This thing came to my mind after reading a commentary on the nArAyaNIyam of bhaTTathiri.
The statements such as these(that shiva is superior to hari or vice versa,or statements like hari is subordinate/stories verses claiming that vaiShNava nAmas/mantras,etc are the sole means to liberation in this yuga should be seen as arthavAda). And what is this purpose of the arthavAda?To stimulate single minded upAsanA of that deity(similar are the functions of paurANika kathAs that glorify a deity at the cost of other deities/by putting down other deities)
Now there are three types of arthavAda that are known in shAstra. They are:
- bhutArthavAda:Wherin the existing/real attributes are stated in an exaggerated manner. E.g:Statements like ‘this medicine’s efficacy can revive even a dead man’ are only meant to drive home the point that this medicine is really,very good.
- guNavAda:Narrating attributes that are not/may not be really present,but might be feasible E.g:Statements like ‘Have a salt restricted diet for prevention of heart disease‘
- viruddhavAda:To narrate imaginary attributes that are neither present by nature,and are contradictory to valid pramANas,and are illogical.Therefore statements in purANas like ‘goptA viShNu tamomUrtiH vyApAreNa tu sAttvikaH’,’tadadhIno harI sAkShAt’,(viShNu is saturated with tamoguna but sAttvika by action),(viShNu is the servant of hari),then similar statements regarding bhagavatI have been made only to evoke greater interest in devotion to shiva or bhagavatI amongst their respective literature. Or iconography showing shiva as a corpse ridden by tArA or dakShinakAlikA could also fall in that same category:As a feature of mantrashAstra meant to increase the focus on devI primarily and to emphasize her primacy in their scheme of things.
A similar analogy from mimAMsashAstra can be made regarding the statements on when to perform agnihotra:’udite juhoti’ and ‘anudite juhoti’. In the discussion on the importance of the pre-sunrise period,the post-sunrise period has been censured,and similarly during the discussion on the post-sunrise period,the pre-sunrise period has been condemned. One on the basis of this should not stop performing the ritual or perform it only once a day or vice versa,as it would result in the dosha of contrariness,let alone the dosha of not performing nityakarma. Hence,the conclusion of the shAstraj~nas has been that both have to be performed(as per the instructions received in the perceptorial line of ritualists),and it is not that one performs the sacrifice only once a day and condemns the ones who do it at other times too as inferior. Similarly by this logic the putting up of a deity(sometimes even at the cost of others) does not really mean denigration of other devatAs.