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My spiritual journey:

I was not a firm believer for the better part of my life. The lure of science (especially physics (my career) and the theory of evolution) led me to stray off of my somewhat religious upbringing. This resulted in me living a rather selfish and sinful life (like eating eggs and being super-lustful) as I never understood that God watches all. This further led to my ultimate downfall, my academics suffered and I am now left struggling for a job. I went on psych meds due to severe depression and anxiety for almost a year and then finally gave them up owing to their destructive side effects. Needless to say, my parents are extremely dissatisfied with me, both due to my having been irreligious and irresponsible.

I had to sit down one day and deeply contemplate the reason for my misery. This led me to meditation. I started with Sam Harris's meditation app and eventually got into exploring Buddhism. While I was getting some benefits from meditation, my curiosity into the nature of mind and reality deepened leading me to Advaita Vedanta (especially Ramana Maharshi's teachings). I was still godless at this point, but I learnt eventually from Advaita that there is Ishvara which led me to Shiva Bhakti. At this point I was deeply religious as well as spiritual. I was reading all the Hindu spiritual texts I could get my hands on, leading me to the Bhagavad Gita.

The Confusion:

I was born in the Dvaita/Madhva Sect and naturally I got into reading Vaishnava interpretations of the Gita. Note that I was deeply devoted to Lord Shiva at this point and had regarded Him as the Ultimate Truth. But the Vaishnava texts contradicted my sentiments and sent me down a whirlpool of confusion, fear, guilt and deep agony over worshipping the right deity. I found myself switching multiple times between the Isht Devatas (Shiva or Krishna) and a sense of deep fear over upsetting one while worshipping the other. The scriptures themselves haven't settled this matter. On one hand, they speak of no difference between the two (Hari Hara Abhedaha), while on the other, they place one above the other (Shiva by Shaivas and Krishna/Vishnu by Vaishnavas) claiming one to be a devotee of the other. The great sage Vyas himself has written both Shrimad Bhagavatam and Shiva Purana eulogizing Krishna and Shiva respectively as the Ultimate God.

I have to say that I am personally drawn to worshipping Shiva out of a mysterious sense of causeless love. Simply looking at His form inspires devotion in me. I also admit that I am quite attracted to His being quickly pleased with devotion and being impartial and accepting of all beings, devas and asuras , as claimed by His Bhaktas. This resonates with me because before my realization, I was a rather sinful person and I have always had a firm belief in compassion for all. But I then tend to think that since my birth was in the Madhva sect, my duty would be to worship Vishnu/Krishna. This is further reinforced in the Gita with "Sarva Dharman Parityajya Mamekam Sharanam Vraja...." shloka. I deeply fear getting punished by Lord Govinda and being denied Mukti on account of having worshipped a "demi-god" as claimed by the revered Vaishnavas.

Kindly advise me on how I could get out of this spiritual predicament as I also need some energy to take care of survival and worldly matters. Thanks.

4 Answers 4

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Can Shiva Grant Moksha?


In the Mahabharata Anushasana Parva there is a discourse on Yoga by Shiva:-

At the end he says;

https://sa.wikisource.org/s/3bh

महेश्वर उवाच।

सायुज्यानां विशिष्टं च मामकं वैष्णवं तथा।

मां प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते विष्णु वा शुभलोचने।।

One attains me (Shiva) or Vishnu and never returns to samsara.

In the Mahabharata, Ashvamedha parvan, there is a dialogue between Krishna and Yudhishthira on the ‘vaishnava dharma shāstra’:

https://sanskritdocuments.org/mirrors/mahabharata/mbhK/unic/mbhK14_sa.html

प्रविशेत्स महातेजा मां वा शङ्करमेव वा | न स्यात्पुनर्भवो राजन्नात्र कार्या विचारणा ||१४-१०३-११७ (९५९६८)

The person who performs severe austerities, vrata-s, stated herein, and gives himself up in devotion to My (Vishnu’s) form or to the form of Rudra-Dakshināmūrti attains to Me (Krishna) or Shiva and never returns to samsara. There is no doubt at all in this.

Thus we have both Hari and Hara making the same statement: - Attaining to either of them Leads to Moksha.

The Scriptures also mention devotees who worshipped Shiva and Got liberated.

स्तुत्वैवं शंकुकर्णोऽपि भगवंतं कपर्दिनम् । पपात दंडवद्भूमौ प्रोच्चरन्प्रणवं परम् ४५।

तत्क्षणात्परमं लिंगं प्रादुर्भूतं शिवात्मकम् । ज्ञानमानंदमत्यंतं कोटिज्वालाग्निसन्निभम् ४६।

शंकुकर्णोऽथ मुक्तात्मा तदात्मा सर्वगोऽमलः । निलिल्ये विमले लिंगे तदद्भुतमिवाभवत् ४७।

45-47. Thus having praised the revered Kapardin, Śaṅkukarṇa also prostrated himself on the ground and uttered the highest (syllable) Om. At that moment only the great Linga of Śiva appeared there. It was knowledge, joy, and very much like the fire having a crore of flames. Śaṅkukarṇa’s soul was liberated. His pure soul moved everywhere. It merged into that pure Linga. (Thus) a great wonder took place.

~ पद्मपुराणम्/खण्डः ३ (स्वर्गखण्डः)/अध्यायः ३५ || कूर्मपुराणम्-पूर्वभागः/त्रयस्त्रिंशत्तमोऽध्यायः

Causless Love Vs Moksha Fixation


It must be Added that True and Pure devotees of Shiva do not care about liberation or mukti at all. All they care about is to have unflinching Bhakti for their lord.

See the words of Maharsi Nandisvara, One of the Greatest Shiva Bhaktas, when Lord Shiva Offered to Give Him any boon be it the position of Devas such as Indra or Brahma, Lordship, Ashta siddhis or even Liberation.

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~ Varaha Purana, Chapter 213

See the Words of The Great Shaiva Sage Upamanyu in the Mahabharata.

अपि कीटः पतङ्गो वा भवेयं शङ्कराज्ञया। न तु शक्र त्वया दत्तं त्रैलोक्यमपि कामये॥ 13-45-170

Hey Śakra (indra), I will become either kīṭaḥ (insect) or pataṅgaḥ (A flying bird) with the order of Śaṅkaraḥ (शङ्कराज्ञः), but I don’t desire even if you offer trailōkyam (3 worlds)

श्वाऽपि महेश्वरवचनाद्भवामि स हि नः परः कामः। त्रिदशगणराज्यमपि खलु नेच्छाम्यमहेश्वराज्ञप्तम्॥ 13-45-171

With the words of mahēśvaraḥ I’ll become a dog if he desires, I don’t desire any bigger than that. In such a way, I don’t desire what mahēśvaraḥ hasn’t ordered for me (for my life)

न नाकपृष्ठं न च देवराज्यं न ब्रह्मलोकं न च निष्कलत्वम्। न सर्वकामानखिलान्वृणोमि हरस्य दासत्वमहं वृणोमि॥ 13-45-172

I don’t want svargaḥ, cities, brahma-lōkaḥ, or even the highest (निर्गुणब्रह्मप्राप्तिः / अद्वैतमोक्षः i.e., निष्कलत्वम्), I reject (I don’t choose) all the desires, I only desire being a hara-dāsaḥ (Servant of Shiva)

~ महाभारतम्-13-अनुशासनपर्व-045 - विकिस्रोतः

So If Being A Shiva Bhakta is your Goal, You Should emulate the path of the greatest Shiva Bhaktas as mentioned in the scriptures and not care about anything else other than being devoted to your lord. Liberation is Insignificant for a selfless Bhakta, For them only devotion to their Ishta matters.

As Sri Nilakantha Dikshitar too says in is Ananda Sagara Stava while doing Stuti for Devi.

nāhaṁ sahē tava kathāśravaṇāntarāyam nāhaṁ sahē tava padārcanavicyutiṁ vā | mōkṣaṁ diśaitadaviruddhamidam na cētsyā- nnaivāstu mātarapavarga-mahōpsargaḥ ||

Amba! Mīnākṣi, daughter of Pāṇḍya Bhūpāla, the one whose gaze is sweeter than sweetness, I am told by many that mōkṣa is the goal. Everyone seems to be doing something to achieve this mōkṣa! As for me, I cannot withstand for a minute, not listening to your divine līlā viśēṣa. I cannot bear for a second, separation from the worship of your lotus feet! If this “mōkṣa” that people so desire is something that does not disturb either of these, then give it to me! Else, I do not care for that apavarga which is actually upasarga (misfortune or a great disease)!

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Bhagavan Krishna says this in Mahabharata Shanti Parva

He who knows Rudra knows myself, and he who knows myself knows Rudra. He who follows Rudra follows me, Rudra is Narayana. Both are one; and one is displayed in two different forms. Rudra and Narayana, forming one person, pervade all displayed things and cause them to act.

Worshipping either Bhagavan Krishna or Bhagavan Shiva as the Supreme God, will lead to the same result - moksha. (assuming they are worshipped for the purpose of moksha).

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Those who worship demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance.

Śrī Īśopaniṣad Mantra 12

Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the impersonal Absolute.


Vishnu worship is the religion of Gods while Shiva Worship is the religion of Daityas and Rakshasas.

Vaman Purana 11.15-16,26

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Gods other than Vishnu should not be worshipped

You alone are the lord of brāhmaṇas. No other god is respectable. O Puruṣottama, those who worship any other god than you, have become impious, and are censured by all the world. You, Janārdana, are alone fit to be worshipped by brāhmaṇas, well-versed in the Vedas. None else among the gods is ever venerable. Brahmā, Rudra and others, mixed with rajas and tamas are not fit to be worshipped. You, having pure sattva, are fit to be worshipped by brāhmaṇas. The water (flowing) from your feet should be resorted to by manes, gods, and all brāhmaṇas. It gives salvation, and destroys sins. Manes, gods, brāhmaṇas should take what is left over after you have eaten, and not what is left over after others have eaten. The food, flowers, so also water of (i.e. offered to) other gods, would all be unfit to be touched. It is useless like liquor. Therefore, a wise brāhmaṇa should constantly worship you, the eternal one, everyday and should take water of (i.e. sanctified by) you and food eaten by you.

65-68. A brāhmaṇa should not see another god; should not worship him. He should not partake of another god’s favour; should not enter the sanctuary of any other (god). (If) a man does not give in this world the food and holy water enjoyed by you in the rite of śrāddha offered to his ancestors, all that would be fruitless. His dead ancestors fall into (and live in) the hell of pus and blood for thousands of crores of kalpas and hundreds of crores of kalpas.

Padma Purana Uttarakhanda Ch 255


Shiva is the God of Tamas Guna. Since Shiva is composed of the Hymns of Sama Veda, The sounds of Sama Veda are impure.

Markandeya Purana 99.19

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Hindi Translation-

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The Vicious ones worship Shiva as the highest God Which leads to their downfall.

The lord said: O Rudra, O you of mighty arms, O you best god, for deluding the enemies of gods prepare a course of conduct to be followed by heretics. Narrate to them the dark Purāṇas (i.e. Purāṇas that will take them astray). O you very intelligent one, also fashion confusing holy texts. There will be brāhmaṇas and great sages who have given themselves away to me. 26-33. Approaching them through devotion for me, tell the vicious ones: Kaṇāda, Gautama, Śakti, Upamanyu, Jaimini, Kapila, Durvāsas, Mṛkaṇḍu, Bṛhaspati, Bhārgava and Jāmadagnya are the ten (?) vicious sages. Desiring to do the good of the world, approach them with your power of suggestion (bhāvaśakti?). By your power increased in viciousness infused into them they will be vicious in a moment. There is no doubt about it. Those brāhmaṇas with greater viciousness caused by you, will narrate the vicious Purāṇas and doctrines in the three worlds. O god, you yourself, wearing the marks like a skull, hide, ash, bones, fully delude the people in the three worlds. So also you, Śiva, prepare the Pāśupata order with its divisions like Kaṅkāla, Śaiva, Pāṣaṇḍa and Mahāśaiva; so also properly prepare the doctrine having no particular marks and outside the Vedic fold. All the mean men will wear ash, bones etc. and will be insensible. The vicious ones will describe you as the highest (god).

34-36a. Taking to their doctrine all the ancient demons will be averse to me in a moment. There is no doubt (about it).O very powerful Rudra, in my incarnations I too shall worship you in every age to delude the vicious ones. Having upheld this doctrine, they will undoubtedly fall.

Padmapurana Uttara khanda Chapter 235


Worshippers of Shiva will descend to the standard of atheism and be considered heretics due to the curse of Bhrigu muni.

By blaspheming the principles of the Vedas, which are the pure and supreme path of the saintly persons, certainly you followers of Bhūtapati, Lord Śiva, will descend to the standard of atheism without a doubt.

Srimad Bhagavatam 4.2.32

Thus repudiated by him the (sage) of a great penance remained there, at the door of the great lord, for many days. “Since he, arrogant due to the company of a woman, thinks lightly of me, he shall have the form of clitoris. Approached (i.e. overcome) by vice he slights me, a brāhmaṇa! Reduced to an impious state, he will not be adored by brāhmaṇas. Therefore, all the food, water, flowers and oblations offered to him will undoubtedly be useless.” 35-40. The very lustrous one, having thus cursed Śaṃkara honoured by the world, said to the very fierce attendant, Nan-din, holding a spear, O king: “May Śiva’s devotees, having ash, phallus and bones be impious and out of the Vedic fold.”

Padma Purana Uttara Khanda Ch 255


Shaiva puranas lead to hell.

18-22a. Know from me that Mātsya, Kaurma, Laiṅga, Saiva, so also Skānda and Āgneya are tāmasa (vicious). O you of an auspicious appearance, the Purāṇas, viz. Vaiṣṇava, Nāradīya, so also the auspicious Bhagavata, similarly Gāruḍa, Pādma, Vārāha should be known to be sāttvika (or virtuous). Know from me that Brahmāṇḍa, Brahmavaivarta, Mārkaṇḍeya, Bhaviṣya, Vāmana and Brāhma are rājasa (endowed with the quality of passion). The sattvika ones are said to give salvation and are always auspicious. Similarly, O goddess, the tāmasa are said to be the cause of (i.e. lead one to) hell.

Padma purana Uttarakhanda Ch 236


Those Brahmanas who eat food offered to Lord Shiva will be roasted in hellfire.

98-101. Therefore, brāhmaṇas should always eat the remnants of the food offered to Viṣṇu. The remnants (of food offered to other gods) are useless and (therefore) condemned. A brāhmaṇa, weak in knowledge, who even once eats the remnants of food etc. offered to Śaṅkara etc., would certainly be a cāṇḍāla. For thousands of crores of kalpas he is roasted in the fire in hell. O best brāhmaṇas, the remnants of offerings to gods like Rudra, are said to be equal to food offered to demons, yakṣas, goblins and like liquor and flesh. Brāhmaṇas should not eat that food, the offering enjoyed by (these) gods.

Padma Purana Uttarakhanda Chapter 255

Even Shakta Upapurana Devi Purana says Shiva's prasadam is not fit for consumption,only Vishnu's Is.One who consumes Shiva's prasad Faces Vishnu's wrath. Shiva's prasad becomes fit for consumption only when purified by touching it with a Shalgram Shila of Vishnu.

Devi Purana Chapter 81 enter image description here


Those Who Worship Brahma, Shiva etc. undergo great hardhips, calamities and foul diseases like Leprosy or Fistula. Hence, not even in adverse circumstances, Shiva should be worshipped.

Garuda Purana III.1.27-28

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Those who condemn the worshippers of False Gods (i.e Gods Other than Vishnu) are truly Good people.

These mantras are thus explained in the Kūrma Purāṇa:—“Undoubtedly the worshippers of other deities than Viṣṇu go to blinding darkness, but undoubtedly to greater darkness they go who do not censure and condemn such persons (and fail to??????????? their mistakes). Therefore those, who know the Lord Narayana, in His true form as free from all evils and who also condemn the worshippers of false deities, are truly the good people.

Kurma Purana, Quoted in Madhvacharya's Commentary on Isopanishad Mantra 11


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Lord Krishna himself is the Atman of Shiva. Therefore worshipping Shiva is the same as worshipping Lord Krishna -

He destroyed Daksha’s sacrifice and uprooted Bhaga’s eyes. O Pandaveya! From one yuga to another yuga, know that Narayana is always present in his atman. O Partha! Therefore, if Maheshvara, the god of the gods, is worshipped, that is the same thing as the lord god, Narayana, being worshipped. O descendant of the Pandu lineage! I am the atman of all the worlds. Therefore, I single-mindedly worship Rudra as my own self. If Ishana Shiva, the granter of boons, is not worshipped, then I think of that as my own self not being worshipped. The worlds follow my ordinances. Those ordinances must be honoured and I also honour them. A person who knows him, knows me. There is no other god that Vishnu bows down before, with the exception of Rudra, who is my own self. Therefore, I worship him.

Chapter 1656(328), Moksha Dharma Parva, Mahabharata.

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