Maha literally means 'Great', and Ratri is 'night' and jayanti means 'born date/time'. The word “Shiva" or "Shiv" has a Sanskrit origin, which translated to "benefactor". Therefore, “Shivaratri” implies that the incorporeal God (Shiva) incarnates in our world at such a time when the night of utter darkness prevails. The word “ratri” here does not recognise the darkness that falls after sunset, rather, it signifies the darkness of extreme ignorance (lack of spiritual knowledge) and unrighteousness in the world. Shiv-ratri or Shiv Jayanti is celebrated in Bharat (ancient India) since the copper age.
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Why is it 'Ratri'?
Ratri is associated with Shiva because he incarnates at a time during the world cycle when it is a night of total darkness or ignorance of the self, and of the supreme soul, the father. When we human souls become impure under the influence of 5 vices (lust, anger, greed, ego, material attachment), and when the true religion of purity and peace and the spiritual self-identity is forgotten, he comes to restore the humanity in its highest stage, which is the original religion of deities (Devi-devta Dharma, as we say in Hindi). In such night only, god has to come to awaken us, to re-establish the Satya Dharma (true religion) of peace, purity and universal love and brotherhood. He comes to uplift the entire humanity and thereby free us all from the sorrow and . This is remembered in Shrimat Bhagavad Gita in this sloka: Yada Yada hi Dharmasya... which says: "Whenever the original religion of soul is forgotten and defeated, I incarnate in the world to re-establish dharma, the golden age (heaven), to uplift the goodness and annihilate the evil. I come so in every kalpa (cycle)..."
Why do We Keep Awake all night?
Keeping awake all through the night signifies that we should be alert in our actions, especially in the present time when in the world there is a total night of ignorance and vices. Let us not be under the influence of maya (5 vices) and invite misery and suffering due to our own bad actions. Let only good action take place through us. Let us all STAY AWARE of what we are doing as our karma.
Upvaas on Shivratri
Fasting (upvaas) on Shivaratri is that we link our intellect with God Shiva and stay in his company. Upavaas (up + vass) means "to stay close". The true Jagaran means to awaken from ignorance and to protect the self from the evil influence of vices such as lust, anger, greed, etc. Let us stay awake in the company of remembrance of the Supreme father, the Supreme Soul, Shiva.
Shiv Linga (Shivling)
Shivratri is also the best occasion to understand its spiritual significance. 'Shivling' symbolizes the light form of God Shiva. God is not a human being, nor does he have any bodily form. God Shiv is a subtle point of divine conscious light, often symbolized by an oval shape stone and worshipped. Just as we souls, he the supreme soul also is a soul. While here, light signifies 'consciousness' and not the light which comes from a star. This is why he is depicted as jyotirlinga, meaning “the symbol of light”. He is the truth, the benefactor and the most beautiful one; and therefore often called as satyam-shivam-sundaram (Shiv is Truth, Benevolent, and beautiful)
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Shiv is Trimurti
The word “Trimurti Shiv Jayanti” signifies that Shiva, the incorporeal Supreme Father, is the Creator of three deities - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shankar - through whom he carries out his three supreme acts of Creation (of the new world/ Satyug) through Brahma, Sustenance (of that new world) through Vishnu and Destruction (of the old world/ kaliyug) through Shankar. These are Shiva's three divine children. These deities are in fact a subtle formation of light (Devta) and not a physical form (they are not a human being)
Since now we know that Shiv (lovingly called as 'Shiv Baba') has come to play his 3 roles (creator, sustainer, transformer) and which began around 1936, we also then understand that the Golden age (heaven/Satyug) is soon to come in the very front of our eyes. Science will also help in world transformation. After 100 years of Shiv Jayanti, the new world begins. God father is the creator of heaven. It takes 100 years to transform the entire world (human souls and nature). This is the greatest task of all. If we consider all major parts played by human souls, like Ibrahim, Buddha, Christ, etc., they all are messengers of God, they all established their own religions and gave their perspective towards God and taught the art of living. Many great people changed history. Some through the message of peace, some through their wisdom, and some through war. But only to some extent. The religions still exist, but also sorrow exists as the world kept falling down (spiritually speaking). No one could uplift the world, even with their great efforts.
The Divine Task of GOD SHIVA
God's task of world transformation is subtle to understand. This is a task of the supreme being, whom all religions of the world worship. It is to understand that we all pray to God for help, thus definitely we all have experienced his help in times before. We ask him for happiness and peace, thus he must be the source and giver of peace. So when did the supreme father come and gave us his inheritance, and done all this, so much that the humans still remember him, worship and pray to him?
God Shiva is Trimurti. He creates the new world order of golden age through Brahma. He sustains that world through Vishnu and gets destroyed the old world or Iron Age which is filled with irreligiousness and unrighteousness through Shankar. In the context of Maha Shivratri, the night denotes ignorance, the absence of the light of knowledge. It is the darkness due to the existence of all-pervading five vices - lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. It is a night of extreme irreligiousness. Today peacelessness, unrighteousness suffering wrong and simple acts have become the order of the day. But for how long can this be continued? Who will provide us lasting happiness and true peace? It, therefore, requires the father himself to descend into this world which is passing through the period of an extreme night of ignorance to reestablish a world of religion, righteousness and values.
The great news is that He has already descended on earth to perform the most elevated task of world transformation and creation of heaven (Satyug). God's medium for the task of creation of New world is Prajapita Brahma who is remembered as Adam (first human). This is the divine message of this sacred festival of Maha Shivratri. By undeviating remembrance (yaad/yog) with our long lost and now found father (Shiv Baba), we the souls will get free of all sins. This RajYog is the only method of spiritual purification.
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