Shiv Chalisa: Story and Benefits

Shiv Chalisa: Story and Benefits

                                By Aarti Natarajan Sharma

Lord Shiva is one of the Trinity of Gods and is known as the Destroyer. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu form the other two parts of this Trinity. The Shaivites believe that Lord Shiva is the Supreme Being who can assume various forms, including that of both creator and destroyer.

In Sanskrit the word Shiva means ‘the auspicious one’. Lord Shiva is depicted as wearing bhasm or vibhooti; he has a blue throat where he holds the poison, which threatened the end of the world during the churning of the cosmic ocean (Samudra Manthan). He also has a third eye, symbolising inner introspection. This eye also has the power to destroy anything if turned outward. Shiva has a serpent around his neck, which is a sign of alertness. He holds a trishul which symbolises that he is above the three states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming.

Shiv Chalisa

Lord Shiva is said to be one of the easiest to please, yet also one who is angered easily. Devotees take great care in the worship that they offer him. One of the most popular ways of connecting with Lord Shiva is by chanting the Shiv Chalisa. This is a song or hymn comprising 40 verses and is adapted from the Shiv Purana. It is an ancient hymn sung by Rishi Markandeya who was saved from certain death at the age of 16 by Lord Shiva. Shiv Chalisa is a Stotra not only in praise of Lord Shiva but also invoking his help.

It is best chanted at Brahma Muhurta (between 4-5 am), after a bath, facing east. Ideally, one sits in front of an image or symbol of Lord Shiva, offers incense; and bel leaves and flowers, before chanting. It can, however, be chanted at any time during the day or night.

Lord Shiva is called the Destroyer. But, by that is not meant physical destruction but destruction of the ego, of selfishness, of base qualities. The Chalisa is meant to transform a person and bring about internal changes thereby making him enlightened and aware of his inherent spiritual nature.

The story

The Shiv Chalisa starts with an invocation to Lord Ganesh followed by a description of the Lord. He has the moon on his forehead and snakes hood as ear studs. The Ganges flows from his head, a garland of skulls adorns his neck, there is ash besmeared on his body and he wears a tiger hide. There is a trident in his hand.

He is shown with Ganesh and Kartikeya on his lap. Nandi, his most loyal guna, is usually shown along with Shiva, too.

Shiva helped the Devas against the asuras and killed asurs (demons) such as Jalandhara, Lava, Nimesh, and Tripurasur. He also helped King Bhagirathi who undertook a hard penance to bring Ganga down to earth from the high heavens.

Ram worshipped Shiva and won over Lanka. Lord Ram wanted to worship Shiva with a thousand lotuses. To test his devotion, Lord Shiva hid one lotus. Ram gave one of his lotus-shaped eyes in lieu instead. Shiva was pleased with his devotion and granted him the boon of victory.

Sages and seers, even Narada bowed before him.

Bestows prosperity

The Chalisa, thus, is a description of the Lord and his accomplishments followed by a plea to help the person chanting it by bestowing health, wealth, and prosperity on him. It is also a plea for victory over enemies, for ending conflicts in one’s life, and for freeing one from sorrows. The prayer invokes the Lord’s blessings as being one’s sole refuge.

Blessings of the Lord

It is believed that he who chants it, says the Chalisa, will be blessed by Lord Shiva, will beget a progeny, become rich, get peace of mind, and a healthy body. He will be rid of all afflictions and addictions. Regular chanting of the Shiv chalisa destroys destructive thoughts and brings peace and calmness to the mind.

The Chalisa should be recited daily and specially on Mondays and on Mahashivratri, the day celebrated as Lord Shiva’s birthday. The Shiv Chalisa is considered to be one of the easiest and most effective ways to gain Lord Shiva’s blessings.

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