One of the most beautiful experiences of our lives was when Sanjay and I visited the Somnath Temple in Gujarat, a few days back. The importance of the Somnath Temple is that it is one of the Dwadash (twelve) Jyotirlings (radiant symbols of Lord Shiva). These are places of pilgrimage. The literal meaning of Somnath is Som (Moon) + Nath (Lord), which means Lord of the moon, which is Lord Shiva. The Saakar roop of Shiva always has a crescent Moon on top of His knot of matted hair.
Mythology claims that the temple was built in four phases. The first part was built in gold by the Moon God Som, the second in silver by the Sun God Ravi, the third in sandalwood by Lord Krishna and the fourth in stone by King Bhimadeva. Interestingly, the temple has been mowed down six times by Muslim invaders and was finally built by an initiative taken by the Iron man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1947. The temple is a symbol of the ‘never say die’ spirit of the Indians. The temple consists of the Garbhagriha (inner womb or Sanctum Sanctorum), Sabhamandap (assembly hall) and the Nrityamandapa (hall for dance and celebration during festivals) along with a shikhar (highest point) that stands 150 feet tall. The temple is proof of the fact that the power of creation is superior and ever more powerful than the power of destruction.
Interestingly, the temple is so positioned that as the crow flies, there is no piece of land between the tip of the temple at the banks of the Arabian Sea, and Antarctica at the South Pole.
This place is also called Hari–Har Dhaam and is known so because of the belief of the presence of both Hari and Har or Natwar and Nataraja or Krishna and Shiva! Let me elaborate … This is the place where Lord Krishna after being hit by an arrow, entered the river Hiran at the Sangam or Holy Confluence of three rivers Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati. Krishna proceeded to Vaikuntha Dhaam (His Heavenly Abode) in the form of a streak of lightning in the sky and no rites or rituals were performed for His physical frame. There is a Geeta Mandir and a Lakshmi Narayan Mandir here too. I have narrated just a few pointers to draw your attention to how spiritually charged this land is. Each stone or each speck of sand here resonates to the Hari and Har immanent within.
Coming to our personal experience in this Divine land … the Sun was just beginning to set when we reached the temple premises. From a distance we saw the temple bathed in the light of Lord Som (Moon), gleaming with a Godly golden hue, the aura of which seemed to extend to the vast expanses of the sky. It was a breathtaking sight … something like we had never seen before! We literally ran to make it in time for Aarti. Men and women were to go separate ways. Minutes later, I found myself standing within a few feet of what was one of the most beautiful Shivlingams I have ever seen. The lingam was so overpowering, that it was impossible to take my eyes off it. Whoever had done the shringhaar, had done a stupendous job. The carved back drop, the door, the ceiling … everything was shining gold! The atmosphere was amazingly charged. Each breath was like breathing Divinity in. The Aarti was not sung; it was played on a flute, with the beating of drums. Here too the jugalbandi of the flute and the drums was symbolic of Hari and Har! As I stood there, drinking in the Divinity, I turned towards the men’s side to look for Sanjay and found him too, to be in the same tizzy as I was. We were surrounded by thousands of devotees, thronging the Sanctum Sanctorum, most of them overwhelmed with devotion, some smiling some crying, some calm some ecstatic, all huddled together, cutting across caste, creed and colour. There were some foreigners too. People from cross sections of society, both young and old; but all bathed in devotion of the Lord.
The experience of having gotten there was exhilarating yet humbling. And I closed my eyes and prayed from the deepest recesses of my heart. I could feel the vibrations run through each atom of my body as I felt the Anhad Naad, the cosmic sound of OM pulsate through my entire being. A voice deep inside me prayed, “Oh Lord! Give me something that I can take home with me from here; some token of your blessing or Prasadam that I can share with my children, my family and friends.” And then He whispered, “Material possessions are but transient. If you can; then take this aura … this ambience; this feeling that is flowing through your heart; this feeling that is overflowing through your eyes; this love and devotion that you are soaked in at this moment … carry this with you. I have given it to you; now you in turn go and share it with yours!!!”
Truly, God is everywhere. He is present in the atom as well as in the entire cosmos. But in certain places, we are able to experience Him more, because these places are sanctified by the penance done by sages and devotees who have prayed here since time immemorial.
The Lord blessed me by giving me this Divine experience; I in turn have shared the ecstasy with you. I have done my part by narrating this to you in the ‘pay it forward circle of life’. Will you? If you have the time and the inclination, do go to Somnath Temple and partake of the bliss … you shall not regret it!
Om Namaha Shivaya! Om Sri Hari Narayanaya Namaha!
Originally published at priya.tandonindia.com.
Originally published at medium.com