Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
Today is the last Monday of the Shraavan month (the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, beginning in late July and ending in the third week of August).
All months of the calendar are auspicious, but the month of Shraavan is considered to be especially auspicious to offer worship and pray to Lord Shiva. In North India, the month ofShraavan is given special importance, while in South India the month of Kartik (the eighth month of the Hindu calendar, beginning with the new moon in October/November) is considered especially auspicious for praying to Lord Shiva.
Do you know the significance of Shraavan month? So many of us do not know it’s significance, but we consider it to be very auspicious, so it a special time to pray and offer worship to Lord Shiva.
All months of the calendar are auspicious, but the month of Shraavan is considered to be especially auspicious to offer worship and pray to Lord Shiva.
In our Puranas (ancient Hindu scriptures containing stories of deities and other folk lore) it is said, 'Alankara Priya Vishnu Abhisheka Priya Shiva'.
One feels so happy in adorning Lord Vishnu, so you will always see Him well dressed and decorated with beautiful ornaments. Lord Shiva on the other hand is pleased with abhishek (ceremonial Holy bath offered to a deity). Many of us go to the temple every day to offer water to the Shiva Lingam (symbolic of Lord Shiva), but we do not offer abhishek to Lord Vishnu.
Where is Lord Shiva? Does He reside only in a temple? No, He is manifest in this whole creation. What is Lord Shiva’s body like? In the scriptures it is said, 'Bramanda vyapt dehaya' (His body pervades this entire creation). When His body is in the entire creation then how can anyone pour water on Him? He Himself alone can shower His whole body with water.
In the month of Shraavan there are rains everywhere on Earth, as if the Earth is receivingAbhishekam from the skies. Not only that, the entire Creation appears to be receiving theAbhishekam of water from the skies. Everything is cleansed and purified by the rains, and the Earth blossoms in beauty.
The Earth is His feet while the sky and constellation of stars are garlands around His neck and Lord Shiva Himself does His own Abhishekam in this month with the clouds raining down, therefore this month is considered supreme for worshipping Lord Shiva.
The whole creation rejoices and blossoms, and gets soaked in the nectar of the Divine. When the whole of Creation soaks itself in the Divine, mankind too naturally have to immerse themselves in it as well. We become one with creation and the Divine, and sing the many praises of the Divine, that’s why it is said to worship and pray to Lord Shiva in the month ofShraavan.
In the month of Shraavan there are rains everywhere on Earth, as if the Earth is receiving abhishekam from the skies. Everything is cleansed and purified by the rains, and the Earth blossoms in its beauty.
Once Goddess Parvati, who is not only His wife but His first disciple also, asks Lord Shiva, 'O Lord, how can one attain Para brahma gati (to move or go deeper towards the Divine blissful Brahman or Consciousness)?'
To this, Lord Shiva replies beautifully, 'Anahate Patra Karne, abhagna shabdh saridrate, shabdh brahmane nishnata, Para-brahmadi gachhati'.
What does this verse mean? It means there is a Divine note playing deep within our hearts. It is called the Anaahat naad and it is happening deep in your Self all the time. Sit in meditation and listen intently to that inner sound.
If you are unable to hear that or do not have the ability to hear that inner sound, then evoke that sound from deep within you. Just sit quietly and listen deeply. Can you hear the tune of a single string echoing from within? It is subtle yet it is there. Can you all hear it? This is what Lord Shiva calls as the Abhagna Shabda – meaning the unbroken eternal sound.
Sounds often have breaks in between each other, but this one is unbroken and continuous, just like a subtle humming sound. It is like the dim humming sound of a cricket (insect similar to grasshopper), or the light sound that you hear when you go to a jungle or a lonely place where there is nobody, and where there is no noise of vehicles. When you listen intently to that silence, you will hear a sound and listening to that sound you can become meditative.
In today’s world an example of this sound would be the slight sound that comes from an Air Conditioner or a running fan. It is an unbroken sound that is heard continuously, and listening to that will also enable you to become meditative.
In the verse, Saridrate means like a stream of water or a waterfall. So the phrase abhagna shabdh saridrate means the eternal sound that resonates like an unbroken stream of water.
Sit near the River Ganges or any other flowing water body and with closed eyes listen to the continuous sound of the water flowing. Nowadays you can do it at home also by keeping a small fountain at home, and sit and listen to that unbroken sound of flowing water!
Shankar (another name of Lord Shiva) means one who is ever-auspicious and blesses everyone for their well-being.
So during this month we pray with the desire for the welfare of all.
So Lord Shiva says, 'Shabda brahmane nishnaata', which means, one who has soaked himself in the stream of this unbroken eternal sound moves towards attaining the Para Brahman (the all-pervading One Consciousness). One who becomes perfected in the method of listening to this sound is able to let go of all other sounds, inside and outside. All other noises become silent for him. By doing this, a person soon turns inwards to returns to the bliss of his own consciousness.
As you sit here watching the water rain down from the skies, just feel that the entire creation is performing an Abhishekam for Lord Shiva.
Shankar (another name of Lord Shiva) means one who is ever-auspicious and blesses everyone for their well-being. So during this month we pray with the desire for the welfare of all.
If it doesn’t rain during the Shraavan month then the earth becomes dry and we will get nothing, neither food nor water. Hence it is very essential that it rains in this month. A full year’s rain happens at this time, and the entire creation blossoms. And we also blossom from within along with the entire creation as we soak in the bliss of worshipping Lord Shiva.
We sing, 'Har Har Mahadev', this means, 'O Lord Shiva, take away our miseries and free us of all ignorance!'
There is a verse in Sanskrit which says, 'Jnaanam-ichhet Maheshwara, Moksham-ichhet Janardhana'. It means that for attaining Self-knowledge pray to Lord Shiva, and for liberation pray to Lord Vishnu. Both Gods are the same, they are not different from each other. Lord Vishnu resides in the heart of Lord Shiva, and Lord Shiva dwells in the heart of Lord Vishnu. We only consider them different according to their form and attributes for our own interest, but in reality there is no difference. It is one Divinity only.
We pray to Lord Shiva in Kartik month because there is maximum darkness (of the days) during this month. And God is the light of knowledge that can dispel this darkness. Hence in the month of Kartik, it is suggested to light as many diyas (lamps) as you can and pray to the Lord of knowledge. That is why there is special importance given to Kartik Somavaar (the Mondays falling in the month of Kartik).
What is the difference between Spirituality and Astrology?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, spirituality is related to the Atma (soul) and astrology is related to planets. Astrology deals with observing the movements of the planets and making calculations related to the events that are yet to happen.
The science of Vastu is related to direction, to space, while astrology is related to time. But the One beyond space and time is Mahadeva (Lord Shiva). That’s why for remedying any ill-effects of Vastu or any of the astrological movement of planets, just pray to Lord Shiva. He is the Lord of all planets and He can move them to favourable positions for your benefit.
(Note: The discourse was given in Hindi. Above is a translation of the original talk.)