Maha Shivratri, from a religious viewpoint, is a day to earn religious merit. If seen from a geographic viewpoint, cosmic rays come to the earth on this day from space that affect the human mind and body. On this day the more one will do japa and meditation while observing mauna (silence), the more will he benefit.
Maha Shivaratri is not a day to drink bhang (a drink prepared from hemp). Lord Shiva has a habit of destroying the worlds, which means destroying the sense of reality of the worlds, but Bhang addicts misinterpreted it and started to drink Bhang (on this day). Lord Shiva doesn’t drink Bhang which makes the neurons unconscious. Lord Shiva drinks the Bhang of Brahma Jnana and meditation. Lord Shiva, along with His consort Parvati, goes to the hermitage of sage Agastya to drink the Bhang of Brahma Vidya.
Three important points of Maha Shivaratri Vrata
Maha Shivaratri is not an occasion to decorate the body with new clothes, nor for relishing sweets with your tongue. It is an occasion to repose in the Atman, transcending the body. It is an occasion to increase continence and penance. If observed properly, the vrata of Maha Shivaratri gives religious merits of performing an Ashwamedha Yajna. This vrata has 3 important things: 1. Upavaas (fast) 2. Poojan (worship) and 3. Jagaran (vigil).
(1) Upavaas: Upa means near to. Try to get close to Shiva, Kalyana Swaroopa, antaryamin (inner ruler) Supreme Self through meditation. People do not take food or even water on Maha Shivaratri. It saves the Life Energy that is used in digestion. Use that energy in meditation. It will keep the body healthy.
(2) Poojan: Do your actions for God; not for satisfaction of your ego or lust. Eat to keep the body healthy and do work to make good use of your power of doing, not for enjoyment of pleasures. If you perform action to meet God, your action will become Poojan (worship).
What is worship? Any action done for God is worship. The woman sweeping at the market place is doing it for money. She is doing her job. She is a maid servant, but a mother sweeping in her own home is doing service. She is not a (paid) servant. If we sweep at the door of God, we are worshiping, because we are doing it for God. Maha Shivaratri alerts us that whatever actions we do, if we do it for God, it will become Pooja (worship).
(3) Jaagaran (vigil): Be vigilant. When a thought of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ arises, think that it is a play of the mind. Watch the thoughts of your mind. If you get angry, be alert: ‘Anger has come.’ That anger will neither poison your blood nor cause you to weep. If you feel lusty, be alert: “lust has come.” Wash your hands and feet immediately. Think about Lord Rama. Sit in a bath tub or a river submerging your body up to the navel. Then lust will not ruin you much. If you are a devotee and if someone is misusing your devotion, then be alert and think: ‘isn’t he cheating me?’ if you are alert, it will do good to you as well as to him. So awakening is required in life. Whatever action you do, do it with enthusiasm, attention and devotion, don’t do it foolishly.
‘Jaagaran’ means, keep awake to see whether you are actually what you believe yourself to be? Whatever you eat, drink, give or take, is it reality? No, you are Atman, you are an inseparable part of Supreme Brahman. Just wake up and see.