Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“Every Mahashivratri is meant to wake up every particle of your body. The festival is a wake-up call to move away from conflicts and move towards truth, beauty, peace, and benevolence – the ethereal qualities of Shiva.”
Mahashivratri is a festival that honors Lord Shiva. Devotees of Lord Shiva stay awake all night on this auspicious night of Shivratri. They perform poojas, meditate and chant Vedic mantras. These sacred practices bestow a sense of peace and oneness within us and with the world.
Shiva is not a person, but the very energy on which the entire creation rests. This energy pervades the entire universe and is present within every living being. This energy is called the Shiva Tattva.
Meaning of Mahashivratri
Ratri means ‘night’ and also ‘to take refuge.’ Shivratri is the night we take refuge in our spirit i.e., Shiva. It is the time to celebrate the soul or consciousness within. During Shivratri, we take refuge in the divine consciousness. There are two ways to do this: meditation and surrender. Surrender is having the faith that there is a Divine power that is taking care of us. Meditation and surrender bring peace and solace to us.
Symbolism of Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva is considered the soul of everything. There is no difference between our soul and 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.
Understanding Shiva Tattva
Mahashivratri is a time to celebrate the Shiva Tattva. Spiritual seekers and devotees of Lord Shiva meditate and rejoice in the Shiva energy.
Shiva represents our soul, and Tattva is principle or truth. This is that time of year when we rest in the truth or principle of our soul. It means we are seeking the higher truths of life that are lying within us.
It is believed that Mahashivratri is a time of deep rest for the body, mind, and ego. A deep rest that awakens a devotee to the highest knowledge of the Shiva Tattva.
Mahashivratri & meditation
According to Indian astrology, there are certain days and time frames in a year that are conducive to spiritual growth and meditation. Mahashivaratri is one such day.
If you meditate on shivaratri then the power of meditation is 100 times more, it is said like that. At least do it on that day, its okay if you don’t do it on other days, at least do it one day. It’s said for the sake of saying. So that which is always (nitya) and which is (shashwat), that is shiva tattva. It’s said beautiful in that shloka:
Shivaratri is the day of Lord Shiva. Shiva is the lord of meditation and therefore the lord of awakening. Shiva Tatva means to be awakened. Shivratri is thus an occasion to awaken one’s self from all sorts of slumber. Shivaratri is not a night to be slept over. One should try and be up through the night. It signifies being aware of everything you have and being grateful about it. Be grateful for the happiness which leads to growth, and also for sadness which gives a depth to life. This is the right way of observing Shivaratri.
For the pious, the following method of Shiva worship is advisable – sit down in lotus posture, do some Pranayam to stabilize your breath, and then indulge in Dhyana, followed by chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is the greatest mantra and the devout should drown himself in its Kirtan. Shivaratri worship leads to fulfillment of a devotee’s wishes. Shivaratri is a rest which is so deep. When the mind rests with the Divine, that is the real rest, only in the Divine lap. Any meditation we do on this day has a manifold effect, for this is the day when spirit touches the earth. Meditation gives access to something beyond the scope of the mind and intellect. There is a point during meditation when we experience space: a space of nothingness and love. This experience takes us to the fourth level of consciousness that is also called Shiva.
Shivratri for a spiritual seeker
Mahashivratri is the day when the Shiva Tattva is believed to come in contact with the earth. It is believed that our consciousness or aura is, generally, ten inches above the material ground. On this day, this consciousness descends and touches the earth element. It is a good time for our inner consciousness to come alive within our body. That is why Mahashivratri is celebrated – it is the wedding of the material with the spiritual.
What to do on Mahashivratri?
Mahashivratri is the day to honor and celebrate Shiva-honor life and celebrate existence. Most people spend the day of Mahashivratri in prayer, meditation and celebration. Here are a few activities you could participate in:
Fasting detoxifies the body and curtails the restlessness of the mind. A mind that is not restless slips into meditation easily. Therefore, fasting on Mahashivratri serves to detoxify the body and aid meditation. It is recommended to fast with fruits or easily digestible food. Know all Mahashivratri fasting guidelines.
The constellations on the night of Mahashivratri are in a position considered very auspicious for meditation, and so, it is very useful for people to keep awake and meditate on Shivaratri.
In ancient times, people used to say, ‘If you cannot meditate every day, do so at least one day in a year, on Shivratri day; keep awake and do meditation’.
Wake the Divinity that is deep within you – this is the message. The Divinity is within you, let it wake up!
Chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the perfect mantra to chant on Mahashivratri as it immediately elevates your energy.
‘Om’ in the mantra refers to the sound of the universe. It means peace and love. The five letters, ‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Va’, ‘Ya’ in ‘Namah Shivaya’ indicate the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ chanting harmonizes the five elements of the universe. When there are peace, love and harmony in all the five elements, then there is bliss and joy.
Attend Mahashivratri Puja/Rudra Puja
Rudra Puja or Mahashivratri Puja is a special ceremony performed to honor Shiva. It involves singing of special Vedic mantras accompanied by certain rituals. Rudra Puja brings positivity and purity to the environment and transforms negative emotions. Participating in the Puja and listening to the chants helps the mind slip into meditation effortlessly.
Meditate to the chants of the auspicious Mahashivratri Puja at The Art of Living International Center, Bengaluru.
Worship the Shivalinga
The Shivalinga is a symbolic representation of the formless Shiva. Worshipping the Shivalinga includes offering ‘Bel Patra’ (leaves of the bel tree) to it. Offering ‘Bel Patra’ represents offering three aspects of your being – rajas (the aspect of you that is responsible for activity), tamas (the aspect of you that brings inertia) and sattva (the aspect of you that brings positivity, peace, and creativity). These three aspects affect your mind and actions. Surrendering the three to the Divine brings peace and freedom.