Post No.4


OM NAMAH SHIVAYA

Sai Ram All
May Lord Sai always reside in your hearts and be your guiding light forever more.

This post is basically about what happened for me on Maha Shivaratri morning (10th March) in Puttaparthi.

For some who do not know anything about Maha Shivaratri.
Here's some info:


The festival of Maha Shivarathri is one of the most important festivals in India. It falls on the 14th day of the (Krishna Paksha) dark fortnight of the Magha month of the Hindu calendar. The very word ‘Shivarathri’ means auspicious night. All over the country, people throng Shiva temples and spend the night in worship and contemplation of the Divine. According to Hindu belief, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind and the 16 phases of the moon represent the 16 aspects of the mind. On Shivarathri, which falls a day prior to the new moon, only a streak of the moon is visible. This is symbolic of the waning influence of the mind, when 15 aspects have already merged in the Self and only one aspect remains. Hence on this day, it is easier to control the mind and direct it towards God.
 Therefore, the night is spent in contemplation and adoration of God, so that the vagaries of the mind can be totally subdued and transcended to attain realization of the Atman.

Maha Shivarathri is generally celebrated by performing Akhanda Bhajana (continuous devotional singing) throughout the night. Shivarathri, as a festival has gained a lot of importance in Prasanthi Nilayam because it is during this festival that Baba, the supreme Iswara (Godhead), chooses to reveal His divinity. Baba, out of His infinite love for humanity, materializes lingas (an oval shaped object which is the fittest symbol of divinity) in the Shivarathri evening from within His being. This emergence of the Linga is called ‘Lingodbhavam’.

Lingodbhavam

Baba has explained, “The Linga is just a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless - for it has no limbs, no face, no feet, no front or back, no beginning or end. Its shape is like the picture one imagines the Niraakaara (Formless) to be. In fact, linga means - leeyathe (that in which all forms and names merge) and gamyathe (that towards which all names and forms are proceeding, to attain fulfillment). It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful”.

“Today we are celebrating Shivarathri. ‘Shivarathri’ means "Auspicious night". At least on this day, one should chant Shiva's name all through the night. At least on one day in a year, chant the Lord's name. This night, devotees are expected to stay awake by chanting the sacred name of Shiva. Keeping awake in any other way is purposeless. Spending the night reciting the Lord's name sanctifies one's life”.
- Divine Discourse: February 25, 1998

“The lesson of Shivarathri is that devotees should foster good and sacred thoughts. They should be filled with godly thoughts. They should seek to become one with the Divine by reflecting on their inherent divinity. If you constantly chant the name of God, God realization will come in due course.
Whatever other things they may possess, men suffer from lack of peace and bliss. These two can be obtained only from God. It is for these two that men should pray to God and not for anything else, because God alone can give them. When these are secured, all other things will come of their own accord by the grace of God. People should yearn for God. All other desires are worthless”.
- Divine Discourse: February 26, 1998

 Hope this info has given you some insight about this most auspicious of occasions, especially when its celebrated in Prasanthi itself.
Even though Swami is not around in His physical body.
 He is and will always be Sai Easwara (The Formless Aspect of God)

I will start, I guess, when I awoke that day.
It was around 5am, I think, as I heard bhajan (Devotional Singing) in the distance.
Shiva bhajans! Wonderfull!!!
It was still dark, and quite warm, even at that time of the morning.
It was always hot during the day and warm in the evenings.
Summer was fast approaching!
It took about 30 minutes upon waking, that I realized the singing was coming from the Shivalayam Temple (Swami's Birthplace).
So I quickly grabbed the camera and headed off over there.
I had just caught the last of it, as they were coming down the road from the Temple.
I wished I hadn't taken so long to get out the door or had woken up earlier. 
A missed opportunity... to film it all!!!
Not mean't to be, I guess!


Swami made His appearance soon after I turned the camera on, in a most unexpected way, as you will see in the video below.


 I entered the Shivalayam Temple area and filmed abit here and there.
 

I was thinking that the priest will do a pooja to Lord Shiva, as He was not adorned.
First time, I have seen Him like that. No kumkum, garlands etc.
I was told the puja will not happen till later in the morning.



It was starting to get light now.

 Dawn!!!

 I wanted to film the Sunrise over the distant hills, so I left the Temple and headed back to the hotel.
I proceeded to the rooftop just in time, as the sun arose above some buildings in the distance.
Here's a video of that Sunrise with the many sounds recorded in the streets below.
Quite a hive of activity happening even at that time of the morning!




Wasn't sure how this day would pan out!
Initially planning to go for morning darshan in Prasanthi, I met some of the group after breakfast and they had asked me, if I wanted to go to the Durga Temple with them, as there was a Shiva Linga pooja to be performed there at around 10am in the morning.
I had also wanted to film the Shiva Abhishekams at the Shivalayam Temple.
 Couldn't go to all three, could I?
 So I had to make a choice!
As I had never visited the Durga Temple, I decided to go with them, thinking it will be about a hour in duration.
In fact it went for almost 3 hours!
As a Yagnam was also conducted.

 
Durga Mata Mandir on the banks of the Chitravathi River, Puttaparthi
(10th March 2013)

Ganesha

Mandir

Durga Ma

Shiva Linga Abhishekam


Pancha-Mukha-Lingam 
The five faces representing the following forms of Shiva;
1). East: Tatpurusha
2). West: Sadyojata
3). North: Vamadeva
4). South: Aghora
5). Top: Ishana
 The four faces of Shiva represent the four directions.
 The fifth face which points skywards is the universal face symbolic of purity and spiritual progress.

Offerings of milk, fruit, honey, Bilva Leafs etc

Yagnam

Arati

Here's a video of excerpts of this sacred puja and yagna.
I thought, who is going to watch the whole 3 hours I had recorded of this... online!
So, I shortened it. 


By the time we all got back to the hotel, it was around 1pm.
 I was starting to panic again, that I might have left it too late to line up for the start of the Maha Shivaratri Celebrations,
 which I was told begins with the
 Sayeeswara Lingam Puja & Abhishekams around 4pm.

 So I walked to Prasanthi very quickly.
There was a line already there, but not too long. So I placed my mat, as you do, to reserve my spot.
Relief!!!
 Then went to the North Indian Canteen, for lunch.
Eventually going back to Sai Kulwant Hall to wait in the line, with great anticipation!!!

I will let you know what transpired for me in the evening of Maha Shivaratri in the next post.

  
OM SRI SAI RAM