What form of “Siva should we contemplate on the holiest night of the year? “In all the various temples for yogis and Hindus in all the various continents around the world, “Siva will be worshipped in his many forms, but it is the “Siva linga, most of all on Shivaratri, that is the purest, most mysterious of all,” explains Swamiji.
The “Siva linga is an upright form, sitting on a base (also called the yoni) that represents “Sakti (the Goddess, or feminine expression of “Siva). The primordial realities of “Siva and “Sakti are omnipresent in our own human forms and the world around us. In meditation, I have experienced my upper torso as the linga and my legs and lower torso as the yoni. It was a powerful awareness of revering “Siva within, Om Namah Shivaya.
There is a connection between the “Siva linga and the yaj~na (fire ceremony). For many thousands of years, “Siva has been revered through the yaj~na. Those of us yogis who went to Ganeshpuri in 2013 experienced this profound ceremony. Priests presided over offerings into the fire, surrounded by tables of murtis (statues) and colorful sand designs — all underscored by hours of mesmerizing and rhythmic chanting to all the forms of “Siva. This complex and beautiful ceremony propelled us deep into the inner realms, “Siva’s vast expanse. In ancient times, “Siva was worshipped in this way every single day.
Over thousands of years, the practice of a daily yagj~na became erratic and fell away, leaving an immense gap. “People were looking for something that they could use for their focus, for their mind and their heart to remember God,” says Swamiji. “There are a number of amazing and beautiful stories that explain the origins of the “Siva linga, about how “Siva took the shape of a mounded stone and how the flame froze and became the stone. The “Siva linga gave people a form of “Siva they could touch and handle and carry with them,” explains Swamiji.
“The linga gives me an immediate experience of presence, in a stillness and deep silence that draws me into the innermost recesses of my own being,” says Swamiji. “The “Siva linga is the mystery, in a physical form.” Explaining that it isn’t a statue of “Siva, Swamiji says, “It is the whole of “Siva, yet existing within “Siva.”
By including the “Siva linga in our celebration of Shivaratri, we connect with an ancient tradition and maximize experiencing our own divinity.
Watch for an article on how to have your own Shivaratri celebration.