Friday, October 28, 2022

K. M. Munish’s Book on the Somanatha Temple

Somanatha Temple

Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi played a central role in the Somanatha Temple’s reconstruction. In his 1951 book, Somanatha: The Shrine Eternal, he has described the history of the Somanatha Temple from the prehistoric times (he posits that the Somanatha was an eternal shrine of Lord Shiva) to the present. 

Munshi saw Mahmud of Ghazni’s desecration and plunder of the Somanatha Temple in the eleventh century as a great national disaster for Hindus. In his book’s Chapter 21, “Somanatha—The Shrine Eternal,” he writes: "For a thousand years Mahmud's destruction of the shrine has been burnt into the collective subconscious of the (Hindu) race as an unforgettable national disaster." Here’s a line from the book’s appendix:  “The sack of the Somanatha by Mahmud Ghazni had left a deep wound in the nation’s soul and it hung like a stalactite in the cave of Indian memory.” 

In Chapter 5, “Shiva and His Worship,” Munshi talks about Shiva’s critical role in shaping the natural environment and the culture of the Indian subcontinent: 

“Shiva is inseparable from Ganga which, flowing from His matted locks, represents purity and gives India its belt of plenty and high intellectual aspirations; from His consort Uma, the benign Mother; from His son Kartikeya, the God of War, worshipped by the Gupta emperors, and worshipped today in the south as Subrahmanya; from the highly lovable Ganapati, the elephant-headed god of auspiciousness, intellect, wealth and valor, today the presiding deity of every home where purity and happiness reign; from Nandi, the beloved father of the bovine race, which, from time immemorial, is linked with Indians in every aspect of life and unites them in sympathy with the animal world and secures them economic stability.”

“The conception of Shiva and Parvati in Indian culture is inspiring. The noblest conception of the spiritual unity of man and wife, ever-loving and eternal, achieved by a joint sublimation of the sex instinct is immortalized in Parvati-Parameshvara, to quote Kalidasa, as ‘indissoluble as word and sense’ or the Ardhanerishvura of the Shaivite literature.”

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