Mahashivaratri and the Hunter

One of the popular tales of Mahashivartri is that of a hunter who completed the puja rituals unconsciously and the Lord granted him the fruits of the worship. The conclusion – “Lord Shiva is innocent (Bholenath) enough to grant boons even if the rituals are performed unconsciously, without realizing or meaning it. Is it really the case?

Lets go through the whole story once again and analyse …

The story goes like this …

Once upon a time there was a hunter, who was under heavy debts from the local money lender. After having failed several times in his commitment to pay off the debt, he was imprisoned by the money lender. Coincidentally he was locked up quite near to a shiva temple and got the opportunity to hear preaching of Lord shiva.

He pleaded his freedom from money lender and promised to repay the loans.

Later that day, the hunter went to forest to hunt animals. He went deep inside the forest and it grew dark. He decided to wait in the forest till morning. He stationed himself on the top of bael tree by a river bank and waited for animals to come. Soon a female deer came to his shooting range. He was about to shoot an arrow when the deer pleaded – “I am expectant. Don’t kill both of us. Allow me to deliver the baby and I promise to return back to you before day break“. Hunter let the deer go.

While waiting for some other prey, he plucked the tree leaf (bael leafs) and threw it down. Unknown to him, the leafs fell on the shivalinga which was present just at the bottom of the tree.

Meanwhile a second female deer came around. She too, pleaded some time so that she can bid good bye to her kids. Hunter once again let her go with a promise to return. He continued to threw more bael leaves down…

The day long hunger and uncertain future made the hunter cry of agony and his tears too fell down on the shivalingam.

Then came another female deer and a male dear turn by turn. Each pleaded for some time; which were granted.

Morning came and the hunter was yet without any prey. He was about to leave empty handed when the family of deer returned to keep their words. Charmed by the truthfulness, the compassionate hunter let them go.

It was the day of Mahashivaratri, unknowingly or rather forced, hunter had observed a fast, he had offered the Lord his favorite bael leaves and water (Tears). Thus he completed the rituals of Shivaratri. The Lord granted him blessings. After he died, he was taken to Lord Shiva and he reborn as a king…

Is it really that easy to please the great Lord Shiva. Can’t Mahadev differentiate between a worship done consciously and un-consciously? And what greater reward would be granted to those who consciously worship him? Was he really pleased by the fallen bael leaves or the tears that came out of agony and fear?

What actually pleased Lord Shiva was not the falling bael leaves; but the action of the Hunter. Hunter showed pity on the poor animals without expecting any returns from them. He let the poor animals go and didn’t considered about his own selfish interest. The literal meaning of Shiva is benediction (कल्याण). By the act of mercy to the animals the hunter had qualified to attain the Shiva state. This is what pleased the Lord; this is perhaps the essence of Shiva.

Apart from Mahashivaratri , that is observed once every year, we also have Mas-Shivaratri that comes every months . Infact every night is considered as divas-shivaratri. This implies that we need not wait for shivaratri to attain Shiva state. It can be attend by our actions and not by mere offerings.

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