BHARAT DARSHAN – 3-in-1 CELEBRATION OF HOLY DEATH ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 14, 2018
Wednesday February 14, 2018 is very significant as the day symbolizes 3-in-1 Celebration of Holy Death from both Indian and Christian perspectives. There is an interesting coincidence of three holiday traditions; 1. Maha Shivaratri, 2. Ash Wednesday, and 3. Valentine’s Day.
Indians celebrate Maha Shivaratri in the Month of Magha, Krishna Paksha( Waning Phase of Lunar Cycle), on fourth day called Chaturdashi.
In essence it is celebration of Divine Love to defend man’s mortal existence from premature loss of life.
In Hindu Mythology, Lord Kamadeva or Cupid known as Lord Manmadha shot his magic arrow to facilitate romantic union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to save humanity from actions of evil power. But Kamadeva pays heavy price for stimulating Lord Shiva’s romantic interest while He meditated with absolute stillness of mind. Later, Lord Shiva restores Kamadeva’s life for he acted to help humanity to save them from their suffering.
Many Hindus observe fasting on the night before Maha Shivaratri Day and spend the night in devotional worship of Lord Shiva to thank him for His Mercy, Grace, and Compassion in responding to man’s fears about Death. Man conquers his Fear of Death by simply burning his desires. In Indian Tradition, Lord Shiva adorns Himself by covering His body with ‘Ashes’ that signify burnt desires. Man keeps his Love of God by sacrificing desires for material comfort and sensual pleasure.
Ash Wednesday is again celebration of God’s Love. God sent Jesus to save man from Sin and Death. Jesus prepares Himself for His earthly mission for 40 days by fasting and praying. He prepared for His sacrifice through crucifixion to atone for man’s sinful conduct. Ash Wednesday heralds the beginning of ‘Lent Season’ that culminates in Easter Celebration of Resurrection of Jesus after He died on Cross.
Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic interpersonal relationships between men and women. For man is mortal being, man desires to keep feelings of Love alive even after death. Man celebrates enduring and abiding quality of Love for it transcends barriers of Time.
PUMA PUNKU DIVINE SOCIETY
ASH WEDNESDAY IS ABOUT DEATH
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Today is Ash Wednesday, the holiday marking the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of purification in which Christians often find something to “give up.”
This ritual makes a lot of sense even in modern secular terms. We have juice fasts and cleanses, after all. And indeed, the idea that it could be helpful for all of us to try to get rid of, or at least pause, the superfluous things in our life to focus more on the essential is an idea that is present in spirituality both Eastern and Western, as well as in secular folklore.
Fasting yields spiritual benefits because it is a kind of spiritual workout. Physical exercise works by putting stress on our muscles, and this strengthens them. Something like dieting is worthwhile not just because we expect to get some material benefit from it, like lower weight or better health, but also the spiritual benefit of becoming less attached to material things.
But Lent is about much more than dieting. It’s about death.
For starters, on Ash Wednesday, the priest draws a cross on your forehead with ashes, a reminder that “dust we are and to dust we shall return.” That means death.
This is a part of the Catholic faith that I don’t usually like. Not that death makes me uncomfortable — I believe in life everlasting — but because the faith has been corrupted by the idea that it is simply a get-out-of-hell card, a set of legalistic or pious requirements that one must accomplish to save one’s soul. Christianity shouldn’t just be about avoiding hell — it’s about an encounter with a person whom, we believe, is love made flesh.
The point about ashes and turning away from fleshly reality also offers a reminder of another folk belief that has too long been associated with Christianity: namely, the idea that this world is wholly corrupt and that the body and material goods are to be despised. This belief is actually condemned as a heresy by the Catholic Church, because the Bible affirms that God loves the material world he created.
And yet, while material things like food and drink and sex are all well and good, it is still the case that they are not the most important things in life. And moreover, it is still the case that those things can enslave us. “I can quit any time!” says the smoker, puffing in the rain with a grimace on his face. Tuning down some pleasures might make us realize how much of a hold they have on us.
A reminder of our maturity is perhaps one of the most salutary things we can experience. We are all mortal, and yet we spend our entire lives trying to distract ourselves from this fact. On a day-to-day basis, almost all of us like to think and live and behave as if we will live forever. But we won’t. If you were to die tomorrow — or 40 days from now — what would you change? What would you do differently? Lent pushes us to ask these questions.
Lent is also about death for a much more fundamental reason, one which is much less secular than platitudes about the importance of clean living. Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration of the Easter cycle, when Jesus Christ was crucified before rising from the dead three days later.
Jesus chose to pour out his divine love on the cross, to give himself fully to us, in an acrobatic act of love that would in a mysterious way bind us to him. Christians, then, are called to imitate him by “dying” — that is to say, by renouncing everything apart from this divine love, everything apart from love of God and love of fellow man.
This, rather than Lent, is the real meaning of Ash Wednesday. I hope you can partake in it.