There have been ample instances that have proved that Hinduism has been more than an Indian religion. Since ancient times, Hinduism has had its impacts all around the globe and there are plenty of evidences to validate that. Although, leaving the past in the past, it is a pride that Hinduism has sustained its age old glory till date as well. Even today, the world sees Hinduism as an idealistic way of life, seeks to adapt its ways and implements its principles proudly.
An addition to the world’s display of love for Hinduism is the recent unveiling of the massive 4.5 feet tall marble statue of Lord Shiva in his most unique form in Australia. This temple is of importance on a number of dimensions, for there isn’t a Shiva temple like this one even in India!
The Mukti Gupteshwar Mandir is the world’s only man made underground cave temple, situated at Minto, New South Wales, a small suburb of Sydney in Australia. Not only this temple is a man made wonder of the world, it has an essence based in the Indian heritage like no other. This temple has been constructed under highly strategic and intense conditions, housing the 13th and the last Jyotirlinga. There are said to be 13 Jyotirlingas in all, which are egg shaped and self formed statues (Lingams) of Lord Shiva.
The 13th and the last Jyotirlinga has its history in the Mahabharata, at an instance where Arjuna and Lord Shiva confront each other over a staged fight for a hunted boar. After 21 days of fight, Arjuna discovered that his opponent was Lord Shiva himself, who had disguised as a hunter to test Arjuna’s valour. The 13th Jyotirlinga had rested in their Ashram for 7,000 years; it has been written. This Jyotirlinga has been named the Mukti Gupteshwar Mahadev. The previous 12 Jyotirlingas were Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaal, Mamaleshwar, Waidyanaath, Bhimshankar, Ramnath, Naagnath, Vishwanath, Trayambak, Kedarnath and Ghushmanatham , and they are all located at different parts of India. However, there are a set of protocols regarding the placement of these Jyotirlingas, based on which the 13th one has been placed in Australia, which is the Southernmost inhabited land on earth and resembles the ‘mouth of the snake’. The idol was supposed to be placed at a place resembling the mouth of a snake, the animal being a holy one found entwined around Lord Shiva’s neck.
The 13th Jyotirlinga was an asset of the late king, his Majesty Maharajadhiraja Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal until 1999. In 1999, the Lingam was gifted to Australia by the king, for the situation of which an underground cave temple was built in Australia. Also gifted with the Jyotirlinga was an 8 volume huge set of 79986 hyms, to be chanted in praise of Lord Shiva. The Lingam was unveiled in 1999 itself, and the new temple that has been unveiled recently is turning out to be a huge crowd puller in Australia.
The underground temple now houses a rare marble statue of Lord Shiva with four arms. This statue was carved at Varanasi, at the banks of river Ganga. It was a gift to the Mukti Gupteshwar Temple by an Indian ashram, Hindu Dharma Sansthan Society. The marble statue has been placed within the temple under lights that change colour every minute, and a set of 2 million letters that have ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ written on them. These chants were written down by devotees from all around the world! The underground temple provides a sense of connection with mother earth, alongside a deep sense of peace and isolation. Not only the 4.5 feet tall statue and the Jyotirlinga, there are a total of 1,128 smaller temples situated within the sanctum sanctorum of this great temple! There are regular daily worships and services carried out to Lord Shiva here, keeping the essence of the temple and its grand legacy intact.
This temple in Australia is a factor of pride for India, for it is not only a highly well maintained tourist attraction, but also a representation of the grand Indian legacy on foreign soil. The story of the 13th Jyotirlinga told to the world in such grand style by Australia truly is evidence for the fact that the world respects Hinduism more than we know. Regardless of the challenges it faces today, Hinduism has sustained to be the most influential religion the world!