Mahashivratri – Celebrating the convergence of Shiva and Shakti

Rahul Dogra
When we see nothing, we call it nothing, but in that nothing there is everything. In reality nothing does not exist but in cosmic reality nothingness exist. Shiva literally means “that which is not”. Shiva is nothing; nothing from which everything was created. Everything the worlds, the universes and the galaxies comes from Shiva and goes back to Shiva.
Shiva is masculine static power and Shakti is the feminine active power. Shiva and Shakti are the two inseparable energies and together they complete the entire cosmos. Shiva is the most powerful and Shakti is His power. Without Shakti, Shiva is Shava (inactive energy). Shakti activates the power of Shiva and both are incomplete without each other. Shiva is the pure consciousness and Shakti is the one who brings awareness to this consciousness. Consciousness, the manifested one gives the ability to perceive and experience.
According to Suta Samhita “Neither Shakti exists without Shiva, nor does Shiva exist without Shakti. The one who sees Uma and Shankar as one and the same is the one who really sees (i.e knows the truth).” Shiva and Shakti are the two aspects of the same reality like the obverse and reverse of the same coin.
Shiva represents Brahman (the supreme existence or absolute reality) and Shakti is Lord Shiva’s primordial power. Shakti is Observation and Shiva is the Observer. Shakti is the energy and Shiva is the awareness. When Shiva embraces her, she transformes into Devi or Goddess who like a Mother provides life everything that is required to sustain it.
According to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa “Brahman(Shiva) and Maya (Shakti) are inseparable; it is like milk and its whiteness. You can’t imagine milk without its whiteness. It is like fire and its heat; you can’t conceptualise fire without heat. It is like snake and its zig zag movement – you cannot think of snake without that zig zag movement”.
If Shiva is the Sun, Shakti is the energy that enlightens the sun. When Shakti unites with Shiva, it gives birth to positivity, power and life. Through this birth, we can see the balance of nature; the day and the night, the summer and the winter, the water and the fire. This union and the balance of nature that Shiva and Shakti form together is celebrated as Maha Shivratri every year. It also signifies that both the sexes are able to share equally in the distribution of power and influence. The duo of Shiv and Shakti is considered to be the epitome of love, power, and togetherness.
According to Tripura Tapini Upanishad : “It is recorded that the worlds, the Vedas, the sciences, legends, codes, medical works and astronomical treatises have all proceeded from the union of Shiva and Shakti.”
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated marking the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. If Shiva is the soul then Parvati is the kundalini resting in the body. Shiva is the energy on which the entire creation rests and is present within every living being. This energy is called the Shiva Tattva. During Mahashivratri, Shiva Tattva which is usually 10 inches above the ground comes in contact with the Earth. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in human beings. As a result, it is the day when nature is trying to push us towards our spiritual peak .
On this day, Shiva Lingam is bathed with milk, water, and honey. The Shiva temples all around the world are decorated with lights and flowers. Devotees also offer fruits, flowers, and bel (wood apple) leaves and visit popular Shiva Temples. They observe fast and can be seen chanting different Mantras of Lord Shiva for his blessings on this day. Moreover, it is a common practice for married as well as unmarried women to keep fast during the day of Mahashivratri. This is done to be blessed with marital bliss and have a happy and long married life. Since Lord Shiva is considered as an ideal husband, unmarried girls pray to get married to a man like Lord Shiva.
Moreover, Mahashivratri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path. Ratri means ‘night’ and also ‘to take refuge.’ Shivratri is the night we take refuge in our spirit i.e., Shiva. Lord Shiva is considered the soul of everything. There is no difference between our soul and the Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva symbolizes truth, peace, beauty, and infinity, He represents the essence of our soul as well. It is what we are made of. When we worship Lord Shiva, we recognize these higher qualities within ourselves. Thus, Mahashivratri is the time to celebrate the soul or consciousness within. During Shivratri, we take refuge in the divine consciousness.