṇa, his source. He who slights the Brahmaṇa, strikes at his own source. He becomes more wicked, as one is by slighting one’s superior.
That the above verse is talking of creation of Rudra (and not one of the Rudras) can be inferred by the subsequent verse that mentions creation of Rudras.
sa naiva vyabhavat, sa viśamasṛjata, yānyetāni devajātāni gaṇaśa ākhyāyante—vasavo rudrā ādityā viśvedevā maruta iti || 12 ||
- Yet he did not flourish. He projected the Vaiśya—those species of gods who are designated in groups: The Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Viśvadevas and Maruts.