O merciful Lord, bestow upon the humanity all the riches at your feet…Hands folded and with one-pointed devotion, Dattrateya Bhave was engrossed in invoking blessings of the ‘Nirgun form of the Lord’ (lingam) in the dimly-lit sanctum sanctorum of the small and exquisite 12th Century Tambdi Surla temple at the crack of dawn on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. His forefathers revered the deity and coming generations will follow suit. For him, the vigilant Shiva residing at the foot of the Western Ghats amid impenetrable vegetation and under the roving eye of a huge king cobra (as per the local belief), is the dispeller of all miseries.
In his mind’s eye, Bhave envisages himself offering ablution to the almighty through the holy night amid chanting of mantras and benedictory verses. He brought before his eyes the ‘sagun form of the lord’ (Lord’s visible form in which he is depicted as the father of Ganesh and Kartikeya). The lord’s hair is piled high on his head, with a crescent moon tucked into it and the river Ganges falling from his hair. Sitting on a tiger skin, wearing rudraksha beads garlands, a coiled serpent around neck, a trident in his left hand in which is fastened the ‘damroo’ (small leather drum), body smeared with ash, and a water pot on his right, the lord appeared to him as the centrifugal force of universe.
During the first prahar (a period of three hours) of the night, Bhave absorbs himself in chanting ‘Shree Shivay Namah’, during the second ‘Shree Shankaray Namah’, followed by ‘Shree Sambsadashivay Namah’ and ‘Shree Maheshvaray Namah’ before concluding with ‘Shree Rudray Namah’ – the order mentioned by Lord himself in Shiv Purana. Ardent devotees like Bhave, keep severe fast throughout the day, maintain long vigils the whole night, listen to stories, hymns and songs glorifying the lord’s trait and make offerings of flowers and incense before the fast is broken the next morning.
Every year, on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the phalguna month, Shaivites from near and far, fall at the feet of the lord here seeking freedom from all sins and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It is the most auspicious night in their lives as the lord is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
According to the Puranas, the festival marks the protection of the world by Shiva from the deadly poison that emerged during the churning of the ocean. The lord drank the poison and saved the world from destruction.
Shivratri celebrates this event by which the world was saved. There are many other legends too.
Like Bhave, a large number of devotees from near and far gather at the feet of the deity to pay their obeisance as the rays of the rising sun begin falling on the unique sculptural marvel at Tambdi Surla on the day of Shivratri. The creators of this small, beautifully carved and perfectly proportioned weather-resistant grey-black basalt temple have depicted the Lord in ‘nirgun’ form or ‘lingam’ – the unborn, invisible form of the lord representing creativity. The phallic ‘linga’ symbol represents energies necessary for life on both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic levels, that is, the world in which we live and the world which constitutes the whole of the universe. The festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety across Goa.
Courtesy : TOI