Great one among the demigods; Best of gods
The Superexcellent Power of Krishna
Long, long ago, there was an assembly of great sages on the bank of the
river Sarasvati who performed a great sacrifice of the name Satra. In such assemblies, the great sages present usually discuss Vedic subject matters and philosophical topics, and in this particular meeting the following question was raised: The three predominating deities of this material world, namely,
Shiva are directing all the affairs of this cosmos, but who among them is the Supreme? After much discussion on this question, the great sage named
Bhrighu, the son of Lord Brahma, was deputed to test all three predominating deities and report to the assembly as to who is the greatest.
Being thus deputed, the great sage Bhrigu Muni first of all went to his father’s residence in
Brahmaloka. The three deities are the controllers of the three material qualities, namely the qualities of
ignorance. The plan decided upon by the sages was for Bhrigu to test which one of the predominating deities possesses the quality of goodness in full. Therefore, when Bhrigu Muni reached his father, Lord Brahma, because Bhrigu wanted to test whether Brahma had the quality of goodness, he purposely did not offer his respects to his father, either by offering obeisances or by offering prayers.
It is the duty of a son or a disciple to offer respects and recite suitable prayers when he approaches his father or spiritual master. But Bhrigu Muni purposely failed to offer respects, just to see Lord Brahma’s reaction to this negligence. Lord Brahma was very angry at his son’s impudence, and he showed signs which definitely proved this to be so. He was even prepared to condemn Bhrigu by cursing him, but because Bhrigu was his son, Lord Brahma controlled his anger with his great intelligence. This means that although the quality of passion was prominent in Lord Brahma, he had the power to control it.
After testing Lord Brahma, Bhrigu Muni went directly to the
Mount Kailasa, where Lord Shiva resides. Bhrigu Muni happened to be Lord Shiva’s brother. Therefore, as soon as Bhrigu Muni approached, Lord Shiva was very glad and personally rose to embrace him. But when Lord Shiva approached, Bhrigu Muni refused to embrace him. “My dear brother,” he said, “you are always very impure. Because you smear your body with ashes, you are not very clean. Please do not touch me.” When Bhrigu Muni refused to embrace his brother, saying that Lord Shiva was impure, the latter became very angry with him.
It is said that an offense can be committed either with the body, with the mind or by speech. Bhrigu Muni’s first offense, committed toward Lord Brahma, was an offense with the mind. His second offense, committed toward Lord Shiva by insulting him, criticizing him for unclean habits, was an offense by speech.
Because the quality of ignorance is prominent in Lord Shiva, when he heard Bhrigu’s insult his eyes immediately became red with anger. With uncontrollable rage, he took up his trident and prepared to kill Bhrigu Muni. At that time Lord Shiva’s wife,
Parvati, was present. Her personality, like Lord Shiva’s, is a mixture of the three qualities, and therefore she is called Trigunamayi. In this case, she saved the situation by evoking Lord Shiva’s quality of goodness. She fell down at the feet of her husband, and with her sweet words she talked him out of killing Bhrigu Muni.
After being saved from the anger of Lord Shiva, Bhrigu Muni went directly to the planet
Svetadvipa, where Lord Vishnu was lying on a bed of flowers in the company of His wife, the goddess of fortune, who was engaged in massaging His lotus feet. There Bhrigu Muni purposely committed the greatest sin by offending Lord Vishnu by his bodily activities. So Bhrigu Muni committed the greatest offense by kicking the chest of the Lord with his foot in the presence of the goddess of fortune. This was certainly a great offense, but Lord Vishnu is so great that He did not care.
Instead of being angry or cursing Bhrigu Muni, Lord Vishnu immediately got up from His bed along with His wife, the goddess of fortune, and offered respectful obeisances to the brahmana. He addressed Bhrigu Muni as follows: “My dear brahmana, I am very sorry that when you first entered My home I could not receive you properly. It was a great offense on My part, and I beg you to pardon Me. O great sage, I know that your feet are very soft, like a lotus flower, and that My chest is as hard as a thunderbolt. I am therefore afraid that you may have felt some pain by kicking My chest. Let Me touch your feet to relieve the pain you have suffered.” Lord Vishnu then began to massage the feet of Bhrigu Muni.
After testing Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, Bhrigu Muni returned to the assembly of great sages on the bank of the river Sarasvati and described his experience. After hearing him with great attention, the sages concluded that of all the predominating deities, Lord Vishnu is certainly the greatest. One’s greatness has to be estimated by one’s ability to tolerate provoking situations. The sages gathered on the bank of the river Sarasvati concluded that one who wants actual peace and freedom from all fear should take shelter of the lotus feet of Vishnu. Since Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva lost their peaceful attitude upon a slight provocation, how can they maintain the peace and tranquillity of their devotees? As for Lord Vishnu, however, it is stated in the
Bhagavad-gita that anyone who accepts Lord Vishnu or Lord Shri Krishna as the supreme friend attains the highest perfection of peaceful life.
Thus all the sages who assembled on the bank of the river Sarasvati to try to determine who the supreme predominating deity is became freed from all doubts about Vishnu worship. All of them thereafter engaged in devotional service, and thus they achieved the desired result and went back to