Somnath temple, the first in the twelve jyothirlingas, is located at the Viraval port - Prabhas Pattan in Saurashtra - Gujarat.
Anceint Glory of Somnath Temple
Known as prabhAsa kshetra, Somnath occupied a much esteemed place in the Hindu holy places. It finds many references in the purANas & itihAsas.
The inner temple of the Garbhashay was supported to be aglow with the luster of these gemstones. The Nanda Deep was always kept lighted with Kannauji attar. The treasure of the temple was forever full of vast wealth and was kept safe.
For worship of the Lord-and Abhishek (worship with holy water) sandalwood scented water was brought from Haridwar, Prayag Kashi every day. However flowers for special festivities were imported from Kashmir. For the routine daily worship, one thousand Brahmins were appointed. About three hundred and fifty dancing girls were appointed for the regular music and dance concerts that took place in the Temple courts.
This religious place of worship was earning the produce of ten thousand villages. Among the twelve JyotirLingas (Lingas of light) Somanath is considered as the primary one. Because this deity is supposed to be Swayanbhu (self-born) and is always awake, lakhs of devotees visited this temple and considered themselves blessed and to have achieved piety. Offerings made by crores of devotees amounted to crores of rupees which kept the Somnath Temple always rich and abundant. Along with this, the Sun worshipping foreigners (probably Parsis) also contributed a pat of their profits to the temple treasury which kept its coffers full, all the time.
sthala purANa of Lord Somnath temple
Chandra, (moon) was the first one to receive the benefic boon of Shri Somanath of Saurashtra, the Shiva pilgrimage, Agni Teerth and Surya Teerth. Then Chandra built a beautiful golden temple and put a glorious JyotirLinga in it, the first of its kind in India.
According to Prabhaskhand of Skanda Purana, the legend goes like this:
Chandra married the twenty seven daughters (stars) of Daksha, but was very partial and showed lot more love and affection to rohini. The remaining twenty six wives not only felt neglected but also insulted. They were disappointed with their husband and went and complained to their father. Daksha was upset to see his daughters suffer thus, and tried twice to convince his son-in-law to change himself, but in vain. He put a curse on him that Chandra would be “decreasing” in size.
The Devas (Celestial gods) were very sad at Chandra’s plight and went to Brahma. The Creator, in order to find out a remedy for this condition of Chandra and get a solution for redressing the curse. Brahma told them that the only way out was to worship Vrishabhdhwaj Shankar at Prabhas Kshetra Mahamrityunjay. Chandra went on a penance for six months and prayed to Lord Shiva, at the end of which Shankara appeared before him. He gave Chandra the boon that in a month, he would grow for fifteen days in one half and in the other half he would keep loosing one Kala (shade) per day and decrease in size. He was pleased with the Devas and in order to increase the prestige of the place, Lord Shiva Himself came to be known as Someshwar, meaning famous moon (Soma). The Devas established a Someshwar Kund there. By taking a holy dip in this pond or Kund, it is believed that one would obtain release from all the sins.
Chandra or moon is also called Som. That is why this JyotirLinga has become famous as Somanath. Chandra or moon looks very bright here. Therefore, this place is also known as “Prabhasapattana”.
Later, Shri Somnath Mandir was built by Ravana fro Rupa in the treda yug and Lord Krishna fro Chandran in
. Emperor vikramAditya built the temple in the kali yug.
Troubled times and Hindu Resilience in rebuilding the grat temple of Somnath
This grand temple of Somanath came under the attack of the Muslims several times. In the year 722, Junamad, the Sindh Subedar attacked it for the first time and looted innumerable items from its treasure.
The beautiful statue of Somanath, can be seen from the center because of the miraculous magnetic power. Ghajni Mohammed, destroyed this statue on Friday, the 11th of May 1025 AD. From then onwards, Ghajni Mohammed came to be known as the “Statute Destroyer” (Iconoclast). On that day, he plundered and looted a treasure worth 18 crores.
In 1297 AD, Allauddin Kkhiji sent his Sardar Altaf Khan to Somanath on a mission of destroying and putting down the Somanath Mandir. The Somanath Temple was subjected to series of attacks starting in 1479 AD by Mohammad Begada, Mujaffar Shah, II, in 1503 AD, and finally by Aurangazeb, known to be the most intolerant towards other religions, in 1701 AD, where in, the temple was totally destroyed, plundered and looted in a most horrible way. A large number of people were killed mercilessly and a lot of money stolen
In 1783 AD Sadhvi Alalya devi Holkar, a great devotee of Siva, built a new temple for Somanath after India become independent, the lion of Gujarat, Sardar Vallabhai Patel renovated the Somanath Temple on the advice of Kakashaheb Gadgil of Maharashtra with its revived Indian architectural beauty for which it became an unique example. It drew the attention of the world.
The Somanath JyotirLinga statue was reinstated (Pran Pratishta) on Friday the 11th May 1951 at 9.46 A.M. It was done by the then President of India, Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad, to the tune of the Veda chanting of Vedamurti Tarka Teertha Lakshman Shastri Joshi, in a grand manner.
This primary JyotirLinga located in India, is the cynosure of all Indian pilgrims. It is always crowded with lakhs of devotees. A large number of Sadhus and pious men can be met there. With the offerings of devotees, the Somanath Temple’s grandeur is revived. In spite of being subjected to destruction by intolerants, the faith of Indian devotees, dedication and their love was never destroyed. Shri Somanath JyotirLinga stands as the legendary example of the same.
The temples 15th memorial and the ancient monument located on the sea side of Kahiavad near Prabhaspattan. There are many famous mythological stories attached to them. The sun temple is the most ancient of all. There is no presiding deity in it, but the architecture of temple is so exquisite, that even by seeing the ruins one can imagine.
Saint Agastya, is supposed to have drunk the entire sea near Prabhasapattan. Mythological heroes like Janamejaya, Pandavas, Ravana are supposed to have visited Prabhasapattan Teerth. In the month of Magha (sometime in February) on the day of Shivaratri, Somanath JyotirLinga festival is celebrated with great aplomb.