sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Fri Mar 7 10:14:43 CST 1997
The following is my response to a question on SivarAtri. If someone has
better answer, I would be happy to know too. I am signing off this
afternoon from the list and will signin after I return from India on frist
Hari Om to everyone and I enjoyed the postings and as they made me to
think. Even those with jarring notes helped me to realized the gap between
the appreciation of the truth and realization of the truth. Just as Bhakti
without GNaanam can lead to fanaticism, GNaanam without Bhakti can lead to
arrogance. Here I am obviously differentiating the GNaanam from ViGNaanam.
PranAms to everyone.
NamaskArams to you too Ramesh and happy to hear from you.
I will discuss what I understand.
SivarAtri stands for auspicious night. There are lot of vedantic
interpretations that one can give. From pourAnic point view this was the
day when Siva appeared as linga. The story goes that Vishnu and Brahma
were quarreling, who is great among the two. And suddenly a long pillar
appears in front of them with no end insight. The decided to investigate
the end of that linga. (linga means that which designates some thing other
than it self - lingyate iti lingam - it is a symbol for something other
than itself.) Vishnu as a bore decided to dig down while Brahma takes an
easy path to fly up. Both could not find the end. Vishnu admits his
inability while Brahma lies that he has seen the end, thereby declaring
that he is greater than Vishnu. Immediately Siva appears and curses
I am not sure what Siva purAna says about the SivarAtri. In the Vishnu
PurAna, in the beginning there was only Vishnu. To help him in the
creation, he first creates Brahma and then Siva, one in charge of creation
and the other in charge of annihilation.
The word Siva means auspiciousness and is one of the names for Vishnu too
in the Vishnusahasra naama.
RAtri being dark, stands for ignorance. SivarAtri day one celebrates
jaagarana ( not intended for seeing movies one after that other), keeping
one self awake, complete night with the contemplation on Lord Siva, who is
MR^ityunjaya. Siva himself is the embodiment of DhyAna or meditation in
the form of Dakshanamuurthi teaching the identity of oneness of jeeva and
paramAtma through chinmudra (thumb and the index finger brought together to
form a circle - thumb stands for paramAtma and index finger stands for
individual ego, jeeva - circle is the pUrnam with the identity of both
Iswara and jeeva - this is the meaning of chinmudra). SivarAtri signifies
the day jeeva is awaken to the auspicious state through contemplation.
Ignorance is destroyed by surrenderence to the Siva, the auspicious who
with the wisdom eye can destroy the kaama etc and purify the soul to take
him beyond the threshold of change or death. - Remember the Markandeya
purAna, where MarkAndeya transcends the death by surrendering to Lord Siva.
Siva with trisUla, the three pronged instrument - body, mind and intellect
- puts the Lord of Death, yama, in his place.
Hence SivarAtri is the day of contemplation, reflection and meditation,
thinking the name of the Lord Siva or your ishTadevata, who is auspicious
and Siva to you. Remember he is beyond the names and forms the very self
in you or you yourself. SivOham SivOham.
The following is the e-mail from Sri Mahesh.
namaskAram sadAnanda gAru
My name is Mahesh. I met you at Dr. Dayananda's place when you visited Purdue
In one of our recent study circles, there was a question raised that none of
knew the answer to. I would be obliged if you could kindly lead me to any
sources of information or provide the answer.
What is the significance of Shivarathri? rAmanavami is the "birthday" of Sri
Rama and similarly kRshhNAshTami. But shiva is kAlAtIta. So what is
On the one hand there is possibly a pOurANic interpretation and on the other, a
deeper meaning, possibly involving the choice of that particular day of mAgha
trayOdasi. Why this day?
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