Shivaratri - A night to remember

The dust had finally settled and all turmoil in the mind seemed to subside. Srinivasan, raced back from work to get to the showroom. Srinivasan felt strange about himself. His folks were not around for his people had gone back. There was really no one left to show his new car to.

Yet it didn’t bother him, Srinivasan loved automobiles and felt it was money well spent if he purchased a car he would want to drive. Srinivasan didn't have too much time. It was closing in on sunset and he had yet to start his worship.

At the showroom, the car was brought forward, and all papers were handed over. Srinivasan looked up to the sky and then to the sales man who was performing the final puja before this gorgeous automobile hit the road. He took off his slippers and watched the flames catch on the camphor. He watched the fire (arti) go up circling the car warding off all evil. The kumkum was smeared over his head and at various points of the car, the bonnet with the logo and the driver’s steering wheel. He smiled to himself thinking…Strange, that even a very modern mind was all to happy to have the traditional fire of enlightenment bless and protect his car, a gift of his well earned money on the road now.

With four lemons squashed under each car wheel, the automobile was now blessed for a new journey on the road – new safe journey on the road.

With the car now, feeling this luxury on the road, Srinivasan headed home trying to catch up with lost time. His worship started in the next hour after all his preparation. The house went into darkness, and the lamplights made beautiful patterns on his polished marble floor. He began his recitation, his mind concentrating and his heart overwhelmed and heavy. He had wanted a good day to bring his car home and he didn’t manage to find any from the panchangam his grandmother had looked up. The Lord had decided the day. It couldn't get better. Srinivasan smiled, the car was finally home, on the night of Shivaratri, a gift for himself, a gift from the Lord.

The prayers rolled on, in rhythmic beat with the lamps burning even brighter now glowing in his heart. Each verse fell out in amazing clarity, the voice grew stronger and the sound echoed through the house. The mind was at rest, the peace enveloping and the world was now plunged into silence. Srinivasan opened his eyes and stared at the Divine icon, the Linga, and then at the Trishul in the light of the oil lamps. This Shivaratri meant a lot more to him.

Srinivasan felt no pride, no sense of achievement; no feeling that he had made another mark in his life, or crossed another milestone. He felt free, free in the mind, free in the heart, free from all human bondage, free from appreciation, free from ego massage, free from any kind of human approval. The car was his love for driving, the car was his love for automobiles, the car was his symbol of freedom, the car was his small luxury and he was happy to have it. Nobody else mattered, nothing else mattered. The night of Shivaratri left him sleepless, thinking about life and the Lord's strange ways of telling him how valuable he was. A wish was fulfilled, a gift from heaven had come home this divine evening - unplanned.

Om Namah Shivaya


Aswin said...

A very well written post indeed. But i somehow feel that the post misses some aspect. I don't know which. Howvever i am happy to read this post as i can relate myself to it.

JC Joshi said...

In North India also there used to be/ still there is a practice continued by some to apply ‘kumkum’ that is the red ‘tilak’ on the forehead of a person before one left his home on an auspicious occasion or after performance of some rituals related with the occasion/ at certain locations of one’s new vehicle, such as marking a ‘swastika’ sign on the bonnet, and so on.

Perhaps squashing of lemons under the automobile’s wheels is an alternative of animal/ human sacrifice that believably used to be performed at a certain age as a sign of good luck. In the West, I saw in certain films, a bottle of spirit smashed at the time of launch of a ship (and as per the belief in our hill region, ‘natural’ or unintended breaking of glass bottle/ pane was considered to be a good omen - reflecting the departure of an evil spirit!)

Hindus similarly offered coconut to the deity…

The phenomenon perhaps reflects ‘fear of the unknown’, as the Gita also cites lack of knowledge as the cause of all ‘wrong’ actions…of course it is difficult to know what is right/ wrong! And, therefore perhaps advice to ‘surrender in Krishna’!

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha, It sometimes appears funny to find newspapers of ‘Independent India’ even today reporting news about events from the ‘West’ without any attempt on the part of the concerned to provide related background information, if already available here, in order to ‘educate’ their readers. And then, we in the same newspapers blame our education system to have apparently, even after 60 years of independence, to have remained a slave of the West, or even of English language - forgetting that language is only a medium of communication and not the end itself!

Of course, seen with a dispassionate view, it is ‘time’ (which no one apparently has to spare today) as realized by the ‘wise’ ancient ‘Hindus’ in the long lost past that is responsible for mass scale copying that is apparently going on since ‘time immemorial’ in ‘Nature’ (as Krishna also said in the Gita)! Otherwise, the RED colour of the ‘Kumkum’, or that of the traffic signal, and so on, itself can immediately link the mind with the danger sign used by the ancient Hindus – the red tongue of Ma Kali, the ‘Hindu’ deity, particularly associated with the people in East India today!

In view of the above, one could perhaps also therefore feel not at all surprised to find the 'red chilly' grown in the northeast India, Naga Jolokia, being found spicier than the Red Savina developed in California, USA as reported in the Times of India today the 22nd February.

Also, it is well known that the Himalayan region has the (red) molten magma closest underneath its topsoil. And, the state of Assam in the northeast particularly is well known as the most earthquake prone region.

It is ‘time the best healer’ that makes even the people who inhabit that ‘disturned region’ today to forget the catastrophic earthquakes of June 1897 that left the residents in a wide area scared of heavy masonry buildings, or August 1950 when even the mighty River Brahmaputra was obliged to change its course to wipe out Sadiya Town then!

Anonymous said...

One might find it interesting to find North America in the west, located opposite the Indian sub continent in the world map in the east, appear like an eagle (which is also reflected in the American Bald Eagle becoming USA’s official bird in the year 1789 when George Washingto became its first President... And, the Hindu mythological stories refer to the Eagle Garuda as Vishnu’s Vahan that is His vehicle! And, like India believably had control over the sky/ space in the long lost past, America today apparently leads the world in space race!

And, as earthquake prone Assam is located in the east of India, California is located in west America, but it also is, similarly, earthquake prone with at least six big earthquakes, greater than 6 in Richter scale, reportedly occurring in that region between the years 1906 (the historical San Francisco earthquake, 8.3 in Richter scale) and 1994 on account of existence of 6 faults in the region!
- JC

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha, Although words cannot convey a reailzation, yet one is obliged to use those if one wants to share thoughts with others.

It is also evident from the review of the World Map that India under British/ Samrat Ashoka etc. rule at a certain stage appeared like a tiger, which after partition etc., with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and so on, as independent countries, today appears like a tiger cut into pieces – and tigers are now on the verge of extinction in India!

The ancient Hindus realized man to be a model of the universe and also Varanasi - that was Kashi once upon a time - as the abode of the androgynous God in physical form or ‘Ardhanarishwar Shiva’ (that is Earth, without its present day satellite that is moon, as ‘sat’ or essence that is a model of the Formless Creator, Vishnu/ Shiva, in the beginning) - who later married Parvati the daughter of Himalayas and yet another form of His original consort, Sati (apparently derived from ‘Shakti’ that is ‘energy’ represented by ‘Fire’ or the molten magma in the core of earth) after Her death in ‘sacred fire’.

The long mythological story, which in short in fact described evolution of moon from original earth as a result of eruption of a volcano, perhaps in the Himalayan region near ‘Gomukh’ the origin of River Ganga that is associated with Shiva! For, Parvati is also called by another name, the eight-handed Durga who uses Tiger (Earth) as her vehicle. [‘Durg’ means ‘fort’ that is a (Pentagon-like) structure that was once used for protection of the inhabitants of a city, thus also alluding to moon that is earth’s satellite that apparently - like a mother protects its child - provides protection to earth!]

However, the physical forms in the infinite universe were believed to be ‘mayavi’ that is illusory, each reflecting only a part of the primordial sound energy, ‘OM’, apparently emitted in the beginning by the Formless Creator, who is represented in a model form by the centre of a galaxy that today believably houses a Black Hole (and Murlidhar or flute-player Krishna, meaning ‘black’ in the words of the ‘wise’ ancients, also could appear in innumerable forms at the same time at different locations, which is comparable with multiple reflections of an individual in ‘magical mirrors’ - each image of the one and only viewer/ Creator at any given instant appearing different according to the design of the mirror).

The ancients believed our galaxy as the superior most model or essence of the universe. And also represented by selected members of our solar system, each associated with some one particular colour/ energy associated with the visible spectrum formed by division of white sunlight too that apparently go into the formation of each human body!

Earth/ human form independently as a model of the Formless believably was associated with Ma Kali, with its exterior represented by Green colour and with Red colour in its core and Moon represented in essence the Guru the superiormost or the lemon-like (Golden) Yellow colour whose essence finds the highest pedestal in the head of human form/ on the ‘forehead of Shiva’ that is earth!

And, Gold in the material form was understood responsible for fooling man in the external world while in reality he was supposed to reach its essence that is yellow colour internally within himself to realize the ‘Absolute Truth’! Hence, perhaps the symbolic crushing of the (yellow coloured) lemon under the wheel of the automobile to offer its juice or essence to the earth!

JC Joshi said...

A two to four-wheeler fuel driven automobile – in place of animal driven vehicles in the past and as a result of apparent evolution over time - in the present is generally accepted as a medium for quicker commutation between the place where one normally resides and the various other places within reasonable distances one might apparently need to travel to, maybe with some items of luggage to carry with one, according to one’s need from time to time. It has been apparently possible with the required network of roadways/ required fuel supply/ workshops for repairs and maintenenace etc. set up and made available by some private/ Government agency. However, for long distance travels one might need to travel by train/ aeroplane/ ship and maybe some other modes of travel also.

And, all these facilities might be found useful only to a limited extent up to certain locations only, for example, if one liked to travel to certain places, viz. rugged terrains of high mountains, where one might have to take assistance from inferior life forms or use one’s own legs for travel and own back to lift the pack as was being done earlier even in the past, although with better and light weight equipments evolved because of experience with time, maybe. And say also for travel to other planets, etc. where a big Governmental set up is required to provide the necessary space-ship and their tracking systems, etc.

The above is however applicable as long as one exists in human form on earth. The big question however is: Has man appeared on earth for his own purpose and that too to keep on traveling from one place to another in some different mediums of travel with rest in between from time to time?

Or, could it be that man himself is a medium of travel - like a hired automobile along with its driver - to find out on his own the desired destination and carry the lost mute soul to it, which also gets reflected many times when one hires a taxi and finds lost due to improper address only being available to one?

JC Joshi said...

The Hindu mythological stories, however, indicate different plant/ animal life forms as seats or vehicles of Gods with physical forms and formless energy (that is ‘fire’, also indicated with some particular colour reflecting the inensity of energy associated with that colour) related with them to reflect the forms of the primordial sound energy ‘OM’, viz. Lotus flower for Brahma the creator and Swan (interestingly the final work of a poet or composer is called Swan Song for, as per an ancient western belief, a swan sings a song just before death! And also there is a raga "Hamsadhvani" in Karnatik music!) for His consort Saraswati the stringed musical instrument, Veena, player [both directly related with ‘water’, and also x-ray of spinal column (imagined with nerves) in the back of human body believably appears like the said instrument]; Garuda the Eagle for Vishnu & the hooting Owl for His consort Lakshami (directly related with ‘air’ and ‘sky’); Nandi the bellowing Bull for Shiva & the roaring Tiger for His consort Parvati (both related directly with ‘earth’)!

The vehicle for Indra the king of Devtas or the demi-gods believably was Airavat the white elephant that had appeared as a result of churning of the Milky Ocean. And Parvati’s son Ganesha, the king of the Ganas that himself forms a link between man and God, although, had the head of an elephant implanted by his father Shiva, had a mouse as his (slow) vehicle, while his brother Kartikeya had a (relatively faster, but proud) peacock as his vehicle and therefore made the ruler of earth!

And, all physical forms, including man, were believed to have all the ‘panchatatva’ or the five elements going into their formation (with Earth as their leader) and, in Gita, Krishna - whose Supreme Form is indicated also as Earth - says He is everything, trees or animals!

Whereas, Formless Vishnu, the one and only Creator of the illusory universe, believably remains on Ananta unmoved in the middle of ‘Kshirsagar’ the ‘Milky Ocean’, and perhaps therefore Krishna advises one to remain ‘stithapragya’ that is ‘unmoved’ under all circumstances! And, all movements were believed to be illusory – like dreams in human heads that reflects the believable physical universe to be mere thoughts within the head of ‘Nadbindu’ the primoridial point source of infinite energy!

However, man finds it difficult to overcome 'Maya' that is illusion at the testing times, ie, when one apparently gets involved in some tragic/ unpleasant event, eg, a Kashmiri could read the damage at Kanyakumari due to Tsunami and remain unconcerned and unmoved, and one in Kanyakumari could behave similarly when human lives in Kashmir were lost due to earthquake! For "Truth ever prevails"!

JC Joshi said...

The ‘wise’ ancient Hindus therefore advised one to live life like an apparent spectator of a drama and similarly enjoy, like one of the innumerable ‘characters’, called Srinivasan, in Kavitha’s narration, the apparent ‘downs’ also - if there are any - in the same fashion as the ‘ups’. For, the apparent happenings are believably related to the past in the life of the believable ‘perfect’ being, the ‘wise’ ancients called Bhootanath that is the Lord of the Past, who in fact believably is the actual lone spectator in Yoganidra or a super conscious state in zero time, searching something for His Own purpose/ multi-purpose – maybe His origin - during illusory or ‘apparent time’!