The Secret of Shivaratri
by T. N. Dhar 'Kundan'
Shiva is eternal existence and, therefore, the Supreme Truth.
He is free of bondages,
devoid of attributes, all pervading and yet above everything (Ati tishthat
dashangulam). He is Conscience (Chit) and Bliss (Ananda). Everything emanates
from Him and everything merges with Him. He answers the form of Brahma
and with the attribute of Rajas (Rajoguna) creates the universe. He assumes
the form of Rudra and with the attribute of Tamas (Tamoguna) destroys the
creation. In between He assumes the form of Vishnu and with the attribute
of Saiva (Satoguna) looks after and preserves the creation. He is free
to desire, to manifest and to act but all this needs energy or power and
that takes the form of Shakti which in essence is itself an aspect of Shiva.
Sometimes Shiva propitiates Shakti and She enters Him to enable Him to
perform five acts of knowing (Jnan), desiring (Iccha), implementing (Kriya),
concealing or covering (Pidana) and showering His grace (Anugraha). While
explaining the importance of Bhawani Sahasranama Shiva says to His favourite
devotee, Nandi, "It is the grace of Bhawani that I have been able to create
the entire universe, humans, animals, birds, devas, asuras, gandharvas,
stars, planets, flora and fauna, et al."
time the Bhawani herself meditates on Shiva, invokes Him, merges with Him
whose inseparable aspect She is and becomes the cause of the birth of Kumara
Kartikeya. This brings an end to the demon Tarkasur and saves the devatas
from his wrath. This merger or marriage of Shiva with Shakti is what is
celebrated as Shivaratri in Kashmir called Herath or Hara ratri, the night
of Shiva. This festival has the same importance in our part of the country
as Durga Puja in Bengal, Ganesh Puja in Maharashtra, Ayyapa festival in
the south, Holi in Brajdam and Baisakhi in the Punjab. This is the only
festival in India which lasts a full fortnight and has becomes a unique
socio-religious celebration. It starts on the first day of the dark fortnight
of Phalguna, with cleansing and renovation of the houses and concludes
on the amavasya day with the distribution of prasada of walnuts after performing
the-prescribed puja. Every married daughter is regarded as a Parvati and
is sent by her parents to her Shiva's home along with new clothes, money
fact of one God is universally accepted, the relationship between Jeeva
and Param Brahma, the individual soul and the universal soul is perhaps
extensively discussed and explained only in our scriptures, both in Nigamas
(Veda) and Agamas (Other Shastras.) There is a oft-quoted Vedic saying, "Ekam sat viprah bahuda
vadanti", the Truth is one yet it is explained
by the wise in different ways. This has given rise to different schools
of philosophy propounding daulism and non dualism. The Shaiva school of
philosophy espouses non- dualism, yet the Trika system of Kashmir or the
Kashmir Shaiva Darshan stands for non dualism in its pristine purity. It
advocates that the entire creation is the manifestation of Shiva and therefore
it is real and not an illusion or Maya. We worship Shiva in both His aspects
of Shiva and Shakti. Shakti for us is Rajna, Sharika, Jwala and many more
forms of the energy aspect of Shiva. Worshipping Her gives us unflinching
faith in Shiva, the source of all knowledge and the end destination of
all (Eko gamyah. Mahimnastotra.) Shiva for us is the Supreme Truth. Worshipping
Him leads us to un- wavering trust and belief in the Mother, the giver
of protection, solace and divine grace.
of Shiva-ratri, therefore, is symbolic and this symbolic leads to the Real.
Attainment of the Real coincides with Self- realisation and Self-realisation
is the ultimate aim and goal of a true Shaiva Sadhaka. The faiths world
over have believed that it is from the mundane that one advances to the
spiritual and supra-mental. Even Sufis have proclaimed that from Ishqe Majazi, the worldly love, one rises to Ishqe
Haqiqi, the true eternal love
where one is able to realise (Ham o ast) I am He or (Man Khuda) I am the
God. This undisputedly establishes the importance of idol and symbol worship
in general and of Vatuk-puja in the context of Shivaratri. The various
pots that constitute vatuk: Dul, Ryesh-dul, Sanivar, Machavar and No't
etc. stand for various deities or the different aspects of the Divine.
We propitiate them and pray for world peace and well being of the mankind.
From here we march on to Self-realisation and for this what is needed is
an inward journey.
In the words
of the great Lal Ded:
Go'ran dopnam kunuy vatsun,
Nyebra dopnam andar atsun.