Volume 5 - Issue 02 FEBRUARY 2007
Shivarathri – Holiest Night of Goodness And Godliness
Ananda (sheer bliss), is man's real nature. But, alas, man in his ignorance and perversity, devotes all his skills, resources and time to acquisition of Ananda through his outward bound senses, rather than discover it by using the inward probing intellect and intuition. What he attains by his struggle and search is, at best, a pseudo-Ananda, a fleeting modicum of pleasure, an indistinct image visible in a murky mirror. It is not the everlasting bliss of Atma (eternal self), indiminishable by the blows of fortune, ecstasy beyond imagination. The delight one gathers from the objective world has to be continuously renewed and replenished, for it fades away soon. Therefore, man becomes a bondsman of desire, which presents before him an unending series of targets.
Man is, in truth, the Atma, which is beyond the bounds of his mind. The Atma has neither beginning nor end. The mind, the senses and the body undergo decline, or development every moment and finally disintegrate and die. Man places faith in the instruments of exploration and experience that are superficial and so, he deprives himself of the supreme Ananda, inherent in the Atma. Like the sun hidden by the clouds, embers covered by ash, the retina overlaid by cataract, the sheet of water veiled by moss, the consciousness of man is coated thick with likes and dislikes; how then can the splendour of Atma shine through?
The Well-Guarded Treasure
The body of man is a receptacle designed to keep safe a precious treasure. Legends announce that cobras guard hidden treasures. The name of the cobra that prevents access to the priceless treasure hidden in man is Aham, 'the fascination for oneself and for one's belongings’. In order to reach and recover the Ananda Treasure, man has first to destroy the snake of Aham (egotism). The river is a part, a portion of the sea; it earns fulfillment when it returns to the sea and merges in its source. Fishes are of water. They live in water and die when deprived of water. The baby is a part of the mother. It cannot survive apart from the mother. The branch is a part of the tree. Cut it off the tree it gets dry and dies. Man is an amsa (a part) of God. He too cannot survive without God. He lives because of the urge to know God, his source. In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord declares (15-7), "all living beings are My Amsa (part). I am in them as the Eternal Atma," He indicates.
Man lives for a high purpose, not for submitting as the beast does to every demand of instinct and impulse. He has to install himself as the master, not crawl as a slave. He has the right to proclaim Shivoham ("I am Shiva"), "I am Achyutha" (I am the indiminishable Fullness), "I am Ananda" (I am the everlasting bliss). As soon as one becomes aware of his reality, the chains that bind him, iron as well as gold, fall off and he attains Moksha (liberation).
Ananda Is Within Us
Ananda (Divine Bliss) is all around us and within us. It is Ananda that sustains and supports us, but this Truth is hidden by petty selfishness which prods us across the sea of storms in order to gather on the outer shore, the things which apparently give Ananda inherent in them. Man envelops them with a layer of the Ananda within him but, while imbibing it, imagines that the thing itself can confer Ananda on him! Really speaking, it is his own Ananda that he is receiving back. After a term of deep sleep, man declares that he had unbroken Ananda. The mind and the senses, even the faculty of reason, had no contact then with any object, nor did they have any impact from objects. So, the Ananda was derived, during sleep, from within his own reality.
There are only two entities' - The Seen, and The See-er. The See-er is Atma, the Seen is the Creation. The See-er is Conscious; The Seen is inert. So long as man is immersed in the inert and The See-er, the Witness or the Atma is neglected or negated, he cannot escape from distress and despair. The meat on the hook hanging at the end of the rod, draws the attention of the fish and tantalises it, but the fish is hooked and has to give up its life. The man who yields to the desire for sensual pleasures has to suffer the same fate. The sages knew that the 'seen' cannot last or provide lasting joy. They renounced the lower cravings and the transitory comforts. Thyaga (renunciation) was, for them, the genuine Yoga (path to merge with the Divine)…
The Night of Goodness And Godliness
Today is Shivarathri, the Rathri (night) of Shivam (Goodness, Godliness, Good Fortune). It is an auspicious Night because the mind can be made to lose its hold on man by devoting the night to prayer. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind, according to the scriptures.
The mind is kindred to the Moon as the Eyes are to the Sun. Shivarathri is prescribed for the fourteenth night of the dark half of the month, the night previous to the New Moon when the Moon suffers from total blackout. The Moon and the mind which it rules over are drastically reduced every month on the fourteenth night. When that night is devoted to vigilant adoration of God, the remnant of the wayward mind is overcome and victory ensured. This month's Shivarathri is holier than the rest and so, it is called Mahashivarathri.
With firm faith and a cleansed heart, the night should be spent in glorifying God. No moment should be wasted in other thoughts. Time flees fast. Like a block of ice, it melts soon and flows away; like water held in a leaky pot, it disappears drop by drop. The time allotted for one's life ticks off quite soon, and the span ends sometime somehow. So, be vigilant. Be warned. Be alert and aware. Seek the shelter of the Lord and transform every moment into a sacred celebration.
- Divine Discourse on Shivarathri, 26-2-1987.
– Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 5 Issue 02 - FEBRAURY 2007
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