Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shiva, The Protector: Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, Bet Dwarka

85 feet tall, 45 feet wide Shiva deity at Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka

He is sitting on a huge pedestal under the canopy of the clear blue sky, his eyes open, his expression stern but benevolent. Inching a foot nearer, I glare at his eyes again – not closed, no, but aware and awake, staring into the distant skyline. The statue in itself is very impressive recording a massive 85 feet of height and 40 feet in width: serpents drape His ascetic body while a dumru and a trident adorn His upper hands, one on each side. In the left hand, below the dumru, he is clutching a rudraksh mala resting neatly on his thigh. As I keep inching closer and closer, the gigantic statue in stone and faith keeps towering higher and higher. The sun shining through the clear blue skies illuminates the massive figure, casting a soft veil of aura to it. Touched by the sun, the larger than life body of Shiva glows in light…

Across the statue, stands the main Nageshwar temple housing the revered Dwadash Jyotirlingam or one among the 12 Jyotirlingams in India, Lord Shiva as a formless pillar of light and love. Located on the route between Dwarka and Bet Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat, this  significant Shiva temple looks pretty modern in built compared to the legacy of the lingam itself. 

Entrance to Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga at Bet Dwarka: Main Entrance.
Temple spire at Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Front part of the temple building.
Temple spire at Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Nageshwar Jyotirling, Spire of the temple.
Incidentally, there also exists some confusion around the temple on whether it is actually the original Nageshwar temple which finds a mention in the sacred Hindu text Shiv Purana. Contesting its authenticity and recognition are two different temples that exist by the same name – one as Aundha Nagnath in Maharashtra and the other being Jageshwar temple in Almora, Uttarakhand – all the three temples have together claimed to be the Nageshwar Jyotirlingam that finds a mention in the sacred puranic texts. The confusion arises from the name of the place Darukavana (forest of Deodhar trees) where Shiva had self-manifested himself to bless His devotees but since not much has been verified, each one is left to his own opinions and interpretations. I, for my part, let it just be and instead decided to turn my attention to the legends to see how Dwarka gets its fair share of the fame…

People crowding near Lord Shiva statue at  Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Nageshwar Temple: Just as one enters the temple compound.
According to Shiv Purana, there once lived a demonic couple Daruka and Daruki after whom were named the forest of Daruka Van. Although Daruki was an ardent devotee of Parvati, she, along with her husband Daruka, troubled innocent people and created havoc in their lives. Once they attacked a Shiva devotee named Supriya, and captured him along with many other hermits. Now Daruki had a blessing from Goddess Parvati that she could move the forest anywhere along with her, on her free will. Fearing wrath of the Gods for their misdeeds, she took advantage of this blessing, and moved Darukavan under the sea. Supriya invoked Lord Shiva and encouraged other captives to do the same, following which Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Divine Light, a Jyothirlinga. He could not kill Daruki since she was blessed by his own wife, Parvati, but he assured Supriya that he would protect him in the form of a lingam. The lingam thus came to be revered in Dwarka (Daruka later came to be known as Dwarka, hence the confusion) as Nageshwar Jyotirlingam.

Nothing much of that forest remains today except a large banyan tree, a small pond surrounded by some shrubs and bushes.

A pond at the backside of the Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
A small pond at the back of the Nageshwar Jyotirling.
Banyan tree in Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Women praying to the banyan tree in the Nageshwar Temple complex.
Way to Gomukh Ganga at Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Gomukh Ganga in the premises of the Nageshwar temple.
And of course... Shiva, in the sanctum sanctorum as a pillar of light and right across the entrance gate, meditating – unmoved and unaffected by the chatter all around, a true yogi, calm and unattached in the face of chaos, with His fourth hand raised in a blessing.

The magnificient statue of Lord Shiva at  Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka
Can you feel the enormity?
Beneath the magnificent statue of Lord Shiva at  Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple.
Standing beneath, as I gaze up at him, my head feels hollow and my heart, light, His compassionate eyes carrying an assurance of security and protection. Feeling tiny, I kneel down to pray just like some of the other devotees around. There is a constant hum of pandemonium all around - people, his devotees and followers are rushing in and around him. Some are clicking selfies while standing near him, some are busy snapping His pictures while some others are mumbling their prayers. Pigeons flutter about around him. A cow comes in from somewhere and moo’es in between. I close my eyes, silence descends gradually, the noise ceases to a trickle… as if someone has halted the hands of time and all the sounds have dissolved into a formless pure light of illuminance.

A gigantic Shiva deity of Nageshwar Jyotirling Shiva Temple, Bet Dwarka

Aum Namah Shivaay, I let out a faint chant, the same words that are inscribed on the outstretched palm of His hand. The strains of the chant reverberate deeper, as I walk out of the temple, permeating my whole being in an assurance, his assurance... birthing within a renewed elixir of life. 

Blogger Widgets