Shivaratri

View photos of Sivaratri Celebration at Belur Math

belurmath

One Shivaratri night, a yatra was arranged at the house of the great devotee, Sitanath Pyne. It was decided that the drama would continue the whole night, since the custom is that nobody should sleep on Shivaratri night. Due to want of funds, such performances were rare in the village, and thus, the villagers would be very happy if one such performance could be arranged. The place where the stage was prepared, a huge gathering was there impatiently waiting for the yatra to begin. The green room was a little away from the stage and there was Gayavishnu, the Master's sengat, who was selected the dresser. He was sending different persons on the stage in different costumes, but nobody could yet see Gadadhar. Gadadhar was the darling of the entire community, and so there was slight commotion in the crowd not seeing him appearing on the stage. It was midnight, the play was half over, yet Gadadhar did not appear. The audience was becoming impatient. And then it happened and it happened towards the midnight.

Dressed impeccably as Shiva, Gadai appeared on the stage. The dress up was so perfect that it was hardly possible to recognize the person. In place of his well combed hair, there were the locks of dark hairs piled upon his head as jata. His golden complexion which would put to shame even the golden color of the champa flower, was now shining smeared with ashes. How much can I describe the grandeur that was emanating from that body, the beauty of which would even surpass the beauty of a full moon? With a garland of rudraksha dangling from his neck, he was holding shinga in one hand and a trident in the other and was clad in a tiger skin. Above everything, there was his holy body slowly appearing on the stage with faltering steps charged with emotion.

Was it their beloved Gadadhar? So the spectators were thinking when they looked at him. Was it Shiva himself who had come down from Kailash? He became fully possessed of Shiva's bhava and was slowly losing all external consciousness. Tears flowed in torrents from his two eyes. Who could say where were all those tears pent up? Jahnavi (Ganga), whose residence was on Shiva's head, but her origin was at the holy feet of the Master. Seeing the Master possessed by Shiva's bhava, as if, being afraid to sit on Shiva's head, gleefully she was now coming down from his eyes all over his body. The spectators were completely moved seeing Shiva's bhava, manifested in the Master's body, which was slowly coming to its climax. Chinu and other villagers who knew him, quickly collected some vilva leaves, and very respectfully offered at his feet. Mahesh (Shiva) became satisfied by the offering of his favorite vilva, and then with the chanting of "Hara, Hara" the mahabhava was slowly dissipating and ultimately merged into his body. Some say that possessed state lasted for three days.

from "A Portrait of Sri Ramakrishna" by Akshay Kumar Sen

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