Swami Sivananda     202 posts


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A man who genuinely practises fasting at regular intervals has clear-cut thoughts, an expression all his own and an imagination which others cannot excel. His ideal can only be the realization of the Self. His aim in life can only be the attainment of immortality. The ego stands nowhere before him. His thoughts are sublime and firm. His actions are diligent. There is a transcendental glow on his face, and he has found the kingdom of God in his own personality. He never wounds the feelings of others. His ideas are rays of light in the darkness of human life.

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Yoga is a perfect practical system of self-culture. Yoga is an exact science. It aims at the harmonious development of the body, the mind and the soul. Yoga is the turning away of the senses from the objective universe and the concentration of the mind within. Yoga is eternal life in the soul or spirit. Yoga aims at controlling the mind and its modifications. The path of Yoga is an inner path
whose gateway is your heart.

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Listen to all, but follow one. Respect all, but adore one. Gather knowledge from all, but adopt the teachings of one Master. Then you will have rapid spiritual progress.

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Names and forms-all these are very superficial, external things; all these are ephemeral - they last for just a little while. All this is vain. One has to go beyond name and form, one has to attain that highest Bliss, to realize the soul which is the supreme Reality.

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Serve your Guru humbly, willingly, unquestioningly, unassumingly, ungrudgingly, untiringly and lovingly. The more you spend your energy in serving your Guru, the more divine energy will flow into you.

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Your life is shortened by each sunrise and sunset . Wake up O man ! Meditate and Attain Self-Realization .

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Awake ! Arise ! Stand Up.
Suffer and be Strong.
Fear not. Shun not the struggle, the battle,
Face it. Faint not. Fight on.
You will surely come out victorious.

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Self-sufficiency, impertinence, pride, luxury, name, fame,
self-assertive nature, obstinacy, idea of superiority, sensual desires, evil company, laziness, overeating, overwork, too much mixing and too much talking are some of the obstacles in the path of Yoga. Admit your faults freely. When you are free from all
these evil traits, Samadhi or union will come by itself

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The practice of Yoga will help you to control the emotions and passions and will give you power to resist temptations and to remove the disturbing elements form mind. It will enable you to keep a balanced mind always and remove fatigue. It will confer on you serenity, calmness and wonderful concentration. It will enable you to hold communion with the Lord and thus attain the summum bonum of existence

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One has to tread steadily the path indicated by a perfect Guru. This is a difficult path, my son. One must need have steadfastness, faith and above all untiring diligence.

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Self-realization should be your goal. This should be achieved by the constant remembrance of God, by righteousness, by a life of virtue and by the practice of Yoga.

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You may associate holy men and study scriptures; but unless you practice spiritual disciplines, nothing will avail. One has to undergo long hardship for that. It requires quite a lot of self-control, and intense spiritual struggle.

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MY RELIGION - Swami Sivananda (Adhyatma Yoga)
I have renounced all sects
I have removed all creeds and dogmas
My religion is the religion
Of Truth and Love.
My religion is the religion of heart.
My religion is the religion
Of Upanishads and Vedanta.
My religion is the religion of OM.
My religion is the religion
Of service, sacrifice and renunciation.
My religion is the religion
Of goodness, kindness and tolerance.

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Happy Ram Navami

Ram-Nam burns ignorance , passion and sin. With or without knowledge, correctly or incorrectly , when the word " Rama" is pronounced it showers a rain of good upon the devotee. Sri Rama is Brahman who takes one across the ocean o worldly existence. Rama is one in across whom the Yogis sport, that is , the Self within.

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Who is a Sannyasin?
From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

A real sannyasin is the only mighty potentate on this earth. He never takes anything. He always gives. It was sannyasins who did glorious work in the past. It is sannyasins who can work wonders in the present and in the future also. It is only bold sannyasins, who have cut off all ties and connections, who are fearless, freed from delusion, passion, and selfishness who can do real service to the world.

The fundamental difference between the outlook of a worldly person and a sannyasin is that the former works for himself and his family, with attachment, and the latter endeavours to engage in some form of service for a common good, with detachment and non-expectation of reward. If the world is to cure itself of all the ills it suffers from, the ideal associated with sannyasa must seep into the perspective of the people at large, at least in a certain measure. It is this ideal of renunciation, rightly understood and sincerely practised, that could solve many of the problems prevalent today.

Sannyasins maintain and preserve the knowledge and teachings of the spiritual traditions. It is these people who give solace to the householders when they are in distress. They bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed, strength to the weak, and courage to the timid. One real sannyasin can change the destiny of the whole world!
Tyaga – renunciation

The world is enveloped in a shadow of selfishness and infatuation with material objects. Life is ruled by greed. In a blind quest for mundane interests, the inordinate desire to possess and amass, man forgets his true being. Renunciation is not negative. On the contrary, it is positive idealism which lends sanity to life. The process of renunciation begins with a gradual weaning of the mind from selfish attachment to material objects and mundane desires, in moulding a correct attitude into the nature of things and values related to the ennobling of life, in merging the individual ego in the cosmic will through selfless service, prayer, self-discipline, reflection and meditation. It is the spirit of selflessness that enables one to soften the sharp edges of egotism. Such is the ideal of renunciation, which every human being must develop as best as possible within the framework of the circumstances one is placed in.

The kinship of the sannyasin is the kinship of the spirit. He is related to the world, and serves mankind in the light of his realization. His renunciation is not something negative, but gives him a true understanding of life, and of the objects and values of the world. His attitude to the mundane world is based on a positive, helpful spirit of detachment.
Viveka – discrimination

Sannyasa is a life of renunciation and applied practical wisdom. Knowledge is a primary factor which forms the backbone of sannyasa – not merely bookish learning, but a knowledge that is bound up with one’s life itself.

What is it that fires up the spirit of renunciation in the aspirant? It is the instinctive feeling of the presence of something that is different from what he perceives through the senses. Now what does one renounce? What is the object that is not conducive to one’s practising spiritual sadhana? What is the condition or state that is to be abandoned? This can be known only if you analyze your experience properly.

Most people lack the capacity for this analysis. You are somehow or other caught up in the meshes of life and confuse all kinds of experiences together. You take things for granted. The objects which the senses make you perceive, the knowledge which you attain through the senses, is taken as the basis of everything in this world. You build the edifice of life on sense experience.

The spiritual aspirant endowed with true viveka, discrimination, does not take things for granted, and is capable of entering into the meaning of experience. The eternal is never reached through the non-eternal. So, one who is intent upon the realization of the eternal cares not for the non-eternal.
Vairagya – dispassion

Vairagya does not mean denial of the physical necessities. Rather, it means a state of evaporation of desires through right understanding. Vairagya indicates moderation and abstemiousness, guided by dispassion. True vairagya should enable the moulding of a perfectly disciplined individual, with a broad outlook, a deep understanding of the realities of life, sympathy for fellow beings, great tolerance and a charitable heart. Therefore, it is said that no genuine sannyasin is devoid of a spontaneous glow of inner happiness.
Love

The distinguishing quality of a sannyasin is universal love. Erudition by itself cannot be the mark of saintliness because an erudite person will not be able to love or to be loved as much as one who has surrendered completely to the divine. Such a person will have absolute peace of mind, complete purity, intuitive recognition of what is of permanent value, a quickness of intelligence to understand at one stroke the essence of the scriptures, an innate and intense longing for self-denial so that he might be of utmost use to the people, and, deep devotion to and unfailing faith in the Lord.

When one is born with sannyasa samskaras, no force on the earth can prevent him or her from taking sannyasa. Even if you keep a hundred guards to prevent such a person from leaving the house, they cannot check him. The father of the great Buddha guarded him in all possible ways, but his horse leapt the heights of the compound and took him to the forest. One who has understood the glory and freedom of sannyasa cannot remain even for a day in the worldly life.

Just as there are research scholars or postgraduates in science, so also there should be postgraduate yogins and sannyasins who will give to the world their experiences and realizations in the field of spirituality. They will train students and send them into the world to uplift and support the distressed and the needy.

Never think that you are unfit for self-realization, that you are unfit for sannyasa or vedanta. This cowardly nature will not leave you if you do not exert to know the truth as it really is. Better aim at a lion and miss it than hunt a jackal and catch it. Better aim at sannyasa and Vedanta and fail in its practice than live a worldly life and succeed in it. Remember that you are born for this supreme end, not for anything els !

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Sorrows are like hunger, caused by spiritual starvation and will be relived only by spiritual food.

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Replace self consciousness by God consciousness through the attainment of Wisdom.

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The Transcendental supreme Being is Siva. The manifested, immanent aspect of the Supreme is Sakti. Siva is attributeless. He is Nishkriya . Sakti is with attributes. She creates. Sakti is compared to a rope made up of tricolored threads.

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For a sincere devotee. The Linga is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas or Chaitanya. The Linga talks to him makes him shed profuse tears , produces horripilation and melting of the heart, raises him above body-consciousness and helps to commune with the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi . Lord Rama worshiped the Shiva Linga at Rameshvar . Ravana, the learned scholar worshiped the golden Linga. What a lot of mystic Shakti, there should be in the Linga !


SHIVARATRI

I bow before that Sadasivalinga , which is adored by Brahma, Vishnu and the gods, which is praised by pure and holy speeches and which destroys the cycle of births and deaths.

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Four Paths

Union with God is the goal of this human life. It is the be-all and end-all of our existence. It is the summum bonum of life. This can be achieved by following the path of Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga or Karma Yoga.

Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion or the path of affection that is suitable for people of devotional temperament, in whom the love-element preponderates. Women are fit for this Bhakti Yoga Marga as affection predominates in them. Raja Yoga is suited to men of mystic temperament. Some are fond of acquiring Siddhis (powers). They can take up this path. Jnana is the path of Vedanta. Men of rational temperament with reasoning power, strong individual thinking and bold reasoning can take up this path. Those who have an active temperament can follow the path of Karma Yoga.

Bhakti Yoga is suitable for the vast majority of devotees. Generally there is a mixture of devotional and intellectual temperaments in all men. Some are purely devotional. Some are purely intellectual. One can realise through selfless Karma Yoga also. Karma Yoga purifies the mind (Chitta Suddhi) and prepares the aspirant for Jnana Yoga. People of active temperament should take up Karma Yoga. Bhakti is also classified as mental Karma. It comes under Karma Yoga. Raja Yoga is also a form of Bhakti Yoga. In Bhakti Yoga the devotee does absolute self-surrender to the Lord. A Raja Yogi has subtle egoism. The Bhakta depends upon the Lord. He is extremely humble. A Raja Yogi exerts and asserts. He is of Svatantra type (independent). Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga are not incompatibles like acid and alkali. One can combine one-pointed devotion with Jnana Yoga. The fruit of Bhakti Yoga is Jnana. Highest love (Para Bhakti) and Jnana are one. Perfect knowledge is love. Perfect love is knowledge.

Sri Sankara, a Kevala Advaita Jnani, was a great Bhakta of Lord Hari, Hara and Devi. Jnana Dev of Alandi, Poona, a great Yogi, was a Bhakta of Lord Krishna. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa worshipped Kali and got Jnana through Swami Totapuri, his Advaita Guru. Lord Gouranga of Bengal was a great Advaita Vedantic scholar and yet he danced in the streets and market-places singing the Names of Hari. Appaya Dikshita, a famous Jnani of Adaiyapalam, North Arcot District, the author of Siddhanta Lesha and various other Vedantic books, was a devotee of Lord Siva.

It behoves therefore that Bhakti can be combined with much advantage with Jnana. Raja Yoga aims in controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications. The second Sutra in Yoga Darshan of Patanjali Maharishi in the first chapter reads:

Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah.

"Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications."

This is the definition of Raja Yoga according to Patanjali Maharishi. Sri Jnana Dev, Goraknath, Raja Bhartrihari and Sadasiva Brahman were all Raja Yogis of great repute and glory.

Bhakti is a means to the end. It gives purity of mind. It removes Vikshepa (tossing of the mind) Sakamya Bhakti (devotion with expectation) brings Svarga and Brahmaloka for the devotee (Uttamaloka Prapti). Nishkamya Bhakti (love without expectation of fruits) brings Chitta Suddhi and through the purity of the mind the aspirant gets Jnana.

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Kill Desire

Arjuna said: "But, dragged on by what does a man commit sin, reluctantly indeed, O Varshneya, as it were, by force constrained?" The Blessed Lord said: "It is desire, it is wrath, begotten by the quality of mobility, all-consuming and all-polluting-know thou this as our foe here on earth. As a flame is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust, as an embryo is wrapped by the amnion, so this is enveloped by it. Enveloped is divine wisdom by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is insatiable as a flame. The senses, the mind and the reason are said to be its seat; by these, enveloping wisdom, it bewilders the dweller in the body. Therefore, O best of the Bharatas, mastering first the senses, do thou slay this thing of sin, destructive of wisdom and knowledge. It is said that the senses are great; greater than the senses is the mind; greater than the mind is reason; but that which is greater than reason, is He. Thus understanding Him as greater than reason, restraining the self by the Self, slay thou, O mighty-armed, the enemy in the form of desire, difficult to overcome." Ch. III-36-43.

Desires can never be satiated or cooled down by the enjoyment of objects. But as fire blazes forth the more when fed with butter and wood, so it grows the more when it feeds on objects of enjoyment.

If all the foods of the earth, all the precious metals, all animals, and all beautiful women were to pass into the possession of a man deluded by desire, they would fail to give him satisfaction.

Raja Yayati said: "O son, I have enjoyed with your youth to the full extent of my desires and to the full limit of my powers and according to their seasons-but desires never die. They are never satiated by indulgence. By indulgence they flame up like sacrificial fire with ghee poured into it. If one becomes the sole Lord of all the earth with its paddy, oats, gems, beasts and women, still it will not be considered by him enough. Therefore the thirst for enjoyment should be abandoned. The thirst for enjoyment which is difficult to be cast off by the wicked, which does not fail even with the failing of life, is truly a fatal disease in man. To get rid of this thirst is real happiness."

Understand that desire that is born of the quality of Rajas is man's enemy in this Samsara. The real enemy of the whole world is desire. It is from this desire that all the evils and miseries come to human beings. When desire manifests, it goads man to action and so he commits sins of various sorts. When a man's desire is not gratified, when one stands in the way of its fulfilment, he becomes angry. The desire gets transmuted into anger. When one is under the sway of anger, he will commit all sorts of sins. He loses his memory, intellect and understanding. An angry man commits murder. He himself does not know what he is exactly doing. He becomes very emotional and impulsive. All evil actions and evil qualities proceed from anger.

When desire gets hold of a man, it hides the knowledge of his true nature from him. Desire enshrouds wisdom, just as smoke enshrouds fire. He becomes egoistic. He gets deluded. He becomes a slave of passion and gets miseries of all sorts.

The Indriyas or senses bring the man in contact with external objects and the desires are thereby created. But the senses are not all-in-all. If the mind co-operates with the Indriyas, then only is mischief wrought. Mind is more powerful than the Indriyas. Mind is the commander. Reason is more powerful than the mind. Even if the mind brings a message into the mental factory by its association with the Indriyas, the pure reason can reject it altogether. Reason is more powerful than the mind. Behind reason is the Self who is the director and witness of reason and who is superior to reason. Desire is of a highly complex and incomprehensible nature. Therefore, it is very difficult to be eradicated or conquered. But with the help of pure reason all desires can be eventually destroyed. There is no doubt of this. Then you will get knowledge of the Atman which brings immortality, supreme peace and eternal bliss.

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MAHA SHIVARATRI

Lord Shiva wears three white-lined Bhasma or Vibhuti on His forehead. What is the significance of this ? He teaches silently that people should destroy the three impurities, Anava ( egoism ) , Karma ( action with expectation of fruits ), and Maya ( illusion) , and the three desires or Eshanas , desire for landed property, desire for woman, desire for gold, and the three Vasanas, Lokavasana, Dehavasana, and Sastravasana, and then attain Him with a pure heart.

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Shivaratri

By
Sri Swami Sivananda

Introduction
The Story of King Chitrabhanu
Spiritual Significance of the Ritual
Lord Shiva's Assuarance
Related Links

Introduction

This falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The name means "the night of Shiva". The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day.

People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra Om Namah Shivaya continues. Offerings of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them.

Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the Shiva Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana's Shiva Tandava Stotra are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. He who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
The Story of King Chitrabhanu

In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma, whilst resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows.

Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa, was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king.

The sage asked, "O king! why are you observing a fast today?"

King Chitrabhanu explained why. He had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth.

The king said to the sage: "In my past birth I was a hunter in Varanasi. My name was Suswara. My livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day I was roaming the forests in search of animals. I was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to return home, I climbed a tree for shelter. It happened to be a bael tree. I had shot a deer that day but I had no time to take it home. I bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. As I was tormented by hunger and thirst, I kept awake throughout the night. I shed profuse tears when I thought of my poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously awaiting my return. To pass away the time that night I engaged myself in plucking the bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground.

"The day dawned. I returned home and sold the deer. I bought some food for myself and for my family. I was about to break my fast when a stranger came to me, begging for food. I served him first and then took my food.

"At the time of death, I saw two messengers of Lord Shiva. They were sent down to conduct my soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. I learnt then for the first time of the great merit I had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. They told me that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. My tears which I had shed out of pure sorrow for my family fell onto the Lingam and washed it. And I had fasted all day and all night. Thus did I unconsciously worship the Lord.

"I lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. I am now reborn as Chitrabhanu."
Spiritual Significance of the Ritual

The Scriptures record the following dialogue between Sastri and Atmanathan, giving the inner meaning of the above story.

Sastri: It is an allegory. The wild animals that the hunter fought with are lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy and hatred. The jungle is the fourfold mind, consisting of the subconscious mind, the intellect, the ego and the conscious mind. It is in the mind that these "wild animals" roam about freely. They must be killed. Our hunter was pursuing them because he was a Yogi. If you want to be a real Yogi you have to conquer these evil tendencies. Do you remember the name of the hunter in the story?

Atmanathan: Yes, he was called Suswara.

Sastri: That's right. It means "melodious". The hunter had a pleasant melodious voice. If a person practices Yama and Niyama and is ever conquering his evil tendencies, he will develop certain external marks of a Yogi. The first marks are lightness of the body, health, steadiness, clearness of countenance and a pleasant voice. This stage has been spoken of in detail in the Swetaswatara Upanishad. The hunter or the Yogi had for many years practised Yoga and had reached the first stage. So he is given the name Suswara. Do you remember where he was born?

Atmanathan: Yes, his birthplace is Varanasi.

Sastri: Now, the Yogis call the Ajna Chakra by the name Varanasi. This is the point midway between the eyebrows. It is regarded as the meeting place of the three nerve currents (Nadis), namely, the Ida, Pingala and the Sushumna. An aspirant is instructed to concentrate on that point. That helps him to conquer his desires and evil qualities like anger and so on. It is there that he gets a vision of the Divine Light within.

Atmanathan: Very interesting! But how do you explain his climbing up the bael tree and all the other details of the worship?

Sastri: Have you ever seen a bael leaf?

Atmanathan: It has three leaves on one stalk.

Sastri: True. The tree represents the spinal column. The leaves are threefold. They represent the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis, which are the regions for the activity of the moon, the sun and fire respectively, or which may be thought of as the three eyes of Shiva. The climbing of the tree is meant to represent the ascension of the Kundalini Shakti, the serpentine power, from the lowest nerve centre called the Muladhara to the Ajna Chakra. That is the work of the Yogi.

Atmanathan: Yes, I have heard of the Kundalini and the various psychic centres in the body. Please go on further; I am very interested to know more.

Sastri: Good. The Yogi was in the waking state when he began his meditation. He bundled up the birds and the animals he had slain and, tying them on a branch of the tree, he rested there. That means he had fully conquered his thoughts and rendered them inactive. He had gone through the steps of Yama, Niyama, Pratyahara, etc. On the tree he was practising concentration and meditation. When he felt sleepy, it means that he was about to lose consciousness and go into deep sleep. So he determined to keep awake.

Atmanathan: That is now clear to me; you certainly do explain it very well. But why did he weep for his wife and children?

Sastri: His wife and children are none other than the world. One who seeks the Grace of God must become an embodiment of love. He must have an all-embracing sympathy. His shedding of tears is symbolical of his universal love. In Yoga also, one cannot have illumination without Divine Grace. Without practising universal love, one cannot win that Grace. One must perceive one's own Self everywhere. The preliminary stage is to identify one's own mind with the minds of all created beings. That is fellow-feeling or sympathy. Then one must rise above the limitations of the mind and merge it in the Self. That happens only in the stage of Samadhi, not earlier.

Atmanathan: Why did he pluck and drop the bael leaves?

Sastri: That is mentioned in the story only to show that he had no extraneous thoughts. He was not even conscious of what he was doing. All his activity was confined to the three Nadis. The leaves, I have said before, represent the three Nadis. He was in fact in the second state, namely, the dream state, before he passed into the deep sleep state.

Atmanathan: He kept vigil the whole night, it is said.

Sastri: Yes, that means that he passed through the deep sleep state successfully. The dawning of day symbolises the entrance into the Fourth state called Turiya or superconsciousness.

Atmanathan: It is said that he came down and saw the Lingam. What does that mean?

Sastri: That means that in the Turiya state he saw the Shiva Lingam or the mark of Shiva in the form of the inner lights. In other words, he had the vision of the Lord. That was an indication to him that he would realise the supreme, eternal abode of Lord Shiva in course of time.

Atmanathan: So it appears from what you say that the sight of the lights is not the final stage?

Sastri: Oh no! That is only one step, albeit a difficult one. Now think of how the story continues. He goes home and feeds a stranger. A stranger is one whom you have not seen before. The stranger is no other than the hunter himself, transformed into a new person. The food was the likes and dislikes which he had killed the previous night. But he did not consume the whole of it. A little still remained. That was why he had to be reborn as King Chitrabhanu. Going to the world of Shiva (Salokya) is not enough to prevent this. There are other stages besides Salokya. These are Samipya, Sarupya and finally Sayujya. Have you not heard of Jaya and Vijaya returning from Vaikunta?

Atmanathan: Yes, I have understood now.



Lord Shiva's Assuarance

When creation had been completed, Shiva and Parvati went out to live on the top of Mount Kailas. Parvati asked, "O venerable Lord! which of the many rituals observed in Thy honour doth please Thee most?"

The Lord replied, "The 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun, is my most favourite day. It is known as Shivaratri. My devotees give me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths and offerings of flowers, sweets and incense.

"The devotee observes strict spiritual discipline in the day and worships Me in four different forms during each of the four successive three-hour periods of the night. The offering of a few bael leaves is more precious to Me than the precious jewels and flowers. My devotee should bathe Me in milk at the first period, in curd at the second, in clarified butter at the third, and in honey at the fourth and last. Next morning, he should feed the Brahmins first and, after performing the prescribed ceremonies, he can break his fast. O Parvati! there is no ritual which can compare with this simple routine in sanctity."

Parvati was deeply impressed by the speech of Loid Shiva. She repeated it to Her friends who in their turn passed it on to the ruling princes on earth. Thus was the sanctity of Shivaratri broadcast all over the world.

The two great natural forces that afflict man are Rajas (the quality of passionate activity) and Tamas (that of inertia). The Shivaratri Vrata aims at the perfect control of these two. The entire day is spent at the Feet of the Lord. Continuous worship of the Lord necessitates the devotee's constant presence in the place of worship. Motion is controlled. Evils like lust, anger, and jealousy, born of Rajas are ignored and subdued. The devotee observes vigil throughout the night and thus conquers Tamas also. Constant vigilance is imposed on the mind. Every three hours a round of worship of the Shiva Lingam is conducted. Shivaratri is a perfect Vrata.

The formal worship consists of bathing the Lord. Lord Shiva is considered to be the Form of Light (which the Shiva Lingam represents). He is burning with the fire of austerity. He is therefore best propitiated with cool bathing. While bathing the Lingam the devotee prays: "O Lord! I will bathe Thee with water, milk, etc. Do Thou kindly bathe me with the milk of wisdom. Do Thou kindly wash me of all my sins, so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me may be put out once for all, so that I may be one with Thee-the One alone without a second."





At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Shivaratri festival is celebrated in the following manner.

All spiritual aspirants fast the whole day, many of them without taking even a single drop of water.
A grand havan is performed for the peace and welfare of all.
The whole day is spent in doing the Japa of Om Namah Shivaya and in meditation upon the Lord.
At night all assemble in the temple and chant Om Namah Shivaya the whole night.
During the four quarters of the night the Shiva Lingam is worshipped with intense devotion.
Sannyas Diksha is also given on this day to sincere seekers on the path.

Offer this inner worship to Lord Shiva daily: "I worship the jewel of my Self, the Shiva residing in the Lotus of my heart. I bathe Him with the water of my pure mind brought from the river of faith and devotion. I worship Him with the fragrant flowers of Samadhi-all this so that I may not be born again in this world."

Here is another formula for the supreme worship of the Lord: "O Shiva! you are my Self. My mind is Parvati. My Pranas are your servants. My body is your house. My actions in this world are your worship. My sleep is Samadhi. My walk is circumambulation of you. My speech is your prayer. Thus do I offer all that I am to you.

Andriy shared a Swami Sivananda quote         SHARE URL

Swami Sivananda

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I am always the knower , the knowing subject. I can never become an object.

Andriy shared a Swami Sivananda quote         SHARE URL

Swami Sivananda

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Atman who is one and immutable by nature seems to have assumed innumerable forms.

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