How to celebrate Mahashivratri in a grand way? Here, we share the science, significance, and the mystical dimensions of Lord Shiva and the Maha Shivaratri.
Maha Shivaratri is the day of Spiritual Revolution of our inner world. It is the day of not remembering the past but remembering the Ever Present – the ultimate Self. It is the day to nourish our life from all dimensions. It is the day of balancing – balancing the 114 chakras and 72000 nadis in the body and the every aspects of the Universe.
It is the day Salvation of all Souls and the day of Establishing Divine Life on the Earth. In brief, Lord Shiva is the God and the embodiment of completeness and Maha Shivaratri is the celebration for that completeness with the Universe.
Maha Shivaratri and Lord Shiva
The festival celebrates the grand marriage of the lord of compassion and auspiciousness – Shiva, with the goddess of love, beauty, nourishment and power – Parvati. The Maha Shivaratri also refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly cosmic dance.
The celebration of Maha Shivratri, literally means celebration of the greatest night of Shiva. It is one of the most splendidly celebrated festivals across the country. It is the festival of joy, celebration, fasting, meditation, prayer and worship. Maha Shivaratri is observed on Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in the month of Magha. Spiritually, it is the day when two greatest forces of the universe united.
On this occasion, devotees across the country are seen flocking to temples, that often witness long queues from as early as the break of the dawn and chants of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ reverberate. Special prayers are offered in all Shiva temples throughout India on this holy night. This is also the period for deep meditation on Lord Shiva, for inner awakening and inner peace.
Maha Shivaratri, Shiva Puja and the Shivling Abhishek
Shiva Abhishek is a way of offering respect to Shiva. It is the process of bathing Lord Shiva. Following the traditional rituals, devotees observe fasts and are also seen worshipping the ‘Shivling,’ an iconic representation of Shiva. It is believed that just with this process all the defects of ancestors and all are abolished. Panchamrita Abhishek is the best way for pleasing Lord Shiva. Panchamrita is the mixture of five nourishing aspects of life.
After taking a bath, one should offer water, cow milk, curd and honey, vibhuthi or sacred ash and sandalwood paste to Lord. One should offer bilwa leaves and flowers like Datura to Lord Shiva.
When you pour water on the Shivling or the lingam, it calms your mind and frees you from all the negative energies. While performing Shiva Abhisehke, you should chant Shiva Gayatri mantra and other Five Shiva mantras as that brings peace to your mind.
On the occasion of Maha Shivratri, devotees offer ‘Rudra-Abhishek’ or special ordination to the Shivling where they bathe the ‘Shivling’ with different substances and each of them has a specific significance.
Devotees use water, curd, sugarcane syrup, milk, honey and other things for ‘Rudra-Abhishek. Other important offerings that are mandatorily used for the ‘Abhishek’ are Bel leaves, Datura flower and fruit.
The Story of the Hunter
The most popular story is of a hunter. It is believed that on this day a hunter killed some birds and then he was chased by a Lion. The hunter climbed a Bel tree to save his life. There after Lion waited under the tree for the whole night. To stay awake, he plucked out the leaves and dropped them down. There was a Shiva linga below the tree. All the leaves fell onto that Linga.
Lord Shiva was pleased by the offering of Bel leaves and saved the hunter in spite of all the sins he had committed by killing birds and animals. The story lays stress on the worshipping of Lord Shiva on this day with Bel leaves.
Lord Shiva Consciousness and the Birth of the Universe
1. Shiva and Parvati – The Expanding Universe
The world is an eternal phenomenon, going through phases of creation and destruction. So, beginning refers to the beginning of a phase, not beginning of the world itself. In Hinduism, the world is a combination of some curved lines, which are eternal and often repetitive. This union and the dance of mind, matter and consciousness, is a recurring theme in Puranic tradition, especially in Tantra. The cosmic dance of Shiva resembles the mastery of Lord Shiva over mind, matter and consciousness.
Scientifically, to understand the birth of the universe, we rely heavily on Einstein’s theory of special relativity, Hubble’s hypothesis and the quantum theory. Hubble’s hypothesis of an expanding universe leads to certain deductions. Nataraja, represents Shiva as the lord of dance, encompassing all creation, destruction and all things in between and beyond. .
One is that the universe was more condensed at a previous time. From this deduction came the suggestion that all the currently observed matter and energy in the universe were initially condensed in a very small and infinitely hot mass. A huge explosion, known as the Big Bang, then sent matter and energy expanding in all directions.
2. Shiva and Maha Kali – the Dark Energy
According to the modern science, the universe contains: 5% of visible matter, stars and the galaxies, another 1/4 dark matter and the remainder is something we don’t know, but which we call dark energy. We also know that it is expanding. Kali is the Goddess of time, change, and destruction. She is the energy current inside that is wild, empowered and all loving. Dark energy is the name given to the mysterious force that’s causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate over time. This energy is deeply involved in the life/death / life cycle to keep growing and transforming. Kali does everything in the presence of Lord Shiva.
3. Shiva – The Ultimate Consciousness
The reality we experience in the macro-world of matter and forms comes from our consciousness. The from the micro-world is full with massless and formless quanta like photons. They can be explained by using top down causation implying supremacy of consciousness over matter. The matter is the manifestation of consciousness. Manifestation implies almost instantaneous perception through sense organs, usually eyes, mediated by brain, recognized and perceived by the nonlocal mind. Manifestation of space, and matter of forms is the act of almost an instant appearance of image and almost an instant materialization demonstrating the power of our consciousness. Shiva is the all-pervading cosmic consciousness.
4. Shiva Beyond Mind and Beyond Explanation
The legend of Shiva Linga is also deeply related to Maha Shivratri. According to the story, Brahma and Vishnu searched hard to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. It has been believed that on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna, Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri – the grand night of Shiva. To celebrate this occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva keeps fast during the day and worship the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping Lord Shiva on Shivratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity.
Shiva the story of Samudra Manthan
The Samudra Manthana is one of the best-known symbolic episodes of Lord Shiva. As the churning began and the massive waves whirled, an extremely poisonous drink called halahal came out. The gods became scared because this blue drink could destroy creation. They all got together and prayed to the powerful Shiva to help him them.
Lord Shiva drank the poison to save the world. But, he did not swallow it
Putting It All Together:
The easiest way to worship Lord Shiva is to meditate on Lord Shiva with love and devotion. You can do Panchamrita Abhishek with proper devotion and love. You must remember that fasting and worshiping the shiva linga with water and Bel leaves is must, to get the blessings of Lord Shiva on this special day of Maha Shivaratri.
May Lord Shiva, Bless you all!