Guiding Light: Maha Shivaratri

Guiding Light: Maha Shivaratri

Dr. S. AinavoluUpdated: Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 08:18 PM IST
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Shivaratri happens once every month and is known as “Maasa Shivaratri”. Once a year the Shivaratri happening in the amantha month of Maagha is celebrated in a grand manner and known as “Maha Shivaratri”.

Shiva’s name means “Shubham”, good outcome. This often is counterintuitive to the notion that Shiva is “Laya karaka”, meaning the cleansing destroyer. Shiva is one of the famous trinity along with Bramha and Vishnu. The expectation of the roles assigned to each was different viz. creation, sustenance, and laya respectively. Shiva was neutral when the debate between Bramha and Vishnu happened around supremacy. Shiva offers a solution that whoever shall find the beginning/end of his jyoti/linga form shall be pronounced the winner. Vishnu sets downward but returns accepting his inability to find the beginning. Brahma concocts evidence to prove that he reached the “top”, which was not the case. Shiva appreciates Vishnu’s honesty and punishes Brahma for the untruth, by beheading one of his five heads. When we conduct ourselves righteously and live in “Satya”, we are living Shiva.

Shiva is jnana-swaroopa. Shiva is worshipped as “Samba-Shiva”, which is “Sa”+”Amba”+”Shiva”, meaning “Shiva together with Mother”. Together is oneness. Togetherness indicates fulfillment and completion. Shiva is deemed complete with Shakti, and capable of fulfilling all deeds. Similarly, Goddess is addressed as “Shiva-Shaktaikya Roopini”, meaning “form together of Shiva and Shakti”.

The day before the Amavasya (new moon day) on which Shivaratri happens has great material and spiritual significance. Typically, it is celebrated at night time, hence the word “ratri” in the festival’s name. It is on Chatur-Dashi (4+10, fourteenth) day when the moon is almost non-existing and weak. This is the time for a new beginning. It signifies rejuvenation. From a materialistic perspective worship of Shiva strengthens one’s Moon in the astrological chart. The related benefits get magnified and losses get mitigated. Spiritually, the union of Shiva and Shakti that is celebrated on Shivaratri indicates “oneness” and bringing together of jnana and karma, meaning knowledge and action. Formidable combination indeed!

Shiva assumes different forms. As Dakshinamurthy, he offers us jnana. As Rudra, he presents action. As Sambashiva, he represents the ideal grihasta, a householder. Reciting or doing nama-japa of Shiva clears one’s Karma and clarifies life perspective.

Prof S Ainavolu is a teacher of tradition and management. He is with VPSM, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. You may read more at https://www.ainavolu.in/blog

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