Thursday is Maha Shiv ratri. March 11 2020
It falls on the night before New moon in the month of Magha
There are many stories on the story behind it. I have written it elsewhere and you can easily do a search on it on the web.
In Sanskrit – maha means great, shiv refers to Shankar bhagwan and ratri means night
So what are you supposed to do?
On that particular day, you eat light. Eating fruits and potatoes, yam. When night comes, you go to your meditation chamber and meditate. This is one of the days, by history, Shankar appeared in person, with minimal effort. Well, if it worked in the past, why would it not work now?
So, on a cosmic level, all Indian holidays are based on lunar months and those days are more favorable days for meditation. Does it really matter? Of course it does. We are constantly contending with outside forces and we battle go within – during meditation. We battle to silence our mind also. Those outside forces accounts for the 4 Yugas as described in Hinduism – Sat yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali yuga. As it so happens besides those major cycles calculated in thousands of years, there is a smaller cycle based on 1 year and even a smaller cycle based on the day.
The Rishis of ancient India had perfect vision and gave all this information to the people. They saw the cycles in meditation. They did not look at the outside stars or use a telescope.
So based on their infinite vision, they came up with Maha Shivratri, one of the best days for getting the blessings of Shiv
So who is Shankar bhagwan? I have talked about it elsewhere. Both Ram and Krishna worshipped Shiv. All ancient Rishis worshipped Shiv. There is no exception. One of the signs of awakening of Shakti is a sudden love for Shiv.
As such Shankar is described as follows. He wears no clothes ( Digambar ). His wife is Parvati. Also known as Annapurna. He has a snake around his neck. He has a trident. His two sons are both God – Ganesh and Kartik (Skanda). His best friend is Kuber – the gatekeeper for money. He left Parvati and went straight to the Himalayas. In spite of all these great people around him, it is said in the rare occasion he wants to eat, he begs for food. He covers his body with ashes. When the world is getting destroyed he dances and that dance is called Tandav. Shakti also dances and that dance is Lapasya.
All Yoga and all meditation starts from him. In all there are 84,000 ways. All meditations are from him…and directly or indirectly, all meditations and results go back to him.
He is the easiest person to please. All you need is purity
A true Guru is the same as him. Such Gurus are very rare.
There is a story of Shankar. Once the Devs and Danavs ( demi Gods and demons ) had a joint project. It is called Samudra manthan. Sage Durvasa gave a very special garland to Indra, the king of the demi Gods. Indra, not knowing the worth of the Garland put it on his elephant named Airavat. Bees came about and started humming and harassing the elephant. Airavat threw the garland away. Sage Durvasa got angry and told Indra, he will be bereft of all strength from there on. After all the garland was a special power of Shakti (Shree). The danavs came and invaded the heavens. And under the guidance of Bali, the heavens collapsed to the danav. Indra went to VIshnu and asked for guidance. He said, pretend to be friends with the Danav and get the nectar of immortality from the oceans.
So they embarked on Samudra manthan. So they use a huge mountain called mandara and immerse it in the middle of the ocean of milk. Then they take the snake Vasuki, which is around Shankar and use it as a rope and they start churning the ocean. The first thing that came out was poison, a terrible poison called halahal. Now the rule was anything that came out, had to be used. No one was willing to drink it…and the poison started to infiltrate the world. Shankar appeared and gladly drank the poison. When he swallowed it, his throat immediately became blue in color. After that he was known as Neelkanth. Kanth means throat, and neel means blue.
Later from the Samudra Manthan – churning of the ocean of milk, they had the nectar of immortality came out. This was meant for the devas and of course the danav should not drink the immortality. So the danav were mislead by Vishnu. Vishnu took the form of Mohini and the danav blindly followed Mohini and at that time, the devas drank the nectar. One Asura or danav named svarbhanu did not follow Mohini and stood in the line of the Dev and drank the nectar. As soon as he was discovered, Mohini (VIshnu) cut his head off with his Sudarshan chakra. But since had already tasted the nectar, his head and body became immortal and are known as Rahu and Ketu. They are the eclipses that occur on earth (Sun and moon) and torment people even now
The other things that came from the Samudra manthan were divided in many ways
They say there were 14 such gems that came out.
Vishnu married lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth. She herself is wealth. He also got kaustubha and the divine bow called Sharanga. VIshnu Bhagwan also got the shankha or divine concha.
Kamdhenu – the divine cow was taken by Brahma and later Sage Vasistha.
Airavata the elephant and Parijata was taken by Indra.
The Uchaishrawavas is a 7 headed horse was taken by the Guru of the danav or asur, named Bali
The divine vaida named Dhanvantari became the dr for the devas.
Shiv got the half moon and that moon adorns his head.
The moral – when we meditate we will meditate with good thoughts and bad thoughts together. If you continue, the divine nectar will appear and that will strengthen the good thoughts and bad thoughts eventually perish. However at times, our good thoughts will get eclipsed by Rahu and Ketu.
Now there is a very detailed interpretation of all the jewels and moon etc that appears. However, it is beyond the scope for this public domain web page.