Remembering the first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad on his death anniversary
Tamil Nadu is the land of holy temples. It houses thousands of ancient temples built by the great Hindu-Tamil kings. One among the thousands of temples in Tamil Nadu is the Ramanathaswamy temple, a Jyotirlingam, situated in today’s Rameshwaram. Although the 12 Jyotirlingams have great sanctity in the worship of Lord Shiva, there is a special place for the first Jyotirlingam – Somnath in Gujarat. The disastrous invasions faced by the Somnath temple are unparalleled. After independence, there was an attempt to revive the glory of the Somnath temple and reconstruct the same.
There was resistance from the Indian government to utilize funds from the public exchequer for the reconstruction of the Somnath temple. This resistance was based on the flimsy premise that a “secular” state cannot take ownership of the reconstruction of a place of worship for the majority community. This resistance was from the then Prime Minister of India. However, patriotic stalwarts and proud Hindus like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr. K M Munshi fought great odds and spearheaded the reconstruction exercise of the Somnath temple through public participation. The reconstruction was successful.
Another stalwart who played a role in the reconstruction of the Somnath temple was none other than Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India. He was a great freedom fighter and played a critical role in the formation of the Republic of India. He sacrificed his career as a lawyer (he had a Masters degree in Law) and took part in the freedom struggle. Dr. Rajendra Prasad believed strongly in serving people through a service-minded attitude. He was a true Sanatani at heart. He was invited to the inauguration of the reconstructed Somnath temple. The then PM strongly objected to the consent given by Dr. Rajendra Prasad to inaugurate the reconstructed temple. But Dr. Rajendra Prasad remained unmoved and ignored Nehru’s advice. In his speech during the inauguration, Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, Somnath has been a sacred place from time immemorial. It has faced several destructions, but every time it has revived and returned to life and maintained its honour. With humility, he credits Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for his efforts to reconstruct the temple. He prays that the greatness and the resilience of the temple continue into the future, identical to its glorious past.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad breathed his last on 28th February 1963.
We remember him for his core beliefs of being connected to our Hindu civilizational roots, serving the people, and standing up for what is right!
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- Somnath has been a sacred place from time immemorial – Dr. Rajendra Prasad - February 28, 2023