Amongst the months, I am Margashirsha, says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Geeta. Margashirsha is the ninth month in the Hindu calendar year. It is also known as Margazhi. It is also called as Dhanur or Shunya Maasa from the day of Dhanur-sankramana. The entire month is conducive for spiritual practices and is therefore dedicated to the worship of the Lord. Social and family celebrations like marriage, gruha pravesha etc., are avoided during this month. The benefits of any religious and spiritual sadhana undertaken this month gets multiplied – manifold times. The Gopis performed the Katyayani Vrata during this month to invoke Sri Krishna’s grace and blessings. Sri Andal undertook the same Vrata seeking union with Lord Ranganatha. Each day, one verse of TIRUPPAVAI composed by Andal are rendered at homes and in temples early in the morning during the Margashirsha month. In almost all the temples, during the Margashirsha month, devotees take a dip in the river or the temple tank and offer pujas very early in the morning during the auspicious Brahma Muhurtha. Japa and Dhyana are also undertaken during the Brahma Muhurtha. In many places, Nagara Sankeerthana is undertaken. With harmonium, tambura and tala (cymbals), devotees go round the streets of the village or town singing the Lord’s bhajans or kirtans to wake up the people who are sleeping. They are also encouraged to join the music or bhajan group. The Nagara Sankeerthana usually concludes in the temple.
One human year is equivalent to one day of the devatas. Six months of Uttarayan Punyakala or Summer Solstice denotes day-time and six months of Dakshinayana Punyakala or Winter Solstice denotes night-time for the devatas. Margashirsha comes almost at the end of Dakshinayana and hence signifies the time just before sunrise for the devatas. Margashirsha denotes the Brahma Muhurtha of the Gods. Therefore to perform our religious and spiritual sadhana during our Brahma Muhurtha in the month of Margashirsha is to align it with the celestial Brahma Muhurtha during this auspicious month. This is extremely significant and immensely beneficial. In this month, during the winter season, the ozone layer is very clean and close to the earth. To benefit from this fresh and pure air as well as benefit from the cosmic energy, we are encouraged to wake up early, open the main door, clean the front porch and draw rangoli patterns (Margazhi kolam). By doing so we are not only exposing ourselves to the healthy positive environment but allowing the pure fresh air to enter our homes. This is followed by puja and other religious and spiritual sadhana at home or in the temples.
Margashirsha is auspicious for Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. In the Vaishnavite temples, Vaikunta or Mokshada Ekadashi and Mukkoti Dwadashi are celebrated in the bright fortnight of the month. The beautifully decorated deity is taken through the Vaikunta Dwara on the northern side of the temple or the parikrama closest to the sanctum which is opened on this auspicious day. The devotees also enter the Vaikunta Dwara along with the Lord. Vaikunta Ekadashi is also known as Geeta Jayanti – the day on which Lord Krishna gave His message in the form of the Bhagavad Geeta to his disciple-devotee, Arjuna. In some parts of the country, especially in the South, Hanuman Jayanti is observed on Shukla Trayodashi day. It is significant to note that Lakshmi Vrata is observed on every Margashirsha Guruvara (Thursday).
Similarly, pujas are offered to Lord Shiva also during the Brahma Muhurtha. Just like the TIRUPPAVAI of the Vaishnavites, the sacred TIRUVEMBAVAI is chanted by the devotees of Lord Shiva. In the famous Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, the Arudra Darshanam is observed on the full moon day of Margazhi with great festivity. Nature is a manifestation of the Lord and the beautiful soothing beams of moon light through the dew (hima) have a profound healing effect on us. The Arudra Nakshatra associated with Lord Shiva signifies the bright golden-red flame. Golden colour represents LIFE-FORCE or the KNOWING PRINCIPLE and red colour represents ACTIVITY. SHIVA TATTVA represents both Life (Energy or Spirit) and Activity (Matter) in each and every particle – micro or macro. Every particle in the Universe resonates the Tandava of the Lord indicating that “activity is the expression of life” which is represented by the icon of the dancing Lord Nataraja. The Divine Dancer also signifies the five great Elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) necessary for creation as well as symbolises the Pancha Kriyas: Srishti (Creation), Sthiti (Sustenance), Samhara (Dissolution), Tirobhava (Veiling) and Anugraha (Showering of Grace).
Apart from rendering the verses from the sacred texts of great saints and singing bhajans during Margashirsha, there are religious discourses, harikathas, classical music, dance and drama performances also organised extensively during this month. Some of the festivals associated with Margashirsha are: Kalabhairava Jayanti, Dattatreya Jayanti (Purnima), Mitra Saptami, Annapurna Jayanti, Vivaha Panchami (Seeta-Rama Kalyana).
The names of the Hindu calendar months starting from CHAITRA to PHALGUNA, progressively refer to the various stages of spiritual evolution. The New Year in Chaitra represents “newness or change for the better”. From here the spiritual yatra starts for a seeker which ultimately gets fulfilled in “Shiva darshan (Shivaratri)” in the month of Phalguna. In this scheme, MARGASHIRSHA represents a very important stage of spiritual practice. MARGA means “path” and SHIRSHA represents the “head or the Higher”. Therefore, MARGASHIRSHA denotes the “path leading to the Higher”, wherein the seeker in his seat of contemplation, constantly and consistently negates the world of plurality (the unreal) and asserts the One Eternal Truth (the Real) which ultimately leads the seeker to the State of Enlightenment.
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