Happy Mahashivaratri

Shivaratri is going to be celebrated on Thursday, February 27, 2014 all over the world, especially all over India, by millions of people.

Lord Shiva reminds us of serenity, a blissful state, and a focused mind which mostly remains merged with the Infinite Brahman, total self-control, a heart that is filled with love and compassion and which is always thinking for good of all.

Shiva
Lord Shiva

The Ultimate Reality or The Life Force which supports the universe and each individual is called Brahman.  The highest knowledge is to realize that the Brahman has become everything.  The apparent universe came out of Brahman, it is nourished by Brahman and it dissolves into Brahman.  When we see Brahman as a creator, we call It Brahma (the Creator).  When we see Brahman as someone who nourishes the universe, we call It Vishnu.  When we see Brahman as someone who dissolves everything, then we call It Shiva.

There are numerous hymns, bhajans, and dhoons of Shiva which devotees love to sing.  These hymns, bajans and dhoon remind us the glories of Shiva and uplift our mind to the higher state of consciousness.  One of these hymns is “Shiva Mahimna”.  There are several stories in this hymn which elaborate Shiva’s virtues.  One can learn easily through stories.  One of the stories goes as follows SM – 10 (Shiva Mahimna, shloka 10):

Once there was a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu (even though they both were the forms of Brahman!). The dispute was to decide ‘who is greater; Brahma or Vishnu’.  Brahma said he is greater because he creates and Vishu said he is greater because he preserves.  Brahma’s argument was that if he does not create then Vishnu cannot preserve while Vishnu argued that if he does not preserve then creation is futile.  They could not reconcile.  I am sure their followers were more involved in this dispute and almost ready to fight a big war.  At that time a pillar of fire appeared before them.  Brahma and Vishnu both looked at the pillar and were surprised.    They could not see any end to it.  Vishnu asked Brahma, “Did you create this pillar?”  Brahma said, “No.”  Brahma asked Vishnu, “Did you nourish or sustain this pillar?”  Vishnu said that he didn’t.  They both decided to find out more about the pillar, especially to find its support or an end.  Brahma went up and Vishnu went down.  They went as far as they could go, but could not find its end or beginning.  It was an infinite pillar.  Both were shocked to see something beyond the creation.    Brahma and Vishnu were humbled.  The Shiva aspect of Brahman taught them that the time is infinite and many universes were created, being nourished, and had been dissolved into time and this phenomenon continues.  Brahma and Vishnu then praised the Shiva aspect of Brahman.  The Shivalinga which is worshipped in Shiva temple is a symbol of that infinite pillar of fire.  I learned from this story that whenever we think of the infinite, our little ego, pride, achievements look very timid and many times silly.  Thinking of the infinite makes us humble and sane.

There are twelve famous Shiva temples in which these glorious Shivalingas are worshipped.  They are called “Dwadash Jyotirlingas.” I have visited Rameshwaram, Somanath, and Nageshwara.  In all the temples witnessing deep love and devotion of many devotees of Shiva, my mind was filled with divine mood.  In the hearts of the devotees we feel the presence of Shiva.  These devotees were from all over India and abroad.

The following is a link in which one can see the places of these famous Shiva temples.  There are more than 12 famous Shiva temples.  For a devotee it is good to go and visit these temples and feel the presence of Lord Shiva in the hearts of all.

http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/jyotirlinga.htm

The following is a link of 12 famous Shiva temples and their Jyotirlingas which are worshipped every day.

http://www.dwadashjyotirlinga.com/

Swami Vivekananda quoted Shiva Mahimna Shloka-7 in his famous speech of September 11, 1893 given at the World Parliament of Religions held at the Chicago World Fair.  While talking about the harmony of religions and acceptance of all religions as true, he said, “I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

Sri Ramakrishna loved Shiva Mahimna Hymn.  Once he was reciting its shloka-32 which says, “O Lord Shiva! If ink is made by dissolving a blue mountain into an ocean, a pen is made by a branch of the divine tree, and the Goddess of Knowledge (Saraswati) writes your glories on the earth (using as a paper) for ever even then she cannot completely describe your glories.”  Thus, thinking of the infinite glories of Shiva, Sri Ramakrishna was overwhelmed with emotions.  He embraced the Shivalingam with both the hands and kept repeating with tears of love in his eyes, “O Shiva!  Your glories cannot be described even by the Goddess of Knowledge.”

We know that everyday tons of research papers are being published.  Each paper solves couple of problems but then most of them make us aware of more open problems.  If we put all our knowledge in a circle and consider the area outside the circle as ignorance, then as our circle of knowledge grows the circumference of the circle which is the awareness of ignorance also grows.

knowledge_ignorance_pic
As knowledge grows, the awareness of ignorance also grows.

Sri Ramakrishna told his disciples again and again that lust and greed are two forces which drag down people from their path of righteousness and spiritual development.  So, sincere spiritual seekers have to watch out for these two forces.

We see that Shiva’s living is very simple.  Even though by his little blessing one acquires riches, his means of living are very few (SM – 8).

Shiva’s self-control regarding lust has been beautifully described in SM – 15.  It says that the arrows of the god of lust never come back without hitting the target.  They are always victorious.  Meaning lust drags down the minds of demons, humans, and angles from their righteousness and spiritual path.  That god of lust shot his arrow of lustful thought to Shiva.  Lord Shiva opened his eye of knowledge and not only the arrow but the god of lust himself was burnt to ashes.  The story goes that after this the wife of the god of lust came to Shiva and explained that it was not her husband’s fault.  He was asked by all the Devas to do this.  She asked for forgiveness.  Shiva out of compassion told that your husband will be immortal and he will reside in the minds of all.

Shri Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, “Renounce lust, greed, and anger because these are three doors to hell.  They destroy all the good things of a person.” (Gita 16.21).

Lord Shiva showed us that lust is a thought and it can be destroyed by a thought of knowledge, the awareness of our divine Self.  Our true identity Atman does not have any gender.

Let us also remember Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts on worship of Shiva.  Swami Vivekananda says, “This is the gist of all worship–to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste, or creed, or race, or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.”  Swami Vivekananda wanted his disciples to see Shiva in each individual and serve him/her unselfishly.

In order to be pure and to see Shiva in all, we have to do spiritual practice and learn self-control from Shiva.

16 thoughts on “Happy Mahashivaratri

  1. Thanks Uncle for in depth analysis and explanation of Shiva aspect of Brahman, meaning of worship, beautiful stories and their application in life.
    I particularly loved moral of the story of Brahma and Vishnu. Very simple yet profound and applicable to daily life.
    Thanks again.
    Mallika

    1. Thank you Mallika. It is true. Simple story yet profound message. I think profound messages are simple. When we do not understand and try to talk about it, then we make it more complicated.

  2. Thank you Uncle for this lovely post about Mahashivaratri!
    It brought a new meaning to the celebration– especially how Brahman is ultimately connected in all of this, and how the qualities of Lord Shiva correspond so closely to the qualities stated in Sri Ramakrishna’s lectures, Swami Vivekananda’s speeches, and the Bhagavad Gita.
    Also, I would love to visit all 12 temples of Lord Shiva in one trip to India!
    Thank you again Uncle!

    1. Thank you Rashmi. It is a wishful thinking to visit all 12 temples in a single trip. It can be done, but it needs lots of faith and enthusiasm and planning.
      One can do this trip in several trips to India. But, it is a good idea to keep in mind.

  3. Thank you uncle for this intriguing post about Shivaratri! I loved the story about Brahman and Vishnu and how they hadn’t realized the Shiva form. I thought the story was applicable and deep. However, the most intriguing part of the post for me was the analysis and the meaning of the Shiva Mahimna.

  4. Thank you Uncle for this post on Mahashivaratri! My family and I always celebrate it but I never fully realized how powerful Shiva is. I really enjoyed the part of the post that discussed lust, and its connection to our lives. I also liked how you connected your thoughts about lust with Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings and with what Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita. I find it really interesting how just by singing a simple dhoon or hymn, our minds can be lifted to a higher state of consciousness! Thanks again Uncle!

    1. Thank you Sakhi. I am very happy that your family celebrates Shivaratri and now you are understanding the powerful impact of Shiva. Many have attained God-Consciousness or we call it vision of Shiva by repeating “Om Namah Shivay,” and of course following the required conduct of life.

  5. Thanks for posting this uncle. I really liked the story between Brahma and Vishnu, as it shows us the superficiality of many things in our lives. It is important for us to realize the higher and trying to achieve self-realization.

  6. Thanks Uncle. I really appreciated the story that you incorporated with Brahma and Vishnu. Often times, ego gets in the way of cooperation- however, when both saw the Infinite power of Shiva- His Infinite Fire- they realized that there was something that both of them could not reach. Shiva leads a simple life, devoid of any lust or selfishness. However, as this parable suggests and the one which you had mentioned in the morning assembly about Ravana’s attempt to move Kailash and how Shiva could defeat this foe with mere movement of the tip of his toe, Shiva is undeniably powerful. Shiva is one of Hinduism’s most powerful role models.

  7. Thank You Uncle for postiing about Shivratri. This celebration has special meaning for me since my birthday is so close to it. The story was fascinating in that both
    Brahma and Vishnu did not know the Shiva form. I have visited several Shiva Temples on my visits to India including Somnath. Visiting more temples would be great!

  8. Thanks Uncle for this post! It’s so informative and really makes me want to visit the temples in India! Also, the story is very fascinating and teaches a great lesson. It’s necessary to realize the infinite so petty matters such as our ego do not get to us! Thank you for incorporating a valuable lesson in such a great post about Shivratri!

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