2-10 March, 2013: Mahashivratri is always a power-packed event in the world of spiritual practitioners. On this day (or night) the state of the cosmos is such that it greatly helps a willing aspirant to go within. Acts of charity, penance, japa or other practices undertaken on this day bear greater fruits. Hence, in spiritual traditions the night of Shivratri is spent in awareness of one’s Divine nature – Shiva.
This year Mahashivratri celebrations started from the second day of March with the Advanced Kriya Yoga Shivir for the initiated, dedicated practitioners.
Thereafter, starting from March 7, another general Shivir open to all, was held.
The night of Shivratri was spent chanting, singing, dancing, meditating before a huge form of Agni Deva. Next day the celebrations were completed with a grand satsanga sabha, followed by open meals (bhandaara or langar) to hundreds.
Below is an attempt at an English version of the discourse given in Punjabi on the day of Mahashivratri.
The Significance of Mahashivratri: Discourse
It is Shivratri today. Many greetings to all for the same. Greetings are due today because this is a special day. It is special because any works of charity, service, japa, sadhana etc. done on this day yield greater fruits than usual.
Just like the earth is fertile somewhere and barren at other places, similarly, this day (or night) of Shivratri is special because on this day waves of great shakti (energy) and jnana (divine wisdom) descend on earth from beyond the cosmos. On Shivratri and many similar occasions these waves flood the earth and if we just put some efforts from our own side we can get great results.
The word ratri (i.e. night) is present in the names of many occasions, like Shivratri, Navratri etc. There are other occasions like Raam Navmi where there is no mention of ratri (night). The basic idea is just that all these occasions are opportunities to practice. However, those occasions which have a link to the night are especially linked to sadhana. On these occasions, when there is night in our hearts, we get special “subsidy” from the Divine to help dispel that darkness. If we will make use of it we will get greater benefits.
Let us move on now to the next point. It is the following. The human body is a miniature universe. It has been said “Jo brahmande soi pinde” (i.e. what is there in the Universe is also present in this body), but the next line says “Jo khoje so paave” (i.e. one who searches for it, attains it). For us, three entities in the Universe are especially important: the sun, the moon, and the earth. Their influence is exerted on the beings living on earth. It is true that the rest of the Universe also has its influence but their influence too is channeled through the sun and the moon.
When the sun has set and the day has turned into night, the light from the moon floods the earth. But what is the source of the moon’s light and its freshness? Yes, everybody knows now that the light from the sun falls on the moon. The moon absorbs the rays from the sun and transforming them into rasa, rains them down on the earth. The direct link between the sun and the moon is gradually severed when the earth moves between them. And ultimately we reach the Amaavasya (the night of no moon). During this time the rays of the sun do not fall directly on the moon. Yes, on some occasions it is Poornmaashi also (the night of the full moon); on such occasions there is immense light.
A similar story goes on within our body too. Consider the body to be the earth. Within it, in the navel resides the sun and in the head resides the moon. Numerous nights-of-the-dark-moon occur here too. So too occur the nights of full moon. The same occasions that occur in the Universe are also created within the body also.
When the rays of the sun in the navel do not reach the moon in the head, it is darkness within. Then the intellect is impure, unable to discriminate and grasp the subtle truths. When the consciousness is active just in the lowest center (mooladhara) it is the night of darkness or Amaavasya. Similarly, when the light rays rise up and enter the head it is Poornmaashi. But this is a very rare state. Most are just stuck in the first or the second days of the inner-fortnight. Very rarely when the tenth door opens does someone reaches Ekadashi (11th day of the fortnight).
In the cosmos these cycles go on according to the natural law. But within the body, which is under the dominion of the ego, we remain stuck in the ekam (first) or the duja (second) days. The night of the full moon never occurs. It is the law that this cycle of the sun and the moon goes on in just the right way. On the Chaudash (fourteenth day) of the month before Phagun or at the end of Maaghi, Mahashivratri is celebrated. At Chaudash it is about to get completely dark. The next night will be the night of no moon. There are two ways to understand this.
In the external cycle, when there is the sun, there is no moon and vice versa. Mahashivratri comes when there is neither the sun nor the moon. Usually the rays of the sun fall on the moon which it reflects to the earth. But what if the rays of the sun fall on the moon and it just absorbs all of them! In that case there is neither the sun nor the moon. Gurbani describes this event in this way, “Sasi ghar soor vase mite andhiyaara”. Sasi implies the moon. When the sun spreads from the navel to the head, the sun and the moon unite. Then, in such a case, there is neither the sun nor the moon. The earth comprising of anger, greed, attachment becomes barren, devoid of the sun and the moon. The entire consciousness rises from the body-earth and the jiva living in this body unites with the Divine, that state is called Samadhi.
But in Shivratri this union is not complete. It is still Chaudash. Some awareness of “I” is still there. “I am” exists. Yet, this “I” is the one that beholds the Divine. This is the Mahashivratri that occurs in our body. A practitioner who tries to celebrate this Shivratri in his body is greatly assisted because on such an occasion (Mahashivratri in the Universe), the state of the Universe is especially conducive for this practice. The rays of the sun fall on the moon and get absorbed. The light of the Divine descends on the Earth. For practitioners this is a day of great significance.
Now, one should not mistake these for mere fantasies or tales. We will give one proof for this. It is a true example. It not only occurred with us but with the practitioners sitting on the stage and many others sitting here in this gathering. There is a place called Satopanth above Badrinath. About 29 people had gone there with us. Many of them were from village Malke: Darsha, Jasbir, Baaba, Laddaa, Sarbi et. al. Many others were also there. And all of them had those experiences. It was the day of Ekadashi. This day has its significance everywhere but there in Satopanth it manifests in all its glory and occurs every time for any aspirant who will go there. Even if they didn’t want it everyone got experiences of dharnaa, dhayana, opening up of the inner paths – the intensity of the experiences was governed by their ability to absorb what was happening.
Satopanth is not easily accessible. It is 25 km above Badrinath. There is no trail to follow and the path changes every year because of glacial activity. Therefore, that place is devoid of worldly samskaras and influences. And on the day of Ekadashi, that shakti descends there which an aspirant can absorb and go within.
Similarly, on Shivratri and other such occasions mentioned and verified by the Shastras, a direct link with the cosmos is established. The only obstacles to this link exist in our hearts, our minds. Those minds which are troubled with anxieties, doubts, attractions to the objects of the world create the obstacles in absorbing the descent of shakti which happens on such occasions. And because of this immediate results are not obtained.
And despite this one can get results. Though the external environment be laden with worldly influences, thoughts, vibes etc. but if one can only cleanse one’s own heart, that will also do. On such days, atleast take a decision like “I will not speak a lie today”. It is only merely for 24 hours and is no difficult. “I will not become angry today”, “I will fast today”, “I will not commit any wrong today”, “I will not see any wrong today”, “I will not speak anything bad, nor chit-chat about others”. Atleast take some such resolve for these days. And along with this do the practice with simple-mindedness and devotion. This can bring great results.
And still if results are not obtained then the reason is just this. We are just going outwards and outwards. We are finding faults in others but are turning our back on our own faults. If one manages to get some glimpse of the within on these days that glimpse will be always there. And we will continue to get the motivation to practice even during the routine days. So such days like Shivratri have great significance. Along with this we want to say another simple thing.
On Chaudash it isn’t totally dark yet. It marks the day of Shivratri. Yes, if it had been totally dark, then it would not work. If one has become disappointed from all corners, if one is struggling to find any path to move ahead – within or without. If one is in such a state that the lamp is about to go out, but has not gone out yet. The prana has lost its force. One has entered a state of depression and dejection. But despite all this if one still has a wish somewhere, in some corner of one’s heart to be helped, be shown the path ahead; if even this desire is not there then nothing can be done; so, even when there is just one ray of hope, in such a state too if one can surrender truly to the Guru, to God –then too one will absorb the grace of Mahashivratri. But this surrender should not be done with expectations. It should be whole-hearted. Surrender is always done without asking. Yes, one can say, “This is what I want, but let Thy will be done”. If one can surrender thus, then the festival of Mahashivratri says that even in such a state the light of knowledge, bliss will enter one’s life.
Yes, one can also attain Samadhi on this day but that is for sadhakas. Even for those who feel themselves all lost but carry in their heart a wish, a hope that something good should happen to them – their wish too can be fulfilled on this day. With such a wish, if one goes to the sanctuary of saints, hoping that they will become one’s bridge to God then too so much can happen.
The Gita consists of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna was in a miserable state. And was so when the battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas was just about to begin. He saw before him his own relatives against whom the battle was to be waged. He was in such pain and misery that he couldn’t stand and thus sat back dejected on the seat of his chariot. His bow slipped away from his hold. And he said, “I cannot fight this battle.” Now, if Arjuna will refuse to fight then who will punish the sinners? Arjuna was the ‘law’ of King Yudhishtra. If the law itself becomes handicapped then how can order be established! This was his state, but all was not lost. It was Chaudash. Even in such a state he says to the Lord, “Shishyasteham, sadhi maam tvaam prapannam”. He says, I am in your sanctuary. You tell me what is right what is wrong. But adds, “I cannot fight”.
The Lord answers, we will attend later to the battle. But you have at least come here. You have turned your face towards Me. It is Chaudash – there is a desire that someone should tell me the right path. This humble, meek calling became a means of manifesting the blazing fire of knowledge called the Gita.
Similarly, it happens in the world. One has worked and worked and failed and one gets dejected. One cannot work more. But even then do not give up. You may not work further. That is fine. But even in such a state, you can surrender. One can enter the sanctuary of the Guru with a true heart – that will also bring about Shivratri. But surrender means: whatsoever I am, howsoever I am, I am yours. When my face is towards you and your hand is behind me, then I will not do any wrong. As you will say, I will do, but if I will not understand, I will ask. In the Gita there are 700 verses in 18 chapters. Lord Krishna said many things, but Arjuna kept on questioning. He didn’t stop when Lord told you are the Atman. He said, it could be, but I do not understand this. First you tell me, what is the result of believing one to be so, how is one to do one’s work, what is devotion etc. etc. he went on asking and asking, until he understood. This is surrender.
And what usually goes on with us! The saint said something. And someone will say, “Fine”. But you can’t question him again. “You do not question saints”, people say. But if one will not understand then how can one truly come to believe! You say to meditate, do seva. But I do not understand. In such a case then, go on asking. You will keep on getting answers and you will go on moving ahead. The path will open up. The Lord will come. Shivratri will be celebrated. Surrender does not mean that we have fallen at your feet and now we will not do anything. That “I am unable to do anything” – this is different for saying “I will not do anything”. They are totally opposite.
If one cannot lift a heavy load, lift at least a feather. Do what you can. If you can’t do great tapas etc. at least do what you can with total devotion and enthusiasm. Keep your face towards the Lord and go on moving ahead step by step. Certainly a day will come when we will become united to the Lord.
We will just add one more thing. As Swami Suryendu Puri also said, Shiva is not a man like us with hands, and arms and legs. Because of television serials one thinks that Shiva is also a man like us. But this is not the truth. Not going into Puranas, we will talk just from Gurbani. It is said, “Shiva-Shakti app upaayeke, kartaa aape hokum vartaaye.” The Akaal Purusha presents himself in the form of Shiva and Shakti. When there is nothing, there is only Akaal Purusha, absorbed in Samadhi. This is a state of beyond Creation. But when the Sankalpa to create arose, he manifested in the form of Shiv Shakti. Thus Shiva-Shakti are the Saguna Saakaar (qualified and having a form) of the Akaal Purusha. The five elements and the three qualities that make up our bodies and all the worlds till Brahmloka come very much later on. The Shiv-tattva is beyond all of them. It is the Akaal Purusha who has manifested as Shiva-Shakti and all this play is underway. It is both with a form and formless. For our convenience we give a form to Shiva. There is not so much time to elaborate. But these forms are just to concentrate our mind. Because our mind can only think in such terms! But Shiva-Shakti is a wave of power. The five elements are formed from it – it is called Ek Omkaar. From this Shakti, come Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and other divine beings.
So what is implied is that though we may give a form to such divine energies it should be clear that they are not embodies beings like I take myself to be. The energy of the Divine takes such a form and that energy is not inanimate. That energy is alive. It can take a form as per the emotion of the devotee too. It has a form, and it is beyond form too. It is alive. And on special occasions like Shivratri it showers down on earth too. Our work is just that we should turn ourselves towards it and try to join to it. If this can be done, then it will be a brilliant Shivratri, else we wait for the next time. The divine is every ready. But we have got this opportunity now. So let us awaken now. “