GUWAHATI: Mahashivratri Chaturdashi Tithi starts on March 11, 02:52 PM; Chaturdashi ends on March 12, 02:51 PM. Sea of devotees on Thursday morning thronged temples of Lord Shiva in several parts of the country to offer prayers on the occasion of Maha Shivratri.
As the auspicious day is here, we bring you the Shivratri Vrat Katha (the story of this festival) written in Shiv Puran.
Later in that very evening, the moneylender called the hunter and talked about repaying the loan. The hunter promised to repay the entire loan the following day. As per his regular schedule, the hunter stepped out for hunting in the forest but due to being held captive the previous day, he was extremely hungry and thirsty. Therefore, he went too far, searching for catching his prey and amidst all this, it became dark and he thought that the night had to be spent in the forest itself. He climbed a vine tree which was there besides a pond and waited for the night to pass.
Under the bael tree was the Shivling which was covered with bilvapatras. Hunter could not find any person there. Meanwhile, in the process of breaking some twigs and while doing that a few of them coincidentally fell on the Shivling. This way the hunter accidentally fasted also and by chance he even offered bilvapatra to the shivling. After a few hours passed at the night, a pregnant deer came to drink water at the pond.
As soon as the hunter drew an arrow on the bow and drew it, the deer said, “I am pregnant. Will deliver soon You will kill two creatures simultaneously, which is not right. I will give birth to the child and will be present in front of you post that you can kill me.”
The hunter loosened the cross and the deer disappeared into the wild bushes. Amidst all this, some bilva papers spontaneously broke and fell on the shivling. In this way, the worship of the first Prahar was also done unknowingly.
Shortly after, another Hirani emerged from there. The hunter was on cloud nine. After coming close, he put the bow on the arrow. Seeing him, the deer humbly pleaded, “O hunter! I just got over with my mensus a while ago. I am wandering in search of my beloved. I will meet my husband and come to you soon.”
The hunter let her go as well. He was perturbed over losing his prey twice. He was in all sort of thoughts. It was the last hour of the night. This time too, with a bow, some Bilvapatra fell on the Shivling and the puja of another peher was also completed.
Then another deer was spotted coming with her children. The hunter thought now this was a golden opportunity. He did not take long to shoot arrows at the bow. He was about to drop the arrow that deer said, “O hunter!’ I will return these children to their father. Do not kill me this time.”
The hunter laughed and said, leave the prey exposed, I am not a fool. I have lost my prey twice before. My children must be getting hungry and thirsty. In reply, the deer again said, “As you are tormenting the love of your children, just like me too. Hey hunter! Trust me, I promise to leave them to their father and return immediately.”
Hearing the humble voice of deer, the hunter felt pity on her and let that deer escape too. Unable to hunt, he was distraught with hunger and thirst. The hunter was sitting on the vine tree and started throwing down the belpatra. In some more time when the sun came up, a strong deer came on his path and the hunter thought that he would surely hunt this one.
Seeing the trunk of the hunter, the antelope said in a polite voice, “O hunter! If you have killed the three deer and small children that come before me, do not delay in killing me too, so that I do not have to suffer even a single moment in their disconnection. I am the husband of those deer. But if you have given them life, then please give me a few moments of life too so that I will meet them and appear before you.”
As soon as he heard the deer, the hunter narrated the whole story to the deer. To which the deer said, “The way my three wives have gone after promising to appear in front of you, so, just let me go as well. I promise to appear before you with all of them soon.”
The hunter let him go as well. Thus came the morning and the prayers of Shivaratri completed inadvertently due to fasting, staying awake the whole night, and climbing of bell-sheet on Shivling. And unknowingly, he got the result of the worship done immediately. The violent hunter’s became humble and Bhagavadashakti entered him.
Shortly afterwards, the dear appeared before the hunter with his family. But the hunter’s heart melted on seeing the purity, honesty and sincerity of the wild animals. He spared the lives of all and let them go.
Unknowingly, following the fast of Shivaratri, the hunter attained salvation. When the Yamdoots came to take his soul, the Shivgans sent them back and took the hunter to Shivlok. It happened by the grace of Lord Shiva that King Chitrabhanu was able to remember this story from his previous life. And after knowing the importance of Mahashivaratri, he could follow the rituals and worshipped Shiva in his next life as well.
(with inputs from Jagaran)