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Maha Sivaratri

The celebration of Maha Sivaratri is to have a deeper experience of God. Siva's unmanifest Being and manifest energy. Withdraw energy back to its Source, unite Siva and Sakti, realize Parasiva. The Source alone remains.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Good evening everyone. Nice to have so many of guests this evening, joining us for Maha Sivaratri.

Gurudeva gives us a description in Dancing With Siva of Maha Sivaratri. Says: "We observe it by chanting Siva's names, singing His praise, chanting Sri Rudram, bathing the Sivalinga."

So, these are activities common to all temples that celebrate Maha Sivaratri.

Gurudeva adds two more activities which are meditating -- you don't see a lot of that in temples -- and being near the monks. Definitely, that doesn't happen in temples: "As they strive to realize Parasiva, the transcendent aspect of God."

So, that's what we're doing here and also at other monasteries and ashrams in India, they do a similar practice.

So, stated simply, the essence of the celebration of Maha Sivaratri is to have a deeper experience of God Siva than is normally available to us.

Have a story.

We met a very fine family in the Guru Peedam where you watch the T.V. A Hindu couple living in Los Angeles and their family tradition is from Kashmir. And as many of those from Kashmir have done they moved out because of the problems there and they moved to Delhi and then moved on to Los Angeles. So they were telling about their tradition and we had a wonderful talk. And so many similarities between what they did and what we do. They said that their form of worship is quite different from general Hindus as the only Deity they worshiped was Siva. Imagine that! They didn't even worship Ganesha or Murugan, only Siva. And the only festival they celebrated was Maha Sivaratri. That was it. Which they celebrated as the marriage of Siva and Sakti.

So, I was doing a little research on Kashmir Saivism. And it's strongly monistic meaning talking about the identity of man and God. And we can get a sense of this from some of the statements by the last preceptor in the lineage. Passed on not too long ago -- Swami Lakshmanjoo. And we wrote an article about him in 1991 Hinduism Today. So I'm going to quote from it. He uses the term Bhairav to refer to Siva. So when he says Bhairav you just think of Siva.

So, the article states: "Often Swami speaks from a point of reference of being Siva. (And quoting Swami) 'I am Bhairav and the entire world is my offshoot,' he explains. "Siva is the only great God and all others are His manifestations. God is the inner being, the entire world is his external is his external being."

Article continues: "With these three tight statements he has summed up the enlightened mind of Kashmir Saivism, including his personal identity as Siva. This monism is such a bedrock state that he forecasts: (quoting Swami) 'The religions that do not believe in Oneness will vanish.'" he says.

That's an interesting thought to ponder. "The religions that do not believe in Oneness will vanish" is his prophecy.

So, of course, we usually do not think of Maha Sivaratri as the marriage of Siva and Sakti. So, I was giving that some thought in the Siva-Sakti concept.

In many temples Sakti is a separate murti giving the sense that Siva and Sakti are separate Beings and I don't know how often it happens now but it used to regularly that visiting Hindus would say: "Where is Sakti?"

You know, there is Siva, where is Sakti? How can you have Siva and not have Sakti.

So, of course we say: "Well, Siva and Sakti is right here, as Ardhanarishvara, right in the corner there."

And then we go through the explanation of that. So even though Hindus expect Siva and Sakti as separate murtis many philosophically understand that they're not separate. There's many verses on that. There's a nice one in Arumuga Navalar's "Saiva Vinavidhai."

He asks the question: "What is the Sakthi of Siva?"

Answer: "The power of Shiva which is inseparable from Shiva like the heat of fire which is inseparable from fire."

Well, that's the common comparison. Fire gives off heat which is a form of energy. If there's no fire there's no heat and you can't separate the two. The energy produced by the fire and the fire are really a one reality. A term that encompasses this idea is Siva-Shakti. When it's hyphenated it makes it a one word.

So, our lexicon definition is: "Father-Mother God, both immanent and transcendent. (And then the point we're talking about.) A name for God Siva encompassing His unmanifest Being and manifest energy."

So both the Being and the energy.

Well, looking at how the Siva-Shakti concept applies to man. Man is a soul and is radiating a variety of energies or pranas. The normal direction of prana is outward. However, in yoga, through the practice of pranayama -- which simply means the control of prana -- we can cause the energies to flow inward. And when we manage to withdraw energy back to it's Source, or Parasiva, then the realization of Parasiva, the Self God is achieved.

In other words, this could be one of the mystical interpretations is the concept of the marriage of Siva and Sakti -- that energy, Sakti, has united with its source, Siva. When that happens then you have Self Realization.

So fortunately, Gurudeva has explained this much better than I can. Wonderful quote from him here.

"The mission is..." (That's what he calls it.) "The mission is: don't go anyplace. Turn awareness back in on itself and simply be aware that you are aware. Become conscious of energy within the physical body and the inner bodies flowing out through the nerve system and drawing forth energy from the central source of the universe itself. Now try to throw awareness into this central source of energy and dive deeper and deeper in. Each time you become aware of something in the energy realm, be aware of being aware. Finally, you go beyond light. Finally, you go into the core of existence itself, the Self God, beyond the stillness of the inner areas of the mind. That is the mission and that is what humanity is seeking -- total Self-God Realization."

So, saying: "Source of the energy" is another description of Siva or Parasiva. We have the energy and the source of the energy. So, when the energy is withdrawn into the source the Source alone remains, or we have Self Realization.

Thank you very much.

[End of transcript.]

Photo of  Gurudeva
Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will, creating his own destiny. The Vedas tell us, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil.