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Friday, October 1, 2010

History of Shri Somnath Temple : Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga.

History of Shri Somnath Temple : Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga.

Suarashtre tu Somanatham, Shri shaile Mallikarjunam||
Ujjayinyaam Mahakaalam Omkaare Mamaleshwaram||

* In Saurashtra Somanatha:Gujarat
* In Shrishailam Mallikarjunam:Andhra Pradesh
* Mahaa kaala in Ujjain: Madhya Pradesh
* Mamaleshwara in Omkareshwar:an island in Narmada shaped like OM,Madhya Pradesh

Himalaye tu Kedaaram,Dakinyaam Bhima Shankaram||
Vaaranasyam tu Vishvesham Tryambakam Gautamitate||

* Kedaranath in the Himalayas:Uttarakhand
* Bhimashankara in Dakini:(Dakshin?) Maharashtra
* Vishveshwara in Vaaraanashi:Kashi in Uttar Pradesh
* Tryambaka in Gautami sthala :near Nashik, Mahaaraashtra

Paralyam Vaidhyanatham Nagesham cha Daruka vane||
Setubandhe tu Ramesham Ghrishnesham cha shivalaye||

* Vaidyanatha in Parali: Maharashtra 
* Naagehswar in Daruka forest:Gujarat
* Rameshwar in Setubandam:Tamil Nadu
* Ghrishneshwara:Mahaaraashtraa

Aetani Jyotirlingani Sayam Prataha Pathennaraha ||
Sapta Janma Kritam Papam Smaranen Vinashyati ||

Two on the sea shore, three on river banks, four in the heights of the mountains and three in villages located in meadows; the twelve Jyotirlingas are spread out like this. Every place has been described in glorious words by many detailing the surroundings etc.

About the Somnath Temple it is said that : One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.

A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam is a shrine where Lord Shiva, an aspect of God in Hinduism is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam or "Lingam of light." 

There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India. It is believed that Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.

History of Shri Somnath Temple : Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga.

The Divine Mother took birth in Daksha house in the form of Sati and after performing tapasya, became Shiva wife, and went to live with him on Mount Kailash. Her 27 sisters as the purana says wwere married to the Moon God i.e. 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Amongst all his wives, he had special love towards Rohini and neglected the others. 

Seeing the negligence of Chandra towards his other wives Prajapati Daksha cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance. But because of a moon devoid of radiance and beauty the entire world became lifeless. 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 Brahmashila, and paved way for the construction of the temple. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods Bhagwan Shankar assumed the name Somchandra (Jyotirlinga) and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath in the three worlds. Since, it was the Prabhas Kshetra where Bhagwan Shri Krishna performed all his Lilas. In this temple there is a small cave in which a lamp burns continuously.

The Skanda Purana describes the Sparsa Linga of Somnath as one bright as the sun, the size of an egg, lodged underground. The Mahabharata also refers to the Prabhasa Kshetra and the legend of the moon worshipping Shiva.






Photograph of the Somanatha Temple at Somnath, Prabhas Patan, in Gujarat, from the south, taken by D.H. Sykes around 1869


A reference of the presiding deity of the temple, Lord Someshwar is also available in the Rig Veda, which is acknowledged by the secularist brigade / western historians to be ...............more than 3500 years old , much to their chagrin . It was also a sacred place in the days of the Mahabharat. It was called Bhairavashwar in Satya Yug, Shravanikeshwar in Treta Yug and Shrigaleshwar in Dwapur Yug. The Prabhas Khanda in Skand Purana giving description of the Linga of Somnath says that it is a Swayambhu Linga of great prowess, as bright as the disc of Sun, surrounded by a serpent, of the size of the egg of a hen, called Sparalinga and situated underground.

Somnath Temple was first built with gold by Moon God, with silver by Ravana, with sandalwood by Lord Krishna, and about 2500 years ago by The Great King Emperor of Jambudwip Shri Vikramaditya of Ujjaini fame , The second was built in the period 480-767 A.D. by the Vallabhi kings. This was again replaced by the Pratihara king Nagabhattta II in 815 A.D and with stone by Bhimdeva Solanki, Gurjar Ruler of Gujarat. 

As many as 2000 Brahmin priests were engaged in temple activities and the revenue collected from ten thousand villages were used for its maintenance. Prayers were announced by ringing the bell which was attached to a golden chain. Its walls were nothing less than pages of History. The exquisite sculptures were a reflection of the times and the pillars even had the names of the sculptors carved on them. 

The following extract is from “Wonders of Things Created, and marvels of Things Existing” by Asaru-L- Bilad, a 13th century Arab geographer. It contains the following description of Somnath temple and its destruction: 

“Somnath: celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was held in the highest honor among the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Musulman or an infidel. 

“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 anyone side-hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some coincided, others differed. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. 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.” 

The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand. They believed that the souls of men used to meet there after separation from the body, and that the idol used to incorporate them at its pleasure in other bodies, in accordance with their doctrine of transmigration. “The ebb and flow of the tide was considered to be the worship paid to the idol by the sea. 

Everything of the most precious was brought there as offerings, and the temple was endowed with more than 10,000 villages. There is a river (the Ganges) which is held sacred, between which and Somnat the distance is 200 parasangs. They used to bring the water of this river to Somnath every day, and wash the temple with it. A thousand brahmins were employed in worshipping the idol and attending on the visitors, and 500 damsels sung and danced at the door–all these were maintained upon the endowments of the temple. 

The edifice was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak, covered with lead. The shrine of the idol was dark. hut was lighted by jeweled chandeliers of great value. Near it was a chain of gold weighing 200 mans. When a portion (watch) of the night closed, this chain used to be shaken like bells to rouse a fresh lot of Brahmins to perform worship. “When the Sultan Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud Bin Subuktigin went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnat, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Muhammadans. As a result thousands of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. He arrived there in the middle of Zi-l k’ada, 416 A.H. (December, 1025 A.D.). “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 vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols exceeded twenty hundred thousand dinars.

Lane Poole, author of Medieval India, has said that Mahommad of Ghazni, "who had vowed that every year should see him wage a holy war against the infidels of Hindustan" could not rest from his idol-breaking campaign so long as the temple of Somnath remained inviolate. It was for this specific purpose that he, at the very close of his career, undertook his arduous march across the desert from Multan to Anhilwada on the coast, fighting as he went, until he saw at last the famous temple.

Mahmud Ghazni attacked this temple in 1026 A.D. and after a week-long resistance, captured it. When the soldiers scaled the walls with ladders all they found inside were defenseless worshippers. Fifty thousand devotees praying to the linga and weeping passionately with hands clasped were massacred in cold blood. The Shiva Linga, adorned with gems and precious stones was broken and the temple burnt. After the battle, Mahmud and his troops are described as having carried away across the desert the equivalent of 6.5 tons of gold. The fragments of the idol were carried off to grace the conquerors' palace and the temple gates were set up at Ghazni.

Mahmud was hailed throughout the Islamic world as a second Mohammed and his smashing of Somnath was lauded in the Sufi poetry of Attar, Sanai and Omar Khayyam. These poets equated Somnath with the temples to the pagan goddess Al-Manat destroyed by Mohammed and viewed its destruction as the 'will of Allah' and the 'enlightened march of Islam.' The sack of Somnath made Mahmud of Ghazni a champion of the faith in the eyes of every Muslim.

Minhaj-as-Siraj tells us how Mahmud became widely known for having destroyed as many as thousand temples, and of his great feat in destroying the temple of Somnath and carrying off its idol, which he asserts was broken into four parts. One part he deposited in the Jami Masjid of Ghazni, one he placed at the entrance of the royal palace, the third he sent to Mecca, and the fourth to Medina.

The folding doors shown were reputed to be the famous Sandalwood Doors, carried off in 1026 by Mahmud after his destruction of the Somnath Temple in Gujarat, during the last of his devastatingly successful forays in India. The British removed them from the tomb in 1842, laboriously transporting them to Agra Fort, where they were found to be replicas of the original.

In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Gurjara Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone. Somnath temple, 1869 .

In 1024 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. Ghazni was challenged by the king, Ghogha Rana, who at the ripe age of 90, sacrificed his own clan fighting against Ghazni. The temple was rebuilt by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat (Anhilwara) or Patan between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal (r.1143-72), who built the temple of stone.

In 1296 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Allauddin Khilji's army. According to Taj-ul-Ma'sir of Hasan Nizami, Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee, "fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword" and "more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors". The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 A.D. and the Linga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351 A.D.

In 1375 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I, the Sultan of Gujarat. About 1400 A.D. it was reconstructed by the local public.

In 1451 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begda, the Sultan of Gujarat. It was reconstructed again. 

In 1701 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb built a mosque on the site of the Somnath temple, using some columns from the temple, whose Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible. 

Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore rebuilt the temple in 1783 A.D. at a site adjacent to the ruined temple which was already converted to a mosque. 

The present temple, Kailash Mahameru Prasada, is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture and reflects the skill of the Sompuras, Gujarat's master masons.

The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in between from Somnath seashore to Antarctica. Such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the ARROW-PILLAR erected on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple.

Thus, the Hindus rebuilt the temple several times, but the Muslims destroyed it again. The temple was last destroyed by the Mughal tyrant, Aurangzeb. In 1701 A.D. he ordered Prince Mohammed Azam, the Viceroy of Gujarat, to destroy the temple of Somnath. Aurangzeb, as history records, was a brutal ruler who left a trail of genocide and destruction, mainly aimed at converting Hindus. Aurangzeb built a mosque on the site of the Somnath temple, using some columns from the temple, whose Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible.

Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore built the temple again in 1783 at a site adjacent to the ruined temple.

If Hindus honor Somnath, they should not look down upon attempts to restore Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi, but, on the contrary, help accomplish this aim. If Somnath is a matter of national pride, then certainly Ayodhya and the others deserve to be as well. If a legal process could be created to reclaim Somnath, a similar process can be created to reclaim these other three sites. If Somnath can be dedicated to the nation, so can the other sites.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Those who chant the Dwadasa JyotirLinga Stotram or prayer will attain salvation and enlightenment and be released from this cycle of human existence with all its travails. By worshipping the Lingas, people of all castes, creeds and colour would be freed from all difficulties. By eating the holy offering made to these Lingas (Naivedyam) one would be rid of all the sins instantly.

As a matter of fact, we do the Darshan of the JyoritLingas as a part of our daily life. Sun, Fire and Light etc., are indeed a part of that great Light. “Om tatsavituvarenye” these magical words of the Gayatri mantra or chant invoke this Supreme light only. By chanting this powerful Mantra, humans can obtain divine power to their life-light or Atmajyothi.

The aura of the Sun rays and the various benefits that can be derived there from is indeed a difficult task to describe. This gorgeous life-light is the only thing that is responsible for the activity in the universe. We salute this life force.

“Agni” or fire is a great light. For all the activities on the earth, “Fire” is the pivot.Deepajyoti or light and its greatness, is known to all of us, and we offer our prayers. Let us celebrate the glory of light. Light is offered a place of pride at welcome celebrations and on all auspicious occasions.

""Shubham karoti kalyanam Arogyam Dhanasampada
Shatru buddhi vinashaya Deepa Jyoti namostute """

This light removes the darkness from the lives of one and all. Darkness means ignorance and it is destroyed by this light. The natured light of God makes all our wishes come true, when we take a Darshan of it.

Thus, by taking a Darshan of these twelve JyotirLingas, the auspicious air surrounding them and the holy pilgrimage, will bring happiness, peace and satisfaction to all.

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