Monday, February 9, 2015

Shivaratri 2015

When is Shivaratri?

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the day when the chaturdashi (14th lunar day) of the krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the amanta lunar month of magha (purnimanta lunar month of phalguna) overlaps a period called nishita kala (one of divisions of the night that overlaps midnight).

In 2015, the correct date for observing Maha Shivaratri is:

Tuesday February 17 - in all time zones in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and Eastern and Central time zones in North America.

Monday February 16 - in Mountain time zone of North America and westward (Pacific time zone, Alaska, Hawaii).

Aum Namah Shivaya

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Who is Shiva?

Who is Shiva? To answer this question, let us examine a hymn from the Shiva Purana. This hymn, presented as yet another prayer from the Gods, answers the question in a most beautiful and elegant manner. 

The below hymn has two parts, the first part (verses 13-33) is a prayer which describes Shiva as God, the Lord of all. Notice the various references to Vaishnava deities and the strong declaration of absolute oneness within the form of Shiva. The second part (verses 34-35) describes Shiva as the best of the best. Note the similarities here to chapter 10 of the Bhagavad Gita – the only difference being that the description is in the third person (the first person description is present in the Shiva Gita).

Synopsis of the Hymn

Shiva is the Creator and Annihilator, the Sustainer, and of immeasurable splendor. He is the Lord of all beings and the Destroyer of all evil. He is both knowable and unknowable. He is Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Samkarshana and Vasudeva (the vyuha forms of Vishnu discussed in the Pancharatra Tantras). He is the Destroyer of Kamsa and Chanura (i.e. Krishna, the son of Devaki). He is Narayana Himself! He is the Veda, He is the Truth. He is the supreme Brahman of Vedanta.

He is the highest of heavens (Satyaloka), the best of rivers (Ganga), the purest of lakes (Manas), the highest of mountains (Himalaya), and the best of cities (Kashi). He is the Shalagrama (aniconic form of Vishnu) and the Linga (aniconic form of Shiva). He is the Upanishads among the Vedas, Mahabharata among Puranas, AUM among mantras, He is the golden age among eons, and He is the intercalary month among months. He is Hanuman and He is Rama. He is the Paramatman indeed. He is both within (immanent) and without (transcendent) the universe. All is Shiva (Sarvam Shivamayam). 

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Devoutly bowing to Shiva, the Lord of Gods, with palms joined in reverence, all of them bent their shoulders and eulogized Shiva, the Benefactor of the worlds. [12]

The Gods said:
Obeisance to the golden-wombed Lord, the Creator of everything.
Obeisance to Thee, the Sustainer, the Omnipresent and the Omniscient,
Obeisance to Thee of Destroyer’s form, the Annihilator of living beings.
Obeisance to Thee devoid of attributes, and of immeasurable splendor. [13-14]
Obeisance to Thee devoid of states, possessed of splendor and free from aberrations;
Obeisance to Thee of the Soul of the great elements (mahabhutas);
Obeisance to the Unsullied, the great Atman! [15]
Obeisance to Thee, the Lord of all beings, the Sustainer of great burden,
The Remover of thirst, to Thee whose form is devoid of enmity,
To Thee of excessive splendor. [16]
Obeisance to the Destroyer of the great forest, in the form of the great Asuras, like a forest fire.
Obeisance to the trident-bearing Lord, who acts as the axe for the trees of the Asuras. [17]
O great Lord, obeisance to Thee, the Destroyer of the Asuras;
Obeisance to Thee, the Lord of Parvati, O Wielder of all weapons. [18]
O Lord of Parvati, obeisance to Thee, O great Soul, O great Lord.
Obeisance to Thee, the blue-necked Rudra and of the form of Rudra. [19]
Obeisance to Thee, knowable through Vedanta; obeisance to Thee who are beyond all paths. 
Obeisance to Thee of form of attributes, possessing attributes and devoid of them. [20]
O great God, obeisance to Thee, the Delighter of the three worlds.
Obeisance to Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Vasudeva, obeisance to Thee.
Obeisance to Thee, the Lord Samkarshana.
Obeisance to Thee, the Destroyer of Kamsa.
Obeisance to Thee, O Damodara, the Pounder of Chanura, the Partaker of poison. [21-22]
Obeisance to Thee, O Lord, Hrishikesha, Achyuta, Mrida, Shankara, Adhokshaja,
O enemy of the Asuras, Gaja and Kama. Obeisance to Thee, O Partaker of poison. [23]
Obeisance to Thee, O Lord Narayana, devoted to Narayana, to the form of Narayana,
And One born of Narayana’s body. [24]
Obeisance to Thee of all forms, the Destroyer of great hells, destroyer of sins.
Obeisance to Thee, O bull-vehicled God! [25]
Obeisance to Thee of the form of time and divisions of time.
Obeisance to Thee, who bestows strength unto His devotees;
Obeisance to the Annihilator of the host of Asuras. [26]
Obeisance to the Lord, conducive to the welfare of the brahmanas and cattle.
Obeisance to the thousand-formed, obeisance to Thee of thousand organs. [27]
O Shiva, obeisance to Thee of the form of virtue, to sattva, to the Atman of sattva.
Obeisance to Thee whose form is knowable through the Vedas.
Obeisance to Thee, the beloved of the Vedas. [28]
Obeisance to Thee whose form is the Veda. Obeisance to Thee, the Reciter of the Vedas.
Obeisance to Thee who traverses the path of good conduct,
And who are approachable through the path of good conduct. [29]
Obeisance to Thee, the glory-seated; to the Truthful, beloved of the truth, to the Truth.
Obeisance to Thee knowable through the Truth. [30]
Obeisance to Thee possessed of magic powers, obeisance to the Lord of magic; obeisance to Thee (knowable through the Vedas), to Brahman; to the One born of Brahma. [31]
Obeisance to Thee, O Lord, the penance, the bestower of the fruits of penance;
Obeisance to Thee worthy of eulogy, the eulogy, and to Thee whose mind is pleased with eulogy always. [32]
Obeisance to Thee delighted with Vedic conduct, to the One fond of praiseworthy conduct;
To the One who has fourfold arms and the forms of (all) aquatic and terrestrial beings. [33]
O Lord, the Gods and all others, being excellent are Thy excellences.
Among the Gods, Thou art Indra; among planets, Thou art the Sun. [34]
Among the worlds, Thou art Satyaloka. Among the rivers, Thou are the celestial river, Ganga. Among the colors, Thou art the color white. Among lakes, Thou are the Lake Manasa. [35]
Among mountains, Thou art the Himalaya. Among cows, Thou art Kamadhenu.
Among the oceans, Thou art the ocean of milk. Among metals, Thou art gold. [36]
Among the varnas, Thou art the brahmana. O Shiva, among men, Thou art the king.
Among holy centers of salvation, Thou art Kashi. 
Among sacred rivers, Thou art the supreme sacred River (Ganga). [37]
Among stones, Thou art the crystal. O great God, among flowers Thou art the lotus.
Among mountains, Thou art the Himalaya. [38]
Among activities, Thou are the speech (Vac); among poets, Thou art descendents of Bhrigu.
Among the birds, Thou are the eight-legged Sharabha.
Among beasts of prey, Thou are the lion. [39]
O bull-bannered Lord, among rocks, Thou are the Shalagrama;
Among the forms of worship, Thou are the Narmada Linga (Banalinga). [40]
Among animals, Thou art the bull, Nandishvara (Nandi), O Lord Shiva.
Among Vedic texts, Thou art the Upanishads.
Among sacrificers, Thou art the cool-rayed Moon. [41]
Among those that burn, Thou art fire, among the devotees of Shiva, Thou art Vishnu;
Among the Purananas, Thou art Mahabharata; among the syllables of the alphabet, Thou are ‘Ma.’[42]
Among the bija (seed) mantras, Thou art the Pranava (AUM);
Among the terrible ones, Thou art poison.
Among pervading ones, Thou art the akasha (ether);
Among the atmans, Thou are the supreme Atman (Paramatman). [43]
Among sense organs, Thou art the mind; among charitable gifts, Thou art freedom from fear; 
Among the santifying and life-giving agents, Thou art water. [44]
Among acqusitions, Thou art the acquisition of progeny; among those of velocity,
Thou are the wind; among the routine sacred rites, Thou art the Sandhya worship. [45]
Among sacrifices, Thou are the Ashvamedha. Among the yugas, Thou art the Krta.
Among the asterisms, Thou are Pushya; among tithis, Thou are Amavasya (new moon). [46]
Among the seasons, Thou art the spring; among holy occasions, Thou art the Samkrama;
Among grasses Thou are the Kusha; among trees, Thou are the Banyan. [47]
Among yogas (divisions of the day), Thou art Vyatipata; among creepers, Thou art the Soma;
Among intellecutal activies, Thou art the virtuous inclination;
Among intimate ones Thou art the wife. [48]
Among the pure activies of the aspirant, O great Lord, Thou art pranayama;
Among the Jyotirlingas, Thou art Vishveshvara. [49]
Among all kindred beings, Thou art Dharma. In all stages of life, Thou art sannyasa.
Thou art the supreme Liberator in all vargas. Among Rudras, Thou art Nilalohita. [50]
Among all Adityas, Thou art Vasudeva (Vishnu); among monkeys, Thou art Hanuman;
Among sacrificies, Thou art japa-yajna (chanting); among weapon-bearers, Thou art Rama. [51]
Among the Gandharvas, Thou art Chitraratha; among Vasus, Thou art certainly the fire;
Among the months, Thou art the intercalary; among the holy rites, Thou art the chaturdashi rite. [52]
Among all lordly elephants, Thou art Airavata; among all Siddhas, Thou art Kapila;
Among all serpants, Thou art Ananta; among all Pitris, Thou art Aryaman. [53]
Thou art Kala (Time) among those who calculate; among Asuras, Thou art Bali.
O Lord of Gods, of what avail is a detailed narration?
Thou presidest over the entire universe remained stationed within and without. [54-55]

Sri Shiva Purana, Rudra Samhita, Section V (Yuddha Kanda), II:12-55

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Prayer by the Gods

Here is another beautiful hymn from the Shiva Purana presented as a prayer from the Gods to Shiva. Not much explanation is needed to understand this prayer for those who understand Shaivism, for it is filled with theology and philosophy. Notice the composer of this hymn has chosen to completely forego any reference to the stories of Shiva’s exploits! For a hymn that occurs within a book replete with legends, this is highly unusual, yet highly uplifting at the same time.
The Gods said:
Obeisance to Thee, O Lord, from whom the mobile and the immobile beings have originated.
Obeisance to the great Purusha, Mahesha, the supreme Isha, and the great Atman. (36)
Obeisance to the primordial Seed of every one, the Form of consciousness, beyond Purusha and Prakriti. (37)
Obeisance to Thee who createst this world, by whom this is illuminated, from whom this originated, 
By whom this is sustained, to whom this belongs and by whom everything is kept under control. (38)
We bow to that self-born Deity who is beyond this and everything that is great, 
Who is the undepraved great Lord, who sees these within Himself. (39)
We have sought refuge at His feet who is the supreme Brahman, who is the Soul of everyone, 
Who is the greatest Witness with unbarred vision and who assumes various forms. (40)
Obeisance to Him whose region is not known by Devas, Sages or Siddhas. 
How then can other creatures realize it or express it? (41)
He is our goal supreme, seeking to see whose region great saints free from attachment perform unmutilated vow of release. (42)
Thou hast no change like death, birth etc., that yields misery, 
Yet by means of Maya, Thou assumest all these. (43)
Obeisance to Thee who art the great Isha and the Performer of miracles. 
Obeisance to Brahman, the great Soul who is far removed from words. (44)
Obeisance to the formless Being of immense form, the great, of unlimited power, 
The Lord of the three worlds, the witness of all and all-pervasive. (45)
Obeisance to the light of Atman, richly endowed with the bliss of liberation, of the form of knowledge. 
Obeisance to Thee, the all-pervasive Lord. (46)
Obeisance to the Lord of salvation who is accessible only through the cessation of worldly activities.
Obeisance to Thee the great Purusha, the great Lord, the Bestower of all. (47)
Obeisance to conscious principle in the corporal frame, identical with Atman, the Cause of all perception. (48)
Obeisance to the Origin of Prakrti, the great presiding Deity of everything. 
Obeisance to Thee, the great Purusha, the great Lord, the Bestower of all. (49)
Obeisance to Thee, the three-eyed, the five-faced and the ever-luminous. 
Obeisance to Thee who hast no cause and who seest all the qualities of the sense-organs. (50)
Obeisance, obeisance to Thee, the Cause of the three worlds and salvation. 
Obeisance to the Bestower of quick liberation, and Deliverer of those who seek refuge. (51)
Obeisance to Thee, the Ocean of the knowledge of Vedic texts. 
Obeisance to Thee, the great Lord and the ultimate goal of devotees and possessed of three attributes. (52)
Obeisance to Thee, O great Lord whose fiery heat of knowledge is latent in the sacrificial churning rod for the production of fire of three attributes. 
Obeisance to Thee whose form is beyond the reach of fools and who livest for ever in the heart of the wise. (53)
Obeisance to the Liberator of the individual soul from the noose (pasha); 
To the Bestower of salvation to the devotee, to the self-luminous, the eternal, the unwasting, the incessant knowledge. (54)
Obeisance to Thee, the Self-Contemplator, the Unchanging, the Holder of great suzerainty and glory.
Never be ruthless unto them who resort to the four aims of life and desire the cherished final goal (Moksha). Obeisance to Thee, O Shiva. (55)
Thy devotees never desire anything solely to themselves. They sing the auspicious glory of Thy exploits. (56)
We eulogise Thee, the imperishable supreme Brahman, the omnipresent whose features are unmanifest, 
Who can be attained by the yoga of the Soul and is complete (purnam). (57)
O Lord of everything, we bow to Thee who art beyond the perception of the sense-organs; who hast no support; who art the support of all; 
Who hast no cause; who art endless; the primordial and the subtle. (58)
All the Devas, Vishnu and others, and the world of mobile and immobile beings are created by deficient digit with the difference of name and form. (59)
Just as the flames of fire and the rays of the sun emerge and submerge so also this current of creation and dissolution. (60)
Thou art neither a Deva nor an Asura, nor a man nor a brute nor a brahmana, O Lord. 
Thou art neither a woman nor a man, nor a eunuch. Thou makest nothing either the existent or the non-existent. (61)
After all negations whatever remains Thou art that. Thou art the maker, the sustainer and the destroyer of the· universe; 
Thou art the soul of the universe. We bow to that Lord Shiva. (62)
We bow to Thee, the Lord of yoga, whom the yogins who have destroyed all their actions by means of yoga, are able to realise in their minds purified by yoga. (63)
Obeisance to Thee whose velocity is unbearable, who hast three Shaktis, who art identical with the three Vedas; 
Obeisance to Thee the delighted Protector of immense potentiality. (64)
O Lord, Thou art impenetrable to the wicked sense-organs; worldly lords cannot reach Thee who art beyond all paths; 
Obeisance to Thee whose splendour is mystically hidden and who art always engaged in the uplift of the devotees. (65)
We bow to Thee, the great Lord, whose greatness cannot be surpassed; 
Whose power the confounded fool with egotistic mind can never realise. (66)

Sri Shiva Purana, Rudra Samhita (Book II), Section II, Chapter XV: 36-66.

Aum Namah Shivaya. 

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