The greatest of the deities16

Once the sages wanted to know who among the great deities — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — was the greatest. They debated and debated. Finally they appointed Bhrigu to settle the matter. Bhrigu visited Shiva’s place, but he was not allowed to enter because Shiva and his consort were having a serious discussion. Bhrigu got mad and said, “Shiva, you are always like this. Your very nature is to be disrespectful. You do not honour anybody. You are careless and callous. I curse you. No good person will ever love you or adore you, not to speak of worship you. You are so bad.”

Then Bhrigu went to visit Brahma. Brahma was listening to the discourses of the great intellectuals. The intellectuals were appreciating and admiring Brahma’s capacities. He was so engulfed in his own importance that he paid no attention to Bhrigu’s presence. Bhrigu became furious and said, “Brahma, I never knew that you were so undivine. You don’t care for guests. A guest is nothing short of God Himself. I curse you! Now nobody desiring salvation will come to you. You are so undivine. Only bad people, intellectual people, clever people, will come to you. Sincere seekers will not come to you.”

Then Bhrigu went to Vishnu. Vishnu was fast asleep. He heard the sound of Bhrigu’s arrival, but did not pay any attention. He continued to enjoy his sleep. Bhrigu said to himself, “Here is the worst!” and he kicked Vishnu very hard. Vishnu did not become annoyed at all. In fact, he apologized at once for not being ready to receive the sage. He said, “O sage, I am sorry, I am sorry. Forgive me. I am sure you are deeply hurt because you have kicked me. I feel sorry, extremely sorry, sincerely sorry. Please forgive me. I hope that you are not injured. I am so proud that a holy man has kicked me. You are really a holy man and I deserved your kick.”

Bhrigu said, “You are truly virtuous and humble. Because of your humility, not only will all human beings worship you, but the cosmic gods will also worship you. You are great, greater, greatest. Undoubtedly, you are greater than Shiva and Brahma.”

GIM 156. 8 February 1979