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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 โ€“ Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth housed in the hallowed premises of Sri Adi Sankaracharyaโ€™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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย 

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. Thank You Srinath Sir for the inspiration. You are truly His nimitta in my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

See You all soon,

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Ekasloki – Infinity Weaved Into A Single Verse

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank You once again from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement for the blog. It always means a lot. ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

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.ย 

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?ย 

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

Seeker – With the help of sunlight.ย 

Bhagawan – And at night-time?ย 

Seeker– With the help of moonlight or by lighting a lamp. (Today, by switching on the tube light ๐Ÿ˜› ).ย 

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

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

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.ย 

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.ย 

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!ย 

————————

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.ย 

Isnโ€™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.ย 

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.ย 

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.ย 

Shri Adi Sankaracharya – The Youth Icon

Hari Om, Namaskaram and Hello! I had written this special piece on Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s Jayanti which was on April 28th in 15 minutes – at midnight for a competition held by Chinmaya International Foundation just before the deadline ended! And it did receive the 3rd prize with His Grace. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do have a read, and let me know how you find it. ๐Ÿ˜€

I do not know much about Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s life history.
I do not know much about his spiritual education or sojourns.
But I do know what Bhagawan stood for, where his heart was and what was in his heart.


In one of his devotional music videos, Shri Kuldeep M Pai, a popular classical singer says how we would be much stronger and fulfilled human beings if we would worship iconic real heroes like Bhagawan Sankaracharya instead of mythical ones like Superman and He-man!

Shri Adi Sankaracharya at Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan, Maharashtra


That sentence has stuck in my heart. Much like how Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda extols this great Master – for that is what he is – The Icon of All Icons! And for us youngsters, A YOUTH Icon.

How is that possible you ask? How can some Master of an age gone-by be our Icon? Well, the fact that he lives on millennia later, is proof enough of a life of incomparable greatness! And that is what we crave for isn’t it? A life of purpose.


Shri Sankara was the epitome of fearlessness and national pride. When our beloved Bharat was lying decapacitated in the hands of Pundits who loved the Word more than the essence, a society that was struggling in the clutches of decaying Buddhism and ritualistic Hinduism – with no real soul to it – it is in this state that Sankara found his dear country and its people. His heart bled at that young age. And he fought. He fought his entire life to re-establish the essence of Hinduism in the lives of people.

He went across the country, defeating self-acclaimed Pundits and reclaiming Sanatana Dharma from their clutches – with his debating skills and experiential knowledge of the Highest! He composed basic texts explaining the highest philosophy of Advaita Vedanta in the terminology of us common people.

Commentaries on the Upanishads, establishing 4 Mathas and much much more- his life was one of invincible love for the timeless tradition he belonged to, of Oneness with the Supreme, of great compassion and love for his people and of utmost humility!

To us he is an exemplary example of how we must live a life of Integrity, Love, Oneness, Absolute Fearlessness, remaining strong in our convictions and offer ourselves at a Higher Altar – only then will the subtleties of life reach us in our meditation!

Perhaps, I do not know much about Bhagawan Sankara, but I do know that I want to know more and more of this Great Guru – until I attain His lotus feet! What about you?