THE GLORIOUS NIGHT OF LORD SHIVA
V. SUNDARAM I.A.S.
Shivratri or Maha Shivaratri is one of the major National Hindu festivals celebrated with gaiety, gusto and public enthusiasm in all parts of India. Shivratri 2011 or Maha Shivaratri 2011 falls on Wednesday, the 2nd of March 2011. Shivratri is observed on Falgun Krishna Paksha Trayodasi / Chaturdashi as per North Indian calendars and Magha Krishna Trayodasi / Chaturdashi as per Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh calendars. Devotees observe upvas (fasting) and Jagran on Shivratri to get the blessings and benedictions of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is not born of anybody; so, he has no family lineage. On Maha Shivaratri Day, Lord Shiva emerges from luminous Shiva Lingam in a human form and blesses all the Shiva Bhaktas on this night. Shiva Bhaktas remain awake the whole night on the night of Maha Shivaratri, chanting different names of Lord Shiva usually sitting at bonfires anticipating the vision (darshan) of Lord Shiva. Teenagers collect firewood, any other wood or materials suitable for bonfire and make bonfires at every neighborhood on this night. Others get peanuts, corn, potatoes and soybeans, and roast these food items on the bonfires and consume them as the holy prasad from Lord Shiva.
In the Puranas many myths, stories and legends eloquently explain the origin and significance of the festival Maha Shivaratri. Asuras (demons) and Devas (Gods) decided to consume the nectar from Kseerabthi (the milk ocean) in order to live longer. Hence, they churned the ocean with the help of Vasuki (the celestial snake) and the Mandhara Hill, with Gods on one side and Demons on the other side. Unable to tolerate the pressure, Vasuki spilled out the life-threatening poison from his mouth. The Gods and Demons then approached Lord Shiva to save them from the lethal effects of that deadly poison. Lord Shiva transformed himself into Vishabhakarana Moorthy and consumed poison. The situation was such that if Lord Shiva swallowed the poison, the living creatures on the earth would die and if he did not, the Gods and Demons would get killed. Lord Shiva then started feeling little giddy. Fearing this predicament, his Divine Consort, Goddess Parvati placed Lord’s head in Her lap and gently pressed His neck and the poison remained thus in His throat without affecting His Body. Hence Lord Shiva got the name as ‘Neelakantha’ (‘Neela’- blue with poison and ‘Kantha’- throat) because of the accumulation of the poison in his throat and Goddess Parvati was called as ‘Amudhambigai’.
Samudra Manthan depicted in an exquisite sculpture
at Bangkok airport
(Note: The above picture will undoubtedly perplex, annoy and hurt the anti-Hindu anti-national Firangi Memsahib Sonia Congress ‘secular’ sentiments and Muslim vote-bank emotions of political thugs like Digvijay Singh, Dr Manmohan Singh, Arjun Singh, Abhishek Singvi, Manish Tiwari, Jayenthi Natrajan, Raucous Rahul Gandhi, Pa(kistani) Chidambaram, A.K Anthony and Ahmad Patel, Oscar Fernandez.)
To commemorate the heroic feat of LORD SHIVA in protecting the World with his majestic, magnificent and utterly selfless act, we celebrate Maha Shivrathri every year as an Act of reverential thanksgiving.
After consuming the deadly kaala koota poison and after saving and protecting the Universe from destruction, Lord Shiva went along with his Divine Consort Goddess Parvati to Mount Kailasa (Lord Shiva’s celestial abode). On his way, Lord Shiva who was feeling a little dizzy, rested on the lap of His Wife for a while in the place where the village stands today. Hence the village got its name as SURUTTAPALLI, Surutta meaning ‘Little dizzy’ and Palli meaning ‘Resting’.
The presiding deity is Palli Kondeshwara (Lord Shiva) with His consort
Front view of the temple of Sri Palli Kondeshwara Swami (Lord Siva),
At Suruttupalli Village in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh
Nandikeswara at Sri Palli Kondeshwara Swami Temple
View inside the Sri Palli Kondeshwara Swami Temple
THE SRI PALLI KONDESHWARA SWAMI TEMPLE AT SURUTTPALLI WAS BUILT BY EMPEROR VIDHYARANYAR OF THE VIJAYANAGAR EMPIRE. THIS SHIVA TEMPLE IS UNIQUE IN TWO WAYS. HERE LORD SHIVA IS IN HUMAN FORM (UNLIKE HIS USUAL LINGA FORM). THE OTHER UNIQUE FEATURE OF THIS TEMPLE IS THAT LORD SHIVA HERE IS IN RECLINING POSITION. HIS CONSORT, GODDESS PARVATI IS IN THE SITTING POSITION WITH THE LORD’S HEAD ON HER LAP AND WITH KAMADHENU (THE CELESTIAL COW) AND KARPAHA VIRUKSHAM (KALPA VRUKSHAM) (HOLY TREE KNOWN FOR GRANTING BOONS TO DEVOTEES) ON EITHER SIDES.
The temple of Goddess Marahathambihai has to be visited first, even before the shrine of Valmikeshwara or the main temple. The garbha griha is guarded by Lord Kubera (God of wealth) with his consort Sanganidhi on left side and with his another consort Padumanidhi on the right side.
Next to the shrine of the Goddess, there are two other shrines of Ramalingeshwara and Valmikeshwara facing each other. It is said that sage Valmiki performed penance before he started writing Valmiki Ramayana. The Lingam is in triangular shape and there is a large Nandi outside the temple.
Next to this temple is a stone with many footprints on it. It is said that, in 1976, Kanchi Mahaperiyavar (a sage), camped here for 40 days and asked some people to dig a particular place. On digging, they found a stone with innumerable footprints on it. Mahaperiyavar disclosed that the footprints belongs to LAVA and KHUSHA --- the twin sons of Lord Rama. In the outer walls of Valmikeshwara shrine, there is another idol of Lord Dakshinamoorthy (Lord Shiva) who is present as Thambadya Dakshinamoorthy along with his consort, Taara. The lord is in a sitting posture with left leg slightly lifted and His left hand on His left knees in a stylish way.
SIVARATRI IN KERALA
There is a very holy and sacred spot on the banks of RIVER PERIYAR in Kerala, to commemorate the glorious deeds of LORD SHIVA who consumed the deadly Kalakoodam poison to save the world. HERE THE LINGOM (IDOL) OF SIVA RISES OUT OF THE SAND ON THE BANK OF THE RIVER. This place at Aluva is called Shivarathri Manappuram. Shivarathri Festival at Aluva Manappuram is a very popular festival in Kerala. The Sivarathri festivities are held in February-March every year during the Malayalam month of Kumbam on the Mahashivarathri Day (i.e 2nd of March 2011, Wednesday). The time-honoured remembrance of Lord Shiva who consumed the deadly Kalakoodam poison to save the world is the noble theme animating the festivities. In addition to the observance of Shivratri rites, most of the pilgrims offer Bali (sacrifice) to their ancestors in the morning succeeding the holy night. The Aluva Shivarathri is is a famous cultural event held every year in Kerala. Many Malayalam movies and works of art and literature, liberally and flexibly use the Shivarathri Manappuram at Aluva as their backdrop. There are shows, dances etc. meant for keeping the pilgrims awake throughout the night.
Aluva manappuram, Temple
Aluva Shivaratri festivities
Adi Shankara composed a number of Vedantic hymns. Sivananda Lahari is one of the most beautiful Hymns of Sri Adi Shankara Bhagawatpada couched in an undercurrent of practical Advaita philosophy. Unlike his other famous Hymn, Soundrya Lahari, Sivananda Lahari stotra has no tantric implication. Marked by simpler and elegant diction, it is beautifully studded and enriched with several alankaras (literary embellishments). Any one reading this great Hymn, understanding and internalizing it, would automatically get inner peace, steadfast mind and all-embracing knowledge of God and Philosophy. In short, transcendental wisdom.
Sivananda Lahari is a religious lyric of a hundred verses. It is a paen of praise and love to LORD SHIVA. What is so wonderful about a great Hymn like Sivananda Lahari is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the great Saint who wrote it, and brings to birth in all of us similar spiritual impulses.
I am concluding this story by presenting below Verse 28 from Sivananda Lahari: This verse, dealing with the 4 levels of Mukti, is most beautiful and sublime. The 4 levels of Mukti are Saarupyam, Samipyam, Saalokyam and Sayujyam. The Tamil-English translation presented below is from a new publication titled ‘Sivananda Lahari’ of Adi Shankara (with meanings in Tamil and English) authored by Dr. Rama Venkatraman and Dr. Uma Krishnaswami.