What is Shivaratri?

Maha Shivaratri, a revered Hindu festival, marks a night of profound spiritual significance, symbolizing devotion and transformation. It is a time when the divine qualities of Shiva are celebrated. Shiva embodies the absolute potential of pure creation, destruction, and regeneration, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life and the universe itself. This auspicious occasion invites individuals to delve deep into their spiritual practice, offering prayers, fasting, and meditations, to awaken the Shiva consciousness within each of us. Maha Shivaratri is not merely a night to honor Shiva, the deity, but an opportunity to experience a profound internal awakening.

In this video, Swami Parameshwar Das Maharaj (Swamiji) shares practices for activating Shiva’s energy, focusing on the power of awakening and enlightenment through devotion and the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya.”

The Essence of Shiva

Shiva, from the teachings and traditions of Hinduism, transcends the mere concept of a deity to embody the universal principles of destruction and renewal, essential for the cycle of existence and spiritual enlightenment. Revered as a being of light who bridged the realms beyond the veil and our earthly existence, Shiva’s role is pivotal in guiding humanity toward its higher consciousness. This divine figure stands as a symbol in the Himalayas, offering illumination to every soul aspiring to be a beacon of light. Shiva’s essence, honored in the sacred chant “Om Namah Shivaya,” signifies his significance within the cosmic trinity as the force of transformation and transmutation. Through this understanding, Shiva is perceived not as an entity born of the earth, but as the ether—the boundless space where everything originates and dissolves, similar to gravity, an invisible yet undeniable presence in our lives.

In this video, Sai Maa shares personal experiences of the profound impact of the spiritual essence and teachings of Shiva. Maa shares that today we have the power from within us to be divine, to enjoy a life of divinity. Devotion to Shiva can amplify our path to enlightenment.

Shiva as the Ether

Shiva’s role goes beyond traditional religious beliefs to a more universal, spiritual presence. Hinduism is considered more of a life philosophy than a religion. Sai Maa describes Shiva as the ether, the vast nothingness from which everything emerges, giving the example of gravity to illustrate Shiva’s omnipresent yet invisible essence. This teaching encourages an understanding of Shiva’s integral role in our existence, urging us to recognize and embrace the divine potential within us. Shiva is not just a deity to be worshiped, but is a state of consciousness to be achieved—a source of transformation and enlightenment that dissolves the ego and encourages oneness with the universe, guiding humanity to embody the divine light within.

Practices and Rituals for Shivaratri

Fasting

Many devotees observe a strict fast on Maha Shivaratri, abstaining from food and, in some cases, water. The fast is broken the next morning, after the night vigil and worship. Fasting is believed to purify the body and mind, making it easier to focus on spiritual goals.

Night Vigil

Keeping awake during the night of Shivaratri is a significant practice. Devotees spend the night in prayer, meditation, and chanting, as it is believed that Lord Shiva saved the universe from darkness and ignorance on this night. Staying awake is symbolic of a spiritual awakening.

Abhishekam

This ritual involves bathing the Shiva lingam with water, milk, honey, and other sacred offerings while chanting the Vedic mantra known as the Rudram. This is done to purify the soul, bring prosperity, and remove negative karma. This ritual is performed by pundits and is something that is usually observed, not practiced individually

Offerings

Devotees make offerings to Lord Shiva, which can include fruits, flowers (especially the bel leaf), and sweets. These offerings are made with devotion to seek blessings and express gratitude.

Chanting Mantras

Reciting the “Om Namah Shivaya” mantra is a powerful practice on Maha Shivaratri. This mantra praises Lord Shiva and helps focus the mind on the divine.

Meditation

Meditation is a core part of Shivaratri observances. Devotees meditate on the formless aspect of Shiva, seeking to understand the eternal truth and connect with the universal consciousness.

Listening to or Reading Scriptures

Many devotees read or listen to scriptures such as the Shiva Purana or stories related to Lord Shiva’s greatness. This helps in understanding the spiritual significance of the festival and inspires devotion.

Charity

Giving alms to the needy, feeding animals, and other acts of charity are encouraged on Maha Shivaratri. These acts of kindness are believed to please Lord Shiva and bring spiritual merit to the devotee.

Enjoy this slideshow of images from Shivaratri led by the Mahamandaleshwar and Indian Pundits who perform sacred rituals for the event.

Shivaratri - Abishek

Listen to or chant Om Namah Shivaya, a mantra used to honor the divine aspect of Shiva that is within each of us.

by The Singers of the Art of Living

By Deva Premal

Maha Shivaratri emerges as a profound spiritual journey, a night dedicated to honoring the divine essence of Shiva, as illuminated by the teachings of Her Holiness Sai Maa and Swami Parameshwar Das Maharaj. This auspicious occasion is not merely a traditional celebration, but a deep, transformative experience that invites devotees to explore the infinite depths of their consciousness. Through fasting, meditation, and the sacred chant of “Om Namah Shivaya,” individuals are encouraged to dissolve their ego, embrace the ethereal presence of Shiva, and awaken to the universal oneness. The insights shared by Sai Maa and Swamiji highlight Shivaratri as a gateway to enlightenment, where the ether of Shiva’s essence becomes a mirror for our own divine potential. In embracing the lessons of Shivaratri, we are called to recognize the power of divine love, the beauty of spiritual awakening, and the eternal dance of creation and dissolution that is the essence of life itself.

 

Additional Resources

Awakened Life Memberships

Awakened Life offers memberships designed to support and enhance your individual spiritual practice, objectives, and lifestyle.

From meditations to online courses and calls with Her Holiness Sai Maa, you’ll have access to a variety of tools to make each day more fulfilling. Plus, enjoy discounts for programs and events!

Whether you are at the beginning or well-advanced along your spiritual journey, we have a variety of memberships to help deepen and accelerate your transformation.

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