Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maha Shivrathri

Maha Shivratri - a Festival of awakening, devotion and meditation

Shiva is the God of Meditation and destruction. Meditation, also brings about destruction of that, which is unnecessary. The negativity that attacks our consciousness have to be destroyed, so that the new, the bliss, the awakening within, Shiva tatva replaces those negative tendencies. It can be said, the destruction of destructive forces.

here are certain days on which the awakening force is more. As there are those days, there are places charged with spiritual energies where the meditation becomes spontaneous. Where one finds oneself filled with awakening energies and the disturbing elements like anger, lust, possessiveness, jealousy and insecurities, cannot find it easy to attack one’s chit (consciousness).

Ratri means the night. So Shivratri is the night of meditation. The night when the grace of Lord Shiva is maximum. The awakening force, Shiva tatva is with vigor. It is very easy to feel Lord Shiva’s grace and get soaked in that energy, deep in meditation. Maha means great, and Maha Shivratri is the great night of Shiva. The greatest among all Shivaratri.

In 2011, the date of Shivaratri is March 2. In Panchangs and Hindu calendars followed in United States, United Kingdom (Britain) and Canada, Shivratri is marked on March 2. Mahashivratri in Australia is marked on March 3. This holy night of Shiva is observed on the night before ‘amavasya’ in the Hindu month of Phalgun (February – March) as per traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India. The corresponding period in other regions is the night before Magh Amavasya.

It  is auspicious day celebrated widely in India. Please read bellow compiled article about Mahashivaratri. This will give you good insight into know abouts and how to celebrate shivaratri. This has deep connection to our daily life. Todays day is special for reflecting on our own self, celebration, happiness and meditation.

Mahashivaratri Festival or the ‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.

Legends of Mahashivratri

There are various interesting legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.

Traditions and Customs of Shivaratri

Various traditions and customs related to Shivaratri Festival are dutifully followed by the worshippers of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe strict fast in honor of Shiva, though many go on a diet of fruits and milk some do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. While married women pray for the well being of their husbands unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband.
To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc.

On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. Every three hours priests perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where large number of devotees spend the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by partaking prasad offered to the deity.

Knowledge about Mahashivaratri from Sri Sri Ravishakar


Shiva is not any person sitting in some hill, kailas hill, he is not that. What does Kailas mean? Kailas – ‘Las’ means what, where there is celebration, happiness. Where there is a festive atmosphere. Where there is frolicsomeness / intoxication. Where there is celebration and only celebration. That is Kailas. Vaikunth is where there is nothing short. Kunth – is shortage. Vaikunth is where there is shortage of nothing. Where there is only celebration that is kailas. So, Shiv ji is seated in such kailas. Aatma only is Shiva.

If you meditate on shivaratri then the power of meditation is 100 times more, it is said like that. At least do it on that day, it’s okay if you don’t do it on other days, at least do it one day. It’s said for the sake of saying. So that which is always(nitya) and which is (shashwat), that is shiva tattva. It’s said beautiful in that shloka:
Shivaratri is the day of Lord Shiva. Shiva is the lord of meditation and therefore the lord of awakening. Shiva Tatva means to be awakened. Shivratri is thus an occasion to awaken one’s self from all sorts of slumber. Shivaratri is not a night to be slept over. One should try and be up through the night. It signifies being aware of everything you have and being grateful about it. Be grateful for the happiness which leads to growth, and also for sadness which gives a depth to life. This is the right way of observing Shivaratri.

For the pious, the following method of Shiva worship is advisable – sit down in lotus posture, do some Pranayam to stabilize your breath, then indulge in Dhyana, followed by chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is the greatest mantra and the devout should drown himself in its Kirtan. Shivaratri worship leads to fulfillment of a devotee’s wishes.

There are certain days and time frames in a year that enhance one’s mental and spiritual faculties. In such times, whatever one wishes, materializes. Shivaratri is one such day. All this is very scientific. Going to temples on this day is OK but you should remember that Shiva is everywhere.

The meaning of Kailasa (legendary abode of Shiva in Himalayas) is celebration. So where there is happiness and celebration, Shiva is present. Whether in Sanyasa or Sansara, you can’t escape Shiva. Feeling his presence all the time is the essence of Shivaratri. That is the real Sanyasa. No worship is complete without offering something to the deity. Shiva is a very simple lord, he is innocent – Bholanath. One just needs to offer bel-patra to him. But in this simplicity is a deep message. Bel-patra offerings signify the surrender of all three aspects of one’s nature -Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. You have to surrender the positives and negatives of your life to Shiva and become carefree! The greatest offering is your self. To offer one’s self is the key to happiness in life. After all, why do you get sad? It is mainly because you are not able to achieve something in life. At such times you should surrender everything to the all knowing God. The greatest power is in surrender to the divine. It’s like a drop owning the ocean. If a drop remains separate, it will perish. But when it becomes the ocean, it is eternal!

Your true nature is Shiva. And Shiva is peace, infinity, beauty and the non-dual One. Ratri means “to take refuge.” Shivaratri is taking refuge in Shiva.

Shivam, Shantam, Advaitam: Shiva means your very Self your innermost core, the purest Self. Shanta is quiet, peaceful, very innocent. Advaita is non-dual, only One. So, Shiva means good, benevolent, Ratri means that which gives rest, takes you into its lap and comfort. Night is always comforting, all activities have stopped, everything is quiet, peaceful, environment becomes quiet, body gets tired, goes to sleep. Shivaratri — a rest which is so deep. When the mind rests with the Divine, that is the real rest, only in the Divine lap.

Any meditation we do on this day has a manifold effect, for this is the day when spirit touches the earth.
The first sound when creation manifested was Om. The second sound was So Hum. The third sound was Om Namah Shivaya.

By chanting Om Namah Shivaya, it is said that one gets rid of all the sins. Even if one has never chanted the Om Namah Shivaya mantra, it is worth just listening to it and soaking in it. It is called Mantra Snanam (bathing in Mantra). It elevates the consciousness.


Q: Guruji (Sri Sri), please tell something about shiva tattva and what is the importance of mahashivaratri?

A: Shiva tattva is something that is total, complete. If you see Shiv ji then, he is sitting in meditation, immersed in meditation and also doing tandav. You won’t find this completeness in any other form or gods and goddesses. He is sitting in meditation, peacefully and also doing dance, shiva-tandav. There is innocence and he is having the knowledge of three lokas (trilok gyani), he is a guru also. He is a beggar as well as eshwar, master of everyone. Is it possible that one can be both – master of everybody and beggar at the same time. We can find this in only Shiva tattva. That’s why he is called ‘Har’ – (jo har ek mein hain) one who is there in each and everyone. (jo har jage hota hain woh har hain) – one who is present in every place. Har means everything. Who is pervading every place, who is there in everyone, in all forms.

It’s said in the Upanishad:

“Shivam shantam, advaitam, chaturtam, mannyante sa aatma sa vigyeya.” Shiva is, shanta – which is quite, advait – which is non-dual, there is no other of it; chaturth – which is the fourth state – it’s not awake, nor dreaming or nor sleeping (sushupti). It’s not sleep, not dream nor awakened state. That which is beyond these three is called “Shiva avastha”. When you are in meditation, you are in what state? Tell me. Are you awake? You are not sleeping and you are not dreaming also. But there is something pleasant. That fourth state is called shiva avastha, shiva tattva. Shivam, shantam, advaitam, chaturtam, fourth state, it’s auspicious state; manyante sa atma sa vigyeya – that is atma and you are that, we have to get known to it, it’s the only thing to be known. After knowing that, then you say – “Shivoham Shivoham”. The person who says “aham aham” that is “me, me”, when that person melts after going inside him, then he stops saying ‘I, I’ and says “Shivoham Shivoham”. So I am Shiva. Shiva is me. The ever new existence (satta) of the consciousness that is shiva satta. You start experiencing that. After experiencing also, you should sit quite. It’s not that once you experience shiva tattva, then you should start roaming with a trishul. Then you have some mental problem. Keep the experience in your heart, keep it there only. With your own mind if you start saying shivoham shivoham, put bhasma and start roaming around by putting a snake around your neck and holding a trishul – no. The significance of snake is, that it is the wakeful state. Shiv ji is sitting with eyes closed. One may feel he is sleeping. No. How is he from inside – like a snake, wakeful, the consciousness is wakeful, fully awake. The snake gives the message of wakeful consciousness.

And some days, some special days, the experience of shiva tattva is very easy. Like on purnima and amavasya, the mood of mind fluctuates as the moon waxes or wanes. Does it happen or not. It’s said that the mental diseases increase during purnima and amavsya in mental hospitals. So in the same way, on pradosh, or Mondays the wakeful state of Shiva tattva is more, it is said like that, it’s a recognition. If you meditate on shivaratri then the power of meditation is 100 times more, it is said like that. At least do it on that day, it’s okay if you don’t do it on other days, at least do it one day. It’s said for the sake of saying. So that which is always(nitya) and which is (shashwat), that is shiva tattva. It’s said beautiful in that shloka:

“Namami shamishaan nirvana rupam, vibhum vyapakam brahma veda swaroopam.”

Which is in the form of veda, means in form of knowledge; vibhum vyapakam – that is all pervading. So it is said it is nija also, nirgun also, sagun also, all gunas are there in it, everything is there. After saying this then they say “you can’t describe it, now keep quiet. How much will you talk? How much will you describe?” “Chidakasham akasha vasi…” That ‘chid’ chaitanya also, how is it? It’s not a flame or not any object also. It’s the chidakash, it’s the sky. It’s pervading all the chidakash. It’s the form of chidakash. Akashvat. That’s why shivji is always painted blue in picture. It’s not that he was blue colour, it means blue like the sky. And moon on the head, and how is the jata like whole digambar all the digmandal is the jata. There, moon is also inside him. Everything is inside him. So all the ghosts, dead, devil, everything was included in his gana. Nothing was left out of him. It’s not possible also. They say that Shivaji’s procession. All types of people are there. So in this world, there are all types of people, all belong to that supreme soul. There is no one else here. It’s said “Sarvam shivamayam jagat”. This whole world is Shivamaya.

The soul of Krishna is Shiva. When shiva tattva took the form of body and became Krishna. That’s why it is said that, when the Gita was given, Shivaji had given. Means, staying in Shiva tattva, Krishna had given the message of Gita. That time he didn’t give Gita while doing raas-leela. He didn’t give it while playing, but that time being in his own self, in his vishwa rupa he gave. So there’s not a little bit of difference between Shiva and Krishna. The difference is imaginary. Krishna was a historical personality. Shiva tattva – Shiva never came on this earth. But Krisha came, stayed and then went. That’s the difference. In Krishna, shiva tattva took a physical body and in shiva tattva there is no body.

Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are called vibhutis, so if there is no person here, then what is the relation?

Shakti hai vyakti nahin. These are three forms of omkar. That’s why it is said ‘Ek Omkar’. Everything comes in one omkar. Three different qualities of one parmatma are called as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. In our body there is place of Brahma – below abdomen, Vishnu – middle portion, Mahesh – head region. The reproductive organs are situated in stomach and below. From the naval to throat – is the place of Vishnu, all organs for sustaining the body and Shiva tattva is above on the head. Any devastation, destruction happens by head only. And also any transformation happens by head only. The strength (shakti) of shiva is called as Devi shakti. Shiva tattva can’t stay without shakti

 Ref: Hindu Blog

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