The Great Night of Shiva - Maha Shivaratri
"I am Nataraja—the dance master, the first among dancers.
You are all dance pupils. I alone know the agony of teaching
you each step in the dance!"
-Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
On Shivarathri how fortunate and deserving one would be, to
be in the precincts of Prasanthi Nilayam that is blessed by
the presence of Shiva himself in His physical frame! Yet,
are we ready to embrace this fact. Or, will it be conceived
to be a pseudo world that lures one with a temporary, so
called, heaven? Well, it is not an insignificant piece of
information that is to be sidelined in favour for the petty,
ephemeral and mundane choices of the world. Instead, it is
an awareness that one should accept and assimilate. Our
being contemporaries of Sathya Sai Baba is neither a
biological accident nor a mere co-incidence. It is His
merciful compassion—His love for mankind. As Bhagawan has
mentioned time and again, it is the good acts of many
previous births that has brought us close to this divine
phenomenon. So, let us reciprocate, remain vigil and be
When Bhagawan says He is Nataraja, it is not a claim, but a
revelation—the highest Truth. Hence, a Shivarathri with
Shiva serves as a reminder of the eternal link between human
and the Divine. This is the holy occasion when the jiva
remembers and adores Shiva, who is the Lord of all souls.
And this has been so from the 1940’s. Bhagawan has said:
“All that you find in this world, mobile and immobile, is
nothing but the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. This is wonderful,
blissful and beyond human comprehension…”
This foremost dance master, the ‘constructor’, who fondles
and kindles ‘the constructed’, has come down in person,
attracting millions and billions, making this festivity of
Shivarathri a real happening, a spiritual carnival on planet
earth even though the depth of this holy occasion is
realised by ordinary mortals only to their degree of
understanding and perception. As Dr. V.K. Gokak has said in
one of the Shivarathri occasions in Prasanthi Nilayam, "We
all feel one with each other under the Fatherhood of God.”
Maha Shivarathri, which means the Great Night of Shiva,
falls on the Krishna Chathurdasi day which is the fourteenth
day during the waning of the moon in the month of Megha,
though in some years it may occur in Phalguna also.
This festival has a unique tale that dates back to the
ancient times. The legend has it that in the ancient city of
Srisailam a thief with a keen desire to plunder a Shiva
Temple went there with this intention and patiently waited
behind the ‘Lamp of the Lingam.' Crowds came and went and
the hours passed on. At last when everybody left the temple
the thief was left alone but there was a cyclonic weather!
An unknown fear enveloped the thief suddenly and in spite of
himself being a thief, he started muttering ‘Shiva, Shiva'!
This little Japa proved sufficient. In his great
concentration in invoking Lord Shiva to protect him, the
Lord appeared. And pleased with his devotion, Shiva
How the festivity is celebrated?
This festivity adorns varied styles in different parts of
the country. In the South it is usually celebrated as a day
of fasting and worship to Lord Shiva. At night they break
the fast and take food (non-cereals) that is offered to the
Lord. The whole night is spent in the invocation of Lord
Shiva in various ways like Akhanda Japam, Akhanda Bhajan
etc. In the Malabar area of Kerala, this is celebrated more
or less similarly, with slight variations, giving more
importance to the fast and going through the various pujas
with an elaborate evening function called the 'Sheeveli'.
During Sheeveli the deity (Lord Shiva) is adorned on top of
a majestic temple elephant and taken in procession along
with other elephants around the Divine Abode. After this,
the night would start, and people after worshipping and
witnessing the ritual, would break their fast by taking the
'abhishekam'—water of tender coconut.
In Benares, the Abode of Lord Viswanatha, the festivity
reaches its climax when thousands and thousands of Hindus of
all shades, sects and sections throng, practically
transforming the ancient city into a 'Sea of Humanity'. On
this day Lord Viswanatha is practically covered with all the
Bilwa leaves of India!
And in the Highest Abode of Peace, at Prasanthi Nilayam, the
festivity takes a different dimension and it has all the
reasons to be so. What is so charismatic that attracts
millions and billions to this remote hamlet-turned-township
in the southern part of India?
Those who battle their way to Prasanthi Nilayam to be in the
towering presence of Bhagawan know the pulsating feeling
that the festivity of Shivarathri injects.
In the olden days
Shivarathri is supposedly one of the major festivals in
Prashanti Nilayam that draw maximum assemblage of devotees
and significantly it has valid reason, backing up the claim.
Shivarathri of those days used to be completely different in
style from the festivity that is celebrated today. Bhagawan
would hoist the Prasanthi Flag atop the Prasanthi Mandir
which would be followed by short discourses. Invariably,
there used to be scholarly speeches by prominent
personalities also who would talk on the significance of
fasting, the night vigil and the worship that was laid down
by the Sastras as obligatory on Shivaratri Day.
The Prasanthi Flag is symbolic of a successful sadhaka who
achieves realisation through the conquest of evil qualities
namely, attachment, anger and jealousy etc... and through
the expansion of Love and the practice of Yoga they ascend
through various stages of Sadhana, resulting in the
blossoming of the Lotus in his heart, and thereby attaining
Pra-kanthi, Higher Illumination, Prasanthi, Highest
Tranquility and Param-Jyothi, the Higher Splendour of
Realisation, merging his ‘imagined self’ into the Universal
Self; conquering sleep, sloth, thamas and clamorous demands
of the senses—Rajas and winning the unshakable equipoises of
the wise—Satwa. During one of the Shivarathri Divine
Discourse, after hoisting the Prasanthi Flag, while speaking
on the symbolic significance of hoisting the flag, Bhagawan
exhorted that the flag should be hoisted over every heart,
simultaneously with the hoisting on the Prasanthi Nilayam
Mandir. Those days there used to be a sea of expectant faith
in the vast open space in front of the Shanti Vedika (a
newly constructed hexagonal Mantapam, with friezes of
Gitopadesam and of Sita-Rama with Lakshmana and Hanuman, and
with the Sivalinga represented on every pillar) waiting to
witness the grand hoisting ceremony.
About the mysterious Lingodbhavam…
“It is the Form emanating from the Formless. The Linga
creates itself in Him; He creates Himself in the Linga.”
- Prof. N. Kasturi
Browsing through the past editions of Sanathana Sarathi one
would get a glimpse of the unique Divine Phenomenon,
Lingodhbavam of yester years. The then Editor-in-Chief and
the chosen biographer of Bhagawan, Prof. N. Kasturi, had
written about the Shivarathri of those days: “Shivarathri is
the festival which manifests most of the God that Baba is.
The miracle of the formation, in His stomach, of stone or
metal spheroids during the week previous to the holy date,
was enough to electrify the atmosphere of Prasanthi Nilayam.
Days ahead, a broad aura of dazzling white with pink border
enveloped Him wherever He was. He Himself announced that the
Lingam was growing, and if the growing pains were unusually
perceptible, the number, He foretold, was more than one.”
Every year, since 1940, when Bhagawan declared that He had
come to restore Dharma and foster His Bhaktas, the
indisputably Divine Emergence of the Linga, (one or many,
emerald or crystal or silver) has happened on Maha
Shivarathri night…in the earlier days it would happen at
round 9:00 p.m.
Quoting an incident wherein Prof. Kasturi prayed to Bhagawan
for directions about a cover design for the 1967 Shivarathri
Special, Kasturi wrote referring to the All Religious Symbol
that Bhagawan drew on the occasion as a response to his
prayer, “Baba says His Grace is so vast and limitless that
He claims the whole world to be His mission, every state
being but a Hall within it.” He continues, “This is the
reason for the emergence of the Linga from Him on
Shivarathri, for the Linga is the most universal symbol of
God, the simplest, the most easy to comprehend and
Reminding one of the crucifixion that Jesus had taken upon
Himself as the son of God, for the benefit of humanity, this
very form of God also goes through the ‘ordeal’ in its
minute detail enabling humanity to partake the highest
benefit of this most dignified spiritual drama of the modern
age. Notwithstanding the travails that would be expected
during the olden days due to lack of proper transportation,
lodging and other facilities, there used to be a
congregation of anything between twenty to thirty thousand
people thronging in to celebrate Shivarathri in His hallowed
How observant…how conscious…how eager were the devotees
ensuring that they would not miss the most coveted Divine
Melodrama? Read on the exhilarating, yet most
incomprehensible account of the episode in 1969…
The Divine ‘ordeal’ was never a choice for the devotees but
a compelling benediction…indeed a blessing in disguise…
Excerpts from Sathyam Shivam Sundaram
Every year, since 1940 when He announced that He was Sai
Baba 'come again', the emergence of one Linga (or many) from
His Body through His mouth has taken place, during the
Lingodbhava muhurtha (the auspicious moment for the exterior
manifestation of the symbol of the all-pervasive Divine
Principle). This is an inscrutable mystery: how the Lingas
of various types of stone or metal are formed within Him and
how they emerge at that particular moment, every year,
calculated according to the ancient texts of Jothishasastra!
Nine lingas, of 'silver' have come out one year; in other
years, there have emerged five or seven or three or two, all
in a lump or in succession. Until that illustrious moment,
no one can pronounce on the number, size, or composition of
the lingas that are undergoing concretization in Him. It is
all so normal, until the Lingodbhava muhurtha arrives.
"Until 1956, the Shivaratri all-night vigil and Bhajan could
be held in the Prayer Hall itself. Baba sat on the silver
chair placed on over a tiger skin on a low platform. When
the slower hand of the clock hovered near eight, the Linga
or Lingas indicated the desire to emerge and Baba showed
signs of physical struggle to smoothen their way out. Year
after year, 1 have stood on His left, holding silver jug of
water. Seshagiri Rao stood on the right with a silver plate
to receive the Linga as it fell out. At predetermined
moments, proceeding through the gullet, the Linga presented
itself for public view and personal use. One year eleven
Lingas emerged in a row, one behind the other. Another year,
there were nine. He has given Me one of the nine. It is
worshipped with Mantras prescribed in the scriptures. The
Linga miracle does happen annually on every Shivaratri day
wherever Baba happens to be.
On one Shivarathri Baba spoke for about forty minutes on the
mind and its manifold tactics to confuse and confound, and
how man has to discover the strategy by which it can be
controlled and made subservient to the intellect, thereby
leading to the realization of the Atmic reality. Suddenly
the gushing stream of superb eloquence and supreme guidance
was interrupted by gasps and gutterings - premonitions of
the emergence of the Lingam - which Baba endeavored to put
down, a little while; then, He signaled for Bhajan to start
and Himself sat on the chair, behind the table. No one heard
the Bhajan, though they were mechanically uttering the words
in the tune allotted to them. For, the crucial moment was
fast approaching and no one in the gathering wanted to miss
it. All senses were now concentrating their efficiency on
the eye, so as not to miss the Divine Event!
Baba was under the flood lights, squirming, turning,
twisting, sitting forward and leaning backward, sipping
water and showing signs of exhaustion, all parts of the
amazing Drama that He was now allowing these thousands to
witness, so that they may stand witness in their own lives
to the glory of being contemporaneous with the Avatar! Fifty
thousand eyes were focused on that serene Mouth - for over
fifteen long laborious minutes! "Ah! It has emerged, in one
leap; a blue shaft of light, was it? No it was the blue
Lingam oval shaped, oval sized gem, celebrated in the
Sastras as specially sacred, on account of the color and the
size." It has fallen from His mouth into the cupped palm of
Baba. He held the Wonder in his Hand, high in the light, to
be seen better by the vast gathering, now in the height of
Baba continued sitting in the chair. He would, usually,
descend from the Dais on the Santhi Vedika and move into the
Nilayam; but, He sat in the chair and remained motionless.
We thought that another Lingam may emerge after a little
while. But, no! He was getting stiffer, and motionless. The
right hand was lying flat on the table. The left was erect,
the elbow fixed on the table, fingers near the eye, the head
was slightly inclined to the left, the thumb held apart, the
ring finger and the little finger folded, and the other two
straight up - the breathing was slow; it became slower.
Who dare touch Him? Who had the courage to draw His
attention away from the place or mission on which He had
gone? I was sitting on the left of the chair and Dr.
Bhagavantham and Dr. Bhaskaran Nair on the right. Five
minutes sped by - I expected Him to return from wherever He
had gone. For, this is special occasion, where anxious souls
were getting alarmed. At no time previous had He left His
Body on a transcorporeal journey when so many were looking
But, His Compassion knows no limitations of festival or
gatherings. When the devotee calls out in agony He rushes to
his side, whoever may be with Him or whatever the work he is
engaged in, at that time. On other occasions, He has fallen
on to the floor, but this unusual posture amazed everyone;
anxiety was imprinted upon each face.
After twenty minutes, I could restrain myself no more. I
leaned towards Him on my knees and, in a subdued voice
called 'Swami! Swami!', as if He would come back when we
call, from where He had gone in response to the sincere
yearning of some one in pain. His mission of Bhaktharakshana
knows no bounds of class, creed or nationality. He blesses,
whatever be the name by which He is called.
Thirty minutes ... all eyes were now watching the face for
the slightest sign of any movement; they prayed as never
before ... The fortitude of the devotees was being
transformed into nervousness ... the hand was stiff,
upright, the finger did not jerk or come together... the
angle of the head was the same since the past fifty minutes.
One or two from the Bhajan party came on to the dais ... a
few began to weep, here and there ... courage faltered
before the onslaught of concern!
Fifty five ... Ah ... a slight movement of the fingers ...
of the left hand! The hand came down ... I broke into tears
... His eyes opened ... He saw! He smiled!
Fear and doubt vanished shamefacedly from the gathering.
Baba rose ... the fateful minutes were over!
Baba went into the Nilayam, and when some of us, including
Dr. Bhagavantham followed Him, He said that He had gone on a
Manasa-sanchara, round the World!
He went in order to give signs in every home or hall where
Sivarathri was celebrated that hour, that the Lord is here,
that His Grace is available in plenty for all who need it,
and pray for it, with pure and sincere faith. He showers
mercy; and they become humble, wise, victorious.
What we were privileged to see that night was the sight of
Baba journeying far and wide to confer peace, to foster the
erring brood of willful, peevish, half-blind children, into
ways of justice, peace, love and righteousness. He was
converting the Rathri of Rajas and Thamas that was darkening
the horizon of man into the Sivam, the splendor of love and
joy. We saw two Udbhavas (oncomings) that day - the
Lingodbhava and the Premodbhava.
In an apparent reference to the skeptic minds, unable to
assimilate the phenomenon called Lingodhbavam, Bhagawan
aired a word of caution. He said: "Why do you discuss and
debate among yourselves about My nature, My Mystery, My
miracle, My reality? Fish cannot gauge the sky; the gross
can grasp only the gross. The eye cannot see the ear, though
it is so near. When you cannot reach down to your own
reality, why waste time trying to explore the essence of
God? You are like a Telugu audience sitting through a Tamil
picture or a Malayali sitting through a Japanese picture.
The nuances, the subtler significances, the deeper meanings
and inter-relationships, the inner patterns of the fabric,
are beyond his understanding. Sit through the entire film;
master the language and the technique; watch earnestly and
vigilantly and try to imbibe the meaning of every gesture
and act and word; then, you may know Me, a little."
The gathering of 20 or 25 thousand sit expectant and
worshipful, listening to the discourses by Pundits on some
scriptural text or spiritual discipline. The talks are
mostly on Siva, the Aspect of the Godhead that destroys the
basic ignorance, that awards enlightenment, overwhelms the
accumulated consequences of the past, and wipes off all
traces of one's ancestry, in order to cleanse the mighty
stream, called the mind. When the Pundits have finished,
Baba takes up the trend and sweetens the programme with one
of His inimitable discourses. At some point during that
discourse or at the end of it, during the Bhajan sessions
which Baba leads with a few songs, people become aware of
His slight cough which, as many of them know, is the
harbinger of the precious Linga. The empyrean eloquence is
interrupted off and on, by gasps until the internal thrust
can no longer be checked. Then, amidst the paean of Praise,
Om Namah Sivaya, [Om, I bow with devotion for Siva] rising
from many thousands of hearts, the Lingas travel to the
mouth and fall on to a silver plate. Baba invariably holds
them aloft for all to see and revere; they are kept for
public view the whole night and in the morning, Baba takes
them in His Palm and passes along the serried ranks of
bhakthas, who are stunned by the size which could not,
without a miracle, pass through the tiny passage of His
In 1966, after about 20 minutes of swaying and heaving,
gasping and coughing, in order to ease the passage, an
emerald Linga, three inches high, fixed on a pedestal five
inches broad, that had formed itself in Him emerged from His
mouth, to the unspeakable joy and relief of the huge
gathering, which was watching His face with single pointed
In 1965, fifteen to eighteen thousand people watched this
unique and solemn process in deep silence and tension; their
eyes as riveted on the spare resplendent figure on the dais.
The tension mounted to a climax, as a shining smooth,
transparent Linga, emerged from His Mouth, its green sheen
almost dazzling the eyes - a symbol of Brahmanda, the
Universe over which Siva keeps eternal vigil; it was a
symbol of something too infinite, too stupendous, for our
little minds to grasp. Its green glory moved us into tears
of joy and gratitude, it spoke to us of the beauty and light
that resides in every thing and being, in the star-studded
sky and the human heart.
Mahashivarathri, 1970! A flood of devotees flowed into
Prasanthi Nilayam. There was tremendous rush, but, absolute
silence. Baba told the young men and women of the Seva Dals,
selected by the Sathya Sai Seva Samithis from the different
States of India, "You yearn to do some Seva in My Name,
don't you? Well I have a thousand heads, eyes and feet! The
Vedas proclaim that God is 'Sahasra Seershaa Purushah,' 'He
has a thousand heads!' The thousands who have come here, the
aged, the children, the diseased, the afflicted - they are
all Me. Serve them, you serve Me!"
Baba hoisted the flag on the Nilayam, and said that loyalty
to higher truths has to be built up from childhood, even
through the lessons learnt while in the mother's lap. At
noon the creation of the huge stream of Vibhuti caused
wonder and amazement, even to those who know that it was
part of the Sivarathri Festival.
Baba's compassion led Him to begin His discourse with a
Sanskrit verse, meaning, "I am not a human being nor a god
or a superman. I am neither a Brahmin, nor a Ksatriya, nor a
Vaisya nor a Sudra! Then you may ask Me who I am. Well, I am
the Teacher of Truth; I am Truth, Goodness, and Beauty!"
During the discourse the Linga that was growing in the
stomach of Baba since about a week announced itself as ready
to emerge, and so Baba sat on the chair. The huge gathering
sensed the cosmic undertones of the movement and sang with
eager excitement a song in praise of Shiva, the God
represented by the Linga, for whom Sivarathri was dedicated.
Fifteen minutes later, a heavy oval Linga of a substance
akin to an opal came up and out; the enormous gathering
shouted Jai in adoration and uncontrollable bliss, when Baba
held it in His hand for all to see. Throughout the night,
the Bhajan continued, the divine offspring was placed in
full view of all, so that it may inspire them in their vigil
Prof. Kasturi writes in Bhagawan’s biograpahy, a beautiful
incident that had happened during the epoch making Divine
Visit to the North Indian Pilgrim spots Varanasi and
Badrinath. Baba visited the foremost Saivite shrine of
India, Varanasi and the foremost Vaishnava shrine, Badrinath
in 1961 in order to infuse spiritual power in those dynamos
of Grace. At Varanasi, He created a unique jewel to be
placed on the idol of Visweswara declaring that it has the
mystic might to charge that symbol of the Lord with Divine
potency. At Badrinath, He drew from under the present
Narayana image, a Nethra-linga which according to Him was
brought from Mount Kailasa (!) and ceremonially installed
there, by no less a person than Sankaracharya about twelve
hundred years ago! This Nethralinga when it emerged at the
call of Baba, created a chapter in history; a Linga as the
basis of the celebrated Vaishnava shrine was a welcome
reminder of the basic harmony of Saivites and Vaishnavites.
.. and more to come…Bhagawan revealed that the particular
linga was one of the five lingas Shankaracharya had brought
from Kailasa and installed in India…
As is the biblical saying, a simple man believes anything,
but a prudent man gives thought to his step, there was one
scholarly person whose intellectual brain wanted an
authentic proof from the scriptures to vouchsafe what was
revealed by Bhagawan…Kasturi ji goes on record saying that
the person who wanted to testify the revelation of Bhagawan
got a reply from the Sringeri Math, the monastery
established by Shankaracharya, that mention was made about
the lingams in the Sivarahasya Mathethihas. In the XVI
chapter of the IX Section of this book, it is said that Lord
Siva welcomed Sankara at Kailas and blessed him with the
words, "You are marked out for the establishment in the
world of the true teaching of the Vedas, viz., Adwaitha.
Spend 32 years of your earthly existence spreading this
faith and overwhelming those who decry or deny it. Accept
these five Lingas that I am giving you now. Worship them
with the Panchakshari and with Satharudrabhisheka. Offer the
sacred Bilva leaf and Ash and recite the holy Pranava.
Complete your three Tours of Victory dispelling the darkness
of Dwaitha and then, install these Lingas from this
thrice-holy Kailasa, marked by the effulgence of the
Crescent, named Yoga Bhoga Vara Mukthi and Moksha, in sacred
sites chosen by you, before you shed this mortal frame at
Kanchipuram." So, the story of the Linga at Badrinath was
This Shiva of the present age has a special mission and He
has revealed the same while materialising the Nethralinga.
Baba announced that the Nethralinga was the original nucleus
which had to be "energized" by Him (with suitable rites and
ceremonial ablutions with the sacred waters of the Gangothri,
the golden Bilva leaves and the actual Thumme flowers which
He miraculously procured on the spot) even the Trustees of
the Badrinath temple were pleasantly surprised!
A similar feat was performed in the ancient Mallikarjuna
Temple at Srisailam. While inside the innermost shrine, Baba
showered on the Mallikarjuna, golden thumme (Leucas
Linifolia) flowers which He created on the spot by a wave of
His Hand. That was the ceremonial rite of multiplying the
potency and improving the sanctity of the focus of worship.
Who else could one expect to perform such a feat, pulling
out the Lingam that originated at Kailasha which was sent
with a mission by the Lord of all Lords, and ceremonially
installed over a millennium ago, by the Great Shankaracharya
himself? Who else would you expect could see through the
base of the holy idol at the most revered temple at
Badrinath? Whom else would you qualify to empower, to
multiply the potency of an idol that had a legend which
dates back to ancient times…and has millions of worshippers?
Even a mystic yogi would not be qualified to show up with
such a rare feat…and it could be expected only from the One
who presides over the very holy shrine…at Badrinath…or
In 1963, Sai declared: "I have been keeping back from you
all these years one secret about Me; the time has come when
I can reveal it to you. This is a sacred day. I am Siva-Sakthi,"
He declared, "born in the gothra of Bharadwaja, according to
a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Sakthi Herself
was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi;
Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now;
Siva alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba)
in the same gothra in Mysore State." …of course the Divine
Gestures were much more in the years followed by…and the
word of caution was indeed an advice to be ever
focussed…alert…to catch the glimpses of Divinity uncovered
over the years…in greater proportions…in varied fashion…
The festival of Mahasivarathri in 1971 was celebrated on
23rd February. Though Prasanthi Nilayam gets overcrowded
during that time, the peace of that Abode is maintained, due
to the holy rays emanating from that holiest of places.
Speaking from Santhivedika, Baba raised a very interesting
question and answered it Himself. "Why does Swami produce
the Linga from Himself this day? Let me tell you that it is
impossible to understand the attributes of the Divine. You
cannot measure Its potentialities, nor gauge the
significance of Its Mahima; it is Agamya: unreachable,
Agochara: un-understandable. Because of these, you get an
example of Divine attributes. In order to bear witness to
this Divinity that is amidst you, for your benefit and
benediction, the Linga emerges. If even these glimpses are
denied, faith in the Supreme will vanish and an atmosphere
of greed, hatred, cruelty, violence and irreverence will
overwhelm the good, the humble and the pious."
In a discourse on Shivarathri a few years ago, Baba recited
a verse, such as He is used to composing and reciting at the
commencement of a discourse, in which He recounted the aims
and purposes of His own Avatâr at Puttaparthi. "Vâsudeva,
who lives in all has come in this body at Puttaparthi to
show to the Kali age the path of truth; to eliminate hate
and greed; to save the good and humble from pain and shame;
to reveal the significance that lies obscured in ancient
texts; to destroy the pomp and pride of little men; and to
redeem the pledge of Grace given to mankind." He has
declared that He is the Divine Essence that is known and
worshipped in many Names and Forms all over the world.
On various types of Lingas, the Earth Principle Linga, the
Water Principle Linga, the Fire Principle Linga, the Wind
Principle Linga and the Sky Principle Linga:
He spoke of the places sanctified by the installation of
these Lingas and referring to the Akasa Linga in a temple,
He explained that the Linga there hangs in mid-air with no
support! Devotees stared in awe for they could not
understand how this could happen, and continue to happen.
Baba explained that the Linga is of some ferrous material
and that two magnets, one on top, on the underside of the
roof and another fixed on the floor, exercise equal and
opposite pulls on the Linga, so that it remains in the
center, in mid-air, without support. Then, He asked, "O! Do
you desire to see it? I can dislodge it from the pulls and
bring it here!" Saying so, He waved His Hand and Lo! The
egg-shaped ferrous ball was in the Hand. It was passed from
one person to another until all had the feel of it and the
thrill. Then Baba wrapped it in a kerchief and gave it to a
young man to be kept with him. The entire group of three
hundred sat for dinner on the sands, with Baba in their
midst, joking and keeping every one in the best of spirits.
It was about eleven at night when the launches returned to
Rajahmundry. The young man was shocked to find the ferrous
Some of us prefer as the symbol of God, neither Fire, nor
Sun, nor the Living Laborious Brother called Banyan Tree,
but the Linga. During Dasara, a pundit can be seen on the
altar at the Auditorium shaping 1000 Lingas every day, and
after worshiping them with utmost devotion rolling the black
clay back into a ball, for use the next day! The permanent
static base, pure existence, is Shiva. Its projection as
dynamic energy is Sakthi. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi used to
write an 'O' at the beginning of the letter he sent to
people, says Yogi Shuddhananda Bharathi. Maharshi explained
it as the Lingam, the symbol of the ultimate principle which
is beyond the triple entities of life, world and God!
The 17th of 1970 was an epoch-making day. Baba 'charged the
Somanath Shrine' that day with Divine potency. He also
fulfilled the prayers of the late Jamsahed of Nawanagar, the
person primarily responsible for the renovation of that
historic temple, by visiting the place and allowing His Name
to be associated with a structure that is a limb of that
complex. The Rajamata succeeded in persuading Baba to
inaugurate the imposing architectural gem called Dig Vijaya
Dwar (after Sri Digvijaya Singh, the late Jamsaheb), the
Gateway of Victory.
This temple is situated on a spot celebrated in the Vedas
and Epics. The shrine is of Shiva, as Sauma, with Uma, as
Shiva-Sakthi. Baba has come as Shiva-Sakthi in human form to
charge the ancient shrine with Divine potency. The
Shivayogis who specialized in Soma Vidya and the followers
of the Pasupatha cult founded by sage Lakulisa about 200 AD,
spread the fame of this temple from sea to sea. They
established Somanaths with Somesvara Shrines all over the
land, in Ratnagiri, East Godavari, Purnea, Jodhpur, Mysore,
and South Kanara Districts.
Somanath was one of the richest temples of India. When the
Muslims conquered and ruled over the Punjab and Sindh, it
attracted the plunderers. Depredation, desecration,
destruction, reconstruction and rededication became
recurring chapters of its long history. The infamous raid by
Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026 AD was the third in the long list
of catastrophes. The fifth temple too met with a similar
fate, at the hands of the rulers of Delhi.
On Diwali Day, 1947, when the Indian Army entered Nawabdom
of Junagadh and liberated the pathetically dilapidated pile
of stone recognized by many as Somanath, it was rescued from
those who could not appreciate the value and validity of
idols, images and symbols of the Unknown and the Unknowable.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel announced that day, amidst the
joyous roar of the waves of human and saline seas, "We have
decided that Somanath should be reconstructed. This is a
holy task in which all should participate."
The new temple (named Mahameru Prasad, like the previous
ones) was planned closely on the basis of the earlier
temples and now, the Gopuram, the main gateway through which
seekers would enter into the portals of Jyothirlinga, was to
be inaugurated by Someswara, come in human form: Shiva-Sakthi,
come as Sathya Sai!
Baba declared that He would reveal, that day the genuine
Somanath! This declaration filled us with wonder and
enthusiastic exuberance. So all roads converging from
Jamnagar to Somanath were shouting Jais in exhilaration.
Baba was received at the decorated Shamiana in front of the
Digvijayadwar by the trustees of the Somanath temple, as
well as by the high officers of the District and States.
Amidst strains of temple music, He walked on the red carpet
laid on the steps, and opened the lock on the artistically
carved and silver-embossed door with a silver key. Then, He
proceeded along the festooned pathway, between rows of fresh
banana trees, to the main shrine of Someshwar, the focal
point of the faith of millions for millennia!
He entered the holy of holies; Brahmin Pandits were reciting
Vedic Hymns which reverberated from the arched and conical
roof, from the finial 150 feet above the ground! He directed
that a plate be brought. He spread the fingers of His right
hand and shook it over the plate, 108 silver Bilva leaves
and 108 golden flowers fell from His hand in a clinking
shower. They were reverentially touched by devotees 'for it
is on their behalf and for their sake that the process of
'charging the 3 feet high Lingam' was being undertaken by
Him. This Lingam had been recently installed, when Babu
Rajendra Prasad, President of India, inaugurated the Temple.
He poured the leaves of silver and flowers of gold on the
Linga, as He had done at Srisailam when He was set on
revitalizing the Linga there. It was like Ganga water poured
into the stream of the Ganga.
Within seconds, He waved that Divine hand! Lo and behold, a
ball of brilliant light manifested in His palm. I was at
that time reciting within myself the
Dwadasa-Jyothirlinga-Stotram, the verses in praise of the
twelve "Lingas of Light" which every Hindu is exhorted to
remember reverentially. The twelve include Viswesa or
Varanasi, Kedarnath in the Himalayas, Rameswaram in the
extreme south, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakala at
Ujjaini and Tryambaka in Nasik. But the very first in the
list is "Sowrashtra Somanatha," Somanath of Sowrashtra. The
Somanatha Linga is the only one of the twelve which is
adored as Jyothirmayam, "Imbued with the splendor of light."
And, Baba had the "Linga of Light" right now in His grasp!
What a great moment was this, I wondered.
Then I remembered Baba's announcement: "I shall show you the
genuine Somesvara Linga today!" so, this was It, the Genuine
One, installed, as legend says, by Brahma Himself, and
worshiped by the Moon-God, the God who presides over the
mind of man.
In a pamphlet issued by the tourist department, it is said
that Skanda Purana mentioned thousands of years ago that
"the Sparsa Linga of Somanath is a 'Swayam-Bhu'
(self-originated) Linga, of great prowess, as bright as the
sun, of the size of an egg of a hen, which is situated
underground." It is a characteristic of Vayu, air. These are
the other Lingas representing the other four elements: Akash,
Tejas, water and earth.
So the oval ball of light in His hand was the authentic
Somesvara He had resolved to bring up from its underground
niche, kept away since many centuries from depredation and
desecration. The Sparsa (touch) Lingam was nestling for
centuries under the Linga in the Shrine. This information
was given to us by Baba, as well as by the priests and
trustees. Baba waved His hand again and created a silver
stand on which it could be placed. He gave it to the chief
priest, "Let it be in the full light of day hereafter! Let
pious eyes admire its brilliance and imprint its glory on
their hearts. There is no need any more to keep it away. The
avatar has come to remove all fear," Baba declared.
To make the triumphant emergence of Somesvara, Baba unfurled
the flag on the towering finial over the central shrine.
Thousands acclaimed 'Jai Bhagwan' as He gave Darsan on the
temple steps. Baba left for Rajendra Bhavan at Veeraval and
at 2 p.m. He motored to Keshod aerodrome from where He
enplaned for Bombay. Over 30,000 devotees were awaiting the
arrival of Baba at Dharmakshetra, Bombay.
Here was a mountain—a huge, white, snowy expanse. I stood at
its foot. What vastness! Miles and miles of engulfing white,
disappearing beyond my sight. In that cloud of pure
stillness, I stood at its foot. But, somehow, I was not
lonely. There was life: breath and life. Life in every
granular snow I saw. How? I do not know. I looked up and, up
in those heights was that ultimate truth. “Up above the
world so high”, for ages it had been sung—the glory and the
beauty of that which is high and beyond. And from it I
picked the essence, the truth we cherish ‘It’ to be. And so,
up and beyond my imagination, I walked. Walked through those
mental lanes, to see the glory I had wanted to see.
I climbed the mountain and stepping into that snow, I sank,
I eased. Hey, I expected solid below! But… What shall I say?
It was soft… liquid, no, wait—it was milk. Snow as light as
milk! I put my next foot forward. Milk again. I sank
peacefully up to my knee. And thus I stepped, the next foot
and the next, and up that milky path I climbed to the truth.
With every step I took I breathed-in the silence and gasped
in anticipation to see that long-sung-glory.
As I climbed, there was a light—a crescent. Its rays, they
were bright yet calm in the distance. A glow rather than a
ray. And the higher up I climbed, on a mound it perched. A
mound or rather a mound on a mound. And then, there was
water fall beside, a gigantic fall!
Hey wait! It’s it! I accelerated up exclaiming… And behold!
Immense in stature, tranquil, silent,
Look! He rested cross-legged on a height.
The atmospheric grandeur, the energy, the love,
No word can capture, no film shall display.
The sight, the thought, the breath, the power,
The only sound, the fall of Ganges.
The only sound, listen: frothing and bubbling,
It’s mother, peace and nothing else.
And that light, Oh! The moon I had known,
So near are you to this blissful bliss!
Illuminating this aura within your shine,
Oh God, what grandeur, what love, what beauty!
The very posture, serene to the eye,
There was coolness around, a breeze.
A breeze around, a breeze within,
Every joint exuded love.
The hair, the curls, how perfect, how calm.
Untroubled to the minutest.
A meditation through years, through yugas in time,
The peace, can you measure, the immensity of it?
I saw, I felt, but there was much, much more,
The completeness—definitely I failed to realize.
Calm and soothing, his eyes were in prayer,
The lids, there was light from within those lashes,
Light around, light within, I bowed in obeisance,
Bowed up to my foot.
Was there a stillness as lovely as this,
The air I breathed, it had love in it!
Thus lighted in love, I devoured the sight,
My mind kept wavering, I wanted to hold,
The scene, was it blurring, shivering, oh, its gone,
Left to myself—“Om Namah Shivayah!”
What aura, power, there is so much unknown!
But sure, dear Shambo, I know it from heart,
There is love up there, love, peace, love!