Mahasivarathri 1999 and 2000 by Mr. John Behner
It was Mahasivarathri 1999, in Sai Kulwant Hall. Something unusual started to happen during the bhajans. Swami was drinking lots of water and then a divine lingam came out of His mouth. During the Divine Discourse which followed, Swami said, “Whoever has seen this lingam at the time of its emergence will not have rebirth. One should see its form as it emerges." And I was not there. We got the news at our home. However, reading the Divine Discourse, we noted that Swami said that this could occur again.
So, for Mahasivarathri, 2000, we made sure that we would be in Prasanthi. Swami had said that this type of manifestation can only be seen in the presence of the Divine, and nowhere else. So knowing this I made sure to be the first on the veranda that evening and secured a front row seat just 3 metres from Swami’s chair. The bhajans started, Swami came and sat in His chair, the frequent sips of water started, the bhajans were reaching a crescendo and everyone felt a lingam would emerge soon. And then it happened. The lingam emerged out of Swami’s mouth. I saw it. I saw it come out. I saw its form. I was liberated! Such euphoria I have never before or since experienced.
Then Swami’s divine discourse followed. But in the discourse He did not mention that we were all liberated. He must have overlooked this detail, even though He never overlooks anything. I was still feeling pretty good, when the next day Swami called a group of Italians for an interview. In the interview, one of them asked Swami if they were all liberated, having witnessed the lingam coming out of Swami’s mouth the night before. Swami said, this was not a Shiva lingam, which gives liberation, that He had materialized this year, but an Atma lingam. This type of lingam did not give liberation instantaneously, but it permitted those who had seen it to attain liberation through doing lots of selfless service. When I heard about what Swami had said, my bubble popped. I was no longer liberated unless I did lots of selfless service. So from then on, I have been working hard to deserve what was promised. May we pray that all of us who are in this same situation are able to reach the goal.
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.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Mahasivarathri, February 2, 1959
Mahasivarathri 2002 by Dr. WIlliam Harvey
The one that stands out for me is 2002. A few years prior the massive throngs of devotees, in their eagerness to see a lingam erupt from the mouth of Lord Sai, had begun to lapse so much into pushing and shoving that a serious injury threat was posed to many in the crowd. Apparently, this was the reason for His having stopped doing this. Yet, now once again there was speculation within the precincts of Prasanthi Nilayam that He might, just might, orally produce a lingam.
So, here we were into the evening bhajan singing with Swami seated before a desk in the front center area of the verandah of the Mandir. Electricity and dazzling anticipation filled the air. With the singing crescendoing to a fever pitch, I was swept up on a wave of blissful excitement.
My vantage point was beside a column about four meters behind Swami, to His left. He began requesting a tumbler of water every few minutes, then handling a towel that was placed on the desk. Finally, after a period of time that seemed simultaneously drawn out and instant, Swami appeared to heave as He rocked back and forth in the chair. Then, out from His mouth flew a golden, egg-shaped lingam. It landed just in front of Him. He quickly held it up for all to see. Still holding it high in the air, He walked from side to side in the outer area before looping around to the inner verandah in order to move towards the Interview Room.
Realising He was going to pass right by me, I put away my camera and focused on directly absorbing as much as I could. When He was passing the spot where I stood, I felt He was giving me the chance to touch it, and I did.
Glee was the only emotion I was aware of for the next several hours. I sensed something special had happened to and for all us who had witnessed this spectacular, other-worldly event. I was most grateful.
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.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Mahasivarathri, February 14, 1969