THE TEMPLE OF LORD SOMNATH IS THE EVIDENCE FOR THE POWER OF CREATION OVER THE POWER OF DESTRUCTION.
This entry is dedicated to the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first Deputy Prime Minister.
THE SHRINE ETERNAL:
Somnath Temple is in the ‘Prabhas Kshetra’, near the seaport city of Veraval in Junagadh District, Kathiawar Peninsula of Saurashtra , on the shores of Arabian Sea,the western coast of Gujarat, India. This holy place of pilgrimage is a place of great antiquity and recent excavations there have revealed a settlement dating from about 1500 B.C. As per Indian traditions, the place is of significance as it is considered as the place from where Lord Krishna departed from this world. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shiva and He is known by the name of SOMNATH or the Lord of the Moon. The present temple as it exists today is known as ‘Kailash Mahameru Prasada and is built-in CHALUKYA style of temple architecture. The site lied in a state of ruin for centuries and the decision to rebuild it was made by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during his visit on 13 November, 1947. The temple was inaugurated on December 1, 1951 by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India. He had remarked that, “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of creation is always greater than the power of destruction”. The temple symbolizes the enduring fame of Sardar Patel who during the first three years of Indian independence after 1947, had served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Information, and Minister of States. He was considered as practical and decisive. He was the architect of the Indian Union and his greatest contribution was the achievement of the peaceful integration of over 535 princely states into the Indian Union. The principality of Junagadh, and the princely State of Hyderabad had initially resisted the offer to join the Indian Union. Having failed in his attempts to join Pakistan, the Nawab of Junagadh fled away from the country. Mr. Bhutto,( the father of Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, who served as Pakistan’s Prime minister) acting in his capacity of the ‘DEWAN’ of the court of Junagadh, had invited Lord Mountbatten to accept the accession of Junagadh to India. In the State of Hyderabad, a militant movement called the Razakars was launched seeking independence but Sardar Patel restored peace in September 1948 and the ruler Nizam had accepted the terms of accession to the Indian Union. This part of Indian history and the integration of princely states into Indian Union has again become relevant after the enemy’s brutal attack in Mumbai which I had mentioned in my previous entry. The enemy had described himself as ‘Deccan Mujahideen’, and the media reports indicate that the enemy had specific designs to gobble Junagadh, and Hyderabad apart from encouraging insurgency in the border State of Kashmir. The enemy’s intentions will force us to defend SOMNATH in Junagadh District which is resurrected after repeated attacks over centuries.
THE HISTORY OF SOMNATH:
Somnath finds its mention in the ancient text of RIG VEDA. It is associated with the holy names of GANGA, YAMUNA, and SARASWATI, popularly known as ‘TIRTH DHAM’ where Indians traditionally offer worship by a practice described as ‘River Worship’. The ancient river of Saraswati may have merged into the Sea at Somnath apart from smaller rivulets known by the names of Hiranya, Kapila and Ilanki. The place is extensively described as a place of pilgrimage and its importance is narrated in the ancient texts of ‘SKANDA PURANA’, ‘BHAGAVATA PURANA’, and ‘SHIVA PURANA’. Lord Shiva in His radiant form known as ‘Jyotirlinga’ resides at Twelve different places in India and Somnath is listed as the first place of residence of ‘DWADASA JYOTIRLINGA’.Tradition claims that the original Temple of Somnath was built by Lord Moon, and was later built by King Ravana of Lanka who is a central figure in the story of Indian epic poem of RAMAYANA. The SINDH area of the Indian subcontinent came under Arab conquest in 7th century A.D. The Somnath Temple built by the YADAVA kings of Vallabhi of Saurashtra around 649 A.D. was destroyed in 725 A.D. by the Arab governor of Sindh. The Pratihara King Nagabhata II rebuilt it in red stone. Between 1001 A.D. and 1027 A.D. , the road to conquest of India was prepared by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna( modern GHAZNI in Afghanistan) who conducted more than twenty raids into North India. His raids were mainly for plunder. They revealed the wealth of India and demonstrated the vulnerability of India to military attacks. During one of his raids, in 1024 A.D. , marching across India’s Thar Desert, Mahmud of Ghazna had plundered and destroyed the Somnath Temple. The amount looted was estimated at 20 thousand, thousand ‘Dinars’. The enormous treasures found at Somnath have been a theme of wonder for all who have written on that conquest. The Paramara King of Bhoj of Malwa, Solanki King Bhima of Anhilwara/Patan between 1026 A.D. and 1042 A.D. rebuilt the Temple. By 1297/98 A.D. , Gujarat was conquered by Ala-ud-Din Khalij, Sultan of Delhi and the Temple was razed.Solanki King Kumarapala built a Temple of stone and this was destroyed again in 1394 A.D. For the last time, the Temple was destroyed in 1706 A.D by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and the site remained in ruins till India’s independence in 1947. The rebirth of the Temple on December 1, 1951 demonstrates the vitality of the Indian spirit.
Sourashtra dese visadetiramye
Bhakti pradanaya kripaveteernam
Tam somanatham sharanam prapadye
Lord Somanatha is dwelling in His great splendor in the Province of Saurashtra. May this Lord Somanatha who is full of radiance, and the crescent-shaped Moon shines in His matted hair, with His extreme compassion grant me a great sense of devotion with which I would seek my protection and let Him be my refuge.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B,Sc, M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April 1970.