THIS IS MY SECOND WRITE-UP ON JYOTHIRLINGAS.
MY GOOD FRIEND SENDHIL HAS CONTRIBUTED
AN OUTSTANDING AND SPLENDID VIDEO ON SOMNATH.
DO READ THE ARTICLE AND ADMIRE THE VIDEO.
There are Twelve Jyothirlingas
Somnath in Saurashtra (Guj),
Mallikarjun in Srisailam (A.P.),
Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain (M.P.),
Omkareshwar in Shivpuri / mamaleswara (M.P.)
Lord Baijnath in Devghar (Bihar)
Nageswar in Darukavanam (Guj)
Kedareswar in Kedarnath / Himalayas (Utt)
Triambakeswar in Nasik (Mah)
Rameshwar in Setubandanam / Rameshwaram (T.N.)
Bhimashankar in Dakini (Mah)
Visweswar in Varanasi (U.P.) and
Ghrishneswar in Devasarovar (Mah).
We have covered Triambakeswar.
In this article we cover the Jyothirling
The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurasht
The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means "Lord of the Soma", an epithet of Shiva. The Somnath temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal".
Somnath finds its reference in the most ancient texts like Shreemad Bhagavatam, Skandapuranam, Shivpuranam and Rig-Veda which signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most celebrated pilgrimage sites or Tirthdham.
According to tradition, the Shivalinga in Somnath is one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.
The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a Triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers — Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati. Soma, the Moon god, is believed to have lost his lustre due to a curse, and he bathed in the Sarasvati River at this site to regain it.
According to popular tradition the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple is said to have been built at the same site by the "Yadava kings" of Vallabhi around 649 CE. The Gurjara-Pratihara King Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.
In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I, the prominent Afghan ruler Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its jyotirlinga. He took away a booty of 20 million dinars.
The temple at the time of Mahmud's attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time (kalajirnam). Kumarapala ( 114
The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama King of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351. In 1395, the temple was destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate. In 1451, it was desecrated by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.By 1665, the temple, one of many, was ordered to be destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
In 1782-83 AD, Maratha King Mahadaji Shinde, victoriously brought back three silver gates from Lahore ,after defeating Mahmud Shah Abdali, to Somnath. After refusal from priests of Gujarat and the then King Gaekwad to put them back on Somnath temple, these silver gates were placed in the temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in two temples of India, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir of Ujjain.
In the 19th century novel The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the diamond of the title is presumed to have been stolen from the temple at Somnath and, according to the historian Romila Thapar, reflects the interest aroused in Britain by the Gates.
Before independence, Prabhas Patan was part of the princely state of Junagadh, whose ruler had acceded to Pakistan in 1947. After India refused to accept his decision, the state was made a part of India and Deputy Prime Minister Patel came to Junagadh on 12 November 1947 to direct the stabilisation of the state by the Indian Army and at the same time ordered the reconstruction of the Somanath temple.
The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away. In May 1951, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple. The President said in his address, "It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India's prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol." He added "The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction".
The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture or "Kailash Mahameru Prasad" style and reflects the skill of the Sompura Salats, one of Gujarat's master masons. The temple's śikhara, or main spire, is 15 metres in height, and it has an 8.2-metre tall flag pole at the top.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line between Somnath seashore until Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Bāṇastambha (lit. arrow pillar) erected on the sea-protection wall. The Bāṇastambha mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to the South Pole at that particular longitude.
Legend goes that the moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. He was partial to Rohini, his favorite and neglected the others. An angered Daksha cursed him to wane into nothingness. A disturbed Chandra, came down to Prabhasa with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which he was blessed by Shiva to grow and shine in the bright half. As the moon regained his light here, this town came to be known as Prabhasa. Brahma, one of the trinity, installed the Bhramasila, and paved way for the construction of the temple.
In its external design the Somnath temple compares well with the temple of Rudramala at Siddhapur and is more or less of the same size in length. The dome, however, is as large as any other built in this period. The temple faces to east and once had an enormous central hall with three entrances, each protected by a lofty porch. The fragments that lie scattered at a short distance from the site give some idea of the sculpture decorating the temple. The richly carved doorways, the sculptured representations of Nandi, Siva's bull, and the figures of goddesses and their female attendants must once have presented a grand ensemble of great beauty. In the recesses of the balconied corridor, there is a mutilated form of Nataraja, the dancing Shiva.
The Shiva linga in the temple was believed to safely hide within its hollowness the famous Syamantak Mani, the Philosopher's stone associated with Lord Krishna. It was a magical stone, capable of producing gold. It is believed that this stone had alchemic and radioactive properties. It could create a magnetic field around itself that kept the linga floating above ground.
When Sultan Mahmud, the son of Sabuktagin, went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnath, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Mohammedans. He arrived there in December, 1025 A.D. The Indians made a desperate resistance. They kept going in to the temple weeping and crying for help; and then they issued forth to battle and kept fighting till all were killed. The number of the slain exceeded fifty thousand.
After the victory, the King looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver, and countless vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India.
When the King asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The King directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle.
One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skillfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on any one side – hence the idol was suspended in the middle. When two stones were removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.