Namaste! Om Namah Shivaya!
Unfortunately I was asleep for much of yesterday, but there is still many hours of Shivaratri left for my timezone. For those of my readers who are not Hindu, Maha Shiva Ratri is an annual festival in honor of Shiva, the Great Lord, Mahadeva! The date can vary since it’s based partly on the moon. The name itself means “Great Night of Shiva”. In Kashmir Shaivism we call it Har Ratri.
There are a lot of different things people associate with this auspicious festival. From Shiva’s dance of the triad of destruction, creation and preservation, to the union of Shiva and Parvati.
Mantras, fasting, meditation and for some hashish or bhang. For me though, I will suffice with mantras and telling you about Shiva and my goddess!
The Ultimate Yoga
In Tantra the union of Shiva and Goddess is paramount to Moksha (liberation), and in Kashmir Shaivism we consider the way to Shiva through Shakti. So on a day like this, I am reminded of the union of Parvati and Shiva… Bhairava and Kali! It is by embracing Shakti that we will realize our nature as Shiva and transform into our true nature DESTROYING all illusion.
Just as Shiva dances to destroy and CREATE, we likewise will create, destroy and preserve as Shiva in Shivagama as Vasugupta spoke of in his writings. The lineage of Trika started with the ancient Kapalikas, and from those ascetics the Spanda, Krama, Kaula and other schools were eventually born.
To me, Shiva is the ultimate expression of divinity and god. My Goddess is the active manifestation of Shiva. The cosmic expression and moving force of creation. The marriage of creation and creator is a divine union, the cessation of duality, that we should celebrate on this day. Shiva is the truth, and Shakti is the path! To honor Parvati and the 3 Shaktis of the Trika is to realize the Shiva in ourselves. We are to be as like a loving caring husband to Parvati, or as a loving and caring wife. To respect Parvati as the mother she is.
Our Mother Death and Life
We come from creation and our bodies will return to creation. She in her time form is Kali, goddess of death, and so also rebirth. Unlike other Hindu sects, Kashmir Shaivites do NOT believe that maya is an illusion! Shakti is VERY real. Our lives and deaths are concrete, REAL. It is merely our perception of our nature that is the illusion. Samsara is a real phenomena and every moment of joy and sorrow we feel is as real as Shiva himself as it is the manifestation of his nature, as well as ours which are one in the same. It is simply a matter of time, and Hinduism has countless trillions of years yet predicted for us.
Since all is of Shiva (and thus his consort) then all will ultimately realize their Shiva-Shakti nature. Even every demon, evil being, good being, angel, human and animal soul will ultimately bow down to Mahadev. After all, if the Rakshasa Ravana can write such a loving hymn to Shiva (like at the beginning of this post), then anyone can embrace Shiva.
Ishvaras by Many Faces
None of this is to downplay the other deities. It has been said in the orthodox Yoga schools that any deity can be used as divine inspiration and to relate to ‘God’ (if we want to call it that). Shiva is the most popular deity in the Orthodox school of Hinduism, but he is not the only. Tantra has many influences from Yoga, I mean even us Trikas call Shivagama a yoga!
But for us Shaivites, Shiva is supreme, and he is that face, that Ishvara and way of relating to the divine. And Parvati his wife. We are Parvati, not just as creation but in relation to Shiva. Vasugupta’s writings after the Shiva Sutras spoke of the tantric as recognizing her inner Shakti. I believe this is no mistake as again it is often repeated that the way to Shiva is through Shakti. In my opinion one must, under proper understanding or guidance, master their own Kundalini force through meditation. She is the manifesting, the active. For me, the Rajas (and hence my name).
So then on this day, for Shaivites we give the greatest worship to Shiva and Parvati. We meditate, pray, fast, forgive and make it a day of discipline and Satya. If Shiva-Shakti is all, then we must treat one another as we would treat our own family, and in Hinduism, family is EVERYTHING.