Benefits of worshipping Shiva on Shivaratri:
- Even an insignificant meritorious deed performed knowingly or unknowingly for Shiva on Shivaratri rewards the person with liberation!
By chanting His names, remaining awake tonight, witnessing or personally performing abhishekam to Him all sins committed till now are forgiven. However the most important criteria is ‘faith and devotion’. Physically engaging in the good deed while mentally being absent will not bestow any benefit. Remain silent till morning. Do not engage in useless chatter. Be vigilant. If you are drowsy loudly chant ‘Om Namah shivaya’.
- Offering just one sacred Bilva leaf (bael leaf) to Lord Shiva on this day bestows the person with the merit that is obtained by bathing in River Ganga for several years.
Do not fret that you could not bathe in River Ganga. Just perform Shiva abhishekam and sprinkle those drops of water on your head. Consume Shiva prasadam. That is enough.
- The results of all the various meritorious deeds prescribed for all the different eons (Yugas) can be obtained just by performing Shiva worship on this auspicious day. For this reason all the Devatas including Lord Brahma and all the Maharishis extol Shivaratri as a supremely auspicious festival!
- Shivaratri is the most auspicious festival which comes in the supremely auspicious month called Magha. It is said that it is extremely rare for any person to be bestowed with the chance of having the darshan of a Shiva-lingam, offering Bilva leaf to Shiva, spending the day in Guru’s vicinity or performing abhishekam to Him with even a spoonful of water on this day.
It is a sin to fall asleep on this night. Even dozing off mildly is considered sinful and it results in a lower sinful birth. The fruits of remaining awake and other meritorious deeds are washed off when the person dozes.
- Fasting, remaining awake the entire night, spending time in Shiva’s presence and visiting His temple are rituals stipulated for this auspicious day. They are the steps which lead the person towards Shiva’s abode.
- Fasting on this day with the mind totally fixed upon Shiva bestows the person with the merit of performing a hundred Yagnas (sacrificial rituals).
- Remaining awake the entire night for Shiva bestows the person with more merit than what is acquired by spending 10 million years in penance.
Just try and remain awake this one night! The merit obtained is limitless! Despite my instructions you may doze off. I have just now imitated the actions of a person who drowsily dozes off. Even for this imitation I have acquired sin. There is no excuse. I have to pay for it. Even though I am Shiva, I have acquired sin. It is said that the results of sins and merits do not spare even the Gods. This is the inescapable law of creation. Hence remain awake under any circumstances.
- Nothing in the three worlds can match the merit that is obtained by worshipping Shiva with a single Bilva (bael) leaf on this day!
- Due to worship performed with absolute devotion and dedication on this day, even those sins which are beyond atonement (prāyaschitta) and which cannot be destroyed by time, get destroyed! Such is the greatness of worshipping or remembering Shiva on this day!
— Shivaratri speech Feb 2017