What is the spiritual significance of the festival of Mahashivratri
The descent of the Supreme Father of all souls, the Supreme Soul, Shiv on Earth, is marked by Shivratri. On this festival, devotees of Lord Shiv, take a holy dip or punyasnan in the Ganges, perform Abhishekam- the holy shower to Shivling, observe fast or upvas, and stay awake the whole night ( jagaran)
It is believed that by doing so, one achieves liberation from all sins and bondages and attains heaven.
Who is Shiv, worshipped on Shivratri?
As described above, Mahashivratri marks the descent of Shiv, the Supreme Father of all souls, on Earth. It is He who is remembered and sung as the Benefactor of all souls (Shiv means benefactor). But is His form, as large as that of the Shivling? Actually speaking, the form of the Supreme Soul, Supreme Father, is of a tiny point of light, even though He performs the greatest tasks. The Shivling is only an enlarged depiction of his tiny form. And used as it is impractical to worship a tiny point. The three lines beneath the dot, in fact depict His task of the Creation of a new world through Brahma, its sustenance through Vishnu, and destruction of the old world through Shankar.
In fact, the ancient names of God such as ‘Shuin’ in Babylon, ‘Seva’ or ‘Sevajya’ in Syria, Egypt and Fiji; ‘Sibru’
in the land occupied by the progeny of Abraham and Jehova, are not too different from the Sanskrit word ‘Shiva’, which, according to some scholars, is the confluence of two phonetic parts, ‘shi’ and ‘va’, meaning ‘redeemer’ and ‘liberator’ from sins and sufferings.
What do some of the rituals celebrated during Shivratri mean?
1. Maha Shivratri is celebrated during the night.
This marks the descent of the Supreme Being during the darkest age of Humanity or Kaliyug. Shivratri is celebrated on the fourteenth night, which is the darkest in the month of ‘phalgun’. Here ‘night’ is used to symbolize ignorance which the Supreme Father, dispels with the might and light of His true knowledge.
Hence the term, ratri meaning night is associated with this festival, even while with every other great soul, the term Jayanti is used.
2. The festival of Mahashivratri signifies that Shiv and Shankar are different.
We have quite often seen, Shankar, meditating in front of a Shivling. Now, this means that they are two separate entities. One is with a subtle and angelic body (Shankar) and the other is a tiny point of light (Shiv).
If Shiv and Shankar were same, they would be depicted by similar images. You can know more about their differences here.
This also proves that Shiv and Parvati are in fact not married.
3. The descent of Shiv signified by Mahashivratri proves that God is NOT omnipresent and descends only once
The descent of God Shiv, which is remembered by the festival of Mahashivratri proves that God is not already here. If He were, there would be no need for his descent or for us to call Him, in our prayers. here.
This also helps us understand that God does not in fact take 24 avatars or descend in each epoch. But only does once, during the present age.
4. Mahashivratri helps us understand how Shiv saved the world from poison and is called Neelkanth
The festival of Mahashivratri helps us recall that Shiv, in fact, drank the poison that emerged from the Ocean during the ‘Samudra Manthan’ (Churning). Having absorbed it Himself, He was called Neelkanth
What this signifies is that when we remember the Ocean of Knowledge, Shiv, and churn His knowledge (Samudra Manthan), both negative and positive thoughts emerge in our mind. While the Supreme Father, absorbs the poison, waste and toxicity himself, (shown by the blue form of Neelkanth), He only gives us peace and happiness.
5. The holy shower of honey, milk and water on Shivling: Abhishekam
The Abhishekam helps us remember that just as water continuously drips from it on to the Shivling, our remembrance of the Supreme Father, should also be continuous.
This is only possible when we are able to experience ourselves as souls, children of the Supreme God and remember Him. Unlike the many pilgrimages that we have taken physically, this is a pilgrimage of remembrance. It is an internal voyage where one remembers God, in every breath.
6. Worshipping Shiv by the offering of wildflowers like datura, Ak which are toxic in nature: Bel Pathra Puja
What this practice signifies and encourages is to, give to the Shiv, the weaknesses within. This is denoted by the toxic plants that are offered on the Shivling. One can observe that this is unlike any other deity worship, where flowers may be offered.
When it comes to remembering the Supreme Being, we give our toxicity and in return take His inheritance of peace. This is also why no prasad is offered to devotees.
This once again reminds us of God’s true nature of being, the Remover of sins, Garala Kanta (the one with the blue throat) and the Bestower of Peace.
7. The presence of the cow, next to the Shivling.
This helps us understand that Shiv, the Supreme Being, uses a mouthpiece when He comes to give His knowledge. The cow is a depiction of that. This does not mean that the Supreme Soul will descend in a cow to give knowledge to His children and devotees.
You can know more about the actual mouthpiece of Lord Shiv, here.
The cow is infact considered worthy worship in India. The descent of Shiv, happens in the body of a human being, who was once worthy of worship.
Understanding why a cows mouth is considered as the mouthpiece of Shiv
This is symbolic of the Supreme Being opening the third eye of knowledge with which we stay awake
The Significance of the Present time:
With Mahashivratri, we are celebrating the descent of Lord Shiv on Earth. It is now only a matter of time that we recognise who He really is, experience His divine qualities and establish a connection with Him.
To know more, visit a Brahma Kumaris Rajyog Meditation Center near you, today.