By Ananya Bharadwaj
The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivratri. Among all the twelve Shivratris that occur in a calendar year, Mahashivratri, the one that occurs in February-March is of utmost spiritual significance for Hindus. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is in such a position that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards reaching their maximum spiritual peak. It is to make use of this belief, that in this tradition, we establish a certain festival which is night-long. Mahashivratri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path.
Mythological significance of Mahashivratri
People who live in family situations observe Mahashivratri as Shiva’s wedding anniversary. Those with worldly ambitions see that day as the day Shiva conquered all his enemies. But for the ascetics, it is the day he became one with Mount Kailash. He became like a mountain – absolutely still and unmoving. In the yogic tradition, Shiva is not worshipped as a God but considered as the Adi Guru – the first Guru from whom the knowledge originated. After many millennia were swallowed in meditation, one day all movement in him stopped and he became utterly still, and thus ascetics see Mahashivratri as the night of stillness.
Legends stick to their rich cultural significance and versions, but the reason that this day and night are so revered is that of the possibilities that are presented to a spiritual seeker. Modern science and technology has undergone many transformations and arrived at a point today where what remains to be proven right, time and again is that everything that you know as life, everything that you know as matter and existence, or the cosmos and galaxies, is just one vast form of energy which manifests itself in millions of ways.
Spiritual significance of Lord Shiva
In Indian culture, all the ancient prayers were not about saving oneself, protecting oneself or doing better in life. Rather, they have always been “Oh lord, destroy me so that I can become like yourself.”
On the one hand, Shiva is known as the destroyer. On the other, he is known as the most compassionate and kindest. He is also known to be the greatest of the givers. The yogic lore is plentiful with many stories about Shiva’s compassion. The ways of expression of his compassion have been incredible and astonishing at the same time.
When we talk about Shivratri, which is the darkest night of the month, it is an opportunity for one to dissolve their limitedness, restrictions, and restraints; it is for them to experience the limitlessness of the source of creation which is the seed in every human being. Mahashivratri is an opportunity and a possibility to bring oneself to experience the vast emptiness within every human being, which is the source of all creation.
Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons
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