The fourth kotwal (guardian) of Mathurapuri located in the northern part is Gokarn Nath Mahadev. Gokarn Nath is considered to be the embodiment of Mahakal (Mahakaleshwar) and has existed since the Dwapura Yuga.
According to the Hindu scriptures, a childless couple named Atmadev and Dhunduli were deeply troubled about the continuation of their lineage and approached a pious sage for his blessings. The sage took pity at their predicament and gave them a divine fruit to be partaken by Dhunduli.
Atmadev was overjoyed and fell at the feet of the sage thanking him for his kindness. However, Dhunduli was sceptical and instead of eating the fruit herself gave it to a cow. Much to their astonishment, the cow gave birth to a boy with ears like that of a cow!
The boy possessed all the qualities of a saintly person and was named Gokarn meaning cow ear derived from the Sanskrit words godhenu meaning milch cow (with calf) and karnah meaning ear. The boy grew up to be an exemplary student mastering all the texts. He also liberated his brother Dhundukari, his aunt’s son adopted by his mother by reciting the Srimad Bhagavatam for seven days.
Gokarn Nath is the revered saint Gokarna from South India. He sat down for tapas (penance and austerities) in Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Lord Bholenath was pleased with his penance and told him to reside in this place as Gokarneshwar. Gokarn Nath took the form of a Shiva Linga and has been blessing his devotees for centuries.
The Hindu scriptures state that Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama and his friends used to pray in this temple during the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri. This temple was discovered under a mound by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the early 1900s.
They found the Shiva Linga to be in perfect condition along with another statue seen holding a flower in one hand and a japa mala in the other offering prayers to the Shiva Linga. The statue is believed to be of a person from the royal family of the 2nd century BCE. A plate belonging to the Kushana period was also found here.
Locals say that the samadhi inside the temple complex is of Gautama Brahmarshi. This temple is venerated by all especially childless couples who come from far-flung places to offer prayers and observe upwas for 16 Mondays. The priests also say that those who offer sugarcane juice to Gokarn Nath for 40 consecutive days will be free from physical and mental ailments.
This sacrosanct temple is by far the oldest Shiva temple of Mathurapuri and draws large crowds in the months of Shravan, Magha and Margashirsha and on Maha Shivaratri, Amavasya and Purnima.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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