Strive, Yearn, Struggle… and Win Victory
That is the Goal of Shivarathri
As we immerse ourselves singing the names and glories of Lord Shiva, let us not forget that the goal of Shivarathri is not just doing bhajans or staying up whole night. Shivarathri is a huge opportunity for us to cleanse our minds and climb up the spiritual ladder so that life becomes for us not a journey of intermittent joys and sorrows but a celebration of love, purity and bliss.
On this day, in 1977, in a beautiful discourse Swami very clearly stated the purpose of Shivarathri delineating how to make best use of this spiritual festival. Here are a few excerpts of that elevating message delivered more than three decades ago:
The spiritual path is the path of detachment, of sense control and rigorous mind training. Mother Parvathi sought to win Lord Shiva first by the glamour of physical charm; she tried to allure Shiva through the stratagems of the God of Love, Manmaatha. But Shiva reduced the God of Love to ashes and rejected her advances. Thereafter she entered into an arduous period of ascetic austerities, and through them was able to win Shiva's grace to such an extent that she became the left half of His sacred body.
Man must first decide, after vigorous self-examination and continuous discrimination, the path that he wishes to traverse. Moksha (liberation) means the removal of the bonds of ignorance that cloud the Truth and create a mirage of untruth. In fact, living is only another name for the process of achieving alternate misery and happiness, hunger and contentment, illness and health, desire and fulfillment. Man reaches out to a new desire the moment one is realised. He is ever struggling and ever unhappy, for he does not seek the eternal, the lasting, the Source and the Substance. He is content with the transient, the trivial and the temporary.
The Secret of Happiness
Use the body as a chariot for attaining liberation through Truth. It is your duty to see that on the four wheels of Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi and Prema (Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love) the chariot moves along the road to the goal. It will travel smoothly only if it has less luggage, that is, less desires, less worries and less fears. Desires, worries and fears are multiplied when man thinks he is the body with all its appurtenances and not the owner of the body. Karma, Bhakthi, Jnaana (Work, Worship, Wisdom) - these are the three paths to God. But through kama (desire), karma (action)is warped; through lobha (greed), bhakthi (devotion) is vitiated; through krodha (anger) jnaana (spiritual wisdom) is befogged. But through Prema (love) one can easily conquer desire, greed and anger.
Learn a lesson from the insignificant ant. When an ant spots a lump of sugar, it does not hide the fact and consume it all alone. Instead it moves round to collect its friends and kinsmen, for it loves to share with others the feast it has come upon. The crow, a bird that is despised and often outcast, when it discovers a little heap of food, caws repeatedly until its kith and kin gather at the place. What is shared is tastier; what is held back is bitter. Life is short and full of misery, so do all you can to derive joy from making others happy. If others are miserable, how can you be really happy?
The Great Chance of Shivarathri
The greatness of man lies in the fact that by conscious effort it is possible to remove the evil in him. But in the case of other animals, however much they may be subjected to training and education, their base instincts will only lie low, ready to spring up at the slightest provocation. Shivarathri declares that by means of spending one full day in fast and one full night in vigil - as symbolic of conquering the senses by sleeplessly watching their antics and preventing them from inflicting harm - darkness can be turned into light, shavam (corpse) can be sublimated into Shivam (God).…
Shivarathri is a reminder to all mankind of the goal of mind-control. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind, according to the sages, and even modern science has discovered a subtle relationship between the vagaries of the mind and the phases of the Moon. In the dark half of the month the Moon is seen less and less as the days move forward, and symbolically it may be inferred that the mind, too, is undergoing a process of decline. This day is the 14th night and there is very little left of the Moon to influence the earth or the mind of man. A spurt of spiritual effort by way of vigil, bhajan (congregational singing) and fasting done on this raathri (night) or period of ignorance, will result in the extinction of the mind and therewith the conquest of all the tendencies and attitudes which it has entangled man in. Thus, this raathri can be sublimated into the heavenly splendour of Shiva.
What We Should Do On Shivarathri
Strive – this is your duty. Yearn – this is your task. Struggle – this is your assignment. If only you do these, sincerely and steadily, God cannot keep back for long the reward of Realisation. The river strives, yearns and struggles to merge with the sea from which it originates. It has that consummation ever alert in its consciousness. It attempts to make itself pure and pellucid so that it may be welcome by its source. It overcomes every obstacle of terrain in order to journey successfully towards its goal. Man too must utilise all the physical, mental, moral, intellectual, and material endowments that God has granted him so that he may journey to the goal of Realisation….
Do not be misled by the belief of the existence of two entitles: this world and the next, here and hereafter. Realise the hereafter here; this world is interwoven with the next. There is no truth in the disparity between the secular and the spiritual, the godly and the materialistic, the heavenly and the earthly. In all the worlds, it is His command that runs. Not even a blade of grass can quiver without His will guiding the wind and disturbing its position. The bulb of life is illumined by the current coming from the Eternal and Universal Powerhouse, Kaivalya, working according to His Laws and drawn through the cable of Love.
When that Prema (Love) is tainted by selfishness, it cannot illumine at all. Self is lovelessness; Love is selflessness. Self gets and forgets; Love gives and forgives. Love can never entertain the idea of revenge, for it sees all others as One-self. When the tongue is hurt by the teeth, do you seek vengeance against the teeth? No, for both of them belong to you and are integral parts of your body.
So too, when some other person insults you or inflicts pain, allow wisdom to have mastery over you. Discover the truth and do not rush to conclusions, always keeping Love as your guide.
Of course, it is a difficult task, but not beyond the capacity of man. A task that can be finished without struggle and sustained effort is not something to be proud of. It is the difficult task that provides the challenge and brings forth the best and highest in man. Embark upon this task with ardour and faith; that will be sweeter. Once victory is achieved, the rest will be added unto you.
- Divine Discourse on Shivarathri Day, February 16, 1977
Dear Reader, how did you like this excerpt from His Divine Discourse? Please share your reflections with us by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.
- Heart2Heart Team