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. 🙂

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form

Hari Om! Welcome back. 🙂 Thank You for all your love and support for the previous blogs.

This one is a celebration of the magical form of our favourite Lord Ganesha. Happy Reading and Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! 😀

Ganesh Chaturthi as a festive celebration was introduced by Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a means of unifying the Indian society during the Independence movement. Today, more than ever before India’s countless communities celebrate this joyous festival with great enthusiasm. 

I have always been fascinated by the mysticism in the literature and traditions of Sanatana Dharma. With this story, I hope to take you through yet another beautiful journey! 🙂 

ऊँ गम गणपतये नमः

Little Devika watched as an enigmatic idol of Lord Ganesha made its way into her society – accompanied by loud cheers and songs of happiness from all members. She smiled as she looked at His form adoringly. 

Then she frowned, deep in thought. She had a penchant for wanting to know the symbolism behind Hinduism’s mystical forms and traditions. As she looked closely at Ganesha’s statue, beyond the happy and friendly Lord – she wondered what was it that his form represented? 

Now, this little girl had a special gift. She could converse with the Lord of her heart whenever she wanted! As if he had heard her confused mind, Lord Ayyappa appeared right next to her, smiling his divine smile. 

“Fascinated by my elder brother’s form?” He whispered, jolting her out of her thoughts. 

“Ayyappa!!” she exclaimed happily, surprised. 

Bhagawan giggled while she composed herself to launch a tirade of questions. “Yes yes. You know whenever I look at Ganesha I can’t help but feel happy because he brings such joy and peace! But then his form is so different, like most unique in all of our culture. Outsiders, even our own people might find it weird because no one knows what he represents. I can’t help but wonder..” She rattled off. 

“Well, firstly every form is an indication of the formless. Beyond the form, lies the formless.” Bhagawan said as he gazed at Lord Ganesha’s form with deep reverence in his heart. 

“But let us go step by step.” He chuckled looking at Devika’s confused face.

“What do you think of when you look at Lord Ganesha’s huge head?” He asked her. 

“Umm…well its an elephant’s head. And an elephant is one of the most powerful animals, always leads from the front. So leadership?” 

“Most certainly. Primarily his head represents the evolved intellect of what we call a Man of Perfection or a Rishi. This is the pinnacle that every man aspires to reach after a period of continuous sadhana and reflection. This intellect is rooted in the powers of knowledge and discrimination. It helps man take the right decisions in the world outside and unravel the layers of his own inner personality too.” Bhagawan replied impressed with her line of thought. 

“Wow. That is intense. What about his trunk? I know an elephant’s trunk can pick the tiniest blade of grass and uproot the mightiest tree,” she pondered. 

“Perfect. Similarly a wise man can perform the most difficult task with ease and go into the tiniest of details. He does not get perturbed by either. His focus is unbreakable.” Bhagawan smilingly shrugged. 

Devika paused to absorb this message before launching her next question. “And his broken tusk? I can’t wrap my mind around what that could tell us,” she complained. 

Bhagwan laughed at her expression. “My Dear, what does the power of knowledge and discrimination give you? Tremendous inner strength and understanding is it not?” He questioned. 

She nodded eager to know more. 

“With this understanding you go beyond the pairs of opposites. As in, look the world is made up of heat and cold, joy and sorrow and so on. That is its nature. Can you help it? No. But what you can certainly help is how you react to it. Right?” He searched her face for an understanding. 

“Yes. I can slowly get my mind to not complain about these things because they are what they are. They are not going away..But I can live happily despite that if I have the right understanding,” she was quick to reply. 

“On point. Perhaps this duality does not even exist, but that is for another day. Now Lord Ganesha’s broken tusk represents he who has gone beyond this duality and remains established in that subtle oneness which pervades this entire universe. The vision of love. There is no hatred or anger left in him. He is full of love and calm alone,” he explained making Devika wonder what that state would be like. 

“Such large ears he has! He can listen to all the love the entire world has for him na?” She asked. 

“That’s exactly what his super-large ears are for. To listen keenly. A wise man listens to all those who come to him with compassion, with a keen sense of being present in the moment – not allowing any prejudice to colour the mind. When he listens keenly, he makes the right decisions, when he does that he acts well and finally lives well!” Bhagawan winked. 

“Wow..quite a skill to pick up from Ganesha.” She smiled. “Now, in this stupid world of perceived right sizes, what about his large stomach?” She quizzed sheepishly. 

To Be Continued…

I’ll be back next Sunday with Part 2 (the concluding part) of the story!

I am leaving you with this soothing bhajan by Shri Shankar Mahadevan on Bappa. Do listen – https://youtu.be/nwmaPaf6Bac

Ganapati Bappa Morya! 

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

Sanatana Dharma – A Poem

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂

I hope all of you a wonderful Independence Day. 😀 Let us strive to become spiritually independent individuals, for in our transformation lies the nation’s transformation!

On that patriotic note, today I am publishing this poem I had penned some time ago on the rock-solid foundation of India – her eternal spiritual and cultural tradition – Sanatana Dharma.

Sanatana Dharma is a tradition conceived of as inherent in the cosmic mind, arising with the dawn of creation itself.

Dr David Frawley

Today, this great tradition is popularly known as Hinduism or Hindu Dharma. It is vast, it is ancient, it is extremely rich and home to various schools of thought including Yoga and Vedanta. However, at the core it is all about knowing and experiencing that Cosmic Truth, that self-existent reality that pervades all.

I will keep talking about this great tradition in future blogs. For now, let’s get to the poem! 🙂

I have been ravaged by time,
Yet I know no harm,
For I am eternal, I am timeless.

I have been looked upon with angry ignorance,
My temples have been destroyed,
My scriptures have been burnt away,
I have been looked down upon by generations
Of the country I have nourished.

Yet I know no hate,
For I am Supreme Love Itself.

Monarchs have tried to vanquish me,
Invaders have tried to bury me,
Politicians try to push me into the past,
Yet I remain smilingly infinite,
Ever safe in the hearts of those who uphold me,
Ever ready to help even those who try to destroy me.

Yes, I have been torn apart many a times,
It pains me when my own children do not understand me.

Yet I look up with hope at Him, the Lord of All,
Who has graced this sacred land with his Feet,
Each time to save me from the hands of evil.
In the Yugas gone by as Rama and Krishna,
In this Yuga as great saints and Realized Masters,
As men and women who strive to discover me in their hearts.

Do you wonder who am I?
I, My Dear Children, Am Your Mother.
The Root of Love and Truth in the tree of your lives.
I am Dharma, Sanatana Dharma,
The timeless tradition that nourishes this Universe.
That which is the backbone of your sacred motherland, Bharat.

This poem is extremely special for a reason I am unable to articulate well. But that reason has given me a vision – an aim.

To not only learn more myself, but also create awareness and build up knowledge about our incredible tradition through whatever I write. I hope to have all of you and many more with me on this journey! 😀

Here’s a book you can start your journey of knowing more about Sanatana Dharma with – trust me it is an extremely enriching read! (https://www.amazon.in/What-Hinduism-Guide-Global-Mind/dp/9388038630)

I leave you with this beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by the People of India from the pristine land of Arunachal Pradesh to the golden shores of Tamil Nadu – a Sounds of India initiative by Prasar Bharati. – https://youtu.be/DttAX2OFoN0

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂