Light and Sound Show Somnath

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An outline for the script of the sound and light show at the somanath Temple, Saurashtra, based on the episodes given in the brief. (revised as per suggestions made by Ms. Chandni Luthra)

A Brief Introduction: The Somnath temple, standing serenely at the tip of the paisley-shaped Kathiawar peninsula, is one of the most celebrated shrines of Shiva in India - in tradition, history and in the modern context.

One of the twelve holy Jyotirlingas in India – the first named by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya in his famous Dwadashajyotirlinga Stotra – it has witnessed several eras of unimaginable riches and power since the Vedic era, interspersed with devastation and desecration.  

Mythology tells us about the divine origin of the glorious temple built by Soma, the moon god and the rich city of Prabhas Patan around it. Prabhas Patan has been described in Indian scriptures as an exceptional field of energy which was the land sanctified by great men of meditation even before the temple came to be. Tradition also tells us that this land was sacred not only to Lord Shiva, but also to Lord Krishna, whose kingdom of the Golden Dwarka stood nearby. Tradition narrates how Lord Krishna’s end came near Somnath at Bhalka Tirth, when the Yadavas fought amongst themselves and destroyed their own race..  

History tells us that the site of the temple was a bustling trade centre with a busy port called Prabhas Patan. The temple of Somnath was built by powerful kings of many dynasties with the help of traditional architects and artists beginning with the Vedic age. Through the millennia, its glory and splendour grew to such an extent, that the whole world knew about its unimaginable riches. The result was that the temple was pillaged and destroyed by invaders era after era, leaving a trail of devastation behind. However, being one of the most unique holy places in the world visited by millions of people from all over the world, the Somnath temple was reconstructed at least seven times during the last two millenniums and brought back to its original glory.

In modern times, it was last rebuilt after India achieved Independence in August, 1947 by some of the pioneers of India’s Independence under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhhai Patel, the ‘Iron Man of India”. The Sardar – together with the Maharaja Jamsaheb Digvijaysinghji of Nawanagar, the then Central Minister Kakasaheb Gadgil, Shri K M Munshi and Shri U N Dhebar, the chief minister of Saurashtra State – visited Prabhas Patan and Somnath soon after Independence and was so moved by the desolate and ruined condition of the temple, that on 13th November 1947 – the Hindu New Year day after Diwali – in a now-immortal gesture, he picked up a handful of water from the nearby Arabian Sea and took an oath to reconstruct the temple and install the holy Shiva Jyotirlinga there in its full glory once again.  

“The temple is,” as Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, said while addressing a mammoth gathering on the seashore at the inauguration of the temple, “a tribute to the spirit of reconstruction for which India stands. The dream of Sardar Patel will become true when the life of the people of Independent India is reconstructed just like this spectacular temple.”  

Today, the temple, standing majestically at the tip of the Gujarat peninsula, occupies a special place in the hearts of millions of Indians because of its antiquity and its aura of purity, sanctity and eternity. It is modern India’s shrine, visited by millions of people of all faiths as one of India’s greatest historic monuments.

Against this background of mystique, mythology, history and modernity, the various episodes of the Sound and Light Show at the shrine have been planned to highlight all facets of the historic site. The show will weave the three strands of the narrative – mythical, historical and modern – to put together the fabric of the story of Somnath in the most spectacular manner.

Episode I: To begin with, the mantra from the Rigveda, mandala 9, 113 – 115 (Yatra Ganga cha Yamuna) will be recited. Through the musical strains, the ocean will establish its presence as the sutradhar or narrator of the entire story of Somnath – its mythology, history and modern significance.  

With the sound of roaring waves, its turbulence on the surface and its soundless depths (which can be likened to the mind and soul of a human being), which hold the very secret of life, the ocean will briefly tell the story of the birth of Soma, a jewel among the fourteen gifts of the Kshirasagara, churned by the gods in search of the nectar of immortality. Soma, or the moon, is the giver of light and peace. The moon or Soma is eternal and so is the ocean. Both, in this primeval sense, have been sentinels to the timeless history of the shrine of Somnath and its repeated resurrection through the millennia. Here, in the narration of the ocean, the shloka from the Rig Veda, which is the stuti of Somnath, will be recited.

Episode II: Like all deities of Indian mythology, Soma or the moon also has been the subject of several legends. Here the story of Chandra (Soma) becoming the son-in-law of Daksha Prajapati by marrying the 27 Nakshatras or constellations will be narrated. Views of galaxies, stellar constellations, the movements of planets etc will accompany the narration. The legend says that several Nakshatras complained to Daksha that Soma was partial to Rohini, his favourite wife who gave birth to a son named Budha. Angered and always willing to pick fights with his sons-in-law, Daksha cursed Soma that he would vanish from the firmament, thus plunging the world in darkness. Upon appeasement, Daksha conceded that if Soma bathed in the confluence of the three rivers emptying in the ocean in the hallowed Prabhas Kshetra and then prayed to Shiva, he would be saved from the curse and wax and wane during the two fortnights of a lunar month but never vanish from the sky. Soma fulfilled these conditions and built a beautiful shrine to Shiva Somnath, meaning the Lord of the Moon in Prabhas. The crescent moon, with its radiance and beauty, also became a permanent adornment of the matted hair of Shiva who was thereafter called Chandrashekhar, Chandramauli and Chandreshwar among other names. The temple, myth says, was built in gold and shone like lustrous sunbeams from afar with its precious gems set in the tall spires and pennants.

Episode III: The glory of the first temple built by Soma is legendary. The lingam was of polished stone, seven feet in height. It was adorned with jewel-encrusted chains of solid gold. It was washed with the water of the Ganga and decorated with flowers from Kashmir. The fifty-six wooden pillars were covered with wrought silver inlaid with precious gems. Golden chandeliers were kept burning night and day.

Episode IV: Though the origin of the first temple of Somnath is shrouded in mystique and myths from Vedic times, over the millennia, the temple became a catalyst of growth in and around the west coast of India. Trade routes brought merchants and visitors from faraway lands to this rich and fertile peninsula and the land prospered with a continuous exchange of ideas, cultures and merchandise. Prabhas Patan truly lived up to its name with the city becoming lustrous with culture, art and riches. Somnath drew the best talent in architecture, sculpture, music, dance and industry. With people of many cultures coming to this prosperous land, the philosophies of the world mingled here and a secular culture was born out of the confluence of ideas. The citizens enjoyed a lifestyle of material, cultural and spiritual riches. Life in Prabhas Patan brought to reality the words of the prayer to Soma in the ninth Mandala of the Rigveda: “Where the celestial light ever shines, where the sun is ever present, in that deathless and undecaying world, place me, Oh Soma, make me immortal in the world where the shrine of heaven stands and where the waters are ever fresh and young. Make me eternal in that heaven where the son of Varuna (Soma), the god of herbs and healing, rules supreme. Make me immortal in that radiant realm which is full of light and joyous felicities…” (This may be recited in the original by the singer).

Episode V: The preceding descriptions of the riches of Somnath come down to us through the Vedas, the Puranas and the various Sanskrit literary works, which are our proud heritage. Mythology says that in the era of the Mahabharat, 1000 BC, Prabhas Kshetra was a great pilgrimage centre. A large number if learned Acharyas lived here. Among them was Soma Sharma, a Pashupat Acharya, who was considered an incarnation of Lord Shiva, also settled in this land. The first Somnath temple was built around the 1st century AD. The second temple, built in the Vallabhi period (5th – 6th century AD), was destroyed around the time of the sack of Vallabhpur by the Arabs around 725 AD. The third temple was constructed around the 8th – 9th century possibly when the Chalukyas of Saurashtra became the feudatories of Gurjara Pratiharas.

Hearing about the temple’s unimaginable wealth, Mahmud Ghazni attacked the temple town and desecrated it totally in 1024 AD. His plunder, say historical records, was beyond the wildest imagination of mankind. Mahmud, say records, took away not only the treasures, but also broke the Lingam into pieces, taking one last piece with him to Ghazni, where he used it as a stepping stone to a mosque so that the ‘true faithful’ would tread upon it every day. Mahmud did not stay back in India; He went away with the treasures and came back repeatedly to loot the temple town whenever it was rebuilt by the succeeding kings and nobles of the kingdom.  

The 4th temple was built by Bhoja Paramara of Malwa and Bheema Chalukya of Anhilvada Patan in 1030 AD. In the eras of the great royal dynasties of Gujarat, the temple of Somnath, like others in several states of India, maintained bevies of dancers, priests, artists and artisans. The priests, numbering hundreds, would conduct the rituals of daily worship, the artists and sculptors would work to embellish the temple and its environs and the dancers or singers would entertain the deity with exquisitely devotional performances. The dancers would be attached to the temple and live in the complex. In Somnath too, hundreds of dancers spent their time creating compositions of fluid movements and expressions in praise of Shiva.

One among them, Chauladevi, was reputed to be more beautiful than all the women, more lissom than the waves of the ocean, more delicate than all the flowers - which were brought from Kashmir for the worship- and more pure than the water of the Ganga, which was brought daily for the sacred Abhishek of the Lingam. The powerful king of Gujarat and builder of Somnath, Bheemdeo, fell hopelessly in love with the Nartaki. Their love story is the theme of many novels, works of fiction, plays and songs in the state of Gujarat even today. The novel Jai Somnath, by K.M.Munshi, one of the promoters of the modern temple, is a paean to this great love story. The 5th temple was reconstructed by Kumarpala, the Chalukyan king of Gujarat with Acharya Bhava Brihaspati being the head of the shrine. For the next few years, temples and mandaps were added to the site.

Episode VI: In 1299 AD, Allauddin Khilji’s Army General, Alaf Khan, attacked the temple town and looted its riches once more, razing the shrine to the ground. It was resurrected again by Mahipala Deva Chudasan of Saurashtra in 1308 AD. The Sultans of Gujarat and Mughal kings continued to attack the temple town again and again. In 1375 AD, Muzzafer Khan, in 1432 AD Sultan Ahmed Shah and in 1469 AD Sultan Mehmud Begada desecrated the temple. The last named ruler tried to convert the temple into a mosque.  

After Emperor Akbar’s conquest of Saurashtra around 1560 AD, Somnath was once more renovated and extensive repairs were carried out. When Aurangzeb became the tyrannical ruler of India, he attempted to desecrate the temple in 1669 and 170l. However, the local Vajja Thakors and the Kings of Saurashtra reconstructed the temple and continued the worship of Somnath. Among those who worked relentlessly to save the temple in this era were valiant people like Hamirji Gohil and Vegadaji Bhil. The bravery of such martyrs provided the background for novels like Jai Somnath and Somnath ni Sakhate by great writers like K M Munshi.  

In the Maratha era, Ahilyabai Holkar, the valiant queen of Indore, rebuilt the temple for the 6th time with access roads and rest houses around it. The legends of bravery associated with the temple and stories about valiant heroes and heroines who participated in the battles for saving Somnath, have won a place of adoration in the folk stories and songs of Gujarat. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the great son of India and freedom fighter, was the last to rebuild the 7th temple immediately after Independence.

Episode VII: Why has Somnath been so precious to the people of India? Why was it rebuilt so many times though thousands of other temples were destroyed too?

Perhaps the secret of the devotion of the people of India to Somnath lies in the study of some of the ancient scriptures. Among the 18 surviving Puranas, is the Skanda Purana, in its seventh section known as Prabhas Khand, describes the geographical boundaries of the region. The Purana narrates the greatness of Somnath and Prabhas as a holy place where pilgrims from far and near could worship and wash away all sins. Somnath also had several other temples built in its environs. For instance, a temple of Sakshi Vinayak Ganesha was built near the Somnath where Ganesha was worshipped as the witness of creation. The assumed date of the construction of this small temple is 1200 AD. It is said that rulers of the Solanki dynasty built this temple in the style of the prevalent court architecture, which they patronised during their reign.

Near the Somnath temple too, stands a mysterious stone foundation. This was probably a shrine devoted to Parvati, the consort of Shiva. No structure of the temple remains today. It is said that in consonance with the Panchayatan theory of Hindu temple architecture, five temples were built around the shrine of Somnath. None of these exist today. It is also said that 12 temples of Surya or the Sun god, who was worshipped by the Solanki dynasty, stood in the Prabhas Kshetra. Consecutive rulers built several shrines in memory of their ancestors or heroes around the main shrine of Somnath which celebrated the victories of the royal rulers of the region.. But, alas, none of these survive today. The relics of this era have continued to create nostalgia in the hearts of generations Indians for the past ages of glory and grandeur. The antiquity of the temple and its spirit of resurgence is a matter of pride to Indians.

The Somnath temple is the world’s most often heartlessly desecrated and bravely reconstructed heritage building. The repeated rebuilding of Somnath, one of the holiest and most venerated temples of India, is a symbol of India’s spiritual strength, the daunting faith of its people and the unshakable power of its magnificent civilisation. It is a symbol of the Indian people’s resistance to rampant destruction and their resilience and power to rebuild their nation.

Episode VIII: Another reason why Somnath has been held in awe by Indians is because it is the first among the Jyotirlingas of Shiva. The greatness and importance of the Somnath Jyotirlinga is consecrated most powerfully in the stotra written by Adi Shankaracharya who composed the stuti to the 12 Jyotirlingas, situated in various holy sites through the length and breadth of India. Here the stotra will be recited and the meaning of the word Jyotirlinga will be explained. Jyoti is the combination of light, divinity, radiance and purity, or life itself. Thus a Jyotirlinga with its primeval fire, is a manifestation of the passion of creation, the power of life and finally, the certainty of inexorable destruction. These concepts, fundamental to the spiritual seeker, have held the devotion and dedication of generations of Indians and have inspired them to recreate the Somnath temple in its pristine glory time and again.

Episode IX: Somnath lives in the heart of millions of Indians for one more reason. The life of Lord Krishna and his clan of Yadavas is also closely associated with Prabhas Patan and Somnath. Ruling from his golden Dwarka, Krishna came to Prabhas Kshetra to worship Somnath when the Yadava clan was driven to destruction by internal conflict and enmity. It is even said that Shri Krishna built the second temple in silver and recreated the glory of Somnath.

Prabhas Kshetra is also the region where Shri Krishna was killed by the poisoned arrow of the hunter Jaras, who mistook him for a deer while he lay under a tree for rest. The arrowhead became thousands of poisonous kusha grass tips, which the Yadavas threw upon each other, to meet a tragic end. Prabhas Kshetra is the land hallowed by the last chapter of the life of Shri Krishna and attracts many Vaishnavs who come here on a pilgrimage to trace the footsteps of the Jagadguru or world teacher, who gave the world the Bhagvad Geeta. Prabhas Kshetra is venerated as a land where many episodes described in the Mahabharata and Bhagwat Purana find their background. For millions of Krishna devotees the world over, this region is holy and sacred. Indeed, Prabhas Kshetra is holy because it is called Hari-Hara Tirtha or the sacred place which venerates two deities: Krishna and Shiva.

Episode X: A glimpse into medieval social history shows that the Somnath temple was so famous that travellers-chroniclers like Al Beruni and Marco Polo, who came to India in the 11th century, wrote extensively about its beauty and wealth. They wrote that whenever the temple was desecrated, architects from various ages and of various styles joined hands to resurrect and recreate the shrine. The communities of people who designed the Somnath temple and lent it newer styles each time were called Sompura shilpakar Brahmins. The community of Brahmins who performed the holy rituals and worship in the shrines remained separate throughout the ages.

The Sompura Brahmins identified themselves with the lineage of Soma the moon. The most recent temple too was designed by Prabhashankar Sompura, who was associated with the famous Jain temples in the nearby Shetrunji Hills in Palitana. He designed the temple according to the traditions of Kailash Mahameruprasad. His descendants, Hariprasad Sompura and Navneet Sompura are living today and continue to proudly carry on with the heritage of the builders of temples in Gujarat. Here, the voices of the architects can be introduced to explain the architectural wonders of the temple, each time it was rebuilt.

Optional Episode XI: In the Vedic pantheon of deities, Rudra represents the ruthlessness of nature. He is said to control the 11 Rudras, which are the Maruts or the godlings of storms and winds. Throughout the ancient tomes of India’s wisdom, culture and faith, Rudra is described as having eleven manifestations. One among them is Hanuman, son of Marut, the wind god, a deity worshipped by millions of Indians today. Maruti’s power originates from purity of heart and single-minded devotion to his lord, Rama.  

In the Brihadaranyaaka Upanishad, the 11 Rudras are described as the 10 vital breaths or pranas of the body, together with the heart or manas being the 11th. In the Vishnu Purana, the 11 Rudras are named as Mrigavyadha, Sarpa, Nirriti, Ajaikapada, Ahirbudhnya, Pinakin, Dahana, Kapalin, Sthanu, Bhaga and Tryambaka. In yet another legend, the additional names of Rudra are: Bhava, Sarva, Ishana, Pashupati, Bhima, Ugra and Mahadeva. As can be seen, several names of Rudra have become the names of Shiva even in modern times. The greatest importance of Rudra is that in later mythology, he evolved into Shiva, one of the deities of the Hindu Trimurti. Shiva is called Rudra in his destructive aspect.

Episode XlI: The land around Somnath is hallowed too. Though the most holy Triveni sangam or the confluence of three sacred rivers is in Prayag or Allahabad of modern India, Prabhas Kshetra too, has its own holy Triveni or confluence of three sacred rivers. The Saraswati, the Hiran and the Kapila rivers meet in a sangam about one kilometre from the town of Somnath. Soma, the moon, the first mythical builder of the golden temple of Somnath, is said to have bathed in this Triveni sangam where the rivers meet the ocean and then worshipped Shiva to get his release from the curse of Daksha. These waters are considered holy from Vedic times and continue to attract thousands of devotees every year.

As if all this mystique was not enough to make Somnath a unique place in the world, there is yet another magical, natural phenomenon which attracts millions to the shrine. When the moon, called the lord of the stars and constellations, enters Krittika or the Orion constellation in the month of Kartik (November), on the full moon day or purnima, it rises exactly in front of the temple and stands exactly over the spire of the temple at 12 midnight. The annual all night mela (huge gathering of devotees) is celebrated here to honour the moon, here known as Nakshatranath Chandra. The full moon of the month of Kartik is also known as Tripurari Purnima and is celebrated with a dip in the holy waters of rivers and seas around India, the ocean and rivers near Somnath being popular among pilgrims..

Episode XIII: Somnath is the site of yet another wonder of nature. Outside the temple, when one stands in the courtyard and looks straight towards the turbulent ocean alongside, one sees a simple little pole of unknown, ancient origin. Though somewhat insignificant to look at, this mini structure is unique for a phenomenon found nowhere else in the whole world. This is the specific point in Prabhas Kshetra, from where the ocean stretches straight to the South Pole beyond the Antarctic, without being obstructed by any land mass. The pole marks one of the few places on his earth from where the ocean touches India and the South Pole in one galactic sweep of dancing water.

Episode XIV: The present day temple was constructed after India became independent in 1947. Through the 250 years of British rule, the ruins of the temple lay scattered around though the Lingam was worshipped by thousands of devotees. It was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the great freedom fighter and the first home minister of independent India, who gathered like-minded people around him to form a founding patrons’ group to resurrect the temple, which has been the object of devotion for millions for centuries. With the help of Morarji Desai, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Kanhaiyalal Munshi, he made plans to build the temple with the help of the Sompura Shilpakars.

His action of taking a handful of the water of the ocean and taking an oath to complete the temple has held tremendous emotional appeal for the people of India who consider that gesture to represent the resolve of Indians to rebuild their heritage and their nation with determination and dedication.

Episode XVI: The modern story of the rebuilding of Somnath should interest post Independence generations of Indians as well as thousands of visitors who come to see this wonder of resurgence. Sardar Patel’s words: On the auspicious day of New Year, we have resolved that the Somnath temple should be reconstructed. “This is our noble duty and everyone should participate in it” reverberated throughout India. People in the region responded with cries of joy ‘Jai Somnath’.  

Mahatma Gandhi, whose advice the Sardar sought, said that the temple should be built with people’s money, that a trust should be formed to undertake the job. Accordingly, a trust was formed in 1949 with generous donations from the Jamsaheb, Nanji Kalidas and other philanthropists. The journey of reconstruction began with the help of the archaeological department. Simultaneously, the work of excavation of the ruins and archaeological research began under the guidance of K M Munshi and others. In 1950, the trust deed of the Somnath Trust was executed. It empowered the trustees to develop Bhalka and Dehotsarg Krishnatirtha along with the rebuilding of Somnath.  

A Sanskrit university was also set up to develop Somnath as a centre for learning Vedic and other scriptures. U N Dhebar performed the bhoomi poojan on 19th April 1950. President Dr. Rajendra Prasad performed the Pranpratishtha Vidhi of the Jyotirlinga on 11th May 1951. Holy water from all oceans and rivers was brought for the Abhishek of the Lingam.

Unfortunately, Sardar Patel, whose vision and resolve turned the dream of Somnath reconstruction into reality, was not alive when the inauguration took place. He passed away on 15th December 1950. Fourteen years later, when the construction of the Sabhamandap was completed, the ceremony of Dhwajarohan and Kalashapratishtha were performed on 13th May l965.

EPISODE XVII: Today, Somnath is once again a bustling centre for culture, learning, art and devotion for millions. President Shankar Dayal Sharma, who dedicated the completed temple to the nation in 1995, also dedicated the Nrityamandap, started in 1970, to the great dancers of the Somnath temple. To honour the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a life-size bronze statue has been erected in front of the Digvijay Dwar. The statue stands in such a way that the Sardar’s eyes have the holy Darshan of the deity every hour of the day. A grand entrance was added to the temple in memory of Jamsaheb Digviaysinhji of Navanagar who made great contributions to the rebuilding of the temple.  

The story of the reconstruction of Somnath would not be complete without due credit being given to Shri Morarji Desai who was chairman of the trust from 1967 to 1995. He worked relentlessly to complete every aspect of the temple. His remains were immersed in the Triveni Ghat which has since been named after him. Under the leadership of Jaikrishna Harivallabhdas, the Trust started the golden jubilee celebrations of the temple in 2001. The development of the temple and the kshetra continues ceaselessly. Presently, there is a plan which envisages four years of growth. It will cost Rs.25 crores and upgrade pilgrim facilities and add several features to the temple. Conservation of the forests and wild life around the area and creation of a green and healthy environment around the region has also been a major achievement of the Trust. Many well-known as well as nameless donors have helped to create the modern temple of Somnath. It is therefore truly a monument to the strength of the people of India and a litany in praise of our spiritual heritage.

Episode XVIII: There are hardly any relics of the original temple of Somnath. Destroyed several times, and reconstructed seven times, the present day temple is built mostly in the Solanki style of architecture. There are sculptures on the pillars and spire of the main temple rises against the backdrop of the ocean bordering the Kathiawar peninsula. There is a smaller shrine, which was built during the era of Ahilyabai Holkar. In architecture, the present day temple takes inspiration from the surviving temples of the Solanki and other dynasties and has similar embellishments like the sun temple of Modhera or the ancient Shiva temple excavated near Palanpur.

Episode XIX: Prabhas Kshetra, the region where the Somnath temple stands, has a history which is imbued with antiquity even before the temple. According to scriptures, the region stretches from the Bhadravati river to the sea. Girnar, a holy peak at the meeting point of the Sahyadris and the Vindhyas, with its holy shrines of Dattatreya and Shiva, are included in this Kshetra. In the Skanda Puran, which is also referred to as the Yatra Puran, the Kshetra is mentioned in the seventh khand as the sacred region, which combines the energies of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It is a land of luminescence, divine energy and represents creation, manifestation and destruction, which are the essential properties of life. The holiness and sanctity of the region precedes the fame of the temple of Somnath.

Episode XX: The Girnar mountain near the Prabhas Kshetra is imbued with equal holiness and sanctity. Here stands the shrine Ashtamurti Bhaveshwar, which is described in the Shiva Mahimna Stotra written by the poet Pushpadanta of medieval India. Here, Shiva is the powerful deity with three eyes – the sun, the moon and Agni or fire. Pushpadanta’s story may be narrated here as the author of one most celebrated stotras on Shiva. Pushpadanta, legend says, was a Yaksha in the service of Shiva, and assigned to collect flowers for the worship and rituals of Shiva. He once became struck with the arrows of cupid and was lax in his duty. The flowers he brought contained bees, which stung Shiva. He was cursed that he would be born as a mere mortal and goes through the cycle of life and death like all human beings. Upon prayers and prostrations, Shiva relented and said that as a human being, Pushpadanta would become a poet and would write one of the greatest songs in praise of Shiva. Thereby, he would be restored to Kailas, the realm of Shiva.  

Shiva Mahimna Stotra, a unique Sanskrit composition, which is a rich treasure of imagery and beautiful language, is a popular subject of research for scholars and devotees who recite it every day. Here selected stanzas – the most famous ones – may be recited by the singers.

Episode XXI: Every temple has a traditional aarti, a composition sung by devotees – singly or in groups – as they perform or join in rituals performed by the priests. Aarti is the climax of the rituals and symbolises the gift of radiance to mankind from divinity. The Somnath temple also has its own aarti, which is used at dawn, in the afternoon and at sunset for completing the day’s pre-determined order of rituals. The aarti is sung with the clanging of temple bells and other musical instruments. The words are sung in praise of the deity and create an aura of peace, single-minded attention to the deity and an experience of bliss.

Every day, at regular times, the auspicious sounds of the cymbals, bells and the voices of the devotees waft out over the scented air from the temple out to the ocean. The turbulent ocean – omniscient, yet silent - continues to witness the daily rituals for thousands of years. As the constant devotee of Shiva, he salutes the lord of the moon – Somnath – and continues to create his own Anahata Naada, or heavenly music, in eternal praise of the all-powerful Shiva!  

(The show ends with the resonant rhythm of the waves, receding in the distance with an overlay of nostalgic music.)

Also see
1. Pictures of Somnath Mandir 
2. Temple site