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Report: Maha Sivaratri 2022

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Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated Mahasivaratri online on Monday, 28 February 2022, commencing with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm and concluding the next morning at 5am. Befitting this sacred night, the programme was a veritable spiritual feast with a variety of presentations and devotional offerings to Lord Siva. Melodious Kirtans and Bhajans, performances and presentations by guest artistes, readings, poems, Sanskrit verses in praise of Lord Siva, sayings from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda presented by Spiritual Darlings, audio recordings, videos, and chanting of the sacred Om Namah Sivaya Mantra featured on the programme.

The following audio message (in Yoga Lessons for Children) from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, was used to introduce the festival and explain details of this event: "This sacred festival is observed in honour of Lord Siva. Sivaratri means the 'Night of Siva'. Devotees observe a strict fast on this day. Some do not take even a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. The Siva Linga is worshipped every three hours by bathing it first in milk, then with curd, then with ghee and, lastly, honey. The chanting of the Mantra of Lord Siva─ Om Namah Sivaya─ goes on without a stop, together with the offering of bael leaves".

In the audio message, the Master elaborated on the principles of divine life: "Divine life is life in God or the immortal Soul. He who lives the divine life is free from cares, worries, anxieties, miseries, sufferings and tribulations. He attains immortality, perfection, freedom, independence, eternal peace, supreme bliss and perennial joy. He radiates joy, peace and light everywhere. To lead the divine life, you need not retire into the forest. You can lead the divine life while remaining in the world. What is needed is renunciation of egoism, mineness, attachment, vāsanas and Trishnas. Give the mind to God and the hands to the service of humanity. Selfless service is the highest Yoga. The practice of Brahmacharya is very important in spiritual progress. Brahmacharya is the basis for acquiring immortality. Brahmacharya brings material progress and psychic advancement. It is a potent weapon for controlling internal rajasic forces."

In his audio message, Pujya Swamiji focussed on the importance of surrender in spiritual life: "We must learn to accept and get done with it. The secret is to accept God's Will in the small things where you are irritated. And once you get the wheel spinning in that direction, it will never spin in the other direction. Whatever calamity strikes you, whatever tragedy strikes you, if the whole world crumbles to pieces also, your faith will never go. But once you start getting pessimistic, you are making your wheel spin more and more in that direction. So, the idea of self-surrender is to get the wheel spinning in the opposite direction. Every day, when you get up, feel that everything belongs to God. You got to repeat it, parrot-like, in the beginning. 'My children belong to God, my body belongs to God, my house belongs to God, my property belongs to God, everything belongs to God.' So, if any tragedy strikes you, you will find yourself repeating that. And the moment you repeat that, then you will get relief. So that is the easy Sadhana that Gurudev has given us."

The organisers introduced new and interesting readings, all designed to give listeners a deeper insight into Mahasivaratri and awaken devotion for Lord Siva. We list some of these inspiring readings, written by Sri Swami Sivananda: Story of Markandeya, Lord Siva's Mother, Song of Nataraja, Sadasiva, Sivaratri Mahima, Glory of Lord Siva, Lord Siva & His Leelas, etc.

The first and second Praharas featured a recording of Pujya Swamiji reading the account of an American devotee, Sharon Brown, whose amazing experience exemplified the power of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra. When she was informed that she had aplastic-anaemia (a disease that attacks the bone marrow) she sought Divine help and was advised by a devotee of Swami Muktananda to chant the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra. On simply hearing the Mantra even once, Sharon Brown experienced extraordinary exhilaration. The Mantra and the world appeared as one. At one point, she felt that cancer came to her as a blessing so as to bring her into contact with the Mantra. Through the chanting of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra, she experienced great peace and courage during the illness as well as during the operation that was performed on her.

One of the readings in the night's programme that made a deep impact is "Akshara Mana Malai", an inspired poetical composition by Sri Ramana Maharishi. The verses seemed to have gushed out of the sage like a cloudburst. It is an exceptional outpouring of devotion for the Lord of Arunachala in which the Maharishi assumes the role of a lover (seeker) seeking her beloved (the Supreme Being). One of its most evocative verses celebrates the death of the ego: "Arunachala"! "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. He who came to feast on you became a feast for you. The eater and the eaten have merged into one." It is said that anyone who recites this work with devotion will merge with Lord Arunachaleshwara. Pujya Swamiji was very fond of this recitation and encouraged devotees to listen to this sacred chanting, as it has a calming effect on one.

Whilst Pujya Swamiji's favourite plays, "Old Drum, New Palace" and "Bhasmasur" added light humour to the programme, it also provided listeners with the opportunity to ponder over the mystical, divine nature of the Lord.

We felt blessed to listen to the recordings of the golden voice of our Divine Master and the spiritually charged voice of Pujya Swami Sahajananda. No doubt, the power inherent in their voices would have radiated much-needed healing energy across the globe. A pleasing feature of this programme was the melodious voices of senior devotees.In giving recognition to them, the organisers succeeded in reviving old memories. Well done to them!

Bhajans from the "Thevarum" added their magic to the celebration! Perhaps a word or two about the famous Saiva Acharyas who captured our hearts with their compositions, would not be out of place. They blessed us with their supreme wisdom and also inspired us with their matchless devotion. Their lives are a continual source of inspiration for us. The three foremost Nayanars were Sambhandhar, Appar and Sundarar, who glorified the Lord through their compositions. These songs are collectively known as the Thevaram. They comprise 796 songs with over 8000 verses. Many of them were sung spontaneously, outpourings of divine ecstasy. For example, "Thodudaiya" was sung by the three-year-old Sambandhar after a visitation of Lord Siva and Mother Parvati. The Panchakshara, Om Namah Sivaya and the sacred ash saved the life of a Chola king, when he invoked the Lord with "Mandhiram Aavadhu Neeru" (Mandhiram is Mantra and Neeru is ash).

We record our deep gratitude to the following guest artistes for their divine performances: Sri Keeran Eshwarlall, Manormani Dance Academy, Sri Kirthan Pillay and Sri Shanjeet Thiluk. In addition, the voices of Smt Mahenthri Govender and Sri Karthiegasen Pillay enhanced the quality of the Satsang, inspiring devotees the world over. The melodious Bhajans, readings, play readings, videos and musical presentations all contributed to a memorable evening.

In conclusion, we remind spiritual aspirants of the profound thoughts of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji, who drew our attention to the significance of this great festival. The Master wrote, "The two great forces that drag us down are laziness and agitation (Tamas and Rajas). On Mahasivaratri, we learn to have control over these two. By continuous worship, we are forced to remain still in one place and thus check our restless nature. By keeping awake all night, we learn to conquer Tamas. The mind is required to keep constant vigil. Thus, Mahasivaratri is a perfect Vrata of penance". Pujya Swamiji reminded us to keep vigil against the internal foes of lust, greed, anger and hatred: "We must be eternally vigilant against these dire enemies of peace, not just the gross thoughts, but the subtle ones and even those subtler than the subtlest thoughts".

Last modified on Thursday, 03 March 2022 11:29
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