The Somnath Temple in Gujarat is one of the most revered and ancient temples in India. It holds great religious and historical significance. The legend associated with the Somnath Temple revolves around Lord Shiva and the temple’s establishment.
According to Hindu mythology, Somnath Temple is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva. The legend goes like this:
Long ago, there was a devout devotee of Lord Shiva named King Moonja. He was childless and yearned for an heir to his throne. In his quest for a child, he and his queen, Rani Prabha, performed rigorous penance and pleased Lord Shiva. Pleased with their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before them and offered them a boon.
King Moonja and Queen Prabha requested a son, but Lord Shiva had a different plan. He granted them a son, but also foretold that the son would bring about their downfall. Despite this prophecy, the couple was overjoyed and named their son Sudarshan.
As Sudarshan grew, he became arrogant and power-hungry. He rebelled against his own parents, dethroned his father, and took over the kingdom. He became a tyrant and waged wars against other kingdoms. His atrocities angered the gods, and they sought Lord Shiva’s intervention.
Lord Shiva, accompanied by other divine beings, descended to the earth to stop Sudarshan’s rampage. A great battle ensued between Sudarshan and Lord Shiva. Eventually, Lord Shiva defeated Sudarshan and restored peace. However, in the process, Sudarshan was killed.
To atone for the sin of killing a Brahmin (Sudarshan), Lord Shiva decided to cleanse himself of the sin by establishing a Jyotirlinga at Prabhas Patan (now known as Somnath) on the western coast of Gujarat. The word “Somnath” means “The Lord of the Soma,” signifying Lord Shiva’s connection with the moon. It is said that the temple was originally built by Lord Brahma himself and later rebuilt by Lord Rama after its destruction.
Other Legends of Somnath Temple
- The legend associated with the Somnath Temple in Gujarat is that it was built by the Moon god, Chandra. Chandra had been cursed by his father-in-law, Daksha Prajapati, to lose his luster. To regain his luster, Chandra came to Prabhas Patan and prayed to Lord Shiva. Shiva was impressed by Chandra’s devotion and freed him from the curse. Chandra, out of gratitude, built a Jyotirlingam at the site, which later became famous as the Somnath Temple.
- Another legend associated with the Somnath Temple is that it was rebuilt by Ravana, the king of Lanka. Ravana was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and wanted to build a temple for him that would be the most magnificent in the world. He traveled to Prabhas Patan and built a silver temple for Lord Shiva.
- The Somnath Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries. It has been attacked by Muslim invaders, including Mahmud of Ghazni and Alauddin Khilji. However, the temple has always been rebuilt by Hindu rulers, who have defied all attempts to destroy it.
- The Somnath Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world. It is believed that a visit to the Somnath Temple can absolve even the most serious sins. The temple is also believed to be a place where wishes are granted.
Today, the Somnath Temple is a magnificent structure made of white marble. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Gujarat.