Thursday, March 3, 2011

Maha Shiva Ratri

In my childhood, I had holidays with my grandma narrating stories to us; Cinderella, Raja Harishchandra, Vikram Betal etc. Today, she was narrating me the story of Murudeshwar (mentioned in my blog before). Her story was different and more convincing than what I read before in the wiki. And it’s more interesting the way she narrates it J
Grandma Version:
Ravan’s family was greatly devoted to Lord Shiva. As we know his land was Lanka (current Sri Lanka), there was sand around in which his mother had make a sand Lingam to pray. One fine day the Lingam got washed away in the tide. She thought it was a bad omen and was upset over the incident. When Ravan saw that he enquired about her worry. When he heard the incident, egoistic Ravan said to his mother, that she doesn’t have to work so hard and he will instead get her the Shiva Lingam so she can pray effortlessly. So he meditated with full devotion and Lord Shiva was impressed. He appeared with Goddess Parvati. When Ravan saw the heavenly beauty, he forgot about the Lingam and thought he should have the beautiful Parvati in his house. So he instead demands for Parvati. Lord Shiva with no choice has to agree and offer him Parvati. Parvati is not very happy about going with a Demon, but Lord Shiva asks her to just join him for now. Parvati makes a deal with Ravan that she won’t join him in his Pushpak viman (his flying swan vehicle), instead she wants to walk with him to his kingdom with a distance from him. She will follow him and he has to lead. Ravan agrees and they start to travel. At dusk, when he had to do his prayer, he asked Parvati to rest under a tree. While he was gone Narad (God’s Messenger) came to meet Parvati and he sympathized with her for her trouble. So he suggested her, why don’t you show Ravan your Durga avatar so Ravan that changes his mind to take you. After which Narad meets Ravan asking him what is the matter that he is walking today. Ravan doesn’t tell him the actual reason and says just like that. But Narad pretends he doesn’t know about Parvati and insists to know why such a great king is walking today. So Ravan tells him he has Goddess Parvati with him, to which Narad pretends to not believe. So Ravan asks him to join him & see himself. When they come to the tree where Parvati was sitting, they see a scary, angry avatar of Parvati – Goddess Durga. Seeing that, Ravan is terrified and asks her to leave. When he goes home his mother asks him about the Lingam. So he remembers that he forgot his actual goal of getting the lingam. He says he asked for Parvati. His mother is horrified to know that he asked for Goddess Parvati – Mother of all! She tells him that was a huge mistake. So Ravan decides to meditate again to get the lingam this time. In spite of meditating hard, Lord Shiva is not impressed, so Ravan starts to cut each of his head to offer to Lord Shiva. To this Lord Shiva is pleased & appears to hand him the Lingam. But there is a catch, that Ravan should not let it touch the ground. If it did, then the Lingam would get grounded forever!
So Ravan leaves with the Lingam. Narad goes to Lord Ganesha for help. Ganesha agrees to help. At dusk again, Ravan has to do his prayers, so he comes across Ganesha, who is disguised as a Brahmin child. He hands the lingam to Ganesha & warns him not to put it on the ground. Ganesha says it’s so heavy and he can’t hold it for too long; it’s because it has trilok (three worlds – Heaven, Hell & Earth).  But Ravan insists that he will be back soon and he makes a deal that he will return before Ganesha calling him three times. When Ravan goes for his prayers, Ganesha calls him three times & as Ravan is running towards him, Ganesha puts the Lingam on the ground. Ravan is very angry and he starts to beat up Ganesha, who then appears in his real avatar. Ravan tries hard to pull out the Lingam, but the more he tries bigger the lingam gets to be.
Another point that my grandma said was, Ravan should have prayed to Ganesha first before he prayed to Lord Shiva. In Indian mythology, we are supposed to always pray to Lord Ganesha first before undertaking any task or other gods. Ganesha thought that Ravan has too much ego to ignore him and that he needs to be taught a lesson.
That’s the version I heard from my grandma today. I am almost awake for MahaShivaratri; as it’s celebrated to today by staying awake all night and fasting all day long.
Happy Maha Shiva Ratri to all J

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