At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills devotees were absorbed in the programme of messages from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, an audio message from Pujya Swami Sahajananda, a DVD by the Master entitled, Wisdom of Sivananda, a recorded Siva Bhajan by our Master, Bhajans & Kirtans by devotees, chanting and offering of bael leaves to the sacred Siva Linga, a video presentation, an audio recording of a play, "Old Drum New Palace" written by Sri Swami Sivananda, a power-point presentation by the Reservoir Hills Sunday School, readings, sacred Mantras in praise of Lord Siva and classical Bharatanatyam dances. The programme was further enhanced by the melodious Bhajans and Kirtans, classical dances and musical renditions by the following guest artists: Sri Solly Pillay, Manormani School of Dance, Kumari Verushkha Pather, Sri Manesh Ramjathan and Kumari Roanna Moodley. We express our heartfelt gratitude to them for their divine outpourings and professionally executed presentations.
In the reading on the "Glory of Sivaratri" written by our Divine Master, Lord Siva told Parvati, "The hunter was able to enter My abode and ward off death by simple fasting and offering of a few Bilva leaves, however involuntary it might be, because it was the night of Sivaratri. Such is the solemnity and sacredness associated with the night!"
In an audio message, Pujya Swamiji read from a book entitled Om Namah Shivaya—A Mantra Experience by Sharon Brown who was suffering from cancer. She states, "The fact is that it seemed like cancer was a small enough price to pay for experiencing something that was greater than I could ever imagine. When we hear God, everything becomes nothing, disease, body, the whole world becomes nothing."
Each Prahara ended with chanting the "Om Namah Sivaya" Mantra while walking around Ganga Rani and offering of bael leaves to the sacred Siva Linga, and Sri Swami Sivananda's sacred Padukas. In the book All About Hinduism our Master states, "For a sincere devotee, the Linga is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas or Chaitanya. The Linga talks to him, makes him shed profuse tears, produces horripilation (hair standing up) and melting of the heart, raises him above body consciousness, helps to commune with the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi. What a lot of mystic Sakti there is in the Linga!"
Offering of bael leaves at the Siva Linga, and the sacred Padukas of Sri Swami Sivananda. Devotees circumambulating Ganga Rani while chanting the 'Om Namah Sivaya' mantra
In the reading entitled "Lord Siva's Assurance" by our Divine Master, we read about the significance of the various rituals, "While bathing the Lingam the devotee prays: "O Lord, I will bathe Thee with water, milk, etc. Do Thou kindly bathe me with the milk of wisdom. Do Thou kindly wash me of all my sins, so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me may be put out once and for all, and I may become one with Thee—the One without a second."
"The Akshara Mana Malai", is an inspired poetical composition by Sri Ramana Maharishi, summing up the entire purpose of the observance of Mahasivaratri. One of its most evocative verses celebrates the death of the ego:
I came to you with the intention of making you mine. But instead it was You
who consumed me. You swallowed my ego. You consumed my individuality
and absorbed me into Yourself.
Now there is peace.
In the reading extracted from the "Gospel of Sivananda" the Master spoke about the power of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra: "The Panchakshara Mantra - Om Nama Sivaya- is the greatest. Oh! What else do you need? When once you have initiation of the Panchakshara, you need not run after any other saint for initiation," the Master was instructing some devotees.
Let us pray to the Lord to shower His Grace upon us to overcome the forces of darkness, of lust, greed, anger and hatred. Through the power of the sacred Mantra and the penance of the night, let us be rid of the "fire of worldliness" and enjoy unbroken peace and bliss.