Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatra - Jan 2009
Ambi Tame Nadi Tame Devi Tame Saraswati sang the Vedic seers! This means that: “You are the mother, You are the river, You are the goddess, oh Saraswati”. Very aptly, the Tercentenary Commemoration of Shri Chitrapur Math began with the Kurukshetra Saraswati Yatra to Adi Badri, the Udgam Sthal of River Saraswati Yatra and one of the concluding events was the Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatra at Prabhas Patan near Somnath where River Saraswati meets Sindhu Sagar (Indian Ocean).
Ambi Tame Nadi Tame Devi Tame Saraswati
By Core Team, Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatra – Ahmedabad
Ambi Tame Nadi Tame Devi Tame Saraswati sang the Vedic seers! This means that: “You are the mother, You are the river, You are the goddess, oh Saraswati”.
Very aptly, the Tercentenary Commemoration of Shri Chitrapur Math began with the Kurukshetra Saraswati Yatra to Adi Badri, the Udgam Sthal of River Saraswati Yatra and one of the concluding events was the Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatra at Prabhas Patan near Somnath where River Saraswati meets Sindhu Sagar (Indian Ocean).
Param Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji reached Ahmedabad on the evening of 23rd January 2009 for an exclusive interface with the Ahmedabad Sabha. It was a spiritually scintillating experience not only for the bhanaps of Ahmedabad and Gujarat but also for the local Ahmedabadi devotees who turned up to take darshan of Param Pujya Swamiji – and more so to witness the poojas being performed by Param Pujya Swamiji.
Come 26th January, and the Yatris started arriving. Dr. Jagdish Gandhi, the well known ‘Saraswatilogist’ spoke to the Yatris, and showed a film on River Saraswati.
The Yatra began on 26th with a visit to Rani-ki-vav or the Queens Step Well. It lies on the left bank of River Saraswati near Anahilwad-Patan, the ancient capital of Gujarat. The architectural brilliance and elegance of this vav, is represented in its pristine glory in the ornamental work. The step well was buried for centuries and suffered damage in past due to neglect and floods of River Saraswati. Till 1970's nobody knew that there existed the most ornate and highly sculptured vav. At this time, the vav was completely filled up except the top most portion of the well. Rani-ki-vav is now into the custody of Archaeological Survey of India as a protected monument of national importance. This buried beauty is expected be enlisted as an UN heritage monument by 2010.
At Rani-ki-vav there is a small gate below the last step of the step well which has a 25 kilometer tunnel built (Now it is blocked by stones and mud) which leads to Rudra Mahalaya in the town of Sidhpur - the next destination for the Yatris.
Sidhpur is one of the holiest places in North Gujarat for the Hindus. Here at the banks of River Saraswati, Vishnu Avtar Bhagwan Parshuram (also known as the protector of Saraswats) first performed Matru Shraddha and every year thousands gather here to perform Matru Shraddha. A very special visit was arranged for Param Pujya Swamiji to Rudra Mahalaya, another protected monument under ASI. As mentioned in Param Pujya Swamiji’s address later on, Rudra Mahalaya was eleven storey high and stood on 1600 pillars. Rudra Mahalaya had 108 Shiva Temples of which only two exist now – one being of our Aradhya Daivat, Lord BhavaniShankar. Param Pujya Swamiji spoke to the people of Sidhpur and also the Yatris in a mix of four languages – Gujarati, English, Hindi and Konkani!
The Yatris returned to Ahmedabad for a strenuous journey the next morning to Somnath via Nal Sarovar. Believe it or not – even senior Yatris started waking up enthusiastically at 2.30 am to get ready for the journey which was to commence at 4.00am! And by 4.10am all the buses departed for Nal Sarovar! The traditional discipline of Chitrapur Saraswats was loudly visible.
Nal Sarovar, a repository of River Saraswati was like a fairyland out of a story book - lit with stars. A clear sky enhanced the beauty of Nal Sarovar. Appreciation of one of nature’s grand spectacles, of the early morning scene at Nal Sarovar only comes to sensitive souls - like those of the Yatris. Yatris who were requested to maintain pin drop silence savored the lovely noises of the chirping birds which gather at Nal Sarovar to escape the extreme winters of the European countries. Maa Saraswati, like a loving mother, ecstatically gives them shelter during these harsh months!
An informal talk by Dr. Jagdish Gandhi in the mini-amphitheatre threw a lot of light on Nal Sarovar. A large array of birds perched on the trees also patiently listened to Dr. Gandhi! Possibly they have a story to tell after their return to Europe and Siberia.
After this grand display of nature, the Yatris proceeded to their final destination – Prabhas Patan and Somnath. According to legend, Somnath is as old as creation, built by none other than the Moon God himself. The remains of the temple of Somnath withstood the shocks of time and survived the attacks of destroyers.
Early morning on 29th January 2009, at 5.45 am, the Yatris started assembling at New Somnath Mandir, patiently waiting for the doors to open. The entry into the temple was amazing. The Yatris squatted in the Sabha Mandap and started resonating melodious bhajans praising the Creator of Universe and awaiting the arrival of His Representative-on-Earth, Param Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji.
No sooner Param Pujya Swamiji entered the Temple precincts, a hush silence of reverence fell and the 7.00 am Maha-Arti commenced. Param Pujya Swamiji later visited the Old Somnath temple to pay obeisance. This temple built by the Maratha Queen, Rani Ahilyadevi has the Shiva Linga underground as if to keep it in safe custody from future marauders.
Later Param Pujya Swamiji along with the Yatris visited Bhalka Teerth. Bhalka Teerth is a sacred spot situated between Somnath and the Veraval Port. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Krishna was mistaken for a deer and shot by an arrow in the foot by Jara the Bhil hunter, while Lord Krishna was sleeping. The temple depicts this scene accurately.
The highpoint of the Yatra was the visit to Triveni Sangam at Prabhas Patan, where Rivers Hiranya and Kapila from the surface and River Saraswati from beneath the ground meet Sindhu Sagar (wrongly known as Arabian Sea). Soma, the moon, the first builder of the golden temple of Somnath, is said to have bathed in this Triveni Sangam 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. Param Pujya Swamiji sat in meditation praying to Maa Saraswati for the well-being of the human race in general and the Chitrapur Saraswats in particular. It was as if heaven had descended on earth while Param Pujya Swamiji was meditating at the Triveni Sangam.
The next destination was Gita Mandir. Located very near Triveni Sangam, Gita Mandir is about 1 km south of the Somnath Temple by the sea. It is said that Lord Krishna walked about 4 km from Bhalka Teerth to this place after he was shot by Jara, and left the earth at this point. The divine message of Shrimad Bhagvad Gita is carved on eighteen marble pillars at this Temple.
In the temple cluster here is also the 'Balaram Gufa' the place from where Shri Krishna's elder brother Balaram is said to have taken the journey to Patal assuming his original form. It is said that after Balaram witnessed the disappearance of Lord Krishna, he sat down in a meditative state and departed from this world as Shesh Nag.
Param Pujya Swamiji spoke to Yatris here while Dr. Gandhi continued his description of this place.
Shri Shiv Pujan and Dharma Sabha followed the visit to Gita Mandir. Personalities who contributed to the Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatra were felicitated and honored by Param Pujya Swamiji.
Later once again, the Yatris proceeded to Somnath Temple for the ‘Light and Sound’ show – ‘Jay Somnath’. The show is held every night from 8.00 to 9.00pm. It showcases the majesty of the Somnath temple and is a pleasant and unique experience. It begins with the Sagar (ocean) establishing its identity as the narrator of the show. With its obvious 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 tells the story of the birth of Somnath up to the time when New Somnath Temple was rebuilt.
On 30th of January, the Yatris left for Ahmedabad via Gir Forest. Although the official Pratyushutsov begins on 11th February 2009, for the Sadhakas of Ahmedabad Local Sabha and the Prabhas Teerth Somnath Saraswati Yatris, the Pratyushutsov had already begun on 30th January 2009 itself.