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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Maha Shivaratri

I was going back through my old posts, thinking I must have said something about this holiday a year ago, yet I can't find anything! I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but I didn't have much of an audience back then.

It's a little later this year than I was expecting, I'm used to it falling in February, but this year it is today, March 3rd.

The title of this festival means "The Great Night of Shiva."

A fast is held through the day, and an all night vigil is held with ongoing pujas.

Here is some information about it:

I don't have time for a long post today, work is very busy, but I wanted to acknowledge this important day and tonight, once everything has settled down, I'll be spending some time meditating on Shiva, the central God on my altar.


  1. Shiva is a self-confessed junkie who is happy in his own world. There's a tribal poem made into a song about Parvati inviting Shiva for a matrimonial alliance and describes Shiva warning Parvati of unpleasant consequences, if Parvati's imagined marital endeavors fructify.

    Here is the youtube song:

    Here is the lyrics with translations. The song has a weird tribal dialect:
    तू राजा की राज-दुलारी, मैं सिर्फ लंगोटे वाला सूं (हूँ का हरियाणवी बोल)
    भांग रगड़ के पिया करूं मैं, उंडी (कटोरा) - सोटे (दंड) वाला सूं
    Literal Translation:
    You are a spoilt brat daughter of a king. Im a mere dhoti clad being
    I spend my time preparing hashish by rubbing cannabis in my palms. All I own is this mug.

    Metaphorical Translation:
    You sport Tag Heuer and wear Estée Lauder, I a street hoodlum, who just got a mug shot
    I partake controlled substances, with possessions far and few

    तू राजा की छोरी सै, मेरे एक भी दासी दोस्त नहीं
    शाल दुशाले ओढ़न वाली, म्हारे कम्बल तक भी पास नहीं...
    Literal Translation:
    You are the kings daughter who everyone knows. I don’t have a friend in this world
    Get out of here you with that fancy cashmere, I hardly own a piece of cloth to shelter by body

    Metaphorical Translation:
    You a wine glass socialite, I a lonesome antisocial
    You wear cashmere, I naturist by compulsion

    तू बागां की कोयल सै (है) अढे (यहाँ) बर्फ पड़े, हरी घास नहीं
    किस तरयाँ (तरह) दिल लागेगा तेरा, सतरा चौ प्रकाश नहीं
    Literal Translation:
    You’re busy singing with the birds in the garden,
    How will your heart find peace here in this place. The rays of the sun hardly reach this place.

    Metaphorical Translation:
    In your centrally heated room u do karaoke, I a destitute
    There is no glitter of Manhattan here dear, power cuts abound

    किसी साहूकार के (यहाँ 'से' के अर्थ में प्रयुक्त) ब्याह करवाले, मैं खाली सोटे वाला सूं.
    Literal Translation:
    Why don’t you get married to a big shot manager, Im just completely broke

    Metaphorical Translation:
    Marry an i-Banker lady, raise kids in east coast, I am eternally broke

    मैं धूनी तपा करूँ, तू आग देख के डर जायगी,
    रंग घोल के पिया करूं, मेरा राग देख के डर जायगी
    Literal Translation:
    I set bon fires to keep warm from the cold while an itty bitty flame scares you
    I mix colorful stuff in my drinks; my rage will scare you away

    Metaphorical Translation:
    My Life is not so Rosy, my Rosy, fears it has plenty
    My cannabis induced ecstasy, is the stuff which horror movies are made of

    सौ सौ साल पड़े रहे जल में, तू नाग देख के डर जाएगी.
    तांडव नाच करे बन में, रंग राग देख के डर जायगी
    Literal Translation:
    It lies in the waters for centuries. A sight of a snake scares you
    I dance the dance of destruction in the forests; this rage will scare you away

    Metaphorical Translation:
    O'Beauty, I am a beast, fear and trepidation my companions
    My free-style vacillation is no Flamenco

    तने (तुझे) जुल्फां (ज़ुल्फ़) वाला छोरा चाहिए (यानी मोडर्न),
    मैं लाम्बे (लम्बे) चोटे (जटा) वाला सूं.
    Literal Translation:
    You need a boy with straight silky hair.
    While im a person with long dreadlocks

    Metaphorical Translation:
    Prince charming, well-groomed, with chic hair-do is what u need
    A ruffian with head lice is not what girly dreams are made of!

  2. Broadway, that is a very interesting translation of that folk song, and I appreciate you taking the time to render it meaning, based on your individual subjective experience.

    This song is based on an incident that is talked about in Shiva Purana. But what the song leaves out, the scripture itself has a response from Maa Parvati Herself. To set the record straight, Maa Parvati is performing austerities to beget Shiva as Her husband. Shiva disguises Himself as a hermit and tests Parvati's knowledge that She's acquired through doing austerities. He gives anthropomorphic examples of His own nature to demean Himself, so that She in turn can clarify the said metaphor with the rich philosophy behind it. I am paraphrasing here: ...Shiva says to Parvati, "Do you really want that naked aghori, who covers Himself with ashes, holds a skull cup as a begging bowl, and carries a trident as your husband?" Maa Parvati answers, "He is verily naked because He is Nirguna (without form), and He is an aghori because God transcends the dualities of good and evil, pure and impure, right and wrong. All of these are comprised of Energy, and He is the Shaktiman (the Container of Energy). The ashes are a symbol of particles of matter which are the basis for Material Energy to be produced from and fashioned into elements perceivable by senses. The skull cup is His devotees' minds' filled with desires and longings, for all He asks of His devotees is their detachment from their desires. His trident's 3 prongs are the energies of iccha (intention), kriya (action), and jnana (knowledge) and the handle is the sushumna nadi. He is verily the husband of all".
    Shiva then asked Maa Parvati, still remaining disguised as a hermit, "Do you really want that madman, who associates with ghosts & goblins, and plays a damaru (hand drum) as your husband? He is an imbiber of intoxicants, and verily fools reach out to Him". Maa Parvati responded, "He transcends manas (mind), chitta (individuated consciousness), buddhi (intellect), and ahamkara (ego/"I-maker") and He laughs haughtily because He alone KNOWS beyond the pall Maya (God's mirific Energy/"illusion") which others are so engrossed in and confuse to be 'real'. All beings bow before the Lord, the benign and gentle, and ruffians & evil-doers, for God is the Father of everyone. His damaru is the sound of Nada (primal vibrational sound of 'Aum'). He is the Supreme Enjoyer within, whether it be through merriment or through drinking soma, He is the true Enjoyer. Those who are crazy enough to take a leap of faith and believe in God are surely fools to many! ...Shiva then revealed His true self and happily married Maa Parvati. Their marriage, in Shaiva and Shakta philosophy, is a metaphor of our union with the Divine. In Sanskrit "yoga" means "to yoke", or "to unite". We are Maa Parvati worshiping Shiva whenever we are engaged in idol worship (bhakti yoga), selfless service (karma yoga), and we are Shiva worshiping Parvati when we are engaged in austerities using breath control & postures (raja yoga), and studying scripture, singing praises or practicing verses (jnana yoga). The overall allegory being Shiva and Maa Parvati is that both are COMPLETE OPPOSITES of each other, yet they both compliment each other. In Shaivism and Shaktism, respectively, their devotees are taught that Shiva and Shakti are One. They share the same body - Shakti takes the left half and Shiva takes the right half, and this form is called "Ardhanarishvara" (Half-Female Lord).

    It's more common for adherents of Vaishnavism to interpret the various stories and myths of Hinduism with a literal translation. Let us be grateful that in Hinduism the interpretation of practice, scripture, and ritual is all up to the doer of the sadhana or puja. :)