Thursday, 27 February 2014

Maha Shivaratri

   Maha Shivaratri is a festival celebrated on reverence to Lord Shiva. It is celebrated on Krishna Paksha Chaturdhasi on the 13th night or 14th day of Maagha or Phalguna. On this day it was believed that, Nishita kala is the time Lord shiva appeared on Earth in the form of Linga. Hence Lingodbhava puja is performed on this time and is considered as most auspicious.


According to Hindu mythology, Mahashivratri is Lord Shiva's favourite day. Devotees on this day remain on fast or perform hour long spiritual meditation by following rituals to commemorate Mahashivratri and be blessed with grace.




There are many legends associated with this festival day.Among them few are below:

1. Marriage of Mighty lord shiva and Shakti took place.

Story: The legend of marriage of Shiva and Shakti is one the most important legends related to the festival of Mahashivaratri. The story tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. According to legend of Shiva and Shakti, the day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivaratri - the Night of Lord Shiva.



Please follow the link written by me for the entire story of Sati who sacrifices her life on the insult of her father Daksh and how another incarnation Parvathy marries Lord Shiva:





2. Samudra Mathanam.

Story:This very popular Shivaratri legend from Puranas explains why people stay awake all night on Shivaratri. Besides, it also tells us why Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha.



                Due to the curse of Durvasa Maharshi, Devas lost their battle with Asuras which is led by Bali Chakravarthy.Devas sought help from Lord Vishnu who advised them to treat asuras in a diplomatic manner. Devas formed an alliance with asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among them. Lord Vishu told Devas that we would arrange that they alone obtain the nectar.
During the churning of ocean Mount Mandara was used as churning rod and Vasuki, the King of Serpents, became the churning rope. Lord Vishnu himself had to intercede in so many ways to aid the Devas. All kinds of herbs were cast into the ocean and many great beings and objects were produced from the ocean and were divided between asuras and gods. It is said that following things emerged from the Samudra Manthan:
  • Sura or Varuni - Goddess and creator of wine
  • Apsaras - various divine nymphs
  • Kaustubha - a rare diamond said to be the most valuable jewel in the world
  • Uchhaishravas - the divine white horse
  • Kalpavriksha - the wish-granting tree
  • Kamadhenu - the wish fulfilling cow
  • Airavata - the white elephant
  • Lakshmi - the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth. Vishnu and Her were reunited after having been separated for many ages.


During the Sagar Manthan by the gods and demons, haalaa-hala, a pot of poison also came out of the ocean. This terrified the Gods and demons as the poison was so toxic that it effects would have wiped out the entire creation. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, Gods approached Lord Shiva for help and protection as only he could swallow it without being affected. On the request of gods and out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank the poison. However, Parvati - Lord Shiva’s consort pressed his neck so that the poison does not reach his stomach. Thus, it stayed in his throat neither going up nor going down and Shiva remained unharmed. The poison was so potent that it changed the color of Lord Mahadeva’s neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelakantha (the blue-necked one) where ‘Neela’ means blue and ‘Kantha’ means neck or throat.




As part of the therapy, doctors advised gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. Thus, Gods kept a vigil in contemplation of Lord Shiva. To amuse Shiva and to keep him awake, the gods took turn performing various dances and playing music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all. Shivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world. Since then, on this day and night - devotees fast, keep vigil, sing glories of Lord and meditate.

And at last Amrita came out of the Milk ocean on Churning and more dramatic situations occurred later. 


3. Shiva appeared in form of Linga on Earth.

Story: According to Puranas, once the other two of the triads of Hindu Gods, Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over each other’s prowess. Horrified at the intensity of the battle, the other gods asked Shiva to intervene. To make them realize the futility of their fight, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a flaming Linga in between Brahma and Vishnu and challenged both of them by asking them to measure the gigantic Linga (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva). 

Awestruck by its magnitude, Brahma and Vishnu decided to find one end each to establish supremacy over the other. Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards while Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Varaha - a boar and went into the earth towards nether land. Both searched for thousands of miles but neither could find the end.

On his journey upward, Brahma came across Ketaki flower. Exhausted and bewildered with his search to find the uppermost limit of fiery column, Brahma made Ketaki assent to lie that he had seen the top of the column where the flower had previously resided. Accompanied by his accomplice, Brahma confronted Vishnu and asserted that he had indeed discovered the origin of the cosmic column.




At this point, the central part of the pillar split open and Shiva revealed himself in his full glory. Overawed, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him accepted lord Shiva’s supremacy. Lord Shiva also explained to Brahma and Vishnu that both of them were born out of him and that the three were then separated out into three different aspects of divinity.



However, Lord Shiva was angry with Brahma for making a false claim. The Lord cursed Brahma that no one would ever pray to him. (This legend explains why there is hardly any Brahma temple of significance in India.) Lord Shiva also punished the Ketaki flower for testifying falsely and banned her from being used as an offering for any worship.


Since it was on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna that Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga, the day is extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva. To celebrate the occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva fast during the day and pray to the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping of Lord Shiva on Shivaratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity.


4. Ganga's descent from the heavens to earth.

Story: Goddess Ganga has descent from heavens to earth for purifying the sins of the ancestors of King Bhagiratha on this day.



Detailed story is written by me under Bhagiratha Prayatnam, please follow the link for same: 



5. Marks the night when Lord performs "Shiva Tandava", the cosmic dance.

Lord Shiva is also known as Nataraj, the Dancing God. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva and his divine consort Goddess Parvati. The dance performed by Lord Shiva is known as Tandava. Shiva’s Tandava is a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. Tandava depicts his violent nature as the destroyer of the universe.


According to scholars, ‘Characteristics of the Tandava Dance’ have been described in the fourth chapter of Bharat Muni’s Nata Shastra, which is referred to as fifth Veda and an expression of Lord Shiva’s eternal dance - Tandava. It says that Shiva’s Tandava is embellished with 108 karanas and the 32 anghaharas - the composite parts of the dance. Bharat Muni further says that Lord Shiva conceived the dance, as he was very much fond of dancing every evening. Shiva further mentioned that 108 karnas included in tandava could be employed in the course of dance, fight, and personal combats and in other special movements like strolling.



Some scholars believe that there are seven different types of Tandava. The tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and that which is performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava. The other types of tandava identified are Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Samara Tandava, Kaali Tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava. However, there are few people who believe that there are 16 types of Tandava.



According to religious scholars, the cosmic dance of Shiva, called 'Anandatandava,' meaning, ‘the Dance of Bliss’ symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy - creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion. 



According to learned scholar, Coomerswamy, the dance of Shiva also represents his five activities namely,

  • 'Shrishti' - creation, evolution
  • 'Sthiti' - preservation, support
  • 'Samhara' - destruction, evolution
  • 'Tirobhava' - illusion
  • 'Anugraha' - release, emancipation, grace
The overall temper of the image is paradoxical, uniting the inner tranquillity, and outside activity of Shiva. 

Jyotirlinga

Shivaratri is considered as the most auspicious celebration at all the twelve Jyotirlingas- Kedarnath, Nageshwar, Ghushmeshwar, Vaidyanath, Vishwanath, Omkareshwar, Mahakaleshwar, Somnath, Triambkeshwar, Bhimashankar, Mallikarjunaswamy and Rameshwaram.


Rituals:

          Devotees pray god in context to Shiva puran. In fact Lord shiva is considered as the god of primitive world. Hence the rituals are just not like the other gods. There are no restrictions upon the entrance of temple for anyone. Devotees use holy ash to their foreheads in three horizontal stripes symbolizing spiritual knowledge, purity,penance and also it is believed that the three eyes of Lord are represented by it.



1. Abhishekam is performed to Shiv Linga with water, milk and honey.
2. Lord is prayed with apple, bel leaves.
3. Vermilion paste is applied to the Shiv Linga after Abhishekam
4. Offerings are done to lord and it is believed that lord accepts anything as offering from devotees even the        FLESH- From the story of Bhaktha Kanappa.
5. Burning incense for yielding wealth.
6. Lighting of lamp for the attainment of knowledge.
7. Beetel  leaves are used to pray the lord.

MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA:

The mantra which every devotee hymns is Maha Mrityunjay Mantra from the Sukla Yajurveda Samhita:

oṁ hrauṁ jūṁ saḥ
oṁ bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ
oṁ tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭi-vardhanaṁ
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya mā ∫ mṛtāt
oṁ svaḥ bhuvaḥ bhūr
oṁ saḥ jūṁ hrauṁ oṁ
which is its Tantric version.

The symbol '∫' is important because it stands for hrswa (short) vowel 'a' in amṛtāt




|| Om Trayambakam Yajaamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam


Urvaarukmiva Bandhanaan
Mrityor Mokshiya Mamritaat ||


[The meaning of the Mantra is as follows:]

I worship thee, O sweet Lord of transcendental vision (the three -eyed one or Lord Siva). O giver of health and prosperity to all, may I be free from the bonds of death, just as a melon (or cucumber) is severed effortlessly from its bondage or attachment to the creeper.     

Shiv Yantra 





     ***********HAPPY SHIVARATRI**********      






4 comments:

  1. Nice post.Nice information.Worship of Lord Shiva for getting success in life.Adityamaka Sri rudra Homam eradicates evil spirits in an effective manner.Calls upon Lord Rudra to grant a healthy and trouble free life.It gives courage and power to win over enemies.
    Read more click here

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  2. Nice blog.Chant this mantra to remove negative effects of Karma
    Om Namo Bhagwate Rudraay|
    Katame Rudra iti Dasheme purushe praana atmaikadashah te yadasmat| More

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  3. I am thankful to you because your article is very helpful for me to carry on with my research in same area. Your quoted examples are very much relevant to my research field.

    Maha Shivaratri

    ReplyDelete