The festival of Mahashivaratra is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Magha as per the Hindu lunar Almanac. This year it is on 4th March. The Shiva Principle is most active on this day of the year.
Meaning Of Mahashivratra
Mahashivaratra literally means ‘the night (ratra) of the Supreme God Principle (Shiva)’. Deity Shiva rests for sometime during the night. That time of the night, meaning, the time when Deity Shiva is resting is called ‘Mahashivaratra’. When Deity Shiva is resting, He goes from the meditative state (Dhyan) to the state of meditative union (Samadhi). This state of the meditative union of Deity Shiva is His time to perform spiritual practice.
Functions of Deity Shiva
The word Shiva (when its syllables are transposed), has its origin in the word ‘Vash’. Vash means to enlighten; thus, one who enlightens is Shiva. Deity Shiva is absolute, self-radiant and illuminates the universe. Deity Shiva is also called Mahadev or Supreme God since He possesses all the three Principles – Absolute Purity (Pavitrya), Absolute Knowledge (Jnana) and Absolute Spiritual practice (Sadhana) – underlying the Creation of the universe.
1. Creation of the universe : Deity Shiva can create the universe merely by His resolve (Sankalpa). Shiva-Parvati are called the parents of the world.
2. Master of the universe (Jagadguru): It is said that one must seek knowledge from Deity Shiva and Liberation from Shri Vishnu.
3. Taking one beyond the three components (to the trigunatit state) : Deity Shiva completely destroys spiritual ignorance, that is, ignorance about Spirituality and also ignorance about one’s true nature.
Various substances used in the worship of Deity Shiva
1. Sacred ash (Bhasma) : The devotee worshipping Deity Shiva smears Sacred ash (Bhasma) on His forehead in three horizontal stripes known as Tripundra. The stripes symbolise Absolute Knowledge (Jnan), Purity and Penance (Yogasadhana).
2. Rudraksha : The devotee wears a Rudraksha-bead mala while worshipping Deity Shiva. The Rudraksha is red in colour, and its shape is round, oval or flat (as fish). Each bead has a natural opening from one side to the other, which appears like an open mouth. The Rudraksha converts the Divine light waves into sound waves in the human body and vice versa. Hence, the Rudraksha facilitates the absorption of Divine waves and transformation of one’s thoughts into Divine language, so as to reach one’s Divine Principle of worship.
3. Bel leaf : One of the main components in the Shivapindi’s ritualistic worship is the bel leaf. The scientific reason for offering bel leaf to Deity Shiva is because it emits 2% of Shiva Principle. On the day of Mahashivaratra when the bel leaf is offered on the Shivapindi, the manifest Shiva Principle gets activated near the stem of the bel leaf, and it starts emitting Divine consciousness and Shiva Principle. Bel leaf attracts 20% Shiva Principle from the Shivapindi. Such bel leaves which are offered to the Shivapindi are charged with the Shiva Principle.
Circumambulation of the Shivapindi should begin from the left side till the Shalunka’s extended outlet, through which the continuous stream of water (Abhishek) flows. Then we should turn back without crossing the starting point and complete the circumambulation in the reverse direction. (See diagram in box on the right side.)
The reason for not crossing the extended portion of the Shalunka is that the energy flow at that point has an adverse effect on the production of semen and the five internal vital energies namely Prana, Saman, Apan, Udan and Vyan in our body.
Read Sanatan’s Holy text – Worship of Deities : ‘Shiva’
Sanatan’s Holy texts
Worship Deities with devotion and bhav !
Text series : Worship of Deities
Spiritual analysis pertaining to Deity Shiva
Physical and spiritual uniqueness of Deity Shiva
What does Deity Shiva’s third eye represent ?
Various forms of Deity Shiva and His family
Meaning of Jyotirlinga and its uniqueness
Science underlying the worship of Deity Shiva
How to have Deity Shiva’s darshan through the space created by the finger, thumb & tip of the horns of Nandi ?
Why and how to offer bel leaves to Deity Shiva ?
Why should there be a continuous stream of water falling over the Shivapindi ?
Why is the Shivapindi circumambulated in a specific manner ? (See the image above)