I have great pleasure in wiriting this Foreword for the Sanskrit poem Somenatha Mahatmayam composed by Shri Shantikumar J. Bhatt, Sahitya Ratna. Shri Bhatt's interests are indeed very wide and they include Law, Jurnalism, Yoga and Politics. His contrubution to Hindi, Gujarai and Sanskrit literature is also immense and also of quality. The very fact that he was awarded 'Sahitya Ratna' by Shri Shankaracharya, for his Sanskrit work on Saundarya-lahri is an eloquent testimony to his command over Sanskirt.
The presently poem deals with the history of celebrated temple of Somanath which occupies a unique position in the cultural life, not only of Gujarat, but also of the whole of India. The region found about, and the temple, both have a long hisgory going back to the days of Lord Krishna. In Mohamedan times, the temple of Somanath was almost a battle ground. Lord Siva has a unique hold on the Indian mind and it was, therefore, an occasion for general rejoicing and delight when the temple was renovated by the Government of India under the lead of late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Mr. Bhatt narrates all this history in his poem beginning from the days of Lord Krishna to the times of its renovation. Everywhere his style is racy and the language very simple. He has chosen an appropriate metre for a narrative poem and the monotony of the same has been relieved by the employment of other matres as well. Among the narrative poems in Sanskrit, produced in modern times, this poem by Shri Bhatt must be regarded as a meritorious performance and his translation in English which accompanies this poem is also equally clear and lucid. The value of this work is farther increased by the inclusion of the Four Stone Inscriptions and their translation. This is a signal service indeed, for otherwise these valuable inscriptions would have been lost to posterity or else remained unknown to the larger reading public. I am certain that the poem will be warmly welcomed by the lovers of Sanskrit and I wish Mr. Bhatt a yet fruitful creative period in times to come.
Lord Somnatha's temple at Prabhas Patan near Veraval
in Saurashtra is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage
since time immemorial. To Hindus God is Divine
Light and Lord Shiva is known as such Divine Light and
hence He is represented in gross form as the symbol of
Light known as Jyotirlinga in Sanskrit. India has such
twelve major places of pilgrimage where Lord Shiva is
worshipped with great respect and ceremonial grandeur.
Lord Shiva who is Divine Light is also the positive principle
behind all creation and so He is represented in a particular
form of an egg. This cosmic egg has the inherent
and potential negative principle known as Primeval
Energy (Adi Shakti) which is represented as Divine Mother,
the Spouse of Lord Shiva. This is why in the temple
of Lord Shiva the icon of Divine Mother known as Uma,
Parvati, Ambika, etc. is installed.
Lord Shiva is also Lord of Cosmic Time principle.
In Hinduism the serpent is symbolic of this principle of
Cosmic Time. Hindus, thus are not worshippers of
serpents and animals as ordinarily misunderstood and
misrepresented by scholars who lack in deep and critical
insight into Hindu philosophy.
A metalic or an earthen pitcher is hung over this
serpent and drop by drop water falls on it from the
pitcher symbolising the fact that the pitcher of the universe is
full of Time which is passing out gradually Lord Shiva is
also symbolic of Divine Fire. The drops of water from the
pitcher keep the Divine Fire under control, by constantly
When one enters the temple of Lord Shiva, one finds
on the left side the icon of Lord Ganesha the younger son
of Lord Shiva. Lord Ganesha is symbolic of goodness.
When a Hindu worships Lord Ganesha, he worships the
principle of goodenss and' tries to inculcate the same in
his life. He doesn't worship some elephant-God of strange
form as believed by the mis-informed. Such goodness is the
part of the personality of Lord Shiva. This is why Lord
Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva. On the right side and
opposite the icon of Lord Ganesha one finds the icon of
Lord Hanumana, the greatest devotee of Lord Rama. If
goodness is the part of Lord Shiva such goodness would be
meaningless if there is no strength to uphold, sustain and
introduce it everywhere. This is why Lord Hanumana
has found an honourable place in Lord Shiva's temple. It
shows Lord Shiva's love for Lord Hanumana.
When one goes farther, one finds the statue of a
bull facing Shiva Lingam. The bull is symbolic of
strength dedicated to God. Hindus worship strength which
is dedicated only to Lord Shiva.
In front of the bull one finds the form of the tortoise
on the floor. The tortoise is symbolic of control over senses
under adverse circumstances.
Thus when a Hindu goes to the temple, he doesn't
go there to worship something primitive, brutal, gross,
meaningless and senseless but he worships there the
highest human virtues symbolised by different icons. He
is not so senseless as to worship different forms of stones,
wood -or metals but through such forms he tries to
inculcate the virtues attached to them, in his own life.
Such worship has kept Hinduism fully alive today.
In India holy places are situated usually on the lap
of Nature-on the mountains, on river-banks or on sea-
shores where Nature invigorates, inspires and refreshes the
visitors. The temple of Lord Somnatha is situated just
on the sea-shore and the visitor feels freshness in the air
'and the music of the waves enchants the visitor. Since
time immemorial the temple of Lord Somnatha stands here.
The wrath of Nature and the onslaught of invaders have
disintegrated it into debris again and again and the human
will to create has built it again and again. This process
of construction and destruction has continued till today
and the present temple of Lord Somnatha is almost
completed on the old site through the inspiring genius
of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the munificent donations
by the royal family of Nawanagar State. Late Maharajah
Digvijaysinha of Nawanagar State and present Rajmata
Gulabkunverba have played a major part of being the
saviour of this temple. Their financial bounties and active
association with every stage of reconstruction of this
temple of Lord Somnatha have raised the temple of to-day
with exquisite architecture and sculpture. The faith and
financial assistance by the devotees from all over India
have speeded up this progress.
Judged from the modern view-point Lord Shiva is the
first socialist who received the minimum from the society and
gave maximum. His was a democratic government and
gave dignified place to the downtrodden tribals of the
Himalayas. He tried to please and correct the anti-
social elements known as demons but when they trans-
gressed all social obligations, He managed to eliminate
them ruthlessly. He condemned hypocrisy in religion
and managed to destroy the royal religious function
arranged by Daksha, His father-in-law as it turned out to
be a show-piece where Daksha's kiths and kins where kept
away because of so-called social pride. He was the first
God who wanted to establish a classless, casteless demo-
cratic and socialistic society. He loves the devotees but
He has greater love for those who are in difficulties or who
.are in a mood of penitence. He expects no outward show.
His worship is very simple and His temples almost in
every village of India are the simplest structures. The
illiteratre, the outcast, the tribal, the' aboriginal are all
His worshippers. Even scholars find sometbing in Lord
Shiva that invites their love. Truth, Gob-dness and Beauty
are the cardinal principles of Hinduism and Lord Shiva
represents the principle of Goodness. His very name
Lord Shiva is known also as Lord Somnatha, the Lord
of the Moon because of the Pauranic and mythological
tales about the moon being associated with Him. Prabhas
Patan, the holy place where the temple of Lord Somnatha
is situated has been the stage of many exploits, adven-
tures and misadventures of gods, demons and human be-
ings. I have tried to record them all,not as a historian
but only with my poetic and spiritual fervour.
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