Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance

Mahadeva (the Great God), Paramatma (the one unbounded universal Self), pure bliss, pure love, the first yogi, the first guru, That which is not – Shiva is all of these, and ‘The Great Night of Shiva’, Mahashivaratri, is one of the most important spiritual observances in Hinduism, a celebration which occurs once a year on the 14th day of the Hindu month of Masi (in February-March), just before the new moon. Why on this date and why is it so significant? At this exact time the planetary influences or forces of nature are such that they offer us the opportunity to make the very best use of our natural energies to merge with the Divine, with Shiva, and to receive his grace.

The scriptures, and indeed Swamiji, encourage devotees to observe Mahashivaratri by fasting and staying awake all night while keeping our thoughts continuously on Lord Shiva, and engaging ourselves in various spiritual practices. In the Ashram those practices include meditation, abhishekams, chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, singing devotional songs, as well as taking part in or watching devotional dramas, dance and musical performances.

Swami Premananda was a rare soul who, every year when in his physical body, since a young age until his passing, gave birth through his mouth to Lingams on this Great Night of Shiva; Lingams which had formed in his body over the nine previous months. Moreover, some time after the birth of the lingams, vibhuti, a white sacred ash, manifested from the pores of Swamiji’s skin and was also blown out of his mouth in clouds of ash.

Now Swamiji is no longer in his physical body but this extraordinary spiritual phenomenon continues in a different way – each year, since Swamiji’s passing, on Mahashivaratri night a varying number of Lingams have miraculously manifested in his Samadhi Temple in the Ashram in India.

Those who are fortunate enough to be able to observe Mahashivaratri in the Ashram will be able to feel the tremendous spiritual force present there at that time and take advantage of this unique opportunity to awaken their own spiritual energies and deepen their spiritual practices. But Swamiji’s loving energy will also be with all those who gather together to take part in the Mahashivaratri celebrations in the Sri Premananda Centres throughout the world, as well as with those devotees who are alone and thinking of Lord Shiva and Swamiji on this very special night.

“All beings share a great, common goal. We are all being drawn ever forward on the journey towards the Divine. It is the destiny of all beings to evolve. Hindu Sanatana Dharma teaches that, to do this, souls must take different bodies again and again. During these incarnations, each being is cleansed of all impurity, worldly instincts and tendencies. When purity is attained and all tendencies are exhausted, the soul becomes free. During Mahashivarathri we are praying to Lord Shiva to bring us close to the Divine and to liberate us. (…) The divine Lord Shiva is waiting for us at our final destination. Let us not forget him waiting in infinite patience and love for all his children to come home.”

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