The sage asked, "O king! why are you observing a fast today?" King Chitrabhanu explained that He had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth.
The king said to the sage: "In my past birth I was a hunter in Varanasi. My name was Suswara. My livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day I was roaming the forests in search of animals. I was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to return home, I climbed a tree for shelter. It happened to be a bel tree. I had shot a deer that day but I had no time to take it home. I bundled it up and tied it to the branch of the tree. As I was tormented by hunger and thirst, I kept awake throughout the night. I shed profuse tears when I thought of my poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously awaiting my return. To pass away the time that night I engaged myself in plucking the bel leaves and dropping them down onto the ground
"The day dawned. I returned home and sold the deer. I bought some food for myself and for my family. I was about to break my fast when a stranger came to me, begging for food. I served him first and then took my food.
"At the time of death, I saw two messengers of Lord Shiva. They were sent down to conduct my soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. I learnt then for the first time, the great merit I had earned by the worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivratri despite observed ignorantly. They told me that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. My tears which I had shed out of pure sorrow for my family fell onto the Lingam and washed it. And I had fasted the whole day and was awake the whole night. Thus did I had worshipped the Lord even without my knowledge.
"I lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. I am now reborn as Chitrabhanu."
5. Story of Lubdhak:
There once lived a tribal named Lubdhak, who was a devotee of Shiva. It was his usual practice to go into the forest to collect firewood. One day he wandered deeper than usual and night fell before he could leave the forest. It was the night before the no moon night and the thin crescent moon offered no light. He was not able to find his way in the dark and soon got lost. A hungry tiger smelt him out and with a loud roar made his intentions clear.
Lubdhak knew that he would not be able to outrun the tiger and so he climbed up a bel tree. In order to avoid sleep so as to not fall off the tree to become a prey to the tiger, he began to pluck the leaves from the bel tree and drop them one by one, each time chanting “Om Namah Shivaya", which means I bow down to Shiva. In this manner, he passed the night. Until dawn, he had dropped a thousand bel leaves. When he descended the tree in the morning, he saw a Lingam, which he had missed in the dark. Unknowingly he had been dropping leaves on the Lingam. This was the 14th night of the waxing moon of the month of Phalgun and came to be celebrated as Mahashivratri.
Thus lets all worship the great Lord on this special day and receive His blessings.