17th JULY 2015 12 – JYOTIRLINGAS LEGENDS OF SHRI SHIV-PARVATI ( SHRI UMA – SHANKER )

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Jyotirlingas

R  U  D  R  A  S  E  N  A
foundation
presents

 THE
Jyotirlingas


Chandra and Somanatha

The first of the jyotirlingas

Twenty-seven of Daksha’s daughters were married to the moon-god Chandra. One of these wives was named Rohini and Chandra loved Rohini more than he loved the other wives. The other wives felt neglected and they complained to their father. Daksha repeatedly warned his son-in-law to devote himself equally to all twenty-seven wives. But Chandra was in no mood to listen.

Daksha thereupon cursed Chandra that he would gradually fade away. Chandra didn’t know what to do. He went and sought advice from Brahma and Brahma told him that the only rescourse was to pray to Shiva. Chandra went to Prabhasa tirtha and made a linga on the banks of the river Sarasvati. He prayed to Shiva for six months.

At the end of the tapasya Shiva appeared before Chandra and offered to grant him a boon. Chandra explained what the problem was.

Well, said Shiva, Daksha’s curse cannot be entirely ignored. Let us have a compromise. During krishnapaksha you will wane. And during shuklapaksha (the bright part of the lunar fortnight) you will wax. That should satisfy everybody.

Chandra was delighted. The linga to which Chandra prayed is Somantha, the first of the jyotirlingas. Shiva is always present at that tirtha

Mallikarjuna

What about the second jyotirlinga. Mallikarjuna?

You already know that Kartikeya felt cheated when Ganesha got married. He decided that he would not live with Shiva and Parvati any longer, and began to live on the mountain Krouncha.

Parvati was miserable that her son had left her. She sent gods, sages, gandharvas and apsaras to bring her son back. But Kartikeya would not return. Shiva and Parvati then went to visit Kartikeya themselves, but Kartikeya would not let them get too close.

Shiva and Parvati started to live at a place that was about six miles away from where their son was living. They are always there, so as to be near their son. This place is known as Mallikarjuna.

Dushana and Mahakala

The third of the jyotirlingas is Mahakala.
The city of Avanti is on the banks of the river Kshipra (Shipra).A brahmana named Vedapriya used to lived in the city of Avanti. He used to worship Shiva everyday and he had brought up his four sons to do the same. These sons were named Devapriya, Priyamedha, Suvrita and Suvrata.
Not very far away, on a hill named Ratnamala, there used to live an asura named Dushana. Dushana was evil, he could not stand the idea of the Vedas being read and the religion prescribed in them followed. He went about destroying this righteous religon wherever he could. Dushana got to know that in the city of Avanti there lived four brahmanas who followed the righteous religion and worshipped Shiva. These were Devapriya, Priyamedha, Suvrita and Suvrata. Their father Vedapriya had died by then.Dushana and his cohorts came and attacked the city of Avanti. They threatened to kill the four brahmanas, but the brothers were not at all perturbed. They continued to pray to Shiva. They bowed in obeisance before the linga.
Suddenly a tremendous sound was heard and a pit appeared in the ground in front of the linga. Shiva himself appeared in this pit. Dushana was burnt into ashes from the force of Shiva’s roar. And Shiva put all of Dushana’s soldiers to flight.
The brahmanas prayed that Shiva might always be present at that place and Shiva agreed. This is the place that is known as Mahakala.

Vindhya and Omkara

The fourth of the jyotirlingas is Omkara.

Narada had once gone on a visit to the mountain Vindhya. Vindhya worshipped Narada. But because Vindhya was slightly proud, he also said. I am full of all the desirable objects that one can think of.
Perhaps, replied Narada. But Mount Sumeru is superior to you, becaue the gods are always there.
Vindhya decided to become the equal of Sumeru. He began to pray to Shiva. For six months he prayed. When Shiva appeared, Vindhya desired that Shiva might always be present there so that he might become the equal of Sumeru.

The linga that Vindhya worshipped as called Omkara.


Purana of Kedarnath

During the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas, their own kith and kin gor killed. In order to absolve themselves of this sin, the Pandavas went for a pilgrimage. But Lord Vishweshwara was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas. On learning this, the Pandavas, left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Hardwar. They saw Lord Shankar from a distance. But Lord Shankara hid from them. Then Dharmaraj said: “Oh, Lord, You have hidden yourself from our sight because we have sinned. But, we will seek You out somehow. Only after we take your Darshan would our sins be washed away. This place, where You have hidden Yourself will be known as Guptkashi and become a famous shrine.”

From Guptakashi (Rudraprayag), the Pandavas went ahead they reached Gaurikund in the Himalayas valleys. They wandered there in search of Lord Shankara. While doing so Nakul and Sahadev found a he-buffalo. It was unique to look at.

Then! Bhemma went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch it. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar. The face of the buffalo is known as Pashupatinath in Nepal.

On this hind part of Mahesha, a glorious JyotirLinga appeared. Lord Shankara appeared from this great light. He appeared before the pandavas. By getting a Darshan of Lord Shankar, the pandavas were absolved of their sins. The Lord told the Pandavas, “From now on, I will remain here as a triangular shaped JyotirLinga. By taking a Darshan of Kedarnath, devotees would attain piety”. Near Kedarnath, there are many symbols of the Pandavas Raja Pandu died here, when he tried to make love to Madri. This place is famous as Pandukeshwar. The tribals here perform a dance called “Pandav Nritya”. The mountain top where the Pandavas went to Swarga, is known as “Swargarohini”. When Darmaraja was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth. At that palce, Dharmaraj installed a Shiva Linga, which is the size of the thumb.

 Bhimashankara.

The sixth of the jyotirlingas is Bhimashankara.

You know about Rama and Ravana from the Ramayana and you also know that Rama killed not only Ravana, but also his brother Kumbahakarna.

A rakshasa woman named Karkati used to live on the mountains named Sahya. Karkati had been married to Kumbhakarna and her son was named Bhima. One day, Bhima asked Karkati, Mother, whose son am I? Why do we live alone in this forest?

Karkati said, Let me tell you my sad story. I used to be married to the rakshasa Viradha. But Rama killed Viradha. Later on, Kumbhakarna came and married me here and you were born. Kumbhakarna had promised to take me to Lanka. But he was killed by Rama and I never got to see Lanka. That is the reason we live here alone. We have nowhere else to go.

Bhima was very sorry to hear this story. He resolved to avenge himself on Vishnu because he knew that Rama had been an incarnation of Vishnu. For a thousand years he prayed to Brahma with his hands raised up to the sky. When Brahma appeared, Bhima wished for the boon that he might become very strong. This boon Brahma granted.

The first target of Bhima’s attention was the king of Kamarupa. The king’s crime was that he was devoted to Vishnu. Bhima attacked the king, stole all his belongings, conquered his kingdom and imprisoned him and his wife. He then proceeded to conquer the rest of the world.

In their prison, the king and his wife started to pray to Shiva. This news was brought to Bhima by the rakshasa guards and Bhima decided to kill the king. He found the king praying before a Shiva linga. When Bhima raised his sword to cut off the the king’s head, Shiva appeared from the linga and repelled the sword with his trident. Bhima flung a spear at Shiva, but this too was driven back by the trident. Whatever weapon was used by Bhima, Shiva’s trident destroyed them all. Finally, Shiva killed Bhima and all his rakshasa cohorts.

The gods were gratified and they craved that Shiva might always remain in the place in the form of the linga

Vishvanatha and Varanasi

The seventh of the jyotirlingas is named Vishvanatha and it is located in the cityof Varanasi or Kashi.

Varanasi is a very sacred place. Brahma himself performed difficult tapasya there. So difficult was the tapasya that Vishnu shook his head in disbelief. When Vishnu shook his head, a jewel (mani) fell down from Vishnu’ ear (karna). The place where the jewel fall is known as Manikarnika and it is a famous tirtha.
Varanasi is not destroyed when the rest of the world is destroyed. Shiva himself raises it on the point of his trident and protects it while destruction rages all around. When the world is re-created. Shiva replaces Varanasi to its appointed place.

Once Brahma began to chant vedas with all of his five mouths. One of the mouths however made mistakes in the pronunciation of the hymns. This angered Shiva and Shiva severed the offending head by producing a being called lord Kal Bhairav. BHAIRAV severed the fifth head of Brahma. But this effectively amounted to the killing of a brahmana and Bhairav committed a crime. The severed head therefore got stuck to Bhairav’s back would would not come off, no matter where Bhairav went. But when Bhairav arrived in Varanasi, the head fell off his back. Bhairav realized that Varanasi was a special place and he resolved that he would always be present there.
Purana of kashi vishwanath jyotirlinga

Nirgun Shiva, with His own powers and aura, created a wonderful city called Panchakoshi. Vishnu, who resided there, spent a lot of time praying to Shiva after which several watersprings originated there. Vishnu was amazed at this wonderous event, and even as he tilled his head, a gemstone fell from his ear. Because of this place, it was also called Manikarnika. The entire Panch Koshi area of Manikarnika waters were then gathered into the Trident by Shiva. Then from the navel of Vishnu was born a lotus flower with Brahma in it. Brahma was ordained by Shiva to create a world, at which Brahma created this wonderful world. It had fifty crore Yojanas of area and fourteen lokas. In order to save the lives of these who are bound by their own actions or karma. Shiva kept panchakoshi city away from the entire universe. In this city, Shiva Himself established the saviour Muktidayak JyotirLinga, which He can never leave. Shiva removed this very Kashi from His Trident and set it in this mortal world. It was not to be destroyed when Brahma’s day ends, but during Pralay i.e., final destruction of the world, Shiva saved it by keeping it safe in his trident. So the kashi is called avimukta kshetra. In Kashi, the Avimukteshwar Linga is there forever. Those who can never hope for salvation, attain Moksha here. Kasi Viswanathar – Varanasi

This holiest city of Panchakoshi, with its capacity to destroy every conceivable sin, is the vehicle of a special Moksha by the name “Samyugha”. That is the reason why this city which is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, is the place, where even divines want to die. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside, are the qualities of Rudra here. When prayed to, Vishwanatha Bahagavan Sri Shankar made this abode and resided there with Parvati.


Goutama and Trymbaka

Towards the south of the country there was a mountain named Brahmaparvata. There the sage Goutama and his wife Ahalya performed tapasya for ten tousand years. While they were meditating, there were no rains in the forest for a hundred years and there was a shortage of water. Living beings died from the drought. Goutama prayed to Varuna, the god of the ocean and the rain. Varuna appeared and offered to grant a boon.

Please grant the boon that it might rain, said Goutama.

I can’t do that, replied Varuna. That is beyond my powers. Ask for something else instead.
Then let us have a pond in the forest that will always be full of water, said Goutama.

This was within Varuna’s powers and the pond was created. The other sages also began to use water from this pond. Normally, Goutama sent his disciples to fetch water. But the disciples complained that the wives of the other sages did not let them take the water. So Ahalya herself started to fetch the water. The wives of the other sages annoyed and pestered Ahyalya, but she never reacted. These wives then complained to their husbands about Ahalya and Goutama. At first the sages did not listen, but eventually, they were convinced that Ahalya and Goutama were wicked. They therefore sought to devise a plan so that these two might punished. They began to pray to Ganesha.

When Ganesha arrived, the sages said, Please grant us the boon that Goutama and Ahalya might be banished from the hermitage.

Although Ganesha realized that this was an unfair boon, he decided to grant it because he realized that the sages and their evil wives needed to be punished.

Goutama had some fields of paddy and grain. Ganesha adopted the form of a lean and starving cow and began to eat up the crop. Goutama tried to drive away the cow with a blade of grass. But as soon as he struck the cow with the blade of grass, the cow fell down and died. This was a terrible calamity. It was the killing of a cow.

The other sages banished Goutama and Ahalya from the hermitage. They had to set up an ashrama (hermitage) that was a fair distance away. The other sages completely disassociated themselves from Goutama and Ahalya. Goutama began to think of ways of performing prayashchitta (penance) for the crime that he had committed. The other sages told him that he would first have to travel around the world. After that, he would have to pray very hard for an entire month. The next task was to circle Brahmaparvata a hundred times and bathe in a hundred pots of water. This would complete the penance. All this Goutama and Ahalya did. They also prayed for a long time to Shiva.

Shiva appeared before them and offered them a boon. Goutama desired the boon that the river Ganga might always be present in the hermitage. Ganga said that she would agree subject to the condition that Shiva and Parvati were also always present in the hermitage. Parvati and Shiva agreed to do this. This established Trymbaka, the eighth of the jyotirlingas. The river Ganga which flowed there came to be known as the Godavari. So Trymbaka is on the banks of the Godavari.

What happened to the evil sages and their wives? Goutama asked that they might be pardoned. They performed penance by circling Brahmaparvata one hundred and one times, and begged forgiveness from Goutama and Ahalya.

Ravana and Vaidyanatha

The ninth of the jyotirlingas is named Vaidyanatha.

Ravana, the king of the rakshasas, meditated in the Himalayas so as to please Shiva. First he prayed on Mount Kailasa, but Shiva did not appear. He then went to a place named Vrikshakhandaka which was a little towards the south. He prayed there, but Shiva did not appear. Ravana next dug a pit in the earth and started to pray inside the pit. He established a Shiva linga inside the pit. Shiva still not appear.

Ravana therefore decided that he would immolate himself. Ravana, as you know, had ten heads. He lit a fire and severing his heads, began to offer them one by one to the fire. When nine of the heads had thus been offered, Shiva appeared.

Enough is enough, said Shiva. What boon do you want?

Please grant me the boon that I may be very strong. And please restore my nine heads, replied Ravana.
These boons Shiva granted and the place where Ravana prayed is known as Vaidyanatha.

Nagesha

The tenth of the jyotirlingas is named Nagesha.

There used to be a rakshasa name Daruka. His wife was named Daruki. They lived in a forest on the banks of the western sea. Parvati had granted Daruki the boon that wherever Daruki went, the forest would follow.

Using this forest as a base, Daruka and Daruki began to oppress the world. They destroyed the yajnas and killed all the righteous people. In desperation, the survivors went to a powerful sage named Ourva. They told Ourva that he alone could save the world from the depredations of these rakshasas. Ourva cursed the rakshasas that if they committed any violence on earth, they would immediately die.

As soon as the gods got to know about this curse, they attacked the rakshasas. The demons were in a fix. If they did not fight with the gods, they would be slaughtered. But if they fought with the gods, they would die because of Ourva’s curse. They decided that they would go and live in the ocean. Thanks to the boon that Daruki had received from Parvati, the entire forest was also submerged in the ocean and became the home of the rakshasas.

There the rakshasa lived. They did not return to earth. But they imprisoned and killed any people who travelled in boats across the ocean.

In this fashion, they once captured a vaishya (the third of the four classes) who was devoted to Shiva. The vaishya set up a linga in the prison and began to pray to Shiva. When the rakshasas saw this, they attacked him with weapons so as to kill him. This vaishya was named Supriya. Shiva gave Supriya a pashupata, a divine weapon associated with Shiva. With this the vaishya killed many demons. The remaining rakshasas were saved by Parvati’s intervention.

The linga that Supriya worshipped is Nagesha

Rama and Rameshvara

The eleventh of the jyotirlingas is named Rameshvara.

Ravana had kidnapped Sita and Rama looked for her everywhere. He was aided in his search by the monkeys. The search brought them to the shores of the ocean.

While Rama was trying to decided how to cross the ocean, he felt very thirsty. He therefore asked the monkeys to fetch him some water. But when the water was brought, Rama realized that he should not drink the water without first praying to Shiva.

Rama constructed a linga and worshipped it with many fragrant flowers. Such were the powers of Rama’s prayers that Shiva, Parvati and their companions appeared before Rama. Shiva blessed Rama and Rama requested him to stay in that place forever. It is this linga, on the shores of the ocean, that is known as Rameshvara.

Ghushna and Ghushnesha

The twelfth and last of the jyotirlingas is named Ghushnesha.

To the south, there is a mountain named Deva. A brahmana named Sudharma used to live there. His wife was called Sudeha. Husband and wife were righteous and regularly prayed to the gods. They had only one reason for complaint: they had no son. Sudeha was especially disturbed at this. Other women tended to insult her because she had no son.

Sudharma decided to conduct an experiment. He plucked two flowers and offered them in front of a sacred fire. He mentally associated one of the flowers with having a son and asked his wife to choose a flower. Unfortunately, his wife chose the flower that was not associated wtih having a son. From this Sudharma concluded that they were not going to have a son and he did his best to console Sudeha. But Sudeha refused to be consoled, she was miserable.

Why don’t you marry again? asked Sudeha. Perhaps you will then have a son. Marry my niece Gushna.
No, replied Sudharma. You love her now because she is your niece. But if she does indeed have a son, you will become jealous and will come to hate her.

Sudeha convinced her husband that this would never happen. So Sudharma married Ghushna.
Every day, Ghushna made a hundred and one lingas out of clay and worshipped them. When the day’s prayers were over, she immersed the lingas in a pond. When one lakh lingas had thus been worshipped, Ghushna gave birth to a handsome boy. Shiva had taken pity on Sudharma and Ghushna.

But when the son was born, Sudeha’s nature changed. As her husband had warned her, she felt jealous. She thought that Gushna got more important and she was treated like a maid. In the middle of the night, Sudeha slew the boy with a knife and threw the dead body into the pond. This was the pond where the lingas had been immersed.

As was her wont, Ghushna got up in the morning and began to worship a linga. Blood was discovered on the bed, the boy could not be found and everyone raised the alarm. But Ghushna was not distracted by this racket and did not leave her prayers. Shiva was so impressed with Ghushna’s devotion that he restored her son back to life. He also wished to kill the evil Sudeha with his trident, but Gushna begged for her aunt’s life and Shiva spared Sudeha. Shushna’s act of forgiveness so impressed Shiva that he wished to grant Ghushna another boon, apart from restoring her son.

Ghushna desired that Shiva might always be present in a linga near the pond. This is known as Ghushnesha.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

MahaShivratri 2015


Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February – March in English Calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night.

“17th Feb”

” Join The Gang Of Aadi Yogi “
 
R  U  D  R  A  S  E  N  A
foundation

STORIES

The most popular story is related to Rudra turning into NeelKhant ( The one with blue throat). It is also believed that on Shivratri, Lord Shiva became ‘Neelkant’ or the blue-throated by swallowing the deadly poison that came up during the churning of “Kshir Sagar” or the milky ocean. The poison was so deadly that even a drop would have annihilated the entire creation. Hence, He held it in His neck with his celestial powers, which turned blue due to the effect of poison. Shivratri is therefore also a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting the creation from annihilation.

Story goes that Lubdhaka – a poor tribal man and a devout worshipper of Lord Shiva once went into the deep forests to collect firewood. As the darkness engulfed the jungle, Lubdhaka lost his way and could not find his way home. He became extremely terrified as deep growls of animals began to fill the jungle. Seeking protection till daybreak, Lubdhaka climbed the nearest bel tree and sought safety and shelter in its branches. Since Lubdhaka was perched on the branch of a tree he was afraid that if he dozed he might fall off from the tree. To keep himself awake all night, Lubdhaka decided to pluck one leaf from the bheel tree and drop it while chanting the name of Shiva. By sunrise, the devout tribal realized that he had dropped thousands of leaves on to a Shiva Lingam, which he had not seen in the darkness. Lubdhaka’s all night worship pleased Lord Shiva and by his divine grace tigers and other wild animals went away. Thus, Lubdhaka not only survived but was also rewarded with divine bliss.

According to Puranas, ever since that day, the story of the tribal Lubdhaka has been recited every year on the night of Mahashivaratri. This popular legend also form the basis of the popular custom of offering bhel (Aegle marmelos) leaves to Lord Shiva on Shivaratri.

Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, talks about the legend of King Chitrabhanu observing the festival. The story, as told by Bhishma while resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, says that once King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king and inquired the king about reasons for keeping a fast.

Answering the sage’s query, King Chitrabhanu who had the gift of remembering the incidents from his previous birth said that in the past birth he was a hunter in Varanasi and his name was Suswara. His livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day while he was roaming through the woods in search of animals, he was overtaken by the darkness of the night. To seek shelter from wild animals, Suswarna seeked shelter in the branches of nearest tree, which happened to a bael. Suswarna has also shot a deer that day but had no time to take it to home. So he bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. Hunger and thirst tormented Suswarna and kept him awake all night. Feeling sad that his poor wife and children were starving and must be anxiously waiting for his return, Suswarna began to shed profuse tears. To pass away time, Suswarna engaged himself in plucking bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground.

Having passed the night thus, next morning, Suswarna sold the deer and bought some food for himself and his family. But, the moment he was about to break his fast, a stranger came to him begging for food. Humbly, Suswarna served food to stranger first and then had his own.

Later, at the time of his death, Suswarna saw two messengers of Lord Shiva who were sent down to conduct his soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. It was then that Suswarna learnt for the great merit he had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. The divine messengers told Suswarna that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree on which he spent the night. The leaves he dropped therefore fell on the Lingam. While his tears, which he had shed out of sorrow for his family, fell on the lingam and washed it. Besides, he had observed a fast all day and all night. Thus, Suswarna had unconsciously worshiped the Lord Shiva.

Concluding the story, the King said that he lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. Now, he has reborn as Chitrabhanu.

A legend in Ramayana tells that once King Bhagirath left his kingdom to intercede for the rescue of the souls of his intimates. He offered forfeit to Lord Brahma for several years, asking Ganga to come on earth from heaven. The reason was that he wanted Ganga to wash the ashes of his intimates and free them from curse so that they can visit heaven. Lord Brahma asked him to pray to Lord Shiva, as he was the only one who could hold her fall. The wish was finally granted and Ganga came down and was held by Lord Shiva in his tangled hair. This legend thereby makes people to offer water to Shiva lingam on Maha Shivratri.

According to another version of the legend, Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that may befall her husband. Since then, womenfolk began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Shivaratri day. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband.

The legend of Shiva Linga or Lingodbhavamurthy is deeply related to Mahashivaratri. The legend narrates the story of vain search by Brahma and Vishnu to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. The legend thus proves the supremacy of Lord Mahadeva over other Hindu Gods and explains why the lingam is believed to be one of the most potent emblems in Hindu ideals. The story is stated in the three of the puranas – the Kurma Purana, the Vayu Purana and Shiva Purana

Story goes that after creation was complete, Lord Shiva began to live on top of the mount Kailash with his consort Parvati. One day, Goddess Parvati asked Shiva that his devotees perform many rituals to please the Lord, but which one pleases him most. To this, Lord Shiva replied that the 14th night of the new moon, during the month of Phalgun is his favorite day. The day is celebrated as Shivaratri. On this day, devotees observe strict spiritual discipline and worship Shiva in four different forms during each of the four successive three-hour periods of the night. Lord further said that the devotees offer him bel leaves on the day and that those leaves were precious to him than the precious jewels and flowers. Explaining the right way of worshipping to Shiva, the Lord said, devotees should bathe me in the milk during the first period, in curd at the second, in clarified butter in the third and in honey in the fourth and the last period. Lord Shiva further added that next morning devotees must feed the Brahmins first and, only after following the prescribed ritual must he break the fast. Shiva further told Parvati that rituals of Shivaratri could not be compared with any other.

Eternal love

Goddess Parvati became deeply impressed with Lord Shiva’s speech and she narrated it to her friends. Through them the word spread all over the creation. Hence, Shiva devotees began to celebrate Shivaratri by fasting and by performing the ceremonial baths and making an offering of bel leaves.

Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga. Legend goes that the moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Amongst all his wives, he had special love towards Rohini and neglected the others. Seeing the negligence of Chandra towards his other wives Prajapati Daksha cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance. But because of a moon devoid of radiance and beauty the entire world became lifeless. A disturbed Chandra, came down to Prabhasa with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which he was blessed by Shiva to grow and shine in the bright half. As the moon regained his light here, this town came to be known as Prabhasa. Brahma, one of the trinity, installed the Brahmashila, and paved way for the construction of the temple. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods Bhagwan Shankar assumed the name Somchandra (Jyotirlinga) and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath in the three worlds. In this temple there is a small cave in which a lamp burns continuously.That day when Soma worshiped Rudra is also seen as Shivratri.


The reasons to celebrate Shivratri:




The absolute formless God, Sadashiv appeared in the form of “Lingodbhav Moorti” exactly at midnight on Maha Shivratri. That is why all Shiva devotees keep vigil during the night of Shivratri and do “Shivlingam abhishekham”

According to Shiva Purana, sincere worship of Lord Shiva yields merits including spiritual growth for the devotees. It also provides extensive details on the right way to perform Shivratri Puja.
Shiva Purana further says that performing abhisheka of ShivaLinga with six different dravyas including milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water while chanting Sri Rudram, Chamakam and Dasa Shanthi pleases Lord Shiva the most. According to the mythology, each of these dravya used in the abhisheka blesses a unique quality:
  • Milk is for the blessing of purity and piousness.
  • Yogurt is for prosperity and progeny.
  • Honey is for sweet speech.
  • Ghee is for victory.
  • Sugar is for happiness.
  • Water is for purity.
Shivaratri Fast
Shivaratri Fast is considered to be the most important fast for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Shiva Purana goes on to say that if a devotee observes Shivaratri Vrata with sincerity, pure devotion and love he is blessed with the divine grace of Lord Shiva. Every year devotees observe Maha Shivaratri fast with devotion and sincerity. Though many go on a diet of fruits and milk, some do not consume even a drop of water all through the day and night of Shivaratri Festival.

Shivaratri Rituals

Devotees of Lord Shiva observe the Shivaratri Festival by following the prescribed rituals with sincerity and devotion. All through the day, devotees abstain from eating food and break their fast only the next morning, after the nightlong worship. Ritual baths of Shivalinga in the numerous Shiva temples by Shiva worshipper, mainly women, is another significant feature of Shivratri customs and traditions. Devotees strongly believe that ritual worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri absolves them of past sins and they are blessed with Moksha.

Rituals Observed on a Shivaratri Morning

As a tradition devotees wake up early in the morning of the Mahashivratri day and take a ritual sunrise bath, preferably in the holy waters of river Ganga. They also offer prayers to the Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva as a part of a purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.

On a Shivratri day, Shiva temples are thronged by devotees, mainly women, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga pooja and seek blessings from the god. At times there is so much rush in the temples that devotees have to wait for their turn to observe pooja. At their turn for worship, devotees circumambulate the Shivalinga, three or seven times, and then pour water over it. Some also pour milk. Sounds of bell and shouts of ‘Shankarji ki Jai’ or (Hail Shiva) reverberate in the temple premises.

Ritual Bath of Shivalinga

Following the rituals prescribed in the Shiva Purana, every three hours, Shivalingam is given a special bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste and rose water. Puja, meditation and chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ accompany the ritual bath. Following the bath, vermilion paste is applied on the linga. Traditionally, leaves of a forest tree Aegle marmelos (bilwa, maredu, wood apple) are used for Shiva puja. Thereafter, Bilwa leaves, which have to be a stalk with three leaves, is kept on top of the Shivalinga. Ber or jujube fruit is a special offering to the god on this day. Beetle leaves are also offered by some. Some also offer bilwa leaves in the belief that the Goddess Lakshmi resides in them. Others believe it is offered for its cooling effects on the hot-tempered deity. Many devotees also decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and offer incense sticks and fruit.


Significance of Puja Items

According to the Shiva Purana, there is a special significance of the six essential puja items used in the Shiva worship.
Bathing of Shivalinga with water, milk and honey and wood apple or bel leaves added to it, represents purification of the soul.
The vermilion paste applied on the linga after the ritual bath represents virtue.
Offering of fruits symbolizes longevity and gratification of desires.
Burning of incense sticks yields wealth.
The lighting of the lamp symbolizes attainment of knowledge.
Offering of betel leaves marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures.


All-Night Shiva Worship

Worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the night on Shivaratri Festival. Devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples in worship of Lord Shiva. Singing of hymns and verses in praise and devotion of Lord Shiva besides the intense chanting of Om Namah Shivay, the mantra that is said free people from all their sins, continue through the night on Shivaratri.

Special worship of Shiva by priests continues through the nightlong prayer vigil. During this ritual worship, Lord Shiva is offered special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts. Those observing the Shivaratri Fast break their fast the next morning by consuming the prasad offered to Shiva.

The night of Shivratri is especially auspicious for winning this same battle within ourselves – the battle between good and evil, between right and wrong, between poison and nectar, between death and immortality. Let us use our puja, our prayers, our meditations on this night to pray for divine intervention so that within ourselves the good might vanquish the evil, the nectar within us might emerge, rather than poison, and that we too may be carried from death to immortality.

Shivoham

Photo Gallery

Shivoham….

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s