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1. There are many different stories to explain the origin of the Shivaraathri Festival. As we all know, Lord Shiva offered to drink the poison and save the world. His throat is blue ever since, for the poison has pervaded the area.

In His 1959 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami explained further: “One of the stories is that when He [Lord Shiva] consumed the Haalahaala (death-dealing poison) that emanated from the Ocean of Milk, in response to the prayers of the Worlds, which it threatened to destroy, the heat of the fumes was well nigh unbearable, even for Him.”

According to the scriptures, what relief measure was taken to cool Lord Shiva down?

2. In His 1965 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami reminds us: “Do not treat a holy day like Shivaraathri as a holiday, set apart for picnics, cinema, card-games, revelry, rivalry and fun. The rishis (sages) fixed these days in the calendar for the contemplation of God and the service of God in man, for the removal of the weeds of vices and weakening habits.”

How does Swami want us to utilize the opportunity of this holy day?

3. We all know about the importance of observing a fast and keeping a night-long vigil on the Auspicious Shivaraathri Day. But do we know the inner meaning and the significance of it? In His 1969 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami uplifts our consciousness by enlightening us: “Relying on the merely literal meaning of the words, people wait a whole year for this particular holy day to come, in order to miss a meal and call it a fast, to miss a night's sleep and call it a vigil!”

What do you think is His say on the true significance of observing a ‘fast’?

4. Through the years, Swami has demonstrated the Shiva aspect of His Advent as Avatar by blessing us several times with Divine Manifestations of Lingams from His Auspicious Body, called as Lingodhbhavam. On one such 1971 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Bhagavan clarifies: “People ask, ‘Why does Swami produce the Lingam (Formless Form of God) from within Himself on this day?’

What reason does Bhagavan reveal for such a formidable act of His?

5. In His 1973 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami brings to our light the significance of the various names that Lord Shiva is adored with: “Consider the significance of the Form that Shiva has assumed for human adoration: In His throat, He has the holocaust-producing poison, Haalahaala that can destroy all life in a trice. On His head, He has the sacred Ganga River, whose waters can cure all ills, here and hereafter. On His forehead, He has the eye of Fire. On His head, He has the cool comforting Moon. On His wrists, ankles, shoulders and neck He wears deadly cobras, which live in life-giving breath of air.”

One among the many of Lord Shiva’s Names is Mrithyunjaya. It means He who vanquishes...?

6. In His 1978 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami reveals to us that: “Shivaraathri is a very auspicious day for all. It is the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight, when the Moon is waning and the Sun is in the sign of Aquarius. The festival is, however, related to the Moon rather than the Sun. That is the reason why it is called Shivaraathri (the night of Shiva). Unlike other nights, this particular night is the night of consecration, of dedication, of illumination.”

Which part of human body is intimately associated with the Moon?

7. In His 1978 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, once again, Swami reveals a very interesting aspect to the meaning of the word ‘Shivaraathri’ itself! He says: “According to numerology, the first three syllables of the word Shivaraathri - shi, va and raa - connote the numbers 5, 4 and 2, and the fourth syllable, thri, means 'three.' 5, 4 and 2 make one whole, one composite picture of the eleven rudras. Rudra means, ‘The one who makes man weep.’ The eleven rudras are: the five senses of perception, the five senses of action, and the mind. These, by leading him astray in pursuit of trivial and transitory pleasures, ruin him and make him weep. But the ____, if it is sought and relied upon, sheds its rays on the eleven and makes them meaningful partners in the progress of man towards self-realization.”

What is Bhagavan teaching us to rely on here?

8. In His 1978 Divine Discourse, clarifying some of the doubts of devotees, Swami says: “You might ask, ‘Swami has often declared that all days are holy days, that there is no special rite or ritual that has to be observed on any single day; but, Swami Himself is pouring vibhuuthi (holy ash) on the Idol and calling it abhisheka (anointing the idol); is this right?’ Swami is doing so, to teach you a lesson.

The Vibhuti Abhisheka has a potent inner meaning which Swami wants you to grasp. The Vibhuti is the most precious object, in the truly spiritual sense. You know that Shiva burnt the God of Desire or Kaama, called Manmatha (for he agitates the mind and confounds the confusion already existing there) into a heap of ashes. Shiva adorned Himself with that ash, and thus He shone in His Glory, as the Conqueror of Desire. When Kaama was destroyed, ___ reigned supreme.”

What was He referring to?

9. In order to develop purity and sacredness in us, Swami has been guiding us tirelessly! On one such 1985 Divine Shivaraathri Discourse, Swami helps us achieve this goal: “This Shivaraathri is a day when one tries to establish friendship between mind and God. Shivaraathri makes one aware of the fact that the same Divinity is all-pervasive and is to be found everywhere. It is said that Shiva lives in Kailasa. But where is Kailasa?”

What answer did Swami give us?

10. Swami has taught us that if during Shivaraathri, one meditates on God, one can achieve nearness to the Divine. The Supreme sacredness of Shivaraathri consists in realizing oneness with the Divine through meditation on God. The world may change, but the Shiva principle is unchanging. The same union of Shiva-Shakti as the Universal Divine Mother and Father is represented by the Name and Form of 'Sai Baba.'

On revealing the meaning of the worship of Shiva, according to Swami, what is the most sublime aspect of the night of 'Shiva raathri'?

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-Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 6 Issue 03 - MARCH 2008
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