Mahashivaratri 2021 – The Nectar of Sivanubhava

Hari Om and Hello! How is everyone doing? I am visiting this space after two months and it feels good to be back, most importantly with a post on Lord Shiva and the enthralling experience of Mahashivaratri this year! Hope you enjoy the read. 🙂

I have had blissful Mahashivaratri celebrations since the past two years but this year was different. It was unexpected and beautiful in so many ways!

2021 was my first Mahashivaratri at my University – Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth housed in the hallowed premises of Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s maternal home. We also have a beautiful temple of Lord Dharmashastha (Lord Ayyappa) in the Ashram/Campus premises.

Needless to say, the celebrations were grand. More than that, it was transforming and soul-touching.

I began the day by participating eagerly in an absolutely divine Rudrabhishekam ceremony accompanied by mesmerizing chants of Sri Rudram and Chamakam. Very surprisingly all the Shiva-Aradhana shlokas I was yearning to chant were rendered by Swamiji (Swami Sharadananda, CIF) himself with all of us joining in as the Tiruvenis proceeded with the Alankaaram of the Shivalinga.

The atmosphere that was vibrant with Shiva-bhakti reached its peak when the temple doors were opened and all of us received Darshan of the Lingam in all its glory. That is one sight I will never forget!

It reiterated to me the importance of pujas for it purifies our minds. At that moment of Abhisheka and Darshan, when we are completely in tune with the effulgent form in front of us, very naturally we are attuned to Bhagavan residing in our hearts.

This was only the beginning. Let me jump straight to the evening, the crux of this enchanting day. At 6 PM I found myself waiting for the Chuttuvilakku ceremony to begin. Here, Bhaktas volunteer to light up the entire temple with lamps of Shraddha and Bhakti. The result is an enthralling sight that can never be described. To me, the lit up temple embodied that Satchitananda which is our own true Self. Added to it, I had been waiting to participate in this ceremony since I heard of it! 🙂

At 7 PM we began our journey towards Bhagavan Shiva in every sense, one that would conclude for the day at 3 AM but set to go on for eternity. Participating in a Sahasra Linga Abhisheka Puja for the first time, we were enamored by the elaborate preparations. The Sannidhana with Bhagavan Sri Dakshinamurti blissful in meditation and a 1,116 Parthiva Lingas made from purified clay greeted us.

What followed was an unforgettable Manasa Yatra, a divine pilgrimage to Kailasa, the abode of Mahadeva.

Here I will recount various facets of the Puja and what we can imbibe from them into our lives –

1. The Sankalpa –

A Sankalpa is a strong resolve taken by the Bhakta to fulfil the purpose of the Yajna being conducted for the benefit of all. It can also be seen as a metaphor for life itself is a Yajna and the Sankalpa is to uphold Dharma and attain the Catur-vidha Purusharthas, thereby fulfilling the purpose of life. The particularly powerful Sankalpa for this particular night also echoed the same sentiments. As we move through life, all we need is to put in efforts and leave the rest to Bhagavan!

2. Worship of Devata-s –

Hindu Dharma has evolved organically over thousands of years guided by the principles of this infinite cosmos. Therefore it is no surprise that protection and reverence for nature is essential to its ethos. For it establishes that Bhagavan as Consciousness pervades all beings – everything is by nature divine. Imagine what this could do for our ecosystem when followed in spirit by all?

On the pilgrimage to Kailasa, the hordes of Devata-s guarding the gates include the 7 mountains like the Himalayas, the 10 rivers like Mother Ganga, the Trimurti-s, the five faces of Bhagavan Sadasiva, and so on. When we proceed forward with their Anugraha, we not only imbibe the virtue of humility but also expand to love all beings around – for that alone is true Seva and Prema. 

3. The Inner Pilgrimage –

Every step forward on this Yatra was a form of Sadhana and Tapasya built on the firm foundations of Shraddha in Sadasiva and the yearning to attain his Darsana. That experience of listening to the auspicious Sri Rudram and Chamakam multiple times as the Rudrabhishekam went on and finally beholding Bhagavan in the glorious form of the Sivalinga was inexplicable. The Alankaaram performed so with supreme devotion still stands in front of my eyes. The moment of offering the Purnahuti into the Agni towards the end, to me was symbolic of offering all of us to Bhagavan – is there anything which is ours really? The Maha-arati was the final merger for the Jiva into Sadasiva, of losing all traces of himself at Kailasa!

4. Being Present –

When we realize the importance of remaining present in the moment to stay attuned and absorb the spiritual energy in such ceremonies, we also realise how we can apply this in our living by staying tuned in to the present, to the presence of Sadasiva’s grace in the form of an umpteen opportunities and so much more in our lives!

5. The Nectar of Sivanubhava –

This sacred Yatra was a reiteration to the fact that nothing more is needed in life than Sivanubhava! That attaining Aikyam or oneness with Mahadeva is very much possible through consistent Sadhana – for which Sadhana becomes our companion, Jnana and Bhakti deepen and the very experience of life is gradually heightened until we behold Bhagavan Shiva in the cave of our hearts! What is a greater blessing than sailing through Life with Him?

With that I leave us to contemplate upon Him. Hope you had a beautiful Mahashivaratri with Bhagavan too! 🙂

P.S. Thank You Srinath Sir for the inspiration. You are truly His nimitta in my life. 🙂

See You all soon,

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

The Significance of Lord Shiva’s Three Eyes

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank so much for all the love and encouragement you shower upon this blog! It helps me become a better instrument. 🙂

In Sanatana Dharma, there is an ocean of knowledge consisting of cultural traditions analogies, statements, tales and symbolisms to hold the seeker’s attention and curiosity for a hundred lifetimes. 

One such form that enchants me is Lord Shiva’s. Imagine my joy which my Guru, Swami Tejomayananda started discoursing on the Vedasara Shiva Stotram composed by Shri Adi Shankaracharya earlier this week! 🙂 

Today, I am going to be writing about one aspect of Bhagavan’s form. The Lord ‘s fascinating three eyes. 

Hope you enjoy the read! 🙂 

This is a verse from the Vedasara Shiva Stotram –

विरूपाक्षमिन्द्वर्कवह्नित्रिनेत्रं – सदानन्दमीडे प्रभुं पञ्चवक्त्रम् ।

विरूपाक्षThe One with Unique Eyes

इन्दु – The Moon

अर्क – The Sun

वह्नि – Fire 

त्रिनेत्रं – Three Eyes

“Trinetra” or the One with three eyes – is an epithet that we immediately associate with Lord Shiva. But what do these three eyes signify? This is what I very joyously discovered this week during Guruji’s talk. 🙂 

Lord Shiva has the sun, the moon and fire for his three eyes – with fire being the third one at the centre. Weirdly fascinating is it not?  

Now for someone who may not know, the third eye might be taken as some appendage or a crack on the forehead – what a scary sight to look at! 

But it is nothing like that. In fact, it is a very subtle symbolism to indicate an awakening to Higher Consciousness. With the light of these three eyes, He illumines the entire world!

Let us go back to the famous story associated with Shiva’s Third Eye. After his consort Devi Sati immolates herself due to her father’s insults healed upon her husband, Shiva destroys Daksha and shuts himself up in a cave, withdrawing within – away from the anger and sorrow caused due to Sati’s immolation. 

In the meantime, Sati re-incarnates as Mother Parvati – an apt epitome of the seeker. For she upon the advice of Sage Narada undertakes severe austerities to obtain Lord Shiva as her husband. Much like a seeker undertakes in his quest for knowledge – the source of which is Shiva Himself. 

The Devas exasperated on seeing the Lord remaining oblivious to the Mother’s penance approach Kamadeva (The Lord of Desire) who from behind a tree shoots one of his arrows at Shiva seated deep in meditation. 

A furious Shiva, his contemplation disturbed, opens his Third Eye and burns down Kamadeva into ashes much to the shock of the Devas and Rati, the wife of Kamadeva. They turn to the Mother Parvati who is Shakti – the other half of Shiva. 

The Lord having calmed down and heard Parvati’s arguments and the pleas of Rati, told her that although he cannot restore her husband ‘s entire form – he will exist in the mind of every human being. Now, is not desire a part of all of us? 

It is quite a beautiful sight to watch this episode being performed in dance dramas! 

Kamadeva represents the constant pulls of desire in our own minds. Desire by itself is never a problem, it is our attachment to it, our insistence upon its fulfillment – that causes great sorrow and anger. 

It is this self-annihilating attachment that Shiva destroys upon awakening to the state of Higher Consciousness.  It is this constant pull, these sorrows that are destroyed when we come to realise and abide in our true nature. 

The next time you think your emotions and desires are overwhelming – try surrendering them at the feet of Shiva – a path to progress will automatically open itself up. 

Thus Lord Shiva’s Third Eye – is the eye of Wisdom and Courage. It represents the ultimate inner awakening – where one transcends the realm of the known and enters the Unknown. Where there exists nothing but life as It is. 

Activating this energy center also known as the Ajna Chakra helps us experience spiritually exalted stages of existence. 

One technique that has been taught to me in Yoga class is to focus on this pivotal center and chant Om – the vibrations felt are deeply calming and blissful. 

The Lord ‘s right eye is the sun – which is symbolic of brightness and hope. Doesn’t sunlight bring with it a new beginning? Doesn’t it lighten up the entire world around? This is also the eye of justice, of objectivity.

Thus in our lives, it represents the ability to know and do what is right – to fulfill our potential and serve the world. 

The Lord ‘s left eye is the moon – which has a soothing and re-assuring effect on all of us. It is also symbolic of how beautifully the nurturing aspects of creation work. 

In our lives, it represents the ability to sympathize, to care and to uplift. 

Beyond them – lies the Third Eye, the opening of which bestows complete inner integration of the mind and intellect and consequently an awakening to your true Self. 

This is the Eye of Viveka or discernment – which helps us balance the objectivity of the right eye with the compassion of the left and thus function in this world in perfect equilibrium – just as the Lord does. 

To truly know, to have true clarity and vision, to become truly alert to each moment, you must always look inward. There lies all wisdom. There resides the infinite power of Lord Shiva.

Here is the Playlist link to the Talks on Vedasara Shiva Stotram – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLm6DKuwwu5zrUjfKu0UDvtm3ZbKXuuuq0

And a melodious bhajan on Lord Shiva for you to listen to – https://youtu.be/WBzeTz_UpQ4

Do Read, Like and Comment – Cherish a dream with me!

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

The Ekasloki – Infinity Weaved Into A Single Verse

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank You once again from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement for the blog. It always means a lot. 😀 

In one of his talks on the Kathopanishad, Swami Tejomayananda explains in the most simple manner, the subtlest philosophy of Vedanta encapsulated in a single verse by Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya.

It had left a deep imprint on my mind, thus today I am going to attempt to write about what is popularly known as Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s Ekasloki – essentially a conversation between him and a disciple who with reverence arrives to seek the Supreme Knowledge of the Self. 

Kim Jyothisthava bhanumaanahani me ratrau pradeepaadikam.

Syaadevam ravi deepa darsana vidhau kim jyothiraakhyaahi me 

Chakshustasya nimeelanaadi samaye kim dheeh dhiyo darsane 

Kim tatrahamatho bhavaan paramakam jyothisthadasmi prabho.

Seeker – O Master, what is the highest Truth enshrined in our scriptures to be realized in our hearts? How do we experience that state of supreme peace when thou knows, which the Yogis and Rishis revel in? 

Bhagawan – Tell me, how do you see the objects around during daytime? 

Seeker – With the help of sunlight. 

Bhagawan – And at night-time? 

Seeker– With the help of moonlight or by lighting a lamp. (Today, by switching on the tube light 😛 ). 

Bhagawan – Nice. Now how do you know this sunlight and moonlight? 

Seeker– With the help of my eyes. I see this light with my eyes. 

Bhagawan – Does it then not mean that sunlight illumines the objects alone? What then illumines your power of vision? How do you know what you see? How do you see even when your eyes are closed?

Seeker– With the help of my mind and intellect. Sunlight illumines the objects, my eyes see and understand with the help of the intellect. When I am asleep too I am aware of an internal world at play. 

Bhagawan – How do you know the intellect ? How are you aware even in the dream state? What then illumines the intellect?

Seeker– I know. I am aware. I just am. 

Bhagawan – Precisely. It is this self-illumining awareness that knows. That alone is. It needs no other light, no explanation. It shines by itself and illumines all our experiences. It cannot be reached by logic alone. For it is that which illumines even the intellect. Know this, understand this, glide into IT! 

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Now the question that arises – if the Self or Brahman as it is known is self-illumining, Then why do we need scriptures and paths to understand it? That is because we need it. The Self doesn’t need anything. It just is. 

We are caught up in the maze of our own likes and dislikes, constantly troubled by pangs of emotions and thoughts going haywire. Hence we need the guidance of the scriptures, of a Guru to walk the path until we grow to experience this state in the cave of our hearts. 

Isn’t it interesting that a table can never see the eyes. The eyes cannot see the mind. And the mind cannot see the Self! The flow of knowledge is unidirectional. Flowing from Brahman. 

What is that silence you experience when waves of the ocean lap at your feet? When you stand face to face with the majestic Himalayas on a trek? When you close your eyes to look within after climbing all the way up to a pilgrimage site like Kedarnath? 

Or simply when you hear a bird chirp?

What is that which shines calmly in the state of meditation? 

Ever given it a thought? Think! In the midst of self-created chaos – such are the moments that offer us a glimpse of that infinity called Brahman. Of that which shines in your own heart. Of that Light which You are. 

Here’s another gem by Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya – the Nirvana Shatakam. Listen to it. It has the explanation too given in the video itself. https://youtu.be/UrZUQh6SpcQ.

Hope You Enjoyed the Read. Do Like and Leave Your Feedback – Cherish this dream with me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.