Maha Shivratri 2021
New Beginnings with Ancient Wisdom
God has many names. They are all different labels for the same Creator who made us and everything in this Universe. On this occasion, I publicly re-dedicate myself to higher living in pursuit of peace, wisdom, and liberation from the bondage of material life.
Today is the Vedic holiday Maha Shivratri, "the Great Night of Lord Shiva." This marks my seventh year honoring this holy day, but my first year celebrating as a devotee of Saiva Siddhanta, a Vedic tradition that exalts Shiva as the Supreme Lord.
It has been a year of shake-ups and setbacks, balanced by renewal and extensive internal growth.
In my own experiments with Truth, I was momentarily swept off the path last year. I discovered some shameful ideas hidden deep in the teachings of Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava order into which I was initiated. The relationship between the devotee and the guru is a precious and unique bond, and the Vedas teach the importance of having a bona fide spiritual master to serve as your guide.
This Maha Shivratri is extra special for me. Over the last two months, I’ve embarked on a new course of study, under the guidance of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. He was born in the West and after receiving his initiation, embarked on a lifelong mission to reinvigorate and restore the Vedic religion. This combination of Dharmic wisdom in a Western mind blended to create a worldly-wise take on Eastern teachings for an audience surrounded by Maya.
He put his focus in areas where Dharma had declined due to the presence of settler-colonialists, missionaries, and forced conversions. I once had the honor of meeting Satguru’s successor, Bodhinatha Veylanswami, during a home visit in 2014. I’ve only bowed to two men in my lifetime, and Sri Bodhinatha was one of them.
Satguru's authentic teachings played a crucial role in my early studies of Dharma, and the monks at the Himalayan Academy provide his Master Course free of charge as a gift for humanity. They are not a household name in the West because what they offer is priceless and not for sale.
Celebration of Maha Shivratri includes visiting the temple, reading scripture, and keeping an all-night vigil 🌙 consisting of meditation, naam japa (meditation on the Lord's names), and prayer after a day of fasting.
May the Lord guide me to fulfill my duties in service to myself, my family, and my community.
May the Lord’s energy as Ganesha remove all obstacles, as Durga slay all demons, and as Kartikkeya destroy all karmas which stand in my way.
May the Lord as Shiva the Great Guru illuminate me, teach me, and sustain me.
May the Lord continue to cut through the bonds of Māya as I continue to seek Him every day, seeing Him in all creatures, in all things.
May the Lord remind me eternally that He is closer to me than my own breath, my own heartbeat, my own hands, that he is the Seer in my own eyes.
I wish you all a blessed year.
Om Namah Sivaya!