THE GREAT TEACHER OF YOGINS
The Festival of Maha Shivaratri translates quite literally as ‘the great night of Shiva’. Shivaratri is a Powerful Tantric ritual night. The crescent Moon that appears just before the dark Moon at Sunset is a focal point in this ritual. Indeed, Shiva is known as Chandra Shekkhara, which means, ‘the one who wears the Crescent Moon Crown’.
Shiva has the goddess Ganga – the Goddess of the sacred river – flowing from the top of his head, from the Gangotri point, the pinnacle point that meets the highest and in a river like flow – flows to the deepest valleys. Shiva has the third eye that unites the polarities and opposites by glimpsing the power between.
Maha Shivaratri is the uniting of the mountain heights with the deepest valleys. This is the uniting of Shiva and Shakti. This night is a night of the secret wisdom that is born of their embrace.
NAMES OF SHIVA
Shiva has an endless array of forms that express the numerous facets of his being.
Adinath – meaning the original teacher of the Yogins.
Shankhara – the destroyer and drinker of all experience, both the elixir and the poison.
Bhootnath – is his name and means the friend of the Ghosts.
Mahadev – is his name as the overseer of all the Gods
Nataraj – is the celestial dancer, the one who both links all things together and tears them apart.
Pashapati – is the wild Shiva, friend of all animals.
Kaal Bhairav – is time, terror, fear.
All these aspects and endless others make up the facets of the jewel of Shiva. It is said that the Shiva force is strongest at this last lunar phase just before the Equinox moves northward and extends the days to become longer than the nights.
But why is Shiva the grand original teacher of Tantra for which he is known as Adinath? It is important to remember firstly that Adi means ‘the origin’. What is the original Wisdom of Shiva? This question opens up a discussion of the notion of wisdom itself.
The intellect that deduces and reasons, is a great and valued facet of our being in this life. Yet the intellect actually eclipses Wisdom. Reason may only be the holding of a point which it; itself defends and moves itself around.
has its value
but is a very unstable
teacher of wisdom.
The intellect is something that can be opposed, it is something that itself can oppose, it carries strategy that can defend and fortify the foundation it sets for itself, but the intellect has no real roots of foundation.
Wisdom unites all things, it can’t be opposed and does not oppose. Wisdom is the deeper dance step of Nataraj – Shiva as the celestial dancer.
Wisdom is the Adi (origin) quality that Shiva represents. When we meditate upon and look closely at the many forms of Shiva, we may get a glimpse at what lays beneath the eclipsing characters of self and intellect that dance upon the foundation of Wisdom. This in turn might get us to look at ourselves and study our foundations or lack of them.
THE FOUNDATION OF WISDOM
Shivaratri is the celebration and honouring of the very roots and foundation of Wisdom. The endless forms of Shiva, point to expressions of a character, or a state of being that manifests from the roots of Wisdom and not the peripheral levels of self and intellect.
Traveling through the structures unto the foundations and roots of innate wisdom is the reaching of Shiva – from intellect to intuition it could be said. Shivaratri is the celebration and honouring of the very roots and foundation of Wisdom.
All of the faces of Shiva are Teachers of Tantra, from the Strict fearsome Bhairav who in unyielding and causes us to yield – to the deeply compassionate Bholonath, who undergoes anything for the well-being of his friends – Shiva is the teacher who turns many a mask to show us the masks we ourselves wear upon the face of true wisdom.
Shiva, in the style of a true tantric teacher, doesn’t show us just what we want to see, he doesn’t give us only reassuring comfort. He reveals that which we do not want to see, that which is out of sight and that which we fear, he turns our gaze to these places of deep issue and power.
The stories tell time-and-again of Shiva being a fearsome outsider who is not so palatable for the civilized mind that wishes it’s orders to be obeyed. Shiva shows himself in the place where structures break. Shiva shows himself when things go against our will and corner us into a powerless place.
The deep diving
into the corners of our being
is where the Wisdom
that Shiva moves us towards
is to be found.
This ritual night will be an investigation into the original wisdom of the soul that gets eclipsed by other forces, though those other forces are an important part of our lives, they are no replacement for the foundation of being.
The ritualistic practices of Shivaratri are very much concerned with loosening the grip of the intellect and the reason and unfolding the wellspring beneath that they can superimpose themselves upon.By repetitiously applying the seed mantras of Shiva in a sequential manner along with powerful breath work and physical and psychic mudras, the structure of the self is shaken to reveal the deeper foundations of consciousness – the deeper foundations of Wisdom.
If you would like to know more about the ways in which Tantrics honour their teachers, you may like to read our dedicated Blog Post.