(I-DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, FEBRUARY 2012)
In the second half of the (Krishna Paksha) of every Lunar month, the fourteenth day is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Shivarathri is celebrated in a grand way in the month of Maagha the 11th Lunar month (11th solar month Maasi). This Shivaraathri is called Maha Shivarathri. This occurs in February or March. The celebrations take place mainly in the evening and night. This was the day Shiva was married to Parvathi.
Puranic legends describe the origin of Mahashivarathri ceremony to the story of the Ocean-churning (Samudra mathana). As the universe expanded and creation progressed according to Brahma's design, "Kaalakoota" (poison for life) emerged from the primordial universe. This terrified Devas and Asuras as it was capable of shrinking the entire universe back to nothing and they ran to Shiva for help. To protect the world from the evil effects, Shiva drank the deadly poison, but Parvathi held it in his throat to prevent the poison, from being swallowed. Due to this, his neck turned blue, and thus he came to be called Neelakanta (the blue throated). This happened at midnight on the day preceding the new moon in the month of Maagha. This day came to be known as Maha Shivarathri and this day became an auspicious day for Shiva.
On this day devotees visit Shiva temples, specifically Jyotirlinga temples to seek the blessings of the Lord. They observe a strict fast and keep awake the whole night, chanting with devotion, the Pancha-akshara mantra (five letter chanthing) "Om Namaha Shivaaya". The Lord in the form of Shivalinga is worshipped by offering "Abhisheka" (sacred bath) each three hours period of night. Archana is performed with "bilva" leaves to invoke His grace. Shivarathri is an important day for spiritual seekers. Lord Shiva is an embodiment of renunciation. "Sanyaasa Deeksha" (entering into a hermit's life) is given on this day to the seekers committed to pursuit of divine knowledge.
The twelve Jyotirlingas are located in twelve holy places in India and symbolically in all Shiva temples. The Lord who is believed to be manifested in the form of light is worshipped as "Jyotirlinga:
1) Ramanatha temple at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
2) Mallikarjuneswara temple on the banks of the Krishna river at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh
3) Bheema Sankara temple at Daakini, near Poona in Maharashtra,
4) Tryambakeswara temple on the banks of the Godavari River near Nasik in Maharashtra,
5) *Gusmeswara temple near Aurangabad in Maharashtra,
6) Omkaareswara temple on the banks of Narmada river at Amaleswar in Madhya Pradesh,
7) Somanath temple at Somanath in Gujarat,
8) Naaganatha temple at Daarukavana near Dwaraka in Gujarat,
9) Mahakaaleswara temple on the banks of the Kshipra river at Ujjain
10) Kedareswara temple in Kedarnath in Uttarachal
11) Kaasi Viswanath temple at Banares in Uttra Pradesh
12) Vaidyanatheswara temple near Jaisidh in Bihar
* Sri Gusmeswara is also represented by a form known as "lingodbhava", on the western towers of the sanctum, in all Shiva temples
The word Linga in Sanskrit means a symbol. The linga is a shape which has no particular form. If all the forms in creation were put together, they will form an un-definable form of lump which is symbolized by lingam. The lingam represents the formless form of the Supreme. With the advent of Tantra Yoga, esoteric philosophy emerged, addressing the masculine and feminine principles in the creation. During this time the Shivalinga came to be looked upon by some people as representing the union of masculine and feminine aspects, symbolized
as "phallus". However, there seems to be no known reference of such a meaning in the Vedas.
In the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma while resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma refers to the observance of Mahaashivarathri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows: Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty who ruled over the whole of Jambhudweepa was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivarathri. The sage Astaavakra who came on a visit to the court, was curious to know why he was observing the fast on that day. The king had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth, therefore could explain to the sage as to why he was observing the fast on that particular day. The king in his previous birth was a hunter in Vaaranaasi (Banares). His name was Suswara. His livelihood was to kill and sell animals and birds. One day, while he was roaming in search of animals, he was overtaken by darkness and was unable to return home. He climbed up a tree for shelter. It happened to be a 'bael' tree. He had killed a deer that day but had no time to take it home. He bundled up the carcass and tied it to the branch of the tree. As he was tormented by hunger and thirst, he kept awake throughout the night. He was sad and thought that his wife and children would be starving because he did not return home with the kill. To pass time he engaged in plucking the bael leaves and dropped them to the ground. This was also a way to keep him awake, lest sleep overcame him and he fell a prey to the beasts of the forest. The day dawned; he returned home and after selling his prey, he bought food and took it home to his family. As he was about to eat, a stranger came to his door, begging for food. Being a kind man, he served the stranger first and then ate after he finished his food. On his death bed he saw two messengers of Lord Shiva who had been sent down to guide the hunter's soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. It was then that he learnt of the great merit he had earned by the unconscious and un attached worship of Lord Shiva that night he spent on the tree. To his surprise he found out that there was a Linga at the bottom of the tree for which he was offering the bael leaves. His tears of sadness for his family, had washed the Linga, and he had fasted all day and night, unconsciously worshipping Shiva. He lived in the abode of Lord Shiva and enjoyed the divine bliss for a long time and then was reborn as Chitrabhanu on earth.
Lord Shiva has explained in His own words to Paarvathi the importance of Shivarathri, which has been passed on to us by the pious ruling prince on earth.
"The fourteenth night of the new moon in the dark fortnight during the month of Maagha is my favorite day. It is known as Shivarathri. My devotees give me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths and offerings of flowers, sweets or incense. The devotees observe strict spiritual discipline during the day and worship me in the four different forms during each of the successive three hour periods of the night. The offering of a few bael leaves is more precious to me than precious jewels and flowers. My devotees should bathe me in milk at the first period, in curds (yogurt) during the second period, in clarified butter (ghee) during the third period and honey in the fourth period. Next morning they should feed the Saadhus (pious men) first and after performing the prescribed ceremonies, they can break their fast. Oh Parvathi! There is no ritual which can compare with this simple routine, in sanctity".
The two great natural forces that affect men are, "rajas" (the quality of passionate activity), and "tamas" (that of inertia). The Shivarathri vrata aims at perfect control of those two. The entire day is spent at the feet of the Lord.
Continuous worship of the Lord necessitates the devotee's constant presence at the place of worship. Motion is under control; evils like lust, anger and jealousy born of rajas are ignored and subdued. The devotee observes vigil throughout the night and thus conquering tamas also. Constant vigilance is imposed on the mind. Every three hours a round of worship of the Shiva lingam is conducted. The formal worship consists of bathing Lord Shiva, who is considered to be a form of light. He is burning with the fire of austerity. Therefore he is best propitiated with a cool bath. While bathing the Lingam the devotees pray "Oh Lord I bathe thee with water milk etc. Do thou bathe me with the milk of wisdom; do thou kindly wash me of all my sins so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me, may be put out once for all, so that I may be one with Thee". Special poojas are conducted on Shivarathri night at all the five famous Shiva temples of South India, where Shiva is worshipped in the form of five elements. The elemental form of Shiva worship represents the Lord as the creation which is made up of the five elements; space, air, fire, water and earth. The drum which produces the 14 letters' sound, stands for the element of space. His matted locks held together by a bandana or band represent the air, being invisible to the naked eye, its
presence is inferred by the symbols. Fire is shown in one hand in the form of a torch and water is represented by the Ganga flowing from his matted locks (head). Earth is represented by the whole form and the ashes smeared on the body of the Lord.
At Chidambaram, Lord Shiva is worshipped as the element of space. In Kaalahasti Lord Shiva is worshipped as the element of air; the Shiva Lingam here is seen with a lamp of constant flame. One can see the flickering of the lamp without being put out. In Tiruvannaamalai the Lord is worshipped as Agni (fire). In Jambukeswara temple in Tiruchirapalli, Shiva is in the form of Jambuka or Varuna, the presiding deity of the element of water. In Kanchipuram the Lord is worshipped as the element of earth; the Shivalingam in the temple is made up of earth.
In conclusion, Shivarathri is more of a practice of penance rather than revelry. Observers conduct a strict fast, not even consuming a drop of water orally. An all night vigil is kept, when the Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by bathing it every three hours with milk, honey, curd, rose water etc. Archana (offerings) are performed with the bael leaf which has 3 leaves to a stalk, representing the three eyes of Shiva. It is considered extremely auspicious to offer the bael leaves for Shiva on Shivarathri day. Chanting of the Panchaakshara mantra "Om Namaha Shivaaya" goes on all day. Hymns in praise of Shiva such as Shiva Mahima Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana's Shiva Taandava Stotra are sung, recited with great fervor and devotion. He who utters the name of Shiva during Shivarathri with perfect devotion and concentration is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva, liberated from the cycles of birth and death, to live happily ever after. Pilgrims flock to Shiva temples to witness the Abhisheka and poojas performed to Lord Shiva on this day.
May Lord Shiva's blessing go with you always!
Those who are interested in the spiritual significance in the story of King Chitrabhanu please continue to read below the credits for the explanation.*
Compiled by N.R. Srinivasan
Considerable assistance has been taken from the following in preparing this article:
Divine life society publications
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam publications
Sri Lakshmi Temple, MA publications
Swami Nityanand, Symbolism of Hinduism, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai—400072, India.
*SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHITRABHANU'S STORY
The spiritual significance of the story of King Chitrabhanu, is explained in the scriptures as follows :
The hunter symbolizes a yogi. The wild animals that the hunter fought are the lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy, and hatred. The jungle is the fourfold mind, consisting of the subconscious mind, the intellect, the ego, and the conscious mind. They roam about freely in the mind and must be killed. The hunter's name was Suswara. The hunter had a sweet melodious voice and so called 'Suswara' or melodious. If a person practices Yama and Niyama, he will develop certain external masks of a yogi, like lightness of the body, clearness of countenance, health and a pleasant voice.
Yogis, call Ajna Chakra as Varanasi. The hunter's birthplace was Varanasi. Ajna Chakra is the point midway between the eyebrows and regarded as the meeting place of the three nerve currents (naadis), Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. An aspirant concentrates on that point which helps in conquering his desires and evil qualities like anger and so on and to get the vision of the Divine light within. Bael has 3 leaves on a stalk. The three leaves represent Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Naadis on which the hunter was concentrating. The tree represents the spiral column. The climbing of the tree by the hunter symbolizes the ascension of the Kundalini Shakthi, the serpentine power, from the lowest nerve called the Mooladhara to Ajna Chakra. That is the goal of a Yoga. The Yogi (hunter) was in the wake state when he began his meditation. He bundled up the birds and animals (his kill), and tied them up, that means he had fully conquered his thoughts and rendered them inactive. He had gone through the stops of Yama, Niyama, Pratyahara etc. On the tree he was practicing concentration and meditation. When he felt sleepy, meaning when he was about to lose his consciousness, he decided to keep awake. His wife and children is none other than the world. His shedding tears, is symbolic of his universal love. When he saw the lingam, he had the vision of the Lord, an indication to him that he would realize the Supreme. The stranger is none other than the hunter himself. The food was the likes and dislikes which he had killed the previous night, but he did not consume all of it. A little still remained. That is why he had to be reborn as King Chitrabhanu.
HYMN ON RUDRA FROM SKANDA PURANA
The following is a rare Ashtakam (8-stanza hymn) on Lord Rudra by Sage Vyasa taken from Skanda Puranam, Kashi Khandam and Chapter 95 that explains the greatness of Lord Shiva. The brief Phalashruti mentions that one who recites this hymn daily in the morning with due devotion is absolved of all sins including goriest of sins such as patricide, matricide, killing of cow or child, drinking of liquor, theft of gold, etc. and Lord Shankara becomes pleased and resides in his abode eternally.
vyāsa uvāca –
eko rudro na dvitīyo yatastat brahmaivaikaṁ neha nānāsti kiñcit | yadyapyanyaḥ ko'pi vā kutracid vā vyācaṣṭāntadyasya śaktir madagre || 1 ||
yaḥ kṣīrābdher mandarāghātajāto jvālāmālī kālakūṭo 'tibhīmaḥ | taṁ soḍhuṁ vā ko 'paro'bhūn maheśād yatkīlābhiḥ kṛṣṇatāmāpa viṣṇuḥ || 2 ||
yad bāṇo'bhūc chrīpatir yasya yantā lokeśo yat syandanambhūḥ samastā | vāhā vedā yasya yeneṣu pātādṛgdhā grāmās traipurās tatsamaḥ kaḥ || 3 ||
yaṁ kandarpo vīkṣamāṇaḥ samānaṁ devair anyair bhasmajātaḥ svayaṁ hi | pauṣpair bāṇaiḥ sarva-viśvaikajetā ko vā stutyaḥ kāmajetus tato'nyaḥ || 4 ||
yaṁ vai vedo veda no naiva viṣṇur no vā vedhā no mano naiva vāṇī | taṁ deveśaṁ mādṛśaḥ ko'lpamedhā yāthātmyād vai vettyaho viśvanātham || 5 ||
Sri Vyasashtakam – Skanda Puranam K. Muralidharan (email@example.com) 2 yasmin sarvaṁ yastu sarvatra sarvo yo vai kartā yo'vitā yo'pahartā | no yasyādir yaḥ samastādireko no yasyā'nto yo'ntakṛt taṁ nato'smi || 6 ||
yasyaikākhyā vājimedhena tulyā yasyā natyā caikayālpendra lakṣmīḥ | yasya stutyā labhante satyalokā yasyārcāto mokṣalakṣmīradūrā || 7 ||
nānyaṁ devaṁ vedmyahaṁ śrīmaheśān nānyaṁ devaṁ staumi śambhor ṛte'ham | nānyaṁ devaṁ vā namāmi trinetrāt satyaṁ satyaṁ satyametan mṛṣā na || 8 ||
|| phalaśrutiḥ ||
itthaṁ yāvat stauti śambhuṁ maharṣis tāvan nandī śāmbhavād dṛk-prasādāt | taddoḥstambhaṁ tyaktavāṁścā'vabhāṣe smāyaṁ smāyaṁ brāhmaṇebhyo namo vaḥ || 9 || nandikeśvara uvāca - idaṁ stavaṁ mahāpuṇyaṁ vyāsate parikīrtitam | yaḥ paṭhiṣyati medhāvī tasya tuṣyati śaṅkaraḥ || 10 ||
vyāsāṣṭakaṁ idaṁ prātaḥ paṭhitavyaṁ prayatnataḥ | duḥsvapna-pāpa-śamanaṁ śiva-sānnidhya-kārakam || 11 ||
mātṛhā pitṛhā vā'pi goghno bālaghna eva vā | surāpī svarṇahṛd vā'pi niṣpāpo'syāḥ stuter japāt || 12 || || iti śrīskānde-mah
HYMN ON LORD SOMANATHA
The following is a rare hymn on Lord Somanatha (Lord Shiva) from Skanda Puranam, Prabhasa Khanda, and Chapter 290. This hymn appears as part of Nyankumati Mahatmya within Prabhasa Mahatmya and the installation of Lord Somanatha by Kubera in Kubera Nagara. Though there is no separate Phalashruti for this hymn, one who worships Lord Somanatha begets all wealth.
Moortih kvā'pi maheśvarasya mahatee yajñasya meelodaya |
tumbee tunga phalaavatī cha sataso brahmaanda-koṭistatha |
yanmaanam na pitāmaho na ca harir brhmaanda madhya-sthito | jaanaatyanya-sureṣu kaa cha gaṇanā saa santataṁ vo 'vatāt ||
namāmyahaṁ devaṁ ajaṁ puraanam upendraṁ indrāvararāja juṣṭam | sasaanka-sūryāgni-samāna-netraṁ visendra –chinham pralayādi-hetum ||1 ||
Sarveśvaraika tribalaika-bbandhum yogādhigamyaṁ jagato 'dhivāsam |
tam vismayādhāraṁ ananta- saktim jñānodbhavam dhairya-gunaadhikam cha || 2 ||
Pināka-pāśāṅkuśa-śūla-hastaṁ kapardinaṁ megha-samāna-ghoṣam |
sakālakaṇṭhaṁ spaṭikāvabhāsaṁ namāmi śambhuṁ bhuvanaikanātham || 3 ||
Kapālinaṁ mālinaṁ ādidevaṁ jaṭādharaṁ bhīma bhujaṅga-hāram |
prasāsitāraṁ ca sahasramūrtiṁ sahasraśīrṣaṁ puruṣaṁ viśiṣṭam || 4 ||
adakṣaraṁ nirgunam aprameyaṁ sajyotirekaṁ pravadanti santaḥ |
Doorangamam vedyaṁ anindya-vandyaṁ sarveshu hṛtsthaṁ paramaṁ pavitram || 5 ||
Tejonibhaṁ bāla-mrigaanka-mauliṁ namāmi rudraṁ sphurad ugra-vaktram | kālendhanaṁ kaamadamasta- sangam dharmaasanasthaṁ prakṛti-dvaya-stham || 6 ||
Atīndriyaṁ visvabhujaṁ jitaarim guṇa-trayātītaṁ ajaṁ nirīham |
tamomayaṁ vedamayaṁ cidaṁśaṁ prajāpatīśaṁ puruhūtaṁ indram || 7 ||
Anāgataika-dhvani-rūpaṁ ādyaṁ dhyāyanti yaṁ yogavido yatīndrāḥ |
saṁsāra-pāśacchiduraṁ vimuktaḥ punaḥ punas tvāṁ praṇamāmi devam || 8 ||
Nirūpamāsyaṁ ca bala-prabhāvaṁ na ca svabhāvaṁ paramasya puṁsaḥ |
vijñāyate viṣṇu-pitāmahādyais taṁ vāmadevaṁ praṇamāmyacintyam || 9 ||
Sivaṁ samārādhya taṁ ugra-mūrtiṁ papau samudraṁ bhagavān agastyaḥ |
lebhe dilīpo 'pyakhilāṁśca kāmāṁs taṁ viśvayoniṁ śaraṇaṁ prapadye || 10 ||
Devendra-vandyo uddhara-māṁ-anāthaṁ śambho kṛpā-kāruṇikaḥ kila tvam |
duḥkhārṇave magnaṁ umeśa dīnaṁ samuddhara tvaṁ bhava śaṅkaro'si || 11 ||
Sampūjayanto divi devasaṅghā brahmendra rudrā viharanti kāmam |
taṁ staumi naumīha japāmi śarvaṁ vande 'bhivandyaṁ śaraṇaṁ prapannaḥ || ||12 ||
|| Iti śrīskānde mahāpurāṇe prabhāsa khaṇḍe prabhāsa kṣetra māhātmye śrīsomanātha stutiḥ sampūrṇam ||
Significance of Bilva Leaf in Hinduism
Posted by Arun Gopinath | Oct 25, 2015
Hindus believe that the knowledge of medicinal plants is older than history itself, that it was gifted hundreds of thousands of years ago to the Vedic Hindus by Lord Brahma, the divine creator.
Thus when the Rishis of the Ayurveda sought to heal human suffering, they were able to draw on knowledge that had already been evolving for millennia in the forests of India. One tree about which they had a very deep knowledge was the Bilva tree. The science of Ayurveda values the Bilva highly for the medicinal properties contained in its root, fruit and leaves. According to Swami Sivananda, it is a healing tree which cures all diseases caused by vata (wind) and gives strength to the body.
More commonly known as the Bel Tree in India as well as other warm countries, this is a sacred tree having sacrificial importance and the first thing we can notice about the leaves is that they are generally trifoliate. This trifoliate leaf is symbolic of Trikaal or the Hindu Trinity of Devas known as Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh. The other names of this tree are Wood apple and its botanical name is Aegle marmilos.
The Bilva leaf or Patra as it is known, represents the Trinetra or three eyes of Lord Shiva, the main aspects like Trishakti (volition, action and knowledge), the three Shiva lingams and the three syllables of AUM or Omkar and are most favourite of Lord Shiva.
There are also five formed Bilva leaves known as PanchaDal patra found on some Bilva trees and these too are held as sacred for the worship of Lord Shiva. Bilva tree grows to a height of 8 meters with thorns. The leaves are alternate, ovate, trifoliate and aromatic. The tender leaves and shoots are consumed as salad greens. The flowers bloom in the month of May and will have a sweet fragrance.
It appears from all the Hindu texts and scriptures that the Bilva tree itself has been held very sacred and auspicious and is considered very holy since time immemorial thats its significance is mentioned in Mahapuranas in various forms of mantras. The Shiva Purana mentions a particular narration of how the usage of Bilva due to its scientific as well as medicinal properties is of great adavantage to Mankind.
The 22nd Chapter of maha ShivaPurana narrates ” The trifoliate Bilva Patra is so sacred to Lord Shiva & is therefore a symbol of the Lord. Adored by all the Gods, its importance is difficult for anyone to comprehend. The sacred tree can only be known to a limited extent. Sacred sites of this Earth can only find their place at the root of this auspicious tree. Those who meditate upon Lord Mahadeva in His form of linga at the root of Bilva obtain Moksha & become purified souls by attaining Shiva. Such are the marvels of this sacred Bilva.”
The famous Shri Bilvashtakam (v. 6–7) Mentions :
Lakshmyaascha stana utpannam Mahaadeva sadaa priyam,
Bilva vriksham prayachchhaami eka bilvam Shivaarpanam.
Darshanam bilva vrikshasya sparshanam paapanaashanam,
Aghorapaapasamhaaram eka bilvam shivarpanam.
Bilva vriksham prayachchhaami eka bilvam Shivaarpanam.
Darshanam bilva vrikshasya sparshanam paapanaashanam,
Aghorapaapasamhaaram eka bilvam shivarpanam.
Born from the heart of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is ever dear to Mahadeva. So I ask this tree to offer one Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva. Even if (one) has darshan ( view) of the Bilva tree, and touches it, surely frees one from sin. The most terrible karma is destroyed when a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva.
It is also believed that Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, also lives in the bel tree. Those who perform the puja of Shiva and Parvati devoutly, using the leaves, will be endowed with spiritual powers.
According to Hindu scriptures, the Bilva is Triguna which is connected to the three Gunas or components of natural characteristics of the tree. In Hindu philosophy, the three Gunas are Sattva, Rajas & Tamas with Sattva being the pure most while Tamas normally is to do with darkness & ignorance.
The Sattvic component is believed to be more centred within the bilva patra and therefore the high capacity to absorb and emit Sattvic frequencies. This has various effects on the environment as well as on anyone merelt touching the leaf. One of them is the reduction of Rajasic-Tamasic atoms present in the atmosphere & more importantly within the human body.
A Sattvic leaf like bilva patra when brought in proximity of a person suffering from negative energies such as distress and anxiety is believed to medically reduce these energies within the human body. People with negative outlook towards life and their environment normally do not realise they have negative energies building up within their body and are at a risk of subconsciously harpering destructive thoughts also.
Whenever such people come into contact with a Sattvic atmosphere, what they fail to realise is their negative energies try to fight the positivity of a Sattva predominant environment. This struggle can build up at various levels and can vary from the human mind thinking negatively and can result sudden bursts of anger to destruction of things around them.
The roots, skin, fruits and the leaves of the Bilva tree are used for medicinal purpose. Bilva has astringent, edema lessening, anti-diarrhea, laxative and appetizer properties hence, can be used to cure both internal and external diseases.
The sacred tree has many medicinal usages and is advantageous in curing many human ailments such as:
. bleeding gums.
. Bel fruit clears diarrhea, dysentry, phlegm, high blood pressure, morning sickness in pregnancy, stress.
. Asthma can be controlled when a mixture of dry bel leaf powder & honey is consumed daily
. Jaundice can be cured by consuming the extracted juice of the bilva leaves
. Anaemia can be cured by drinking the powder of the bel fruit mixed with milk
. Bel fruit keeps the skin rejuvenated when pasted into a facepack; also cures joint aches
Understanding the Forms of Shiva
Posted by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev | Feb 12, 2016
In Indian tradition, Shiva has many forms, each of which represents a powerful possibility for inner evolution. Sadhguru looks at a few of these, and explains the basis underlying each of them.
Shiva is always seen as a very powerful being, and at the same time, as one who is not so crafty with the world. So, one form of Shiva is known as Bholenath, because he is childlike. “Bholenath” means the innocent or even the ignorant. You will find that most intelligent people are very easily taken for a ride because they cannot subject their intelligence to petty things.
A very low level of intelligence that is crafty and shrewd can easily outsmart an intelligent person in the world. That may mean something in terms of money or society, but it doesn’t mean anything in terms of life.
When we say intelligence, we are not looking at just being smart. We are looking at allowing that dimension which makes life happen, to be in full flow. Shiva is like this too. It is not that he is stupid, but he does not care to use intelligence in all those petty ways.
Sadhguru: Natesha or Nataraja, Shiva as the Lord of Dance, is one of the most significant forms of Shiva. When I visited CERN in Switzerland, which is the physics laboratory on the planet, where all the atom-smashing takes place, I saw that there is a Nataraja statue in front of the entrance, because they identified that there is nothing in human culture which is closer to what they are doing right now.
The Nataraja form represents the exuberance and dance of creation which self-created itself from eternal stillness. Nataraja standing in the Chidambaram temple is very symbolic because what you call Chidambaram is just absolute stillness. That is what is enshrined in the form of this temple. The classical arts are to bring this absolute stillness into a human being. Without stillness, true art cannot come.
Sadhguru: Generally, Shiva is referred to as the ultimate man, but in the Ardhanarishvara form, one half of him is a fully developed woman. What is being said is that if the inner masculine and feminine meet, you are in a perpetual state of ecstasy. If you try to do it on the outside, it never lasts, and all the troubles that come with that are an ongoing drama. Masculine and feminine does not mean male and female.
These are certain qualities. Essentially, it is not two people longing to meet, it is two dimensions of life longing to meet – outside as well as inside. If you achieve it inside, the outside will happen 100% by choice. Otherwise, the outside will be a terrible compulsion.
This is a symbolism to show that if you evolve in your ultimate context, you will be half a man and half a woman – not a neuter – a full-fledged man and a full-fledged woman. That is when you are a full-blown human being.
Kalabhairava is a deadly form of Shiva – when he went into a mode of destroying time. All physical realities exist within the span of time. If I destroy your time, everything is over.
Shiva put on the right kind of costume and became Kalabhairava, to create the Bhairavi Yatana. “Yatana” means ultimate suffering. When the moment of death comes, many lifetimes play out – with great intensity, whatever pain and suffering needs to happen to you, will happen in a microsecond.
After that nothing of the past remains in you. Undoing your “software” is painful. But this happens at the moment of death, so you have no choice. But he makes it as brief as possible. Suffering has to end quickly. That will happen only if we make it super-intense. If it is mild, it goes on forever.
In the yogic tradition, Shiva is not worshiped as a God. He is the Adiyogi, the first Yogi, and Adi Guru, the First Guru from whom the yogic sciences originated. The first full moon of Dakshinayana is Guru Purnima, when Adiyogi began the transmission of these sciences to the Saptarishis, his first seven disciples.
This predates all religion. Before people devised divisive ways of fracturing humanity, the most powerful tools necessary to raise human consciousness were realized and propagated. The sophistication of it is unbelievable.
The question of whether people were so sophisticated at that time is irrelevant because this did not come from a certain civilization or thought process. This came from an inner realization.
It was just an outpouring of himself. You cannot change a single thing even today because he said everything that could be said in such beautiful and intelligent ways. You can only spend your lifetime trying to decipher it.
Shiva has always been referred to as Triambaka because he has a third eye. A third eye does not mean a crack in the forehead. It simply means that his perception has reached its ultimate possibility. The third eye is the eye of vision. The two physical eyes are just sensory organs.
They feed the mind with all kinds of nonsense because what you see is not the truth. You see this person or that person and you think something about him, but you are not able to see the Shiva in him. So, another eye, an eye of deeper penetration, has to be opened up.
Any amount of thinking and philosophizing will never bring clarity into your mind. Anyone can distort the logical clarity that you create; difficult situations can completely put it into turmoil. Only when vision opens up, only when you have an inner vision, will there be perfect clarity.
What we refer to as Shiva is nothing but the very embodiment of ultimate perception. It is in this context that the Isha Yoga Center celebrates Mahashivarathri. It is an opportunity and a possibility for all to raise their perception by at least one notch. This is what Shiva is about and this is what yoga is about. This is not religion, this is the science of inner evolution.
May this Mahashivarathri night not just be a night of wakefulness, but let this also become a night of intense aliveness and awareness for you. It is my wish and blessing that you make use of this wonderful gift that nature offers us on this day. I hope all of you ride this upsurge and know the beauty and ecstasy of what it means when we say Siva.