Among all the twelve Shivarathris that occur in a year, Maha Shivarathri is the most significant and the most auspicious one. This is celebrated as the night when Lord Shiva is married to Goddess Parvathi. This sounds more religious isn’t it? Religious stories always have a spiritual reasoning behind them. So what’s spiritual about Shivarathri? Let’s see.
Maha Shivarathri is celebrated throughout India for many years, on the 14th night of the lunar month, which falls mostly in the month of Maasi in Tamil. This is the last month in the Hindu calendar and falls sometime in February – March in the Gregorian calendar. This marks the beginning of spring, when everything comes back to life, trees get fresh leaves, flowers bloom, and hibernating animals come back to normal life.
Spring means rebirth, rejuvenation, resurrection and regrowth.
A lunar month is the number of days from the full moon to the next new moon. The 14th night of the lunar month, a day before new moon, is the darkest night in the month. So, Shivarathri is celebrated during the darkest night of the month.. but why so? Will see later in this article.
What is Shivarathri all about and why among all Shivarathris, this one is the Maha Shivarathri, the most auspicious one?
From childhood, many of us have celebrated Shivarathri with our families. We try to be awake all night, playing games, chitchatting while some elders chant mantras and do poojas. This used to be fun, but as we grew up, we became so caught up in the worldly activities, got busy with our studies, job and children, that we hardly celebrate or even remember the Maha Shivarathri. We are busy running the ‘catch up marathon’ for reasons we don’t know. Man, we are so busy!!
To reiterate, Maha Shivarathri is celebrated as the night when Lord Shiva is married to Goddess Parvathi, when Shiva meets Shakti.
First of all, who is Shiva or what is Shiva Tatva?
When you say ‘not this, not this, not this’ and discard everything, what remains that is Shiva tatva.
We know that we are not the body, not the mind, not the memory, not the ego, not the emotion.. we are the soul or the atma, otherwise called the consciousness. The consciousness is Shiva. That’s what Shiva tatva is.
Atma only is Shiva. It is the masculine principle. Shiva is the meditative aspect of the entire universe. He pervades the entire universe. He has no form, but is in every form. Shiva is peace, infinity, beauty and the non-dual one. Shiva is eternal. This higher consciousness that is pure is the same consciousness that is present in every living being in this creation. Yes, it is the same consciousness that is in us.
Picture speaks louder than words right? So, we, human beings gave a form to this higher consciousness, Shiva.
Do you know we also worhsip Shiva formless? Yes, this is the Shiva Lingam. Shiva is worshipped as Shiva Lingam too which means the formless, the aroopam (no form).
Now, who is Parvathi, Shakti or Shakti energy?
As the name indicates, Sakthi is the activating power and energy. It is female principle. It is nature. It is the primordial cause of the material world. From this Sakthi evolve all other elements. The body, mind, emotions, thoughts, ego are all interrelated parts of Sakthi. She is the material cause of the universe.
Sakthi is not conscious in itself. It is latent. Sakthi and its manifestation exists to provide experience to the soul or consciousness so that the consciousness can gain mastery over the external factors and come to an understanding of the true nature.
So, Shiva is the all-pervading consciousness which is the masculine principle and Shakti is the energy that roots us and through which we function in this earthly world. This is the female principle.
What is Maha Shivarathri?
The consciousness which is always 10 inches above the material ground, touches the earth element on the day of Shivarathri.
In other words, Shiva unites with Shakti… the night when Lord Shiva is married to Goddess Parvathi. Now it all makes sense right?It is the night when Shiva, the masculine principle unites with Shakti, the feminine principle.
In other words, today is the true Valentine’s day .. when unity happens, love happens, resurrection happens, rejuvenation happens!!
It is full of bliss and happiness today. What do we do when we are at the height of happiness? We dance right? So, Shiva does Ananda Tandava today.
On this auspicious night, let’s chant ‘Om Nama Shivaya’, meditate, sing, dance and celebrate. Let’s pray for peace and happiness to pervade the entire universe. Let all living beings be happy.
Shiva is the omnipresent consciousness which pervades everywhere. Darkness pervades everywhere. Creation happens in the dark. On this darkest night of the month, is when the all-pervading Shiva unites Shakti. This is the beginning of rebirth, rejuvenation, resurrection and regrowth.
Happy Maha Shivarathri to everyone!!