Amongst Hindu Gods , Lord Shiva is most mystic . If His worshippers ( called "Shaivites " ) adore Him as ultimate God , Vaishnavas ( believers in Lord Rama / Krishna / Vishnuji ) think He is wisdom-personified and rever Him as their Eternal Guru. On the third front , Tantriks consider Him as husband of Goddess Kali who is mother of all mystic powers in the Universe . She , as mother Parvati , has 2 most illustrious sons viz. Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya and Lord Shiva is the family head.
Out of 18 holy scriptures , "Shivpuraan" is solely in praise of Lord Shiva. According to it ,Shiva means 'all-auspicious', and wherever there is the mercy of Lord Shiva, auspiciousness and religiousness prevails. Even though Lord Shiva appears to be in the association of ghosts and demons, His actual transcendental position is that He is very kind to individuals who are in the darkness of the mode of ignorance. He is so compassionate on the lowest of the low, that He gives such individuals shelter and gradually elevates them to spiritual understanding. This is the explanation of Lord Shiva's transcendental position according to authoritative Vedic literature.
In the creation of the Supreme Lord there are different kinds of living beings, who exercise their minute amount of free will in different modes. Lord Vishnu takes charge of the persons in the mode of goodness, who are advanced Vaishanavas or Krishna -bhaav . Lord Brahma takes charge of those who are very much attached to material activities and are in the mode of passion. Lord Shiva is so kind that he takes charge of persons who are in the lower modes.
Lord Shiva as a truly self realized Mahatman , is the epitome of compassion towards other living entities. An example of this can be seen in His agreeing to consume the lethal poison 'halahal' that surfaced during the great churning of the causal ocean by the demons and the demigods. Out of concern for the plight of the demons and the demigods, He scooped the entire poison in His hand, drank it and by His great mystic powers held it in His throat. So powerful was the poison, that it turned His throat blue, giving Him the name 'Neelakanta' (blue-throated).
Lord Shiva is so magnanimous that He grants His followers what ever they desire. One of His names is 'Ashutosh' or one who is easily pleased. Once a devotee of Lord Shiva, Vrikrasura requested for an unusual benediction from Lord Shiva, that whomever he would touch, that person's head would fall off. Even though Lord Shiva knew that such a benediction was not good, He considered the devotee's good quality and that he had worshipped Him, and granted him the benediction. Later Vrikrasura tried to touch Lord Shiva's head and was tricked by Lord Vishnu into touching his own head. But this reflects the attitude of Lord Shiva. If a devotee has a good quality, he magnifies it and ignores the bad qualities. He is the most beloved personality, he is universal.
All Vedic literature describe Lord Shiva as the agent of destruction. When annihilation is due in the cyclical course of time, it is Lord Shiva who is the personal destroyer of all the world systems. And until that time Lord Shiva willingly serves as the master of the most fallen souls, so that they can be gradually elevated to the Kingdom of God.
Even though Lord Shiva deals with the most fallen, he is always transcendental to the mode of ignorance. People given to falsehood, consume liquor and intoxicants under the guise that they are devotees of Lord Shiva. However all the teachings of Lord Shiva given in the various Puranas is aimed at devotional service. In the Vaishanava Purana it is stated that Shambhu (Shiva) is the greatest Vaishanava. In the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva himself declares that one should take to the devotional service of the Supreme Lord. Of the four authorized Vaishanava disciplic successions. one emanates from Lord Shiva himself and is referred to as the Rudra Sampradaya.
Perhaps an immature devotee can never understand true nature of Lord Shiva . His story is akin to KAKBHUSHUNDIJI of Ramayana who had to bear curse of Guru for such short-sightedness. Thus Goswami Tulsidassji had to declare that both are Lords ( Shivji & Ramji ) and as a true Role-model to their (respective ) devotees , they rever each other so much that they call Him his Guru !!! Such mutual respect & harmony is difficult to find anywhere else in this world .
Like Ramayana, Srimad Bhagwatam also endorses this beautiful relationship between the duo.When Lord Krishna takes birth, Lord Shiva goes to Gokul for a glimpse of child -Krishna ( just like to Ayodhya when Ramji took incarnation ) . In MAHAARAAS , Shivji takes form of Gopi to enjoy the Divine Bliss. Actually before Raas , Gopis worship Goddess Katyayini ( another name of Parvatiji , divine consort of Lord Shiva ) for blessings . In Raam-avtaar , Sitaji worshipped Parvatiji for the AKHAND SUHAAG ( the divine , ever consort Lord Rama ) . And so & so on.........
Thus it's not surprising that all Vaishanavas rever Shivji very much. Let us take case of Saint Ushaji , great devotee of Lord Krishna & permanent resident of SRI VRINDAVAN DHAM (mathura)
Once , out of simple curiousity , I asked her who is your Guru ? Without a hitch , she said "Lord Shiva " . She went on to add that He is , actually , the Guru of all Vaishnavas and with His blessings , one can get all knowledge & wisdom. The biography of another (living ) Saint of Braj Baba Manohardassji also mentions his worship of Lord Shiva before Darshan of Lord Krishna . For further reading , Srimad Bhagvatam Cantos 4, 8 and10 & Sri Ramcharimanas ( Baalkaand & Uttarkand ) is suggested to readers.