Followers of Lord Shiva are prepping up around the world for Maha Shivaratri festival tomorrow. On Hindu calendars, the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalguna is marked for the worship of Lord Shiva.
Legends ascribe different events to the significance of this day. While one says Lord Shiva performed the great cosmic dance displaying the principles of creation, maintenance and destruction on the day. According to another, Shiva married Parvati on this day, signifying the union of Shiva and Shakti. Yet another legend says Lord Shiva saved the world by drinking the poison that had emerged during the great cosmic event of Samudra Manthana or the mythical ocean churning by the gods and the demons on the day.
Currently, for the majority of people, it is a customary annual celebration to earn the grace of the God, which helps lead their material life in a smooth manner.
For yoga practitioners, however, the festival should be all the more important, as Lord Shiva is considered as the root of the yoga system. Even yogasanas are attributed to him. He is Yogeeshwara or the God of yoga. According to some scriptures of medieval times, such as Goraksha Samhita and Gheranda Samhita, Shiva developed an asana for each species in the creation, which numbered 8,400,000. Out of them, 84 asanas were considered as prominent, and 32 of them were found to be useful in the world of mortals.
Lord Shiva is Mahayogi. Depicted as being engrossed in an eternal meditation, with semi-closed eyes and sitting cross-legged, He symbolizes the presence of a material body and a mind submerged in Universal Self. Shiva shows the way to liberation from the world of forms. The ultimate aim of yoga is helping people attain oneness with the creator, or the Universal Self. This happens if one is able to go beyond the form.
This Maha Shivaratri, let us focus on the seventh limb of Ashtanga Yoga, Dhyana or meditation, and have the glimpse of the formless God, or Nirguna Brahma.