धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः। Dharmo Raksati Raksitah.

Dharma protects those who protect it.

– Veda Vyas, Mahabharat

Explanation of Maha Shivaratri Day By Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Source: – Prashant Parikh FB Post.

By tradition, based mostly upon the planetary position, the fourteenth day of this particular fortnight every year [one day before new moon when Sun is in Kumbha] is looked upon as a day of initiation, religious, spiritual initiation. Also, it is a day dedicated purely for prayers.

Many people take sannyas on this day. Today in India many Anandas might have been born. Today barbers also have a field day. They remove the hair; it is sort of a wholesale thing. So in Rishikesh you will find a number of people getting initiated into monastic order, a sannyasa, a life of a monk, on this particular day, Shivaratri day. And I also became a sannyasi on this particular day. The teachers decide to givesannyas to the students and they call the students and tell them. “You are getting initiated tomorrow” or something like that. Thus they get into sannyas. This is how the sannyas is generally given. Some students of course ask, “Please give me sannyas,” but more often it is given.

By tradition this is a day of initiation, so in whole India you will find that the whole day is spent in prayers, from Cape Cameron onwards, in all the temples, Shiva temples. Temples means Shiva temples, really speaking. Originally the temples were only temples for Shiva. Shiva is Ishvara, the Lord. In Shiva the whole is perceived. This is why that particular linga form, which is said as “phallus” as we hear in the West, is used.

Linga means anything with the help of which you see something else. Lingyate budhyate anena, by this something else is understood, that is called lingam. In Indian logic, linga is the hetu (the reason). When I sayparvataha vanimam dumatvat, there must be fire on the mountain because there is smoke, parvataha(mountain) is paksha (that about which the assertion has been made), vanimam (there must be fire) issadhya (that which is to be proved) and dumatvat(because of smoke) is the hetu (the reason). That (hetu) is the linga. And then, you give an example, adrishtanta. So, these are the limbs in an inferential statement. Parvataha vanimam dumatvat and adrishtanta: yatha vakasalayam. Like this, onedrishtanta is there, an example. So, that drishtantaholds the vyapti. A vyapti means a postulate. It’s a definite postulate and on that you derive conclusions. All the conclusions are based upon that postulate, which is again dependent upon other verifications.

Now the postulate is: yatra yatra dumaha tatra tatra vanihi. It’s called vyapti. Wherever there is smoke, there should be fire. The idea is there is no smoke without fire. This is a conclusion based upon our experience, prataksha (sense perception). So the question is, what do you see now? He sees a column of smoke continuously rising from the mountain. He has negated that it is fog. It is not fog because it is not a foggy day. The sun is up and it is midday and there is no fog anywhere around, therefore it cannot be fog. Fog is dismissed. Then, cloud is dismissed, everything is dismissed. Then, you can say it can only be smoke. It is very clear it is smoke. Once you know it is smoke, then that mountain has fire. How did you figure it out?Dumatvat, because I see smoke there. And why should there be fire when there is smoke? That is because there is no smoke without fire. That is thevyapti, the conclusion we have got. It is called vyapti jñanam. So from the vyapti jñanam, we are able to infer a particular thing. Vyapti jñanam is necessary for any inference. Here the vyapti jñanam is “yatra yatra dumaha tatra tatra vanihi”. Based upon the vyapti jñanam we conclude that there should be fire because I see smoke. That smoke that I see is called linga. Because the linga is there, there should be the fire.

Now from that we can understand, linga means it stands for something. Through that you see something. Through the smoke, fire is inferred. Similarly, any object through which you see something is called “linga”. Now, for Ishvara who is both efficient and material cause, suppose you want to have a form in which you can invoke the Lord. What can be that form? It can’t be a particular form, so all forms put together make a form and that form will be a formless form. Like a ball of wax out of which you create a number of forms and then bring them all together. They become again a ball of wax. The creation is an egg-shaped creation, in the sense there are no edges. Every form is always looked upon as a cut-out of a circle. So all forms put together must necessarily be a form which has no beginning, no end, therefore, a circle. So this way it is a circle and that way also it is a circle. It has no beginning, no end. So beginningless, endless and also which has got all forms, which is again a form because it has to contain all forms. The material cause is non-separate from the creation. The material cause is the creation. The creation has all forms. All forms are brought together to make one form and that form is a form which is like this linga (for Shiva) that we see. So this is the linga; it is not phallus or anything, it is linga and that is why it is called lingam. So, lingyate anena, iti lingam.

In this Shiva you can invoke the entire trinity, all the three factors in the Ishvara (Lord). So Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, all the three of them you invoke in one form. Previously, thousands of years ago, “temple” meant it was a Shiva temple. Even inshastras only Shiva temple was mentioned. Later when they consecrated temples for Vishnu etc, then a Shiva temple became “Shiva temple” because the other was a “Vishnu temple”. Otherwise, it was calledmandiram or aalayam. The Ishvara aalayam, that was how it was before. Then the Vishnu temple was there, then afterwards the Shakti temple was there, then all the deities, each one having its own temple.

Therefore on this particular day, all over the country you’ll find all the temples are busy and people are streaming. In our huge temple in the ashram in Bombay today there must be about ten thousand people. Beginning at 5 o’clock onwards, line after line after line, people will be always standing in a line and they keep moving. It’s a continuous thing. People keep coming and offering what they bring like milk, flowers etc. They offer and then go back. And continuously they chant “Om namah Shivaya”. It begins from five or six in the morning and goes to midnight. Any Shiva temple attracts thousands of people. The whole country spends today in prayers. And those who have got some initiation into some mantra etc. spend this day potentizing the mantra. You chant the mantra and make it more powerful for spiritual benefit.

On this day the planetary position creates an atmosphere here conducive for spiritual or religious pursuits. If you go to a mental hospital on a new moon day, you find that everything is relatively calm. Then if you keep visiting every few days, you’ll find that the people are becoming more and more eloquent and on the full moon day they are the most eloquent. The moon has something to do with this mind. If that is so, then we can understand that certain positions help us. All these festivals are based upon purely planetary situations. Stories are told, but the stories are only just stories; this is the main thing, it is based purely upon astronomy or astrology.

The Lord is amurta (formless); then there is murta, that which has got a form. For different aspects of the Lord, certain murtas are created. Thus, there is amurta of tandava, the cosmic dance of Shiva. It depicts a lot of things, but mainly the joy. The creation is not born of sin because the cause of creation isAnanda (fullness, happiness). That is Vedanta.Ananda is the cause of creation because Brahman isAnanda. If Brahman is the cause of creation, Anandais the cause of creation. [Pujya Swamiji quotes from Taittiriya Upanisad about Brghu who keeps coming to his father asking for more knowledge, teach me more, teach me more.]

Brghu comes and tells “this is exactly what I have discovered” but still he has not figured it out because he has a doubt. Then, his father keeps telling him to go and contemplate upon what he has said. At the end of it, he discovers, Anando brahmeti vyajanat etc. The original statement was “from which everything has come, by which everything is sustained, unto which everything goes back and that is Brahman. That thou art.”

First he thought that food is that from which everything has come. So, out of food everybody is born, by food everybody is sustained, unto food they all go back. It’s true. If the physical body is taken as the “I”, then body is the atma, food is the atma. Food is the cause for the body and the body is the atma. Food means prthivi the matter, earth. Food is Brahman, this fellow concludes.

Then, afterwards, he decided pranam brahmeti,prana is Brahman. Mere food doesn’t really make anybody alive, therefore, prana is Brahman. Then he found that prana is not Brahman, it is pure energy alone.
It is manaha (mind) that is Brahman. Then, mind is not enough.
It is the buddhi that is karta, the “I” notion, that is Brahman. Everything is born of that alone, he thought.

Then afterwards he discovers Anando brahmeti vyajanat. Ananda is Brahman; that is the cause for the whole creation. In fact, the leshya, coloration, ofAnanda is kept there in the process of creation. The two is created, male, female. The separation of the two is negated and in the union there is Ananda. So out of Ananda a child is born, not out of sin, not out ofduhkha, sorrow. Ananda is the basis for the whole creation and that is how the creation keeps going. The creator is nothing but Ananda. That is the tandava murti, the dance of joy. The Ananda aspect of the Lord is depicted in this cosmic dance. That Ananda is Parameshvara. With reference to the creation the same Brahman is Ananda. Parameshvara is as good as Brahman because He doesn’t have ignorance. We have seen already that the jñani, the wise person, and Atman (the self) are both one and the same. If Atman is Ananda the one who knows the self is Ananda.

The Lord doesn’t come under the control of MAyA (material cause), He wields MAyA and it becomes only a glory for Him. So instead of being a problem MAyA becomes a glory. So, wielding that MAyA as Ananda, He remains within this creation. We must know the physical body is within the cosmos, it is not outside. So, within the physical body and which is a live body, in the sense organs, mind, buddhi etc., in all of them,Ananda is there as the Parameshvara, as the one who is the cause for everything. He is the one who is God.

Again in the dance of joy, one leg is up, the other is down. He is in the creation; He is outside the creation. An ajñani, one who doesn’t have this knowledge, is one who has both the legs planted on the earth, whereas a jñani or Ishvara, has one leg up. If both the legs are up, there will be no creation. So if there are no legs, He is in mahasamadhi. The murti is different. It is not the tandava murti where He becomes Sadhashiva; He is with the world, sustains the world. He is away from the world, exactly like ajñani, because Parameshvara is a jñani. If He destroys everything, He is not responsible for it because He is akarta, not a doer. That is indicated by one leg up, one leg down.

Then again you find in one hand there is fire of knowledge. In another hand is the dhamaru, drum. The dhamaru stands for Omkara. Or we can sayakasha, space. It stands for “word”, the Veda. One hand is a symbol of protection, “you come to my feet; I will save you. Don’t be afraid; I am here.” “Come to my feet” means give up your ahankara (ego). With the help of my dhamaru you’ll get this knowledge. And then come to my feet and you are saved completely. You are liberated, moksha. Thus, the Lord as Nataraja is a Savior, is a Creator, is Ananda. It is a particular murta, form.

All over India there are different kinds of murtas. [Then he describes Citambaram etc.] They worship the Lord in all the five elements, including Akasha, space. Each element is a symbol for the Lord. All the elements are born of the Lord and are not separate from the Lord.