Mahadev or Lord Shiva is of the foremost importance in Hinduism. He is the main pillar of the holy trinity. Jyotirlingas are the divine place of Lord Shiva, where he resides in different forms.
1. Jyotirlinga: Meaning
The word Jyoti means light or radiance and ling or lingam means a sign or image. So, the word Jyotirlinga means the radiant sign of Lord Shiva. The Jyotirlingas are said to have appeared in places where Lord Shiva himself manifested on earth, thus giving them the name of Swayambhu, meaning self-manifested. Each Jyotirlinga is considered to be a different manifestation of Lord Shiva. In this article, we will narrate to you the story behind the first of the twelve Jyotirlinga.
2. Somnath Jyotirlinga
The Somnath Jyotirlinga, which is considered to be the first of the 12 jyotirlingas situated in Gujarat and reconstructed several times in the past. After repeated destruction by several Muslim invaders and rulers. It is unclear when the first version of the Somnath temple was built. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt 16 times and was well known to be one of the richest temples in the history of Hinduism.
3. Somnath Jyotirlinga’s Origins
The story behind the origin of the temple goes as follows. According to Shiva Purana, Chandra or the moon was the son of Athvi and Ansuya. He was married to the 27 daughters of Prajapati Daksh, while giving the hand of his 27 daughters in marriage to Chandra, Daksha asked Chandra for a promise.
He asked Chandra to love and treat all his 27 daughters equally to which Chandra obliged, after some time of his marriage, Chandra, grew especially fond of one of his wives Rohini. He spent most of his time with her and ignored his other wives, on seeing the preference given to Rohini the other 26 daughters of Daksha became unhappy. They went to their father, Daksha, and narrated the whole situation. On seeing the partiality and injustice done to his 26 daughters Daksha was infuriated in his anger. He cursed the moon to lose his shine and luster and eventually fade away to death. The dying Chandra did not know what to do and pleaded with Daksha to take his curse back, but it was too late.
4. Chandra’s prayer to Lord Shiva
Chandra went to Lord Brahma to ask for help Brahma advised Chandra that he can get liberated from the curse if he pleases Lord Shiva by chanting his Mahamrityunjaya mantra. Holding on to the slim ray of hope, Chandra, went to the famed holy ground Prabhas Patan, established a Linga, and prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with Chandra’s devotion, Shiva appeared and said, though I cannot reverse Daksha's curse, I can soften it to some extent. From this day onwards, you will increase in brightness for 15 days in Shukla paksha and then weigh in for 15 days in the Krishna paksha. You will fill the world with your radiance on the full moon nights and disappear on the new moon days.
5. By wearing Crescent Moon Shiva came to be known as Chandrashekhar
Chandra was disappointed at the thought of waxing and waning. His crescent shape would just be a constant reminder of the curse and his reduced strength. Shiva consoled him by offering to wear the crescent moon in his hair, to show his devotees that they were dear to him even in their lowest moments. Thus, Shiva came to be known as Chandrashekhar or the one with Chandra mounted on his head. From then on, Lord Shiva assumed the name Somachandra and resided in this place, eternally. Eventually, the temple came to be known by the name: Somnath, meaning the god of the moon on getting Shiva’s blessings. The moon regained its light, and this is why this town is also referred to as Prabhas.
It is said that the original Somnath temple was built by the moon in pure gold and later rejuvenated by Ravana, in silver, by Krishna, in sandalwood, and finally, by Bhima Dev. In stone thereafter, this temple was raided multiple times by invaders. In the medieval centuries, the latest temple is made of reddish-yellow stones.