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Happy Exclusive Night of Lord Shiva

Issue February 2018

Happy Exclusive Night of Lord Shiva

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The fourteenth night of the dark fortnight of Falgun (February/March) is the great night and day for the Hindus particularly of the Shaiva sect to revere Lord Shiva because on this cold winter night Lord Shiva appeared in front of the devotees to meet whatever desire they have. So, most of the Hindu devotees visit the temple to Lord Shiva elsewhere in Nepal and in the South Asia, and in the world on this day and night in particular.


Thousands of devotees have lined up at the entrance to the temple to Lord Pashupati (another name of Lord Shiva) in Kathmandu, at the entrance to the temple to Dolesvore Mahadev (Head of Kedarnath in India as stated by Shankaracharya) in Bhaktapur, and Haleshi Mahadev (also another name of Lord Shiva) in the Khotang district despite the early morning winter rains today.


Devotees would make a bonfire at every neighborhood in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country to keep them warm while waiting for Lord Shiva to appear and then bless them with whatever wishes they have in the minds. They also roast peanuts, soybeans and corns to eat as the blessing from Lord Shiva.


The fourteenth night of the dark fortnight of the Falgun (February/March) is called the Mahashiva Ratri means the great night of Lord Shiva, as the lord appear on this night to bless the devotees. Nepal has made this day as the national holiday for the Hindus and the people of other faiths, too so that anybody wishing to have the blessing from the lord could visit the lord. However, the Pashupati temple is off-limit to the non-Hindus. It might be so elsewhere.


Some people interpret the Pashupati as the lord of beasts but the real meaning of this word is to be free from the animal instinct. Humans also as other animals in general have the instinct that goes beyond the logic of human thinking. Pashupati means to avoid such animal instinct and develop human instinct.


About the origin of the Pashupati, we have several myths.


One of the myths has been that once a cowherd taking the cows for grazing has found one of the cows always stands at the particular space and then drips the milk on the area. It has been quite strange to the cowherd. He told this incident to others and it was passed on from one person to another through the word of mouth. Some curious folks dig the area to see what is there. They found the Shiva Lingam that has become the lingam of Lord Pashupati in Kathmandu.


Another myth has been that a perpetual small fire was found in the same area. So, folks worshiped the fire as the lord Pashupati, and later on a lavish temple was built to Lord Pashupati on the site in this area. The Nepalese styled temple with the gold-gilded brass roof is still intact and stands magnificently even after the devastating earthquakes in 2015.


Third myth has been that Lord Shiva once wanted to be with the animals in the mundane world. So the lord sneaked up on the company of deer as one of them, and lived among them, grazing in the Sleshmantok forest in Kathmandu. Lord Shiva’s spouse Parvati finding Lord Shiva has been nowhere to be seen in Kailash: the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati for so many days without any message has been worried about Lord Shiva. So, she summoned Lord Vishnu and Lord Indra in the world of deities, and told them Lord Shiva has been missing for so many days.


Surprised by the news of Lord Shiva missing from Kailash, both Lord Vishnu and Lord Indra came down to Parvati, and have more information on Lord Shiva. Thereafter, Lord Vishnu with his transcendental vision scanned the heavenly world but could not find any sign of Lord Shiva. Then Lord Vishnu focused on the human world, and scanned it. Ultimately, Lord Vishnu found that Lord Shiva in the guise of deer was grazing among the wild animals in the Sleshmantok forest next to the Bagmati River.


Knowing whereabouts of Lord Shiva, both Lord Vishnu and Indra descended on the Sleshmantok forest, which was so gorgeous that not only any animals would like to be here but also even the heavenly folks would like to enjoy the beauty of the forest. They noticed so many wild animals and birds have been enjoying so peaceful and blissful lives. For both Lord Vishnu and Indra, the forest looked more like a heavenly than mundane.


Both Lord Vishnu and Indra noticed that the horns of one of the deer were glowing and emitting the golden light. Both the heavenly folks believed that the deer must be Lord Shiva. So, they closed in the deer, and suddenly, they seized the deer by the horns. In an attempt to escape from the hands of Lord Vishnu and Indra, the deer broke up the horns and one piece flew to the heaven and another remained there, and incarnated as Lord Pashupati next to the Bagmati River.


Devotees made so much of offerings to Lord Pashupati that the lord’s temple became one of the richest temples in the country. Even the State used to borrow from the temple treasury whenever the natural calamities or man-made calamities hit the country causing a great destruction. Even today, Lord Shiva earns in billions and the priests in millions a year.


Lord Pashupati is one of the most celebrated Hindu deities in the South Asia. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan visit the temple in a week starting from the four days before and ending four days after the Mahashiva Ratri day. Currently, busloads of Indian and Nepalese devotees come over Pashupati on or before or after the Mahashiva Ratri. Locals also visit Lord Pashupati on the Mahashiva Ratri Day.


Mostly naked ascetics have enjoyed the privilege of staying on and around the Pashupati temple for eight days starting four days before and ending four days after the Mahashiva Ratri. The State owned trust called Guthi Sansthan provides them with the firewood for making bonfire round the clock, and meals and even hashish for smoking in the past. After the scandalous smoking and even commercialization of hashish causing embarrassment to the Guthi Sansthan, smoking of hashish was totally prohibited. Guthi Sansthan pays the ascetics for the bus fare for their return.


The so-called ascetics must be the agents of the heavenly folks that want to discredit Lord Shiva, as they pretend to emulate Lord Shiva smoking hashish, which is absolutely false because Lord Shiva never smoked hashish. The rulers in the South Asia in the past used ascetics as their spies. Even in the Mahabharata, Chief Minister Bidur used ascetics to spy on the agents of Duryodhan in Barnavate that had been repairing the building for Crown Prince Yudhister and his four brothers and the mother to live in while having an annual retreat and for introducing the newly crowned crown prince to the common folks.


Labeling Lord Shiva as the hashish-smoking guy must have been the religious politics, too, and must have ended in a war between Shaivites and Vaishnavists as described in the Svasthani story told in Nepal for a month in Magh (January/February). Dachhe Prajapati led the Vaisnavists, and deliberately caused an immense insult to Lord Shiva stating Shiva has been so mean smoking hashish, and remaining in the semi-conscious state. This led to a war between Shaivites and Vaishnavists culminated in the death of Dachhe Prajapati.


However, the so powerful and emotional appeal of the spouse of Dachhe Prajapati melted the Shiva’s heart; then, Lord Shiva gave him a new life but his head was tossed in the fire made for the fire worship and burned down. So, Lord Shiva set a head of a sacrificial lamb on the shoulder of Dachhe Prajapati facing back sending the message of Dachhe Prajapati has been not only animal like but also facing an opposite direction.


Opponents of Lord Shiva portrayed him as a dirty folk with matted hair and long beard, and fierce one that could hit anybody with his trident at a slightest provocation. In other words, the opponents have depicted him as a ferocious savage, which is absolutely untrue.


The same opponents projected Lord Shiva as a dirty folk with matted hair and long beard, dancing to the tune of a hand drum whenever the lord needed to attack someone and do a considerable damage or even kill. Lord Shiva never danced so violently as the opponents depicted as the lord did to the tune of a small hand drum. It is shaped in an hourglass with two strings attached to the center; each end of the strings has a small ball so that these balls hit the drums when folk play it holding it at its middle.


Thus, the opponents gave a wrong picture of the lord, and discredited the lord whenever possible. This indicates that even the spiritual folks have used the religious publicity to give a bad and wrong image of Lord Shiva.


However, the closest picture of Lord Shiva might be the human form of Lord Shiva depicted in the meditative position wearing serpents around neck and arms, having matted gray hair in which a crescent moon is pined, and a fountain of water coming out from the top of head, and wearing the tiger skin and sitting on the elephant skin.


Lord Shiva almost always meditated, and taught nonviolence, and loved all living beings including animals. The lord kept the company of a bull. The lord loved to dwell in the hills with the background of the snow-capped mountains. Probably, the lord made a perpetual bonfire to keep warm and he used the ash for rubbing the body to stop losing the body heat.


Lord Shiva dwells in the symbol such as a lingam inserted in a circular plate with an opening pointing to the north. This is a symbol of union of male and female for creation of a new generation. So, Lord Shiva is also the symbol of creation not destruction as his opponents projected him.


The Lingam in the inner sanctum of the Pashupati temple has six faces: four facing to the four different directions, one facing to the sky and another to the earth. Each one of the faces has a different name. This made Lord Shiva in the Lingam named as Pashupati to look and see anything at any direction without changing the position of the head.


Some folks believe that Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvor (Rudra) are the creator, the administrator, and the destroyer respectively. They also say that Lord Shiva is Rudra and destroyer. However, Lord Shiva is three in one. Lord Shiva is Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvor (Rudra).


Lord Shiva is omnipresent and omnipotent, so is the universe, too. Some called Lord Shiva is an abstract without shape and size and limit. So, Lord Shiva is a universal object than a figure.


Lord Shiva is the source of semen whereas Parvati is the womb for giving birth to the entire holy folks in the Hindu world. Those holy Hindu folks are the direct descendants of Lord Shiva. From those holy folks, all other Hindu folks descended. Thus, Lord Shiva is the creator of the entire Hindu world.


The Nevah saying goes “Mahadyo ya chikul, Ganedyo ya ekul” means Mahadev feel cold, Ganesh feels dizzy on the Mahashiva Ratri. Nevah devotees revere Mahadyo (Mahadev) and Ganedyo (Ganesh) equally on this day. So, devotees flock to the temples to Lord Ganesh on this Mahashiva Ratri day, causing Ganedyo to feel dizzy.


Ganedyo and Sithidyo (Kumar) are the two sons of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. Sithidyo resides at the entrance to every Nevah house whereas Ganesh presides over a neighborhood. So, every neighborhood has a Ganesh temple.


When I was a small kid in 1950s I used to watch naked ascetics and the folks from south visiting Datatraya in Bhaktapur after visiting Lord Pashupati in Kathmandu. Some kids used to follow the naked and ash-smeared ascetics due to curiosity. Datatraya is a single name for Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvor (Rudra). His idol has three heads. So, Datatraya is another name for Lord Shiva.


At that time, I felt these folks from south including India were quite different from the folks in the Nepal Valley. Every one of them had a single sheet of white linen wrapped around the body. They carried their belonging on their heads. They walked in a beeline.


February 13, 2018

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