Thursday, 5 March 2009

Shivaratri Festival at Sacha Dham Ashram, February 23 2009

On February 23, at the Shivaratri festival at Sacha Dham ashram in Rishikesh, there was a large gathering of disciples as there is every year. The temple turned out to be too small and many had to participate in the special ceremony from the hall leading to the temple. Maharajji went to the ceremony and delivered a message to the participants, which is summarized as follows:

My souls,

Mahesh [Lord Shiva] is considered to be very compassionate, as he is known as Bole Shankar — innocent Shankar. The following stories illustrate this very well :
Once there was a couple who was unable to have children. One day a Mahatma came to their home, and seeing their devotion, blessed them: they would have a son, but he would live for only sixteen years. Their son was thus born. The boy grew up, and only three days before the end of his sixteenth year, he found out about his coming death. Greatly sorrowed at this, he prayed to Narada for him to to change the course of things and allow him to live. Narada advised him to go to a Shiva temple and embrace the Shiva lingam [Shiva’s symbol which symbolises the creation of the universe through two energies, one masculine and the other feminine.] during these last three days. The boy obeyed and as a result, the God of death proved helpless. Finally Shiva granted the boy’s request to become amar (immortal). This boy was later known as Markandar (or Markandeya which is the name he is best known by), who since then lives throughout all Yugas. [Yugas are very long cycles of time which follow one another as seasons do, during the lifetime of the world and the universe.]

This illustrates the fact that with a little effort Shiva can be pleased and so answer our prayers.

When Brahma was ready to create the universe, He first created seven Rishis Who He asked to help with the creation of the world. They refused. Narada also refused. So Brahma went to Lord Shiva and asked him to help. As Shiva was compassionate, he agreed and, taking on the attributes of Ardha Narishwar [half of Him became a Man and the other half became a Woman, in other words, he took on the form of a divine Androgynous Being], created the universe.

Sita also prayed to Parvati [Parvati is the feminine aspect of Shiva] so that Rama would become her husband, as in the following couplet :

Devi pooji pada kamala tumhaare
sura nara muni saba hohin sukhaare

[O Devi, Gods, human beings, and sages bow down at Your lotus feet, And in doing so they easily gain all that they truly seek.]
Her prayer was heard and she married Rama. This couplet became a prayer which states that through prayer each person can realize the God Who resides in our hearts.

During this Kali Yuga, “Om Namo Shivaya” [also pronounced “Om Nama Shivaya”] is the most powerful and fruitful mantra. So in the present period of time, the easiest way to attain spiritual as well as material goals is to pray to Shiva for just one hour every day.

A Few Comments on this Message

Let us bear in mind that this festival celebrates the marriage of Shiva (first God in the Hindu Trimurti corresponding to the Father of Christians) with Parvati, the daughter of the mountain (Parvat means “mountain”), the Himalayas. In particular, it is a symbolical representation of the inner alchemical marriage which takes place in human beings who are duly prepared through assiduous spiritual practice.

When this alchemical marriage, which is usually called enlightenment happens, the divine Spirit aspect in man unites with the earthly personality aspect or Parvati. This union, which takes place when man is still in the night of ignorance, makes him enter God’s light of Day for ever. He becomes immortal, spiritually speaking: the different bodies in which he will henceforth live (if he decides to reincarnate in order to help his human brothers progress) can die, of course, for they are governed by earthly laws, but he, himself, never ever looses the consciousness of being. Ordinary man, however, looses this consciousness when he dies and in his next incarnation, no longer remembers what he had been before.

But for realized or enlightened man, the body is simply like a vehicle in which the driver enters at birth and leaves when it becomes worn out; he then takes another one and continues his work for the universal good. This driver is constantly aware of being, and is fully conscious of his past incarnations.

Consequently, with this mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya” man invokes the Spirit aspect within so that he will be governed by it. This is the highest aspect, the highest power which man can invoke and that is why it is such a powerful mantra. During the last three days we have left to live, i.e., the final part of the process of our evolution, if we embrace the Shiva lingam, that is to say if we unite with our Atma, then Yama, the God of death (God of ignorance) will not be able to overcome us and we will become immortal, living through all the Yugas like Markandeya !

1 comment:

Glennis said...

How very festive the Temple looks.