The gist of all worship: to be PURE and to DO GOOD to others. He who sees SHIVA in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. If he sees Shiva only in the Image, his WORSHIP is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste or creed or race or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples..
– Swami Vivekananda
Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the god Shiva. … It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non injury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva.
This major festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of “OVERCOMING DARKNESS AND IGNORANCE“ in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non injury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva.
Shivratri is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the festival owes its origins to several versions,
According to ancient legends, Mahashivratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that on the night of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava dance. On this day, Lord Shiva saved the world from a pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan, by drinking it.(which is why he also came to be known as Neelkanth).
According to another legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation TANDAVA, preservation and destruction. The significance of dance tradition to this festival has historical roots. The Maha Shivaratri has served as a historic confluence of artists for annual dance festivals at major Hindu temples such as at Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera and Chidambaram. This event is called Natyanjali, literally “worship through dance”, at the Chidambaram temple which is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra
A beautiful story associated with the holy festival of Mahashivaratri.
A tiger was chasing a man and the man out of fear ran and ran and finally climbed a tree and sat on its branch. The tiger was also following the man and sat just under the tree. The man out of fear started plucking the leaves of the Bilawa and dropped them one by one to keep him awake whole night. Next day morning, Lord Shiva appeared before the man and blessed him. The man attained liberation.
Bilwa leaf has three segments representing all these three gunas.
Three Gunas i.e. Tamas, Rajas and Satwik are Structure, Metabolism and Intellect.
Tamas is dull, lethargic and fearful representing the physical body.
Rajas are feelings and emotions representing the mental personality in the form of tiger.
Satwic is intellect in the form of plucking Bilwa leaves and offering them just below the Shivalinga.
If one uses these three i.e.physical, mental and intellectual in a balanced manner, the self or the soul attains liberation i.e. Moksha. Jyothir Ling indicates the Gunas within us i.e. Tamas, Rajas and Satwic. If they are balanced, life is blissful
A more Scientific Explanation of Maha Shivratri
- Ratri is Dark which is Ignorance.
- Ignorance begets Fear.
- Knowledge begets Confidence.
There are two forces acting on us and they are Positive Force and Negative Force. Faith is the positive force enriching Human Lives. Doubt is the negative force robbing of Glow and Meaning. Siva means Movement/Action. Soul is eternal and it is a continuous process of identifying itself to The Supreme.
Maha Mrityunjaya is a Powerful Mantra . Its energy protects and guides the initiates a mantra re-links consciousness to its deeper and more abiding nature and repetition of the mantra constitutes Japa, the practice of which develops concentration that leads to a transformation of awareness. Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is meant for healing rejuvenation and nurturance
Tryambakam yajamahe, Sugandhim pushti-vardhanam, Urvarukamiva bandhanan,Mrityor mukshiya mamritat
Tryambakam: The Three eyed lord (Shiva) who sees what we can see but who also sees what we can not see. Yajamahe: Yajanam is invocation; I invoke. Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanama: Increase my good vasanas (not of material aspects like gold, money,sex, anger, the 6 enemies etc.) Urvarukam iva bandhanaan mrityor mukshiyam amritaat: (my soul is) like a cucumber bound (to the body), please free me from the captivity of death and give me immortality.
OM Namah Shivaya…. Meaning : I bow to Shiva.
Shishir V Mandya