“The very word ‘Shivarathri’ means auspicious night. According to Hindu belief, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind and the 16 phases of the moon represent the 16 aspects of the mind. On Shivarathri, which falls a day prior to the new moon, only a streak of the moon is visible. This is symbolic of the waning influence of the mind, when 15 aspects have already merged in the Self and only one aspect remains. Hence on this day, it is easier to control the mind and direct it towards God. Therefore, the night is spent in contemplation and adoration of God, so that the vagaries of the mind can be totally subdued and transcended to attain realization of the Atma.”
“Maha Shivarathri is generally celebrated by performing Akhanda Bhajana (continuous devotional singing) throughout the night. Shivarathri, as a festival has gained a lot of importance in Prasanthi Nilayam because it is during this festival that Baba, the supreme Iswara (Godhead), chooses to reveal His divinity. Baba, out of His infinite love for humanity, materializes lingas (an oval shaped object which is the fittest symbol of divinity) in the Shivarathri evening from within His being. This emergence of the Linga is called ‘Lingodbhavam’. Baba has explained, “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. In 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 fulfillment). It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful”.