Lead us from darkness to light’ is part of a universal prayer. Man is ever in the search of wisdom; he strives to get into a new world of enlightenment. In India, Mahashivaratri is one such occasion when we try to shed off ignorance and enter into a midnight of celebrations to emerge to a dawn, a dawn that shall make us realize the truth and meaning of life.
Feb 17, 2015, is Mahashivaratri. It is Lord Shiva's birth as well as wedding day. The literary meaning of shiva is a state of permanence, and it also connotes ‘benefactor’. In Indian mythology Shiva along with Brahma and Vishnu forms the essence of spiritual way of life. While Brahma is the Creator and Lord Vishnu, the sustainer, Lord Shiva is known as the Destroyer. He does not destroy the creation. He destroys the darkness; he is light. He destroys the ignorance; he is wisdom. He destroys the six enemies of man: desires, anger, lust, attachment, pride and ego. He is Ashutosh, that is, He is easily satisfied. He stands for all that is simple, he decorated himself with ashes, symbolic of the end product of all that is present. He stands for music, dance and aesthetics, too. He is the greatest Yogi, too.
According to mythology, during the churning of the oceans when poison emerged, the life was threatened. It was Lord Shiva who shwallowed it to keep the creation alive. His throat turned blue because of the poison, thus he is called Neelakanth (whose throat is blue).
One need not dive into Vedas and other treatises to undertand the significance of Lord Shiva, the lord of the lords. A simple and small story all parents love to tell their kids reveals all. Once Lord Shiva and Parvati had a fruit and wished to give who between Ganesh and Kartikeya goes round the universe first. Off went Kartikeya, the army-chief of the gods, on his mighty peacock with a supersonic speed while Ganesh with his tiny carrier, a mouse, was left to plan his journey. Wily Vignesh, the one who surmounts all the obstacles, went round his parents three times to win the sweet fruit!
That is what Lord Shiva is... the whole of the creation, the universe divined by none other than Lord Ganesh, the god of learning and wisdom.
None has seen Lord Shiva with a crown, ever poorly dressed, the god of the poor common man. He had no palaces. Ever below the poverty line (BPL), he was indeed above all the riches. When we see by two eyes, He had the third eye for vision. With no beginning and no end, Adyantahin, He stood for purity and is eternal.
It is interesting to note that Shiva was worshipped in many ancient civilizations such as Egyptian, Babylonian etc. in different ways and almost similar names: Shiun in Babylon, Seva in Syria, Egypt and Fiji and ‘Jehova’.
This day is celebrated across India, Kashmir in particular, with great gusto and fanfare. People fast on this day and keep awake the whole night. At midnight a giant lamp is taken to the top of the Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The devotees in large number go ecstatic. Great celebrations take place at Varanasi, Somanath in Gujarat, Ujjain, Haridwar, Srikalahasti (Andhra Pradesh), Madurai, Rameshwaram, Nasik, Bhimeshawar near Pune, Pashupat temple in Kathmandu, Nepal and at every Shiva temple.
On this auspicious day let us worship at the lotus-feet of this Formless and pray for His blessings to all of us. May Lord Shiva bless us all and preserve peace and wellness across the world.