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There are multiple stories about the origin of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The Shrimad Bhagvatam states that Shiva emerged from a burning tower when Lord Vishnu and Brahma had an argument. The Shiva Purana states that lord Vishnu originated when lord Shiva rubbed some nectar on his ankle.The Vishnu Purana says that lord Shiva originated from the eyebrows of the lord Vishnu, and that is why lord Shiva is mostly in the meditative state.
Though it seems that there are multiple stories and hence, confusion about the origins of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, but, actually all the stories are true.
There are broadly two reasons for this confusion:-
One is that we do not account for the fact that the Hindu system of time is not linear but cylical in nature!
Second being that every deity has a formless (nir-gun or without attributes and characteristics) and Physical form (Sagun with a form and attributes).
As per Hindu belief there is only one supreme God-Parambramh, he has no form or attributes. His physical form is Sadashiv or Maheshwar. Shakti originated from it is Maa Durga/ Ambika/ Prakriti.
It is from Sadashiv and Prakriti that Lord Bramha, Vishnu and Rudra are originated or born.
All three Lords are ever present in their esoteric form, but, they get manifested in different physical worlds in different ways at different times.
As per Shiv Puran after each cycle of creation and destruction the three Lords manifest in different ways. Sometimes it may start with Lord Vishnu, sometimes with Lord Brahma and sometimes with Lord Shiva, sometimes, even differently.
After the latest destruction, Bramha ji came out of a Lotus which grew out of Lord Vishnu’s Navel ( now the real esoteric meaning of this story is totally different) and Lord Rudra came out of Lord Bramha’s forehead or eyebrow.
But, it is also written that before this ‘birth’ of Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma, all three had met each other where the events to follow were known. (The story where Lord Shiva appears in form of infinite tower of energy and then there are more times when they meet before Lord Bramha starts creating Universe). It was during one such time that Lord Brahma requested Lord Rudra to be born in the physical universe through him, and therefore, the stories of Lord Rudra coming out of Lord Bramha’s eyebrow/tear.
But there’s another aspect of this concept.
Birth exists only in the material world. Soul has no birth and death according to Bhāgavad-Gita. Where does the earth start from? or where does a circle start from? As long as one sees the concepts about Brahman to be linear, nothing makes sense. Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu existed as Cosmic Consciousness even before the concept of “existence”.
So, Who was the First Hindu God Born?
To be honest, it depends on what belief system in Hinduism you follow. Shiva Purāna attributes that at first Ardhanarishvara came into being from whose bifurcation came to being Shiva and Shakti. From Shiva’s left body came Vishnu and from Vishnu came Brahma.
Vishnu Purāna attributes Vishnu first came to being and then from his navel sprout a lotus bearing Brahma in it and from his left body came Shiva.
Shakti/Devi Pūran attributes Bhuvaneshwaridevi first came to being from whom the three gods were born.
In reality, Vishnu and Mahesh are one God – He is eternal, the Brahman.
Three devas are the three gunas of Brahman.
- Sattwa = Preservation = Vishnu.
- Tamas = Destruction = Shiva.
Preservation and destruction will be needed if something is created. If nothing is created there is nothing to preserve or destroy. So when the creation occur, there should be a Vishnu or Shiva to either preserve or destroy the things which are created/creating. So here their existence come almost together or within a fraction of time. But hence Brahma is the creator/creation, Shiva or Vishnu should be created by Brahma only. So Brahma came first.
But to create something, there is a need for “maintaining” a suitable environment for the creation. If you want to make a cup of tea, the milk, sugar and tea powder should remain as it is for the tea to taste good. While making, if the milk turns into curd, or if the sugar turns into carbon means, you are not making tea, you are making something else. So we can say that creation or Brahma will come to existence when Vishnu (act of preserving) is there. But when Vishnu came into existence, then there itself happened a “creation”. So Who came first Brahma or Vishnu?
But when creation occurs, energy and matters are converted from one state to another state. Because you cannot create something out of nothing. So destruction happens first, then creation. When there is destruction, then there is no protection. So Shiva was there even before Vishnu or Brahma. But when Shiva came to existence, there itself happened a creation, and preservation too. So who came first? Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva?
This is a paradox.
People will tell Brahma came first, not Shiva neither Vishnu.
Some people will tell Vishnu came to existence, first.
Another sect will tell Shiva came first.
Some other people will tell Shakti came first, because energy is needed for the above three processes.
But the truth is that all these depend on one another, and cannot exist independently. So this togetherness is called Brahman. He is never created, never existed, or never destroyed. In Hinduism, Brahman (/ˈbrɑːmən/; Sanskrit: ब्रह्मन् brahman) is “the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world”, which “cannot be exactly defined”.
But hence these are qualities, there will be a state where no qualities too. There are matters without any qualities (dissolved qualities), and often qualities are coined with matters or beings. Qualities of metal cannot be explained if there is no metal. Qualities/ attributes of Star cannot be explained if there is no star. So each matters and have their own qualities (Gunas).
Note:- Lord Shiva came to existence when Tamas — the quality needed for the process of destruction/dissolving — came to existence.
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