Kalaatitata-kalyaana-kalpanta-kaari, Sadaa sajjanaa-nanda-daataa purarih
Chidaananda-sandoha-mohaapahaari, Prasida praslda prabho manmathaarih
‘Hei Shiva, you are without parts and blessed. You are but the cause of universal destruction and the conception. Hei Shiva, you are of purest heart. A slayer Tripura, you rule the conscious and unconscious with eternal bliss. A dispeller of illusion and enemy of lust, Hei Shiva, please have mercy on my soul.’
He is known by many names like Rudra, Bholenath – the kind hearted, Mahadev – the greatest Lord and even Mahakaal – Lord of eternal time. Shiva is the essential power of the transformer in the kaal-chakra of Trimurti that drives the cosmos. He is the Adiyogi- the first yogic guru, leading the path of spiritual discovery.
Many of us pray to Lord Shiva for marital bliss, financial stability and success. But even beyond that, worshipping Lord Shiva leads us on a path of salvation from worldly desires through self awakening that transcends our souls in perpetual bliss. While Monday is a dedicated day for Shiv puja, it can still be offered any day.
Lord Shiva is usually worshipped in a linga form with ancient Hindu rites and rituals. Puja rituals as described in Puranas involve six broad stages – Dhyaana, Asanam, Achamaniyaan, Abhishekam, Deepam with Naivaidyam and Aarti. Of all, abhishekam is of prime importance in Shiva Puja. It is said that after Shiva gulped all the poison that emerged out of the ‘Samudra-manthan’ and did not calm down due to the intense burning sensation in his throat, the only respite he got was from a stream of continuous water the gods poured over his body to soothe him. Hence, in any Puja or religious offering, abhishekam is dearest to Lord Shiva.
One of the commonly performed puja for Shiva – Rudra Abhishekam, is of paramount significance. It is believed to help us rid our souls of past sins along with its bad afflictions and bring in peace, wealth and success to our lives. It mimes the puja performed by Lord Rama by establishing Shiva Linga at Rameshwaram before crossing the seas to bring back his beloved Sita.
The more elaborate form of Rudra Abhishekam is Ekadasha Rudra Abhishekam – the one performed with eleven Shiva Lingas. The puja is performed by eleven pandits – one consort for each Shiva Linga, as they each recite Shri Rudrastak or Rudra Sukta eleven times. That makes the total recitals of Shri Rudrastak 121 times while performing continuous abhishek with eleven different ingredients like Curd, Honey, Milk, Panchamruta, Ghee, Sugar, Water, Haldi, Sandal wood, Vibhuti and Bael Patra, each symbolising our prayers for things we want.
An elaborate, once-in-a-lifetime Yagna, Ati Maha Rudra Yagna is also performed by firm devotees, seeking Lord Shiva’s blessings to remove all horoscope or planetary hindrances like Rahu Dosha, Nag Dosha and Visha Dosha, apart from bringing other material benefits. This Yagna is considered most sacred and a challenging task for pandits and devotees alike. It is an important form of reverence of Lord Shiva as a source of the cosmic energy and creation. The Yagna involves extensive recitations of religious and other texts including all four vedas, Ramayana, excerpts from Shrimad Bhagwat, Nava Graha Japa, ShivPuran and others. A Vedic yagna accompanies the continuous abhishek performed on Shiva Linga. Ati Maha Rudra Yagna is performed by 108 scholarly pandits for 11 continuous days. All the while, Shri Rudrastak is chanted to invoke all the avataars of Shiva for worship.
Shiva Puja, in any form, is believed to grace us with his blessings for a happy content life filled with internal accord and worldly success apart from freeing our souls from the past misdeeds.
Om tryambakam yajaamahe, sugandhim pushthivardhanam
Urvaarukamiva bandhanaan, Mrityormuksheeya maamritaat
I worship you Lord Shiva, O’ the three-eyed one, who is in the state of supreme bliss as fragrance and sustains one and all. Please free us from the shackles of endless cycle of birth and death and show us the path to immortality.