Who is Shiva ? Understanding Importance of the Lord Shiva based on the view of Swami Sivananda

 

Written by Swami Sivananda

We comprehend (realise) that Celebrated Supreme Being (Purusha), and meditate upon that Great God, Mahadeva; may that Rudra impel us to do so. This is the Rudra Gayatri Mantra.

(Shiva Gayatri Mantra)

Who is Shiva? 

 

 

In Me the universe had its origin,
In Me alone the whole subsists;
In Me it is lost—Siva,
The Timeless, it is I Myself,
Sivoham! Sivoham! Sivoham!
” Salutations to Lord Siva, the vanquisher of Cupid, the bestower of eternal bliss and immortality, the protector of all beings, destroyer of sins, the Lord of the gods, who wears a
tiger-skin, the best among objects of worship, through whose matted hair the Ganga flows.
 
Lord Siva is the pure, changeless, attributeless, all-pervading transcendental consciousness.
 
He is the inactive (Nishkriya) Purusha. Prakriti is dancing on His breast and performing the creative, preservative and destructive processes.”
 (By Swami Sivananda)

View of the Swami Sivananda on Lord Shiva from His Book ( Lord Shiv and His worship)

By Swami Sivananda

” When there is neither light nor darkness, neither form nor energy, neither sound nor matter, when there is no manifestation of phenomenal existence, Siva alone exists in Himself.He is timeless, spaceless, birthless, deathless, decayless. He is beyond the pairs of opposites. He is the Impersonal Absolute Brahman. He is untouched by pleasure and pain, good and evil. He cannot be seen by the eyes but He can be realised within the heart through devotion and meditation.”

” Siva is also the Supreme personal God when He is identified with His power. He is then omnipotent, omniscient active God. He dances in supreme joy and creates, sustains and destroys with the rhythm of His dancing movements.
He destroys all bondage, limitation and sorrow of His devotees. He is the giver of Mukti or the final emancipation. He is the universal Self. He is the true Self of all creatures. He is the dweller in the cremation-ground, in the region of the dead, those who are dead to the world.
The Jivas and the world originate from Him, exist in Him, are sustained and rejected by Him and are ultimately merged in Him. He is the support, source and substratum of the whole world. He
is an embodiment of Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Bliss. He is Satyam, Sivam, Subham, Sundaram, Kantam.
He is the God of gods, Deva-Deva. He is the Great Deity—Mahadeva. He is the God of manes (Prajapati). He is the most awe-inspiring and terrifying deity, Rudra, with Trisul or trident in
His hand. He is the most easily pleased (Asutosha). He is accessible to all. Even the untouchable Chandalas and the illiterate rustics can approach Him.
He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He is an ideal Yogi and Muni. He is the ideal head of an ideal family with Uma as His devoted wife, Lord Subrahmanya, the brave general of
strength and courage, Lord Ganesa, the remover of all obstacles.

The Sadasiva

At the end of Pralaya, the Supreme Lord thinks of re-creation of the world. He is then known by the name Sadasiva. He is the root-cause of creation. From Sadasiva creation begins. In Manusmriti He is called Svayambhu. Sadasiva is unmanifested, He destroys the Tamas caused by Pralaya and shines as the self-resplendent light bringing forth the five great elements, etc., into being.

The Siva Purana says that Siva is beyond both Prakriti and Purusha. Siva is Mahesvara. He is the witness, well-wisher and nourisher of all beings.
The Gita says:

‘Upadrashtanumanta cha bharta bhokta mahesvarah’.

Mahesvara conducts the work of creation according to His will and pleasure.

The Sruti says,

‘Mayam tu prakritim viddhi mayinam tu mahesvaram’. 

Know Prakriti to be Maya and Mahesvara to be the wielder of Maya or Prakriti.

The Sakti of Siva works in two different ways. Mula Prakriti
and Daivi Prakriti. Mula Prakriti is Apara Prakriti from which the five elements and other visible objects and the Antahkarana are evolved. Para Prakriti is Chaitanya Sakti which converts the Apara
Prakriti and gives name and form to it. Apara Prakriti is Avidya and Para Prakriti is Vidya.
The controller and dispenser of these two Prakritis is Lord Siva.
Siva is distinct from Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra.

Lord Siva is the Lord of innumerable crores of Brahmandas or worlds. Isvara united with Maya gives rise to Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra out of Rajas, Sattva and Tamo Gunas respectively, under the command of Lord Siva. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are the trinities of the world.

There is no difference among the trinities, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. By the command of Mahesvara these three do the creative, preservative and destructive duties of the world. The work of all the three deities is done conjointly. They all have one view and one definite purpose in creating, preserving and destroying the visible universe of names and forms. He who regards the three deities as distinct and different, Siva Purana says, is undoubtedly a devil or evil spirit.
The Lord who is beyond the three Gunas, Mahesvara, has four aspects: Brahma, Kala, Rudra and Vishnu. Siva is the support for all the four. He is the substratum for Sakti also. Siva is distinct from the Rudra included in the trinities. Rudra is really one though according to the different functions He is considered to have eleven different forms.

 

The first face of Siva does Krida or play, the second does penance, the third destroys or dissolves the world, the fourth protects the people and the fifth, being knowledge, fully covers the

entire universe by its power.He is Isana the creator and promoter of all beings, from within.The first form of Siva is the enjoyer of Prakriti as Kshetrajna Purusha. The second is Tatpurusha resting in Sattva-guna, rooted in Bhogya-Prakriti, the Prakriti-enjoyed. The third is Ghora rooted in the eightfold Buddhi like Dharma, etc.

The fourth is Vamadeva rooted in Ahankara and the fifth is Sadyojata, the presiding deity of the mind. The eight forms of Siva are Sarva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugra, Bhima, Pasupati, Isana and Mahadeva, rooted respectively in earth, water, fire, air, ether, Kshetrajna, sun and moon.”

 
(Source and Reference: Lord Shiva and his worship by Swami Sivananda)

Mahashiv Ratri – The divine and mystic Night of Shiva and Shakti for spiritual evolution’s of sadhaka’s

Shiv he Sataya, Shiv he Braham, Shiva he Tathya, Shiv he Brahmand, Shiv he adi-Guru, Shiv he Akhand, Shiv he Shakti- Shiv he shiv.

करपूर गौरम करूणावतारम संसार सारम भुजगेन्द्र हारम |
सदा वसंतम हृदयारविंदे भवम भवानी सहितं नमामि |

Meaning –

I salute the merciful Bhava (i.e. Shiva), and his consort Sati, Adorned with the necklace of the serpent.

Explanation: 

Pure White like Camphor, an Incarnation of Compassion,
The Essence of Worldly Existence, Whose Garland is the King of Serpents, Always Dwelling inside the Lotus of the Heart.
I Bow to Shiva and Shakti Together.
Karpur Gauram : The one who is as pure as camphor(karpur)
Karuna avatar : The avatar full of compassion
Sansara Saram : The one who is the essence of the world
Bhujagendra haram: The one with the serpent king as his garland
Sada vasantam : Always residing
Hridaya arvinde : In the lotus of the heart
Bhavam Bhavani : Oh Lord and Goddess (Sati: wife of Shiva)
Sahitam Namami : I bow to you both

Mystic Stories behind Mahashivratri

  • In ancient times, a Bheel (forest inhabitant) named Gurudruha traveled through the forest hunting for deer. After a whole day of hunting without success, he climbed up a billva tree on the banks of a lake. Later that night, a doe came to drink water. Immediately, Gurudruha aimed his bow and arrow at the deer. He unknowingly dropped some billva leaves and water below on a Shivaling. The deer begged Gurudruha to hold off on killing her because she wanted to ensure her fawns were safe by bringing them to her husband. Even though he was hesitant, Gurudruha agreed. While waiting for her to return, he stayed awake aimlessly plucking the leaves and dropping them below nonchalantly. The leaves landed on the Shivaling below, and Gurudruha had unknowingly performed Shivaji’s puja all night.
  • Eventually, the doe returned with her family. She told Gurudruha that if he killed her, he would have to kill her family as well. He aimed the bow and arrow at the deer and more leaves fell down on the Shivaling. The punya accumulated from unknowingly performing Shiva’s puja washed away all his sins. Gurudruha’s heart became pure as he repented for his sins and set the deer free. Shiva manifested in front of him and granted him a boon, “You will be born as a man named Gruha in a town called Shrungver. Bhagwan Vishnu will grace your home as Shri Rama and redeem you.” Shiva also blessed the deer.

The Legend of Ketaki Flower

The Ashutosh is fond of flowers like hibiscus, stramoni flower (dudura), dhak (palasha), arakha, cape-jasmine (sugandha-raj) and of course the screw-pine or ketaki. However, ketaki, is offered to the Lord only once in a year; on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri. The story behind this is quite an interesting one.

Retired bank manager Dayanidhi Dash shares the legend of the Holy Trinity and the screw pine. Once the Holy Trinity challenged each other to determine which one of them is the most efficacious. Lord Shiva assumed the form of a rock phallus of immense magnitude (the shiv ling) and the Lords Brahma and Vishnu set out to find out its limit. While Lord Brahma assumed the form of a swan and travelled upward, Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and explored down. Both searched and searched but there was no end to the divine vastness.

Meanwhile, a tired and irritated Brahma came across a falling flower, a screw pine. When asked about the upper limit of the ling, the flower confessed that it had no idea, as it had fell from the Lord’s head ages back but was yet to reach the ground. In his extreme arrogance, Brahma conspired with the flower and made it a witness to his lie. He came back from the heights and found a tired Vishnu at the base who confessed about not being able to find the end of Rock Phallus. But Brahma, backed up by the screw pine, announced that he had discovered the head of the Shiv ling and plucked the flower from there. At that instant, Lord Shiv appeared to put an end to this folly and cursed both Brahma and Ketaki flower. Brahma was to remain un-worshipped while screw-pine was never to be used in any sacred rituals. However, after much pleading, the rudrasanctioned Brahma one place of worship (the Puskara) and ketakigot the chance to be used in rituals only one day in a year (the Maha Shivaratri).

Essence of Mahashiv-Ratri:

Mahashivaratri (the great night of Shiva) falls on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of -Magha-Phalguna (February- March), and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. On this day devotees sing bhajans in honor of Shiva, recite Sanskrit shlokas (verses) from scriptures, offer prayers in the morning and evening, observing fasting throughout the day.
Offering Bilva leaves to Shiva on Shivaratri is considered very auspicious by his devotees.

Maha-Shiv Ratri Purpose is to achieve eternal peace and happiness by worshipping Shiva at night, by meditating on one’s own self during the night when the individual is free from the distractions of the physical world. When the individual attains self-knowledge, he or she can live in the world without being affected by anger, greed, and selfishness, the three enemies of one’s soul. Shiva-ratri symbolizes the worship of the atman within.

According to vedic astrological system, Mahashivaratri is considered as one such day when spritual energy in nature is too high to connect with the divine shiva to achieve spritual growth for the higher transformation. It is conducive to spiritual growth and meditation.

On the specific night of Shivratri, the planetary placement is such that there is a natural tendency for the kundalini energy, housed in the chakra at the base of the spine, to rise up and reach the chakra at top of the head.

Meditation helps to reach at a point when we can experience space of nothingness and love. This experience takes us to the level of higher consciousness, that stage only a siddh yogi achieve via going into depeest state of meditation, that is called state of the Shiva- The Adhi-Yogi (The One).Shivratri is that night which is meant for spiritual seekers for connecting with the divine Nature.

Mahashivratri is the day when the Shiva Tattva (Guru Tattva- Akash – Eternal Knowledge – Braham) is believed to come in contact with the divine earth (Prakarti- Shakti –  Prithvi Tattva – Material). It is believed that during divine night of Maha-Shivratri our higher consciousness, aura, increases ten inches above the material ground or expands in a wide spritual plane. Our Chakaras get align with the nature energy and a sadhak can reaches to the height of Higher chakra – the chakra of One – OM.

On this day, consciousness descends and touches the Prithvi Tattva.
That is why Mahashivratri is celebrated across the universe – it is the day of  wedding of  Shiva and Shakti (the Twin Particle of Prithvi and Aakash Tattva) the material world (Earth) with the spiritual world ( Brahmand).Sivaratri is a blessed occasion for all to practise self-restraint, self-control, contemplation, Svadhyaya, Japa and meditation, as much as possible within our capacity. We have the whole of the night at our disposal. We can do Japa or we can do the chanting of the Mantra, ‘Om Namah Sivaya’. We can also meditate. It is a period of Sadhana. The glory of God is displayed before us in the form of these spiritual occasions.