Lord Shiva is the representation of the energy from which everything was born and to which everything in the universe will disintegrate into. The universe is made of 3 gunas (गुण) – satva, rajas and tamas – which are Divine Love (creation), Divine Wisdom (preservation) and Divine Power (destruction) represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Maha Shivratri is the day when the destructive aspect of the Divine energy is venerated.
Destruction is as important in the universe as is creation and preservation. Destruction of negative energies to balance the positive energies is an important aspect of Shiva. According to the Hindu mythology, 14th day (chaturdashi) of the dark fortnight of the month is the day of Lord Shiva and ritual worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri festival that falls on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun pleases Lord Shiva the most. This year the Maha Shivratri falls on the 3rd of March. It is a day and night of devotion and worship of Lord Shiva.
There are many beliefs and stories behind this festival, one of them being the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati (Shakti) were married on this day. He is perhaps the only God who is depicted in the form of Ardhnarishwar, a harmonious conjoining of the masculine and feminine aspect of energies.
There is a difference between the words Masculine and male or Feminine and female. While male and female are genders according to the social construct; masculine and feminine energies are something which each person has. A man is predominantly masculine energy with some amount of feminine aspect. Similarly a woman has predominantly feminine energy and some part of masculine energy as well. Even the Universe is a perfect balance of masculine and feminine energies which is clearly expressed by the Chinese philosophy of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine).
Feminine energies are creative, delicate, intuitive, nurturing, receptive, tender, surrendering, synthesizing, integrating, soft, feeling, and the part of us that “knows” without explanation. It is rooted deepest in our hearts.
Masculine energies are assertive, logical, analytical, doing, controlling, aggressive, striving, projecting, hard, organizing, rushing, thrusting, always pushing us to survive, and has its origin in our minds.
Female is Love and Intuition
Male is Light and Intellect
One needs both aspects. Without intuition, intellect would simply be a misdirected energy. Without intellect, intuition would be of no use. When both are balanced, love and light prevail. Similarly if a man is not nurturing and receptive or a female is not organizing and action oriented, a family won’t be balanced and harmonious. There will be a lack of balance in one’s life internally as well as externally. Fast paced, always on-the-go life has created an excess of masculine energy in most of us.
The earth has been dominated by masculine energies since many years now. Energies of the Earth are changing at a faster pace now to bring about a much needed balance between the masculine and feminine energies. At this juncture, Maha Shivratri will be an important time to bring the much needed balance in our lives. Balance is the key word which has been missing since long.
Some practical tips for the day –
- Observe a fast and offer prayers to Lord Shiva
- Contemplate which areas in your life need balancing – which suppressed parts of your psyche need to be brought to life
- Meditate on the picture of Ardhnarishwar for 5 minutes everyday
- Indulge in something creative
Love and Light