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Report: Mahasivaratri 2024

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The most auspicious Mahasivaratri was celebrated at all Sivanandashrams on Friday, 8 March 2024, coinciding with Sri Swami Sivananda's monthly birthdate Satsang. At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm, followed by the Mahasivaratri celebration, which concluded the next morning at 5am. The varied programme comprised an array of readings, Kirtans, Bhajans, musical items, guest artistes, videos, offerings at the shrine and chanting of the sacred Om Namah Sivaya Mantra while circumambulating the Ganga Rani pool. Guest artistes included Samika Chetty and Troupe (B. Harriram Sungeeth School of Music), Smt. Archana Sridhar and troupe, Jay Udith and Bhavna (Jai Ho Satsang) and Kantharuby Dance Academy.

Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message on the Power of Namasivaya (Parts 1 and 2) featured in both the First and Second Praharas. These recorded readings by Pujya Swamiji - the account of an American devotee, Sharon Brown, whose amazing experience exemplified the power of the most sacred Om Namah Sivaya Mantra. Sharon had aplastic anaemia (a disease that attacks the bone marrow). In earnest, she sought Divine help and was advised by a devotee of Swami Muktananda of New York to chant the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra. The mere mention of the Mantra instilled miraculous, curative waves in her. On simply hearing the Mantra even once, Sharon Brown experienced extraordinary exhilaration. The Mantra and the world appeared as one, and the fear of death faded by the power of its repetition. At one point, she felt that cancer came to her as a blessing so as to bring her into contact with the Mantra. She said that through the chanting of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra, poison can be turned into nectar. Sharon experienced innate peace, bliss and courage during the illness as well as during the operation that was performed on her. To her, the Mantra was a "living form of God" and the "supreme truth". The audio recording was a profound example of the potency of the sacred Om Namah Sivaya Mantra.

A track from the DVD, Wisdom of Sivananda portrayed Sri Swami Sivananda's deep love and reverence for Lord Siva, through his melodious Kirtans and Bhajans. The First Prahara concluded with the recital of the Ganesh Arati – Jay Ganesha Deva, chanting of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra and offerings.

The delightful and inspiring story, "Old Drum, New Palace" recorded by devotees, aptly portrayed the Lilas of Lord Siva. The following readings from Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life were done in the second Prahara: "The Master's Worship", "A Life-Giving Mantra", "The Panchakshara" and "Siva and Vishnu". Explanations and recitation of Arunachala verses, "An Ode to Arunachala" (an exceptional outpouring of devotion for the Lord of Arunachala), a DVD entitled the Shiv Chalisa, a reading of the story, "Kancha Prabhu", a video," Lord Rama praises Lord Siva", a reading, "Nayanar Saints and the Story of Kannappa Nayanar", a musical rendition of Thevarams, guest artistes and melodious Kirtans and Bhajans added to the divine and spiritual ambience of the Second Prahara. The Prahara concluded with the Sivananda Arati, chanting and offerings.

The Third Prahara which began with Ganga Arati, continued exalting the celestial attributes of Lord Siva. The reading, ''Lord Siva and His Lilas Part 1'', captured the greatness of the Lord, as is evident in the excerpt, ''Devotion to the Lord dawns in the heart of a man who has done virtuous actions in his previous births without expectation of fruits and egoism or the idea of agency. Devotion leads to knowledge of the Self (Jnana) and through Jnana, he attains Moksha or the final emancipation". Guest artistes, the following inspirational readings, "Chipak Mahadav", "Living Presence of God", audio recordings of Sri Gurudev's and Pujya Swamiji's melodious songs, as well as Kirtans and Bhajans added to the spiritual and soulful ambience of this Prahara. The Sivananda Arati, chanting and offerings concluded the Third Prahara.

The fourth and final Prahara featured a reading, "Lord Siva and His Lilas Part 2", an audio recording of the story, "Bhasmasur", Open time – when devotees made individual offerings by leading in the singing of Kirtans and Bhajans, the recital of the sacred Sri Hanuman Chalisa, Kirtans and Bhajans, the Ram Bhajan – Bhajale Ram, also aptly added to the beauty and grandeur of the Prahara. The Fourth Prahara brought the Mahasivaratri celebrations to a spiritual end with the final chanting, offerings and Arati at 5am.

The importance of the worship of Lord Siva and the popularity of the auspiciousness of Mahasivaratri throughout the world cannot be over-emphasised. Its glory is ineffable. This is aptly captured in Puran Chand's spiritual transformation in the story, "Living Presence of God" by Sri Swami Sivananda. Despaired of getting the coveted fruits of his spiritual practices, Puran Chand decided to approach his spiritual preceptor. He complained that six months of worship of the idol of Narayana had no effect at all! He asked his preceptor to suggest a more powerful Mantra and a more powerful Deity. After much persuasion, the Guru smiled at Puran and said, "Well son, take this idol of Lord Siva. I will presently initiate you into the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra of Lord Siva. Worship Lord Siva with devotion and faith! He is considered as 'Bholenath' and is easily propitiated. He will bless you soon" The next six months saw Puran Chand immersed in Japa and worship of Lord Siva - with not a trace of effect. He again approached the Guru for a change. The Guru smilingly asked him to worship the image of Mother Kali, which Puran commenced in earnest. During his Pujas, still despondent, he felt that Lord Siva, who refused to be propitiated and who refused to bless him, should not inhale the incense while he was worshipping Mother Kali. He plugged Lord Siva's nostrils with cotton. The story continues...The idol disappeared and in front of him stood the merciful Lord Siva, smiling in all love and compassion! When asked to request his boon as the Lord was greatly pleased with Puran's devotion, Puran said, "My Lord, kindly enlighten me first. I am perplexed. You did not deign to bless me when I devoutly worshipped you, when I repeated the Panchakshara Mantra for six months. But you suddenly chose to reveal yourself to me when I had discarded your image and given up your worship. What is this mystery of Thine?" The Lord then replied, "My child, there is nothing mysterious in this. How could I reveal Myself when you treated Me as a mere image, as a mere piece of metal, to be worshipped and discarded at your sweet will and fancy? But when you looked upon My idol as a living Presence, when you began to plug the nostrils with cotton so that the incense may not enter them, this revealed that you recognised My living Presence in it. I could no more withhold Myself from you." Needless to mention, speechless but enlightened, Puran bowed to Lord Siva and was immersed in His love. He could ask for no boon. In Lord Siva's love he found everything.

May the blessings of Lord Siva, Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda be upon us all.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 March 2024 10:27
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