Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Both, because there is no difference between the two. That which is Shiva is Krishna, and the same thing is God and everything else. They are no two, there is only one.
There was a Rishi (sage) who believed that Lord Krishna (Hari) and Lord Shiva (Hara) were different. And some people would chant only ‘Hari’ and some people would chant only ‘Hara’. So what Lord did, he showed the saint a vision of himself in which he was half Hari (Krishna) and half Hara (Shiva), and told him that there is no difference between Hari and Hara. They are no different from each other.
In this same way, some people feel that Shakti and Shiva are different. There was a great sage, Rishi Bhringi who also believed this. He was one of those who thought of the masculine form to be superior to the feminine form.
In many religions, women have not been given their rightful place. They are treated as second class and the men are treated to be superior.
So, Rishi Bhringi used to worship Lord Shiva and he would disregard the female aspect. He would not worship Shakti. So then God thought that he should be taught the right knowledge. Sometimes even the most righteous persons go astray. They are good but they hold wrong perceptions; their intellect is clouded.
So to bring the right knowledge to Rishi Bhringi, God showed him a form in which he is both man and woman; half Shiva and half Shakti (Ardhanarishvara).
After seeing this, Rishi Bhringi did pradakshina (circumambulation) around the form of Shiva and Shakti. He could not just worship or go around the half that was Shiva as he was seeing both the forms in one. So he had to go around both and worship Shakti.
A woman should be given the same respect as a man is given. We must not discriminate between a man and a woman. What we keep speaking of even today, Woman Empowerment, this has been discussed hundreds of years back in this country. So in the Ardhanarishvara form, God gave this knowledge to Rishi Bhringi.
The word Bhringi means – like a bumblebee. The devotion to God constantly resonated in the heart of Rishi Bhringi, like the constant buzzing sound that a bumblebee makes. Just like a bumblebee goes to every flower to collect only nectar, so also Rishi Bhringi would see and collect only Shiva Tattva in each and every person. In the entire world, Rishi Bhringi would seek and collect only the Shiva Tattva. Such a great devotee he was. But just because he did not respect women as much, God corrected him by showing his form as both male and female.
This is mythology or maybe it is real; but the essence is that this is how he came to know that Hari and Hara are not different.
Krishna was a great person in history. But Shiva was never born, that is why he is called Swayambhu. He was never born.
In Islam also, they say Allah was never born and the same thing is said for Shiva. He appeared or manifested by Himself. He is the ruler of time and so death cannot touch Him. The same thing is said in Sikhism also that God is beyond time – Ek Onkar Satnam Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akal Murat.
All religions have spoken of the same tattva and this is what Lord Krishna has said in the Gita.
‘Avajananti Mam Mudha Manusim Tanum Asritam; Param Bhavam Ajananto Mama Bhuta-Maheshvaram.’
Fools think of me as this body. Not knowing that transcendental nature of mine, people think I am just a human body and mind. The foolish ones are not able to recognize it. I am in a human body but the consciousness inside me is that supreme consciousness, O Arjuna! You should see only that Divine element in Me.
That is why it is also said that do not see human intelligence or psyche in God because the way you see it, that is how it will appear to you. If you think of a statue as just a stone, then it will only appear to you as a stone. But if you see the Divinity in the statue then you will find God there as well.
So in the same way, in every person if we see the element of Divinity and love then we will see the oneness in everybody around us, for they have come from the same God. Manushya Budhhi(human intelligence) means seeing only the limited external form, whereas we should see the Divine pervading everywhere and in everyone.