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A unique explanation of Maha Shivaratri in Kashmir Shaivism

A unique explanation of Maha Shivaratri in Kashmir Shaivism

maha shivaratri shiva Mar 06, 2024

The festival of Maha Shivaratri, the ‘Night of Shiva’, is celebrated throughout India and the world by sincere devotees of Shiva.

In Oregon/Pacific Coast time we will privately celebrate Maha Shivaratri on Thursday, March 7th, a day earlier than the Vedic calendar, according to Kashmir Shaiva philosophy. Swamiji suggested spending the night meditating as long as one wishes, followed by a light meal before retiring to bed.

Wishing you a Happy

Maha Shivaratri!

Swami Lakshmanjoo gives us a unique meaning of Maha Shivaratri in this excerpt from the verses of the Hymns to Shiva, Utpaladeva’s Shivastotravali.


Chapter 4 (1:01:21)

यत्र सोऽस्तमयमेति विवस्वांश्-

चन्द्रमः प्रभृतिभिः सह सर्वैः  ।

कापि सा विजयते शिवरात्रिः

स्वप्रभाप्रसरभास्वररूपा ॥२२॥

yatra so’stamayameti vivasvāṁś-

candramaḥ prabhṛtibhiḥ saha sarvaiḥ /

kāpi sā vijayate śivarātriḥ

svaprabhāprasarabhāsvararūpā //22//

Where that stage, that place, that abode of Your ‘nectarized’ residence, where astamayameti vivasvān, this functioning of the sun stops altogether, the sun does not function . . .

JOHN: “Sun” means here?

SWAMIJI: There is no sunlight there. Sunlight has nothing to do there. Sunlight is not . . . it is subsided sunlight.

JOHN: Sunlight does not mean in terms of pramātṛ, prameya, pramāṇa?96

SWAMIJI: Yes, yes. The external meaning of sunlight is sunlight. The internal meaning is when the outgoing breath has stopped.

. . . candramaḥ prabhṛtibhiḥ saha sarvaiḥ, and where the moonlight has also taken its end . . .

JOHN: Ingoing breath it would be.

SWAMIJI: Ingoing breath97.

. . . prabhṛtibhiḥ saha sarvaiḥ, and all notions of thought also have stopped totally, notions of thought . . .

JOHN: “Notions of thought” means actual thoughts themselves or even thinking of . . . ?

ERNIE: Even the seeds.

SWAMIJI: No, all thoughts.

JOACHIM: Any thinking activity.

SWAMIJI: Things other than spirituality, other than Lord Śiva. Those thoughts also have ended and the ingoing breath and the out-coming breath, these also have stopped.

. . . where these have stopped and all those notions of mind have stopped, that is Śiva rātri, that supreme Śiva rātri. That unique Śiva rātri is glorified. There, that Śiva rātri is glorified, [which generally occurs on] the dark half of the phālguna month98. Śiva rātri you know?

JOHN: Śiva rātri is the night of Śiva that comes in . . .

SWAMIJI: The night of Śiva that is the dark half of phālguna, the fourteenth day of the dark half of phālguna month.

JOHN: What does that mean? It means that on the fourteenth day it’s the darkest night of the . . .

SWAMIJI: The darkest night.

JOHN: . . . of the moon?


JOHN: Where the moon is just a . . .

SWAMIJI: Just a . . .

JOHN: . . . a sliver?

SWAMIJI: Yes. That is Śiva rātri, [external] Śiva rātri.

[Internal] Śiva rātri is the rise of cidānanada, the rise of God-consciousness. Because the rise of God-consciousness will never take place unless there is [cessation of] breathing in and out. And that will never take place . . .

JOHN: If there is breathing.

SWAMIJI: . . . when there is breathing in and out and when there are also so many notions and thoughts residing in your mind, that Śiva rātri won’t take place. That Śiva rātri takes place only when these three sections end altogether. Which sections? Ingoing breath, out-coming breath, and all thoughts.99

DENISE: So, that is the real marriage of Śiva and Pārvati?


Svaprabhāprasara bhāsvara rūpa, and that Śiva rātri is shining with Her own glory, with Its own glory. It is not perceived by some other foreign light or some other foreign torch. It is glorified by Its own light.

This is one way of his understanding. He does not say this to Lord Śiva. He says it to his own self, that this is the glorious Śiva rātri.


95 One lakh is equal to one hundred thousand.

96 Fire (pramātṛ, subject), moon (prameya, object), and sun (pramāṇa, cognition). [Editor’s note]

97 That is, when the ingoing breath has also stopped. [Editor’s note]

98 February-March.

99 “Because breath is the cause of thought; breath produces thoughts

 . . . This breath movement will create thoughts only when it knows there is nobody watching it.” Bhagavadgītārthasaṁgraha of Abhinavagupta, translation, and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo (original audio recording, USF archives, Los Angeles, 1978), 16.1

Source: Hymns to Shiva, Utpaladeva’s Shivastotravali, revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo

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