Maha Shivaratri 2012

We celebrated Maha Sivaratri under the guidance of Vijay in a unique and wonderful way. It is my privilege and honor to bring to you all the best of it.
Vijay started the Maha Sivaratri function around 6.30pm by educating us on the importance of Sivaratri & staying awake the whole night. The story of King Chitrabhanu not only glorified the importance of penance & fasting on Sivaratri but also revealed its spiritual significance.
Here is a brief essence of it. On Sivaratri day, King Chitrabhanu & his wife were observing penance and fasting. Sage Ashtavakra, who is an enlightened Guru came to visit the king. He inquired the king about the reason for fasting on Sivaratri day. In response, King Chitrabhanu narrated the following story. In his previous birth, he was born as a hunter, Suswara. One day while hunting in a deep forest; he captured a deer. It became too dark and he was unable to return home so he decided to spend the night in the forest. His family was starving and was eagerly awaiting Suswara’s return to consume food. Looking for shelter in the forest, the hunter climbed a tree (which happened to be a Vilwa or Bael tree) after tying the deer to the tree. He shed tears thinking about his family. This kept him awake and he engaged himself in plucking the Vilwa leaves and dropping them as a way to overcome hunger, thirst and thoughts of his family. Next day morning he returned home, sold the deer and brought some food. On his way home, he served a beggar who came begging for food. Later he went home & shared the food with his family. Years later when Suswara died, he saw messengers of Lord Shiva waiting to take him to abode of Lord Shiva. From the messengers he learnt about the great merit he had earned by his unconscious worship on Sivaratri through fasting, staying awake (i.e. thoughtless, dreamless) and meditating on Lord Shiva. The messengers told him that there had been Shiva Lingam at the bottom of the tree and he had worshipped Lord Shiva with his tears and Vilwa leaves. Because of the good merit he earned on Sivaratri day, Suswara lived in the abode of Lord Shiva for ages & later was re-born as a King. Thus King Chitrabhanu concluded the story by glorifying the importance of penance & fasting on Sivaratri day.
As always with a story of such significance; there is an inner spiritual meaning that only a Guru could convey in a manner that could penetrate the muti-fold mind and reach deeper within us. That was precisely my experience as Vijay narrated the spiritual significance of the story.  In the story, the animals that the hunter fought & captured are the lust, greed and anger. The forest is the multi-fold mind. It is in the mind that these animals roam about freely. They must be captured & killed. The hunter by doing that personified a Yogi. The tree refers to the Spine and climbing of tree signifies awakening or rising of Kundalini energy. The Vilwa leaves are threefold. Here it refers to the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna nadis or the centers of Sun, Moon & Fire. The Yogi was in waking state when he began in meditation. His family is nothing but the world. A Yogi must become an embodiment of love. His tears are symbolical of his universal love. He tied the deer to the tree signifying that he fully conquered his thoughts and rendered them inactive. By plucking and dropping vilwa leaves his activities were confined to the three nadis. He was in the second state of mind, the dream state before he passed into the deep sleep state by keeping vigil the whole night. The dawning of day symbolizes the entrance into fourth state called Turiya or super consciousness which is complete liberation or enlightenment. Thus it is possible to reach the Turiya state by following and practicing the story. Of all the nights, Sivaratri is a special night where the Divine energy descends so much on earth that it is possible to attain Turiya state.
After completing the story, Vijay led us through breathing and meditation, followed by homam by reciting the sacred Panchakshara Mantra – OM NA MA Si Va Ya OM 1008 times. We worshipped Shiva Lingam with milk, coconut juice, sandalwood paste, honey, ghee and vilwa leaves. Homa was conducted with offerings to Fire. Vijay explained the significance of fire and fire offerings during homam. Fire is the only element that connects the earth plane and the divine plane. It originates in earth plane and directed upwards toward the sky thus signifying it as a medium of sending the offering from earth plane to the Divine plane. Each one of us participated in the homam by chanting Panchakshara Mantra 108 times along with fire offerings.
By the time we completed the homam it was ~ 2 am. We kept vigil the rest of the night by watching Tamil movie – Thiruvarutchelvar. It was a movie glorifying the devotees of Lord Shiva. Thiruvarutchelvar was a king and just before he was about to be consumed by lust; he realizes the mistake he was about to commit. He meets the court poet and seeks clarification on how to redeem himself. The poet tells the King that Service to God is the best way to purify one, of any sins and the best service to God is to spread the greatness of His Devotees. Thus the story unfolds bringing to life the stories of some of the greatest Shiva Devotees. Each story or sub plot in the movie taught us a lot more about true devotion and sacrifice. Songs with profound lyrics and soothing music complemented the story wonderfully.
As the movie ended, dawn broke. Everyone realized the impact of the occasion and felt contentment at heart. Many of us gathered there commented about their first such experience of celebrating Sivaratri. Gathering my thoughts now to write this blog I can see the relevance of the story of Chitrabhanu to our Sivaratri celebration. Through Vijay’s guidance we were able to get through different stages of consciousness. The story of Chitrabhanu and meditation calmed our mind and thoughts subsided. Doing the Homam & Panchakshara mantra chanting increased our concentration. We kept vigil the rest of the night by watching the movie thereby moving to deep sleep state. To sum it up – there were no random thoughts, with improved focus and a meditative state of mind; yet we were not asleep, we worshipped Lord Shiva on the auspicious night. There is little doubt now that it is the best night we all had lived. Whatever each one of us had experienced at dawn is for the individual to behold. Whether it lasted for a second, split second or minutes or for days, through example, Vijay had shown to all of us a path to emulate Suswara & to attain Turiya state on Sivaratri.
                                                             Om Na Ma Shi Va Ya Om
- Shankar

5 Responses to “Maha Shivaratri 2012”

  1. Priya Says:

    Wonderful blog article Shankar! Reading your blog brought back memories of the wonderful experiences we had on Maha Sivarathri day. All of us joining together in celebration with Vijay’s guidance helped us to stay awake and direct our thought towards God.

  2. Sanjai Says:

    Shankar, You have narrated the Maha Shivarathri day very well. Story is just a story for time passing unless otherwise we learn the inner meaning. We all came to know the significance of the story and the significance of this special day from Vijay. Also, there were several instances while watching the movie when we paused and came to know the deeper meaning. This blog will inspire many people indeed. Significance of the day is very well described.
    Thanks for posting this blog.

  3. Sriram Says:

    Thank you Shankar for writing about the Maha Shivaratri day.
    “…As always with a story of such significance; there is an inner spiritual meaning that only a Guru could convey in a manner that could penetrate the muti-fold mind and reach deeper within us.” This is very true. By writing that as a blog, you helped me to register the message strongly.

  4. Venugopal Says:

    Dear Shankar,

    Your article is an excellent narration of a blissful experience. The experience was made even more meaningful in the presence of someone like Vijay. Without His insights about each and every incident this would have been just a story. “Om Namah Shivaya Om” chanting is still echoing in my ears. The movie “Thiruvarutchelvar” clearly shows us that all we need is to just show our sincere devotion to the Lord. Rest will be taken care by The Almighty. All these put together resulted in another glorifying Maha Shivarathri Celebration.

    Thank you so much for posting this memorable experience.

  5. Anuradha Venugopal Says:

    Wonderful blog shankar.Thank you so much for making the experience alive through your narration.It made me recollect memories of auspicious night “Maha Sivaratri”. As you mentioned it was the best night i lived.

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