Marathi Language Day

Marathi Language Day is observed in Maharashtra, every year on February 27th. This day commemorates the birthday of Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, an eminent Marathi author.  It was officially established by the Government of Maharashtra to celebrate the Marathi language.

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Marathi, A Popular Language

Marathi is one among the ancient languages of India, and is substantially derived from Prakrit. It is the official language of Maharashtra, and is also co official language in the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. It is the fourth most spoken language in India. It has around 8 crores / 80 million speakers. It is listed among one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Marathi is included as a part of the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, and thus it holds the status of a scheduled language, i.e. it is one of the official languages of the Union of India.

Early Marathi works

The earliest Marathi works can be traced to the works of many saints, and are philosophical and devotional in nature. An early Marathi inscription was found at the foot of Bahubali statue at Shravanabelgola.

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar and Mukundraj

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar is one of the early known poets, who composed many hymns in Marathi. Mukundraj is another Marathi literary giant, dating to 1200 CE. His work Vivek Sindhu consisting of 18 chapters and 1671 verses is one of the earliest books in Marathi. He also authored the Param Amrit, which has 303 verses in 14 chapters. These works deal with the Advaita philosophy.

Sant Jnaneshwar

Sant Jnaneshwar is a literary giant in Marathi literature, from the 13th century. He is a revered saint, a devotee of Lord Vithhala, who composed Amrutanubhav, a work on his experiences in yoga and meditation. He also wrote Bhavartha Deepika, also known as Jnaneshwari, which is an extensive commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

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Sant Jnaneshwar
Sant Namdev

Sant Namadev is another Marathi poet saint, contemporary to Sant Jnaneshwar, who composed many Marathi poems in praise of Lord Vithhala of Pandharpur. He also composed many devotional hymns in Hindi, which has been included in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.

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Sant Namdev
Sant Eknath

In the 16th century CE, Sant Eknath was another literary figure who composed many devotional songs, and also authored many works such as the Eknath Bhagavat, Bhavarth Ramayana, and many other works.

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Sant Eknath
Sant Ramdas and Sant Tukaram

In the 17th century, when Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj who established the Maratha Empire, Sant Samarth Ramadas and Sant Tukaram were the famous poet saints during his times. Samarth Ramadas, who was the Guru of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, authored Dasbodh in Marathi, which are his teachings on the way to liberation.

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Sant Ramdas with his disciple Shivaji Maharaj

It is to be noted that all these works of the poet saints revolved around the divinity of Lord Vithhala, the deity enshrined at Pandharpur, in Maharashtra, which to this day is a famous pilgrimage centre. Much of the works in Marathi is owed to the devotion inspired by Lord Vithhala. Another Marathi devotional work, which comes to mind is Bhaktha Vijaya, a book on the lives of the saints who propounded the Bhakti Rasa. This was composed by another Marathi literary figure, Mahipati, who lived in the 18th century.

Image result for lord of pandharpur

Vithhala, the Lord of Pandharpur

In recent times, Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of the Marathi giants in literature, whose birth is today officially recognized as Marathi Language Day.

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of those Marathi scholars and author who popularized Marathi, through his poems, short stories and novels. He was born on 27th February 1912, and passed away on 10 March, 1999. In a career that started from pre independence days, this eminent poet wrote 16 volumes of poems, three novels, 7 volumes of essays, 8 volumes of short stories and 18 plays.

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Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Famous Works

Some of his famous works like Vishaka, published in 1942, was an inspiration for the Indian Freedom Movement. Another popular work of Vishnu is in the field of plays. His play Natsamrat in Marathi is regarded as one of the masterpieces in the history of Indian literary. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for this work of his.

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Vishakha, the famous work of Vishnu Viman

Recipient of many awards

Vishnu Vaman has been the recipient of many state and national awards for his achievements in Marathi literature. He was awarded the Danyapith award in 1987 and Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was the chairman of Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan, a Marathi Conference forum, for many years.

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Marathi language Day

Thus to honour his contributions in Marathi Literature, the government of Maharashtra found it fit to celebrate his birthday as Marathi Language day every year. On this day, the government organizes various events on Marathi languages, which include seminars and essay competition that are held in schools and colleges.

All in all, a day to honour the Marathi Language. Cumulatively all Marathi authors and their works are celebrated on this day.

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho, A World Heritage Site

The Khajuraho Dance Festival owes its name to the town Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, where the festival is celebrated. Khajuraho is a World Heritage Site consisting of a group of monuments, temples.

Khajuraho, The Capital of Chandella Dynasty

Khajuraho was the capital of Chandella, a dynasty that ruled between 10th and 12th century CE.

Khajuraho, Etymology

The word ‘Khajuraho’ comes from the word Kajur, meaning, ‘Palm Dates’. The place abounded in ‘Palm Dates’ and hence was named Khajuraho.

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple

The famous Lakshmana Temple is located in Khajuraho.

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Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho Dance Festival is a one week festival, organized by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad. The Festival was started in the year 2010 and is conducted every year in February.

Bringing together Dance and Dancers

The Festival brings together some of best players in the field of dance and showcases a rich variety of Indian Classical Dances such as Kathakali, Odissi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Manipuri.

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Khajuraho Dance Performance

In Backdrop of Temples

The performance by various exponents of dance and music are conducted in open stages in the backdrop of the beautifully lit Khajuraho Monuments.

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Dance Performance during Khajuraho Dance Festival

Pamban Bridge

India’s First cantilever bridge

Pamban Bridge is India’s first cantilever bridge that connects Rameshwaram with mainland India. The bridge was opened on February 24, 1914.

It was also India’s first Sea bridge and one of the longest bridges in the country.

The bridge is the life line to Rameshwaram Island.

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Pamban Bridge

Scherzer central span

The 65.23 metre long rolling central span of the 2.06 km long bridge, is named after William Scherzer, the German engineer who designed and built the span.

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William Scherze
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The central rolling span

It opens up like a pair of scissors to allow vessels to pass through under the bridge.

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1964 Cyclonic storm

In 1964, even when a severe cyclonic storm hit this part of the area, Scherzer’s central span withstood nature’s fury. What is further remarkable is how this entire bridge was restored for traffic in a mere 46 days under the leadership of the man behind the Delhi Metro, E.Sreedharan, who was then posted in the Southern railway.

Of course, Rameshwaram has yet another bridge just parallel to it which was built in 1998. But that is a road bridge.

Longest for around 100 years

Pamban had stayed as the longest sea bridge of India for close to a 100 years, until it was surpassed by the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link built recently on Mumbai’s western coast. But then again, Bandra-Worli Sea Link is only a road bridge.

Pamban has much more load to carry as it is a rail bridge. Starting as a metre guage railway line it was upgraded to a broad guage line in 2007 and then again in 2009 it was further strengthened to carry goods train.

Among the world’s old and historic bridges, the London Bridge is one of the more famous ones.

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London Bridge
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In comparison with London bridge

In comparison to the London Bridge, the Pamban Bridge has had to face much more fury from Nature as it is built over a Sea.

It is located in world’s second most corrosive environment after Florida which makes it maintenance a challenge and a round the year activity. It is an activity that has been going on unfailingly for the last 100 years.

A train journey on this legendary sea bridge is sure to put everyone in awe. In awe of nature power and human skills!

World Thinking Day

Can we afford to think only for one day a year?

Thinking and Questioning are innate to man every day. Intellect develops through the process of thinking, questioning & seeking answers.

Thinking is known as “Chintan” in Samskrt. Thinking thoughts and expressing them through discussions in collective sittings or camps, called Chintan Shivir or Chintan Baithak, has been a part of our culture and tradition.

How did this day come to be called the World Thinking Day?

The Birthday of Scouting and Guiding founder Robert Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell are commemorated as World Thinking Day by the scouts and guides family worldwide.

                   Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell

Interesting link

It is interesting to note that the Swastika symbol was used by Baden Powell.

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Swastika Symbol in the early Scouts Handy Book

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 Thanks badge issued by the Scouts and Guides under Robert Baden Powell

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The card sent by the Baden Powells

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Robert Baden Powell on the Swastika Symbol

The Image Swastika finds use in all ancient societies and is still used in India.

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Similarity between Swatika and the spiral galaxy

The word Swastika comes from Su, meaning ‘good’, Asti meaning ‘well-being’ and Ka meaning ‘of’.

Swastika is not just the well-being of health, Swasth, but the well-being of everyone in society, in knowledge, in character, and overall in Nature. Unfortunately, during World War II , Hitler, his people and his armies grossly misused the symbol due to which profound the symbolism of Swastika has been viewed negatively in the last 6 decades.

                    Hitler abused the Swastika symbol. A taboo now

We need to look for its original meaning, its knowledge, for the well-being of society and the world.

Like this, on this World Thinking Day, many other thoughts should be looked at from the right perspective.

Significance of Shivaratri

Indian thought and practices over time immemorial have commemorated certain days and festivals as ways and means for people to understand, remember and reunite with the Universe and the divinities of the Universe.

These festivals become gateways for people to reach out and be in communion with the divinities.

Shivaratri is one such festival which is a gateway to reach out and understand the divinity called Shiva or Shiva Tattva.

Shivaratri celebrations

Once we understand the meaning of Shiva Tattva and the celebration of Shivaratri, no doubt, our celebrations and the enjoyment of the Tattva of Shiva will be enhanced manifold. It will make our celebrations more relevant and meaningful.

Ithihasa Purusha-Historical Personages

Among the Indian pantheon of divinities, few are historical and many others are Tattva, principles, essence in nature.

The prominent historical divinities are Rama and Krishna for which reason they are called as Ithihasa Purusha, historical personages and Avathara Purusha, those who came down to this earth, to live with us.

Lord Rama       
Lord Krishna

Rama and Krishna – Historical Personages

Shiva, a Tattva

In contrast to this, Shiva is not an ithihasa purusha but is a tattva. .

What is Shiva Tattva?

 

Shiva

Shiva – A Tattva

Meaning of the term Shiva

The word Shiva simply means Mangalam, auspicious. Anything that is auspicious is Shiva. This auspiciousness which is all pervading throughout the universe, is a constant presence during the lifetime of this universe, before the creation of the universe and continues to be so after the dissolution of this world, this solar system, this galaxy and this entire universe.

Thus this Shiva, auspiciousness is the very life of the universe. Not just the life we see around us in a very limited perspective of life in humans, animals or plants but the very concept of life itself.

The meaning for Shiva as auspiciousness is evident from the following examples.

The traditional way of wishing “Goodbye” was through a phrase “Shivaasthe Panthaanaha” meaning “Let your ways be auspicious”. Ways here, meaning your paths, your deeds and ways of life.

Namaste

 Shivaasthe Panthaanaha

The term “Shiva” also has a much larger connotation which includes

  • having the potential,
  • being capable of,
  • boding well,
  • being favourable, promising.

All of these meanings of Shiva are also attributed to the Indian term “Mangalam”, which also has a similar all encompassing meaning of denoting the potential to manifest something good.

Shiva-Shava

From a metaphysical perspective, Shiva can be split as sha+ee+va where

  • sha stands for Shareeram, body,
  • ee stands for eeshwari, life giving energy and
  • va stands for vayu or motion.

Thus Shiva represents the body with life and motion.

If the “ee” is removed from Shiva, it gets reduced to sha+va or shava.

Shava means a lifeless body.

Anything with Shiva is with life and anything without Shiva is Shava or without life.

Here we see that while Shava is motionless or lifeless, Shiva is with the potential of life.

Making this potential manifest as matter, life and the cosmos, is Shakti the energy tattva, the female counterpart of Shiva. Without Shakti, Shiva stays as the potential. It is Shakti that triggers Shiva into manifesting as life.

This body is composed of many cells. It is the Preeti, the forces of attraction which keep the cells together to produce a body with life or with Prana. When this Preeti is gone, the cells disintegrate and Prana goes away from the body and the body is considered to be dead.

Thus Shiva along with Shakti together go to produce the universe as we can and cannot see it.

So, Shiva is auspicious, Shiva is potential and Shiva is Life. Shiva is all encompassing – the universal soul or consciousnss, Chaitanya. Realizing this Shiva Tattva leads to Ananda, bliss.

Understanding Night, Ratri

This Creation resonates with a rhythm or a natural heartbeat. Every object in this Creation has its own cycle or rhythm, in which it rises to a peak and ebbs to a low. This low is called the night, ratri.

The word Ratri means comfort giver”. It is derived from the root word “ram” meaning “to be content”, “to give contentment”.

3 Levels of Activities

Ratri is that which gives one comfort or rest from the 3 types of activities namely:

  • Kayika or bodily actions,
  • Vachika or speech
  • Manasika or thoughts.

A person is afflicted physically, mentally and spiritually by 3 types of agents, namely

  • Adhyatmika – pertaining to the self, the Atma
  • Adhi Bhauthika – pertaining to the elements of Nature, the Bhuta
  • Adhi Daivika – pertaining to the cosmic, the Divya

During night, as man sleeps and gets regenerated, all 3 types of actions are subdued and mind is completely at rest, free from all types of afflictions.

Hence night is called ratri or the comfort giver.

 Ratri

What a beautiful way to form a word such that its very formation implies its meaning and function.

It is during the ratri or night of any being, that the being gets rejuvenated and refreshed for its next cycle or day.

The Natural Rhythm

For man, this natural rhythm is daily day and night. Every night, the body gets regenerated and refreshed for the next day. The old cells are discarded and get replaced with new cells every day. Blood in the body is purified and circulated every day. New blood cells are born each day. This is Nithya Pralaya or daily Pralaya.

What is a Pralaya?

Pralaya

Only when there is dissolution of the old, can there be scope for regeneration of the new.

There is a continuous cycle of dissolution and regeneration going on in the Universe.

The process of dissolution is called Pralaya. Pralaya is limitedly understood as waters or fire engulfing everything.

Infact there are 4 types of Pralaya defined in ancient Indian texts, they being,

  • Nithya Pralaya, daily Pralaya
  • Naimitika Pralaya, occasional Pralaya
  • Avantara Pralaya, seasonal Pralaya
  • Maha Pralaya, the great Pralaya

Laya means to merge or dissolve into. Music that makes one forget everything and makes one blend with the music is said to have Layam. It is also a rhythm.

The prefix Pra denotes special as in Prakrithi which is primordial or ultimate Nature. Pralaya thus simply means the rhythmic, special dissolution or merging back into ultimate natural form.

Shiva, being the potential to manifest, is the divinity for dissolution and regeneration. Hence the time one readies for rejuvenation and regeneration that comes with a Pralaya, is associated with Shiva as Shivaratri.

Observing Shivaratri

Not so commonly known is the monthly celebration of Shivaratri, which falls on the Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi every month or the night preceding the New Moon.

Maha Shivaratri or the Great Shivaratri is celebrated annually on the Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi night. i.e. the night preceding the New Moon, in the penultimate month of the year, the month of Magha or the month of Masi in Tamil calendar, which typically occurs in the month of February – March these days.

History of Shivaratri

Rishi Kahola Kaushitaki in his Kaushitaki Brahmana records that Maha Shivaratri was celebrated even during the Mahabharatha times, i.e. 5100 years ago.

Appreciating Shivaratri

In cosmology, when the entire Creation starts contracting, it is expressed as the start of the night of Brahma and the final collapse is called the Maha Pralaya. This Maha Pralaya then leads to the start of the next cycle of Creation and is thus a regeneration of the entire Srishti, Creation.

The interim state between a dissolution and a regeneration is a period of both serenity and tranquility when all bodies are calm and preparing for regeneration. Following this tranquility is the joy and celebration which comes with having been regenerated and refreshed.

Change through celebration

The change that comes with dissolution can primarily be accepted in two ways,

  1. With pain
  2. With celebration

When there is resistance to a change, there is pain. Where there is willful acceptance, there is no pain. When we understand and willingly accept that a dissolution is only for a regeneration, the dissolution or change ceases to cause pain.

Shivaratri is an occasion that makes us aware of the need to change along with the ever changing cosmos and to renew our cosmic connect.

It is a window to prepare ourselves to accept the change, to let go of the past, to make way for the new and the rejuvenation that comes forth.

It is a celebration to welcome the change, the rejuvenation.

Therefore for time immemorial our ancestors have given this night of regeneration, a feeling of serenity through fasting and praying and have followed it with celebration through singing.

Shivaratri

Shivaratri

Every Shivaratri, let us connect with this Shiva Tattva and get rejuvenated to face the coming phases of our lives.

More information on these aspects of Shiva is available in our book, “Understanding Shiva”, and a film, “Understanding Shiva” which are a part of the Bharath Gyan Series.

understanding shiva book
understanding shiva film

Understanding Shiva – “Book and Film”

Herat

Shivaratri

Shivaratri is a festival which is a gateway to understand the Divinity Shiva, Shiva Tattva. Once we understand the meaning of Shiva Tattva and the celebration of Shivaratri, no doubt, our celebrations and the enjoyment of the Tattva of Shiva will be enhanced manifold. It will make our celebrations more relevant and meaningful.

Shivaratri

Herath

In Kashmir, which is the home of Kashmir Shaivism, MahaShivaratri is celebrated with the name of Herath, among the Kashmiri Pandit community.

The word Herath is a phonetic derivation Har Rath, meaning the night of Hara, Shiva. In the legend, it was on this day that the marriage between Shiva and Parvati took place. In Kashmir, every woman is regarded as an embodiment of Parvati, Shakti and every man, of Shiva. Thus every marriage is between Shiva and Shakti.

Herath celebrates the union of Shiva tattva and Shakti tattva that has given rise to the whole creation. 

In another sense, Herath also signifies the mergence of Shakti tattva – the Prakrithi with Shiva tattva, the Purusha, leading to complete liberation.

Kashmir Shaivism

One of the seats of knowledge in ancient India was Kashmir. The Kashmir Shaiva thought is considered even today to be very advanced. It was called Trika. This aspect of Shiva representing the potential to manifest has also been expressed in the Kashmir Shaiva thought Trika, by Acharya Abhinavagupta in 1000 CE.


Acharya Abhinavagupta

Acharya Abhinavagupta, who belonged to the school of thought initiated by Rishi Shvetasvatara many thousands of years ago, describes Shiva as the nature of existence in all beings and calls this nature as Prakasha. This shows that the chain of thought all the way from the days of Rishi Shvetasvatara to even 1000 years ago could understand Shiva as the ability to manifest and the nature of existence in all beings.

As per Trika too, Shiva can be understood to be of 3 states, Arupa, Rupa Arupa, Sarupa, and hence the name Trika. To gain the knowledge of Trika, they recommend 4 steps:

1. Anavopaya i.e disciplining the ego

2. Anava i.e meditation

3. Saktopaya i.e activating the energy centre by centering one’s attention in silence

4. Sambavopaya i.e freeing oneself from thought

Thus we see that Shiva represents the chain from subtle to gross to subtle and the ways to understand Shiva therefore also require subtleness and meditation.

This is emphasized through the description for Shiva,

Since this state is beyond our comprehension or does not have a form that is cognizable or can be perceived, it is akin to formless and can also be referred to as Arupa as well and for reference referred to as Turiya or the fourth state.

In this state, the body is restful and mind is alert like a snake. This concept of Shiva as the formless and with form, spanning the entire universe, before and beyond, has thus been beautifully brought out through this Slokha from Vignana Bhairava Tantra,

Wherever we go, it is the travel of the body. This body could be a human body, the body of planets like our earth, the body of our sun and other stars, the body of the different galaxies of the Universe. These are the physical bodies. Shiva exists in all these and where all these go.

Beyond this physical level, is the level, where only the mind, which is subtle, can go. This Shiva, exists there too, even before the mind can conceptualize about such places and go there.

Thus this auspicious, potential of this Universe, which is here known by the name Shiva, exists within and outside all these bodies mentioned above, in its natural tranquil state. The uniqueness of the Indian thought is that the divinity does not exist outside alone controlling the Universe through puppet strings, but exists within all bodies in this Universe all the way down to the humans and all other living beings and inanimate objects – a profound understanding.

Herath celebrates this profound understanding.

Herat, the province and the city

There is a province and a city in Afghanistan which goes by the name Herat, signifying a phonetic link from India. This shows that the festival of Herat was not limited to the Valley of Kashmir alone. The festival of Herat and concept of Herat spread all the way upto Afghanistan to warrant a province and city to be named Herat. This show that Kashmir Shaivism of Trika, till about 500 years back was the prominent religious thought of not just Kashmir, but also in northern parts of Pakistan, and much of Afghanistan too. These were not just geographically contiguous regions, but also had religious thought of Shiva and Shakti ingrained in them.

Herat city and province in Afghanistan    
Herat City

More on the concept of Shiva, Shakti and Kashmir Shaivism in our book and film, Understanding Shiva.

Symbolism of Shiva

In Indian tradition, Shiva Tattva, is often represented in a distinct form of Shankara sitting in meditation holding implements such as Damaru and Trishul. He has a mark of vibhuti on His forehead. He wears a snake around His neck. He has a matted hair with Ganga flowing out from these locks. He has a crescent moon on His head as a ‘decoration’. He rides a Bull called Nandi, His Vahana, vehicle.

Is this the real form of Shiva or is it a visual representation with each of these aspects of His form having some significance?

Shankara

Shankara etymologically comes from “Sham karothi ithi Shankara”, meaning, “that which does good”.

Thus the form of Shankara brings to bearing that Shiva, the auspicious and with the potential to manifest all goodness, can only be realized through deep meditation, a state when the sound of OM reverberates through our mind, being and senses.

Shankara

Watch Bharath Gyan Film on Shankara

Trishul

The Trishul as the name itself suggests, is a trident, a spear with 3 spikes to it.

Trishul

The Trishul of Shiva seems to be conveying the significance of 3 to us.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film Trishul

The 3 Forces of Trinity

At one level, this Trishul denotes the concept of Trinity in the Universe where the Trinity represent the divine forces of the Universe.

What are these three divine forces of the Universe?

In the ancient Indian texts, the Trinity or the divine forces have been expressed as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva i.e. the creator, preserver and destroyer respectively.

Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

The Indian Rishi, seer scientists, have expressed that for the Universe to go through its cycles, this Trinity, these 3 divine forces are an essential requisite and it is essential for these 3 forces of the Trinity to work in tandem.

This concept of Trinity has also been discussed by different civilizations in their own variant forms.

The 3 states of Divinity

At another level, the Trishul or trident of Shiva is perhaps to remind us constantly of the 3 states of Shiva namely

Arupa – Formless,

Rupa-Arupa – Formless Form and

Sarupa – With form.

Watch the Bharath Gyan Film – 3 states of Shiva

The 3 states of Man

Trishul also denotes the 3 modes of action in mankind and that which drives these acts. They are;

1. Kayika, physical actions

2. Vaachika, speech

3. Manasika, to do with the mind

These 3 modes of action do find a equivalence in the 3 states of the divinity as well, for example

  1. Kayika with Sarupa or manifested form
  2. Vaachika with Rupa-Arupa for the formless form
  3. Manasika with Arupa for the formless

It is pertinent to note here that the ancient Greek divinity of Europe, Poseidon, also had a trident in his hand.

Damaru

The other prominent implement in Shiva’s hand is the Damaru.

The Damaru is a rustic, very ancient variety of hand held drum, with a central bead attached to string which swings and beats on both sides of the drum in an alternating manner.

What is the significance of this Damaru in Shiva’s hand?

Shiva represents the Cosmic being and the Cosmic power that causes the cycles of creation, dissolution and regeneration which happen in regular rhythmic intervals as the acts of Nature.

The implement that best exemplifies the beat of the rhythm is a drum.

The primeval drum is the Damaru.

As Shiva oversees the rhythmic of dissolution and regeneration, the Damaru best exemplifies the implement most needed by Shiva to keep up this rhythm.

The cosmic rhythmic beat is such that, it causes everything in this Universe to merge in unison with this beat and dissolve back into Shiva. This event is therefore called Pralaya. Thus when Shiva beats His Damaru, He causes the Pralaya or natural dissolution of this Universe.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Damaru

Third Eye-Tryambaka

Tryambaka comes from the roots tri meaning 3 and Ambaka which means eyes.

The name Tryambaka for Shiva thus is said to mean Shiva the 3 eyed.

3 eyed Shiva

Modern physiology indicates the presence of a gland called the pineal gland in the brain, behind and between the eyebrows which is considered to be the focal point for concentration. The 3rd eye of Shiva is also but a way to remind us to open our eyes and see, experience Shiva in all the three states, Arupa – the Formless state, Rupa Arupa –  the Formless Form state and Rupa – the Formful state.

The third eye is to realize Shiva in His formless Arupa state which is at once vast, terrific and terrifying.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short- Shiva’s 3rd Eye

The Forehead Mark – Vibhuti

Of the 5 primordial elements, the Fire element, Agni, is associated with Shiva. This is exemplified by the story of the Lingodhbhava. Fire acts on anything and everything and reduces it to a state of ash or Bhasma. So Bhasma is a product of Agni or Shiva acting on it. It is considered symbolic of Shiva’s act of destruction for regeneration.

The word Vibhuti means resplendent or glowing, with extraordinary powers.

The smearing of the ash or Vibhuti is meant to destroy one’s ego and ignorance and give rise to a new self, glowing with the realization of Shiva.

Moon on head-Chandrasekhara

The moon weaves a magic in the sky every fortnight.

Once, the New Moon phase is reached, there is no moon visible from the earth. From there, it grows again and recreates a Full Moon again within the next fortnight as part of a beautiful celestial show of Nature. Shiva as the divinity of regeneration, in His pictorial form, has a very thin crescent moon on His head.

Chandrasekhara

This thin crescent symbolically depicts the regenerative aspect in the monthly cycle of the moon from the thin remnants of the previous cycle.

Regeneration is also connected with fertility and what is interesting to note here is that, in humans, the women’s fertility cycle of 28 day period exactly coincides with the 28 day cycle of the moon.

The Chandrasekhara or Somasekhara form of Shiva brings out to us the intrinsic correlation between the phases of the moon, fertility and the humans.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Chandrasekhara

Nandi –The Bull

Shiva’s Vahana, Vehicle is the bull called Nandi. A bull is called Rishabha in local language and it is a Pashu. The loose translation for Pashu is animal. But Pashu is also an encompassing term that includes all living beings or bodily forms.

Shiva as a principle of the Universe can only be realized through subtler means and not in a physical or gross form. Thus Pashu or bodily forms are a stumbling block in the way towards realizing Shiva.

Nandi, Bull

Only when one is willing to go beyond the bodily level of understanding and hones the subtler senses, can one understand and realize Shiva Shankar and peace.

 Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Nandi

This Shivaratri, let us imbibe the significance behind Shiva’s visual form as we immerse ourselves in the Shiva Tattva.

[Selective excerpts from the book Understanding Shiva in the Bharath Gyan Series by D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari]

Understanding Shiva Book

Also watch the 19 Short Films on ‘Understanding Shiva’ here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9QLcyiVla352leXqBX6smjKtdhJ7ZhOQ