Article 77 - Shivaratri


Sri Rajen Vakil

Our whole effort is to raise our levels of consciousness. To fight against the seduction, the hypnosis of life.  To fight against mechanicalness.

The word Shiva means ‘the auspicious one’, translated from kshati paapam. That is, to reduce sin or mechanicalness. Kshati means to sharpen, to cut away at something. That which cuts away at sin, at negativity. Shiva is the destroyer, the destroyer of negativity.

All living beings aim to fulfill four needs of life. One, is the search for food (ahar); second, the search for security because they are victims of fear (bhai); third, the need for sleep (nindra) to rejuvenate themselves and fourth, the search for a mate (maithun).

These are the four basic urges of all life. Only man has the possibility to transform these urges. The jeeva takes on a physical form in order to transform these urges into something higher; the transformation of Jeeva into Shiva.

The first of the urges, Ahar (food) is of three kinds - Physical food, air food and impressions food. The transformation of these three lifts the state of consciousness to that of Shiva. The second is transformation of fear. To hold and separate from fear. To rise above it. The transformation of fear leads to an inner state called Rudra. The literal meaning of the word Rudra is anger. All anger is rooted in fear, fear that some desire will not be fulfilled. This fear passes through eleven stages, the final stage being Shiva, the leader of the rudras. Worrying is a deep fear and we love to worry. If one worry goes, another takes its place. ‘What is going to happen tomorrow?’ is the deepest cause of our constant inner chatter. Fear does not allow us to live in the present, we live in the tomorrow. Rudra also comes from the root ‘to cry’. We cry and complain all the time. There must be a transformation of this psychological fear.

Then comes the transformation of sleep or nindra. We spend one third of our lives sleeping. Transformation of sleep creates in us a state called Shankar, which has its root in sham karoti. To bring peace, tranquility and harmony. To calm down.

There are many kinds of sleep. One is physical sleep which our bodies need. But the real sleep is the psychological sleep in which we live all 24 hours. We just live in a state of daydreaming. Not for a moment are we awake. Even young children live in dreams. No one teaches us how to be free of dreaming. To be free of dreaming is the state of Shankar. Then every moment we are relaxed, enjoying the beauty of life.

The final transformation is that of maithun, sex energy. This leads to an inner state called Bhairava. Bhairava means the one who has gone beyond fear. The protector. We are all prone to excitement. In excitement, we lose energy and fall into the deeper hypnosis of life. Once we transform sex energy, we can never be excited again. Our attention and consciousness is now protected.

Thus, Shiva is the transformation of these four passions or urges of life.

Every month, the 13th night of the dark fortnight (when the moon is waning) is called Shivaratri. The 13th night is the last night we can see the moon as a thin crescent line, two days before the New Moon or Amavasya.

The moon represents the mind. The mind is the cause of bondage. The night when the power or grip of the mind over the soul, through sadhana or hard, conscious effort, is reduced to a small fragment is when consciousness descends. We cannot obliterate the mind completely, we need it to relate in life. But we free ourselves of its grip and power so we are no longer its slave.

The 13th night of the dark fortnight in the month of Magha is called MahaShivaratri. The month of Magha is the prelude to spring. The old starts to die and the new is born. It is time for the ego to die and the soul to be reborn. Magha is also the month of the demons or asuras. These are the deep negative patterns that lie in our mind. So, MahaShivaratri signifies the destruction of our deep negative patterns, the demons in our mind.

The month Magha is called Maha and that is why this night is called MahaShivaratri. Maha also means huge. It is the great day when we are free of the mind and all its deep patterns. Maha also means the collection of all our memory of all our lives. Thus, by reducing the power of the mind to a thin crescent line, we are able to be free from the slavery of memory. Memory is our biggest bondage and freedom from memory is Moksha or enlightenment.