Lord Shiva is one of the most intimate devotees of the Supreme Lord, and he is non-different from the Lord. All glories to the exalted devotee and deliverer of the fallen souls, Lord Shiva, who constantly chants the holy name of the Lord from his five mouths, and who wonders about in crematoriums, smearing ashes all over his body.
In the beginning, when Brahma was engaged in the act of creation, Shiva made his appearance and loudly cried. As a result of his crying (rodana), again and again, he was given the name Rudra. He is entrusted with the responsibility of destroying the material creation. He annihilates the whole creation within a second in his formidable form of Rudra
yet, at the same time, he is the supreme benefactor of all living entities.
Since time immemorial, Lord Shiva has been mercifully converting many fallen living entities into devotees of Sri Krsna. By his mercy, many living entities have attained liberation from material bondage. If anyone takes shelter at his lotus feet, Lord Shiva helps him develop attachment for worshiping the lotus feet of It is his practice to always
chant the holy namesof and Rāma.However, he is very strict in his dealingwith the nondevotees, and those who are envious of the Supreme Lord and His devotees.
Once upon a time, on the banks of the River Sarasvati, there was a great debate among the assembly of sages as to who is the greatest lord of all. Some of them said that Brahmā is the greatest, some said that Shiva is the greatest, and some say that Vishnu is the greatest. In order to remove their doubts, the sages at last decided to send Bhrgu Muni to find
out conclusively who among the three is actually supreme.
Bhrgu first went to his father, Brahmā, and did not show him any respect. This made Brahmā very angry. Out of fear of being cursed, Bhrgu left that place and next, went to see Shiva at Kailasa. There also, he did not display any respect for his elder brother, Mahādeva. Feeling insulted, Mahādeva angrily picked up his trident and chased Bhrgu, who
had to run away to safety. From there, Bhrgu went to Vaikunta, where he forcefully kicked Lord Narayana apon the chest, right in front of Laksmi, who was engaged in serving the lotus feet of Her Lord.
Despite being kicked in the chest, the Supreme Lord showed great respect for the great brahmana and devotee, Bhvgu. Indeed, the Lord not only greeted him with respect, but also begged pardon for any offense He might have committed. The Lord begged pardon for causing pain to the feet of Bhvgu, saying that His chest is very hard.
Bhvgu became greatly embarrassed by this behavior of the Lord. He condemned himself for daring to kick the chest of the Lord. He repeatedly begged forgiveness from the Lord for his offense. Thereafter, he returned to the banks of the River Sarasvati. When the assembled sages heard about the entire incident from Bhrgu, they concluded that among Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva ; Lord Visnu is the Supreme Lord of all lords. They described Brahma as the predominating deity of the mode of passion, Shiva as the predominating deity of the mode of ignorance, and Vishnu as the predominating deity of the mode of goodness. Lord Shiva is thus one of the guna-avataras.