Somnath Temple is a symbol of India’s rich cultural heritage. The mention of this ancient temple has been made in the ancient sacred books like ‘Shiv Purana, Rigveda, Ramayana and Mahabharata’. The term Somnath suggests – ‘the protector of Moon God’ due to the legend associated with the temple. Lord Shiva is depicted here in the form of a Jyotirlinga (linga of light), as the protector. The incredible temple of Somnath is also known as ‘The Shrine Eternal’ since the temple has been destroyed several times and rebuilt each time. The current temple was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad – the first President of India – in 1952.
In the words of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, “Somnath Temple signifies that “the power of creation is always greater than the power of destruction”. The great history and religious importance of Somnath temple attract pilgrims as well as tourists from India and abroad.
Mythology of Somnath Temple
Daksh Prajapati, manas-putra of Brahma and father-in-law of Lord Shiva, married his twenty-seven daughters (Nakshatra) to Somraj – the Moon God. Somraj promised his father-in-law that he would treat all of them equally. However, he fell in love with the fourth daughter Rohini. He started overly favouring her and ignored the need of other wives. The biased treatment angered the other wives and they complained about it to their father. Daksh warned Somraj not to neglect them and reminded him of his promise. Somraj did not pay any heed to the warning. This infuriated Daksh and he cursed Somraj that he would remain childless forever, and his beauty and radiance would disappear.
As his condition deteriorated, Somraj got scared. He requested Brahma to cure him. Brahma expressed his helplessness and suggested him to worship the Sparsha Linga at current Somanth. Somraj devotedly worshipped it for six months. It pleased Lord Shiva. He blessed Somraj with immortality and also partially relieved him from Daksh’s curse. He told Somraj because of the curse of Dakhsa, his radiance would wane in Krishna Paksha, but with his blessings, it would start waxing in Shukla Paksha attaining the complete self on the full moon day (Poornima). After receiving Shiva’s blessings Somraj requested Lord Shiva to reside there eternally and bless his devotees. Shiva accepted his request.
Somraja then built a temple in gold and dedicated it to Someshwara (Lord Shiva with moon on his head) and from that time itself the place started to be known as Somnath, a place where the benefactor (nath) of Somraja resides. This temple in gold is said to have been rebuilt by Ravana in silver, then built-in sandalwood by Lord Krishna and in stone by Solanki kings Kumarpal and Bhimdev.
The current temple is constructed in the Chalukya style of architecture and reflects the expertise of the Sompuras – master masons of Gujarat. The temple is sited in such a manner that there is no landmass from Somnath seashore till Antarctica. This information is presented in an inscription, written in Sanskrit, on the Arrow-Pillar of the sea-protection wall at the temple.
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