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Shiva Ratri

(Herath of Kashmiri Pandits)

Dr. Chaman Lal Raina


Shiva Ratri is the integrating force of the Sanatana Dharma, popularly known as Hinduism. Shiva Ratri is the essence of the Yajur Veda, where Shiva is adored as Rudra, Shambhava, Bhava and Hara. Shiva Ratri is a spiritual journey from Hara state of mind to the Bhava state of existence. It is a spiritual journey from Samsara to Moksha. Shiva Sankalpa Mantra helps a devotee to see the Vatuka Bhirava from the subjective existence to the objective realization in identifying one’s own self with the Universal consciousness of Bhagavan Shiva. The first Sutra/aphorism of the Shiva Sutra teaches the Eternal Truth that Consciousness is the Atman/self. Vatuka Raja- Vatak Raz is the consciousness of Shiva.

Source material

1 Yajur Veda, Shiva Purana, Nilamata Purana, Shaiva Agamas.

2 Recitation of the Rudra Mantra, Mahimna Stotram, Panchakshari Mantra during the Eternal Night of the Tandava Nritya/cosmic dance of the Universal Spirit.


1 To realise Shiva- consciousness with subjectivity, objectivity and universality.

2 Shiva Ratri is not a celebration of mind alone , but uniting mind with Supreme Shiva. 3 To seek blessings from the Vatuka Bhairava in visual form and to have His


4 To see the Pradosha/ inauspicious muhuruta turned into the Bhagavata Muhurta, which is an auspicious hour.

Expression/ Invocation

I pay my obeisance to the Watuk Raj Bhairava, who is no else but the Divine Flame of auspiciousness. The Watak Raz`u as the Supreme effulgence is popularly adored absorbent in the Bijamantra, as visualized by the Vamadeva Rishi. Hence the Shiva Ratri of Kashmir is purely Agamic in essence, Yogic in practice and ritualistic in pattern. The Herath as it is adored with devotion, is the essence of the SHIVA-SHAKTI in unison. The celebration is to greet the Divine within the sanctum sanctorum of the residential house, known as the Thokur Kuth., or in the Cho`ku , the abode of Annapurna Devi , who is the consort of Shiva. These two designated places are said to be the sacred places in the household. As a matter of sanctity, Cho`ku is considered d as next to Thokur Kuth. The Watak Raz`u is being installed in these two designated places, even in the Diaspora, with little modification subject to the availability of space.

Pre -requisites for the observance of Herath

1 The house is being cleaned, known as Hur Dalun and the days for the cleansing of the house commences from the Hur`i Okdoh and concluded on the Hur`i Sheyam. After Hur`i celebration , generally no Hokh`u Siyun/ dried vegetable is to be cooked as a dish. There is a logic behind it. Since the Watak Raz is to be invoked with serenity, thus there should be some thing new vegetable to be offered , which could be easily available. In Kashmir, Spinach is just grown in the fields, along with the fresh radish and turnip , and lotus roots are easily available, so the Reeth/ tradition of fresh vegetables developed as the Siyun to be cooked. Wonderful were the ideas of our ancestors, which we are still preserving even in the Diaspora, after migration. These are the cultural bonds, which shape the religious fervor with respect to place and situation.

2 Watak Raz Parivar is to be bought from the potter in the Deity form of Watuk Bhairava, Ram Go`d, Reshi Dulij , Sani-Potul, Khetra Pal, Dupu Zoor. It was necessarily bought after Hur`i Satam upto Wage`r Bah. Watuk Parivar needed for the occasion should be of baked clay. But the new standards in the religious ethos, allowed the baked clay Watak Raz to be replaced by brass Watak Raz Later on the steel took place of the brass. (I need not to comment on the steel Watak Raz. It is question of personal choice) . Watuk Bhairava is not worshipped alone . HE manifests along with the host of Shaktis. Ram G`aud is the Purusha principle of the Hiranya Garbha, and Reshi Dulij is the Prakriti principle of the Hiranya Garbha. Sani Potul represents the cosmic creation of the Shiva Shakti in One Emblem. SINI is a Sanskrit word, which refers to the woman having a white complexion and Putula in Sanskrit language means the icon of Shiva. So SANIPO`TUL is the SHIVA SHAKTI EKA RUPINI/ Shiva and Shakti are One in essence, which is the base of the Kashmiri Herath. Khetrapals are the Iha Rashtradhi Pati Bhairava---zonal deity of observance and the other is the specific Bhairava, invoked as the Heruka to act as the Kavacham of the Tantric deliberations in looking after the PADDHATI of FIVE day Puja manual.

3 WUSUR and A’IR is Prithvi Tattva or the Earthly existence. Wusur is the Apbhramsha of the word Wasura, which denotes existence of the Mother earth. That is the reason the Wusur is made of Petchi Diyol., a special weed of the Dal lake. As Mother earth is both soil and the water. The dried Petcha grass known as diyol is put in three whirls with a knot, to represent the TRIGUNATMAK PRAKRITI of Sattva-Rajas-Tamas.It is placed at the bottom of the Watak Raz`u. Ram Go`d, Reshi Dulij and two Khetrapals, the guardian deities of the great event. Wusur is an offering of garland and A ‘IR is an ASANA/ seat. It is to invoke the Kundalini Shakti within the aura of Watak Raz. The Deities are wrapped properly with the garland. This is the very start of the Thirty six Tattvas of the Trika Shasana/ Darshanas or popularly recognized as the Kashmir Shiva Darshan to start with the Prithvi Tattva. The SHASTA/ Principal deity of the Five day Puja is the WATAK RAZ`U. The thirty six Tattvas is the universal Existence of Shiva, where Shakti helps Shiva to manifest as a universal Spirit. The Watuka Paddhati establishes that fact.

Deliberation of Puja

The Watuk Bvhairava Puja is a long ranged systemized Puja of Five days, which starts from Gad`u Kah, Wag`er Bhah, Heratcha Truvah, Chaturdasi/ Salam(later influence) and Parmuzun. This is the Shaivistic Puja Paddhati, it is Sattvic, Rajasic and Pradushik in character. It is the essence of the cosmic whirl, in which Watak Raz helps the devotees to get enlightened and be in the Sadhana of Shiva -Shakti and the cosmic matter i.e. Anu/ nara. It is based on the KADI system of Mantra and the Hadi System of Mantra, generally Kadi Mantra is in practice. The experts of the Hadi Mantra are no more now.

On the eleventh Tithi of the Phalguna Krishna Paksha, the Fish is offered to the Ishtadeva to seek his blessings for the Anushtthanam / invoking deliberations of the Wagura on the following day. Wagura is the Tantric net, which needs to be woven with the Shri Raja Rajeshvari Mantra, which is the Reshi Dulij of the great event. It is purely Sattvic, as the name Reshi Dulij suggests. Only vegetarian food , milk and candies are offered to this cosmic shape of the Divine. The main event is on the Shiva Ratri day deliberations, according to the Kula Riti/ family tradition.

What is Shiva Ratri?

Shivaratri is the auspicious night of the Divine

Though every moment is of the Divine, but the Un-manifest Absolute made That self manifest at a particular movement through free-will known as the Ichha Shakti, but that Divine created the certain movements, with is Tamas, and that hour is known as the Prodosha Kala/ polluted hour. There happens to be the action and reaction of some cosmic vibrations, which create disturbances in the cosmos. Shiva through Vatuka Energy subsides that Pradosha, and that is Shiva Ratri. Shiva’s manifestation as the Jyotir Lingam, is said to be the sacred Shiva Chaturdashi on the Magha Krishna Chaturdashi,or the 14th lunar Tithii of Magha, but the forces got interacted at the midnight the Pradosha Kala of the Phalguna Krishna trayodashi, just after one month of the Shiva’s emergence as the Jyotirlingam. Watak Raza manifested to make the world free from natural upheavals in the form of a Brhmachari. The Brahmachari because of his Brahmavarchas/ total celibacy, has the force and design to set the cosmic vibrations in Vatuk Patra/ Vatak N`ot with his Shakti in tune with the harmony of the world. This is verily, the Reshi Dulij. Ram G`aud is the Bhairava Force in the Watuka Parivar. Sani Potul is the balancing power of the cosmos I as Purusha and Prakriti does. The Mantra dedicated to the Watak Raz is partly invocation and partly attributes with prayers to keep the world free from natural upheavals at the time of Pradosha. A flaming thunder gets diverted to keep the Asuric/evil forces away from the scene. A swift life-impulse gets vibrated to lead a Bhakta to realize the relationship between Hara and Shiva, which are the conflicting forces within the Jivatman/ human being. The Watuk Parivar is the manifestation of the Shiva in Existence. To the Hindu psyche Image is the thought in action.This is Kriya Shakti of Vatuka Bhairava.

Why Herat?

Herat is the Apbhramsha of the word Hara Ratri, which is the night of the Tandava for Shiva, but the grace of the Vatuka Bhairava makes that Tandava into the auspiciousness of higher bliss, where there is no trace of ego., only harmonious rhythm is seen and felt

Bija Mantra of the Vatuka Bhairava

Om Aim Hrim Shrim Devi Putra Vatuka Nathaya Namah

The Bija Mantra is the seed syllable of the Watuka Nath, who is the Devi Parvati’s Putra. OM is the Vedic Pranava, with the pure Sattva of Brahma, Rajas of Vishnu and the Power of reabsorption of Mahesha. Aim is the Tantric Pranava, and has been described in the first Shloka of the Panchastavi and in the Markandeya Purana. Hrim is adored as the seed of reverence known as the Lajja Bija of the Shakta Agamas, Devi Putra is the absolute energy of the Purna Prakriti or Moola Prakriti. Namah is the obeisance to the sound body of the Absolute. This Bija Mantra consists of Nine phonemes, with distinct characteristics of Absolute energy in the Watuka. The Watuka Puja has nothing to do with the observance of the marriage sacrament of Shiva and Parvati. Had this been so, the Bija Mantra like Devi Putra Vatuka Natha could not have evolved and taken the very basis of the Shiva Ratri ethos of Kashmir. But people have taken it as the meeting of Shiva and Shakti, according to the Shiva Parinaya, thus the present ethos has developed.

Marriage of Shiva and Parvati connected with the Shiva Ratri?

The Yajur Veda address Shiva as the Bhava Sharva and the meaning of Hara is seizing, captivating. Shiva exercised the Yogic flame of the third eye for burning of the Kamadeva, hence was adored as Hara. The same flame when got diverted into cool breeze of the 13th digital dark moon became Shiva Ratri. The episode is related in the Rudra Samhita Parvati Khand of the Shiva Purana. And that too took place on the 14th Tithi of the Phalguna Lunar fortnight, one day after the actual Shivaratri of the Kashmir traditioin. That day is known as Salam., which is purely a social interaction of the Kashmiri ethos, between Muslims and Pandits.

Guru`t tradition of the Herat

The Nilamata Purana says, ‘The Shiva Ratri is observed on the dark 14th of Phalguna. Shiva lingam is to be worshipped with perfumes, garlands, clothes and Naivedya made of flour”. It has the significance as the staple food of Kashmir is rice.

This is still prevalent as the Tcho`chi wor of rice flour is being offered to the Watak Raz . The offerings to the Vaishva deva in AGNI KUNDA is offered with Kai`nkini Wor. As well as with the cooked rice. A circular bread of the like shape of the sun with rays as shown in the Mandala graphics .

The main source of the Shiva Ratri Puja has been documented and edited by the great Kashmir Karmakanda scholar Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotishi of Rainawari in the early twentieth century . That is the authentic source of Puja. There has been some slight changes after 1947, and shortened techniques emerged in the Puja system but the Reeth remained intact with reference to the offerings etc. . Now people have been opting for the Vegetarian Naivedya instead of non –vegetarian offerings to the Watak Raz Otherwise , the non-vegetables would consist of lamb., fish. bird(Pachhin) and Van Kokur . The Gurut tradition of vegetarianism during Heart is gaining ground, but traditionally continue to be non-vegetarian on the Salam festival- the great day of festivity.

Why Walnut?

The walnut has still got prominence even in the Diaspora, due to the availability of the walnuts. Walnut is the dried fruit , which is easily available in all the seasons of Kashmir. This is the Rituphal/ all season dried fruit of the Kashmiri Pandit religious ethos. Whatever religious function may be, where Agni is to be invoked, Kalasha is to be installed, there walnuts are put in the Kalasha and being sanctified with the Shanti Mantras, Bahuroopa garbha, Rudra Mantra, as is being practiced in case of the Shiva Ratri. . After the Puja is over, the KALASH LAV is sprinkled with Shanti and Swasti Mantras of the Vedas, Athifo`l/ Purna Ahuti Samagri is a must, even in the Diaspora. Walnut symbolizes the four Vedas in one nut. It is the symbol of the Haranyagarbha as well. This Heratch Doon is still distributed to dear and near ones, friends, neighbors. Even the Heratch Doon was distributed to the Muslims as well up to 1990. A good number of walnuts is given as Naveed to the married daughters of any age , even if she must have become the great grand mother as well. She gets noon - tchoch`u - ata gat, from her parental home. The walnut distribution system plays a very important role in the social fabric of the Kashmiri Pandits religious life. Watak Naveed is the symbol of mutual love, peace and prosperity.

Mystical Diagram of the Vatuka Bhairava:

The three Moola Mantras have appeared in the Hindi section of the Koshur Samachar previously, in the form of a letter to the editor by the author.

Kashmiri Writers C.L. Raina


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