Srila Prabhupada comments of Shiva Ratri and its observance:

Demon Sankhacuda Killed – taken from Krsna Book Once upon a time, the cowherd men of Vrindavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja, desired to go to Ambikavana to observe the Siva-ratri ceremony. The rasa-lila was performed during the autumn, and after that the next big ceremony is Holi, or the Dolayatra ceremony. Between the Dolayatra ceremony and the rasa-lila ceremony there is one important ceremony called Siva-ratri, which is especially observed by the Saivites, or devotees of Lord Siva. Sometimes the Vaishnavas also observe this ceremony because they accept Lord Siva as the foremost Vaishnava. But the function of Siva-ratri is not observed very regularly by the bhaktas, or devotees of Krishna. Under the circumstances, it is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam that Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherd men “once upon a time desired.” This means that they were not regularly observing the Siva-ratri function but that once upon a time they wanted to go to Ambikavana out of curiosity. Ambikavana is somewhere in the Gujarat province, and it is said to be situated on the river Sarasvati. Yet we do not find any Sarasvati River in the Gujarat province, although there is a river named Savarmati. In India, all the big places of pilgrimage are situated on nice rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri. Ambikavana was situated on the bank of Sarasvati, and Nanda Maharaja and all the other cowherd men went there. They very devotedly began to worship the deity of Lord Siva and Ambika. It is the general practice that wherever there is a temple of Lord Siva, there must be another temple, of Ambika (or Durga), because Ambika is the wife of Lord Siva and is the most exalted of chaste women. She doesn’t live outside the association of her husband. After reaching Ambikavana, the cowherd men of Vrindavana first bathed themselves in the river Sarasvati. If one goes to any place of pilgrimage, his first duty is to take a bath and sometimes to shave his head. That is the first business. After taking a bath, they worshiped the deities and then distributed charity in the holy places. (SP – Krsna Book. Ch 34) Srila Prabhupada: …observing Siva-ratri, Nanda Maharaja and all the cowherds men, they increased their attachment for Krishna. That is wanted. (A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 1st May 1974, Morning Walk excerpt, Bombay, India.) “In this verse Lord Siva is described as midhushtama, the best of the benedictors. He is also known as Asutosha, which indicates that he is very quickly satisfied and very quickly angered. It is said in Bhagavad-gita that less intelligent persons go to the demigods for material benedictions. In this connection, people generally go to Lord Siva, and because he is always quickly satisfied and gives benedictions to his devotees without consideration, he is called midhushtama, or the best of the benedictors. Materialistic persons are always anxious to get material profit, but they are not serious about spiritual profit. Sometimes, of course, it so happens that Lord Siva becomes the best benedictor in spiritual life. It is said that once a poor brahmana worshiped Lord Siva for a benediction, and Lord Siva advised the devotee to go to see Sanatana Gosvami. The devotee went to Sanatana Gosvami and informed him that Lord Siva had advised him to seek out the best benediction from him (Sanatana). Sanatana had a touchstone with him, which he kept with the garbage. On the request of the poor brahmana, Sanatana Gosvami gave him the touchstone, and the brahmana was very happy to have it. He now could get as much gold as he desired simply by touching the touchstone to iron. But after he left Sanatana, he thought, “If a touchstone is the best benediction, why has Sanatana Gosvami kept it with the garbage?” He therefore returned and asked Sanatana Gosvami, “Sir, if this is the best benediction, why did you keep it with the garbage?” Sanatana Gosvami then informed him, “Actually, this is not the best benediction. But are you prepared to take the best benediction from me?” The brahmana said, “Yes, sir. Lord Siva has sent me to you for the best benediction.” Then Sanatana Gosvami asked him to throw the touchstone in the water nearby and then come back. The poor brahmana did so, and when he returned, Sanatana Gosvami initiated him with the Hare Krishna mantra. Thus by the benediction of Lord Siva the brahmana got the association of the best devotee of Lord Krishna and was thus initiated in the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. (Sria A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatm 4:7:7. purport.)

Vaishnavanams yatha Shambu – Lord Shiva is the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu.

Lord Krishna (Vishnu) is in this analogy considered to be likened to Milk. Milk is the origin of so many dairy products – Krishna tu bhagavan swayam, and so Krishna or Vishnu is the origin of everything. When Krishna wants activity overseen of the modes of Tamo guna He expands Himself transforming His supreme powers to act in that way, as no-one else could, and in that state He is Shambu – Shiva. So it may be seen that milk that is transformed becomes yogurt, but that yoghurt can never again become milk, this is presented in Brahma samhita 5:45.

Brahma Samhita chapter 5 TEXT 45

क्षीरं यथ दधि विकार विशेष योगात्

संजायते न हि ततः पृथग् अस्ति हेतोः

यः संभूतं अपि तथा समुपैति कार्याद्

गोविन्दम् आदि पुरुषं तमहम् भजामि ||

SYNONYMS ksiram–milk; yatha–as; dadhi–yogurt; vikara-visesa–of a special transformation; yogat–by the application; sanjayate–is transformed into; na–not; hi–indeed; tatah–from the milk; prthak–separated; asti–is; hetoh–which is the cause; yah–who; sambhutam–the nature of Lord Siva; api–also; tatha–thus; samupaiti–accepts; karyat–for the matter of some particular business; govindam–Govinda; adi-purusam–the original person; tam–Him; aham–I; bhajami–worship. TRANSLATION Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither same as, nor different from, its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Sambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.


(The real nature of Sambhu, the presiding deity of Mahesa-dhama, is described.) Sambhu is not a second Godhead other than Krsna. Those, who entertain such discriminating sentiment, commit a great offense against the Supreme Lord. The supremacy of Sambhu is subservient to that of Govinda; hence they are not really different from each other. The nondistinction is established by the fact that just as milk treated with acid turns into curd so Godhead becomes a subservient when He Himself attains a distinct personality by the addition of a particular element of adulteration. This personality has no independent initiative. The said adulterating principle is constituted of a combination of the stupefying quality of the deluding energy, the quality of nonplenitude of the marginal potency and a slight degree of the ecstatic-cum-cognitive principle of the plenary spiritual potency. This specifically adulterated reflection of the principle of the subjective portion of the Divinity is Sadasiva, in the form of the effulgent masculine-symbol-god Sambhu from whom Rudradeva is manifested. In the work of mundane creation as the material cause, in the work of preservation by the destruction of sundry asuras and in the work of destruction to conduct the whole operation, Govinda manifests Himself as guna-avatara in the form of Sambhu who is the separated portion of Govinda imbued with the principle of His subjective plenary portion. The personality of the destructive principle in the form of time has been identified with that of Sambhu by scriptural evidences that have been adduced in the commentary. The purport of the Bhagavata slokas, viz., vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh, etc., is that Sambhu, in pursuance of the will of Govinda, works in union with his consort Durgadevi by his own time energy. He teaches pious duties (dharma) as stepping-stones to the attainment of spiritual service in the various tantra-sastras, etc., suitable for jivas in different grades of the conditional existence. In obedience to the will of Govinda, Sambhu maintains and fosters the religion of pure devotion by preaching the cult of illusionism (Mayavada) and the speculative agama-sastras. The fifty attributes of individual souls are manifest in a far vaster measure in Sambhu and five additional attributes not attainable by jivas are also partly found in him. So Sambhu cannot be called a jiva. He is the lord of jiva but yet partakes of the nature of a separated portion of Govinda. (Sri Brahma Samhita, translation by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad.)

vrndavanavani-pate! Jaya soma soma maule sanaka-sanandana-sanatana-naradedya gopisvara! Vraja-vilasi-yugangri-padme prema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namaste

“O gatekeeper of Vrndavana! O Soma, all glories to you! O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipable by the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Narada! O Gopisvara (Shiva), desiring that you bestow upon me that prema for the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhama, I offer obeisances unto you time and again.”

Shiva (Lord Shiva) and ratri (night), so Shivaratri means the night of Lord Shiva. Every lunar month on the 13th or 14th day of the dark half of the moon phase there is a Shivaratri but in the Vedic month of Phalgun (February-March) there is a Maha Shivaratri. This year it falls on the 16th or 17th February depending where you are on the planet. The ceremony takes place mainly at night. This festival observed in the honour of Lord Shiva, who was married to Parvati (Mother Durga/Mother Gauri) on this day. Some dvevotees observe a strict fast on this day. Some really strict devotees perform a nirjal fast i.e. they do not even have a sip of water. They keep virgil the entire night. The Shiva lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, yogurt, ghee, honey and so forth, whilst chanting of the mantra “Om namah shivaya”, continues. Offering of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred (as Tulsi to Lord Vishnu and dhar to Mother Durga are very pleasing to Them) and Lord Shiva becomes pleased with that offering. Many different hymns glorifying Lord Shiva are sung with intense fervour and devotion. Aspirants perform japa of the Panchakshara mantra “ Om namah Shivaya” (At the end of this article there is a very detail explanation of each syllable of this mantra.) He who utters the names of Lord Shiva during Shivaratri with perfect devotion and concentration is freed from all sins that he/she have committed. He/she reaches the abode of Lord Shiva and resides very happily there.

NOTE: The Vaishnava/ aspiring Vaishnava however, worships Lord Shiva on this day in order to receive His blessings to become a better devotee of Lord Krishna (Vishnu) and not to attain residence in the abode of Shiva.

Quotes from Vaishnava smriti compilation Hari Bhakti Vilas of Srila Gopal Bhattar Goswami, and the Dikdarshini Tika of Srila Sanatan Goswami Prabhupada.



On the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna (February-March), for the pleasure of Lord Sri Krsna, a Vaisnava should always take a vow to fast. (It is called Siva Ratri, or the night of Lord Siva.)


(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 14/189 from KURMA PURANA the Supreme Lord speaks to Bhrgu Muni)

(One who avoids fasting on Siva Ratri or the “night of Lord Siva”, he becomes very offensive. Whatever offenses one accumulates by not fasting on Siva Ratri day is explained here.) The destination of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana, is certainly in the spiritual world. But if one is envious of Lord Sri Siva, he does not attain the spiritual world.



Whatever genital deities of Lord Siva that can be found on this earthly planet, on the night of this f