Mahashivaratri - The Inner Significance
Sivatwa – The Divine Principle
The sages believed that the Divine principle was present in and outside of everything and that it could be experienced directly as well as indirectly. They pursued their penances further, for the benefit of mankind. They realized the Truth that the Divine Effulgent Person was beyond the outer darkness and, experiencing this Reality, they called upon all to seek and experience it. This Effulgent Purusha is utterly selfless, full of light, the embodiment of all auspicious qualities and free from attributes. He was described as "Siva" meaning one who is beyond the three gunas (satwa, rajas, tamas) and hence absolutely pure and untainted. He was regarded as eternal, omnipotent, all-pervading and the possessor of all that is great and glorious―the six indices of the Divine: Wealth, Righteousness, Fame, Sacrifice, Wisdom and Reputation. And for this reason, He was given another appellation―Easwara. Easwara is one who is endowed with all conceivable kinds of wealth.
The sages found that Siva is also the protector of those who seek refuge in Him. Hence, He was called Sankara―one who confers protection and grace. His Sankalpa (Will) and grace have no bounds and are not dependent on any person, condition or qualification. Hence He was described as Swayambhu (self-created). The sages conceived of Him as one who could incarnate at will for the protection and rescue of man and the safeguarding of dharma. In view of this transcendental power, He was described as Sambhavah―the one who incarnates whenever the practice of dharma (righteousness) is in danger and the good need protection.1
Another name given to this Divine entity was Easwara. That is, the Divine was regarded as the possessor of infinite and inexhaustible wealth. What is this wealth? Health is one kind of wealth. Material riches are one kind of wealth. Knowledge, virtues, wisdom, are all included in the term Aiswaryam (wealth). They realised the truth that Easwara is the embodiment of every kind of wealth. Probing further into the mystery of the Divine, they described Him as Siva. Siva means the One who is free from three gunas (satwa, rajas and tamas). He transcends these three qualities. As one who is without qualities, He was also called Shuddha-Satwah. Siva is that pure untainted satwa quality. It represents the principle of Mangala (auspiciousness). This means that only when the gunas are absent, auspiciousness appears. When qualities are present, it is inauspicious. Hence, Siva is the Mangala-swaroopa (Embodiment of Auspiciousness).2
The Trinity and Omkara
This is the Aiswarya that permeates and fills this world. This is the very embodiment of Easwara itself. For this principle of Easwara there are two aspects. One is Saguna (attributeful) and Sakara (formful) and the other is Nirguna (attributeless) and Nirakara (formless). Associated with the mind and thoughts, and responding to the joys and sorrows, the pain and sufferings of human beings, various forms of Divinity have been visualized. These are the Saguna and Sakara aspects of Easwara.
In this context we have the Trinity―Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. These are associated with the three gunas or attributes―rajas, satwa and tamas. Rajas is associated with Brahma, satwa with Vishnu and tamas with Siva. The rajasic attribute, associated with Brahma, is represented by the sound 'A'. The sound 'U' is the manifested form of Vishnu. And 'M' is the form of the Siva principle.
These three forms, composing the Trinity, are not permanent. They are not permanent because they have taken form. Anything which has a form cannot be permanent. In the worship of the Divine with attributes the Trinity exists in each individual as auspicious witnesses. But there is one syllable consisting of 'A', 'U' and 'M', which is the One underlying all the three forms; that is the Omkara. It is an expression of the Nirguna Akara the attribute-less Divine Principle.3
The cosmic process
The entire cosmos is governed by three states: srishti, sthithi and layam (creation, sustenance and dissolution). The truth of this is beyond dispute by anyone at any time. A Divine truth is conveyed by this concept. Srishti (creation) is the expression of the Easwara Sankalpa (Will of God). It is called Prakrithi (Nature). Every object in creation should have the characteristics of Nature. Man has come into existence to manifest the powers of Nature. The powers of Nature are not present in all in equal measure. The man who is conscious only of the physical has a perverted view of these powers. The spiritually-oriented person sees their benign nature.
The Trinity in man
Thus the cosmic process shrishti (creation), sthithi (sustenance) and layam (dissolution) goes on in every human being. Srishti is the outcome of sankalpa (thought). Sthithi is protection of creation. Layam is the merger of creation in its source. Srishti, sthithi and layam are also identified with the three qualities―satwa, rajas and tamas. Man is the embodiment of the three gunas. The three gunas represent the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshvara). The Trinity represents the Thrilokas (three Worlds). The three worlds and the trinity are present in every human being. The three are to be regarded as one and worshiped as Sivam. What is Sivam? It is the embodiment of Auspiciousness. When man recognises the unified form of the Trinity his humanness acquires auspiciousness.4
To begin with, what does the principle of Easwara signify? The Bhagavad Gita declares: "Easwara-sarvabhootaanaam hriddese Arjuna thishtathi" (Easwara dwells, O Arjuna, in the heart region of all beings). Easwara, therefore means the Lord of the Heart. He illumines the heart of every being. This means that the Divine power of Easwara is present in every heart. The other name given to Easwara as Lord of the heart is Atma.
The Supreme Guru
It is from the heart that the mind has emerged. The mind corresponds to the Vishnu principle. Vishnu means one who is all-pervasive. The mind is equally all-pervasive. "Manomoolam idam jagath," it is said. (The mind is the basis of the cosmos). The mind pervades the entire universe. Hence it signifies the Vishnu principle.
Thus Easwara, Vishnu and Brahma symbolise the heart, the mind and the faculty of speech. The combination of all these three represents the Atma. Hence each of the three should be revered as the one supreme guru in three forms.
Thasmai Shri Gurave namah.
This sloka, which has a profound and sacred inner significance, has been given a distorted meaning, elevating the role of the ordinary teacher, fragmenting the Divine and missing the basic truth of oneness expressed in it.5
Siva Lingam & Lingodbhavam
Just as Om is the verbal symbol of God, the Lingam is the symbolic form of the Godhead. It is just a form. Everything is maya (delusion) and to grasp it, you must deal with maya. Otherwise you cannot realise the Maya Shakthi (Deluding Power). God is as immanent in the universe as life is immanent in the egg. The chicken is in every part of the egg; so too, God is in every part of the world.6
Linga is the Form Symbol of God
The manifestation of the Linga is a part of My Nature. These pandiths (scholars of spirituality) explain it as reminiscent of an epochal event in the past when Siva challenged Brahma and Vishnu to gauge the height and depth of the Linga Form He assumed. They failed and had to accept defeat. But, the Linga emerges, as a result of prayer and grace. You have to recognise in this event a glimpse of Divinity, a sign of infinite grace. Just as Om is the sound symbol of God, the Linga is the form symbol or the visible symbol of God, the most meaningful, the simplest and the least endowed with the appendages of attributes. Lingam means, that in which this jagath (world of change) attains laya (mergence or dissolution), Leeyathe. All Forms merge in the Formless at last. Siva is the Principle of the Destruction of all Names and Forms, of all entities and individuals. So, the Linga is the simplest sign of emergence and mergence.7
Linga is the symbol of the beginningless and endless
People ask, "Why does Swami produce the Lingam (Formless Form of God) from within himself on this day?" But, let Me tell you, it is impossible for you to understand the attributes of the Divine and to measure its potentialities, or, to gauge the significance of the manifestation of Divinity. It is agamya (unreachable) and agochara (invisible, mysterious). Therefore, in order to bear witness to the fact that the Divinity is amidst you, it becomes necessary to express this attribute. Or else, the atmosphere of hatred, greed, cruelty, violence and irreverence will overwhelm the good, the humble and the pious.
The Linga is just a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless- ―for it has no limbs, no face, no feet, no front or back, no beginning or end. Its shape is like the picture one imagines the Niraakaara (Formless) to be. As a matter of fact, Linga means―leeyathe (that in which all forms and names merge) and gamyathe (that towards which all names and forms are proceeding, to attain fulfilment). It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful. Everything is subsumed in it; everything starts from it; from the Lingam arises Jangam (Universe), from the Jangam arises sangam (association, attachment, activity) and as a result of the sangam, one realises the Lingam (attributeless Atma). Thus, the circle is completed―from the beginningless to the Beginningless. This is the lesson that Lingobdhavam (emergence of the Linga) teaches. The lingashareera (the physical body) that is inhabited by the Atma is but a vesture worn for this particular sojourn! Many a vesture has this soul worn, though its reality is eternal!8
Lingodbhavam - Symbol of time-Space manifestation of Divinity
You are indeed blessed, since front among the billions of people on this earth, you alone were able to come into this congregation, this presence, on this occasion. People gather in many a sacred place for Sivarathri, but, you were able to be here on this thrice-holy day and witness the emergence of the dasha angula swarupa―the Upanishads declare that God is athyathistath dasha angulam, the ten-inch-symbol of the kaala (time), desha (space―manifestation of divinity, as described by Sage Kapila, the incarnation of Narayana Himself.
Having had the unique good fortune of witnessing the emergence of the time-space-embodiment in the Linga-form, I assure you that you are released from the bondage of birth and death. Recollect (and live in the recollection of) that moment of emergence and meditate on the significance of the Linga-form. This is the chance that is seldom gained through the performance of yajnas or yagas or other elaborate rituals; or as a result of years of arduous sadhana. When you are asked what happened at Prasanthi Nilayam, tell them that your life's mission has been fulfilled, that you were able to witness the Lingodhbhavam, see the Linga which emerged during the auspicious hour.9
Truths revealed by the four Mahavakyas
All these Mahavakyas (sacred statements of Supreme Truth) relate to the glory of the One, which is a veritable Ocean of Grace. The vapour rising from It is "Prajnaanam Brahma"', the cloud is '"Ayam Atma Brahma ;" the shower of rain, "Thath thwam asi;" the river is "Aham Brahmaasmi."10
Siva is all Graciousness, ever Auspicious
Siva means, Graciousness, Auspiciousness, Mangalam. He is all Graciousness, ever Auspicious, Sarva Mangalam. That is the reason why the epithet, Sri, which indicates these qualities, is not added to the name Siva, Shankara, Easwara, etc. It is added to the number of Avatars (Divine Incarnations), for they have taken on perishable bodies for a specific purpose. They have to be distinguished from other humans, by the epithet, but Siva is eternally gracious, auspicious, mangala and so the epithet is superfluous. Siva is adored as the Teacher of Teachers, Dakshinamurthy. The Form of Siva is itself a great lesson in tolerance and forbearance.11
Symbolism of the Siva form
The secret of Creation is evident from the description of the form of Siva. The crescent moon on Siva's head symbolises the consciousness in human beings, the Ganga symbolises the Life-Force and the snakes on Siva's body represent the myriads of living beings. He resides on a silver mountain. His dearest friend is Kubera, the Lord of Wealth. Despite being endowed with all these, why was He obliged to carry the begging bowl? To demonstrate to the world that every kind of wealth is a hindrance to spiritual advancement, Siva renounced everything. It is through renunciation Siva became the eternal embodiment of supreme bliss.
The Lord has another name. It is only when the love principle underlying this name is rightly understood, the real form of the cosmos can be recognised. That name is "Sambasiva". Saa means divinity. Amba refers to the cosmos. Siva means Purusha (the Supreme Person). Easwara has yet another name, Yogasikha. The sky is His blue form. The dik (directions) are His garments. Hence He is known as Digambara. He is also known as Panchaanana―the Five headed One. The five are: Earth, water, fire, air and space. His five heads represent the panchabhutas (five basic elements).12
Consider the significance of the form that Siva has assumed for human adoration: In His throat, He has the holocaust-producing poison, halahala, that can destroy all life in a trice. On His head, He has the sacred Ganga river, whose waters can cure all ills, here and hereafter. On His forehead, He has the eye of Fire. On His head, He has the cool comforting Moon. On His wrists, ankles, shoulders and neck He wears deadly cobras, which live in life-giving breath of air. Siva lives in the burial ground and the burning ghat, the Rudrabhumi, as it is called―the land of Siva or Rudra. The place, is no area of dread; it is an auspicious area, for all have to end their lives there, at the close of this life or a few more lives. Siva is teaching you that death cannot be shunned or frightened away. It has to be gladly and bravely met.
Siva, again, is said to go about with a begging bowl. He teaches that renunciation, detachment, indifference to good fortune or bad, are the paths to attain Him. Siva is known as Mrthyunjaya (He who vanquishes death). And, He is also the Kamari (the destroyer of Desire). These two names show that he who destroys desire can conquer death, for desire breeds activity, activity breeds consequence, consequence breeds bondage, bondage results in birth and birth involves death.13
Significance of Nandi
In temples of Easwara (or Siva), you find Nandi (image of bull) in front of the deity. What is the inner significance of this? The usual reply you get is that Nandi is the vahana (vehicle) of Easwara; as if He could not afford to have a better vehicle than a bull. This is a wrong idea. The truth is that just as the Lingam is the symbol of the Lord (Easwara), Nandi (bull) is the symbol for jiva (individual soul). Therefore, just like the Nandi, man should turn away from Prakruthi and direct all his attention towards Easwara only.
There are some more meanings for this symbolism. For instance, it is said that no one should stand between Easwara and Nandi. One should have the vision of Easwara by looking through the space in between the two ears of Nandi. The underlying idea is that through the sadhana of using its ears to listen about Easwara alone, the animality in the bull becomes transformed into divinity and because of its merger with Easwara it is called Nandeeshwara (Bull-God). Thus the lesson of the symbolism is that man should also try to merge with God, by following the example of the Nandi.14
Every form conceived in the shastras and scriptures has a deep significance. Siva does not ride an animal called in human language, a bull. The bull is the symbol of Stability standing on four legs, Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi and Prema (Truth, Virtue, Peace and Love). Siva is described as having three eyes, eyes that see the Past, the Present and the Future. The elephant skin which forms His cloak is a symbol of the bestial primitive traits which His grace destroys. In fact, He tears them to pieces, skin them, and they become totally ineffective. His Four Faces symbolise Shantham (Equanimity), Roudram (Terror), Mangalam (Grace) and Uthsaham (positive energy). While adoring the Lingam on this Lingodhbhava Day, you must contemplate on these truths of Siva that the Linga represents.15
Significance of Bilwa Patra
Siva is worshipped with the three-leaved bilwa, for, He is immanent in the three worlds, in the three phases of time, in the three attributes of Nature. He removes the three types of grief; He has no basis outside Him; He is the source of Bliss; He is the embodiment of the sweetness and efficacy of Nectar. Since every being is Siva-swarupa (of the nature of Siva―for without Siva, it is mere 'shava' (corpse)―man has to live up to that Divine status.
Significance of Vibhuthi Abhisheka
The Sivarathri Festival, as celebrated here, is an example for you. You might ask, "Swami has often declared that all days are holy days, that there is no special rite or ritual that has to be observed on any single day; but, Swami Himself is pouring vibhuthi (holy ash) on the Idol and calling it abhisheka (anointing the idol); is this right?" Swami is doing so, to teach you a lesson.
The Vibhuthi Abhisheka has a potent inner meaning which Swami wants you to grasp. The Vibhuthi is the most precious object, in the truly spiritual sense. You know that Siva burnt the God of Desire or Kama, called Manmatha (for he agitates the mind and confounds the confusion already existing there) into a heap of ash. Siva adorned Himself with that ash, and thus He shone in His Glory, as the Conqueror of Desire. When Kama was destroyed, Prema (Love) reigned supreme. When there is no desire to warp the mind, Love could be true and full.16
Significance of Siva Thandava Dance
Another significance of Sivarathri is this: Siva, or the Paramapurusha (the Eternal Absolute Person), in His desire to attract prakrithi (objective world), engages Himself in the thandava (the Cosmic dance). The dance is a divine plan to attract the material creation, for all divine miracles like those of Rama (He who pleases and delights) and Krishna (He who attracts), are for drawing people to the Divine Presence for the purpose of correcting or cleansing them, or for confirming their faith and then leading them on to the sadhana (spiritual effort) of service so that they may merge in ecstasy, in the source of all ecstasy―chamathkar (miracle) resulting in samskar (transformation), leading to paropakar (helping others) and finally conferring sakshathkar (direct vision of truth).
The thandava dance is so fast that fire emanates from Siva's body because of the heat generated by activity. In order to cool Siva and comfort him, Parvathi, his consort, places the Ganga on his head, makes the crescent Moon rest amidst the coils of his hair, applies cold sandalwood paste all over his body, winds round the joints of his hands and feet cold-blooded snakes, and finally, being herself the daughter of the Himalayas, she sits on his lap and becomes a part of Him. At this Siva rises, and both Purusha and Prakrithi dance together to the immense delight of the Gods and of all creation. This happens, according to the Puranas (mythological legends), on the Sivarathri day.17
Shivoham, Shivoham―was the exclamation that rose from the souls that knew the Truth in a flash of illumination, after long years of cleansing the mind through the process of thapas (penance). I am Siva; Siva am I―Though denoted by many names and recognised in many forms, the Divine Principle is One, without a second. It is Sivam and it is latent in each being, including man. Holy days are to be spent in the contemplation of this Truth and in special exercises to make oneself fully conscious of one's Divinity.18
The significance of Sivarathri is that it is a time when one can get closest to Bhagawan, because the moon, which represents the mind, has shed fifteen of its phases (kalas) and is about to shed the last (sixteenth) phase. The ancient sages, who explored the link between numbers and the Divine, found that the letters in the name of Sivarathri amounted to a total of eleven, which was the number of the dark forces called Rudras (those who make people cry). The Rudras enter the intellects of people and turn their desires towards worldly things, thereby giving rise to attachments and hatreds and pursuit of sensuous pleasures. As they turn the minds of people away from God and towards evil, they were called Rudras. The sages declared that whoever is able to keep the Rudras in check on the sacred day of Sivarathri will be able to experience Divinity. This means that control of the senses is the primary requisite for realising the Divine and attaining liberation. Control of the senses is not easy. Even an evolved person like Arjuna confessed to Sri Krishna that sense-control was extremely difficult. The sages knew this well from their own experience. Hence, they suggested that even if control of the senses was not possible all the time, it should be practised at least on sacred days like Sivarathri. If one has nothing to do, the mind wanders in all directions. Hence the sages prescribed continuous absorption in thoughts of God on Sivarathri night. Repetition of the name of God and meditation on His glories would keep the mind away from other trivialities and promote control of the senses.
The proper way to observe Sivarathri
Sophisticated intellectuals of today look upon Sivarathri only as a night when they should try to keep awake. They do not see the need to observe it as a pure and holy day to be dedicated to thoughts of God. As keeping awake the whole night is their sole idea of Sivarathri, they try to spend it seeing three film shows or playing cards with their friends or playing with dice with their kith and kin the whole night. Keeping awake in this manner, they come home in the morning to have a hearty meal. Is this the way to observe Sivarathri? Not at all. It is a caricature of what should be a sacred occasion for contemplating on God. What kind of vigil is it in which there is no purity of mind and no meditation on God? The stork that stands on one leg waiting to catch a fish cannot be regarded as doing penance. The drunken sot who is oblivious to the world cannot be equated with one who is absorbed in the divine. The man who gives up eating after a tiff with the wife cannot be described as observing a fast.19
The eleven Rudras man has to conquer
The auspicious and sacred Easwara principle is present in every man. This divine principle can be manifested only through the practice of pure thoughts and actions. Today's Sivarathri observance conveys a significant lesson. According to numerology, the three letters "Si", "va" and "Raa" make up eleven ("Si"=5, "Va"=4 and "Raa"=2). These eleven are known as the Ekadas Rudras, the eleven Rudras. The fourth syllable "thri" means "three". Thus Sivarathri is the day devoted to overcoming the eleven Rudras by adoring the Supreme Lord, who is master of them all.
The Rudras turn the buddhi (intellect) towards sensuous objects and thrust the individual in the sea of samsara (worldly life). The Paramatma (Supreme Spirit) is master of all the Rudras. Only the man who has conquered the eleven Rudras can expect to realise the Supreme. Who are the eleven Rudras? They are the five karmendriyas (organs of action) the five Jnanedriyas (organs of perception) and the buddhi. Man must seek to control as much as possible these eleven organs. From ancient times, the sages have stressed the supreme importance of sense-control as the means to God-realisation.20
Aim of all sadhana is to eliminate the mind
We have not only the Mahasivarathri once a year, we have a Sivarathri every month, dedicated to the worship of Siva. And, why is the rathri (the night), so important? The night is dominated by the Moon. The Moon has 16 kalas (fractions of divine glory), and each day or rather night, during the dark fortnight, one fraction is reduced, until the entire Moon is annihilated on New Moon night. From then on, each night, a fraction is added, until the Moon is full circle on Full Moon Night. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind; the mind waxes and wanes, like the Moon. “Chandrama-manaso jaathah” ―Out of the mind of the Purusha (Supreme Being), the Moon was born.
It must be remembered that the chief aim of all sadhana (spiritual striving) is to eliminate the mind, to become a-manaska. Then only can maya (illusion) be rent asunder and the Reality revealed. During the dark fortnight of the month, sadhana has to be done to eliminate each day a fraction of the mind, for, every day, a fraction of the Moon too is being taken out of cognisance. On the night of Chathurdhasi, the 14th day, the night of Siva, only a fraction remains. If some special effort is made that night, through more intensive and vigilant sadhana, like puja or japam or dhyana (ritual worship, one-pointed repetition and holy names, and meditation), success is ensured. Siva alone has to be meditated upon that night without the mind straying towards thoughts of sleep or food. This has to be done every month; once a year, on Mahasivarathri a special spurt of spiritual activity is recommended, so that what is shavam (corpse) can become Sivam (God), by the perpetual awareness of its Divine Indweller.
Visualise Siva as the inner power of all
Resolve, on this Holy Sivarathri, in the Presence of Siva Sai, to visualise the Siva as the inner power of all. With each breath, you are even now, asserting "Soham," "I am He," not only you, but, every being that breathes, every being that lives, everything that exists. It is a fact which you have ignored so long. Believe it from now on. When you watch your breath and meditate on that magnificent Truth, slowly, the I and the He (the Sah and the Aham) will draw nearer and closer, until the feeling of separateness will fade away―and the Soham will be transformed into OM, the Pranava, the Primal Sound, the Fundamental Formula for God. That OM is the Swaswarupa―the Reality behind this "relative reality."21
Siva – Parvathi
Both in the Vishnupurana and the Sivapurana, Parvathi is described as the most beautiful goddess. Conscious of her own exceptional charms, Parvathi desired to win Siva as her spouse. But all her efforts proved fruitless. Learning a lesson from this experience and shedding her ego, she embarked on a severe penance. Facing the rigours of heat and cold, wind and rain, she allowed her body to waste away by her penance. Her mind was solely concentrated on Siva. Seeing that she had completely got rid of her ego, Siva agreed to accept Parvathi as Ardhangini (one half of Himself).
What is the inner meaning of this episode? Nature is symbolic of Parvathi. It is exceptionally beautiful. Feeling proud about its charms, it seeks to attract everybody. As it succeeds in its attractions, its ego grows. Man, who is a child of Nature, also develops the ego and leads a life filled with egoism. The ego gets puffed up on the basis of knowledge, physical strength, power and position, handsome looks and such other accomplishments. Even the pride of scholarship takes one away from God.22
You must be ever in harmony with God and always obey His command scrupulously. Never go against it. There is a small story to illustrate the point that no matter what, God’s will always prevails.
One should obey the Divine command with total faith and without any disputation for or against. Markandeya was born out of a boon granted by Easwara to his parents. Easwara asked his parents whether they wanted a virtuous son with a short life-span or a son not so virtuous but who would live long. The parents opted for a virtuous son. Accordingly, Markandeya was born. He was one of good thought, good behaviour, and good conduct. Easwara informed his parents that he would live only for sixteen years. Nevertheless, the parents were joyous, because they had been blessed with a virtuous son.
Years rolled by, and Markandeya entered his sixteenth year. Remembering the words of Easwara, his parents became grief-stricken. His mother would often shed tears thinking of the impending death of her son. Markandeya could not understand the cause of her grief and wondered why she was shedding tears. One day, he found his parents steeped in sorrow. On enquiry, they revealed that his death was very near, as willed by the Divine, and that was the cause of their sorrow.
Markandeya felt sorry that Easwara's will was not revealed to him till then because of which he had wasted the precious time allotted to him. He did not want to waste any more time. He had an early bath, went to the temple of Easwara, and started chanting the sacred Siva Panchakshari mantra, Namah Sivaya, with all sincerity and devotion. He lost himself in the contemplation of Easwara. He did not expect any reward for his prayers. He considered it as his primary duty to contemplate on God. The following day was supposed to be the last day of his earthly sojourn. Hence he remained in the temple.
Because he had not returned home, His parents went to the temple and sat at the entrance. They were shedding tears thinking of the impending end of Markandeya's life. As ordained by the Lord, Markandeya left his mortal coil the moment he completed his sixteenth year. His parents were in deep sorrow. As Markandeya left his mortal body in the external world, his jiva (soul) reached Lord Siva in the divine world.
The Lord was immensely pleased with the sincere devotion of Markandeya. He said, "Markandeya! Today marks the completion of your sixteenth year. You have come to Me in a happy frame of mind. You have bowed down to My Will with implicit faith and obedience. I am pleased with your devotion."
As Easwara was speaking to Markandeya in this manner, Mother Parvathi intervened and said, "Oh Lord! Why don't You send him back to his parents, since he has obeyed Your command implicitly.” Easwara wanted Parvathi also to accompany Him. Together they restored life to the body of Markandeya.
The parents' joy knew no bounds when they noticed some movement in Markandeya's body. He got up and said, "My dear mother and father, Lord Easwara and Mother Parvathi have brought me back to life."
Only God can save the life of a human being. Some doctors claim that they can give good medicines or perform surgery to save the life of a person. They make several promises thus, but they fail. Except for God, none else can save or prolong the life of a person. He only can interfere in the law of karma. With God's grace, one can achieve anything in this world. Dear students! You must strive to earn the grace of God right from your childhood. When you pray for His grace and strive for the same, you will be protected by God.23
1. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 8, 1986
2. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, May 21, 1991
3. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 17, 1985
4. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 7, 1985
5. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, July 29, 1988
6. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 7, 1959
7. Shivaraathri Day, February 1969
8. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 23, 1971
9. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 24, 1974
10. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, October 20, 1961
11. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 5, 1973
12. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 23, 1990
13. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 3, 1973
14. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, May 24, 1992
15. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 1969, Shivarathri Day
16. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 20, 1974
17. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 7, 1978
18. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 20, 1974
19. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 8, 1986
20. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 23, 1990
21. Shivaraathri Day, February 1969
22. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, January 1, 1991
23. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, March 3, 2005