The authentic history of Gujarat begins with the Maurya Dynasty. It has been mentioned in the writing of Mahakshtrap Rudradame Shak Samvat 72 (A.D. 150) of Girnar that the territory round about the river Sabarmati came under his rule. A writing found near the Devni Mori says that the territory might be under the rule of Kathik- Dynasty during the territory might be under the rule of Kathik –Dynasty during the 4th century, From observing the Stupa, Vihar and coins found during excavate near Devni Mori, there is reason to believe that Buddhism was practiced during the reign of the Kahatra Period. From observing the remains of the Shivalaya of 4th and 5th centuries, one is led to believe that Shiva Religion must also have prevailed here.
Rule of the Gupta Period started in the 5th Century in Gujarat. Ancient sculptures of Parvatiji in Bhildi form, Chamunda, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Vayu (wind). Ganas, Shiv of the Gupta Style have been found. The Vishnu Puja (Worshipping of Vishnu) started Simultaneously with the Shiva Sect (Cult).
From 6th Century upto to 8th century this territory was held by the Maitrakas of Vallabhi. The Nandi Idol found in the Ranchhodji Temple, the standing idol found in the Ranchhodji Temple, the standing idol of Chamunda and that Vishnu in Vishnu form etc. are remains of the Maitrak period.
Round about 800 A.D. Acharyas like Jagad Guru Shankerachary, Ramanujacharya and Nimbakacharya and others, supported the Vaishnavism. Places of Pilgrimages were renovated and Shamlaji prospered. Stone temples were built and yagnas were performed.
One 'Tamrapatra' (documents carved on a copperplate) of 949 A.D. has been found near Shinawada. From this 'Tamrapatra' it seems the rule of Parmars of Dhar extended up to Mohadvas (Modasa). During the Chalukya Period, Vaghela and Solankies Ruled the territory. The Eulogy of Idar Morlidhar Temple bears testimony to this belief, Diffusive propaganda of the Vaishnav sampradaya (Sect) was prevalent during this period.
After the fall of Solanki rule in Gujarat, it came under the rule of Muslim Emperors of Delhi, During the 14th Century, number of snobberies were committed under the guise of (in the name of) Hinduism. The Muslim invaded and destroyed temples.
Advantage of political anarchy was taken by the rules of Idar state, Shamlaji came under the rule of Idar. Wars were fought between the Muslim and Idar rulers. In 1520 A.D. sultan Muzffar shah conquered this territory. The Idar ruler signed a treaty with the Muslims and regained this territory.
After 1550 A.D owing to the contacts of Vallabhacharyaji Mahaprabhuji, the rulers (emperors) of the Lodi Dynasty adopted a liberal policy towards Hinduism. Devotees and Acharyas preached Krishna bhakti, Shri Vallabhacharyaji Visited Dwarka, Dakor, Sidhpur and Shamlaji in 1565 and rejenuvated the places of Pilgrimages.
Idar State weekend during the Moghul Period. Number of Small kingdom came into existence. During the reign of Akbar, the Great, owing to the policy of tolerance new temples were established. It is probable, the Shamlaji Temple must have been renovated rejuvated, during this period.
Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed so many temples as a result of this religious fanatism. Shamlaji Tirth (a place of worship) was not an exception to this. Though the Maharaja of Idar, the Thakores and the Rajputas fought very bravely, they could not match the fully armed Moghul Army. They hid in the adjoining hills. The Muslim Army burnt the village of Shamlaji and destroyed the Shamlaji Temple of the Tirth. The Army entered Shamlaji Temple and cut off the nose and ear of the Garuda Idol and destroyed the outside idols. Miraculously. Waps coming out them fought like an army and drove away the Muslim soldiers. People return and hid the image (Idol) of Shamlaji in the Karambuj pond. They migrated. Only the Adivasis continued cultivating. During the course of time. One Advasi came acros the idol while ploughing the land. The Vaishnavas started worshipping the idol according rites of the Vaishnava Dharm (religion).
Gujarat came under the rule of the Maratha Power during the 18th Century. In 1812 this territory was placed under the rule of Mahikantha Agency. King of Ider was attracted towards Shamlaji in the temple. He installed the image (idol) of Shamlaji in the temple Round about 1860. A.D. this territory was placed under the rule of Sabarkantha Agency. In 1948 this territory was put under the rule of the Bombay state. In 1955 A.D. a separate state of Gujarat was created and this territory was named as the Sabarkantha District.
During the British Rule, Shri Kesharisinhji, the rule of Idar State, formed a committee of the Vaishnavas for the regular management (administration) of this temple.
The burden of maintenance was put on the Shoulders of banias of villages surrounding Shamlaji and the responsibility of protecting the place was brought on the Jagirdari Thakores. Some village, land, wells etc., were gifted to the temple. During the course of time, the devotees of Modasa, Sardoi and Tintoi were appointed for the administration.
The Shamlaji Vishnu Mandir was registered vide Trust No. A-22 in Samvat 2008 under the charity trusts act (The Bombay public Trusts Act, 1950). At present, a Trust is managing the Temple.
1. BASED ON THE MAHATMYA OF SHRIMAD THE GADADHAR: Whatever human being were created by Brahmaji for running the life on earth, were granted salvation through the good offices of Narad and other saints. As a result, the labour of Brahmaji for creating the World proved futile. In order to repent for this, Brahamaji decided to practice peance on this earth. He saw big places of pilgrimages like the Holy Benaras (Kashi) Prayag. Kanchi, Tungbhadra and Prabhas, during the course of his aerial travel, but he was not satisfied with either of them. In due course, he arrived near Trishung Mountain in Gujarat. He found this place holy. He found it to be the best Hence, Brahmaji was pleased and blessed the place by saying that the place would never lose its natural beauty. Brahmaji founded an spouse Savitri. He practised penance for one thousand year After invoking Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was pleaed and said, "You are absolved of the deadly sin of telling a lie by your severe penance. Now perform and Yagna in this sacred place."
There upon Brahmaji decided to perform the Aditya Pravar Maha Yajna. Brahmin, hermits, Devas, Sanyasins (those who have renounced the world). Learned scholars, etc. were invited to perform the Yajna. The lake was filled up with water while washing their asuspicious hands, the holy water was capable of destroying sins, Hence, the gods named this place as 'Karambu Tirth Kshetra'.
The Yajna stared Lord Vishnu appeared (emerged) in black form. Lord Vishnu was pleased by the prayer of Brahmaji and he asked Brahmaji to say his desire what he wanted. Brahmaji said, 'Please grant me a boon that whosoever worships you, no harm would come to him and whosoever wishing salvation visits the 'Karambu Tirth, you will bless them with the 'Darshana' of your black form. Lord Vishnu granted the wish of Brahmaji and said, I shall dwell for ever in Karambu Tirth. All the sins of a sinful man ho visits this place shall be burnt and he would get salvation. Childless couples who take a dip into this Tirth shall begot a son." Thereafter, Lord Vishnu dwelt in this shrine holding a long mace.
2. KARAMBU TIRTH: On the eve of the Yajna, presiding deities of all the Tirthas had attended.Time came for offering Ardhya to the greatest Tirth. Karambu Tirth Proudly declared that the grace of Gandadhar Dev has descended on this Tirth and Brahmaji had blessed that Karambu shall be the first Tirth among all the Tirths, Dharm raja cursed the Karambu Tirth which had become blind (had lost reason) through pride that the Tirth will remain unknown in the world. At the intervention of Brahmaji, Dharmaraja absolved the curse by granting that when in the beginning of Treata Yuga, King Harishchanra, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu visits this place, Karambu Shall be famous once again and those who down to Lord Gadadhar on the full-moon day in the month of Kartika after taking bath, will get the punya of visiting other Tirthas 100 times.
3. RAJA HARISHCHANDRA: King Harishchandra and his queen Taramati of Ayodhya felt unhappy as they had no son though they had all the happiness and prosperity of the world. The king went to Bramarshi (Brahmin-Hermit) Vasishtha who advised the king to approach the great hermit and Brahm Gnani Audumber Rishi (one who is fully enlightened of the 'Brahma', the Absolute), The Ashram of rishi Audamber was located in the Karambuj Tirth Kshetra in the base or Trishung Mountain in Gujarat. The King visited the Ashram in the company of Sage Vasishtha. When they reached there, the Rishiwas in Meditation, When he rose from Samadhi, he welcomed the Brahmarshi and the King. The King told his woes to the blessings of the great scholar Vasishtha Rishi you should perform a Rajsuya Yajana in this place after a son is born to your queen. The King made a 'Sankalp' (firm vow to perform the Yajna). After taking leave of Audumbaer Muni, the king and Maharshi Vasishtha returned to Ayodhya. In due course a son was born to the queen.
King Harishchandra reached Karambuj Tirth Kshetra in company of Queen Taramati, their son Rohit and the great Sage Vasihtha Rishi, Ministers, doldiers and subjects of the king also accompanied them. As per the directive of Audumbar Muni, a fort began to take shape in the square opposite the temple of Shri Gadadhar Bhagwan, Whatever portion of the fort was built during day time, tumbled down one was worried, Jagdamba (Mother of the World) appeared in a dream before the King and told him, 'Your father Trishanku performed a Yajna in this Tirth while installing my idol (me) in this Tirth. You should do my Puja (offer prayers etc.) before commencing any auspicious ceremony as I am your Kuldevi (family goddess). You have forgotten this duty. Hence, in order to remond you this, I break the goddess whole-heartedly (from the heart of his hearts) and beseeched her to pardon him. Shri Sarva Mangala Devi said, 'MY place is located on the Harshail Parvat. There is my idol also. You go there and perform the puja of my idol. If you do this, your Rajsuya Yajna will be completed without any obstacles hitches.'
As per directive of the Mahadevi, the king performed the puja of the idol with due ceremony, and as a result of Her Blessings, his Yajna was a grand success. Kings, Rishies and Brahmins from all over India were invited to participate in the Yajna. The Yajna. The Yajna commenced after due ceremony (rituals). At the time of Purnahuti (completion) Lord Gadadhar Bhagwan appeared in black form. All the present audience prostrated themselves before the Lord and offered Prayers. The Lord, highly pleased, granted a boon to the King, saying. 'All your wishes shall be fulfilled. Thou (You) will be famous throughout the world as Raja Harishchandra, the Satyawadi (one who always speaks the Truth). Whosoever resides in this place, shall have me as his/her Ishta Dev and I shall fulfil all their desires.' After saying this, the Gadadhar Bhagwan disappeared. Raja Harishchandra built the temple of Shri Gadadhar Bhagwan and installed his idol there. He also founded a city there named after him as Harishchandrapuri.
4. During the course of his journey through the sky in his divine vehicle with a view to give His 'Darshana' to his devotees as usual, the Lord intentionally must have brought down his divine vehicle slightly below the sky in the grand valley of river Mashvo. Not only this, but he must have directed to stop the vehicle there. A temple must have alrady been installed there for performing Pujan and Archan daily to Lord Gadadhar Vishnu Bhagwan and so the idol of this form as. Krishna which dazzled with light, which had disappeared from its temple, must have been installed in this temple by the Lord Himself.
5. At the time of the Muslim Aggression (invasion) people of Harishchandranagari might have migrated elsewhere and only the Mukhiyaji and the idol might have been left behind. The Pujari had this idol in the Karambuj Talav. After the water had dries up, the adivasis starting tilling the dry land in the Talav. Once something struck the plough end of a farmer. After digging the land, this idol must have emerged. The farmer installed it in his hut, as a result of which there were good crops during that year. He asked the Shahukars (Money-lenders) to take away due quota of grains and told them that kalia Dev. Therefore, Shri Shahukar Harsola Vanik Sheth Kalyanji Shah got a temple built and installed the idol in the temple. As the idol bears the typical weapon Mace, this Dev is known as Gadadhar. As the colour of the idol is black, some call it sham Sundar or Shamaliya and the town is known as Shamlaji named after the idol.
6. In due course, the Maharaja of Idar got the temple repaired. A new statue was prepared for installation in the temple but incidentally this ancient black idol was found were two idols of the same god. A question arose as to which of the two idols should be installed in the temple. The Maharaja who was a true believer and had faith in religion, got a dream. He was told that the next morning, the two idols should be placed separately in two different rooms and the rooms should be closed. The idol from which the sound of Pravan Mantra of Omkar is heard should be installed in the temple. The Pravan mantra of Omkar was heard from the original idol which has been installed in this original idol in its original temple. The new idol was installed in a newly constructed temple in a village called Gadhda Shamlaji near Khedbrahma.
7. As the idol of Lord Vishnu bear a mace, the idol is known as Gadadhar. The name of Lord Vishnu became popular as Gadadhar Temples. There is one Gadadhar Temple in Talawada, in the state of Banswada. Formerly, there was no idol in this temple. Later on an idol of Gadadhar was got prepared and installed in this temple. This temple must have been built during the 12th Centure. From 2nd to 11th Century, Lord Vishnu was worshipped as Vishnu Narayan. As a result of gods remained without Puja. The name Shamaliya became prevelant during the 14th Centure. During the 15th century in the Songs of Narsinh Mehta and Mirabai, the name become famous from Mira's Padas (Bhajans) and hence people began to call Shamlaji as Devgadadhar.
8. A village named Todla(Torda) is situated about 15 miles east of Idar. There resided one Shri Motiram Sharma who was a great devotee of Lord Shri Krishna. The name of his wife was Kushalba. They belonged to the Audichya Sahastra Brahmin community. They begot a son on the 8th bright day of the month of Maha in Vikram Samvant 1837. The day was Monday. The boy was named as Khushal Bhatt.
This big man represented all the sure signs of a Maha Yogi-Viz., lean and white skinned body (Gaor-red). Silent yet penetrating eyes, pointed fine nose , broad forehead, hands long enough to reach to the knees and signs of good omens over his hands and legs. All the sign that belong to a Maha Yogi. Even His mundane activities looked celestial.
One morning while Kushalba was sweeping the house, she found golden large ear rings and anklets with bells of Lord Shamaliya. The good lady showed them to a goldsmith. The goldsmith said, `these ornaments belong to lord Shamalaji so keep them in your Patara (chest)." On the same day the theft of Lord Ornaments came to Light and the Pujari was accused of having stolen them. The merciful Lord thought that the innocent Pujari will be put to serious trouble. Hence the Lord declared by way of 'Akash vani'. (Voice of the Lord heard from above the sky) saying, 'All this is due to my fault. Mr. Khushal Bhatt son of Motiram Thaker is my fast friend. I daily go to him for play. In a haste, I have left my ornaments there. Those ornaments have been put in a Patara (a big wooden chest) by Khushal's mother. Similarly my scarf and shawl are hanging on the branch of a tree and one of my wooden sandals has fallen into Nagadhara. 'Go and bring all these things along with the ornaments.' On hearing this, the Pujari as well as workers of the temple visited Todla and brought the ornaments, etc. back to the temple.
This event took place in Vikram Samvant 1840 An entry to that effect is found entered to that effect is found entered in the books of the Pujari of Shamalaji.
VAISHNAV SECT. AND SHAMLAJI
Lord Gadadhar dwells in Shamlaji. This temple belongs to the Vaishnav Sect. The form installed here in that of Lord Vishnu bears so may names (1000 in all). We come to know the name of Shamlaji since the days of Narsinh Mehta. The pad (song) recited as 'Please accept my Bill of Exchange (Hundi)', 'Oh, Lord Shamaliya'. Started recitals from 1500 A.D.
During 1609 A.D. Shri Gadadhardasji Dwiwedi, a great follower of Vallbh Samparadayayan, resided in Shamlaji. He created 'Bhagvat Tatva Dipika' in this place. He has written a volume entitled 'Sampradaya Pradip' in 1610 A.D. in 1565 A.D. Shri Vallabhacharyaji, moved about in Gujarat during 1600, 1613 and 1623 A.D. and propagadg the Pushti Sampraday. In 1637 A.D. Vithaldasji visited Shamlaji in company of Shri Giridharji and had been fortunate in having the 'Darshna' of Shri Gadadhar Bhagwan (Rayji). Similarly, Shri Gopaldas in Rasikrasgranth Volume III, Verses 92 and 93 mentioned the month of Vaishakh, in Vikram Samvat 1646. According to the writing on the wall of the temple, we come to know that Shri Mahinath, a nagar Community Patraputta, a resident of Modasa Town visited Shamlaji on 6th and 7th the authority 1630 Shri Shamliya's Gadadharji, Lord Family Deity dwelling in this holy shrine, became known as Shri Shamliya Ray.
Lord Shri Devgadadhar Bhagwan Shamlaji, dwelling in this holy shrine, is considered the' Ishta Dev' of the Audumber Brahmins, the Harsola Brahmins, the Community and the Harsola Banias. Members of the above communities accept Shri Dev Gadadhar Ray as their 'Kuldev' (family Deity) and goddess Sarva Mangala as their family goddess (Deity), before commencing any religious (auspicious) ceremony, due invocation is performed to Gautra Devi sarva Mangala Goddess. Here we find a series of mountains (hills). One such hill is known as 'Trishanku'. It has three summits. The Ashram of Audumber Muni happened to be located over this hill. His disciples became known as the Audumber Brahmins.
There once existed the Ashram of Harshail Muni on the Harshail Hills. His disciples became known as the Harsols Brahmins. In their Harit Ashram they became known as the Harsols Banias (Vanikas), ten thousands Banias were appointed (allotted to) for the Ashram Audumber Muni. They became known as Nima Vanikas (Banias). On good as well bad occasions, a ('Bhet') is set aside for Bhagwan Shamaliya. They get the hair of their children shaved (Kesh lochan) after arriving at this place. Bride and 'chheda chhedi' (removing the knot from the two colored garments worn by the bride and bridegroom at the time of going round the sacred fire during the marriage ceremony). They also have the 'Darshana' of the holy Lord and Ishta Dev Shamliyaji.
ANCIENT BUDHDHA REMAINS OF SHAMLAJI
From the ancient times, Shamlaji was a center for culture. Good relics of Shaiva Vaishnav and Buddha religions have been found there. During the excavations undertaken by the Department of Archeology, Maharaja Syajirao University of Baroda, Buddha Stupa, Vihars and Kshtrap and Mourya Period coins have been found at Bhoj Raja's Tekra situated at about a distance of half a mile near Devni Mori and at the meeting point of the rivers Mashwo and Pinga.
This Stupa is located on the left bank of the meeting place of the rivers mashwo and Pinga near Devni Mori. The Stupa is constructed out of pucca earth and brickbats. The diameter (circumference) of this Stupa is 85 feet and height is almost the same. The upper portion is damaged. Its traditional Chatraveshti is also not traceable. It has two Jagaties or Otlas. Its foundation is broad and deep. The first Jagati measures 85" * 86" and is 8" in height. The upper portion about 8 feet broad must have been used for Pradakshina (ground tound). Over it another Jagati measuring 70" * 70" and about 8 to 10 feet height is built. The four walls of the first Jagati are simple. Half Pillars have been erected at intervals of 6' to 8' distances. Each pillar is 3' in height, and a Kotha has been prepared in its Bhaskarya and at the highest level there is one head-portion indicative of indokornithian Art. In the Shirobhag, leaves, geometrical figures and circles have been beautiful decorated. The most artstic portion of this Jagati is the strap or wall looking like an edge (border) it has been made artistic by drawing geometrical figures. Petals, etc. This figure is carved in three lines, one after the other. It is believed, 16 statues of Buddha in meditation each measuring 2' x 16' were placed.
Its sculpture has been done in Gandhar Style, Big statues, beaytifully decorated arches, half pillars, arches with big stars, etc. have been destroyed by natural calamities. Some idea of its form and structure can be guessed from its relics. Two types of arches have been found. The arches might have been placed the Buddha statues at regular intervals. It seems, there might be arches on all the four walls. The middle arch in all cases must be the longest in each case. These arches have been carved out in shape of a lotus flower, it is known as the Ghatpallav variety (type). At the end of these arches. Lions are shown seated. Statues of Buddha made from pucca earth are unique, its proportion are most symmetric, Lord Buddha was seated on the Asan of one or two petal of Lotus flower keeping two hands with palms upward open. As the status is carved out with stmost symetry, the face bearing human feeling depicting gentle smile along with grave and serious expression. The dresses of theses status are of two types. In some cases, both the shoulders are covered while in others, the right shoulder is showen bare.
Elongated half (semi) circular stupa and ghummat (dome) have been considerably damaged, hence its clear shape or measurements are not discernible. A plate made of pucca earth describing the stupa has been found. Inside the plate, there is a miniature replica of the stupa and the mention of two jagatie, and chhatra, yashti, etc. which throw an ample light on the original stupa.
A Vihar is located about 50' south-west of the said stupa. From the construction point of view, it is simple construction of wall and ceiling. So much damage has been done to it as a result of pilfering of its bricks. The Varandah is in the middle and is 120' x 120' sq. ft. on side of this this verandah, there are small rooms each measuring 8'x 10'. On the western side, there is a otla or platform meant for preaching, and there is also a room for Devalaya. Its main entrance faces the north. It measures 6' x 6'. Each room has a door measuring 3'. Excluding the Devalaya room and the main entrance, there might be roughly 30 rooms. The speciality of this Vihar is its broad drains 1' x ½' deep and 1' x 3' broad, located in the south west Buddha sadhus used to live in the rooms. A strong wall must have been built to withstand the powerful flow of waters of the rivers. This estate (premises) might be walled on all the sides. This stupa resemble the one found from Gandhar. It resembles the description of Mohra Morhu Stupa described in 'Taxshila Volume III'. Looking to its artistic beauty, we find its resemblance with Mirpurkhas Stupa in Sindh which is considered dating back to the 5th or 6th century. The arches of this Chaitya have Indian arches while the star-studed arches and half pillars with shirobhag (head-portion) indicate Parthian and Trik origin. The two statuse of Lord Budhdha found here are first of its type in western India.
From here are found silver, copper and lead coins belonging to Maitrak and Kshatrap periods. One coin among the Kshatrap Variety bears the stamps of Vishvasen (294-305 AD) In some coins Rudrasen in clearly visible but as Rudrasen was born in the dynasty, it is not sure whole image it is. On the Maitrak period coins Shri Sarva Bhattarak (500 A.D.) could be read clearly. He was the founder Vallabhipur in Saurashtra during the 5th Century. The earthern vessels found from there help in writing in deciding the date of its inception. Vessels of such varieties which are found from Bihar, similar, ones have also been found from Amereli, Akota, Baroda, Vadnager, etc. We are presumed to believe that these the two statues of Mahayan Sect, Stupa and Vihar might have been erected during the early part of the 3rd Century. This place must also be of much importance for the Buddha Religion in the days of the later rules of the Kshatrap rulers and the Maitrakas of Vallabhi might have survived till 700 A.D. From the inner chamber of the stupa, ashjar of Buddha has been found, it is made of stone and is circular in shape. Its diameter is 7th and height is 4' The inside casket is made of metal. According to the Sanskrit Inscription carved on it King Rudrasen got the Stupa built in Shamvat 127 (205 A.D.) and Sadhu Agnivarma, Sadhu Sudarshan, Senputra and others installed this ash-jar in the stupa. The ashes in this jar are believed to be those of 'Shakya Bhikhshu Dashbal' body, Nilaya. One of Budhas names happens to be 'Dasbal' but it could not be ascertained with certainty that these ashes belong to Lord Buddha. Mashvo lake has been built here by the Government of Gujarat. As a result of this lake, the Buddha Vihars and Stupas as old as 1757 years have been immersed in the waters of the Mashvo Lake.
(By Courtesy of Shri Sureshchandra Dave and Shri Ramanlal Soni)