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Showing posts with label Mahashivrati Rituals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mahashivrati Rituals. Show all posts

Lord Shiva Mahashivratri History - King Chitrabhanu

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Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata said that, Bhishma, at the same time as resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma(righteousness), refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu.

The story, as told by Bhishma while resting on the bed of arrows and discourse on Dharma, says that once King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king.

The lord asked the king the reason of his observing the fast. King Chitrabhanu explained that he had a present of recall the incidents of his past birth, and in his previous life he was a huntsman in Varanasi and his name was “Suswara”. His livelihood was to kill and animals and sell birds. One day while he was roaming throughout the woods in search of animals, he was overtaken by the darkness of the night. To search for protection from wild animals, Suswarna sleeked protection in the branches of nearest tree, which happened to a “Bilva tree”. His water bag leaked water, so he was hungry and thirsty. These two torments kept him awake during the night, thoughts of his poor wife and children who were hungry and worriedly waiting for his come back. To pass away time, Suswarna busy himself in plucking “Bilva patra” (leaves of Bilva tree) and dropping them down onto the ground.


The next morning Suswarna returned home and bought some food for himself and his family. The instant he was about to break his fast a guest (stranger) came to him, begging for food. So Suswarna served the food first to stranger and then had his own.
Later, at the time of his death, he saw two divine messengers of Lord Shiva, sent to conduct his soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. It was then that he learnt for the great merit he had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. The divine messengers said him that at the bottom of the tree, there had been a Lingam (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva). The leaves he dropped had fallen on this Lingam, in imitation of its ritual worship. The water from his leaky water bag had washed the Lingam (it is also a ritual action) besides, he had observed a fast whole day and whole night. In consequence, he unconsciously had worshipped the Lord.

So the conclusion of this story is the King said that he lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed godly bliss for long ages, and he has reborn as king Chitrabhanu.

This story is also given in the Garuda Purana.

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Puranas says that, once the other two of the triads of Hindu Gods, Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over each other’s prowess. Horrified at the strength of the battle, the other gods asked Shiva to interfere. To make them realize the uselessness of their fight, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a flaming Linga in between Brahma and Vishnu and challenged both of them by asking them to measure the huge Linga (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva).

Awestruck by its importance, Brahma and Vishnu decided to find one end each to establish incomparability over the other. Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards while Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Varaha (a boar) and went into the earth towards nether land. Both searched for thousands of miles but neither could find the end.

On his journey growing, Brahma came across Ketaki flower. Exhausted and confused with his search to find the maximum limit of fiery column, Brahma made Ketaki agree to lie that he had seen the top of the column where the flower had before resided. Accompanied by his accomplice, Brahma confronted Vishnu and asserted that he had indeed naked the origin of the enormous column.

At this point, the central part of the pillar crack and open and Shiva discovered himself in his full glory. Overawed, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him accepted lord Shiva’s supremacy. Lord Shiva also explained to Brahma and Vishnu that both of them were born out of him and that the three were then divided out into three different aspects of divinity.



But, Lord Shiva was angry with Brahma for making a false claim. The Lord cursed Brahma that no one would ever pray to him. Lord Shiva also punished the Ketaki flower for testifying wrongly and banned her from being used as an offering for any worship. (This legend explains why there is hardly any Brahma temple of significance in India.)

Because it was on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalgun that Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga, the day is extremely favorable and is celebrated as Mahashivratri.

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