Shivaratri (long)

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Fri Mar 7 15:08:36 CST 1997

On Thu, 6 Mar 1997, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

> On Thu, 6 Mar 1997, Giri wrote:
> >         On the occasion of Shivaratri (the holy night dedicated to Lord
> > Shiva) [March 7], please try to visit the sanskrit document site
> >
> > which contains around 20 stotra-s on Lord Shiva, some of which are
> > translated. If you like to add some more, please let me know.
> I wasn't able to get through to this site.  But I'm actually at work still
> and we have a funny proxy setup here.

        It is true that some people (especially those with non-standard
browsers and also those who have a firewall set-up) are unable to access
the site because of the 'ftp.' They can access the front-end mirror,
(All the files are still stored in the jaguar site).

> Anyway, one stotra which I'm sure up there and which I always think of at
> Shivaratri is callded Shiva Manasa Puja. (It begins "Ratnaih kalpitam...")

        It is indeed a beautiful hymn. It goes ..
ratnaiH kalpitamaasanaM himajalaiH s{}naanaM cha divyaambaraM
naanaaratnavibhuushhitaM mR^igamadaamodaaN^kitaM chandanam.h .

        Yes, it is indeed available. All files are available in
transliterated english, devanagiri in postscript and .gif format. To get
the postscript files, please access

Those who do not know sanskrit can read the stotra-s which have
translations and introductions.

For those who are willing to learn sanskrit, there are several tutorials.
These tutorials would help one understand basic sanskrit. There is even a
dictionary online. Please make use of the facilities. *Some* people like me
who contribute to the site have only a rudimentary knowledge of sanskrit
or web page authoring, and therefore, please forgive my mistakes and feel
free to correct out the errors.

> abisheka to the Shivalinga with Rudri or Shiva Mahimna stotra if you are
> not eligible.)

        Both the rudraM and shiva mahimna stotra are also available at
the above web site.

AUM nama shivayaH

        Maha Shivaratri is one of the most sacred days for all worshippers
of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the moon's waning
(Chaturdashi). Though there is a shivaratri every month, the one in Feb/Mar
is of special significance and is called Maha Shivaratri.
        On this day, devotees stay awake all night, and perform puja to
Lord Shiva in their best possible way. There are many incidents and
significances. The following is *only* one such interpretation. Please
forgive me for all mis-interpretations and errors.

        Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a linga as the hill
Arunachala. He was first worshipped in this form on Mahashivaratri.
[Ref. Talks with Ramana Maharshi].

   'Ratri' means night. Night is the time we detach ourselves from
work in the material life. 'Shiva' is auspiciousness Himself. Shivaratri
thus means detaching from our baser instincts and being who we really
are - a manifestation of Auspiciousness, Satchitananda.

        The subtle power of the moon is linked to the tendencies of the mind.
And when the moon is almost gone, this provides an oppurtunity for the
aspirant. The moon's emptiness symbolises stillness of the mind. The
ever shining Atman, which is covered by the clouds of ignorance in the
mind, becomes 'visible.'

        Devotion to Lord Shiva on this night is very special and the
night long tapas removes avidya. Even if one makes a small effort
to recognize Lord Shiva by offering him water, bilva leaves and ash
while constantly meditating on the five letters (na ma si va ya), he
is rewarded for his efforts.

        There is an incident of a hunter who went in to the forest.
He was chased by a tiger. Therefore, he climbed up the tree. But the tiger
stayed under the tree and wouldn't leave. The tree happened to be a
bilva tree with a linga at the foot of the tree. The hunter who was
stuck on the top of the tree was unaware of all this, and to while
away the boredom, he started picking the bilva leaves from the tree
and dropped it unknowingly on the linga throughout the night. Lord Shiva
was very pleased with his devotion.

Few Pujas with sanskrit slokas can be found in
        Why is water and bilva leaves offered in puja ? There are many
reasons. They can also been interpreted spiritually. The idol is inundated
with water. Water purifies and washes. It signifies that we are asking
that let the water also remove our faults which constitute our ignorance.
Leaves smell, and this is called vaasaana. Vaasaana is also an another name for
the imprints in the jiva, which constitute the flavor/smell of
our personality, habits etc.  They are picked
up with the right hand and then, the fingers are pointed downward so that
they fall at the feet of the idol. The five fingers signify the
five senses. The senses which are normally directed outward for pleasure
and now pointed downward showing that they are surrendered.
Usually, it is placed after uttering 'namaH.' While namaH means
salutation, it is also a form of 'na mama' i.e not mine. Thus,
when offering, one says, 'I am offering to you my senses, attributes,
character but none of them are really mine. Everything is yours.' aum.

        Who is Lord Shiva ? Shiva is the supreme reality. Always
united with Shakti, He alone turns into many as the Lord of Creation
and withdraws Himself to the original state of One as the Lord of
Destruction. Thiru-jnana-sambhandar enumerates five qualities of Lord
Shiva in his poem, (creation, protection, destruction, hiding, and blessing).
He is invisible, unmanifest and Nirguna (formless), but to please his
devotees whose mind cannot comprehend His glory, He takes on forms
to bless them. Shankara in his lalita trishati bhashya explains this
very clearly,

bhaktaanugrahaaka vigraha vattam vinaa devataayaa buddhavanaaropeNa
saguNopaasana vigrahavantah aN^gikartavyaa iti pratishhThaapitam

(If the dieties do not possess forms to bless their devotees,
the devotees cannot grasp them mentally and sagunopaasana becomes

But how should we worship ?
Shankara says in the bhashya on how to worship Lalita,

tathaapi tadapavaada purassaram shuddha chaitanyaabheda
dhyana ruupa mukhya bhajanam mukhya meva

A devotee must meditate only on his oneness with pure awareness in worship.

        Is it possible to describe the glory and nature of Shiva ? When
Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu have failed, should we even attempt to do that ?
That's why a devotee says,

tava tattvam naajaanaami, kidrsosi mahesvara, kyadrosi mahadeva
taddrsya namo namaH

Oh Great one, I do not know the Truth about you, or who/what you are.
However, let me salute that nature of yours.

When a devotee approaches Ishvara or Ishta-devata with reverence,
he thinks he is the body. He has the dehatma-buddhi.

dehaM - body

Man is bitten by the snake of ignorance and thinks himself as
limited, ignorant, and suffers from the notion of 'I am the doer.'
By surrendering the notion of an individuality due to wise words by sages,
he concludes [atleast intellectually],

na ahaM - [body is] not I

But then, if we are not the bodies, then surely Lord Shiva cannot be
only the body either. Instead of asking, 'Who is Lord Shiva and what is
His nature,' he asks himself,

ko.ahaM - who am I ?

Due to the everpresent grace of Lord Shiva-Shakti and Guru, he realizes
[not immediately, of course]

so.ahaM - I am That.

He was always That. A king dreams that he was a beggar. Was he ever
a beggar ? No, he only thought he was a beggar. He only realized
who he really was (a king) after waking up. Similarly, after one removes
the [perceived] avidya, one realizes that 'I am[always was/and always will be]
That.' As Lord Rama [of Ramayana] says in the Shiva Purana, 'We are all
manifestations of Lord Shiva..'

Thus shrii shankara says in the aatmashhaTakaM

     manobuddhyaha.nkaarachittaani naahaM
     na cha shrotrajivhe na cha ghraaNanetre .
     na cha vyomabhuumiH na tejo na vaayuH
     chidaana.ndaruupaH shivo.ahaM shivo.aham.h

I am not the intellect, ego, mind.  Neither am I hearing, taste,
smell, sight. Nor am I space, earth, light, air, field of consciousness.
I am the pure consciousness of bliss. I am Shiva. I am Shiva.

[Shiva here means pure consciousness].


daasaste.ahaM dehadR^ishhTyaa.asmi shaMbho
jaatasteM.asho jiivadR^ishhTyaa tridR^ishhTe |
sarvasyaa.a.atmannaatmadR^ishhTyaa tvameve\-
tyevaM me dhiirnishchitaa sarvashaastraiH ||

Oh Lord ! In the form of body I am your servant. In the form of life, O
three-eyed one,  I am part of yourself. In the form of soul,  you are
within me and in every other soul. I have arrived at this conclusion through
my intellect and on the authority of the various scriptures.

May Lord Shiva make us aware of His ever-present grace on this holy
day of shivaratri. AUM nama shivayaH


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