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Significance of Maha Shivratri


Shivratri as we all know is linked to Lord God Shiva. Shiva has a unique place in Hindu religion. Being incorporeal, or you could say intangible. Shiva alone, is usually not represented by a deity, instead is projected by a lingam. The names of ‘Shiva Temples’ in India bear the suffix of, ‘nath’ or ‘ishwar’ only to indicate that he is the teacher of all beings. One of the many names of Shiva is Sarveshwar, meaning lord of all. Images of Shiva often show him meditating in front of a Shivalingam.

     Hindu mythology talks of Krishna and Rama as avatars. They were born and they died. They are said to have worshipped Shiva. Other Gods also take physical birth, but Shiva neither takes birth, nor, he dies.

    Shiva incarnates himself in a human body. An occurrence that is celebrated during Shivratri. Shiva’s incarnation is associated with ‘ratri’ or night because he manifests in this world when it is enveloped in darkness of ignorance and evil. Omniscient Shiva dispels the darkness by giving humans the light of knowledge. The three parallel lines on the Shivaling are symbolic of Shiva’s knowledge of three aspects of time. The eye in the middle of the lines indicate the eye of wisdom that he gives to human souls.

    The Mahabharata refers to the regenerative role of Shiva, saying that when the world had plunged into darkness, and vicious proliferation. ‘An egg-like form of light descended and established a new order.’ In the ‘Dharma Sam-hita’ which is part of Shiva Purana, it is said that at the end of Kaliyug, during the time of destruction, a magnificent light revealed itself that was piercingly luminous, radiant and eternal. The world was created through this light.

    Shivratri is the commemoration of the arrival of divinity in this world to salvage humanity. In the Bhagwad Gita Krishna says that whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness arises, he manifests for the protection of the good, and destruction of the wicked, and re-establishment of a holy order.

    According to a few God realized Yogis, Maha Shivaratri was the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world. The Maha Shivaratri is mentioned in several Puranas, particularly the Skanda PuranaLinga Purana and Padma Purana. These medieval era Shaiva texts present different mythologies associated with this festival, but all mention fasting and reverence for icons of Shiva such as the Lingam.

    Different legends describe the significance of Maha Shivaratri. According to one legend in Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction.  The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees, joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva’s presence, everywhere. According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. 

    A different legend states that the offering to Shiva icons such as the linga is an annual occasion to get over past sins if any, and to restart on a virtuous path and thereby reach Mount Kailash and liberation.

    The Gita insinuates at this role of Shiva when Krishna says: “I am the ‘mahakal’ (The God of Death). Death can never approach me.” Such an assertion can be made only by Shiva, the Supreme Parmatma. A soul that never takes birth, is Mrityunjaya, immortal.

    There is no room for confusion about the roles of Shiva and Krishna, because there is but one God, though deities may be many. The Supreme of all souls, across different faith traditions, is understood as being incorporeal and omnipotent. The Ocean of Peace, the Saviour, and the Almighty, is forever beyond the limitations of a physical existence.

    He performs his tasks by giving power to his spiritual children. These Gods and Goddesses, are the slayers or the killers of demons who are also embodiments of purity, love and wisdom. They are not supernatural beings, but humans with divine quality. They foster these qualities in their fellow humans, nurturing a new, elevated consciousness, and thus serve as divine instruments. In the task of creating a righteous world order.

    This is the secret of Maha Shivratri, which will be observed today, the night of the Supreme, comes to liberate his children from suffering and sorrow, as promised in the Gita.

By Kamlesh Tripathi




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By Kamlesh Tripathidevotee lord shiva perseverence


Once upon a time there was a person who could not understand as to why so many devotees queued up in front of the Shiva temple for darshan of the Shiv-ling. In fact he was extremely intrigued by the simplicity of these devotees, and so he wanted to see for himself, the power that Lord Shiva in his own Shiv-ling.

So, one day he decided, here on, every night, when the temple is closed to the devotees, he would enter it from the back gate with his cane to whack the Shiv-ling at least five times, and see how Lord Shiva retaliates at him in return, as he was doubtful, even of his existence.

And he confided in his wife about his agnostic idea, to take her reaction as she too was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. On hearing this, his wife shuddered, at the very thought. She tried to convince her husband tooth and nail, about the devastating consequences, but failed in doing so.

The person started visiting the temple every night to whack the Shiv-ling. And every day in the morning his wife used to seek pardon in the same temple for him.

After sometime when the person felt even after whacking Lord Shiva’s Shiv-ling every night, nothing was happening and everything was as normal as every day, he would come and tease his wife and say. ‘See you are only worshiping a piece of stone as he has no powers.’

And gradually the person’s dare increased manifold when besides whacking he also started abusing Lord Shiva. But he was extremely regular in doing so.

By now a year had passed, but he had not missed a single day where he did not whack the Shiv-ling. Whether, it was the heat of summers, freezing cold of winters or even torrential monsoon, and even when he was unwell or his wife or children were unwell he made it a point to enter the temple and whack Lord Shiva.

Once, during monsoon, when it had been raining for a couple of days continuously, and the area around the temple was totally flooded, and the temple marooned. One could only swim to the temple, but that also was quite risky as all the snakes and crabs had come out of their holes and were floating along the waters.

But the person was determined as ever to reach the temple. So he took the cane between his teeth and started swimming. And on the way he ducked and even went around certain snakes and insects and finally reached the steps of the temple.

And happy at his effort, he as usual, entered the temple and started whacking and abusing Lord Shiva’s Shiv-ling. And he was enjoying it even more today because of the humungous effort he had put in to reach there.

And then suddenly the person saw he was being blinded by a very bright light and saw some silhouettes emerging that resembled the pictures of Lord Shiva that he had often seen.

And then he could hear a divine voice as if telling him,

‘I’m impressed by your passion and regularity, even when each day, you only came to whack and abuse me. Not one day you missed out, no matter what issues you had at hand. I’m happy and I grant you a vardan, bhakt.’ Resonated, the divine loud voice of Lord Shiva as the silhouettes merged into a gigantic image of the Lord.

The person was astounded when he realised his mistake and fell at the feet of the Lord and started asking for mercy. Lord Shiva granted him mercy and just then the gigantic image of the Lord started receding along with the bright light and soon everything was calm and normal.

The story conveys a message that there is no shortcut for perseverance. Perseverance is so powerful that it even made Lord Shiva appear, even when the person was pursuing a campaign against Lord God Shiva.

This story was told to me by my mother.