MAHA SIVARATRI – A to Z DETAILS AND THE RECOMMENDED SYSTEM OF CELEBRATION FOR KRISHNA DEVOTEES!
(1) WHY MAHA SIVARATRI IS CELEBRATED?
There are twelve Sivaratris in every year on the month’s 13th night/14th day. Out of them, Maha Sivaratri, that comes in the late winter (February/March or Phalguna) and before the arrival of spring, is the popular and significant one.
(i) Celebrated as the day when Lord Siva protected the world from the poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan, by drinking the poison and stored it in his throat–which made his throat turn blue (Hence called as Neelkanth).
(ii) Celebrated as the day when Lord Siva took the form of gigantic fire and punished Brahma dev for lying that he saw the top and bottom of the gigantic figure of Lord Siva..
(iii) As a mark of Lord Shiva’s marriage to Parvati.
(2) THE RECOMMENDED SYSTEM FOR KRISHNA DEVOTEES:
(1) Stay awake throughout the night on Sivaratri.
(2) Don’t just stay awake, chant His Moola Mantra “Ohm Nama Sivaya” and also the Hare Krishna Maha Manthra as much as possible.
(3) OFFERING FOOD/ SWEETS TO LORD SIVA: If you have a Picture or Murthy of Lord Siva or Linga, offer some sweet preparations (Eg: Pongal and Payasam) for Lord Krishna first and then offer to Lord Siva. Because Lord Siva too likes Krishna Prasadam being a great vaishnava. After offering to Krishna and then to Siva, you can honour that prasadam and then distribute to the family members and friends. This is the recommended procedure to be followed by the devotees of Krishna.
(4) IS THIS SYSTEM OF OFFERING TO LORD SIVA AUTHORIZED ONE?
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami says (numbered by me):
(i) This offering system is also authorized by the GBC of ISKCON.
(ii) This system is also followed at Linga Raja temple in Bhubaneswar.
(iii) Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself accepted Siva Mahaprasadam from that temple since it was first offered to Lord Sri Krishna.
(iv) The Mahaprasadam from Lord Jaganath in Puri is offered to Bimla Devi and we obviously accept that Mahaprasadam as Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu did so. She is Vaisnavi and we respect her as a great devotee of the Lord.
(5) SRILA PRABHUPADA SAYS IN HIS LECTURE OF SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM, 1972:
“So the question was, “Which worship is best?” So Lord Siva replied, aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param: “My dear Parvati, of all methods of worship, Visnu worship is the topmost.” There are many demigods’ worship, even Lord Siva’s worship, but Lord Siva says, “Visnu worship is the best.” Then he says again, tasmat parataram devi. “My dear Devi, better than that Visnu worship is tadiyanam aradhanam.” Tadiya. Tadiya means those who are in relationship with Visnu, tadiya. Just like His devotee, tadiya. Tulasi-vrksa. Tulasi is tadiya. Or temple tadiya. Preaching tadiya. Tadiyanam aradhanam. This is bhagavata. So Lord Siva recommends that “Of all methods of worship, Visnu worship is the best, and better than Visnu worship is to worship His devotee or things in relationship with Him.”
(6) SRILA PRABHUPADA SAYS IN SRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM (3-23-1) PURPORT:
One who has developed love for Visnu must develop love and respect for Visnu’s devotees. Lord Siva is considered the foremost personality amongst the Vaisnavas. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh. Thus when Sati saw that her father was performing great sacrifices but had no respect for the greatest devotee, Lord Siva, she was very angry. This is fitting; when Visnu or a Vaisnava is insulted, one should be angry. Lord Caitanya, who always preached nonviolence, meekness and humility, also became angry when Nityananda was offended by Jagai and Madhai, and He wanted to kill them. When Visnu or a Vaisnava is blasphemed or dishonored, one should be very angry. Narottama dasa Thakura said, krodha bhakta-dvesi jane. We have anger, and that anger can be a great quality when directed against a person who is envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee. One should not be tolerant when a person is offensive towards Visnu or a Vaisnava. The anger of Sati towards her father was not objectionable, for although he was her father, he was trying to insult the greatest Vaisnava. Thus Sati’s anger against her father was quite applaudable.
Lord Siva is described in this verse as the chief of all thinkers. Lord Siva, of course, does not engage in useless mental speculation, but as stated in the previous verse, he is always thoughtful regarding how to deliver the demons from their fallen condition of life. It is said that during the advent of Lord Caitanya, Sadasiva appeared as Advaita Prabhu, and Advaita Prabhu’s chief concern was to elevate the fallen conditioned souls to the platform of devotional service to Lord Krsna.
Since people were engaged in useless occupations which would continue their material existence, Lord Siva, in the form of Lord Advaita, appealed to the Supreme Lord to appear as Lord Caitanya to deliver these illusioned souls. Actually Lord Caitanya appeared on the request
of Lord Advaita. Similarly, Lord Siva has a sampradaya, the Rudra-sampradaya. He is always thinking about the deliverance of the fallen souls, as exhibited by Lord Advaita Prabhu.”
(7) SRILA PRABHUPADA IN SRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM (4-24-18), PURPORT:
Lord Siva is known as the greatest devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is known as the best of all types of Vaisnavas (vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh). Consequently, Lord Siva has a Vaisnava sampradaya, the disciplic succession known as the Rudra-sampradaya. Just as there is a Brahma-sampradaya coming directly from Lord Brahma, the Rudra-sampradaya comes directly from Lord Siva.
Lord Siva is one of the twelve great personalities, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.3.20):
svayambhur naradah sambhuh
kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakir vayam
These are twelve great authorities in preaching God consciousness. The name Sambhu means Lord Siva.
His disciplic succession is also known as the Visnusvami-sampradaya, and the current Visnusvami-sampradaya is also known as the Vallabha-sampradaya. The current Brahma-sampradaya is known as the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya. Even though Lord Siva appeared to preach Mayavada philosophy, at the end of his pastime in the form of Sankaracarya, he preached the Vaisnava philosophy: bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam mu-dha-mate. He stressed worshiping Lord Krsna, or Govinda, three times in this verse and especially warned his followers that they could not possibly achieve deliverance, or mukti, simply by word jugglery and grammatical puzzles. If one is actually serious to attain mukti, he must worship Lord Krsna. That is Sripada Sankaracarya’s last instruction.
“Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.” One enamored by material benefits is called hrta jnana (“one who has lost his intelligence”). In this connection it is to be noted that sometimes in revealed scriptures Lord Siva is described as being nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The point is that Lord Siva and Lord Visnu are so intimately connected that there is no difference in opinion.
The actual fact is, ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya: “The only supreme master is Krsna, and all others are His devotees or servants.” (Cc. Adi 5.142) This is the real fact, and there is no difference of opinion between Lord Siva and Lord Visnu in this connection. Nowhere in revealed scripture does Lord Siva claim to be equal to Lord Visnu. This is simply the creation of the so-called devotees of Lord Siva, who claim that Lord Siva and Lord Visnu are one. This is strictly forbidden in the Vaisnava-tantra: yas tu narayanam devam. Lord Visnu, Lord Siva and Lord Brahma are intimately connected as master and servants. Siva-virinci-nutam. Visnu is honored and offered obeisances by Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. To consider that they are all equal is a great offense. They are all equal in the sense that Lord Visnu is the Supreme personality of Godhead and all others are His eternal servants.
(8) SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASWATI WORSHIPING LORD SHIVA:
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the guru of Srila Prabhupada offered these prayers wriiten for Gopishwara Mahadev when he visited the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar on June 22nd, 1922:
Vrindavanvani-pate jaya soma soma
prema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namas te
MEANING: “O Shiva, O gatekeeper of Vrindavan! O you who are accompanied by Uma (Parvati)! O you who carry the moon in your hair! O lord worshiped by Sananda-kumar, Sanat-Kumar and Narada Muni! O Gopishwar, the worshipable deity of the gopis! Desiring that you bestow upon me love for the divine couple, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again.”
(Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarti’s Sri Sankalpa-kalpadrum, cited in vol. 7 of Sri Krishna Kathamritam)
Every Vaishnava should honour the topmost Vaishnava Lord Siva. We have seen Sri Caitanya Maha prabhu, Srila Bakthi Siddantha Sarasvati, etc have offered their honours to Lord Siva.
We too should follow their footsteps by honouring Lord Siva on this auspicious day dedicated to Lord Siva.
We need His blessings to come up in our devotional services. Though being a devotee of Krishna, I too am following this approach by honouring Lord Siva in our site dedicated to Krishna.
Let Lord Siva offers His blessings to all the devotees reading this article.