Tag Archives: Shivaratri

Mahashivaratri : Its Significance ~ Swami Chinmayananda

[Excerpts from talks & commentaries by Swami Chinmayananda]

SHIVARATRI is the day in India when winter ends and from the next day onwards it is summer. Positively the climate changes. The climate changes outside. The Ganges will be flooded because more of the lower layers of snow with be melting. So by this natural phenomena they fixed this particular day, because the day after SHIVARATRI the climate conditions must change. Where? Outside! Meteorological Department! No!! IT IS THE CLIMATE OF OUR MIND!!! After Realization, the Man of Realization gets up from his seat of meditation a totally different man. He is not the man who went to the seat of meditation. It is a complete transformation!

All movements in the Cosmos are elliptical, and therefore, the diagram of the ellipse represents our Cosmos. If that ellipse is half-buried, what would be seen on the surface is a SHIVA LINGA. So, the SHIVA LINGA represents the manifested and therefore, vividly visible part of the Cosmos, which is supported by the other part of the ellipse which is hidden from our vision. Thus, the universe of names and forms is the LINGA (symbol) for the Lord who supports it all.

A time when the usual world of plurality is blanketed away from our awareness of Pure infinite Subjective Experience is that which is indicated by SHIVARATRI. In order that it may come to the masses and the average man may spend time in lifting his mind, turning his mind’s attention to the Lord, it has been brought into a very significant ritual, dedicating this day to Lord Shiva. On this auspicious day, seekers rededicate themselves to the subjective science and the pursuit of excellence in their daily lives.In the present state of your ego, it sees very clearly MAHADEVA with name, form and all properties. When the ego in you through surrender to MAHADEVA comes to experience the awakening, the Essential Reality, that MAHADEVA represents a State of Eternal Auspiciousness and Bliss – SADASHIVA. Therefore, consistent and sincere sadhana is the bridge. Offer all your Rajas and Tamas to MAHADEVA – that is true Archana. As the Sattva predominates in you, your inner equipment become extremely pure and therefore steady in contemplation — there you experience SADASHIVA. 

A spiritual seeker’s sole purpose is to destroy the ego, and the “non-apprehension of the Reality” (Avidya), which is the cause for it. Where this destruction is complete, the very Lord of Destruction, SHIVA “alone” remains. Hence Lord Shiva is represented, often, as the Lord of Meditation. The ability inherent in us to destroy an undesirable thought in us is the “Shiva-Shakti”, the spirit of detachment. Invoking this “power-divine”, we, with the Grace of Lord Shiva, progress on our march from imperfections to PERFECTION. 

Quietened mind becomes contemplative and it becomes the grand way for realising the Shiva-State of Perfection. In the heat of contemplation, our vasanas get burnt down and if anything is burnt, it becomes the white ashes and theses ashes become an ornament “Bhooshana” of Lord Shiva. Beyond all vasanas is the PURE SELF. 

In Dhyan, the Mind, the seat of the separative Ego-centre melts and the relationships of I-seperate-from-my- Shiva….rolls off; the final experience is “I-am-Shiva.” This is ISHWARA DARSHAN — the vision in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum, in the Temple.

The process of Constructive Destruction is SHIVA, the Annihilator. Thus SHIVARATRI is the destruction of Ego in the discovery of the Self – SHIVA. 

May all devotees come to experience at least the shy rays of the early dawn at the end of one’s own inner “ratri” in the emerging beams of the Shiva-Spirit in us. Be quiet. Be silent within. Blind. Deaf. Mum. BE…..  Invoke. Be expectant. Let SHIVA happen. TRY….. May Lord Shiva’s Grace be upon all during this SHIVARATRI celebration!!

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Symbolism of Shiva & Significance of Shivaratri!

SHIVARATRI represents the State of Realisation – Jivanmukti. Ratri signifies darkness – the darkness of spiritual ignorance (Avidya). Shiva is the personification of Auspiciousness – the Awareness or the Knowing Principle. 

Where Shiva “is”; Ratri “is not” (Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya). To reach this Highest State, the spiritual seeker is advised UPAVASA and JAGARANA. 

Upa means “near”. Vasa means “to stay”. Therefore, UPAVASA not only means “fasting”, but in its broader perspective it means “to stay connected with the Higher God-principle”. JAGARANA means “to be alert and aware”. Hence, Upavasa and Jagarana means “to be constantly and consistently identified with the Lord and simultaneously to be in a state of inner awareness, so that the mind does not move away from its focus. In the inner Upavasa-Jagarana State alone, the Vision of the Divine can take place and this is referred to as Shiva Darshana. 

Lord Shiva is the Lord of Ascetics (Sanyasins). He is also the personification of Dispassion (Vairagya). As Dakshinamurthi, he represents the Adi Guru, imparting the Atma Vidya (Subjective Science) to his disciples through eloquent silence with the help of the Jnana Mudra (Chinmudra). As Nataraja, the Lord of Naada and Nritya, he represents the dynamic cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution – at the universal and individual levels. The SHIVA-LINGA represents the Formless-form of Lord Shiva. The Linga, in its truest form is actually elliptical in shape. It represents the entire Cosmos wherein all planets and celestial bodies are moving in elliptical paths (Keplers Laws of Planetary Motion)! The upper half of the elliptical-shaped Shiva Linga which is visible to us in the sanctum of the temples represents the manifested universe of things and beings. The lower portion of the elliptical-form which is not visible represents the Unmanifest, Absolute Substratum or the Adhishtana for the manifested universe. The elliptical-shape allows maximum absorption of spiritual energy from the Cosmos and radiation of the same to the surroundings.  

To the spiritual seeker, Lord Shiva represents both the PATH and the GOAL. Lord Shiva residing on the snow peaks of Kailasa represents Tapascharya (austerity). The All-pervading Lord is clothed with the very directions from all sides (Dik-ambara). The perennial flow of Ganga from his matted locks stands for the “flow of Spiritual Knowledge”. The moon adorning his head represents the mind which is well integrated with Knowledge! Parvati seated next to the Lord represents Shakti – the ability and capacity to walk the spiritual path. Sankara wears the eternal flow of Time as an ornament round his neck in the form of a snake. The Lord has three eyes representing the sun, moon and fire – the natural sources of light. The two horizontal eyes represent EXPANSIVENESS or SPACE. The third vertical eye represents DEPTH or TIME. Also, the Lord’s RIGHT eye represents the SUN (Life-force, Purusha). The LEFT eye represents the MOON (Matter, Prakriti). The relation between the two factors: Matter and Energy or Prakriti and Purusha, gives rise to the entire universe of things and beings. The THIRD EYE of the Lord represents VIVEKA or DISCRIMINATION or the FIRE-of-KNOWLEDGE which helps the seeker to transcend the concept of duality.

Shiva wields the three-pronged weapon in his hand – Trishula. The three prongs represent transcendence over: the three states (waking, dream, deep sleep), the three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas), three periods of time (past, present, future), and the three equipments (body, mind, intellect). Lord Shiva resides in the burning ghat (smashana vasi). The burning ghat represents the “inner state” of a realised person where the entire world of plurality with its names, forms, qualities and activities are all burnt up and transcended in the Fire of Spiritual Knowledge (Jnana-Agni). The only residue left behind is the One, Homogeneous White Ash – the Truth behind the entire plurality! The Lord adorns himself with this “Ash”. This is the Ultimate Glory – the Real Vibhuti – of a Man of Realisation. Lord Shiva has Nandi (Bull) as his vahana (vehicle). Nandi represents an individual who has complete mastery over his equipments as well as one who has totally surrendered to the Lord. Such an individual becomes the “fit instrument” for the Lord to function through for the welfare of the world. The Lord is invoked and worshipped with the sacred bilva leaves which are a cluster of three leaflets. The three represent all the tri-groups which one has to transcend in his seat of meditation to reach the State of Enlightenment – Iswara Darshana.

“Om Namah Shivaya! Hara Hara Mahadeva!!”

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Talks on Lord Shiva and Shivaratri : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa-mk1aBgQPQR0qtgX_KInYdqG_MKjV2L

Lord Shiva – Why we use Bilva for worship

Bilva leaves are used to worship Lord Shiva and is considered to be very auspicious. This leaf is a trifoliate, meaning it is a group of 3 leaflets.  The bilva leaves having 3 leaflets represents:

  • The Creator, The Sustainer, The Annihilator
  • Father, Mother and Guru
  • The paths of Jnana, Bhakti and Karma
  • Our Past, Present and Future experiences
  • The 3 gunas:  namely Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas (3 moods of the mind)
  • The Waking, Dream and Deep sleep States
  • The powers of Knowledge, Motivation and Implementation
  • The three worlds (Swarga, Martya and Naraka)
  • Body, Mind and Intellect

Kailash Manasa Yatra

Kailash Manasarovar

Ka – means Bliss.  The State of Bliss has no opposite, unlike happiness which has sorrow as its opposite. All our realized Masters are in the State of Bliss (Ananda). Kailasa signifies that State of Bliss (Moksha Dham) . Infact, Kailasa and Shiva are one and the same. Mukti (Enlightenment) means Shiva, and Shiva Sakshatkara is Bliss: Shiva – Ananda !!

Yatra:- Ya means “to move”. Tra (trayate ) means “that which helps us to cross over the ocean of sorrow/samsara”. Hence Kailasa Manasa is a Yatra – an inner pilgrimage to be undertaken within ourselves. Manasa Sarovara ( Manasa – mind, sarovara – lake). Manasa Sarovara represents our “mind-lake.” When the wind hits the lake waters, waves rise. And in the disturbed waters, the reflection of Mount Kailasa is distorted. But when the Manasa Sarovara is calm and the waters are absolutely still, we can see the glorious reflection of Kailasa. Similarly, when our mind is constantly whipped up by desire, jealousy, anger, etc., it is always in a state of disturbance. And in a disturbed mind, the reflection of the Light of Consciousness (Shiva-tattva) is distorted. Therefore, when our mind is absolutely calm, still and peaceful, the presence of the Lord within us is reflected in our minds. This is Iswara Darshana – the State of all Realized Masters who reflect the divinity of the Lord within.

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