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MAHA SHIV RATRI
Monday 7th March 2016
Shiv-ji

Maha Shiv Ratri happens once a year on the 14th day of Falgun month (around February-March). It appears in Krishna Paksha - i.e. the dark side of the month of Falgun. We also have ShivaRatri - which happens every month of the year.

As the name denotes it is a festival and fast named in honour of Lord Shiva,one of five principal Devs & Devtas observed by devoted Hindus world over. (The others being Sri Ganesh, Sri Durga Devi, Sri Hari Vishnu & Sri Surya Narayan).

Disciplined Lord Shiva devotees observe a strict fast on this day. Those who can complete this day without taking even a drop of water, ie Nirajal - find immense benefits in life. It is quite desirable & highly beneficial in Lord Shiva's bhakti. Also believed on this day is for you to keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by bathing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst chanting - "Om Namah Shivaya".

Offerings of Bael leaves are made to the Lingam as Bael leaves are considered very sacred and it is said that even Goddess Lakshmi resides in them. It is the same Bael that Devi Parvathi consumed for 1000 years to reconnect and seek attention of  Lord Shiva. (Bael leaves are sacred element in performing havan for Devi Durga during Nao Ratri).

Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the "Shiva Mahimna Stotra" of Pushpadanta or Ravana's "Shiva Tandava Stotra" are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the 'Panchakshara' Mantra, "Om Namah Shivaya". It is often said in Shiv Maha Puran that anyone who utters the names of Shiva during Shivratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches Lord Shiva's kingdom after death and lives there happily - thus finding moksha. He is liberated from the cycle of births and deaths. Don't we all want that?

The night of Shiv Ratri is particularly known for three main reasons:

1.Sada Shiv appeared in a Linga form at exactly midnight on Maha Shiv Ratri. That is why it is desirable to keep a all-night vigil and do Shiv Lingam Abhisekham.

2. Lord Shiva married Devi Parvathi on this day in the Himalayas after her years of devotion and waiting for the Almighty.

3. Lord Shiva on this day swallowed the deadly jahar (poison) on this day to save the cosmos or universe from death - the poison had the capacity to destroy all the living beings. The poison was derived after churning of Kshir Saagar (sea) by the demons and the demi-gods or devtas. The poison/ jahar was so strong that a drop of it -had it landed on Lord Shiva's stomach - which represents the universe - would have been destroyed. Lord Shiva held it back in his neck/throat - thus he derived a name, Neelkanth, ie Neel, meaning blue kantha, meaning throat area.

Another reason why Lord Shiva did not swallow the poison further than his throat was because he felt his Ist Devta, Lord Ram resides in his hirdhay (heart), and he would not want to harm Lord Ram.

Thus we observe Shiva Ratri and make offerings to him as a way of Thanksgivings for protecting us and all living species from annihilation.

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Brahma, Vishnu & Maheswara (Shiva)
It is believed that once Brahma and Vishnu, the two pillars of the holy Trinity were having an argument as to who was supreme. Brahma declared himself to be the Creator of all and thus more revered. Vishnu claimed that since he was the Creator and the Destroyer, he commanded more respect. The debate or war of words between the two would have been resolved until Lord Shiva stepped in.

Lord Shiva appeared in a form of Lingam - ablaze with flames. Both Lord Brahma & Lord Vishnu were so overwhelmed by its constantly increasing size, that they forgot their quarrel and decided to determine its size. Vishnu took the form of a boar and went down to the seas while Brahma in the form of a swan ascended to the skies. Neither could ascertain the size or the origin of the Shiva Linga. Just then, Shiva appeared out of the lingam and proclaimed that he was the progenitor of both of them. He was the Creator, Preserver and the Destroyer. He demanded that thereafter he be worshipped in his phallic form, Shiva Lingam.

(There is one belief that Lord Brahma had lied that he had seen the origin of the Ling in the skies when in fact he had not - on this day then Lord Shiva had cursed Lord Brahma that as a result of his false statement - he will not be ever worshipped in a full form as other Gods & Goddesses).

Thus as a result of Lord Shiva's intervention between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma on this day, it was marked as Shiv Ratri. On this day also - both Lord Brahma and Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva and started a tradition of worshipping the Linga.

On the day of Shivratri, the lingam is bathed in the five sacred offerings of a cow, called the panchagavya - milk, sour milk or dhahi, gow mutra, ghee and cow dung.

After that  the five Hindu foods of immortality - milk, ghee, curd, honey and gudr (or brown sugar)  - are placed before Shiva Lingam. Dhatura and jati, though poisonous fruits, are believed to be sacred to Shiva and thus offered on his Linga or Murti (statue).

Eleven is considered to be the sacred number of the Lord. Devotees keep a varat/fast on the Shivratri and observe strict rules, for achieving ashirvaadh or vardan (boon).

Special celebrations are held all over the world but specially in the 12
main Divya Shiv Ling shrines in India - like Vishwanath mandir in Varanasi & Rameshwaram in South India.

In places like Kashmir, the festival is held for 15 days; the thirteenth day is observed as Herath, a day of fast followed by a family feast.



Shiva - the word meaning auspicious - is one of the Hindu Trinity, comprising of Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva or Mahesh, the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life. Shiva is known by many names like "Shankar", "Mahesh", "Bholenath", "Neelakanth", "Shambhu Kailasheshwar", "Umanath", "Nataraj" or simply, Shivaji.

Lord Shiva's close devotees believe he is easily pleased with small amount of devotion and shradha. Even little offerings of his favourites or recitals of his hymns on Shiv Ratri or on other days - especially Mondays, please the Lord so much that he is able to look after his devotees and keep them enticed in his preaching through Sri Shiva Maha Puran. He is worshipped as a God of large-heartedness. His kathas and leelas (legends) also enrich the Hindu culture and art, especially dances.

MOST FAMOUS SHIV RATRI KATHA (legend)

In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma, whilst resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu.

King Chitrabhanu in his past life was a hunter in Lord Shiva's favourite
place on earth, Varanasi and his name was Suswara. His only livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day while roaming through forests in search of animals to kill he was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to return home, he climbed a tree for shelter. It happened to be a Bael tree. He had shot a deer that day but had no time to take it home. So he bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. As hunger and thirst tormented him, he was kept awake throughout the night. He shed profuse tears when he thought of his poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously waiting for his return. To pass away the time that night he engaged himself in plucking the Bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground.

The next day he returned home and sold the deer and then bought some food for himself and his family. The moment he was about to break his fast a stranger came to him, begging for food. He served the food first to stranger and then had his own.

At the time of his death, he was confronted by two messengers of Lord Shiva. They were sent down to conduct his soul to the kingdom of Lord Shiva. He learnt then for the first time of the great merit he had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri.

The messengers told him that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. His tears, which had shed out of pure sorrow for his family, fell onto the Lingam and washed it and he had fasted all day and all night. Thus, he unconsciously worshiped the Lord.

As the conclusion of the tale the King said that he lived in the kingdom of Lord Shiva and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages and now he has reborn as King Chitrabhanu.

PROFILE OF LORD SHIVA:

Favourite day:
Mondays
Favourite colour: White
Favourite offerings: Bel leaves, dhatura fruits & leaves, white flowers, cow's milk, Ganga jal (or water), dhahi (yoghurt), milk, honey, brown sugar & ghee, sugarcane, peanuts, fruits (coconuts, bananas, mangoes, etc)
Favourite mantras:
a) Om Namah Shivaya
b) Om Treyam Bakam Yajah Mahe Sugandith Pusti Vardanam, Wurwa Rukimiwa Vandhana, Mirtue Moche Maa Mirtaat

Best form of worship: Shiva Lingam, if unavailaible then Murti (statue) or picture of Shiva Parvathi

Sacred number: 11

Avtaars: Sri Hanumanji & Sri Kal Bhairo

Favourite days of fast:
a) Maha Shiv Ratri
b) Treodasi day every month
c) Sarwan month (around Jul-Aug) every year or
d) Solar Somvaar



Other main offerings and benefits derived in making such offerings:[For Abhishek You can Bring]


1. Honey For wealth/ Dhan Prapti for better understanding and communication between couples

2. Water For Santaan Prapti and cure for major internal sicknesses

3. Milk For Sukh (happiness) Shanti (mental relieve) & Putra Prapti

4. Sugar For better Education.

5. Yoghurt For material gain and Luxurious life.

6. Ghee For mukti

7. Dhatura For better understanding and communication amongst people

8. Bel Patra Get rid of bad deeds [ Paap Naas]

9. Kush se Dhar For Rog Shanti & relieve from tension

10. Sugar cane For long life.

11. Fruits Whole Fruits

12. Coconuts

Link to Shiv Chalisa and Aarthi

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA TO ALL

Other shudh tiths to watch for in coming weeks:

Holi Celebration - 23rd March 2016



You can download 2016 calendar by clicking here

TULSI LEAVES HEALING POWERS-Medicinal Benefits

For more details please click (here)

Email us at: pdt108@hinducosmos.com for enquiries.

God bless,
Pdt Davendra Sharma  
Ph: 0414 560 424
or + 61 414 560 424 (from outside Australia)

 

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