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A Brief History of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam and its Importance
The Shiva Purana describes the geographical location of Dwadash Jyotirlingam :
Lord Somnath is in the country Saurashtra, Mallikarjuna is on the Shree Shailam,
Mahakala is in Ujjayani, Parameshwar belongs to Onkar,
Kedar in the mountain of Himalaya, Bhimashankar is in the country of Dakini,
Viswesh belongs to Varanasi, the Lord Trayam bakam resides on the shore of Gautami river,
Baidyanath lies on the land of ashes and the Lord of snake lives in the wooden forest.
Lord Rama stays near the sea where it was bridged by him and Lord of Ghushma resides in the abode of Shiva.
If one recites the twelve names in the early morning,
he will get rid of all sins and will get all fruits of his efforts.
Baidyanath Dhyanam :
Shankara is bearing a snake over his head
and he has also the moon over his forehead,
his light is electrifying in golden colour and he is invisible with his shool, that is, trident
and he graces all by his hands, I pray for him.
The importance of Jyotirlingam is well known to all. Its renowned sanctity is attached to the Hindu view of the socio-religious life of India. Jyotirlingam means the linga of light, i.e. a symbolic form of a stone tinctured with the cycle of light. It is a very surprising acknowledgment to us that the twelve lingas spray the rays of the light in the panorama of our life. It may be assumed that Jyotirlinga expels the proceeds of light which is generating with spiritual and cosmos consciousness for all. The light of Jyotirlingam is the light of cosmos which is realized by the power of soul as a whole.
Being one out of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Baidyanath is famous for all. Deoghar, the home of gods, is modern name. In Puranas we find in its place names like Haridrapeetha, Ketaki van, Haritalik van, Chitabhoomi and Vaidyanath. In Bengal and upper provinces the place is generally known as Baidyanathdham.
The sanctity of Baidyanath is mentioned in several Puranas which refer to it and as they are unquestionably the golden treasure of Hindu religion and culture, Baidyanath Jyotirlingam has attained great importance.
Baidyanath Mahatmya speaks of its importance :
Shiva said ...
The region is called Rankhanda and it is the holiest place of all. Shiva resides there in the holy Baidyanath Lingam.
Oh, Ambika ! I am fulfiller of wishes for those who crave for worldly pleasures. Incomparable God, the Master of forests, I surrender to Him.
In southern shore of the Ganges where the Ganges flow and fall in the eastern sea and where the forest of Haritaki (myrobalan) and forest is divine and people fear to tread into the forest, I stay there as the Master of forest.
Oh, Chandi ! Even today Lord Baidyanath remains there who fulfils the desires of people as a Jewel of desires that is Chintamani.
A thousand of lingas's power is installed in this Lingam. A fingerful size of Linga stands upon this altar.
Divided half above the sky and spread half yojana far, the Linga bears the fruits of lacs of Lingas whoever worships to get Punya.
It is a rare holy place for pilgrims as the Patal Khand of Padamapurana mentions :
As Mahadeva rules over the region of heart so it is a place of Shambhu and the holiest place of all and it makes all to succeed in the world.
The heart of Sati, the Daughter of Daksha, fell here in the past. It is, therefore, the holiest place of all.
Whoever dies here with the grace of Shiva, he does not come again in this world even though one is a great sinner.
Being a man one worships Baidyanath and if one does not worship Baidyanath, his birth is meaningless in the world.
If one commits sin in the other place, he gets rid of sins if he worships Baidyanath. It is said, people get rid of sins if he worships the Viswanath of Kashi but sins collected at Kashi, will fly away if he worships Baidyanath. If one commits sins at this holy place, it can never be kicked off. It is, therefore, necessary that one should worship Lord Baidyanath to wash away sins.
In order to wash away sins one should travel Baidyanathdham. Even sins gathered at kashi will be removed soon if he worships Lord Baidyanath.
The importance of Baidyanath Jyotirligam has been eulogised in the Patal Khand of Padama Purana, where Shiva praises the religious significance of this place:
Shri Mahadeva said ...
Whoever meditates for a minute, even he is rogue, and he will be graced for all time to come.
One should worship Baidyanath forever. What to speak of his fruits! Even Brahma, the god of creation, fails to appreciate Him.
The Puranas speak of the Baidyanath Jyortiligam. According to the Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta yuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, felt that his capital would not be perfect and free from enemies unless Mahadeva stays there forever, he paid continuous meditation to Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva got pleased and permitted him to carry his lingam with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this lingam to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposits the lingam anywhere on the earth, in the course of his journey, it would remain fixed at that place forever. Ravana was happy as he was taking his return journey to Lanka.
His fate willed otherwise. The gods took it ill. They never liked to see Mahadeva as his protector. They devised a plan for outwitting Ravana. They requested Varuna to enter into the belly of Ravana. So, on his way Ravana felt a severe urge to release water. He began looking for a man to whom he could temporarily entrust the lingam. Vishnu appeared before Ravana in the guise of a Brahmin. Unaware of the mystery, Ravana handed over the lingam to the Brahmin. Unfortunately, Ravana could not ease himself soon. In the meanwhile the Brahmin placed the lingam at this place which was and which is now Baidyanathdham.
Ravana tried hard to remove the lingam from the spot where it had been placed. He could not turn out the lingam even an inch. This made him frustrated. He used violence but he only succeeded in pushing the lingam by thumb. Later on he felt guilty of his doings and begged for pardon.
He returned to Lanka but visitied daily to worship the lingam. This continued forever. The place where Ravana descended on the earth is identified with the present Harilajori about four miles north of Baidyanathdham and the place where the lingam was kept, is now Deoghar and the lingam itself is known to all as Baidyanath Jyotirlingam.
The very name of Baidyanath bears the history of Ravana as mentioned in the Shiva Purana which is as such:
Ravana asked Shiva for limitless power and if Shiva pleases upon him then nothing will be rare for him. Shiva was pleased and granted all as Lord is kind enough and gave his wishes fulfilled. He also preached him for future. Looking into heads of Ravana with graceful vision and repaired his heads as there were in the original form. By the grace of Lord Shiva he gets all fruits of his deeds. Being in a posture of grace and love Shiva was prayed by Ravana and since then Shiva is known to all as Baidyanath in the famous three worlds. By means of worshipping and seeing the emblem of Maheshwar as Jyotirlingam, one gets the pleasure of world and becomes free from the bondage of this corporal power and becomes helpful to all. He came to worship this great Jyotirlingm and worshipping in a special way. He came and worshipped this lingam to conquer the three worlds.
The Padam Purana also mentions the story of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam.
Matsyapurana narrates about the sanctity of the holy place where Shakti remains forever and frees people from diseases i.e. Arogya Baidyanathe tu.
Brihad Dharmapurana mentions about the Jyotirlingam of Baidyanath. It describes Haridranagar (Baidyanathdham - Deoghar) where the lingam of Baidyanath exists.
Debi Bhagwat also mentions the abode of Baidyanath in course of its pith nirnaya.
Bhavishyapurana also narrates the existence of Baidyanath. It refers to the tract comprising the present district and Birbhoom as Narikhand, and describes it as follows: Narikhande is district abounding in thickets. It lies west of the Dwarikashwari River. It extends along the Panchakuta hills on its west, and approaches Kikta on the north. The forests are very extensive, chiefly of Sakhota, Arjuna and Sal trees with a plentiful addition of brushwood. The district is celebrated for the shrine of Baidyanath. The deity is worshipped by people from all quarters, and is the source of every good in the present age.
The Shivrahasya also mentions the religious importance of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam. Here we also get the religious importance of Bhavaroghar Kunda i.e., Shivganga. Its importance follows as such:
There is a tirtha in the holiest place which is famous as Bhavaroghar i.e. the Bhawroghar; remover of earthly diseases.
In the ancient time Aswani Kumar worshipped me and got the Veda of medicine.
They took bathe in this great tirtha and cured themselves.
Later they joined the godly line and proved able to taste the drink of soma.
They prayed me, I tell this prayer.
In the emblem of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam people offer me the leaves of vilwa.
Thus some of the Puranas ascribe the advent of Baidyanath at Deoghar to the Satya yuga or the first age of the world, when Sati, the wife of Shiva and the daughter of Daksha committed suicide in consequence of the discourtesy shown to her husband by Daksha. Overpowered by grief Shiva, in a fit for frenzy, stuck the corpse of his wife on the point of his trident and roamed about like mad god, till Vishnu cut up the body with his Chakra into 52 parts which fell at different place in India. The heart, it is said, fell at the holy shrine Deoghar and hence that place is called Baidyanathdham. The shrine of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam is at Deoghar and Haridrapeetha lay here. Where the heart of Sati fell, the shrine is called Hardyapeetha and the enblem of Baidyanath has been established there since that time by Lord Vishnu.
The Padampurana in Patal Khand mentions the importance of Hardrapeetha:
As Sati's heart fell here so it became rare Hardyapeetha. It is dearer than all peethas to me. Oh, Ravana! My devotee, there is no peetha greater than this. True, true again and again truely, it is true and there is no doubt in it. It is, therefore, Ravana took to this Jyotirlingam of unique light. Having taken to your both hands, place it in the pious and famous hardapeetha. According to Shiva's voice keep it there. If one sees this lingam, he sees shiva. Mahadeva told this his devotee Ravana. With folded hands Ravana took to the lingam soon. If one worships this lingam, he gets fruits of worshipping a crore of lingas. You will also follow the course of worshipping the lingam without delay. Lingam is fulfiller of all desires and it is bearing all the worldly pleasures. Whichever a man wishes to get on the earth, his desires will be fulfilled. By worshipping this lingam one can cut tree of sins and the tree of the good work will flourish. For devotees it is bearing fruits for all desires. The omnipotent god will stay here till the deluge. The lingam of the self spirit keeps the universe tangible and so long the earth will remain the Great Master will remain here.
The religious importance of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam should be based upon the facts of the Puranas and Tantras. Puranas might have fallen a pray to their religious lust, as they did. But they would have been spared the glory of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam of a great importance and surely of great cultural heritage.
Adi Shankaracharya declared it in the east and in the north geographical boundary of India as:
The architecture of this temple is indigenous. We can place it under Nagar style. It is Shringvat temple. It contains Kati, Mekhala, and Shring which support the style of Nagara. According to religious belief this temple has been built by Vishwakarma, the architect of gods. There are three parts of this temple; i.e., the main temple, the middle part of the main temple, and the entrance part of the main temple. The main temple is beyond historical dates. It has been visited since the age of Rama, the king of Ayodhya. From the available sources we can say that the presence of Chandrakant Mani is also its glory.
In the popular 'Lingaashtalkam' we get the reference to Asthdal Kamal i.e., Chandrakant Mani which is as such:
The lingam is surrounded by the eight petals. It is the origin of the all creations. It destroys the poverty of eight kinds. I, therefore, pay reverential salutation to Sadashiva Lingam. We can ascertain that the Manjhla Khand was built during the reign of Guptas. Inscription certifies it:
The sage desired to erect on the Haridra Peetha a magnificent edifice, splendent as moon light. O wise king of Cholas, such an edifice could not be the work of man, but no doubts it will be accomplished some time in the Kali age.
There is no place greater or more sacred than this, said Sambhu; it is two mile square and four cubits high. As often as, O Lord of mortals, distress obtains in this place, so often does Rama, the lotus-eyed, descend in incarnation. Verily is this haughty goddess beneficent to him like a mother. He verily should be known to be Rama who will cause this temple to be made.
The entrance of this main temple was created later on. Perhaps, this portion was built during the Mughal period. Puranmal, the Raja of Gidhour added this but he took the credit for the building of the main temple. We find an inscription in which the name of Purana has been referred to this temple. This whole area of Deoghar was under the rule of the Raja of Gidhour and the Raja of Gidhour are very much attached with this temple. It is believed that this part of the temple was built by Maharaja of Gidhour.
Thus the abode of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam is a very ancient sacred place of India importance and international fame. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga kshetra in India. Baidyanath Jyotirlinagam is as old as the Ramayana and it is associated with the story of Ravana, in religious literatures. As its very name implies, Baidyanathdham Deoghar, is the holy place where Shri Vishnu is said to have installed Shiva in this form. Hence, the presiding deity here is revered as Baidyanath Jyotirlingam. The holy place is famous for its cultural history where people from every corner of India throng all the year round.
A number of tantras also appreciate this place. It is also one of 52 peethas. The question of Pithas is associated with Devi Bhagwat, Kubjika Tantra, Kalika Rahasyam, Mundmal Tantra and Rudrayamalam etc. These Tantras mention this holy shrine as a popular Tantrik seat for Sadhakas. Famous scholar and Tantric Gopinath Kaviraj have mentioned Baidyanathdaham as a seat of Tantric Sadhana. This holy shrine is famous a Chitabhumi. Here we get the worship of Sri Chakra which is still lying in the inner apartment of Bhitarakhanda, administrative office of the high-priest. Now it is administrative office of the temple. There is also one ever flaming Kund where tantrik rituals are being performed for Shakti Sadhana. Baglamukhi and Jai Durga are supposed to be the chief deities of this pitha. Baidyanath is himself Bhairav and he guards this region against auspicious acts. Tanric Sadhana is the crux to worship Lord Shiva and Shakti. During the time of Durga Puja, the decoration of Gahbara was initiated in the temples of Jagadjanani and Kal Bhairava which is more or less Tantric rituals. The presence of Panchshoola is also a matter of Tantric cult.
The temple of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam has patronage of several sects, castes and communities in the past and even today. The Islam and Christianity is influenced by the spiritual and religious envirornment of the temple. Baidyanath is a centre and symbol of Sarva Dharma Sambhava (respect for all religions). We cannot forget the name of Data Saheb. In the religious and cultural history of Deoghar, there is a place on the north-east of Shivganga which was famous as 'Data Ka Jungle'. In the past there was dence forest here. Data Saheb was a muslim Fakir. He was Bhakta to Baidyanath. Every day he used to offer flowers and Vilva in the hands of priest to please Lord Baidyanath. He used to come in the campus of Deoghar temple and offer flowers to priests and Priests offer them to the lingam. There is still lying Mazar of Data Saheb. Once in a year Urs was offered on the Mazar of Data Saheb.
Baidyanath Jyotirlingam is a great power, gracing great effects. Bhaktas receive it from God for God shows it to the entire world in a way that can not be hid or concealed. He must fulfil desires of devotees. The result of His greatness is the page of Deoghar Jail's history. In British India a jailor was posted at Deoghar. As ill luck would have it he was facing against his misfortune. His son was missing in a sea together with his ship. Jailor was upset and he did not pay proper attention to his work. He was advised by his staff to meditate and worship Baidyanath as God is famous for fulfilling one's desires. He began to meditate upon Baidyanath Jyotirlingam. Miracles took place. Suddenly news come, he is alive and ship is alright. Since then he started a tradition in the Deoghar Jail and 'Phool Kaman' was created to gather flowers and Vilva Patras for worshipping Lord Baidyanath. He was influenced by the great power of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam. This is unique tradition and we can not find such in other temples of Jyotirlingam in India. The temple of Baidyanath is undeniably a famous holy shrine for developing the religious sense in the people which enable them to think and feel that India is not a mere coteric of geographical fragments, but a single, though immense organism, fitted with the tide of one strong pulsating life from end to end. The visit to holy place as an imperative religious duty has made wide travelling a nation habit in India in all ages of life, with young and old alike.
This is one of the twelve Jyotirlingam temples which link India with a remote past by a living chain and it is very satisfactory that the temple without losing its time honoured sanctity benefits by the methods of modern organisation. To those who have travelled so far to Baidyanath Jyotirlingam will remain an impressive picture of the religious life of Hindus. We can quote here Dr. Radha Krishnan - "It is clear that Hinduism is a process not a result; a growing tradition, not a fixed revelation. It never shut off by force wisdom any where, for there are no distinctions of mine and thine in the kingdom of spirit."
In this way we can say that the shrine of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam is the symbol of the unity of spiritual, social, cultural and even temporal of our great India. When people from all parts of country congregate here, they exchange mutual information and feel that they are one and indivisible. We of the great India should be proud of our ancestor's wisdom and foresight.
We conclude this by Shiva Vandana of late High priest Bhavaprita Nand Ojha which is as such:
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