April - May 2007
The Spiritual Significance of Shivratri
The festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated every year in India. On this day,
devotees visit Shiva temples to offer leaves of bale upon the Shiva linga,
observe fast and keep awake all night as a mark of their devotion to God Shiva.
In order to celebrate this festival in its true spirit, it is essential to
know who is God Shiva and why is Shiva ratri (Shiva’s Night) commemorated
by the devotees.
INTRODUCTION OF SHIVA
There are innumerable temples to God Shiva all over India, where He is symbolized
in the image of a linga. Some of the famous memorials to Shiva are Amarnath
in Kashmir, Somnath in Gujarat, Vishwanath in Varanasi, Mahakaleshwar in
Ujjain and Pashupatinath in Nepal. The names of these Shiva temples define
His divine functions, which also indicate that He is the Supreme Soul.
Legends tell us that Shri Rama invoked the Almighty Shiva at Rameshwaram and
Shri Krishna invoked Him at Gopeshwar in Vrindavan. The memorials of these
stands even today at these two places as famous Shiva temples. These legends
are also indicators of the truth that Shiva is worshipped as the Supreme Father
of all deities, even as the Supreme Father of Shri Rama and Shri Krishna.
The image of Shiva is shown as a linga, which proves that He is incorporeal,
He does not have any male or female human form like the deities, but He is
conceit point of Light. That is why, the 12 famous Shiva temples in India are
also known as Jyotirlinga Math signifying His form of Light. Incorporeal God
Shiva is also known as Trimurti which depicts His role as the creator of the
three subtle deities - Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar.
The three lines marked on the Shiva linga symbolize His triple characteristics
Trimurti, Trinetri (one who has the third eye of wisdom), Trikaldarshi (one
who sees the three aspects of time) and trilokinath (the Lord of three worlds).
Shiva is also known as Shambhu or Swayambhu meaning that Shiva is the Supreme
Soul who has no creator above Him.
The literal meaning of the word Shiva is benefactor. Supreme Soul Shiva brings
benefit to all souls by performing the divine functions of creating and sustaining
a new pure world and destroying all vices and evil from the old impure world
i.e., He gives liberation and salvation to all human beings.
Thus,He is truly the Supreme Soul.
WHY SHIVA’S NIGHT
It is a subject to be pondered that when the birth of all corporeal deities,
are celebrated as birthdays, why is the night of Shiva remembered? For instance,
the birth of Shri Krishna is believed to have been at midnight, yet Janmashtmi
is celebrated as his birthday. It is only for Shiva that His night is celebrated.
What is its real significance?
In fact, the festival of Shiva ratri symbolises the divine incarnation of God
Shiva on this earth. The night indicates the moral degradation that sets in
due to the darkness of ignorance in this world. Shiva is the Ocean of knowledge
who leads humankind from darkness to light, i.e. from untruth to truth by imparting
true knowledge. God Himself says, “When religion is defamed on earth,
I come to re-establish the true religion and thus transform the impure devilish
world into a pure divine world.”
But when and how does God Shiva perform this divine function? If we reflect
upon it, it will be clear that God performs His triple functions of creation,
sustenance and destruction at the Confluence Age - the Age between the end
of kaliyuga and the beginning of Satyuga because this is the period of rejuvenation
or renewal of the Old World in the whole time-cycle. At this time, Supreme
Soul Shiva incarnates in the corporeal human medium of Brahma to impart true
godly knowledge in order to establish the divine heavenly world. The Supreme
Soul does not take birth through a mother’s womb but as per His divine
versions, He subjugates matter and enters the body of Brahma to take a divine
birth or incarnation.
Today, when corruption, immorality and unrighteousness have spread all over
world, when ethical and moral values have declined drastically, Supreme Soul
Shiva is once again imparting the Godly message of “Be Yogi and Be Pure” by
teaching true spiritual knowledge and Rajyoga through the spiritual children
of Brahma (Brahma kumars and Brahma Kumaris).
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