The Himalayas are the abode of Lord Shiva who is acknowledged as the founder of yoga and first ever 'Guru'. It is here near the source of the Ganges, that he imparted the yogic knowledge to his wife Parvati 15,000 years ago and then to then to the Sapta Rishis, the first seven sages.
The site of the oldest Shiva Temple in the world at the Gaumakh Glacier high in the Himalayas. This tiny temple is rebuilt every year after the glacial ice melts and the glacier again becomes accessible to pilgrims and spiritual seekers. We walked to the glacier at 4200metres as part of our Journey tot eh Source India Retreat (2016) and took the many prayers and letters from our students and community here at Kookaburra Creek.
The priest, who walks 6 hours a day, every day, to welcome pilgrims and accept their prayers, blessed every letter and released them into the healing waters of Mother Ganga, who lovingly and unconditionally absorbs our human pain and sorrows setting free our souls to soar and experience the freedom at the very top of the physical world. This priest is the gatekeeper to this spiritual sanctuary. It is the wisdom and grace of Shiva who guides us back to worldly life imbued with the knowledge of true yoga.
Mahashivaratri, ‘the Great night of Shiva’, is celebrated on the first new moon of the 11th month of the Hindu calendar (February or March). For all of us who ‘practice’ yoga this is an important moment on our own annual calendars to take the time to honour and acknowledge the vast and incredible body of knowledge about the very nature of creation which was bestowed first upon Lord Shiva, and then his wife and then the seven sages, and then the various sages and saints through the millennia to us, now, in this moment.
Traditionally on this night the name of Shiva is chanted, prayers are offered, pujas performed and an all night vigil kept - with the aim of overcoming darkness and ignorance and connecting with the pure, free and joyous ‘state’ of Shiva within ourselves.
To awaken to the ‘state’ of Shiva within ourselves we literally ‘lose’ ourselves in nature - our inner nature through chanting, meditation, puja and prayer, and we lose ourselves literally in the mountains or forests. We are temporarily lost, we no longer know who we are so, and have no choice but to ‘surrender’ or give up our sense of Self, are surrendering the mind’s need to know and to control, for a willingness to just be. This is afterall our goal in yoga, and is not easy. On the great night of Shiva we amplify our efforts and awaken the yearning and desire to transcend and be free of the limitations of the mind.