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Shivaratri, a spiritual perspective

This year we are offering our annual extensive Shivaratri Yagya program with events in Kanchipuram, Varanasi, and Chidambaram. This newsletter will help to give some insight why this is such a special opportunity.
Ati Rudra and Maha Rudra Yagyas

The Ati Rudra Maha Yagya requires the recitation of Rudram/Chamakam 14,641 times and we have completed this task every second year for the past six years. For the last two years, most of the recitation has taken place in the Chidambaram temple performed by these uniquely qualified priests.

From February 19th to March 11th, our priests will perform two complete Maha Rudra Yagyas featuring 1,464 recitations of the lengthy Sri Rudram text over each 10 day period, for a total of 2,928 repetitions of this very powerful mantra. We conclude with an all-night program in both Kanchipuram and Varanasi on Shivaratri, March 11th followed by a soothing Ganga Yagya in Varanasi
Rudram and Chamakam
Why do we perform this yagya?

On a personal level, it is difficult to imagine a more powerful and focused way to dissolve difficult karmas, promote balance in life, protect health, and advance spiritually.

In Rudram, there is a mantra that is repeated several times:

Tesagm sahasrayojane vadhanvani tanmasi
"Please take all my troubles 10,000 miles away"

After Rudram is recited, the priests recite Chamakam. Seetharama Shastry, our Chief Priest in Kanchipuram, explains:

"This vedic mantra requests Rudra (Shiva) to give us everything and anything that a human could possibly want; every material possession, every form of happiness, family harmony, and leading to complete spiritual enlightenment. " 

From the vedic mantras:

Fire sacrifices and other good deeds are with me,
The good result of such action is with me,
Freedom from disease is with me,
Freedom from small illnesses are with me,
The medicine for life without sickness is with me,
Long life is with me,
The state of all people being my friends is with me,
Absence of fear is with me,
Good conduct is with me,
Good sleep is with me,
Good mornings are with me,
Good days are with me,
And all these are with me,
Because I worship Rudra.

We perform this yagya to remove obstacles from life by dissolving negative karmas.
Virtually all of the traditional vedic spiritual practices like meditation, mantras, pujas, and yagyas rely on repetition for their effectiveness. More repetition is directly tied to results.
Karmas can be intense and deep seated and they require repeated performance of the rituals to dissolve them. This yagya program provides an unprecedented number of repetitions.
In a larger sense, the performance of the yagya brings a powerful influence of peace and prosperity to our nation, the world, and the universe at large. Although our focus is on the individual, the universe benefits at the same time. What could be better?
The Importance of Shivaratri

Most aspects of the vedic spiritual traditions have a deeply philosophical and symbolic meaning in addition to the practical benefits of the rituals themselves. In vedic astrology (jyotish) the Moon represents the mind and the Sun represents the ego. The goal in vedic terms is to merge the limited existence of our ego and mind with the unlimited aspect of divine pure consciousness that is symbolized by Shiva.

Shivaratri takes place when the last phase of the bright Moon is completed and the Moon is completely dark, symbolizing the reality that our individuality is not separate from divinity.

What keeps us from spiritual realization? The vedic tradition says that there are no obstacles to spiritual evolution; we need only to grow toward liberation. Our past karmas manifest in the gaps in our consciousness and challenges in life experience.
Yagyas dissolve karmas and empower whatever spiritual practices we prefer. As karmas are lessened, our awareness automatically expands and we automatically live life in greater freedom and abundance.

Our apparent lack of enlightenment has no substance and it is eliminated by an increase of light or spiritual consciousness. Yagyas are an efficient and powerful way to increase the light in our lives and automatically remove the binding and blinding effects of karmas.
Shivaratri is a time when the pure consciousness of Shiva is more readily available. Vedic mantras have increased power at this time and our goal is to make use of this to have as many repetitions of Rudram and Chamakam as possible.

With that in mind, we have scheduled 21 consecutive days of intensive yagya mantra repetition leading up to Shivaratri. There is nothing better than a good head start. 
On Shivaratri itself, we have priests performing mantras and abishekam rituals all night in Kanchipuram and Varanasi (traditionally known as Shiva’s city).
On the morning after Shivaratri, we have our priests in Varanasi perform a special dawn yagya for Ganga, the goddess of purification in the form of the Ganges River. It is soothing, cooling, and comforting. Spiritual evolution is challenging and this yagya is like a nice cool drink after some intensive exercise.
Participants report that they experience deeper meditations, increased inner silence and peacefulness. Impediments to our goals in life are reduced and we operate from a more profound level of effectiveness in action. We attract harmony and inspire the best in those who surround us. While the path to enlightenment is a long one, the most consistent reaction to these yagyas is “I’m making progress”.

Please join us!