Mahashivaratri literally means ‘the Great Night of Shiva’. It is considered to be a very auspicious time to revere Lord Shiva by Hindus all over the world. It is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th night (Chaturdashi) of the Maagha (South Indian Calendar) or Phalguna month (North Indian Calendar) in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha(waning moon) of Hindu calendar. This corresponds to some day in February or early March, as per the Gregorian calendar. In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or Herath. Maha Shivaratri has been mentioned in the Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana.
This year, Mahashivaratri will be celebrated on 24th February 2017 (Friday). Chaturdashi Tithi begins on February 24 at 21:38 hours and ends on February 25 at 21:20 hours.
The auspicious Muhurat for Maha Shivaratri in 2017: *
* On 24th, Maha Shivaratri: Puja Time: 24:08 to 24:59 (Duration: 50 Mins) * On 25th, Maha Shivaratri: Parana Time: 06:54 to 15:24*
To understand the significance of Mahashivaratri, we need to first understand the gnosis of the mystical Shiva. Shiva is the most complex and paradoxical element of the Divine Trinity (Trimurti). In fact, Shiva has been worshipped since very ancient times, even before the Vedic period.=
Shi-Va literally means ‘Which is Not’. Shiva is the destroyer and the most compassionate. Everything evolves from Nothing. It is in this nothingness that the celestial dance of Creation takes place. Shiva refers to the limitless and formless energy; yet Shiva is also shown as possessing a material body. Shiva is the ‘Adiyogi’- the first Yogi – the originator of Yoga. He is an ascetic, a celibate - forever absorbed in deep meditation; yet He is also a householder, a family man. He is lost in deep meditation on the top of Mount Kailash – away from the material senses. Yet His anger and anguish cross all boundaries on the death of Sati. He assumes the role of a destroyer in the cycle of Creation; yet He is the one who drinks poison to save Creation!
He is neither Male or Female AND He is both – Ardhanaarishwar. He represents the polarities of existence; and yet he represents the Whole Being, the Creation. It is no wonder then that He is venerated both by householders as well as the recluse spiritual seekers.
The householders celebrate Mahashivaratri as the day when Shiva married Parvati after conquering all his enemies. They view Mahashivaratri as a celebration of the merging of Shiva and Shakti into one; the merging of two bodies into one.
On the other hand, the spiritual seekers and ascetics celebrate Mahashivaratri as the day when Shiva, the Adiyoga became still, calm and serene as Mount Kailash itself. To them, it is the night of stillness – the night to experience oneness with the Divine. They see it as an opportunity to dissolve one’s limitations and imperfections.
In the Bhagavad Gita there is a verse:
Ya nisa sarvabhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami;
yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
*या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी । यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः *
meaning ‘That which is night to the ignorant, is day to the wise; and that which is day to the wise, is night to the ignorant’. In other words, Maha Shivaratri can be seen as a spiritual journey from Samsara - the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth to Moksha i.e. Salvation.=
It is believed that Mahashivaratri is celebrated in commemoration of the night when Shiva performed the Divine dance, ‘Tandhava Nritya’ – depicting the rhythmic cycles of Srishti or Creation and Samhara or Destruction.
According to another version of the legend, Goddess Parvati performed meditation and offered prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that may befall her husband. Since then, married and unmarried women perform puja with great faith. Many believe Mahashivaratri to be the celebration to mark the holy union of Shiva and Parvati on this day.
According to yet another legend, it was on this day that Shiva first manifested Himself as Shivalinga to settle the argument between Brahma and Vishnu as to who was the Superior one in the Trinity. Shiva transformed himself into a huge column of fire to reveal His superiority over both of them.
According to the Shiva Puraana, Parvati once asked Shiva what pleases him the most, He replied, ‘The 14th night of the new moon, of the month of Phalgun is my favorite day.” Thereafter, this day came to be known as ‘Maha Shivaratri’- the Eternal Night of Shiva.
JAAGRAN – MYSTERY OF THE MAHASHIVARATRI NIGHT:
Mahashivaratri is one of the few Hindu festivals, which is celebrated by remaining awake all night. It is the night before the New Moon – signifying the end of negative energies and the creation of new vitalities.
Devotees fast during the day and keep vigil at night and pray for mental peace, spiritual upliftment and self-discipline. Spiritual aspirants meditate and perform Yogic kriyas and mantra recitations which help activate physiological and energy transformation processes.
The planetary positions and the axis of the Globe itself on Mahashivaratri night is such that profuse and strong spiritual energies surround the Earth. The vibrations this night are so powerful that it is recommended to stay awake and absorb this energy of spiritual awareness and elevation of consciousness. Hence it is the practice to fast and chant mantras the whole night. Fasting cleanses the body, while meditating and chanting cleanses the spirit.
Shiva stands on the threshold of Time and Creation. Spiritual seekers believe that that on this night, the energy patterns resonate with the energy of Lord Shiva. It is considered as an auspicious night to release the potential energies lying dormant in the Kundilini. Hence they meditate with sitting with an upright spine to awaken and activate the Kundilini Chakra.
PUJA & CELEBRATION:
On Shivaratri day, after finishing morning rituals, devotees should take Sankalp (Resolution) to observe fast for the full day on Shivaratri. They break the fast between sunrise and before the end of the 14th day (Chaturdashi Tithi) to get maximum benefit of the fasting. Women worship Shiva and Parvati (also called ‘Gaura’, the giver of ‘suhag’) to bless them with good husband like Shiva, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.
The devotees visit Shiva temples or Jyotirlingas of Shiva and bathe the Shivalinga with Panchagavya – five sacred offerings obtained from a cow – milk, curds, butter, honey and sugar. In the olden days, cow urine and cow dung were included in place of honey and sugar. Besides, these, Shiva is also offered Datura flowers, Blue Lotus, Bael leaves, Sandalwood paste, Ber fruit, Rudraksha, etc.
Having thandai is an important part of the celebration of Maha Shivratri. Thandai is a mildly intoxicating drink made by blending together bhang (cannabis leaves), fennel seeds, melon seeds, sugar, rose petals and almonds in milk. It is mostly consumed in North India.
Shiva Mantras invokes the Shiva Tattva (Essence) which helps to restrain, defeat and eradicate the enemies from your path. Shiva Mantra is also called the 'Raksha Kavach Mantra' as it protects one from dangers, intimidations and adversaries.
1. Shiva Moola Mantra or the Panchakshari Mantra - The original mantra is actually made up of five sanskrit vernaculars of 'na', ‘ma' ,‘shi' ,‘va', ‘ya'.
ॐ नमः शिवाय॥ Om Namah Shivaya॥
2. Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra - is considered extremely powerful and mantra. It is also known as the Moksha Mantra; it is believed that the vibrations of this mantra possess the power to heal and drive away all kinds of fears, including the fear of death.
ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्॥
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushti-Vardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityormukshiya Mamritat॥
3. Rudra Gayatri Mantra -
ॐ तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहि तन्नो रुद्रः प्रचोदयात्॥
Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat॥
4. Shiv Dhyaan Mantra -
करचरणकृतं वाक् कायजं कर्मजं वा श्रवणनयनजं वा मानसंवापराधं । विहितं विहितं वा सर्व मेतत् क्षमस्व जय जय करुणाब्धे श्री महादेव शम्भो ॥
Karcharankritam Vaa Kaayjam Karmjam Vaa Shravannayanjam Vaa Maansam Vaa Paradham |
Vihitam Vihitam Vaa Sarv Metat Kshamasva Jay Jay Karunaabdhe Shree Mahadev Shambho ||
Both Moon and Saturn are related to Shiva. Moon finds place on the forehead of Shiva, signifying that He controls the Moon aka Manas – the Mind. Mahashivratri is celebrated at a time when Sun is in the Saturn ruled sign of Kumbha (Aquarius) – a sign which is presided over by Shiva. Aquarius sign is a Water-Bearer – water again signifies the Moon. Since it is the time around New Moon, both Sun and Moon are positioned in the sign of Saturn.
Anyone suffering from the adverse effects of malefic Saturn or Moon, or having Kaal Sarpa Dosha, Grahan Dosha in his Kundli (Birth Chart) or passing through Sade Sati or Dhaiyya shall benefit a lot by performing remedies and participating in Shiva pooja, meditation and mantra recitation on Mahashivaratri night.