Sri Somanath Jyotirlinga

Śrī Somanāth Jyotirliñga
Śrī Somanāth Jyotirliñga

सोमनाथ ध्यान | somanātha dhyāna

ध्यायेत् महेश्वरं देवं स्वेतवर्णं चतुर्भुजं
त्रिशूलं डम्बरुं चैव खट्वाङ्गभे कपालजम्।
करेर्ददानं वरदं नागयज्ञोपवीतिनम्
भस्माभूषित सर्वाङ्गं पञ्चवक्त्रं त्रिलोचनम्॥
गिरिशं त्वं वृषारूढं शिवं त्वं सोमनाथं॥
dhyāyet maheśvaraṁ devaṁ svetavarṇaṁ caturbhujaṁ
triśūlaṁ ḍambaruṁ caiva khaṭvāṅgabhe kapālajam|
karerdadānaṁ varadaṁ nāgayajñopavītinam
bhasmābhūṣita sarvāṅgaṁ pañcavaktraṁ trilocanam||
giriśaṁ tvaṁ vṛṣārūḍhaṁ śivaṁ tvaṁ somanāthaṁ||
ॐ नमः शिवाय नमः सोमनाथाय
om namaḥ śivāya namaḥ somanāthāya
somnath-templeIt is one of the twelve Jyotirliñga shrines of Lord Śiva. Somanāth means ‘Lord of the Moon God Soma’ or the ‘Lord of the Nectar of Immortality’ as Soma is that which keeps everything alive. Soma is the essence of the Moon filtered through the tithī, partaking which the devatā remain alive. We have seen how many important Vedic deities have lost their importance and significance with time. This is due to the reduction in the Soma they receive. For this reason, the Somanāth Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’. This is the eternal, constantly flowing gift of Lord Shiva to every being in this universe – the gods, pitṛs (manes), rākṣasa, human beings, animals, trees and every living being depends on the Soma coming from the nakṣatra of the Moon as filtered through the tithī.

The Somanāth Temple is located in the Prabhās Kṣetra near Verāval in Sauraśtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India. This was the pride of Dvārkā when ruled by Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Pauranic traditions maintain that Śrī Chandra had built a golden temple at Somanāth in kṛta yuga.
This was rebuilt in silver during dvāpara yuga by Rāvaṇa, the king of Śrī Lanka following which Śrī Lanka became the richest nation during his rule in dvāpara yuga.
Towards the end of treta yuga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa rebuilt the Somanāth temple with sandalwood. Research of ancient Indian classical texts by Swami Śrī Gajananand Saraswati[ref]Chairman of Shrimad Ādhya Jagadguru Śaṅkarācarya Vedic Śodha Sansthan, Varanasi[/ref] show that this Somanāth Jyotirliñga prāṇa pratiṣṭhā was done on the auspicious Śravaṇa śukla tritīya[ref]Third day of bright half of Vedic Śravaṇa month. Note that as per standard Vedic traditions, Lord Viṣṇu sleeps every year on Śravaṇa Kṛṣṇa tritīya, which is exactly a fortnight away from this chosen tithī. Tritīya is the lunar day presided by Gourī (Pārvatī), the śaktī of Śiva and devatā of the Moon.[/ref] during the tenth Treta yuga of Vaivsvat Manvantara. The exact date suggested for the rebuilding by Śrī Kṛṣṇa is 7,99,25,105 years ago. This is derived from the traditions of Prabhās Khaṇḍa of Skanda Purāṇa. This temple is a perennial source of life (Soma) for every being since time immemorial.

somanath_brokenIt is said that the temple is the first defense against the malignant Rāhu and so long as Śrī Somanāth stands, Bhārat and Satya Sanātana dharma (Vedic dharma) symbolized by the compassionate kind holy cow ‘Kāmadhenu’ (Moon significator) shall be protected. Somehow the invaders of Sind and the deserts, got wind of this prophesy.

Following in the tradition of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Yādava kings (Kṛṣṇa established the Yādava rule) of Vallabhi in Gujarat, maintained the Somanāth temple. A completely new replaced the older one on the same site around 649 AD.

First desecration – In 725 AD Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The objective was simple and plain – theft. What to talk of a nation and people if the king is of thievish nature. The Gurjara Pratihara King Nagabhatta II reconstructed the Somanāth temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone.

Second desecration – In 1024 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. Once again the objective was simple – theft. 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. For the first time since Kṛṣṇa, the wooden structure was replaced by King Kumarpal (1143-72), who built the temple of stone to afford better protection against the thievish kings.

Third desecration – In 1296 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Allauddin Khilji’s army. Taj-ul-Ma’sir of Hasan Nizami writes “Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee, and fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword and more than twenty thousand slaves, cattle and wealth beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors”. In their own words, they are proud of the theft. The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 AD and the Liñga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351 AD.

Fourth desecration – In 1375 AD, barely 24 years after the re-establishment of the Somanāth Liñga, the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Muzaffar Shah I. This time the local people worked to rebuilt it as there is no mention of royal patronage to the work.

Fifth desecration – In 1451 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Mahmud Begda. Once again the local people of Gujarat put together their scanty resources to build the temple.

Sixth desecration – this was the worst of them all. In 1701 AD, the temple was once again destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. While all previous destructions primarily aimed at stealing, people and cattle (simple theft objective), Aurangzeb was diabolical. He used the columns and foundation of the Somanāth temple to build a mosque on the very site of the Somanāth temple. Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible and are a glaring proof and constant reminder that will continue to divide our people on religious lines. Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore rebuilt the temple in 1783 AD at a new site adjacent to the ruined temple.

Aurangzeb had achieved his objective of diving the people of India for the first time. Later the British also adopted this policy resulting in the birth of Pakistan. That’s history, and everyone knows it but may not be politically right to say so. But the ostrich approach to problems – burying head in hole, has never resulted in any concrete solutions. Which leader of India is going to ‘bell the cat’? Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore showed us one path – she rebuilt the temple in 1783 AD at a new site adjacent to the ruined temple. It was the ‘best solution’ as the old temple site was already converted to a mosque, and we Hindu do not believe in destroying or desecrating any place of worship of any religion.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel took the cue from the intelligent action of HRM Queen Ahilyabai Holkar and reconstructed the Somanāth Temple to its full glory in the adjacent vacant spot. Politicians of modern India would do well to learn from the great Queen Ahilyabai and follow the Sardar Vallabhai Patel instead of following Aurangzeb and destroying places of worship – again as I said – irrespective of any religion, your karma alone counts.

The later sources of history account for several desecrations by Muslims invaders during eleventh to eighteen century A.D. The temple was rebuilt every time with the reconstructive spirit of the people. We bow to the great gujarati people who have been so resilient and strong in their faith. The modern temple was reconstructed with the resolve of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who visited the ruins of Somanāth temple on Nov 13, 1947. Regular worship of Lord Somanāth was restarted at the new temple after the then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, performed the prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā on 11 May 1951. After Patel’s death, the herculean task of rebuilding continued under K. M. Munshi, another minister of the Government of India.

Other pilgrimage spots at Somanāth include (1) Śrī Kapardi Vinayak, (2) Śrī Hanuman Temple and Ahalyabai temple (temporary residence of Śrī Somanāth Liñga after Aurangzeb) is close by, which was built by HRM Queen Ahalyabai Holker during 1782. This temple maintained the Pooja Paraṁparā of Bhagvan Śiva during the hostile political conditions in India.

Vallabhghat is a beautiful sunset point. The temple is illuminated every evening. Similarly, the sound & light show ‘Jaya Somanāth’ is also displayed every night at 8-9pm, which allows the pilgrims an ethereal experience in the backdrop of grand Somanāth temple and the holy wave sounds of the Ocean.

daksagoatheadFavoring Rohiṇī
Śrī Chandra, the Moon god, is married to the 27 daughters of Dakṣa Prajāpati. Each of these 27 Queens have their private mansion built by Chandra and called nakṣatra. The nakṣatra are named after the Queens like Rohiṇī nakṣatra (in Vṛṣabha rāśi) is named after the Queen Rohiṇī presiding there. Śrī Chandra is very emotional due to his strong mind and this can make him partial, although he may not be doing so consciously.

Śrī Chandra had promised Dakṣa Prajāpati[ref]Father-in-law of Chandra, sire of the 27 nakṣatra Queens. Dakṣa is a mānasa putra (mind-born son) of Brahma[/ref], that he would spend equal time with each of the 27 Queens. However, the reality is far from this promise. Chandra is fully conscious or aware of the Queens when he passes through the six mansions of the Queens Revatī, Aśvinī, Bharaṇī, Kṛttikā, Rohiṇī and Mṛgāśiras, especially when in the middle portion (2nd & 3rd Pada). When Chandra passes through the mansions of the next nine Queens – Ārdrā (6) to Chitrā (14), he meets with the Queens in the beginning (1st Pada) and later gets about his other duties. When Chandra passes through the mansions of the remaining twelve Queens Svātī (15) to Uttara Bhādrapada (26), he has time to meet with the Queens only at the end (4th Pada) of his sojourn. In addition to this partiality for the six favored Queens Revatī (27) to Mṛgāśiras (5) where 2nd Pada-Artha and 3rd Pada-Kāma prevail, Chandra also spends disproportional time in each of the nakṣatra, ending up giving the maximum time to Rohiṇī (4).

This led to unrest among the Queens. The nine Queens from Ārdrā to Chitrā who met Chandra in 1st pada, found Chandra only lecturing dharma while the twelve from Svātī to Uttara Bhādrapada (26) were bored with the constant sermon on mokṣa (4th pada). Of the remaining six, the first three Revatī, Aśvinī and Bharaṇī were constantly troubled with expenses management, mansion administration and treasury matters (2nd pada) while all the kāma (3rd pada) only went to Kṛttikā, Rohiṇī and Mṛgāśiras. There again there was partiality – Kṛttikā got the love of body, Mṛgāśiras got love of soul while Rohiṇī got all the love that the mind can ask for.

Dakṣa could not tolerate this partiality and twice warned Chandra to change his ways. However, this was not within the very nature of the erratic fast moving Moon god. The third time when encountered with the partiality matter Dakṣa cursed Chandra to lose the divine luster of perfect compassion that he embodies. The moonlight symbolizes this luster and it started to wane. This was the dark fortnight of the Moon when he lost his curative powers and the devas who rejuvenated by partaking of his Soma were also deprived. Chandra prayed to Lord Śiva at the Prabhās kṣetra who turned a benignant eye. The devas approached Dakṣa posing the danger that the absence of Soma would prevent any kind of procreation or rejuvenation and then they all would be destroyed. Dakṣa modified his curse and the Moon was allowed to wax and wane every fortnight.

For this reason in jyotiṣa, the fortnight is ruled by Venus reminding us of relationships and the waxing and waning shows the constant challenges that all creatures have to face in their marriage. In the pañcāṅga, the tithī that marks this phase of the Moon also rules relationships.

When the fallen Moon (amāvāsya Chandra) prayed to Lord Śiva, He lifted it and placed it on His own head – a status that even the highest beings cannot dream of. This lifting of the fallen hero resulted on his rising to the position of the full Moon. Since the head is the seat of the guru, the full Moon represents the guru pūrṇimā and every guru is to be remembered on the full Moon so that the path shall lead to the parameṣṭhi guru (Lord Śiva). This is the deeper meaning and blessing of Lord Somanāth.

prajapati_posterConsequent upon the curse of Dakṣa (a prajāpati), the union of Chandra with his 27 Queens became fruitless and they could not bear any children. It is the deep desire for progeny that caused Chandra to lust for other women. This is the 28th intercalary nakṣatra which does not exist in the physical plane and hence cannot define a legitimate spouse of Chandra. Chandra ended up having four sons from Manohara and one (Budha – Mercury) from Tārā.

Varchas, the eldest son of Manohara, reincarnated on Earth during Mahabharata as brave Abhimanyu. Because of the link to Chandra, Śrī Kṛṣṇa became his guru. This mighty son of Arjuna and Subhadra defeated all the great Kaurava warriors including Droṇa, Karna and Duryodhana on the one day he was called to go to battle and break the chakravyuha. They had to gang up and shoot arrows from the back (cheating) to defeat and kill him. But then Kṛṣṇa ensured that each of them got Karma payback in the same coin when (1) Drona died due to a partial lie uttered by Yudhiṣṭhira (only lie ever uttered by him); (2) Karna was shot to death while pulling the wheels of his chariot and (3) Duryodhana was killed by a blow from the mace to the thigh (hitting below the waist is cheating).

This great power of Chandra comes from Maharṣi Atri, his father – Chandra is atreya gotra. Maharṣi Atri stood on one leg and recited the Medhā Dakṣiṇāmūrti mantra which caused the knowledge of the monosyllable ॐ (om) – that’s how the world got to know about oṁ. His body was fully converted to pure Soma and rose into to the sky. When it could not contain anymore, it overflowed from his eyes and filled the ākāśa with a pure soothing white glow. The ten dṛg-devī (spouse of digpāla) collected the drops that came in their directions. This is the power of Atri-Soma they posses to give the fruits in these directions of life as is confirmed in the Śiva tāṇḍava stotra. The surplus that they could no longer hold came down to earth to be held by Anasuyā, wife of Maharṣi Atri, who bore Soma as their first son. Since Soma was created from Brahmā-akṣara, he is the incarnation of Brahma and is the ‘physical father’ of all beings. He is Chandra, the cause of motherhood and protector of innocent babies.

Getting directions

  1. On the balloon click on the link ‘Directions’ or on the link below the map. An extension shows up.
  2. Click either on the ‘Car’ or ‘Pedestrian’ image to choose your transpost.
  3. Now enter your ‘Journey start place’ like New Delhi etc in the pink box.
  4. Click on the button/letters ‘Get directions’ and you are done …now copy and print the directions before you start your journey. Have a nice pilgrimage and spiritual exaltation.
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1 thought on “Sri Somanath Jyotirlinga

  1. Very painstaking article.
    May i add that present Somnath Temple is a creation of Padmasri PrabhaSanker bahi Sompura
    of Palitana Gujrat.He was awarded this vastu work by Late Vallabh bhai Patel.

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