Maha Shivaratri, Night of Shiva, at Girnar
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
334Trip End Ongoing
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Just before midnight, the hour of Shiva and Parvati's marriage, an old man, who knew English talked with me for a long time. "You go up there. See for yourself. On the mountain there are footprints of God. You decide what it means. Girnar is most powerful spiritual place. Go there and feel."
On Maha Shivaratri, the last day before the new moon, the streets were cramped. People walked shoulder to shoulder, back to front: "Om Namah Shivaya." Sadhus, smeared in ash, many naked walked the streets or sat naked smoking charas and tobacco through their chillums. Tents representing ashrams were established throughout the town with music playing from many of them.
For my time at Girnar, I gave myself fully to the event, believing that sometimes you have to dive in deeply through trust, so long as it doesn't compromise who you are. So dive in I did.
We continued to Shri Shrut Skandh Ahinsha Rath ashram, a Jain waiting for a while outside. Soon, after some of the men removed their leather belts and anything else leather, we entered a small room where the holy guru Nirmal Sagar Maharaj sat. We bowed before him one at a time. Ashok asked him some questions in Gujarati. He answered slowly, with deep yet easy thought and a calm voice, sitting cross-legged, naked, as some Jain gurus live.
Through Ashok, he asked where I was from, also asking "kemcha" (how are you?) as prompted by the men. I correctly replied "majama" (good) in Gujarati. We all laughed as the men had taught me this earlier and it was the only Gujarati I knew. He invited me to his ashram anytime.
For several hours I sat with him, listening to music, talking in basic English and Gujarati, as the sadhus drank bhang and smoked their chillums. Non-judgementally, I said "no thanks."
The midnight hour had struck. Shiva and Parvati's marriage hour was upon us.
To Shaivites, the mountain is the abode of Dattatreya, a three-headed god representing the one-ness of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma as a trinity yet also representing the three times: past, present, and future.
Dattatreya supposedly had twenty-four gurus including earth, air, sky or ether, water, fire, sun, moon, python, pigeons, sea, moth, bee, bull elephant, bear, deer, fish, osprey, a child, a maiden, a courtesan, a blacksmith, serpent, spider, and wasp--a diverse god to say the least.
"Aye Girnari," called people coming down the mountain as we ascended. "Aye Girnari," we replied, recognizing that we were all inhabitants of this sacred mountain, as pilgrims, at this given moment.
On the way, we visited small temples and shrines, meeting Sadhus and Vaishnavites along the way: "Aye Girnari!" "Ram Sita."
"My gods," Maharaj ji said at each temple, looking at the idols. In the process of ascending the mountian, he inducted me into the sadhu household, naming me Govinda; I was his disciple, so to speak. He was my teacher, my guru, if only for the day, as we made our way around Girnar. I touched my head to his feet, in respect for that.
Lest you misjudge, I would touch my head to any of your feet, who come with a good heart, to teach something of value, should you desire--it's not difficult. For me, as depicted by the blue welcome image to this travelog, this journey of You Are Here is about learning from others, any beings, anybody, internally, externally wherever they may be, here and now.
Before dawn, I left--the lions of Gir were beckoning me--as the rest continued to sleep on the ground. The world of sadhus at this point in time was not my world, although I learned where I stood...and more.