The Human Cohesion Project — 18 Feb 2023
Two beautiful celebrations from diverse traditions come together today. Like all religious celebrations, they nudge us deeper into our connection with life. In the Islamic tradition, this day (the 27th of Rajab on the Islamic calendar) is Shab-e-Meraj. In the Hindu tradition, it is Mahashivratri (the 14th night of the Krishna paksha — the waning fortnight — of Phalgun or Magha depending on whether one follows the north or south Indian calendars).
Shab-e-Meraj notes the journey of Prophet Mohammed to heaven, facilitated by Archangel Gabriel, through Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. In this experience, the practice of salah (the five daily offerings of prayer) was revealed to the Prophet, which he then institutionalised as namaz to be offered by every Muslim.
Mahashivratri, also observed as Herat in Kashmiri Shaivism, commemorates the wedding of Shiva and Parvati — a metaphor for the union of the divine masculine and feminine. The union is also said to result in Shiva dancing the Tandava, his divine dance. Stirred by how the feminine flows, the nature of the dance of the masculine shifts. There exist many types of Tandava, ranging from the Ananda tandava, performed with joyous vigour, to the Rudra tandava, expressed with violent movements. In response to Shiva’s dance, Parvati is said to dance the Lasya, a gentle, erotic dance. This confluence of dances is supposed to set the rhythm (Tala in Sanskrit — with the ‘ta’ from tandava and ‘la’ from lasya) of life.
Both these celebrations, different as their contexts are, celebrate union. One speaks of the union of the human with the higher life force, and the other, of the union within aspects of self. One cannot exist without the other. Depending on how we ‘meet’ what we are longing for, the rhythm of life is set, whether as the rhythm provided by a daily ritual of five prayers, or as a dance with life. If the rhythm needs to shift, we need to shift how we meet with life in the moment.
What rhythm are you experiencing today? If you wish to change it, what do you wish to shift in how you meet with life in the moment?
#RukminiIyer #TheHumanCohesionProject #ShabeMeraj #Mahashivratri #religion #interfaith