Shivratri means ‘The Night of Shiva’ and is observed in honour of Lord Shiva (The meditative aspect of the Universe). According to the legend from Shivapurana, when Shiva was asked by Parvathi what pleases him most, He is supposed to have replied thus: ‘The 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of phalgun, is my most favorite day. It is known as Shivratri’. This day brings deep rest to the mind and the spirit. It is like a new year for a sadhak (seeker). It is considered as an auspicious day for spiritual growth and material attainment.
Mahashivaratri is the day when the Shiva Tattva touches the earth. The consciousness, the aura or the ethereal world which is always ten inches above the material ground, touches the earth element on the day of Mahashivarathri. It is the wedding of the material with the spiritual.
Shiva is the soul (of everything) – there is no difference between the soul and Shiva. Your true nature is Shiva, and Shiva is peace, infinity, beauty and the non-dual one. Ratri means ‘to take refuge’. Shivaratri is taking refuge in Shiva (the soul). It is celebrating the Shiva Tatva within oneself.Shivaratri is taking refuge in Shiva (the soul). It is celebrating the Shiva Tatva within oneself. Click To Tweet
Ratri (which translates as night) is that which gives you rest or peace, when everything becomes quiet and peaceful. Shivaratri is not only rest for body, but for mind and ‘Ego’. Three types of peace are needed:
1. Material peace
2. Mental peace
3. Peace in the soul
If there is disturbance around you, you cannot be peaceful. You need peace in your environment. You also need peace in the body and mind, and you need peace in the soul. You may have peace in the atmosphere, you may enjoy good health and you may have peace in the mind to a certain extent, but if the soul is restless, nothing can bring you comfort. So that peace is also essential. Only in the presence of all the three types of peace can there be complete peace. Without one, the other is incomplete.
Shivaratri is taking refuge in the divine consciousness which brings peace and solace to all layers of consciousness. So resting in the Shiva Tattva is Shivaratri. When the mind, intellect and ego rests in the divine that is the real rest, and the deepest rest (the complete peace). This is why it is very useful for people to meditate on this day.
A Day for Meditation
Shivaratri is like a new year for a saadhak (seeker). It is considered as an auspicious day for spiritual growth and material attainment. The night on this day, when the constellations are in some particular position, is very auspicious for meditation. And so it is very useful for people to keep awake and meditate on Shivaratri.
In ancient times, people used to say, ‘Okay, if you cannot do it every day, at least one day in a year, on Shivratri day, do meditation and keep awake’. Wake the Divinity that is deep within you – this is the message. The Divinity is within you, let it wake up!
A Day for Fasting
Many devotees in order to bring a balance between the three Gunas, i.e., Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva observe fast on the day of Shivaratri. Not eating too much, eating light and doing more meditation on this day helps in fulfillment of desires. This is the ancient belief. Like a sponge in water (a rasagulla in syrup), when mind and body is resting in the Shiva Tattva, small wishes get fulfilled effortlessly. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen on any other day. At any time when your heart is open and your mind is calm, prayers do get answered.
A Day for Chanting Sacred Hymns
Shivratri day is celebrated with Rudrabhishekam (singing of the ancient Vedic mantras which are accompanied with a ceremony of washing the Shiva Linga with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc). When we chant the Vedic mantras, these mantras bring a big change in the environment. It brings purity in the environment, positivity is increased, bad karmas are destroyed and nature celebrates.
Rudrabhishekam has been performed for thousands of years for the well-being of all. ‘Let there be timely rain, let there be a good harvest. Let there be health, wealth, wisdom, and liberation’, with these prayers it is performed. So Rudrabhishekam is performed to strengthen one’s connection to the Divine.