Festivals and Celebrations in Hindu Religion

Significance of Maha Shiva Rathri

By: Prasad Kidhambi [Poorna Pragna]

Sri Saraswathyai Namaha
Namaha Parama Rishibhyo
Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

Maha Shiva Rathri is the one of the most important festivals of India. Why this festival should be celebrated and what is the inner meaning of this festival ? What is the Philosophical Spiritual and Scientific meaning of this festival ? Is this festival is to be celebrated as it was told by our ancestors or does this have a contemporary relevance ? We will discuss this in detail. This festival is celebrated on Magha Bahula (krishna) Chathurdhasi or on the 14 day of the moon declension in the month of March. The festival should be celebrated as following: Early morning holy bath, Worshipping of Lord Shiva with the Bilva Leaves, doing the Abhisheka for the Shiva Linga, not eating the food all day, and then keeping awake all night - doing bhajans and prayers.


Scientific Meaning [significance] of Shiva Ratri :

Festivals in India include the Scientific wisdom in four different fields of sciences. Climatology, Astronomy, Ayur Veda and Human Physiology. Human body is susceptible for the changes in the cyclical motions of the moon and sun. The impact of these changes are closely documented by the advanced researchers in the field of biofarming and organic farming. The ascent and descent of the moon have the impact on the growth of the plants and all cellular structures, including on the germination of the plants. Ancient sages understood that these changes also affect at certain seasonal transitions and devised the methods for the natural adaptations for these changes. Festivals are celebrated for these adaption. Maha Shiva Rathri comes exactly at this seasonal transition from the Winter to Spring. All nature and cosmos covered by the space and time undergoes three phenomenon. Creation, Growth, and Dissolution. The time span of these cycles change. Stars a and Galaxies may have a cycle of millions of light years and species may have few hours. These three aspects are called as the Brahma Tatva, Vishnu Tatva and Maheswara Tatva. During the rotation around the sun the earth, along with all associated creation on the earth, undergoes three faces of Time. These are called as "Kalas" in the Sasthraas. They are Spring Time (Usha Kala), Monsoon Time (Varsha Kala) and Winter Time (Sitha Kala). Every time has two seasons namely Vasantha and Grishma rithu (Spring Time and early summer), Sarath and Varsha rithu (Monsoon Time for farming), and Hemantha and Sisira rithu (early and late Winter Time followed by harvest), and after the Winter Time the Spring Time will start again.

All the flora and fauna will undergo hibernation during the Winter Time and will start new germination during the Spring Time. This transition time is the most important one for all species including humans. Festivals are celebrated to make them adapt for these transitions. Maheswara tatva belongs to the dissolution of this natural cycle so this Maha Shiva Rathri is celebrated at the last day of the first month in the Late Winter, before the starting of Spring Time. Human body also undergoes very subtle cellular and molecular changes during this time. Most of the lung and respiratory infections are possible during this time. To avoid them, certain rules are prescribed in the form of celebration of the Maha Shiva Rathri. We have to always remember that in Sanathana Dharma, the science is interspersed with the way of human life. Now we apply the tanning lotions and other skin rash medicines for ultra violet sun rays during these months. But these have their limitations, as these are reactive and invasive procedures of prevention of disease. The non invasive prevention techniques are the gradual adjustment of the body's physiology through these festivals.


According to Ayur Veda, the Bilwa Leaves have a power full preventive medicine for all the Respiratory Diseases including the Cardiac Problems. The worshipping Shiva with these leaves means using them with hand and smelling the smell of these leaves. This involves the aroma therapy. According to the advanced research when moon goes to an angle between 840 to 1800 in it's rotation around the earth there will be profound influence on the Brain, Digestive Organs, Kidneys, Reproductive Organs, and Spleen. Especially in the months when the sun heat is less in the peak of winter time ( which results due to the increased distance between the earth and the sun due to its longitudinal axis). This influences reaches peak on the 14 day of the moon's descent in the peat of deep winter season which is Maha Shiva Rathri day. So on this the Fasting is prescribed according to Ayur Veda. This is intended to keep the body systems intact. The Shiva Lingas are made with the special granite and other different precious metals which have a specific crystalline structure. This structure is found to have a specific property of resonating the cosmic vibrations. Water has a peculiar property of called colloidal property. This enhances the water molecules to change their bond angles when came in to contact with the cosmic resonance and to increase their energy which then becomes powerful medicine. The abhisheka of the Shiva Lingas is to do this complicated exercises for the benefit of the mankind.

All Temples build on the principles of Agamas are the Accumulators of the Cosmic energy and Geo Magnetic Energies for the disseminating them for the individuals who go to temples. (These Scientific facts are discussed in the next issue). Going to temples and staying in the night of Maha Shiva Rathri involves the taking and assimilating the energy for the whole night so that the energy imbalances that occur during the transitional changes are corrected. The mantras used in the abhisheka or in the worship are definite energy states which produce a specified quantum of energy if recited. This energy is absorbed by the molecules of the body and they in turn radiate heightened infrared band of energies. These energies radiated are picked up by the Acu Points or Adharas which distribute the energy for all the systems of the body for the energy correction. That is the reason why the Rudra Namakam, Chamakam and Mahanyasam and other powerful Vedic Mantras are recited on this Maha Shiva Rathri Day.


Philosophical Meaning of Shiva Rathri :

The bilva leaves represent the heart and gross manifestation. Linga represents the Supreme Brahman (Consciousness). So the worship of the Linga with the bilva leaves represent the merging of the individual heart with the Supreme consciousness. Water represents the Consciousness and the Linga represents the Universal Energy (prakruthi and Paramatma). The abhisheka represents the merging the individual consciousness in to the universal consciousness. Temple represents the human body and the deity represents the Paramatma. Staying temple represents the merging the jivatma with the paramatma. Night represents the prakrithi, which is gross. Sleep represents the merging within the dynamics of the prakrithi. Waking in the night represents the process of separation from the prakrithi. Night also represents he ignorance. Waking represents for the 4 fold path of wisdom. Knowing, understanding, realizing and living.

So the celebration of Shiva Rathri will indicate the objective of the individual's Moksha and how it can be achieved. It also represent the fulfillment of the Dharma, Artha and Kama by having the sound and healthy body. Both are needed for the progress of the mankind. The scientific aspects and the prevention are needed for every one. Those who understand the significance of the spiritual aspects also has to practice them as they need the body to achieve the spiritual aspects. Lastly the community involvement and group celebration are the key for the harmony of the society. So the individuals will participate in the temple activities to transmit this advanced wisdom for the development of the human race.

Sarve janaha sukhino bhavanthu
Let every one be happy,
Bhadram karnebhihi Srunuyama
Let noble thoughts come from all direction
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