Thursday, March 11, 2010
Shiva ratri vratam
Shiva rathri is one of the most auspicious vratas for the devotees of Lord shiva. The purANas explain the grand significance of this vrata.
History of shivaratri
Once when everything in all the worlds got reduced into Lord shiva, in that darkness of nothing present, the mother pArvati worshipped Lord shiva in the Agamic way with great devotion. The parameshwar pleased by Her prayer blessed Her. She asked for the benefit of all the creatures that in future whoever worships the Lord on the shiva rAtri day with devotion, they should be blessed and should be given the ultimate liberation. The pashupati granted that showing way for all of us to get blessed easily.
When Brahma and Vishnu fought between themselves as "who is the greatest", Lord Shiva appeared before them as a pillar of fire. They were not able to find the starting and end of that pillar. This day is Thirukkaarthikai.(1)
Then Brahma and Mahavishnu repented for their mistake and prayed to Lord Shiva for forgiving their sin worshiping the shiva li.ngam which is the form of the flame. In the night of Shiva rathri Lord Shiva appeared before them and blessed them. Devotees pray the God throughout the night of Shiva rathri by performing Abisheka, chanting and other holy deeds.
Every month in Krishna paksha chathurdhasi (fourteenth moonday) is called masa Shiva rathri. The one that comes in the month of "Masi" (mid February to mid March) is called Maha Shiva rathri. This is considered as the most important vrata by the devotees.
There are many incidents told about the greatness of this day. Once a hunter in a jungle after searching throughout the jungle, was quite tired and could not get any animal. In the nightfall a tiger started chasing him. to escape from that he climbed a tree. That was a Bilva tree. The tiger sat under the tree waiting for him to come down. The hunter who sat on a branch of the tree was quite tense and didn't want to sleep. He was plucking the leaves and putting down as he was not able to be idle. Below the tree there was a Shiva lingam. The whole night went on like this. God was pleased with the Upavasa (hunger) and the Pooja the hunter and the tiger did even without knowledge. He is the peak of the grace. He gave the hunter and the tiger "Moksha".
In a Shiva temple on a Maha Shiva rathri day the lamp kept in the altar was very dim. That time a mouse which came take its prey touched the flame. Due to the heat it moved its head immediately. In the process it kindled the lamp and the altar was illuminated well. Lord Shiva, pleased by this deed made the mouse Mahabali, the renowned asura king.
There are many incidents like this told in our Puraanas. If we do the vrata with pure devotion and love there can be no doubt about getting the Grace of the Almighty.
When is shivaratri observed
ska.ndha purANam describes about four shiva rAtris. The first one is nitya shivarAtri (daily shivarAtri - every night). The second one is the mAsa shivarAtri which is observed on the kR^iShNa paxa chaturdasi (fourteenth moonday on the moons diminishing phase). The third one is the mAga prathamAdi shivarAtri which is observed for the thirteen days starting from prathama titi in the month mAga (mAsi) and on the chaturdasi night the Lord is worshiped throughout the night.
The fourth one is observed on the mAsi (mAga) month kR^iShNa paxa chaturdasi. This is the one observed in a widespread manner. It is also called mahA shivarAtri.
Way of observing shivaratri
Getting up early in the morning one meditates on the Infinitely Auspicious, ornated with thousands of splendid garlands, Who is in the form of the holy symbol of shiva(mahA li.ngam). Bathing and staying clean the worship of Lord shiva in the form of shiva li.ngam is done in the four jamas of the night (four equal time intervals of the night). (Note that the li.nga worship is explicitly mentioned for this vratam as this is the time the God out of Its grace for the benefit of pashus appeared in a formless-form that is a symbol (li.ngam) from Its true nature of formlessness.)
Pradhosha pooja is one of the most important among the poojas performed to the Graceful Lord Shiva. In Shukla Paksha (15 moon days from New moon to Full moon) and Krishna Paksha (15 moon days from Full moon to New moon) the evening of the trayodasi (thirteenth moon day) between 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. is called Pradhosha. It comes once in fifteen moon days. Pradhosha time is especially meant for praying Lord Shiva. Praying in that time will free us from out sins and gives moksha finally (hence the name Pradhosha). During pradoSha time a special type of circumambulating called soma sUtra pradaxiNam(1) is done.
Once Dhevas and Asuras using the serpent Vasuki and the hill Mandhara were trying to get Amrutham (nector) from the Kseerabthi (milk ocean). Then the terrible poison Halahalam came up. All got frightened and pleaded to Lord Shiva for rescue. Being the peak of mercy Lord Shiva ate that poison. Then as per His order they resumed their effort to get Amrutham. They got it on Dhwadhasi (twelfth moon day). Without praying and thanking the God, by whom they got Amrutham, Devas started dancing and celebrating their victory.
On thrayodhasi (thirteenth moon day) they realised their sin of not praying the God and pleaded for forgiveness. The pleased graceful Lord Shiva forgave them and danced between the horns of the Nandhi (holy bull). That time is called Pradhosham. Whoever prays Lord Shiva in that time, Lord Shiva fulfills their wishes and give them mukthi.
During Prodhosha time anointing (Abhishekam) the Shiva deity with the following is considered fruitful.
Milk gives long life
Ghee gives Moksha state
Curd gives good children
Honey gives melodious voice
Rice powder frees from debts
Sugar cane juice gives good health
Panjamrutham gives wealth
Lemon removes fear of death
Sugar removes enmity
Tender coconut gives enjoyment
Cooked Rice(Annam) gives mejestic life
Sandal gives Lakshmi's grace
Anoint the Lord Shiva with Love, He would give Himself !!
Bilvam and flowers can be given for Shiva pooja. Please go to Shiva temple for every Pradhosham and live in His grace blissfully.
shivAya namaOm bhavAya namaH
bhavAya namaOm namaH shivAya