Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mahashivaratri 2008

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
Another Mahashivaratri observed, a step closer to home! The confusion regarding the actual date of the vrata being the 5th or the 6th added to the mystery and also brought forth some very useful information with which the vrata is actually fixed - with respect to the calculation of the thithi and the kalas etc. We followed the date given by the Sringeri acharya (5th) and it also worked out to be the same day when the calculations were made for the location we were in.

Shiva being the king of yogis and a mountain man through and through, we arrived at the foothills of a beautiful mountain here in Ireland. The mountain whose name means 'The great deceiver' or ' The great path' was our clean ground for the commencement of the vrata - very apt. The great deceiver is the great path and the great path is the constant deceiver. There must be something about the mountain air or perhaps its the strong grounding energy radiated by the mountains, I have always felt 'closer' to Shiva on the mountains than on sea level.

As the evening fell, we were ready for the journey to begin. The setting sun was the timer to set us off on our journey to the deep, to the very core of our being. Worship of the guru and the guru mandala the first step for anything was done. The sankalpa was made and the puja begun with all the due facets. Mahaganapathy was invoked to ensure no hurdle big or small would become powerful enough to distract us from the yoga of union with Shiva. The sacred waters were invoked into the kalasa to be used in worship of the supremely effulgent being. The earth, asana and atma being purified by the due processes we were now ready to venture into the main part of the worship. The supreme Lord of Pasus was imagined as Dakshinamurthy, the guru of gurus and duly invoked into the linga emblem. The upacharas and offerings were made and Shiva praised with a hundred and eight names. We fortified ourselves with the kavacha (armour) of Shiva and then again the armour of Rudra. We were now well and truly ready for transformation.

The linga was bathed through the night at each yama (quarter of the night) with different substances as prescribed in the sastras - milk, curds, ghee and honey. To keep 'awake' and in union with Him, many stotras and slokas were sung and chanted. Various forms of His were invoked and contemplated. The middle of the night or Maharatri was reserved specially for the chanting of Shiva's favourite hymn, the RudrAdhyAyA or Rudram. Eleven rudrams were chanted for the 11 rudras and the entire energy was transferred into the kalasam with water which was then used to bathe the linga. The heat from such an exercise is somewhat overwhelming. Cold as it was outside in the middle of the night at the mountains in Kerry with a gale blowing, we were (at least I was) over heating! The sweat pouring in a steady stream was like the ganges come down to wash away the sins of the mortal beings on earth. With it, it took away my fatigue and my failings.

Shiva was then praised using the Sahasranama or thousand names of Shiva. Like the siddha Thirumular mentions, the Shiva sahasranama is like a rope thrown to the one who is nearly drowning in the ocean of samsara! Holding steady to His feet and holding Him steady in the lotus of the heart, each name of praise was offered with a handful of flowers. Nearing the end of the archana, the feeling of Shivoham (I am He (Shiva)) was becoming cemented in the mind. Shivoham. Shivoham. SHIVOHAM. A part of my mind gets high with the emotion of being Shiva while the more 'grounded' part of me reminds me that the next thing is to 'be'have like Shiva! A long way yet before that, but I am in no hurry and I am sure He is no hurry for that either.

The rising sun brought us out from the reverie that his setting on the previous evening left us in. The ksheerArghyam (offering of milk with mantras) was performed signalling the end of the vrata. The world and the mountain were ready to take us in their embrace when we stepped out of the 'cave'. The rare treat of performing the morning sandhyavandana as it is meant to be done by the stream (instead of by the tap at home) was a delight. The daily prayers finished with we were ready to break the fast - which we did by feasting on the offerings of the nights puja.

Fully fortified now, we began our ascent of the Great deceiver or the Great path in a strong shower of rain. The winds got too strong as we gained height and built up to storm force quite soon. We had an experience of Kailash like weather to finish the vrata. It was just perfect!!

Hopefully the currents generated by the nights worship keeping vigil against sleep will stay in us for a while more - we need that to face the tide of life here on Earth.

O Shiva, the three eyed,
The only medicine for the soul.
O king of yogis, the one with tawny locks,
The only medicine for the heart.
O lord of bliss, in the Ecstasy of intoxication,
The only medicine for me.

Namah shivAya. sAmbasadAshivAya. AtmAya. Namah shivAya.


Kanna said...

Awesome. Awesome. Would love to read about/hear the experiences of the amazing night from everyone that was given-and-kept ("kuduthu vechavanga") for this beautiful ritual. Maybe a Skypecast in the near future?

mooligai sidhan said...

indeed I could write for hours about the night of shiva,and given a chance I could talk for hours too!The given-and-kept will probably pen their thoughts on the ceremony too:)
Though a 'physical' satsang will be much more relaible than the e-satsang to go into the deeper end of the night's experiences!