The Tree of Knowledge
The Essence of
Mahashivratri – When the Shiva principle descends to Earth a thousand times more than usual. On this day, to obtain the full benefit of Lord Shiva’s principle, one should chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ as much as possible. Shivratri is the time when Shiva takes a rest. Shiva rests for one ‘prahar’ (three hours) of the night. This ‘prahar’ is referred to as the Shivratri. When Lord Shiva rests, the function of ‘Shivtatva’ (Shiva Principle) ceases, i.e. Lord Shiva goes into a meditative state. Shiva’s meditative state is the time when He is engrossed in His own spiritual practice.Shiva is not any person sitting on some hill, or Kailas Parvat, 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 nothing is short. Kunth – is shortage. Vaikunth is where there is shortage of nothing. Where there is only celebration, that is Kailas. So, Shivji is seated in such kailas. Aatma only is Shiva.
If you meditate on shivaratri then the power of meditation is 100 times greater, it is said. 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. So that which is always (nitya) and which is (shashwat), that is shiva tattva. It is said beautifully 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 oneself from all sorts of slumber. Shivaratri is not a night to be slept through. One should try and stay up through the night. It signifies being aware of everything you have and being grateful about it. Be grateful for the happiness that leads to growth, and also for sadness that 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 timeframes 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 means 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.
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