Shivaratri is meditation on the real nature of God, which is Pure Consciousness. We go from the Roopam (form of God) to Swaroopam (His real nature). We start with meditating on Amma’s form, and gradually we realize that Amma is Antaryami (omniscient). When I see Amma before me, I know that by Her power alone my eyes can see; when I hear Her Satsang and Bhajans, by Her power alone my ears can hear; by Her power alone my mind understands what She is saying and my hand writes it. Amma is within Me in the form of Pure Consciousness. When this understanding dawns, I bow to all sentient beings in the universe. Amma’s Divine Presence is in all.

amma damaru

My body is different from yours; your mind is different from mine, but the consciousness in Me is the Consciousness in you and in all other beings. That conscious principle is Shiva, the Auspicious. Without Shiva, we are all only shavas, dead bodies. We come to experience our Oneness with Shiva through deep meditation. Ramana Maharshi says: 

Hrith sthale manah svasthathaa kriya

Bhakthi yoga Bodhadi Nischithaa

“Merging the mind into its source, the Atma Chaitanyam in the heart, is the ultimate goal of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga.”

shiva statue with cc attributionMana Swasthatha means more than just peace of mind. It is the mind merging into its own place, the Atma in the heart. The mind is always distracted by the outer world of forms.  Ratri or night is the time when forms disappear in sleep. We seem to experience nothingness, but even in deep sleep our consciousness is always awake. In sleep we don’t become unconscious, we become unconscious of the outer world. In deep sleep we are Conscious of Nothingness! When we wake, we know we enjoyed a good sleep. In deep sleep, when our body and mind have made a temporary exit, who enjoyed this blissful sleep? It is the ‘I’ Consciousness that is ever awake. That Chaitanyam is Shiva or Devi whom we call as: 

Om Sadodithaayai Namaha!

(Sadaa Udithaayai)

I prostrate to Devi who is always awake. Chaitanyam Devi and Shiva are one and the same.”

 

Narasimhavatara of Lord Vishnu at Narayana Tirumala.Shivaratri is the time when all forms merge into Siva and only He, the Chaitanyam exists. It is impossible for even the greatest Tapasvi or Sadhak to enter that supreme state of Pure Consciousness by his own effort. Only the Guru, who is ever in that state can take us there. We are habituated to Tamas Ratri, or the night of mere darkness, but Amma will take us to Jyoti Ratri (the Great Light). The true observance of Shivaratri is deep meditation. That Consciousness is always there, but to attain that state one must have total detachment from the external world of forms. As a surgeon in an operating room with a knife appears to be ruthless, so too is our Guru! Hers is the ruthless removal of all forms! Our Devi does this for us in the form of Mahakali. For the Vaishnavas it is Narasimha; for the Saivas it is Kala Bhairava. These three divine forces represent the ruthless destruction of all forms. Chaitanyam, our real nature of Satchitananda, Infinite Existence, Consciousness and Bliss is what remains. Shivaratri is the invitation to go deeper and deeper into us and finally enter and permanently remain in that state of Satchitananda.

nataraj shiva smaller with attributionLord Shiva represents Samharam, the destruction of delusion or evil. This is the meaning of Pralayam, the great dissolution or merging back into divine consciousness. A melting iceberg merges with the ocean; only the form is destroyed. So too, death is only the end of the form and the form merges back to its source. Gold ornaments are just gold when melted, and clay pots become mud again when broken. The countless forms of the universe merge back into their divine source, Ishvara. 

vastness of the ocean pic for ShivarathriSwami Vivekananda, during his early days as Naren was given this ultimate experience by his Guru Sri Ramakrishna. When Sri Ramakrishna touched him on the chest, the entire world disappeared and there was only dazzling light. Naren got frightened and shouted, “What are you doing! I have a father and mother at home!” Sri Ramakrishna brought him back to a normal state of mind. This incident shows that most of us are not ready for the supreme state of Samadhi! We have so many attachments. But our Amma will slowly make us understand that all forms are perishable and Atma Chaitanyam alone is permanent. Shivaratri is meant for that deep silent meditation. Amma will convert our nights, now full of darkness, into luminous realization. For sadhakas like us, Shivaratri is still a discipline, but for Siddhas like Amma, it is Samadhi. We must put constant effort into divine awakening. With this understanding, let us observe Shivaratri and pray that we may merge into Shiva, the Pure Consciousness that dwells in our hearts. Chanting Sahasranama, Stotras and Bhajans, let us purify our minds, making them fit for Amma’s Grace.

Sadaa Vasantham Hridayaravinde

Bhavam Bhavani Sahitham Namaami

I bow to Bhava (Shiva) and His Divine consort Bhavani, with whom He resides in our Lotus Heart.

Summary
The Real Shivarathri!
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The Real Shivarathri!
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Swami Amritageetananda Puri elucidates the real meaning of Shivarathri. He explains that Shivarathri is an invitation to go deeper into our True Self and enter the state of Satchitananda. Through Amma's Grace, we can experience the true meaning of Shviarathri and turn our Tamas Ratri (night of mere darkness) into Jyoti Ratri (night of great light).
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