Maha Shivaratri, Night of Shiva, at Girnar

Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
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Friday, February 16, 2007

Maha Shivaratri, the Grand Night of Shiva, the night after Shiva created the world, marking his dance, his marriage with Parvati, brings devotees from the countryside to major pilgrimage sites. One of those major sites is Girnar, a holy mountain holding full of spiritual power.

Just before midnight, the hour of Shiva and Parvati's marriage, an old man, who knew English talked with me for a long time. "You go up there. See for yourself. On the mountain there are footprints of God. You decide what it means. Girnar is most powerful spiritual place. Go there and feel."

The festival lasted for several days before the auspicious midnight hour, drawing an estimated ten million people to the base of the ancient volcanic intrusion called Girnar. Who was counting these people, Shiva only knows.

On Maha Shivaratri, the last day before the new moon, the streets were cramped. People walked shoulder to shoulder, back to front: "Om Namah Shivaya." Sadhus, smeared in ash, many naked walked the streets or sat naked smoking charas and tobacco through their chillums. Tents representing ashrams were established throughout the town with music playing from many of them.

For my time at Girnar, I gave myself fully to the event, believing that sometimes you have to dive in deeply through trust, so long as it doesn't compromise who you are. So dive in I did.

I met a group of men, with Ashok at the helm. They showed me around as we walked through the narrow streets and past open squares with a ferris wheel and other rides. We ate lunch at the Lal Gebi Ashram tent. There, I was greeted by many friendly hosts, all dressed comfortably in white linen. They bekoned me towards the food line. Smiling men served me food, each calling "Sita Ram!" I thanked them by returning the call.

We continued to Shri Shrut Skandh Ahinsha Rath ashram, a Jain waiting for a while outside. Soon, after some of the men removed their leather belts and anything else leather, we entered a small room where the holy guru Nirmal Sagar Maharaj sat. We bowed before him one at a time. Ashok asked him some questions in Gujarati. He answered slowly, with deep yet easy thought and a calm voice, sitting cross-legged, naked, as some Jain gurus live.

Through Ashok, he asked where I was from, also asking "kemcha" (how are you?) as prompted by the men. I correctly replied "majama" (good) in Gujarati. We all laughed as the men had taught me this earlier and it was the only Gujarati I knew. He invited me to his ashram anytime.

Leaving the ashram and the men, who were staying there, at sunset, the energy of Maha Shivaratri began to increase. I stopped at another ashram tent, that of Topru Gir, known as Coconut Milk Baba. For three years, he lived only drinking coconut milk. His wife, his three sons, his daughter, and dozens of pilgrims and sadhus surrounded him, along with a contingent of musicians. As I entered the tent, he waved to me and asked me to come to him.

For several hours I sat with him, listening to music, talking in basic English and Gujarati, as the sadhus drank bhang and smoked their chillums. Non-judgementally, I said "no thanks."

As the midnight hour approached, the hour of marriage, I made my way to the parade route, somehow finding a place right in the middle of everything. Soon the nagas, naked, covered in ash, wielding spears and swords came forward.

The naga sadhus strike fear in the hearts of ordinary men and women, as they are seen as having mysical powers: "they can do anything they want to do," said one man. The many police guards, some with machine guns, looked equally anxious. My being in the front row, the thought that one could decapitate me fairly easily crossed my mind, but in general, as the sadhus passed with drummers and saints, the parade exhibited extreme energy of devotion.

The midnight hour had struck. Shiva and Parvati's marriage hour was upon us.

The next day, I began my climb to Girnar, a mountain that remains an enigma. I began the pilgrimage drinking coconut juice and getting tikkas from a Brahmin at the base of the mountian. He gave me pieces of coconut and crystallized sugar for the trip.

Hundreds of people were making the pilgrimage. Soon a sadhu man with two sadhu boys invited me to join them, which I did. Maharaj ji, the two boys and I kept a slow and steady pace, taking many breaks in the hot sun at many of the stalls on the way. The path of 5,000 steps followed a steep granite face, past Jain temples, dedicated to the Jain lord Neminath, who achieved enlightenment here.

To Shaivites, the mountain is the abode of Dattatreya, a three-headed god representing the one-ness of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma as a trinity yet also representing the three times: past, present, and future.

Dattatreya supposedly had twenty-four gurus including earth, air, sky or ether, water, fire, sun, moon, python, pigeons, sea, moth, bee, bull elephant, bear, deer, fish, osprey, a child, a maiden, a courtesan, a blacksmith, serpent, spider, and wasp--a diverse god to say the least.

The three peaks of Girnar represent these three heads, the three forms of Dattatreya--three peaks, yet one mountain.

The mountain was also the meditational home of Gorakhnath, Master of the Senses, an ancient lord who is associated not only with Shaivism, but also with Tantric Buddhism. His are the footprints, along with Neminath, that can be found on Girnar. On Girnar, religions and sects, along with the gods, fused into one.

"Aye Girnari," called people coming down the mountain as we ascended. "Aye Girnari," we replied, recognizing that we were all inhabitants of this sacred mountain, as pilgrims, at this given moment.

On the way, we visited small temples and shrines, meeting Sadhus and Vaishnavites along the way: "Aye Girnari!" "Ram Sita."

"My gods," Maharaj ji said at each temple, looking at the idols. In the process of ascending the mountian, he inducted me into the sadhu household, naming me Govinda; I was his disciple, so to speak. He was my teacher, my guru, if only for the day, as we made our way around Girnar. I touched my head to his feet, in respect for that.

Lest you misjudge, I would touch my head to any of your feet, who come with a good heart, to teach something of value, should you desire--it's not difficult. For me, as depicted by the blue welcome image to this travelog, this journey of You Are Here is about learning from others, any beings, anybody, internally, externally wherever they may be, here and now.

At the top of the tallest, middle peak, rising over 3,000 feet from the Gujarati plain below, land of Gir, was the shrine of Dattatreya, our final stop before descending under the stars.

We ate dinner at the bottom, with the other sadhus. I felt very welcome, except that, with all my entrenched Western concepts swirling in my mind plus my beliefs that the pipe was not my particular pathway to the divine, an uneasiness filled my mind. As we fell asleep under the stars, at the foot of the mountain, I wondered what it would be like if I really gave everything away, renounced desires for the world, became a sadhu. Here was my opportunity.

Before dawn, I left--the lions of Gir were beckoning me--as the rest continued to sleep on the ground. The world of sadhus at this point in time was not my world, although I learned where I stood...and more.
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Comments

linna
linna on

Maha Shivratri in Junagadh
Dear Friend!

I admired your photos on Junagadh on Girnar Mountain on Maha Shivaratri day, this year(2007).I also took nice photo and i would like to share it with you all. Thanks for sharing your photos and impressions. I am sure you felt the vibrations of Girnar montain and Shivratri day in that place. Blessings , Love and Light!

jaydeep h gorasia on

i like shivratri festival and my dreams is i visit a junagarth mahashivratri festivals

B K Prafful Singi on

Thanks for this sharing on Shivratri.

Shivaratri is the most important festival for the entire humanity because it signifies the incarnation of incorporeal God Shiva for re-establishing heaven on earth, On Shivaratri devout people in India observe fast which is symbolic of the purification of body and soul. People also keep awake the whole night, and this signifies the vigil against looting by dacoits who have looted human soul of its innate qualities of peace, purity, power, truth, love, happiness and bliss. People visit Shiva temples where they pour milk and water over the Shivlinga, the oval stone representing incorporeal God, Shiva. This offering is poured into a vessel suspended above the



Linga, on which the fluid falls drop by drop, symbolizes the deep contemplation on Godly versions, one by one, by His children. Through this contemplation the souls not only get clarity on points of spiritual knowledge, but also the souls get purified. Such purification is very important for ensuring one's presence in the Golden Age which God re-establishes during the Auspicious Confluence Age that starts with the incarnation of God Shiva and lasts until the establishment of the Golden Age, whereby starting a new cycle of the 'Eternal World Drama'. Some people consume potions of Bhang, an intoxicating herb, and this practice signifies the spiritual intoxication of human souls during the Confluence Age. It is paradoxical that those who practice these rituals are usually unaware of the spiritual significance stated above, and hence are deprived of the full reward, I.e. Deity-hood in the Golden Age.

Let us now try to understand the correct spiritual significance of Shivaratri so that we can benefit fully from Godly knowledge that is available only during the Auspicious Confluence Age. First of all we have to understand that a human being is a combination of material body and nonmaterial soul, spirit, Atma, Rooh or psyche. The non-material soul does not belong to the material world where we live. It originally belongs to the soul-world called Brahmalok, Shanti Dham, Nirvan Dham or Mool Vatan in Hindi. It is also called incorporeal world because it is devoid of any matter that constitute corporeal forms. This realm is the farthest from the corporeal world, and is filled with Brahm, the golden red light which is sometimes called the sixth element. In this silence world dwells God Shiva, the Supreme Father along with His children - the human souls. The souls in Paramdham are devoid of the faculties of mind, intellect, and body, and hence there is no vibration of thought, speech or deed. That is why Supreme silence prevails here. Silence is the original attribute of the soul and hence every soul longs for peace. All great achievements of the human beings are attained through contemplation in silence.

Souls are made up of seven basic attributes - knowledge, peace, love, joy, purity, power and bliss. In fact these attributes are metaphysical energies and these come into play through the faculties of mind, intellect and personality traits, called Sanskaras in Hindi, when the soul is embodied in the corporeal world. The cosmic egg (Brahmand) is constituted by three worlds - the incorporeal world of souls and the Supreme Soul is the outer most and is referred to as the silence-world, the corporeal world of matter, sound and action- at the level of thought , speech and deed-is the inner most realm which is referred to as the 'movie-talky-world. In between these two is the subtle world where there is no matter and no sound and it is the realm of subtle deities - Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar who communicate through thought vibrations. The soul is metaphorically compared to an actor who plays his varied roles by getting embodied in the corporeal world. The body is his costume, planet earth is a revolving drama stage, the sun, moon and stars provide lighting for the stage, plants, flowers, animals and birds provide stage decoration. As this drama is eternal, the events in this drama have to repeat exactly after a period, which God has revealed to be only 5000 years.
That means, every 5000 years you will be reading the same article at the same time, date, month and year. In order to sustain such a huge drama eternally, enormous amount of energy is required, and as per the second law of thermodynamics, this energy source is bound to dwindle and come to a halt. The implication is that some external agency would be required in order to sustain the cycle of the world drama eternally, and this agency should be outside the physical world, where the 'Law of Entropy' is not operative. Hence it stands to reason that God only can be that agency who functions as the eternal source of energy. How is God able to do this? In order to understand the answer to the above question, we have to view the whole creation as an eternal interplay of three point-sources of energy, both physical and metaphysical.

God is the eternal generator of metaphysical energy, while souls are like batteries or point-sources of meta-physical energy, and atom is the point-source of physical energy. The eternal drama is an eternal interplay between these three energy sources. There is a general consensus among scientists and philosophers that when human consciousness (soul) gets localized in a body which is made of five gross elements of nature - earth, water, fire. air and space, former rules over the latter through its subtle energies of mind and intellect. Metaphorically, we may consider the body as a car and the soul as its driver. The soul localizes in the center of the brain, in between three endocrine glands - pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus. Sitting over here soul controls the body through the nervous and endocrine systems. For this the spiritual energy has to reach every cell of the body. Thus the embodied soul is bound to the 100 trillion cells of the body. Although the somatic cells are endowed with the faculty of life, by which they are able to multiply independent of the soul, when suitable biological environment is provided, they cannot function as an organ system in the absence of the regulatory role of the soul.

In fact God interferes directly with the world drama, only when the souls and atoms, through their interactions, deplete the 'available energy' and when the replenishment is urgently required, this critical situation is currently on since there is maximum entropy and consequent disorder and chaos in the world now. God, being the Creator, Director and Principal Actor of the eternal drama, appears on the drama stage by incarnating into the body of an aged person, and starts speaking Godly knowledge, revealing the secrets about soul, Supreme Soul, eternal world drama, law of Karma, and teach Rajyoga, the technology for recharging the soul by linking the self with the Supreme Soul, the eternal generator of spiritual powers. Once the required number of human souls gets transformed, from profane to divine, the transformation of the physical world takes place automatically. When the human beings become divine beings, the world of deities, the paradise on earth becomes a reality.

The celebration of Shivaratri is in remembrance of this benevolent act of God Shiva in each cycle (Kalpa) of the eternal world drama. The human medium used for this act of God has been renamed by Him as Prajapita Brahma, and he has been instrumental for establishing the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya which now has over 9000 branches in 132 countries in all the five continents. Godly knowledge and Rajyoga are taught in these institutions free of charge. From a humble beginning of a personal Satsang in 1937, at Hyderabad, Sindh Province (now in Pakistan), it has grown into a non-governmental organization (NGO) having consultative status with U.N. affiliates - UNICEF and ECOSOC. This institution is celebrating Shivaratri as 75th Shivajayanti this year by conducting various public functions for disseminating Godly knowledge to the public without any discrimination on the basis of caste, faith, age, gender, educational or social status. Let us all make use of their services for personal and universal transformation, and become partners in God's enterprise and thus ensure your presence in the forthcoming new world of spiritual and human values.

PRADIP GAIRHE on

I LIKE VERY MUCH

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