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Maha Shiva Ratri

Added On : 2014-02-02

The name Shiva Ratri refers to a religious celebration where Lord Shiva is worshipped throughout the night in the month of Phalgun in the Hindu calendar. Shiva Ratri falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The name Shiva Ratri has two parts, the first is Shiva and the second is Ratri, in order to delve into the intricacies and beauty of Shiva Ratri the devotee must meaningfully explore the depth of this highly spiritual exercise which is designed to lift us from the thralldom and miseries of this life and deliver us directly into the imperishable state of God realization.

A mere ritualistic performance of the steps prescribed by our scriptures may become entirely meaningless.

The word Shiva means prosperous, auspicious, happy, final beatitude and bliss, and the word Ratri means night, darkness, a thief and a ghost. The colour of Lord Shiva is white which signifies total purity and absolute absence of blemishes which taint and discolour the immaculate whiteness (Maya). Ratri signifies the net which maya throws around us all and prevents us from becoming and experiencing that blissful state which is our real nature, so long as we are unable to free ourselves from this net we cannot experience our true blissful state. Shiva Ratri shows us how to extricate ourselves of this thief the ghostlike maya which is the real impediment which obstructs our vision of the blissful state.

The night is divided into four periods (prahar) in which our devotion must be performed. The first is the waking state of consciousness (jagrit), the second is the dream state (swapna), the third is deep sleep (sushupti) and the fourth state is the enlightened state (turiya). In order for us in this human body to live a meaningful life we must cross these three states of consciousness and arrive at the fourth state which is the state called shivoham (complete bliss) which is the absence of pain and sorrows forever. This can be done by everyone right now (instantly) in this life.


Waking State: We have to truly realize that whatever we see in the waking state is not real although they appear real, as we look at them. When we look deeply we will know that everything we see changes at every second from birth, growth, decay and death. But that which does not change is the Lord Who is present in everything everywhere.

Dream State: When we reach the dream state the waking state does not exist, in the dream state we will have new family, new relation, a whole new world, new wife and new children. This state is also unreal, non-existent. When we are awake the dream world totally disappears. We will not look for the dream or dream children or anything else from the dream world in our waking state. Then we begin to think that the waking world is the real world until we get another dream. We have to be intelligent to know that both the waking world and the dream world are not real.What then is the real state, these two states must be transcended.

Deep Sleep State:Here there is a total absence of everything that is the waking state and the dream state that is somewhat like the blissful state. Here there is peace and the absence of sorrow but this is only until we become awake again and then while awake we get caught up with the joys and sorrows of the waking state and so in this life we keep revolving in this three states but Shiva Ratri teaches us that we have to cross all these three states and get into the fourth state which is the blissful Shiva state where there is total absence of sorrow and our experiences will be only blissful happiness all the time (turiyasti). It is easy to reach this state but if we are unsuccessful in transcending the third state it becomes difficult. All we have to do here is to realize that the Lord dwells and is present everywhere and while we are in the waking state we realize that He is present inside of us causing us to breathe and to be alive. We must also realize that He is also present in every person and every being in the entire universe. This must not only be a theoretical experience we must feel His living vibrating, pulsating presence everywhere. We must become totally engrossed and absorbed in His Divine Splendour everywhere, we must live in Him, we must see Him, we must interact with Him, we must be fully and totally absorbed in Him. Having reached this state you will never experience any sorrow in the world again, everything will be bliss, you will be drowned in an ocean of blissful experience always.THIS IS MAHA SHIVA RATRI.  (Copyright Ashram Sharma 2014).


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