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 eternal.

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 with God.

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.