By: Mahanidhi Swami
What is this vrata? The Nagara Khanda (HBV 200) says, “This day, phalguna krishna chaturdashi, is called Shivaratri because on this day Lord Shiva personally remains present in all the shiva-lingas on earth.” This is the most essential and important day of the year to honor Shree Krishna’s greatest devotee (vaishnavanam yatha shambhu) named Lord Shiva. Therefore, one should fast and remain awake all night (jagaran) on Shiva Chaturdashi.
Do Gaudiya Vaisnavas observe this vrata? Yes, it is very important, and everyone should observe it; even if you have never done it before. In Hari-bhakti vilasa (187) Sanatana Gosvami quotes Gautimiya-tantra: siva ratree vratam vaishnava karryam, sri krishna preetaye sadaa: “It is the duty of Vaishnavas to observe the Shiva Ratri vow to remain forever dear to Shree Krishna.” Text 195: “Lord Shiva is the topmost Vaishnava, therefore, every Vaishnava should observe the vow of Shiva Ratri.”
What are the benefits of this vrata?
“When devotees of Sri Krishna observe Shivaratri, Lord Shiva shows his mercy by showering them with Krishna bhakti-rasa.” (HBV 221) “One who worships Shiva today and remains awake all night will never take birth again in the material world.” (HBV 219)
How to observe the Shiva Ratri Vrata?
“One should fast, worship Lord Shiva, and remain awake the entire night” (upavaasa mahadeva pujaa jaagaranam nishi: HBV 208)
1. 6 a.m.-8:36 am : Early morning at sunrise, read Rudra Gita, SB Fourth Canto ch. 24.
2. Fast all day until next sunrise, or at least until midnight.
3. Worship a Shiva Linga on the night of Chaturdashi:
a. In the evening, go to a Shiva Temple and take a vow before Lord Shiva before commencing your worship. If no temple, i-net download a picture of the Vrndavana Gopisvara Linga deity. Then worship the picture by pouring the milk, water and offerings into a bowl or pot placed in front of the picture.
b. Chant the 5-syllable mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) (HBV 211) and bathe Lord Shiva with milk, honey and ghee. Offer bilva patra (bael leaves), (upside down on top of linga). Then offer sesame seeds, perfumes, flowers, ghee lamps, incense, and arghya in a conchshell.
c. Stay up all night chanting Hare Krishna and dancing, reading Srimad Bhagavatam, hearing Shiva tattva. You can chant the many prayers of Lord Shiva glorifying Radha-Krishna like Radha-Krpa Kataksha (e-book on Amazon) You should especially hear about the pastimes of Lord Shiva visiting Sri Kåñëa in Vrndavana, and the glories of his linga deity forms in Vraja. “One who sees the linga of Bhuteshvara Mahadeva in Mathura, Vrndavana will obtain the result of visiting the entire Vraja Mandala.” (Mathura-mahatyam v. 235)
When one receives the mercy of Lord Shiva, he will become free from false ego and the purusha bhava of being the enjoyer. He will then manifest his eternally pure, and true serving nature, kinkari-bhava. The “easily pleased” lord Ashutosh Shiva will become satisfied with such a devotee. Lord Shiva will then grant him residence in the sweet land of Vrndavana to forever serve his divine sweethearts, Radhe-Syama.
We hope on this most auspicious day of Shiva Ratri that everyone will please Lord Shiva by duly honoring him and thus receive his mercy.
Bom Bom Bole! Om Namo Shivaya!
Kundeshvara Mahadeva ki Jai! Gopeshvara Mahadeva ki Ji!