Somavati Amavasya – Worship of Shiva and the Ancestors on the Monday of the Dark Moon

Today is Monday – Lord Shiva’s Day; however it is also Amavasya – a day with special significance and potential for observances for the Dead (as we have covered in some of our previous pieces looking at the Libations to the Ancestors).

What Amavasya means is the ‘Dark’ point of the Moon’s 28-day cycle – where it is immediately prior to, and about to reach full occlusion afore it begins to lighten again.

The conjunction of these two observances, Monday (Lord Shiva’s Day) and Amavasya results in what is known as Somvati Amavasya ; a particularly opportune occasion for both the worship of Lord Shiva & Lady Parvati, as well as the Libations for the Pitrs [‘[Fore-]Fathers’ – Ancestors].

I therefore chose this fine art (by Rupam Raaj R.) to illustrate, as it has Lord Shiva meditating amidst the Smashana (Cremation Grounds).

Somvati, itself, is more truthfully Somavati – Soma (for the Moon, and also the Soma that is directly linked thereto), in combination with ‘Vati’, meaning ‘Flow’.

The Moon is, itself, spoken of as a ‘pathway’ for the Dead in the Vedas; and also as bearing and ‘charging’ the Soma in those same texts. It is therefore not hard to see how the confluence of these circumstances with the Moon’s Day (i.e. Monday) should render things additionally … potent.

Now, as for Somvati Amavasya, let us quote from the Skanda Purana:

“A man who takes the holy bath in Somavatī and worships Someśvara shall become free from impurities like the moon and rejoice in Somaloka.

[…]

Listen, O Vyāsa, how the very excellent Soma Tīrtha and Someśvara Liṅga originated. I shall tell you the facts.

Lord Soma who greatly nourishes and revives the whole world, had a Brāhmaṇa of great penance as his father.

He was a highly exalted sage in Avantī by name Atrī, He kept his arms lifted up for a period of three thousand divine years and performed a great penance engrossed in the meditation on Brahman.

Then, O Vyāsa, the Brāhmaṇical radiance of the great soul went up and dripped through his eyes illuminating the ten directions. On seeing the splendour enveloping the ten direction, O Vyāsa, the directions themselves found it difficult to contain it. Thereupon, the unbearable splendour dropped down from the quarters.

Illuminating all the worlds it fell on the earth and became Soma (Moon). Hence the Moon is popular among the ordinary subjects.

O Vyāsa, due to the same fiery brilliance, water originated from Soma. That water entered the Śiprā river which was filled with nectar.

Thereupon Śiprā became famous as Somavatī (‘whose water flowed from Soma’), the bestower of all Siddhis. By visiting the river Śiprā in conjunction with Soma, sin is eliminated.

It is reputed all over the three worlds as the bestower of merit unto sinners. All these four sinners, a slayer of a Brāhmaṇa, an imbiber of liquor, a thief and a defiler of the preceptor’s bed, become rid of their sins certainly due to a visit (to Śīprā).

O sage, when Monday coincides with new-moon day, a wise person should take his holy bath in Somavatī and perform the rites of Dāna, Japa and Homa. He will have everlasting benefit thereby as long as the moon and the sun exist.

Since even after the usual season, the Pitṛs can be propitiated by means of oblations with gingelly seed-water and rice-balls, the rite should be performed duly.

Five Sakāras (entities beginning with ‘SA’) viz. Śiprā, Soma the juice, Soma the planet, Someśvara and Somavāra (Monday) are very difficult to obtain everywhere.

O Vyāsa, the water of Soma in Śiprā is the bestower of the benefit of a crore of Tīrthas. When the new-moon coincides with a Monday it is remembered as simitar to a Pitṛ-Tīrtha.

When new-moon coincides with a Monday and there is also Vyatīpāta (conjunction), the benefit in Somavatī is glorified as hundred times more than that of Gayā.

It was thus that the Somavatī Tīrtha came into being, O great sage.”

So, having carried out Libations at Dawn to my Pitrs, I hope that the ‘Way’ for Soma is also therefore opened – and that Mahadev, the Lord of Ghosts and also of the Moon is Pleased Likewise. He is, after all, the ‘Ultimate Ancestor’.

It certainly felt an excellent dispelling of some doom and gloom which had settled in. I do very much like those opportunities to pour sustenance for my Ancestors !

May They receive such offerings, be pleased, and avail me in our intrepid efforts !

ॐ नमः शिवाय

One thought on “Somavati Amavasya – Worship of Shiva and the Ancestors on the Monday of the Dark Moon

  1. Pingback: Somavati Amavasya – Worship of Shiva and the Ancestors on the Monday of the Dark Moon – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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