Mahashivaratri: The Night when Yoga happened to the First Yogi
8.7% of US adults – or 20.4 million – practice yoga. Another 44.4% of the US adults are “Aspirational Yogis” – those interested in trying yoga. Unfortunately, Yoga for almost all has remained an exercise, when it could have been a tool for complete transformation of a being. Today, Americans are spending $10.8 billion on Yoga learning and products (source). A large market of health and fitness from an ancient tradition that was created towards a very important end.
It would be instructive to remember that as efficient and amazing Yoga is in resolving many health issues and is sought after by the top Medical Hospitals globally to augment treatments of various diseases, conditions and recoveries, it was not formulated with the use of modern science. Modern science of today may have dissected and looked at every possible physical aspect of our body, but none of that knowledge went into creating Yoga. Yet, till date, it remains the most potent and efficient way of renewing one’s body and mind.
This is like saying that we have a Rocket with us, which is far superior to anything we have been able to create, and it didn’t use any of our latest technologies.
Then, isn’t it important to know who were those who created this entire way of being – yes, Yoga is not just postures or Asanas? What was their modus operandi? If there were millions practicing a discipline which was central to their well-being, wouldn’t they be interested in knowing who has come up with such an important thing for their lives?
Indian Yogis – the carriers and teachers of Yoga for many a millenia – credit the origin of Yoga to the Adiyogi. Or the “First Yogi”. Adiyogi is also called Shiva. Shiva is celebrated as one of the main three divine presence that Hinduism celebrates. Yet, he was a living Yogi who raised his consciousness to a level that the entire cosmos reverberated through him. What Shiva did was to change the very way humans could live and handle themselves. For the first time, a being looked at the human body and laid down all the ways that one could raise his/her experience to a level where outside conditions or scenarios no longer dictated his/her joy and well being. After much work, Shiva laid down 112 ways to achieve that. Those 112 ways were collectively called Yoga. Millions of Yogis came and raised their own consciousness and worked with those 112 ways to chart out new formulas or mixes. But the essential ways remained intact.
Tonight is the night when Shiva was married to Parvati. Symbolically perceived at coming together of Shiva and Shakti. Or what is known in far east as the “Yin and Yang”. Yoga means Uniting or coming together. Tonight in Spiritual and in energy realms – the foundational energies of this cosmos came together. Today, Yoga manifested in its complete way. This night is known as Mahashivaratri.
A night when Yoga was finally manifested in its complete sense by the being who first conceived of it along with his Shakti, his wife – strangely has been missed by almost the entire Yoga world. If there was one occasion or time when a Yogi can most utilize the very energies of the cosmos to take him beyond, then it is tonight. But millions of Yogis have instead chosen today to make their millions tonight as opposed to use Yoga for the one thing it was manifested for. Uniting with the cosmic primordial energy.
Despite its overwhelmingly amazing benefits health-wise, Yoga is never talked in terms of bones, blood and muscles – the basics of our physical body, but in terms of Chakra, Prana and Naadi. No one has ever seen any of the latter. Yet, Yoga works! What is it that modern science, which focuses on the physical, is missing? If the Yogis were “loonies” to be talking about “non-existent” Chakra, Prana and Naadi, then they couldn’t have come up with a brilliant, time tested product. Is it that we are missing something?
And in that question lies the centrality of Yoga. It is an energy phenomenon. As is Life. And Death. In fact, the entire “Existence”. Something that the scientists have been able to discern, albeit not fully looked at biology with the knowledge of the quantum as they should have. Yogis bridged that gap – of looking at the body with the lens of Quantum – many millenia ago. The being who pioneered this “Science” was AdiYogi Shiva.
The Hindu calendar is lunar and Mahashivaratri is always followed on a certain day:Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Maagha as per Amavasya-ant month calculation. As per Poornima-ant month calculation, the day is Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Phalguna which falls in February or March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Shivaratri – the 14th day of every lunar month is also the darkest. The one that fall in February-MArch period is the most significant for Spiritual processes though. Sadhguru explains why the importance of the darkest day.
The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivarathri. Among all the twelve Shivarathris that occur in a calendar year, Mahashivarathri, the one that occurs in February-March is of the most spiritual significance. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we establish a certain festival which is night-long. One of the fundamentals of this night-long festival is to ensure that – to allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way – you remain with your spine vertical – you stay awake.
Mahashivarathri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path. It is also very significant for people who are in family situations, and also for the ambitious in the world. People who live in family situations observe Mahashivarathri as Shiva’s wedding anniversary. Those with worldly ambitions see that day as the day Shiva conquered all his enemies.
But, for the ascetics, it is the day he became one withMount Kailash
. He became like a mountain – absolutely still. In the yogic tradition,Shiva is not worshipped as a God
, but considered as the Adi Guru, the first Guru from whom the knowledge originated. After many millennia in meditation, one day he became absolutely still. That day is Mahashivarathri. All movement in him stopped and he became utterly still, so ascetics see Mahashivarathri as the night of stillness.
This year’s opportunity may have been passed by most of the Yogis. But let the Yoga world be awakened to the One who brought Yoga to us all. Let us celebrate Mahashivaratri from next year as the Night of Awakening!
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