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Most readers must undoubtedly be aware of late Dr. G.V Subba Rao, till recently a familiar figure in the Ashram. Many may also know that it is Dr. Subba Rao’s father, esteemed Ghandikota Subramania Sastri, to whom we owe the famous SAI GAYATHRI. We reproduce below the English translation of an article by Subramania Sastrigaru that originally appeared in the Telugu edition of Sanathana Sarathi. In this article, Sastrigaru gives us the traditional explanation and significance of Mahasivarathri.

Sri Subrahmanya SasthriThe Universe is a play enacted by God for God. Precious stones shine in multicolored brilliance without any effort or expenditure of energy, and God manifests as this and many such marvels. To descend as an Avatar by taking on a body for fostering the good and the loyal, is but a phase of His playful mood.

The Supreme One has two basic aspects. (1) The Formless and Eternally Pure Universal Consciousness which can be cognised from the Guru and the Sastras [scriptures]. (2) The second is the aspect with Form which has two important facets, the Universe itself and the Avatar.

Truly speaking, the Universe is His Embodiment, though as long as ignorance persists this truth is not realized. But when ignorance is dispelled, Jnana reveals that what is taken to be the Universe is only the Pure Consciousness Principle of Brahman. In the Rudradhyaya of the Thaithiriya Samhitha, (2d to 8th ANUVAKAS), the fact that the manifested Universe is Siva, nothing more, nothing less is clearly defined. Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma and other axioms appearing in the Vedas are all further dicta on the same theme.

The second Formful embodiment is the Avatar, as Siva and other Godly Forms. He appears in these forms in order to chasten the wicked and encourage the good, and to provide facility for the devoted to earn mental peace through worship. The Siva-Form is paramount among these, because even while fostering the good and the devoted, He is Pure Consciousness and Bliss, since He is of the Sathwic Guna, pre-eminently. Other God-forms have an inkling of subtle Rajas and Thamas and so, in the task of maintaining the Universe, they are merged to the apparent detriment of their fundamental Reality. This is the reason why Siva alone has the Lingam as the Concrete Symbol, besides the usual Conventional Form with weapons, accoutrement, multiplicity of arms and equipment for the sake of the Mission. The Lingam reveals the Fullness and the Illimitability of Siva. Siva grants visions of Himself as the Lingam or as having Karacharana etc.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, the Gods, Brahma and Narayana as the story goes, were extremely jealous of each other and argued loud that each was superior to the other. They had come to the stage of a trial of arms, when between them a brilliant Lingam of Light appeared! They were stunned by the splendour and they decided among themselves that He among them is superior to the other, who is able first to see the beginning below or the end above of that magnificent Lingam. Brahma rode on His Hamsa [swan] and flew above; He could not see the crown of the Lingam however high He rose. Vishnu took the form of Varaha [boar] and dug into the nether regions but could not delve into the base of that Lingam. When they returned to earth, a Voice from the Lingam asked them whether they had succeeded in their quest. Brahma uttered a lie and declared He had seen the crown! Narayana was about to concede victory to Brahma, when the Voice intercepted Him and Siva manifested Himself from the Lingam, with the full Divine Equipped Form described as “Hiranyabaahave, hiranya varnaaya, hiranya roopaaya” in the scriptures. He punished Brahma for the audacity and the falsehood. He authorised Vishnu to correct wrong and promote right. The Lingam that manifested on this occasion is known as Jyothirlingam and altogether 12 such have appeared according to tradition.

Two dates are important in this grand awe-inspiring play of the Gods: (1) Ardra star-date in Margasirish. when Lingam of Splendour, without beginning or end appeared before the two competing Divine Forces and (2) Magha, dark half, 14th day, Chathurdasi, usually known as Mahasivarathri, when from that Lingam, Siva emerged with all the Divine Qualities and Glories, to bless and chastise.

Mahasivarathri is sacred because on that day, Siva first assumed His Mind-conquering beautiful form emerging so from Symbolic Lingam; Siva gave this Vision to the two great Divinities whom He directs. So, worship of Siva on such a day is considered to be of supreme importance.

To have the chance to worship Him at Puttaparthi and witness the emergence of the Lingam from Sri Sathya Sai Baba is indeed a unique Blessing.

From the Telugu Article by Ghandikota Subramanya Sastri


Volume - 2 Issue - 4 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004