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Essence of Shivratri

Shivratri is not an ordinary night but it is the night of receiving all desired objects and getting all coveted desires full filled

Post by on Monday, February 28, 2022

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In the third century AD there existed Krama system of Kashmir Shaivism. Nil mat purana of sixth century AD Makes a Mention of shivratri as a festival of Kashmir. Thus the shivratri has been observed in Kashmir for centuries with special Fervor and elaborate Rituals. The Aim of celebrating shivratri is to maintain the balance of universal awareness every time irrespective of any kind of distinction what so ever. in our lunar calendar fourteenth day of dark half of the month heading to fifteen day i.e. Amavasya is auspicious day for those seekers who are treading the path of spirituality. Just neither the sun nor the moon is visible on Amavasya night similarly when the subject and the object get absorbed into one reality that is called as Shivratri in philosophical terms. This very fact has been expressed by the great Kashmiri Shaivite Master Acharya Utpal deva of 9th century AD in his devotional treatise Shivastotravali.”Shivratri “when the sun, moon and all other stars set at the same time There arises the radiant Night of shiva spreading a splendor of its own. Here the sun and the moon are symbols of inhaling and exhaling breath i.e. pran and apan and the stars are the entire thought construction at junction point know as” Madhya Dham” . “Pran” and “Apan” is to be set at the rest to get the glimpse of shivratri.


“Shiva” is the life force he emanates this creation and reabsorbs it within. He is the only reality of the universe. Shiva is infinite consciousness. He is independent, eternal, formless, second less, and omnipresent. He is the subject and the object the experiencer and the experienced being the Ashutosha. He is propitiated easily; he is Ardhanarishvara the union of shiva and shakti. We cannot think one without the other; He is the remover of darkness being the eternal master.


Master is Shiva and Shiva is Master, There is no difference between Shiva and the master. Due to this very fact all philosophers and thinkers of India from time immemorial have laid stress on Shiva worship as only it can lead us to happy life in this world and in another world also. Shiva is named as Prakasha-vimarshamaya. The Prakasha aspect however is not the most distinctive aspect of the individual self because it is common to other things also such as Mirror, Jewel, crystal etc. Here Vimarsha stands for the distinctive aspect of the self and signifies the capacity of the self to know itself in all the purity. Vimarsha is that power which is ultimately responsible for keeping the universe in the state of perfect identity with itself at the time of destruction and manifesting it as apparently separate from itself at the time of creation.


“Shivaratri”: There are two words: Shiva & Ratri


What is Shiva? Who is Shiva?

Etymologically Shiva means who releases one from worldly entanglements is called as Shiv or in whom the whole universe resides and who does not accept any change. He is Shiva, He is auspicious pleasant and changeless.


What is Ratri?

The Ratri word is “Ra” means to give because when ratri” (night) comes it bestows pleasure and peace to all. So it is called Ratri’ “Shivratri” Means that night which is blissful and is associated with shiva, it illumines everything and helps in recognizing the reality. In Skanda purana it is said nothing exceeds “shivaratri” it is highest of all one who does not worship Rudra who is the lord of the three worlds with devotion on shivratri. He moves from one birth to another birth for thousands of years .There is no doubt after worshipping  Lord shiva on fourteenth day of dark half month of Phalguna without sleeping throughout night one does not come to the womb of mother and is free from the birth and death . Shri Madhavacharya the author of Kalamadhava enunciates “Shivaratri  is the night dearer to lord Shiva observing fast that night is to bliss oneself with lord Shiva Grace. Manifestation of Ratri takes place almost simultaneously with Lord Shiva, because unless there be consciousness of what is manifested how can it be found to have manifested at all.


“Shivaratri” is blissful for all irrespective of caste, creed, color and country. It is said in the puranas that lord of death went to lord Shiva and enquires from him about the liberation of a hunter who happened to be charge sheeted by Yama for his heinous activities. In a jungle the hunter while scared of opponents climbed a tree which happened to be a Bilva Tree. It was shivaratri on that day shiva Linga was below the Bilva tree. Unintentionally the three-pronged Bilva leaf fell on Shival linga and without knowing anything about it the hunter fell asleep. He had not taken anything on that night because of fear lord Shiva being blessed the hunter by that act and the hunter was free from the pangs of birth and death. On hearing it Yama was amazed and extolled lord Shiva uninterruptedly.


It is clear by this that the observance of fast and other rituals on “shivratri” it helps one to tread the path of spirituality smoothly and get released from the worldly pangs.


As per Hindu Moon calendar there are twelve Shivaratris in a year every 14th day of the dark half of the month is taken as “shivaratri “, Tenth and eleventh number of shivaratris i.e. Fourteenth day of “Magha” Month and fourteenth day of “Phalguna” month are considered ominous because these two are related with the manifestation of “vatuka Bhariva “and with the union of Lord  Shiva and  Mata Parvati .


Shivratri is not an ordinary Night but it is the night of receiving all desired objects and getting all coveted desires full filled. “Shivaratri “is called “Hearth” in Kashmir. “Hearth” word also called as Har- Ratri means the night of Hara-shiva. So shivratri is that night in which this mundane world exists nowhere, only pervasiveness of lord Shiva-hood pervades from all sides.


This “Hearth “word meant for shivratri is not an old one .it is said that last governor of Afghan Rulers in Kashmir was Abdul Jabbar. He tortured the people of Kashmir by all means. It was during his rule that Kashmiri pandits were directed to celebrate Shivratri in June instead in February to test their firm Belief that on shivaratri snowfall is must. It is said that in June when this festival was being celebrated it snowed heavily. The ruler was upset and shouted it is “hai-rut” ‘astonishment”. Since Then, this word came into prominence with shivratri. At this Time also People of Kashmir make reference to this event.

The Shivaratri Festival is being celebrated from time immemorial. Our ancestors used to say that in Satya yuga the first period of four yugas this festival used to be celebrated from first day of dark half of Phalguna month i.e. from “Haur eakdhou “ to tenth day of bright half of the month of Phalguna i.e. it would commence on “ Haur eakdhou “ and would culminate on Phalgun” shakul Dashami”. This way for twenty-five days this festival was being celebrated. It is not out of place to mention here that as per our Kulachar Family Traditions Kashmiri pandits follow this very above said tradition. Most of the Kashmiri pandit families in Kashmir follow the tradition of 25 days celebration of shivaratri festival. Five Days elaborate Shiva Shakti worship tradition is followed by all Kashmiri pandit families from Phalgun “Krishna Ekadashi “ to Phalguna “ krishen Amavasya “ . Some Kashmiri pandit families strictly observe vegetarian offering system and would not permit any outsiders to visit them or stay with them during these days.


There were some Kashmiri pandit families who were Tantric puja followers and would offer non vegetarian offerings on 4th day of worship and would permit all to visit them during these days. During these 5 days of worshipping every day some specific vegetarian preparations are being offered to “vatuk Bhariva “and other deities. Kalhana the great Historian Of Kashmir mentioned that few Kashmiri pandit families used to follow tradition for full one year & they were ordered by supreme force to act accordingly i.e. worshipping “Amriteshwar Bhairava “ and “vatuka bhariva “ Uninterruptedly for full one  year . In these 5 days worshipping system (Panak) or beverage of 21 various Herbs is being prepared for all these four days and offered to all deities and with elaborate “shakta puja Vidhi “ and with offering of flour cakes etc with each mantra. The worshipper with Panak Beverage drops first sprinkles himself with each mantra and then offers handful of flowers to deities with each mantra and then the offerings of flour cake also.


“Vatuk Bhariva “is worshipped in a special way along with his eight energies Namely ( soumya)  (Dhan Prada) ( Riddhi ) ( Shrim ) ( Hasharam).  Lord Shiva Pooja holds a special attraction during these five days. Every day elaborate Parthesher ( Clay Linga) is done  with Shaiva fervor and then eight Bhariva attendants of lord Shiva are being propitiated separately. Every day Shaiva (Kalash Puja) is done. “Dash Vidhya puja “is most conspicuous during these five days of worshipping “Sri chakra “ puja of this systems is very interesting awesome and energizer. At the end scared Fire is being prepared and special mantras containing detailed mantras of all deities, Devis, Amritsarbhariv and Vatuk Bhariva are recited and proper offerings are being made in sacrificial fire called “Vaishvadeva Vyahriti “. “Vatuka Bhairavas “Nama Vali of 108 Names is also recited with special offerings in this very scared fire at the end. Then a full big plate of rice and cooked vegetables is offered to all “khestrapals “ and “vatuk Devta “ on the culminating 5th day prasad of “kalash  devata “ along  with its auspicious sprinkles is being taken by all for the spiritual upliftment and betterment .


With the grace of lord “vatuka Bhairava “ this elaborate five day particular pooja system is followed by many Kashmiri followers even today. Most interesting part of this Pooja is that “Vatuk Bhariva” is worshipped every day up to 10th day of Phalguna bright fortnight and in the evening of that day prasad of “vatuk Bhariva “is distributed amongst all. So instead of “Doon Amavasya “ vatuk pramochan pooja “ is done by the followers of this tradition on the 10th day from “ Haur Eakduh i.e. from 1st day of dark -half of Phalguna month to 10th day of bright half of Phalguna month this  tradition of “ satya yugya “ the elaborate  puja is being followed  by many Kashmiri pandit Families. With the Grace of lord “Amritshrewar Bhariva “and “paradevi “this type of special worship of shivratri is usually performed during night hours from 6 PM to 4AM. In kali yuga the span of worship period is reduced to five days only i.e form 11th day of the dark half of the month of Phalguna to Amavasya.


One thing here is noteworthy that the starting day of this festival remained always” Haur Eakdhou” i.e.  1st day of the dark half of the month Phalguna from satya Yugya till date. The word meaning of the “Huar “is that from this day we have to cleanse the walls, rooms, floors etc. It is the cleanliness the clean consciousness which is next to godliness and this is the message of shivaratri. After that upto 10th day quite a number of clean earthen ware pots had to be purchased from a local potter for performing puja on this scared day. Two Large vessels are kept for “Vatuk Bhariva” and “kalash puja “while the smaller pots represent other deities are readied for formal worship. Within big vessels the clean water is kept and dried walnuts are deposited right up to the brim on worship day.


It is noteworthy that from “haur Eakdouh” i.e. from 1st day of dark -half of the month of Phalguna upto Amavasya i.e Fifteenth day each day has its own name example “haur Eakdouh” , Haur pancham , Haur sheyam , Haur satam , haur Eathum , Haur Dehum , and from the eleventh day the ritual worship starts and all these five days from 11th day to Amavasya are named as under  11th day Gadekah , 12th day “vagur bahh” , 13th day “haur thruva “, 14th day shiv Chaturdashi , 15th day Doon Mavas .


“Haur Ashtami “is regarded as the birth day of Sita Mata Lord Rama shakti is being celebrated with great religious fervor. All devotees and sadhakas remain busy during the night of this day in performing the ritual worship. In Srinagar on this day all walks of people would assemble at Sri Chakareshwar Temple of hari parvat and would sing Bhajans throughout the night.  Besides at Ragina Mata at the foot of hari parbat and at other Famous temples of the valley. This day is celebrated with pomp and show.


On Haur Dashami mewly married women are a point of attraction on this day . Newly Dressed They have to take along with them Rice Bags , dry fruit , Gifts for in laws , cash , gifts as per the status, curd and sugar candies etc. In each and every house separate small room is decorated with flowers etc for vatuk Pooja fresh flowers are used to be kept for the worship of “vatuk Bariva “ along with other deities Namely (Ram gadve  ) ( Rishya Duliz ) ( Sanya Puttal ) ( Vagur ) ( sanya Vaar )  (Kshetrapal ) ( Dhoope zoor).


From The night of the eleventh day the ritual worship would start this Day is named as (GAAD -Kaha). In Kashmir (Gaad) Means fish the spiritual Meaning of this day we have to control our sense organs which are compared with fish because of their unstable and vacillating nature . Five sense organs of the action and five sense organs of cognition and their ruler mind, Heart ( Mun-intellect ) are eleven. Kaha Means eleven in Kashmiri language. So this 1st day namely “ Gaad Kaha “ is meant to purify our senses and keep them ready for performing the ritual worship meant for this  1st day. In Tantras it is said that Kaha (eleven) of Kashmir is symbol of KA “ kadi Vidhya “ That is fifteen syllable mantra known as “ panchdasheri “ and HA “ hadi Vidha “ sixteen syllable mantra Known as “shodasakshri “ of “Maha- Tripura sundri  “. So this 1st day know as GAAD Kah is Very scared day of shivratri Rituals Because we have to surrender to goddess Tripurasundri whole heartedly on this day to get the entry ticket for performing the worship of lord Shiva , it is said that worship of shakti is essential for getting entry into the realms of lord Shiva .


It is said that this shivratri “YAG” used to be performed by the sage vishvamitra in earlier days. While performing it the demons described him beyond his control. Then he had to take refuge of lord Rama who helped him by removing those evils and enabling him to complete The “YAG”. Since then symbol of Rama is kept on shivratri “Ram Gadvu “so that evil forces may not disrupt it any more.


(RESHYA DULIZ) as the name suggests is purely “Sattvic “Vegetarian dishes, milk, kheer, sugar candies are to be offered in this circular open mothed earthen post having the cosmic shape of the divine. In Tantras it is said that vegetarian Bhariva namely “vishvakasena “and other Bhairavas of this nature are propitiated by sattvic Foods.  Some specific Mantras of “Mata Tripura sundri “are recited and offerings are made from all directions with those mantras in this “ Reshya DULIZ “. It is treated as element while “RamGaduv” is the form of male element so these two main elements are also represented in this highly regarded Pooja.


(SANYA PUTTAL) is of pure Shaivite form in Kashmir Shaiva philosophy Shakti and Shiva are in separable; they are one so this sanya Puttal is the union of shakti and shiva. Shivratri being the divine union day those two aspects of the absolute reality are worshipped and meditated for the upliftment of devotees.


(VAGUR) is very important principle in this shivaratri puja. The 12th day of the dark half of the month of Phalguna is called as “vagarayabaha “. in “Rudrayamala tantra “VAGUR “ is said  “ “ BanduRupa “ so VAGUR  is (pash ) or net which is lie woven by the specific mantras  of HAMSAVAGISHAVARI -KUBJIKA and” NAVATMA MANTRA “and is worshipped according to Kul achara family tradition. The offerings of all kinds are to this principle of clay type model which is attributed as binding as well as releasing force i.e “BHOGAMOKSA -PRADASHAKTI”. Spirituality speaking This is indicative of “ANAHAT -CHAKRA OF KUNDALANI YOGA “. Etymologically VAGUR means the feeling of sublime sound experienced by the yogi while meditating kundalini Yoga.


Third day of the worship is attributed to (Herath Truvaha). This day “vatuk bhariva “with his 8 energies Namely somya, bhima, danpradha etc is worshipped in an elaborate way . In Tantras, thirteenth number is the Number of lord shiva to explain it is said that five senses of action, Five senses of cognition, mind and intellect are twelve and para is the supreme thirteenth one. Thus this day also magnifies the importance of shiva and his worship.


(KSHETRAPAL) literally means the protector of a particular place these are worshipped by this specific name everywhere in various worships. In Kashmir nine kshetrapal known as “Kshetranavk “are worshipped accordingly. These Kshetrapal -or Bharivas are known such as Lord vital bhariv, Mangleshwar bhariv, Tushakraj Bhariva, Anandashewar Bhariva, baurvatkeshvar Bhariva, raj rajeshwar Bhariva, lokshatak Bhariv , Hatkeshwar bhariv and Nandkeshwar Bhariv . These Nine Bharivas are incharge of particular Different regions in Kashmir valley and are worshipped on shivratri.


Spirituality Kshetrapal is our own body and protector of that body is ataman as is said by Kashmiri Shaivite yogi scholar teacher Abhinav Gupta in his little treatise know as wheel of deities residing in our body. Unceasingly I bow to kshetrapal who is bestower of all siddhis who is worshipped as superior in all six philosophies, who is encircled by thirty six elements namely from shiva element to Prithvi – earth element  and who is managed as your own self.


Among eight Bharivas attendants of lord Shiva heyruk Bhariva being superior is worshipped by side  of kshetrpal separately with special mantras on shivratri day . His presence is regarded very essential (Sanyavaara) is one pot of clay being used in this festival. This model of clay is hollow inside and is treated as symbol of Voidness (shouni ). It throws light on this fact That ( shouni ) The nirakaar form of Shiva pervades this cosmos . It is to be noted here that all these clay pots of various names are to be kept side by side of Vatuk Bhariv who is to be filled with fresh water. Dry walnuts are to be deposited in it up to the brim with vermilion are to be painted on all sides of the vatuk Bhariva along with red thread to be tied near the brim of the pot and then to be decorated with flowers garlands.


Why walnuts?

They are considered foremost among all dry fruits; walnuts are the symbols of our four Vedas because walnut has four sides within. Walnut has two sides and represent shiva and shakti as per tantras. In philosophical way walnuts being oval shape are considered the replica of round shaped universe.


It is kept in mind that all these major or lesser deities are to be kept on grass pods and it is a custom of every family to tie the neck of the every pot with “VASUR”, It is made of special weed usually found in the marshy lands. The significance of this is related to earth element because it is offshoot of earth. As per Kashmir Shiva philosophy 36 elements starting from Shiva and end on earth. This earth is said as “darika shakti “the energy that has the capacity of bearing everything. So by putting this vasur around the neck of vatak Bhariva we pray to him from this earth element. we want to ascend to the highest element know as Shiva for identifying one’s own self with the universal conscience the highest goal to be achieved in one’s life.


As per old tradition seven cereals (sat sos) are to be put in Vatuk Bhariva vessel as these seven cereals Present all deities who due to the fear of Jawala Ling manifested  as vatuk assumed the form of different cereals and remained Hidden in them.


Fourteenth day of worship is taken as shiv chaturdrishi the most auspicious day of this festival. Lord Shivas Grace is showered on all devotees on this day irrespective of caste creed and color. By mere japa on this day one is liberated. This whole universe is the form of lord Shiva, this whole universe has emanated from Shiva this whole universe is nothing but Shiva each and every object of this world is centralized in Shiva. Let that Shiva direct my all actions for achieving Shiva- hood. This is the crux of this shivchaturdrishti day of shivratri.


Fifth day of the worship is called “Doon Mavas “ on this day this long festival of activities culminate with  fervor .After performing special worship all walnuts are taken out of the main vessel and are distributed amongst the kith’s and kins as special prasad. Thus, Shivaratri is the state of transcendence cum immanence as per Kashmir Shaivism. This is self-Luminous state of light. It is independent and does not depend on any external source of light. This is the night of bliss.


PS: Culture is the lifeblood of a vibrant society, expressed in the many ways we tell our stories, celebrate, remember the past, entertain ourselves, and imagine the future. Our creative expression helps define who we are, and helps us see the world through the eyes of others. Participating in culture can benefit individuals in many different ways, some of which are deeply personal. They are a source of delight and wonder, and can provide emotionally and intellectually moving experiences, whether pleasurable or unsettling, that encourage celebration or contemplation. Culture is also a means of expressing creativity, forging an individual identity, and enhancing or preserving a community’s sense of place.



(The Author is Chairman, Reconciliation Return & Rehabilitations of Migrants)

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