Lord Shiva, The Benevolent Benefactor – Gauranga Darshan Das
Noble people work not only for their benefit but for others’ welfare too. As genuine well-wishers of all, they selflessly extend themselves to serve others. They even sacrifice their own comforts for others’ benefit. The best example of such a benevolent benefactor of the world is Lord Shiva. The following story is a testimony for Shiva’s divine benevolence.
Once the devatas and the demons churned the milk ocean to produce nectar (amrita). They made Mandara mountain as the churning rod, and Vasuki serpent as the churning rope and enthusiastically began their churning. Finally the first product of the churning appeared. That was an extremely dangerous poison called halahala. This toxic substance began spreading in all directions in the universe. Feeling unsheltered, everyone grew fearful! With no help in sight, the devatas decided to approach Lord Shiva for shelter.
Soon, all the devatas reached the pristine mountain Kailasha where Lord Shiva was seated with his wife, Bhavani, only for the prosperity of the universe. The devatas then requested Lord Shiva, “O Lord, please save us from this fiery poison. O Mahadeva! We have come to you for your shelter because we know that you can easily destroy this poison. You are very powerful and benevolent.”
Glorifying his qualities, the devatas continued, “At the time of destruction, you turn the entire universe into ashes just by the sparks of fire emanating from your eye. On the other hand, your presence brings flourishing happiness to everyone. Even Brahma cannot estimate your greatness. Mature people worship you and appreciate your great character. But shameless fools criticize you and your wanderings in the crematorium.”
Selfless devotees can’t bear the sufferings of others but take up hardships to relieve others from difficulties. Seeing the universe aggrieving due to the poison, Lord Shiva became very compassionate. He spoke to his wife, “O Bhavani! Just see how the people have been placed into great danger due to this poison. It is my duty to protect them. Even though conditioned souls fight with each other in animosity, devotees, even at risk of their lives, save them. Lord Visnu will be very pleased when someone extends themselves for others’ welfare. Therefore, let me drink this poison for the sake of all living beings.”
sadhavah prayaso janah
paramaradhanam tad dhi
Great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Lord, who is present in everyone’s heart. (8.7.44)
Fully aware of Lord Shiva’s powers, Bhavani immediately agreed with his proposal. Then, powerful Shiva took every drop of the widespread poison into his palm and effortlessly drank it. That deadly beverage created a blue line on his neck, which he accepted as his ornament. This extraordinary act of selflessness by Lord Shiva won the hearts of all great personalities, including all the devatas and even Lord Visnu.
When we also imbibe the quality of benevolence and attempt to benefit others to the best of our ability, we shall naturally become dear to the Lord’s heart. We may not be able to mirror Lord Shiva’s selflessness and benevolence at once, but by drawing inspiration from him, we can surely begin cultivating selflessness in the soil of our hearts.