Children, Sivaratri is a festival that celebrates the ideals of renunciation and austerity. It reminds us to let go of unnecessary thoughts, immerse ourselves in remembrance of God, and to ultimately attain the goal of God-realisation.
There are many stories associated with Sivaratri. At the time of churning of the milky ocean, Lord Siva consumed the kalakuta poison which arose in order to save the world. Some say we celebrate Sivaratri to remember that occasion. Others say we are celebrating the occasion when Lord Siva appeared before Brahma and Vishnu as the great divine fire when they both were competing with each other. It is also believed that Sivaratri is the day Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati were married.
By nature, Lord Siva, an embodiment of true knowledge and a reflection of love and austerity. Thus, the entire family of Siva is an ideal role model for qualities such as truth, detachment, austerity and compassion. His family is a divine role-model for all householders. It reminds us that one must protect one’s spouse and children with utmost love. That it is our dharma to provide them with everything necessary. But, internally, we must remain completely detached. True attachment should only be there for God. If this is followed, householder life will become spiritual life.
Once a man had to go abroad to pursue his higher studies. It would be four to five years before he would be able to return. Until then, he asked his neighbour to take care of his beloved dog. The neighbour agreed. He took care of the dog as if it were his own. Five years passed. The man returned. The friend immediately gave back his dog. He didn’t think, “I took care of this dog for five years! What right does he have to take it back?” He had complete awareness that the dog didn’t belong to him and that he was just taking care of it for his friend.
Like the friend in this story, we must have complete awareness that whatever we regard as ours has really just been lent to us by God and that God has the freedom to take it back at any time. This awareness will help us remain peaceful when trying circumstances arise in life.
The attitude of self-sacrifice and total surrender to God is not just to be observed on Sivaratri. We must have this attitude all the time. May all our thoughts, words and actions rise from love. Let the realisation “I am not the impermanent body but the embodiment of saccidananda—existence, consciousness, bliss,” shine in all of us. May the grace of God bless all of us.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi