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Thread: Maha Shivratri

  1. #1
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    Maha Shivratri

    Namaste
    Looking forward to this auspicious event. Is it customary to stay all night long in the US temples? Do all temples celebrate it or just Shiva temples? I ask this because the Shiva temple is 50 miles away and there are closer ones but I go wherever I need to for this event.

    Aum
    In whatever way people surrender unto me, I reciprocate with them accordingly.

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    Vannakkam MS: Definitely depends on the temple. You'd have to phone around. My hunch is that not many do the all night vigil. At the temple I go to it starts with about 200 people, many leave around 10, there is a homa at midnight, and then most of the rest leave, (like me), and there are only a few diligent souls who remain for the 3AM and 6AM abhishekhams.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    the question why does mahā śivarātri occur on the 14th tithi ?


    From a past post which hints at the answer. The question from the past post in question was the following:
    Why was 16 days and Monday offered as tapas for śiva ?

    ( One's orientation to 'get' the answer is around a 'frame of mind' that there is fullness in nothing-ness.

    What is significant about 16? Surely 15 or 18 or 25 could have been offered, yetthe offer is 16.
    Monday also gives us a hint because Monday is owned by candra ( moon) some call śaśāṅka¹. What does śiva adorn on the top of His head ? A crescent moon.
    We can now infer we are now on the right track to make some observations/insights.

    The moon travels through 15 tithaya ( the plural of tithi) or lunar days. 15 for the bright half and 15 for the dark half. Kalā is another way of counting tithi-s…
    just another way of saying it is the 10th kalā of the moon or the 15th kalā of the moon as kalā is a division and a few other things as we will see.


    We are told akṣa eka śītāṁsu kalā – or there is one kalā (or division) of the moon (śītāṁsu is ‘cold-rayed’ , another name for moon’s luminosity) that does not vanish.
    This is called amākalā. There are several ways of defining this term, but for brevity let’s look at it this way:

    • amā+kalā = chief, at home + digit or division of the moon. This infers too that I can write it this manner, a+kalā , by the grammar rules of saṃdhi¹ ( conjunction rules).
    • This a+kalā = with no division and therefore meets the definition just offered ‘ does not vanish’.
    • If there is no division how can it vanish? That is the thought here.


    But what digit is this ? it was not specifically mentioned. It is the kalā digit. You see by definition kalā also = 16.
    It plays two roles , one as a ‘division or digit’ and one as the moniker (or alias) of the number 16. So now we know that the 16th division of the moon
    (śītāṁsu or ‘cold-rayed’) is amākalā , with no division and does not vanish. But wait a moment , I just said there are 15 tithaya and not 16 tithaya.
    This is where the insight begins.

    All we need to do is view the moon’s cycle to know which one is amākalā. From the 1st tithi to the 15th, the moon
    changes and each division vanishes or changes into the next one in progression 1,2,3,…15th and there is the full moon.
    Yet on the way back down in brightness we end at the new moon ( some say dark moon) āmāvāsya.
    This āmāvāsya is looked at as āma +āvāsya : āma = uncooked, raw, unbaked, the state or condition of + āvāsya = full, to be inhabited by.
    So, the dark moon is looked at as the full, uncooked division. Here is where we can ‘see’ amākalā. When the moon is
    in the āmāvāsya state look at it. Note that you can ‘see’ the circle around that empty , unbaked yet full moon’s disk that shows. That
    is the 16th, amākalā; that is what śiva keeps on His forehead. The symbol or indication of no division of never vanishing – He is that which never fades never vanishes.

    Now many will also say that the moon atop of śiva’s head is that of śiva-rātri ( the night of śiva) or the 14th tithi of the dark half of the month.
    Mahā śivarātri is a bit more specific as the month is called out for this occasion. So , one would say that the moon that is shown on His head is the 14th tithi
    visualization of the moon. I am fine with this definition also and find no issues with this view.

    The point offered is 16 is ‘code’ for a few things:

    • śiva
    • wholeness
    • without division
    • never vanishing
    • and also the sound form ḥ ( written in devanāgarī script as a colon : ) which is the symbol of śiva & śakti. It is the 16th vowel no less, ḥ


    So, it is the 14th tithi that is the ~night~ that leads to 15th, the entry. and yet the 16th tithi ( say the wise) never vanishes.
    One view is this : we keep up all night, that consciousness of diversity, of differences vanishes ( or is absorbed) into the 15th, that of nothingness ( no-thing-ness) and the 16th, that wholeness was there all the time..

    This is one view... I will offer a few more ideas from past posts.


    iti śivaṁ

    words
    • kala is defined many ways . One definition is a digit or 1/16th of the moon's diameter ; another is ‘a division of time’ ; another is a small part of anything ,
      any single part or portion of a whole ; and there are more for this most wonderful word.




    • saṃdhi - containing a conjunction or transition from one to the other
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    from a past post...

    It's interesting to note that śivarātri ( śiva + rātri or the night of śiva) falls on the 14th lunar day ( tithi).

    When we look at the saṃskṛt assembly of akṣara or letter ( akṣara is imperishable and another name form Brahman), it is made up of vowels (svara) and consonants (vyañjāna). Śiva is the owner of svara and Śakti is the owner of vyañjāna. ( Yet we know there is only One, this is the traditional way of discussing this matter). The vowels (svara) extend from a (अ) to ḥ (अः).
    If we count down the vowels in order we come to 'au' which is the 14th vowel. This au औ vowel of the alphabet sounds like 'ou' in 'our' , in English. The 14th tithi is owned by Śiva. Hence the tithi and vowel au औ are related.

    This 'a' is represents anuttara , the Supreme unpassable, is considered cit śakti- the energy of consciousness. This is combined with 'u' - considered jñāna śakti, the energy of knowledge. Some call this 'u' unmeṣa उन्मेष - the act of opening the eyes. Since it is Śiva's eyes (anuttara) this is a symbol of creation just about to begin.

    Now this can only occur via Śiva's icchā or will. Thus with will (icchā) + knowledge (jñāna), this results or brings about kriyā or kriyā śakti, the energy of action. Hence this 'au' is considered the full expression of kriyā śakti and has been given the name of triśūla¹ the trident due to its holding icchā + jñāna + kriyā. And who holds the triśūla¹ stick, daṃḍa ( some write daṇda) stick ? Śiva.

    Hence we have the Supreme (a) holding the triśūla (icchā + jñāna + kriyā) which is represented by kriyā śakti (au) that occurs
    on the 14th tithi of the lunar day, that is owned by Śiva. Hence all the previous vowels from a (अ) to o (ओ) come to find action in the 14th vowel (au) औ.

    We find this (au) औ as key in some very profound mantra-s:
    au+ ṁ
    s+au +ḥ
    hūṁ=h+aū+ṁ
    this hūṁ is Śiva-praṇava. Praṇava is to praise, and that which renovates thoroughly.


    kṛṣṇa yajur ved - taittirīya saṁhitā 1.8.6.iii
    eka eva rudro na dvitīiyāya
    rudra is the sole one, there is no second


    iti śivaṁ

     
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~


    namasté



    ॐशिवाप्रियायनमः
    oṁ śivāpriyāya namaḥ
    oṁ I bow (salutations) to śivāpriyāya



    continuing with śivarātri & past posts....

    THE STORY OF KING CHITRABHANU
    Courtesy of http://www.vishnumandir.com/resource...shivaratri.php
    Bhishma, whilst resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows.
    Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa, was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king. The sage asked, "O king! why are you observing a fast today?" King Chitrabhanu explained why. He had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth.

    The king said to the sage: "In my past birth I was a hunter in Varanasi. My name was Suswara. My livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day I was roaming the forests in search of animals. I was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to return home, I climbed a tree for shelter. It happened to be a bael tree. I had shot a deer that day but I had no time to take it home. I bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. As I was tormented by hunger and thirst, I kept awake throughout the night. I shed profuse tears when I thought of my poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously awaiting my return. To pass away the time that night I engaged myself in plucking the bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground.

    "The day dawned. I returned home and sold the deer. I bought some food for myself and for my family. I was about to break my fast when a stranger came to me, begging for food. I served him first and then took my food.

    "At the time of death, I saw two messengers of Lord Shiva. They were sent down to conduct my soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. I learnt then for the first time of the great merit I had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. They told me that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. My tears which I had shed out of pure sorrow for my family fell onto the Lingam and washed it. And I had fasted all day and all night. Thus did I unconsciously worship the Lord.
    "I lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. I am now reborn as Chitrabhanu."

    SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RITUAL

    The Scriptures record the following dialogue between Sastri and Atmanathan, giving the inner meaning of the above story.
    Sastri: It is an allegory. The wild animals that the hunter fought with are lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy and hatred. The jungle is the fourfold mind, consisting of the subconscious mind, the intellect, the ego and the conscious mind. It is in the mind that these "wild animals" roam about freely. They must be killed. Our hunter was pursuing them because he was a Yogi. If you want to be a real Yogi you have to conquer these evil tendencies. Do you remember the name of the hunter in the story?

    Atmanathan: Yes, he was called Suswara.

    Sastri: That's right. It means "melodious". The hunter had a pleasant melodious voice. If a person practices Yama and Niyama and is ever conquering his evil tendencies, he will develop certain external marks of a Yogi. The first marks are lightness of the body, health, steadiness, clearness of countenance and a pleasant voice. This stage has been spoken of in detail in the Swetaswatara Upanishad. The hunter or the Yogi had for many years practiced Yoga and had reached the first stage. So he is given the name Suswara. Do you remember where he was born?

    Atmanathan: Yes, his birthplace is Varanasi.

    Sastri: Now, the Yogis call the ajna chakra by the name Varanasi. This is the point midway between the eyebrows. It is regarded as the meeting place of the three nerve currents (nadi-s), namely, the Ida, Pingala and the Sushumna. An aspirant is instructed to concentrate on that point. That helps him to conquer his desires and evil qualities like anger and so on. It is there that he gets a vision of the Divine Light within.

    Atmanathan: Very interesting! But how do you explain his climbing up the bael tree and all the other details of the worship?

    Sastri: Have you ever seen a bael leaf?

    Atmanathan: It has three leaves on one stalk.

    Sastri: True. The tree represents the spinal column. The leaves are threefold. They represent the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis, which are the regions for the activity of the moon, the sun and fire respectively, or which may be thought of as the three eyes of Shiva. The climbing of the tree is meant to represent the ascension of the Kundalini Shakti, the serpentine power, from the lowest nerve centre called the Muladhara to the ājñā cakra. That is the work of the Yogi.

    Atmanathan: Yes, I have heard of the Kundalini and the various psychic centres in the body. Please go on further; I am very interested to know more.

    Sastri: Good. The Yogi was in the waking state when he began his meditation. He bundled up the birds and the animals he had slain and, tying them on a branch of the tree, he rested there. That means he had fully conquered his thoughts and rendered them inactive. He had gone through the steps of Yama, Niyama, Pratyahara, etc. On the tree he was practising concentration and meditation. When he felt sleepy, it means that he was about to lose consciousness and go into deep sleep. So he determined to keep awake.

    Atmanathan: That is now clear to me; you certainly do explain it very well. But why did he weep for his wife and children?

    Sastri: His wife and children are none other than the world. One who seeks the Grace of God must become an embodiment of love. He must have an all-embracing sympathy. His shedding of tears is symbolical of his universal love. In Yoga also, one cannot have illumination without Divine Grace. Without practising universal love, one cannot win that Grace. One must perceive one's own Self everywhere. The preliminary stage is to identify one's own mind with the minds of all created beings. That is fellow-feeling or sympathy. Then one must rise above the limitations of the mind and merge it in the Self. That happens only in the stage of Samadhi, not earlier.

    Atmanathan: Why did he pluck and drop the bael leaves?

    Sastri: That is mentioned in the story only to show that he had no extraneous thoughts. He was not even conscious of what he was doing. All his activity was confined to the three Nadis. The leaves, I have said before, represent the three Nadis. He was in fact in the second state, namely, the dream state, before he passed into the deep sleep state.

    Atmanathan: He kept vigil the whole night, it is said.

    Sastri: Yes, that means that he passed through the deep sleep state successfully. The dawning of day symbolises the entrance into the Fourth state called Turiya or superconsciousness.

    Atmanathan: It is said that he came down and saw the Lingam. What does that mean?

    Sastri: That means that in the Turiya state he saw the Shiva Lingam or the mark of Shiva in the form of the inner lights. In other words, he had the vision of the Lord. That was an indication to him that he would realise the supreme, eternal abode of Lord Shiva in course of time.

    Atmanathan: So it appears from what you say that the sight of the lights is not the final stage?

    Sastri: Oh no! That is only one step, albeit a difficult one. Now think of how the story continues. He goes home and feeds a stranger. A stranger is one whom you have not seen before. The stranger is no other than the hunter himself, transformed into a new person. The food was the likes and dislikes which he had killed the previous night. But he did not consume the whole of it. A little still remained. That was why he had to be reborn as King Chitrabhanu. Going to the world of Shiva (Salokya) is not enough to prevent this. There are other stages besides Salokya. These are Samipya, Sarupya and finally Sayujya. Have you not heard of Jaya and Vijaya returning from Vaikunta?

    Atmanathan: Yes, I have understood now.

    praṇām

    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~


    namasté

    ॐशिवाप्रियायनमः
    oṁ śivāpriyāya namaḥ
    oṁ I bow (salutations) to śivāpriyāya

    śivāpriyāya is composed of śivā + priya. We have śiva शिव and śivā शिवा. With śiva, this means the Auspicious one. With śivā - this is his wife, śakti (Śrī Devī, Pārvatī). And priya प्रिय means beloved, dear. Hence this is saying śiva is the beloved (priya) of śivā meaning Śrī Devī His wife.

    It is said one of śiva's favorite places is vārāṇasī - the city Benares more properly written Banaras. But there is much more to this name and meaning then meets the eye ( as you well would expect). So called after the names of two rivers , varaṇā and asi , or asī , also written vāṇārasī. Let me offer some posts for your kind attention.

    Vārāṇasī
    saidevo writes some years past, on mahá śivaratri
    Quote:
    • vAra = gate, gateway, obstruction, enclosure in space and time, an exquisite choice
    • nAsikA - nostril, nose, of a place below
    • So, vAranAsi as the Ajna Chakra obstructs the normal flow of breath and directs it into the lungs and heart; and vAranAsi as the holy city is the gateway to Self-realization.
    • And, as you have mentioned (yajvan) , fixing one's attention on vAranAsi (third eye) heightens the effect of the time gap between the in and out breaths and helps momentary experience of the nature of that silence which is beyond thoughts.



    this approach is not for everyone...



    iti śivaṁ
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~


    namasté



    ॐशिवाप्रियायनमः
    oṁ śivāpriyāya namaḥ
    oṁ I bow (salutations) to śivāpriyāya



    continuing with śivarātri & past posts....

    THE STORY OF KING CHITRABHANU
    Courtesy of http://www.vishnumandir.com/resource...shivaratri.php
    Namaste Yajvan, Thank you very much for this story. This and others like it are what I missed growing up. Trying to play catch up is not always easy which is why I am so glad to have this forum.
    In whatever way people surrender unto me, I reciprocate with them accordingly.

  8. #8

    Re: Maha Shivratri

    Namaskaar,

    Tomorrow is Shivrathri. Is any specific procedure I can follow for the Pooja?
    Many Thanks

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    HAPPY MAHASHIVARATRI TO ALL OF HDF!

    JAI BHOLE SHANKAR!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Maha Shivratri

    I am a great devotee of Shiva, and I will be going to the temple this evening, I will try my best to worship Shiva and try and meditate for a longer period of time- chanting 'Om namay Shivaya, however as per Guaydia Vaishnava understanding- Vishnu tattva is the highest worship, even crores and crores of Shivaloka's will be still equal to narak compared to a drop of Mahabhav bliss of Radha and Krsna- Shiva himself says something like this- when he admits to Parvati- 'even countless spiritual planets and material planets added together will not even be equal to a drop of the ecstasy of Mahabhava, that results in pain of separation, which means this must be the supreme stage to be achieved- even if one achieves liberation in Shiva-loka forever- that would still be hellish in comparison to the bliss countless countless countless quadrillions times greater- both in quantity and quality- WOW!!!

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