Happy Shivaratri, to you and your families !
May the blessings of the Almighty be with us all!
This festival is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha according to the Hindu calendar.
This year, Maha Shivaratri falls on February 18th, 2023 on a Saturday.
Table of Contents
What does Shiva symbolize?
Shiva symbolizes consciousness, the masculine principle.His consort Shakti, symbolizes the feminine principle which is the activating power & energy.
According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva in his absolute form is the basic element of all energies of the cosmos.
What is Omkara?
In Hinduism, Omkara signifies the primordial sound from which the whole universe was created.
Om or Aum is also called the “Shabda Brahman“ – where the Almighty is considered to be in the the form of sound/vibration.
What is Shiva?
Shiva is an experience!
Yoga theory says that, by following the thread of Om/Aum during meditation, we reach a state of deeper and subtle levels of awareness.
This state of union with the primordial and absolute reality of the Almighty is what each yogi(the practitioner of yoga) aspires for all his/her life.
“Yoga doesn’t mean only asanas (physical postures) but yoga is that experience of Shiva which happens in meditation. It is when that ‘wow’ happens from within”
Who is Adiyogi?
Adiyogi is the originator of yoga.
In Sanskrit, “Adi” means “first” and “yogi” refers to a practitioner of yoga.
According to yogic philosophy, Shiva is not only a Hindu god, but the first yogi and the first guru. Hence, he is also called Adiyogi or Adiguru.
How can one know Shiva?
‘Tapo yoga gamya‘ (a verse from Veda Saara Shiva Stotram by Adishankaracharya) teaches that, one can experience or know Shiva, through tapas (penance) and yoga.
When one mediates on “Omkara” the primordial sound of the Universe, one comes to know him.
Om/Aum is not something you repeat, instead Om/Aum is something you hear when you go into a deeper state of meditation.
How do you understand Shiva?
In deeper meditative states, in a state of stillness, the wisdom of the shruti’s((Sanskrit word for “What Is Heard”) arise.
This wisdom that arises within the silence space created during deeper meditative states, let’s one understand Shiva(says Adi Shankaracharya in his verse “Shruti Gyan Gamyah” from the Veda Saara Shiva Stotram)
We humans have three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and sleeping, and then, there is a fourth state of consciousness where we are neither awake, nor dreaming, nor sleeping.It is a state where the mind is awake but the body is resting, and one knows they are present, but do not know where they are – this is Shiva, and this state is experienced in meditation.
That glimpse of the fourth state is called Shiva Tattva (Tattva means principle). When you sit and meditate, you get in touch with the Shiva Tattva deep inside you.
This state gives one, the deepest rest possible that one can experience.
The mind becomes fresh, delicate, beautiful and innocent.
Shiva, The Unconventional God of Contradictions
The mere mention of the word Shiva has a ring of mystery & curiosity around it, the unfathomable, yet infinite divinity.
The enlightened experience him as an energy, yet to make him comprehensible to the rest of us, he was given a form.
An Unconventional God of Contradictions, Shiva, forms one of the trinities of deities worshipped in Hinduism.
Known as Rudra (the one who possesses the anger of a storm in motion)
The innocent one
Kala Samhara(the destroyer of ego & ignorance)
Vaitheeswarar( the God of Healing)
Adhiyogi( the epitome of yoga who leads a celibate life)
Also as the one worshipped for fertility with Shakti in Tantra ( a form of intimacy deeply connected to weaving & expansion of energy through mind body connection)
Kailashanathar (one who dwells in Mount Kailash)
Smashana Adhipati(depicted as sitting in the smashana/cremation grounds)
One who has an unconventional dressing sense and is portrayed wearing a deer skin around his waist, sporting the rudraksha beads around his neck or arms, often associated with goblins and spirits (ganas)
….yet benovolent & the most merciful one when it comes to his devotees, saving them from death’s very claws (Mritunjaya mantra)
A lover of dance both Tandava ( a powerful dance which is performed in anger/rudra, is considered the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution )
It is a dance performed with grace & beauty, along with his consort Shakti.
Lasya is said to be the response to the male energy of the cosmic dance of Tandava).
Known as Pasupati ( a lover of animals)
Dakshinamurthy, the first guru, teacher, storyteller, the personification of the ultimate awareness, understanding and knowledge, the only deity in Hinduism that faces south,
Widely popular as Ardhanareeshwara, a composite androgynous form of the Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati, the Ardhanareeshvara represents a constructive and generative power.
Ardhanareeshvara symbolizes male and female principles that cannot be separated. It conveys the unity of opposites in the universe.
The male half stands for Purusha and female half is Prakriti. Ardhanareeshvara harmonizes the two conflicting ways of life: The spiritual way of the ascetic as represented by Shiva, and the materialistic way of the householder symbolized by Parvati.
Shiva is all encompassing.
The phenomenon called Shiva, breaks all conventions!
Maha Shivaratri , is a celebration of this phenomenon called Shiva and an annual Hindu Festival
This mysticism and his paradoxical nature is what makes Shiva one of the most revered and worshipped deities in Hinduism.
May his grace bestow on all of us who are charmed and intrigued by this all pervading energy and have known him in all his subtle and obvious forms.
A blessed Shivaratri to each one of us !