The story has its roots in the Valmiki Ramayan, as well as in the oral history of Mathura’s ancient Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple.
Mathura, 2022-08-01 (Vrindavan Today News): Situated near Shri Krishna Janmasthan Mathura, the Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple dates back to Treta Yuga. The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva without whose blessings, it is believed, the city of Mathura could not have been established. He is therefore known as the ‘kotwal’ or the guardian of the city.
The story has its roots in the Valmiki Ramayan, as well as in the oral history of the temple. As per Valmiki Ramayana’s Uttara Kanda, Lord Shatrughan established Mathurapuri in the month of Shravan after defeating Lavanasura.
Lavanasura was the son of demon Madhu and Kumbhinasi. Madhus’ devotion for dharma earned him an extraordinary boon from Bhagwan Rudra in the form of a radiant trident, which was more powerful than his own. While giving him the divine weapon Mahadev said that as long as he does not act against the gods and brahmanas, and uses it to uphold Dharma, the trident would remain with him, and by virtue of it he will be invincible. However, the boon will be nullified if he acted otherwise, and the trident would return to him.
Madhu offered his respects to Mahadev and requested him to allow the trident to remain in his lineage. Mahadev, the knower of past, present, and future, obliged. “This cannot be. However, because of my auspicious favours, your words cannot be futile either. Therefore, this trident will pass on to one of your sons. As long as he holds it in his hands, he cannot be killed by anyone,” he pronounced.
Before departing from this world, Madhu gave the trident to his son Lavana, who was evil and wicked by nature. The sinful asura misused the boon to torment his subjects, the gods, and the three worlds, especially directing his wrath towards the ascetics. When the aggrieved denizens of Madhupuri, approached Lord Rama in Ayodhya for help, he sent his youngest brother Shatrughan to liberate them from his tyranny.
This is where we come across two versions of the story. The Valmiki Ramayan tells us that it was Chyavan Muni who told Shatrughan about Lavanasur’s nature and deeds, and the mighty trident of Rudra which made him invincible. The sage instructed him to accost the demon in the morning when he went out hunting for meat without the trident.
According to the legend associated with Bhuteshwar Mahadev, it was He who granted the trident to Madhu, and He only revealed this strategy to Shatrughan. Having failed to defeat Lavanasura in the first attempt, when Shatrughan approached Shri Rama for advice, he enjoined him to worship Bhuteshwar Mahadev. Pleased with his devotion, Mahadev disclosed the secret to him.
Following the advice, Shatrughan challenged Lavanasura when he was in the forest, hunting. As instructed, he did not even give him the scope to get his trident from the palace. A fierce fight ensued in which the demon was eventually killed. As soon as he fell on the ground dead, Rudra’s trident came back to Him.
People rejoiced and chanted victory to Shatrughan. With the blessings of Shri Rama and Bhuteshwar Mahadev, He established the ancient town of Mathura where Dharma reigned supreme, and which later became the stage for Shri Krishna’s Dwapar Lilas. Shatrughan and his wife Shrutikirti’s temple is situated in Chobiya Pada area of the town.
Bhuteshwar Mahadev is revered as the ‘kotwal’ or guardian of Mathura. Many people, even today, begin their day and Braj yatras after seeking his blessings. Sharvan here is most special.