Fasting for certain religious causes is a practice that has been followed for many generations now. The child sees the elders of the family keeping a strict fast, a custom that the new life also enters into, without really knowing the reason. The fast is normally broken with a small family celebration where all the members of the family gather to perform a Pooja or worship of the relevant deity. As time goes by, knowledge about propitiating God also becomes important in life and becomes a custom that is adhered to.
My life also went through this initiation process. The ceremony of worship of Gods and goddesses always created an aura of expectation in my young life. An expectation of a beautiful mood where there was harmony amongst all family members, in the worship of a higher power. As years went by, I came to the conclusion that a higher objective naturally instills a sense of harmony within the self.
When winter is still lurking around and a touch of the spring comes into the air, comes the ceremonial night of Shivaratri – the night of Lord Shiva. A fast was kept by all family members, especially the women. In the evening, hymns in praise of Lord Shiva were sung and His phallic image or ‘Lingam' was anointed with ‘ghee'- clarified butter. It was then repeatedly washed with milk, honey and finally with water. Being the youngest, the only answer that I got to my curious ‘why' was, it pleases the lord and he grants a boon. My child's mind was filled with various objects of desire that I immediately pointed to Lord Shiva, so that He grant them to me! Today, I cannot say what they were - but many, if not all them, were granted to me.
The simplicity of Shiva's granting a boon was narrated to me during one such ceremonial Shivaratri night. Let me share this with you now.
Once a Woodcutter went deep into the forest to gather wood. He lost count of time and soon it was night. He lost his way in the darkness and fear gripped his heart as he heard the ferocious growls of animals. Then, suddenly and to his utter consternation, he found himself face to face with a tiger. The poor Woodcutter was sure that death was a certainty – nevertheless, he made a valiant attempt to save himself by running for his life and climbing a tree. The tiger, hungry for its feed, parked himself patiently under the tree, rolling his tongue in anticipation of the grand feast.
The hapless woodcutter called out all the names of the Gods that came to his mind, hoping against hope that he would survive the night. He thought, “If I can stay awake the whole night up on this tree, if I do not fall off in slumber, there is yet a chance that I may live, come daylight”.
He tied himself to the tree with the end of his ‘dhoti' - a length of cloth that Indian men wear, so that he would not fall off. And to keep himself awake, he began plucking one leaf after another, throwing each one down, while keeping count.
Inevitably, sleep overcame the poor, tired and hungry Woodcutter and he fell asleep sometime during the night. However, his desire to live was so strong that his hands continued to automatically perform that which his mind had decided to do. So he continued to pluck leaves all through the night.
When he opened his eyes in the morning, the tiger was no longer under the tree! Instead, it was Lord Shiva who was standing there, smiling at him. The leaves that he had dropped the whole night were ‘bel or bilva' leaves, a particular type of leaf without which the worship of Lord Shiva is considered incomplete. During the night, in his fear, the woodcutter had not observed the ‘Shiva Linga' that had been erected right under the tree that he had climbed for shelter! Although his action was merely the result of desperation, he had pleased Lord Shiva, who, in turn, granted him his life.
The Woodcutter promptly fell at Lord Shiva's feet in salutation. He sang his glories for the rest of his life, becoming a devout worshiper of Lord Shiva. Such is the simplicity of Lord Shiva's propensity in granting boons to all who worship Him.
It is believed, worshiping Lord Shiva and performing Rudrabhishek on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri has special significance in our life. Performing Rudrabhishek destroy all kind of negativity from our life and also enhance all round prosperity and happiness in life by the powerful blessings of lord Shiva. CyberAstro welcomes you to be a part of this ceremony and see how Lord Shiva enhances your life with his powerful blessings.