March 04 – Morning
Although the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri occurs once every month, the festival of Maha Shivaratri falls once a year and is one of the most sacred events of the year. With the word Shivaratri itself meaning ‘auspicious night’, the celebrations could not have been more auspicious and sacred being spent in the Divine presence of the Parama Shiva Himself.
On the morning of 4th February, Bhagawan proceeded to the area behind Premamrutham Hall where He had performed the Bhoomi Puja last year for the upcoming Shiva statue. Bhagawan performed Puja and initiated the construction work to begin for this area which He has named as ‘Shivoham’. Thereafter, Bhagawan made His way to Premamrutham where the proceedings of the Linga Abhishekam were underway.
Bhagawan glided amidst the devotees who had gathered, interacting and blessing everyone before taking His throne on the dais. The Puja was interspersed with beautiful Vedic chants and devotional songs by the students and alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions. Bhagawan then lovingly walked among the devotees, showering sacred Puja water on each and every one. Upon completion of the Puja, Mangala Arati was offered to Bhagawan and Prasadam was distributed to all.
March 04 – Evening
On the evening of 4th March, the much-anticipated celebrations began with Rudram chanting at 5:30 p.m. Bhagawan arrived at Premamrutham amidst the sacred chants and after offering flowers to the Shiva Lingam, along with the dignitaries, Bhagawan lit the lamp marking the commencement of the proceedings and took His throne on the dais. As Bhajans began with great fervour and devotion, everyone waited with bated breath for the moment of Lingodbhavam, an event which Bhagawan in His infinite mercy has continued even in His subtle form, granting immense joy to thousands.
As the intensity and vibrations increased, a golden Lingam emerged around fourty-five minutes into the overnight Bhajans. Brother Madhusudan is simply a hollow instrument of Bhagawan, who lends himself to Bhagawan so completely and freely for Bhagawan to do as He pleases, that the Lord used his persona to manifest His will of Lingodbhavam! This is truly an unprecedented account in the history of humanity where human and divine merge as one, to achieve the divine will!
With great love and compassion for His devotees, Bhagawan then immediately took the Lingam and went around the entire hall to show and even allow devotees to have Sparshan of the sacred Lingam. After satisfying each and every thirsting soul, Bhagawan returned to the dais and after a few Bhajans, proceeded back to Anandam.
March 05 – Morning
Maha Shivaratri is a sacred night, as it is said to be a time during which the mind can be quietened more easily and our thoughts can be turned towards the Lord. Truly, one could feel the Divine energy pervading the entire place which reverberated with mellifluous Bhajans. As the night’s proceedings were drawing to a close and Bhajans were being sung with full gusto, Bhagawan returned to Premamrutham during the final hour of the Akhanda Bhajans in the wee hours of the morning. After granting a brief Darshan, Bhagawan ascended the dais and took His seat. As the pace and vibration of the Bhajans again began to rise to new heights, it became apparent that Bhagawan would be performing yet another Lingodbhavam! After around twenty minutes, another Lingam emerged and to the joy of all present, Bhagawan went around again, bestowing all with the opportunity of seeing and touching the pair of Lingams. He then returned to His throne while the music group offered devotional songs in praise of the Lord, including a most beautiful rendition of the Nirvana Shatakam composed by Adi Shankaracharya.
Then, Bhagawan granted His Divine Message imparting the highest of truths emphasising the importance of remembering ‘I am God’. He said that while one night of Bhajans and contemplation will not make any difference, it is important to be in constant remembrance of one’s own Divinity, continually repeating ‘Shivoham, Shivoham’. Explaining the Nirvana Shatakam, Bhagawan spoke of the last verse which serves as a reminder of our true nature as being all pervasive, attribute-less and formless Self. Urging everyone to keep the feeling of ‘Shivoham’ strong in the heart, Bhagawan brought the proceedings to a close.
Thereafter, Mangala Arati was offered to Bhagawan, after which He proceeded to serve the rice Prasadam to the elders and lovingly went around the hall again granting Darshan to everyone. Bhagawan then returned to His residence, thus concluding a most blissful Maha Shivaratri celebrations.