Canto 4: Creation of the Fourth OrderChapter 4: Satī Quits Her Body

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.4.16

kiḿ śivākhyam aśivaḿ na vidus tvad anye

brahmādayas tam avakīrya jaṭāḥ śmaśāne

tan-mālya-bhasma-nṛkapāly avasat piśācair

ye mūrdhabhir dadhati tac-caraṇāvasṛṣṭam


kim — whether; śiva-ākhyam — named Śiva; aśivam — inauspicious; na viduḥdo not know; tvat anye — other than you; brahma-ādayaḥBrahmā and others; tam — him (Lord Śiva); avakīrya — scattered; jaṭāḥ — having twisted hair; śmaśānein the crematorium; tat-mālya-bhasma-nṛ-kapālī — who is garlanded with human skulls and smeared with ashes; avasat — associated; piśācaiḥ — with demons; ye — who; mūrdhabhiḥ — with the head; dadhati — place; tat-caraṇa-avasṛṣṭam — fallen from his lotus feet.


Do you think that greater, more respectable personalities than you, such as Lord Brahmā, do not know this inauspicious person who goes under the name Lord Śiva? He associates with the demons in the crematorium, his locks of hair are scattered all over his body, he is garlanded with human skulls and smeared with ashes from the crematorium, but in spite of all these inauspicious qualities, great personalities like Brahmā honor him by accepting the flowers offered to his lotus feet and placing them with great respect on their heads.


It is useless to condemn a great personality like Lord Śiva, and this is being stated by his wife, Satī, to establish the supremacy of her husband. First she said, "You call Lord Śiva inauspicious because he associates with demons in crematoriums, covers his body with the ashes of the dead, and garlands himself with the skulls of human beings. You have shown so many defects, but you do not know that his position is always transcendental. Although he appears inauspicious, why do personalities like Brahmā respect the dust of his lotus feet and place on their heads with great respect those very garlands which are condemned by you?" Since Satī was a chaste woman and the wife of Lord Śiva, it was her duty to establish the elevated position of Lord Śiva, not only by sentiment but by facts. Lord Śiva is not an ordinary living entity. This is the conclusion of Vedic scripture. He is neither on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead nor on the level of the ordinary living entities. Brahmā is in almost all cases an ordinary living entity. Sometimes, when there is no ordinary living entity available, the post of Brahmā is occupied by an expansion of Lord Viṣṇu, but generally this post is occupied by a greatly pious living entity within this universe. Thus Lord Śiva's position is constitutionally higher than that of Lord Brahmā, although Lord Śiva appeared as the son of Brahmā. Here it is mentioned that even personalities like Brahmā accept the so-called inauspicious flowers and the dust of the lotus feet of Lord Śiva. Great sages like Marīci, Atri, Bhṛgu and the others among the nine great sages who are descendants of Brahmā also respect Lord Śiva in such a way because they all know that Lord Śiva is not an ordinary living entity.

In many Purāṇas it is sometimes asserted that a demigod is elevated to such a high position that he is almost on an equal level with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the conclusion that Lord Viṣṇu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead is confirmed in every scripture. Lord Śiva is described in the Brahma-saḿhitā to be like curd or yogurt. Curd is not different from milk. Since milk is transformed into curd, in one sense curd is also milk. Similarly, Lord Śiva is in one sense the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but in another sense he is not, just as curd is milk although we have to distinguish between the two. These descriptions are in the Vedic literature. Whenever we find that a demigod occupies a position apparently more elevated than that of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is just to draw the devotee's attention to that particular demigod. It is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.25) that if one wants to worship a particular demigod, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is sitting in everyone's heart, gives one greater and greater attachment for that demigod so that one may be elevated to the demigod's abode. Yānti deva-vratā devān. By worshiping demigods one can elevate himself to the abodes of the demigods; similarly, by worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead one can be elevated to the spiritual kingdom. This is stated in different places in Vedic literature. Here Lord Śiva is praised by Satī, partially due to her personal respect for Lord Śiva, since he is her husband, and partially due to his exalted position, which exceeds that of ordinary living entities, even Lord Brahmā.

The position of Lord Śiva is accepted by Lord Brahmā, so Dakṣa, Satī's father, should also recognize him. That was the point of Satī's statement. She did not actually come to her father's house to participate in the function, although before coming she pleaded with her husband that she wanted to see her sisters and her mother. That was a plea only, for actually at heart she maintained the idea that she would convince her father, Dakṣa, that it was useless to continue being envious of Lord Śiva. That was her main purpose. When she was unable to convince her father, she gave up the body he had given her, as will be seen in the following verses.

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