MAHASHIVRATRI FESTIVAL CELEBRATION AND RELEVANT OF YOGA
12 Mar 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy
MAHASHIVRATRI FESTIVAL CELEBRATION AND RELEVANT OF YOGA
In the daily hustle and bustle of life, busy and crazy day, we almost forget our root of life and source of energy – that which is running us. Mahashivratri is a festival to remember and to take our awareness to the basis of our existence: The cause behind the celebration of Shivaraatri is as follows.
- One is that Lord Shiva married Parvati on this day. So, it is a celebration of this sacred union.
- Second is that when the Gods and demons churned the ocean together to obtain ambrosia that lay in its depths, a pot of poison emerged. Lord Shiva consumed this poison, saving both the Gods and mankind. The poison lodged in the Lord’s throat, turning him blue. To honor the savior of the world, Shivratri is celebrated.
- Third is that as Goddess Ganga descended from heaven in full force, Lord Shiva caught her in his matted locks, and released her on Earth as several streams. This prevented destruction on Earth. As a tribute to Him, the Shivalinga is bathed on this auspicious night.
- The fourth is believed that the formless God Sadaashiva appeared in the form of a Lingodhbhava Murti at midnight. Hence, people stay awake all night, offering prayers to the God.
Importance of Mahashivaraatri as Yogic prospective
Mahashivratri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path. It is also very significant for people who are in family situations and also for the ambitious in the world. People who live in family situations observe Mahashivaraatri as Shiva’s wedding anniversary. Those with worldly ambitions see that day as the day Shiva conquered all his enemies.
But, for the ascetics, it is the day he became one with Mount Kailash. He became like a mountain – absolutely still. In the yogic tradition, Shiva is not worshiped as a God, but considered as the Aadi Guru, the first Guru from whom the science of Yoga originated. After many millennia in meditation, one day he became absolutely still. That day is called Mahashivaraatri. All movement in him stopped and he became utterly still, so ascetics see Mahashivaraatri as the night of stillness and victory.
What should do on Mahashivaraatri?
Mahashivaraatri is the day to honor and celebrate Lord Shiva — honor life and celebrate existence. Most people spend the day of Mahashivaraatri in prayer, meditation and celebration. Here is a list of what should do on Mahashivaraatri:
Observe Upavaasa / Fasting; Chants mantras and devotional songs/dance;
Visit temples and Yoga schools; Attend Mahashivaraatri Puja;
Worship the Shivalinga; Meditate;
(1) Observe fasting on the day of Mahashivaraatri –
Fasting (Upavaasa or Vrata) detoxifies the body and curtails the restlessness of the mind. A mind that is not restless slips into meditation easily. Therefore, fasting on Mahashivaraatri serves to detoxify the body and aid meditation. It is recommended to fast with fruits or foods that are easily digestible.
(2) Chant Mantras and Devotional songs:
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the perfect mantra to chant on Mahashivratri, as it immediately elevates your energy. ‘Om’, in the mantra, refers to the sound of the universe. It means peace and love. The five letters, ‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Vaa’, ‘Ya’ in ‘Namah Shivaya’ indicate the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ harmonizes the five elements of the universe. When there is peace, love and harmony in all the five elements, then there is bliss and joy.
3) Visit temples and Yoga schools;
on the auspicious day of Shiva, people usually visit Shiva Temples and Yoga Ashram/schools. The Pashupati, a great Hindus Temple of the world, the first Yoga School of Shiva, the school of Paashupat Yoga in Kathmandu, Nepal, more than one millions hindus visit on that day of Shivaraatri every year.
4) Attend Mahashivratri Puja
– Mahashivratri Puja is a special ceremony performed to honor Lord Shiva. It involves singing special Vedic mantras accompanied by certain rituals. Rudra Puja brings positivity and purity to the environment and transforms negative emotions. Participating in the Puja and listening to the chants helps the mind slip into meditation effortlessly.
(5) Worship the Shivalinga
The Shivalinga is a symbolic representation of the formless Shiva. Worshiping the Shivalinga includes offering ‘Bel Patra’ (leaves of the bel tree) to it. Offering ‘Bel Patra’ represents offering three aspects of your being – rajas (the aspect of you that is responsible for activity), tamas (the aspect of you that brings inertia) and sattva (the aspect of you that brings positivity, peace, and creativity which affect your mind and actions. Surrendering the three to the Divine brings peace and freedom.
6. Meditate on Mahashivratri
– keep awake and do meditation. ‘Wake the Divinity that is deep within you. The Divinity is within you, let it wake up!
Mahashivratri – A Night of Awakening
Mahashivaraatri is an opportunity and a possibility to bring yourself to that experience of the vast emptiness within every human being, which is the source of all creation. On the one hand, Shiva is known as the destroyer. On the other, he is known as the most compassionate. He is also known to be the greatest of the givers. The yogic lore is rife with many stories about Shiva’s compassion. The ways of expression of his compassion have been incredible and astonishing at the same time. Let this night not just be a night of wakefulness, let this night be a night of awakening for you.
Shivaraatri – The Darkest Night of the Month
Shivaratri, the night of Shiva, is the most important day of the year to worship Lord Shiva. It occurs at the dark of the moon, specifically the 13/14 tithis just before the New Moon, showing Shiva’s mastery over all the mysteries of the mind (the Moon). One stays up all night performing special rituals and mantras to Shiva as the supreme reality to awaken his power within us. Yet monthly Shivaratris occur every month and can be used to worship him in the same manner.
Celebrating Shivaraatri on a monthly basis, and the particular day, Mahashivaraatri, almost seems like celebration of darkness. Any logical mind would resist darkness and naturally opt for light. But the word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” “That which is,” is existence and creation. “That which is not” is Shiva. “That which is not” means, if you open your eyes and look around, if your vision is for small things, you will see lots of creation. If your vision is really looking for big things, you will see the biggest presence in the existence is a vast emptiness.
Lord Shiva is also called Adiyogi or Adi Guru. This is because he is considered to be the first of all yogis and the original yoga teacher. Thus, many yoga practitioners will celebrate the holiday of Maha Shivaratri to honor the deity who blessed them with the practice of yoga. Aadi Yogi so they might experience the upward surge of energy through the channels around the spine.
Shiva’s symbolism on Yoga
Shiva is most famous as having three eyes or Tryambakam. The third eye of Shiva is the inner eye of unitary awareness and higher perception beyond all duality. Shiva as the lord of the mountain, the Himalayas in general and Mount Kailas in particular, represents the mountain of meditation which also the mountain of the spine and the subtle body, the great cosmic mountain.
The river Ganga that flows down on Shiva’s head represents the immortal stream of higher yogic awareness from planes and lokas beyond this material world. The Shiva Linga, his upward focused energy, represents the ascending power of Yoga, the silent mind of Samadhi and the yogic state of transcendence, the pillar that supports the entire universe.
Shiva’s consort as Devi or Shakti, the Divine Mother, is the Yoga Shakti, the power of yoga always honored along with him, seen as the left half of his own body. From the Kundalini Shakti in the human being to the power of consciousness (Chit-shakti) at a cosmic level, she mirrors her magnificence and allows us to experience it.
Lord Shiva, among the great deities of Hinduism, most personifies the practice of Yoga known as Aadiyogi. As Yogeshvara, the great lord of Yoga, Aadi Natha, Aadi Guru and Mahaayogi, he rules over all aspects of Yoga relative to body, mind and consciousness. For those looking to understand the origins of Yoga and the role of all yoga practices within it, they must first look to Lord Shiva, not only relative to religious concerns and the historical teachings, but as the eternal presence of Yoga as the Supreme Consciousness and ultimate reality behind the universe.