The Vedic Puranas have the mentioning of the jyotirlingas. There are twelve Primary Jyotirlingas in total. Somnath Temple is the foremost and the oldest Jyotirlinga mentioned in the Skanda Puran, Shreemad Bhagavad, Shiv Puran, and many more. The Shiva Purana and the Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram says:
सौराष्ट्रदेशे विशदेऽतिरम्ये ज्योतिर्मयं चन्द्रकलावतंसम । भक्तिप्रदानाय कृपावतीर्णं तं सोमनाथं शरणं प्रपद्ये ।।
He who has descended in Saurashtra and allowed worshiping him. He who wears Moon on his forehead as an ornament. I go to the shelter of Lord Shri Somnath, who is in the form of Jyotirlinga.
The Somnath Temple, situated in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India, has its significance as the first Jyotirlinga. The temple located at the shore of the Arabian Sea has an ancient story associated with it.
The ancient story behind the construction of the Somnath Temple
As per the ancient story, Lord Chandra (Moon) got married to twenty-seven daughters of Prajapati Daksha, the mind-born son of Lord Brahma. However, among all of his wives, he favored Rohini the most. All the other wives did not like this impartial behavior of their husband, Lord Chandra. They decided to take this issue forward to Prajapati Daksha. On hearing the sadness of his daughters, Pajapati Daksha decided to confront Lord Chandra to make him realize that he cannot get impartial with his affections towards all of his wives.
Several times Prajapati Daksha tried his best to make his son-in-law realize his mistake, but all in vain. He got impatient and became angry. Out of his anger, he cursed Lord Chandra that he will lose his luster. As soon as everyone came to know about the curse, they got scared. Without the presence of moonlight, the world would get filled with darkness.
When all the gods and rishi munis went to Lord Brahma to abolish the curse, Lord Brahma denied stating that it cannot get undone. However, he advised Lord Chandra to pray to Lord Shiva. By taking the advice of Lord Brahma, Lord Chandra started praying to Lord Shiva by worshipping the Shiva Linga that he established in Saurashtra, Gujarat.
The prayers of Lord Chandra pleased Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed him and retracted the curse of Prajapati Daksha, and got known as Someshwar or Somnath. After that day, the Moon showcases different phases. Since then, the brighter lunar fortnight became Shukla Paksha and the darker lunar fortnight became Krishna Paksha. And, Lord Chandra constructed the Somnath Temple as a gesture of thankfulness to Lord Shiva for retracting the curse. He built the temple using gold in the Satya Yuga.
History of Somnath Temple and the levitating Jyotirlinga
The moon god himself constructed the first temple. The date of the establishment got lost in antiquity. The current structure of the temple got built in the year 1995. According to several archeological surveys, the Somnath Jyotirlinga initially used to levitate in mid-air. An intense science is there behind the mystically floating Jyotirlinga. The Somnath temple has withstood many attacks by foreign invaders in the past.
A 13th century Persian Geographer and traveler Zakariya al-Qazwini mentioned Somnath Temple in his book, “Wonders of Creation.” Mahmud Ghaznavi, a Turkish invader, attacked Bharat to covert and establish Islam in the region. He attacked Bharat many times and succeed to an extent. He attacked the prosperous cities and temples of Bharat. While fulfilling his evil purpose, he also attacked Somnath Temple in 1025.
Thousands of Hindus got killed who stood against the demolition of the Somnath temple. Mahmud Ghaznavi ordered his men to seize all the treasures worth millions during that time.
Next, Mahmud Ghaznavi moved towards the Somnath Jyotirlinga floating in mid-air between the floor and the roof. Mahmud Ghanavi and his men were bewildered at sight. He enquired his attendants behind the reason for this levitating Shivlinga and what to do with it. Everyone gave their opinion and theories. Some said the Jyotirlinga hanged in mid-air with invisible support or rope. Ghaznavi ordered his men to investigate if there was any support that held the Jyotirlinga in mid-air. They failed to find any mechanism supporting the Jyotirlinga. One of his attendants came up with exceptional detail.
He explained to Mahmud Ghanavi that the creation of the Canopy of the Jyotirlinga took place using loadstone (magnetite), and the Jyotirlinga has a metal similar to iron. It explained the science behind the floating Jyotirlinga. Mahmud Ghaznavi threw his sword towards the Canopy after listening to the theory given by his attendant. Surprisingly, his sword got stuck to the Canopy. The Canopy was indeed a permanent magnet that held the Jyotirlinga in mid-air with its powerful magnetic force.
The planning of the astonishing architecture was in such a way that the magnetic force gets equally balanced both in the upward and downward direction. Mahmuda ordered his men to remove the loadstone from the Canopy. The Jyotirlinga gradually came down with the removal of loadstone. The Somnath temple was under attack by the invaders many times, but the temple stood out as the core symbol of strength.
Our Ancient science was very much advanced during that time that even today, it surprise modern scientists. Apart from Somnath Temple, many ancient temples in India still spin the heads of modern researchers. It showcases the level of skills and techniques that our ancestors used to build these ancient marvels.