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The origin of Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlingam


History of Babadham

The legends about the origin of the Jyotirlingam and the Shiva temple are various.

One legend, according to Shiva Purana is that in the Treta Yuga the deamon Ravana, king of Lanka (Ceylon), propitiated Lord Mahadeva and wanted him to come over to Lanka. Mahadeva did not agree to his prayer but told Ravana that one of the twelve emblems of his divinity, Jyotirlinga, would be quite as effective as his presence and that he might take it away on the condition that there should be no break in the journey back to Lanka and the lingam would not be deposited anywhere on the earth. The condition was that if the lingam were put anywhere on the earth in the course of the journey, it would be fixed to that spot forever. The legend is that Ravana agreed to this condition and took the lingam and started his journey back to Lanka.

The gods dreaded the effect of the lingam being established at the seat of the deamon king. A ruse was devised and Varuna, the god of the waters, entered the stomach of Ravana and the deamon had to descend to earth to relieve him.

Later, Vishnu, in the garb of an old Brahmin, appeared before Ravana, after his descent to the earth, and began to converse with him. Unaware of the trick, Ravana requested the Brahmin to hold the Jyotirlinga for a few minutes so that he could relieve himself. Lord Vishnu readily agreed to it and, as soon as Ravana turned his back to relieve himself, he left the Jyotirlinga on the spot and vanished. When Ravana came back, he found that the Jyotirlinga was firmly fixed to the earth and realized that a trick had been played on him. Out of frustration, he pressed it with his thumb so it went inside and got tilted slightly.

However, failing to remove the lingam, he made his obeisance to the lingam and daily he used to come from Lanka and worship the divinity. The spot where Ravana came down to the earth has been identified with Harila Jori, about four miles north of Babadham and the place where the lingam was deposited is known as Babadham.

The present nomenclature of the lingam is Baidyanath Jyotirlingam, and there is a legend about it. According to the Padma Purana, a Brahmin in the garb of Lord Vishnu, after taking the lingam from Ravana, consecrated it in due form with water from a neighboring tank. This tank is known as Shivaganga today.

There was a Bhil present, who was instructed as to what should be done. The Bhil had informed Ravana as to the disappearance of the Brahmin. Ravana is supposed to have excavated a well with an arrow and brought into it the waters of all the sacred pools of the earth. This well is known as Chandrakoopa today.

It is said that the lingam, after the death of Ravana, used to be worshipped by a hunter Baiju, and the lingam came to be known by Baiju's name as Baidyanath. The story of Baiju giving rise to the name of Baidyanath is more prevalent as a Santhal tradition.

There is another legend to the effect that in the Satya Yuga when Sati, the consort of Shiva and daughter of Daksha, committed suicide because of the discourtesy shown towards her husband by Daksha in not inviting him to a Yajna, Lord Shiva stuck the corpse of his wife on the point of his trident and roamed about in a frenzy of fury. Lest Shiva's anger and frantic movements should destroy the world, Vishnu cut the dead body with his discus into fifty-two parts, which fell in different parts of India and became Mahapithasthans. According to the legend, the heart of Sati fell at Babadham. Hence, the name Hridayapeeth. There is, however, no shrine to commemorate this occurrence.

Another legend is that, in the first age of the world, Lord Shiva manifested himself as a lingam of light at twelve different places under different names, and Baidyanath was one of those twelve places. Sati worshipped the emblem in the form of a pandanus flower on the top of the lingam and dwelt for a long time in a grove close by in order to worship it. This place is called Ketakivana.

Matsya Purana narrates about the sanctity of the holy place where Shakti lives and frees people from diseases, i.e., Arogya Baidyanathitee. It signifies that Baidyanath cures people from incurable diseases with the help of shakti, the destroyer of diseases.

 

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