What Does Shivarathri Teach Us?
Let's recapitualte what Swami said on the same
occasion almost eight years back in 1998.
The lesson of Shivarathri is that
devotees should foster good and sacred thoughts. They should be filled with
godly thoughts. They should seek to become one with the Divine by reflecting
on their inherent divinity. If you constantly chant the Name of God, God
realization will come in due course. Whatever other things they may possess,
men suffer from lack of peace and bliss. These two can be obtained only from
God. It is for these two that men should pray to God and not for anything
else, because God alone can give them. When these are secured, all other
things will come of their own accord by the grace of God. People should
yearn for God. All other desires are worthless.
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. Today being Sivarathri,
it is only appropriate that Sivarathri forms the theme of this Sunday
Special that comes to you along with the daily Sai Inspires.
Sivarathri is a festival connected with the Moon and the Mind. As we all
know, during the month the Moon waxes and wanes, taking 15 days for each
process. The thirteenth day after the New Moon and the Full Moon is called
Triyodasi. After Triyodasi comes Chaturdasi or the fourteenth day.
Sivarathri commences at the end of Triyodasi and the beginning of Chaturdasi,
just before the New Moon.
Swami says that on this night the Moon is hardly visible. Such a
barely-visible Moon represents the Mind of a true seeker. Through Sadhana
such a seeker has almost conquered the Mind. And just as the Moon disappears
shortly after Chaturdasi, the seeker, with a little extra effort, can
completely extinguish the Mind, that is to say, master it. As Swami puts it
so simply: master the Mind and become a Master Mind!
The Moon waxes and wanes once every month. Thus, there must be one
Sivarathri every month. However, only one of these is considered
particularly sacred and that particular Sivarathri is called Maha Sivarathri.
Today is Maha Sivarathri. There is a legend connected with this but we shall
not go into that. Suffices to say that the legend is connected with the
realisation that God has neither a beginning nor an end; He is timeless and
While most festivals involve a certain amount of merry making, Sivarathri is
a sombre affair - no wonder, for one is attempting to fully conquer the Mind
and quell its random and purposeless wanderings.
Right from the beginning, Sivarathri in Prashanti Nilayam has always been
very special. Apart from the fact that by coming here one has the
opportunity to observe the all-night vigil in the presence of Siva in human
form, Swami used to perform in the old days the spectacular Vibhuti
Abhishekam and also the equally memorable Lingodbhavam. As for Vibhuti
Abhishekam, Swami stopped a long time ago. The Lingodbhavam too was stopped
for many years but revived few years ago. Last year, that is in 2005, Swami
announced that there would be no Lingodbhavam. We don't know what Divine
dispensation would be this year.
Even though these incredible demonstrations of Swami's Divine Power have
stopped, we still need to understand the inner significance of both the
Vibhuti Abhishekam and the Lingodbhavam. Let us start with the former.
Why did Swami perform the Vibhuthi Abhishekam? Ordinary mortals perform
Abhishekam to idols by way of propitiating the Divine. But does the Divine
have to propitiate anyone? Clearly not. Then why the Abhishekam?
Swami performed the Abhishekam partly to draw attention to His Divine Powers
and partly for reminding devotees of the significance of Vibhuthi.
Vibhuthi is sacred ash. Ash is produced when things are burnt but ash itself
cannot be burnt; it is thus a kind of end-point. In Spirituality, a human
being reaches an end-point when all desires are burnt away; what remains
then is Purity. Vibhuthi is thus the symbol of the Ultimate Purity that all
humans must strive to achieve.
Turning next to the famous Lingodbhavam, this is an occasion when Baba
reveals Himself as the Supreme Creator via Lingodhbhavam, during which a
Lingam emanates from Him. In earlier times, the Lingam that emanated from
Swami used to be of crystal etc. These days, however, the Lingam is of pure
gold, shining with incredible lustre.
Can anyone have so much gold inside one's body? Wherefrom does all that gold
come? Swami says that the gold forms in Him from the five elements present
in subtle form. Initially, the gold exists inside as liquid or molten gold.
For gold to exist in the liquid state, it must be at very a high
temperature. At such temperatures, the stomach of normal mortals would be
completely burnt but not so in the case of the Avatar.
Just as a mother has to undergo birth pangs, Swami undergoes severe physical
discomfort in order to manifest the Lingam so that man may realise that
behind Creation there IS a Creator who is Supreme. It is this Supreme One
alone who can grant permanent Bliss, and man must strive to achieve Purity
because that is the only gateway to God and Bliss.
Wherever we are, this is what we must remember on this day/night. Firstly,
we all have come from the Creator and thus are born as the Embodiments of
Divine Purity. That is what Lingodbhavam really ought to call to our Mind.
Secondly, though we start off pure - as Swami says, children are always
pure, at least at start - desires soon invade us and contaminate the Mind as
much as possible. However, we must resist this and try to purify the Mind by
burning the desires, and Vibhuti or sacred ash is the symbol of this
ultimate burning of desires. Vibhuti Abhishekam thus ought to remind us of
the need to first limit desires and then burn them entirely.
We might miss observing other functions but Sivarathri must be taken very
seriously because it is all about becoming Pure and then truly become one
We thank you for the privilege of sharing these thoughts to you.
Jai Sai Ram
With Love and Regards,
RadioSai's e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service.