(From benedictory discourses of Self-realized Saint Shri Asharamji Bapu)
There are four nights of great religious merit – Janmashtami, Holi, Diwali and Shivaratri.Shivaratri is also known as Ahoratri. The planetary combination on this day is conducive to elevation of mind to higher centres from the lower ones. Animals and insects have more powerful faculties of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Man cannot match the sexual power of a goat. A he-goat can perform sexual intercourse with 40 she-goats in a single day. Man will die if he does so. Goat, pig, hare and other lower life forms are for sense enjoyments. You have not come to the earth for the sake of sense enjoyments.
Shivaratri comes to awaken the man born in the body with animalism into his divine nature in order to attain the bliss of changeless Narayana.
Lord Shiva says, ‘I am not propitiated so much by self-mortifications, sacrifices, charities, fasts as by observing fast on the day of Shivaratri.’ What is the meaning of Lord Shiva being propitiated? Does Lord Shiva become happy when you starve? No you will not starve. But if you will not eat, the toxins present in your body which may cause a disease will be burnt down. The undigested particles of incompatible foods which cause sloth and laziness will be destroyed and your dormant nature, Existence Absolute, Consciousness Absolute and Bliss Absolute will get manifested. You can yourself experience this by observing fast on the day of Shivaratri and keeping vigil the whole night. I have tried it. When at home, I observed fast on a day of Shivaratri and kept vigil the whole night. I got such a benefit that I embraced asceticism soon. Otherwise God alone knows what my state of health would have been at this age of seventy years. Perhaps I would have been seeking help even for normal movements.
One who observes fast on this day should observe it sincerely. Old and debilitated people who find it difficult to observe complete fast can take some grapes or take a glass of coconut water but not more than that.
Keeping vigil the night of Shivaratri goes a long way in destroying toxic wastes deposited in the body since birth, latent evil tendencies and desires in the mind.
Observe vigil throughout the night of Shivaratri and do japa of the seed-mantra ‘bum’(वं) 125,000 times. It can cure the arthritis. It is certain. The arthritis will be cured in just one day. So great is the glory of Lord Shiva’s seed-mantra. Sit in the Vayu Mudra and do japa of ‘bum’(वं). When the generator runs, electricity is produced. The electricity runs the geyser as well as the refrigerator both of which perform functions contrary to each other. Similarly the spiritual energy produced by the japa of ‘bum’(वं) mantra acts even on opposite conditions. In old age one is afflicted by vata related diseases like gout, arthritis etc. Japa of ‘bum’(वं) has a miraculous effect on these ailments.
Please derive full benefit from the night of Shivaratri. Sit on an asana which is non-conductor of electricity. No problem if you do not go to any packed temple. Do japa of "ॐ नमः शिवाय' (ॐ namah shivaya) at home. Go to the temple of your mind. The mental puja is ten times more effective than the sixteen-step ceremonial puja. It makes us introverted.
Worship Lord Shiva mentally offering Him flowers and leaves. Then calmly repeat "ॐ नमः शिवाय '. Such japa is of great merit. If a special mantra is repeated 100 counts of rosary with the calm state of mind in the particular night in a windless place, you will have divine experiences. All 80 of the vata related diseases will disappear with 125,000 japa of ‘bum’(वं)! If you repeat "ॐ' 120 counts of rosary everyday, as you reach 5,00000 japa of Aum, you get Mantra Siddhi which results in the transfer of the power of the Mantra to the Sadhaka. All of us repeat "ॐ नमः शिवाय', but let me tell you its meter, Rishi, Devata (presiding deity), beeja, Shakti and kilaka. At the time of japa, keep these in mind. In the mantra ‘ॐ नमः शिवाय', Vamadeva is the Rishi; meter is ‘Pankti’; the Devata or the Deity is Lord Shiva; "ॐ' is the beeja (seed); "नमः'(Namah) is Shakti (potency); "शिवाय'(Shivaya) is the kilaka (sealer). We should also keep in mind and pray to the presiding deity, Lord Shiva that we are doing japa of the mantra with so and so objective. The potency of the mantra will work for the fulfilment of that particular objective.
If you worship and pray to Lord Shiva and have in your mind the objective of attaining to Shiva, the Supreme Being, there is no benefit, no blessedness superior to it. Pray to Lord Shiva, ‘O Lord! O Shambhu! O Shankara! I am taking refuge with You to save myself from the pain and suffering of the world and from the pangs of birth and death. Tormented and worsted by worldly troubles, I am seeking help of Your mantra. Please be propitiated by this Shivaratri fast I have observed and the japa of mantra I have done for abiding in my heart as the Indweller Lord, You know everything. O Lord! Be pleased with me and endow me with the vision of Knowledge. May I be equanimous in pleasure and pain, gain and loss! May I overcome the evil influences of worldly life; may I be delivered from sins and afflictions of the world and may I in this Vedic festival attain to my real nature removing my sins and afflictions.’
The worship and devotion to Lord Shiva is done in five ways: The first is Tapas – purity in food, fasting and Brahmacharya (abstinence). Japa of the mantra ‘ॐ अर्यमायै नमः’... ‘Aum aryamayai namah...’ is useful for preserving Brahmacharya. Japa of this mantra should be done on the Shivaratri day, because japa of mantra done on the Shivaratri day is many times more effective. Second is noble deeds and puja etc. (physical as well as mental) for the pleasure of Lord Shiva.
Third, fourth and fifth respectively are japa of Lord Shiva’s mantra, meditation on the essential nature of Shiva and Knowledge of Shiva Tattva. This is the worship of our Self-God, inner Shiva. Shiva Tattva is present in the funeral pyre as well as in the corpse. That is the reason why the corpse gets putrefied. Every microbe is permeated by Shiva Tattva. This Knowledge and outlook that enables one to behold Shiva Tattva in everything including non-Shiva (Shiva here means auspicious); that enables one to find happiness in sorrow as if bringing greenery and water in the desert; This Knowledge will make your life full of Shiva Tattva, auspiciousness.