Thursday, March 6, 2008

Maha Shivaratri Special: Lord Shiva’s Ancestry

Lord Shiva’s wedding anniversary is celebrated as Shivaratri on the 14th day (krishna-paksha; waning fortnight) of the lunar month Magha (Phalgun according to some calendars). Shiva’s wedding with Goddess Parvati forms a popular, beautiful devotional event and some of its retellings in the Puranas are associated with a few witty scenes, all saturated with the devotion of His followers.

According to the Skanda Purana, when Parvati’s father, Himavan (personification of the Himalayas), asks for Shiva’s gotra (lineage) while performing the marriage ceremony of kanyadaan, Shiva prefers not to respond to the question. Instead, Rishi Narada starts playing his stringed musical instrument, the Veena. Finding the moment unsuitable for a musical recital, Himavan politely requests the seer not to create instrumental sound.

Narada then reacts with a full-scale lecture: “Shiva’s lineage and family is the Nada – sound energy – for He becomes available to the individual soul by Nada (from chanting, mantra, or music), and Nada and Shiva are both positioned in each other. I was playing the Veena only to truly answer your question.” Continuing his speech, Narada explains that none, including Brahma, is aware of Shiva’s family background, for He is the unborn and formless one. “Because of His power of illusion, the other seers present here do not know Him as well. Moreover, you do not really know your own daughter. Parvati and Shiva are the cause of the universe and its sustenance,” concludes Narada.

Happy Maha Shivaratri!

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