What is Shiva? Celebrating MahaShivratri 2023

by | Religious & Mythological

For time immemorial, Spirituality has been the foundation on which humankind has chosen to manifest their Highest Selves. The sagas we learn about Hindu Mythology and History are very much related to this tug-of-war between succumbing to our lower desires and manifesting our Highest Selves. This MahaShivratri, let us take you on a journey of becoming your Highest Selves with learnings from Shiva. 

Once upon a time, there struck an argument between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu over who was the Superior One between them. Vishnu claimed His superiority as the Preserver of the Creation, while Brahma claimed His as the Creator of the Universe. Out of nowhere appeared a blazing pillar of fire the top and root of which were invisible. Both the Gods then heard an oracle announcing a competition: to find the start and the end of the blazing pillar. Whoever could find the beginning and the end of the Pillar would be declared Superior. Lord Brahma took it upon himself to transform into a goose and climb the pillar to discover the top, while Lord Vishnu transformed himself into a boar to dig deep into the Netherland (Patal Lok) to find its root. 

Tirelessly, both Gods dedicated themselves to the mission but to no avail. After they wore themselves out, they found waiting for them, God Shiva. The Pillar or the Shiva Linga as we know it today was but a manifestation of Shiva’s nature: infinity– one that neither has a beginning nor an end. The beginning-less and endless Shiva Linga has been described as the cause of all causes. It is the formless representation of the Universe. 

This is why Shiva is also referred to as “nothing”, the “void” or “the non-manifested” while Shakti is the “manifested”, the Life Force of Shiva (or the Life Force of Creation). 

Another rather amusing but rhythmic tale about Shiva narrates a conversation between Him and a saint. The saint asks Shiva who His father is, to which He replies it is Brahma. When the saint asks Him who His grandfather is, Shiva calls him Vishnu. “And who is your great-grandfather?” the saint asks. “That would be me”, Shiva replies. A yet another symbolic tale of Shiva, the infinite. 

Shiva has been deemed the Greatest Mystic for ages and across cultures. He is also called ‘Adiyogi’ meaning the first practitioner of Yoga or the originator of Yoga. He is the deity of timelessness and spacelessness. In terms of Science, then, what is Shiva? ‘The Void State’.  The possibilities from this Void State, then, are infinite, and so are the manifestations. 

“Fire is His head, the sun and moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet, the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.”

Timeless Learning From Shiva

  • Self-Discipline 

Shiva is the embodiment of self-discipline. He recognized everything within himself: all of what society has given definitions to as evil, hedonism, saintliness, virtue, greed, etc, He observed all of them. By perpetually being in a meditative state, he was able to consciously choose which energy to engage with it. He neither indulged nor starved. He merely observed and made conscious choices such as we read in the story of ‘destroying’ Kama from within. A meditative state (awareness)  is not a practice for Shiva but something one can always be within. Focus and discipline can then be harnessed easily. 

  • Compassion for Humanity (The Samudra Manthan Saga) 

There is a fascinating episode behind Shiva’s Neelkanth form which is talked about in the Bhagavad Purana, the Vishnu Purana, and the Mahabharata. His compassion shines when we reflect on this episode of  ‘Samudra Manthan’. Once upon a time, the sage Durvasa cursed all the Devas due to which, they lost their strength and deity powers. Taking advantage of this, the Asuras defeated the Devas in a battle and took control of the Universe. The Devas run to Lord Vishnu for help who informed them that the Nectar of Immortality found only at the bottom of the Celestial Ocean of Milk (The Milky Way Galaxy) could restore their strengths again and make them immortal. 

As fate would have it, the nectar had to be churned from the bottom of the ocean- a task that the Devas couldn’t achieve on their own, having cursed of losing their powers. So, the Devas lured the Asuras to churn the nectar with them and promised them their share however, they had no intention to do so. A 1000 years and a lot of hard toils not only released the nectar but also a terrible poison: “Halahala” which was a threat to the whole creation. 

Both the Devas and the Asuras went to Lord Shiva for help who decided to drink the Halahala to protect the creation from wiping out. There is a version of the story that tells us that Ma Parvati couldn’t bear the sight of Shiva moaning in pain because of consuming this painful poison. Hence, she grabbed His throat so the poison didn’t reach His stomach and kill him. The poison staying in his throat rendered it blue because of which He is also called ‘Neelkanth’: the one with the blue throat. 

  • Innocent and Down to Earth 

Shiva is believed to be extremely generous and giving. The one who meditates on Him receives what they want (or that which they Need at the moment). He teaches us the power of transformation through Meditation. He also teaches us Manifestation. In this way, Shiva shows us our inner power through Consciousness and helps us communicate with the Shiva within. No heavy rituals or many offerings for Shiva, He answers the calls of Love and does so easily. This is why He is also called Bholenath. 

  • The Divine Union Within 

Shiva is known to be ‘Ardhanareeshvara’ meaning He represents part man and part woman. His consort is Parvati or Shakti, the generative power of the universe. There is a unity of Opposites within our Universe. The Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine are inseparable and co-exist in all of us, regardless of our gender. We should honor both masculine and feminine elements present within all of us.  

Kill the Fear That Lies Within 

 

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् |

उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् ||

 

This verse from the Rigveda is the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. It is the most powerful Mantra to remove negative energy and raise our vibrations. It also destroys our biggest fears: including the fear of time & death. The mantra also holds the power to shield us from untimely death and disease. Spiritually speaking, it also cleanses our Manipura or the Solar Plexus Chakra which is the seat of Prana Shakti (Life Force) within us. 

 

4 Ways to Connect with Shiva on Maha Shivratri 

 

There are many versions of why we celebrate Maha Shivratri. Some legends believe it to be the union between Ma Parvati and Shiva. While some believe that the occasion marks the first time Shiva performed the Tandav which symbolizes the Divine Control of the Universe: creation, preservation, destruction, illusion, and grace. If you are familiar with this dance form, you know exactly what a sight it is to behold! 

We are celebrating Maha Shivratri on 18 February this year. Try out these 4 ways you can connect with the Shiva within.  

      1. Meditate at 11:11 am and 11:11 pm to activate your manifestations with the help of the Divine Feminine: intuition and receptivity.

      2. Reflect on where your Divine Masculine (self-effort) needs to come forward. Take Shiva’s blessings to keep you focused and disciplined as you find your way through self-effort.

      3. Each Chakra in our body has a Beej or Seed Mantra that activates that Chakra. For the third eye, it is none other than “Om”, the primordial sound of the Universe, the essence of the Supreme. You can chant this 108 times, but make sure to ground yourself before and after, as third-eye activation can be very powerful. 

Recommended Read: Signs That Your Third Eye Is Opening And How To Handle It

      4. If you are willing to be a little curious, try doing some Tandav Dance and see how it feels! There is enough information if you search for the same. It might just be the energy shifting you are in need of!

We wish all of you a very happy MahaShivratri 2023. May you always honor the Divine Union within yourself.  What are some rituals that you perform on Shivratri? Do share with us in the comments below! 

Soul Miracles

Soul Miracles

Author

Dr. Manmeet Kumar is a Spiritual Coach who founded Soul Miracles in 2016. She uses her gifts of being a psychic and a medium to enable others to transform their inner core.

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