Thursday, 7 July 2011
Maha Shivaratri - The Night of Shiva
Maha Shivaratri - The Night of Shiva
Sri Maha Shivaratri means "The Night of Shiva". The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honor of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day. This is the night when Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra as it is said he who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
12 Jyotirlinga Darshan on the occasion of Maha Shivratri
Legends behind Shivaratri
Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha argued over each other’s prowess. However, Lord Shiva challenged both of them. He appeared as a flaming Linga and challenged the duo to measure the gigantic Linga (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva). Lord Bramha, who took the form of a swan, and Lord Vishnu who became a boar and went to Netherland, were both unable to measure the Shivlinga. Then Lord Shiva came out of the Linga and declared himself the most powerful. Maha Shivratri therefore means the grand night of Shiva. The devotees of Shiva fast during this day and pray to the lord throughout the night. This legend goes to prove the supremacy of Mahadev over other Hindu Gods.
King Daksha, opposed Sati's marriage with Shiva. At a yagnya (holy sacrifice) the king ignored Shiva’s presence and thereby insulted the latter publicly. Sati was so angered by this that she jumped into the sacrificial fire and ended her life. Lord Shiva unleashed his fury at the death of his wife by performing the violent dance, Taandav. He wiped out Daksha’s kingdom, undertook rigorous penance and retired to the Himalayas. The Gods, who feared that the severity of Shiva’s penance might bring an end to the world, revived Sati in the new avatar of Parvati. Shiva-Parvati married and this reunion is celebrated on Maha Shivratri.
Significance of Jyotirlinga: The Puranas vociferously sing the praises of the greatness of the Jyotirlingas. By reciting the name of this, one can eliminate all the sins. The Sadhaka becomes calm, chaste and pure. He becomes illuminated and enlightened with supreme and divine knowledge. The names mentioned for the benefits of all
SAURASHTRA SOMNATHAM CHA SHRISHAILE MALLIKARJUNAM ||
UJJAINYAM MAHAKALOMKARE MAMMALESHWARAM ||
PARLYAM VAIJNATHAM CHA DAKINYAM BHEEM SHANKARAM ||
SETU BANDHE TU RAMESHAM NAGESHAM DARUKA VANE ||
VARANASYA TU VISHWESHAM TRIBAKAM GAUTAMITATE ||
HIMALAYE TU KEDARAM GHURMESHAM CHA SHIVALAYE ||
AETANI JYOTIRLINGANI SAYAM PRATAHA PATHENNARAHA ||
SAPTA JANMA KRITAM PAPAM SMARANEN VINASHYATI ||
One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.
Attributes of Lord Shiva
Cremation ground:Shiva sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world.
The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.
A tiger skin symbolizes potential energy.
The crescent moon:
The crescent moon is only one of His ornaments.
Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva, is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye.
The bull is associated with Shiva and said to be His vehicle.
Kundalas (two ear rings):
Two Kundalas, Alakshya and Niranjan in the ears of the Lord symbolize the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) or Ardha-Nariswara principle of creation.
A water pot (Kamandalu) made from a dry pumpkin contains nectar and is shown on the ground next to Shiva signifies that, an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean his inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self.
A snake (Vasuki Naga):
The snake is shown curled three times around the neck of the Lord and is looking towards His right side. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future - time in cycles.
Rudraksha necklace:Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He uses His cosmic laws firmly - without compromise - to maintain law and order in the universe.
Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground, signifies that the Lord destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.
Snake around the neck:The snakes to symbolize the yogic power of Lord Shiva with which He dissolves and recreates the universe.
Lord Shiva's right hand is shown in a boon- bestowing and blessing pose, which annihilates evil, grants boons, bestows grace, destroys ignorance, and awakens wisdom in His devotees. Trident (Trisula):
A three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana).
Damaru (drum): Damaru symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest.
When the Lord opens His eyes, a new cycle of creation emerges and when He closes them, the universe dissolves for creation of the next cycle. The half-open eyes convey the idea that creation is going through cyclic process, with no beginning no end.
The unclad body covered with ashes:
The unclad body of Lord Shiva covered the ashes signify that Shiva is the source of the entire universe which emanates from Him, but He transcends the physical phenomena and is not affected by it.