Baidyanath Dham Temple, Deoghar

Baidyanath Dham Temple, Deoghar

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath Dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva located in Deoghar in the the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples. 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. Thus the abode of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam is a very ancient sacred place of India importance and international fame. 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. It is also one of 52 peethas.

It is believed that, Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. Interestingly, the same shrine of Baidyanath is considered as one of 51 Shakti Peethas, where 'heart' of Sati (goddess) fell, after being broken apart by the Sudarshana Chakra of Lord Vishnu, from the body of Sati, carried by distraught Shiva, at the location on which the respective temple is built. Since the heart of Sati fell here, the place is also called as Hardapeetha. Here Sati is worshipped as Jai Durga and Lord Bhairav as Baidyanath. 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 Matsyapuran narrates the place as Arogya Baidyanathitee, the holy place where Shakti lives and assists Shiva in freeing people from incurable diseases.

According to the stories narrated in 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 (Shiva) 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.The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible, and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world. They never liked to see Lord Shiva as his protector. They devised a plan for outwitting Ravana. They requested Varuna (the god of water) to enter into the belly of Ravana, on his way back from Mount Kailash. So, on his way back, Ravana felt a severe urge to release water. He began looking for a man to whom he could temporarily entrust the lingam. Lord 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. 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 and damaging it. Later on he felt guilty of his doings and begged for forgiveness. The Gods were happy that the Shiva linga had not reached Ravana's place. He returned to Lanka but visited 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. The place where the lingam was kept is now Deoghar and the lingam itself is known to all as Baidyanath Jyotirlingam.
According to other traditions, the 'LINGAM' (Lord Shiva) lay neglected after the death of Ravana until it was noticed by a rude hunter, Baiju, who accepted it as his God and worshiped it daily; proclaiming to the world, as the Lord of Baiju (Baidyanath). The story of Baiju giving rise to the name of Baidyanath is more prevalent as a Santhal tradition.

Baba Baidyanath Temple Complex: 

Baba Baidyanath Temple 

The Baba Baidyanath temple complex consists of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlingam is installed, and 21 other temples of different Gods and Goddesses among which Lord Shiva is empowered as being supreme.The temples are of both old and new styles .
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. The temple of Baidyanath or Shiva is the most important of all the temples in the courtyard. The temple faces the east and is a plain stone structure with a pyramidal tower, 72 feet tall and it is lotus shaped. The top contains three ascending shaped gold vessels that are compactly set, and were donated by the Maharaja of Giddhaur. Besides these pitcher shaped vessels, there is a Punchsula (Five knives in Tridenta shape), which is rare. In the inner top there is an eight pettaled lotus jewel called Chandrakanta Mani. The main 'LINGAM' (Lord Shiva) is also very rare. The lingam installed inside, is of a cylindrical forming about 5 inches in diameter and projects about 4 inches from the centre of a large slab of basalt. The top is broken and has uneven surface. It is not possible to ascertain how much of the lingam is buried. The top is broken and has uneven surface. There are different porches in the temple. One porch leads to the cell where the lingam is fixed. The second porch is in front with a row of pillars spanned by blocks of basalt and on the right side there is a sandstone image of nandi. There are bells fixed in the ceiling and pilgrims are supposed to pull the bell ropes to announce their approach to the divinity. To the east of the northern verandah of the temple there is a large masonry vat into which flows the water and milk offered to the lingam. The liquid in it is essentially a mix of milk, sandal paste and washing of flowers, which impart to it a fragrant smell and is treated as highly sacred.

Rama Temple: This is a big temple. The idols of Rama, Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrughan and Sita are present inside.
Laxmi Narayan Temple : This is a big temple. The temple has three sided verandah.
Maa Ganga Temple : It is a small temple devoted to Ganga .
Anand Bhairava Temple : This is a big sized temple with deity of Ananda Bhairava . It is made of black stone. His worship is done for the savior of the region and people.
Gauri Shankara Temple : The temple houses the deities of Gauri and Shankar, hence the name. It is a small temple.
Maa Tara Temple : There is a temple of the goddess Tara. At the entrance of this temple are two deities namely Bhuvaneshvari and Kamala.
Narvadeshwar Temple : There is a small room in the administrative building of the temple where lies the Narmad Shiva-lingam.
Maa Kali Temple : This is a temple of the goddess Kali. The deity is the oldest one and is worshipped as the goddess of the region i.e. Gram Kali.
Maa Annapurna Temple : This temple is small in size. It focuses on Bengal architecture.

Chandrakoopa Well : This well is situated near the main entrance of the Temple courtyard. Pilgrims fetch water from the well and pour over the head of Jyotirlingam. 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.
Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple: It is a small temple housing the deity of Neelkantha Mahadeva and Sati.

Maa Parvati Temple : This temple belongs to Tripursundari i.e. Maa Parvati . It is well known as Parvati temple. The importance of Shakti Puja together with Shiva is evident from this temple. Maa parvathi temple is tied up with the main temple, with huge red sacred threads which is unique and worthy of reverence, showing the unity of Shiva and Shakti.
Maa Jagat Janani Temple : There are a number of deities in this temple though it is famous as Jagat Janani Temple.
Ganesh Temple : This temple has the idol of eight handed Ganesh in a dancing posture.
Brahma Temple : It is a small temple. It houses a four headed idol of Brahma.
Maa Sandhya Temple : This temple houses the idol of Maa Sandhya. Pilgrims accept it as a temple of Kamakhya.
Mahakala Bhairava Mahadeva Temple : It is a common size temple having a big deity of Mahakala Bhairava. By the side of the main deity a spot is accepted as an idol of Batuk Bhairava. It has two doors - both in the east and west.
Hanuman Temple : It is a verandah without barrier. There are a number of deities in this. It is also called the temple of Kuber. In ancient time it was the centre of revenue collection for the Maharaja of Gidhaur.
Tulsi Chaura : In the southern part of the courtyard, there are temples of Hanuman, Mansa, Saraswati and Surya centering an altar. This altar is called Tulsi Chaura. In the past, there were bushes of Tulsi over it. Now, a number of deities have been placed at its base.
Maa Mansa Temple : It is a small temple of goddess Mansa.
Maa Saraswati Temple : This is a small temple of goddess Saraswati.
Surya Narayan Temple : This is a temple without a dome. The old idol of the sun-god was stolen in the past.

Maa Bagla Temple : A small temple of goddess Bagla.
Neel Chakra : This is an altar in the temple courtyard. It is situated in front of Maa Sandhya temple and Baba Baidyanath temple. It is a flat stone, studded with curves. In the religious history people connect it with the importance of Kamakhya of Assam.
The Madan Madhavi, a manuscript preserved in the archives of Maharaja of Gidhaur, provides information related to the political and cultural history of Gidhaur Raj. It includes a description of Babadham as well. This whole area of Deoghar was under the rule of the Kings of Gidhaur who were much attached with this temple. Raja Bir Vikram Singh founded this princely state in 1266. In 1757 after the Battle of Plassey the officers of the East India Company paid their attention to this temple. An English man, Keating was sent to look at the administration of the temple. Mr. Keating, the first English collector of Birbhum, took interest in the administration of the temple. In 1788, under Mr. Keating's order Mr. Hesilrigg, his assistant, who was probably the first English man to visit the holy city, set out to supervise personally the collection of the pilgrim offerings and dues. Later, when Mr. Keating himself visited Babadham, he was convinced and forced to abandon his policy of direct interference. He handed over the full control of the temple to the hands of the high priest.

The importance of Babadham increases during the month of Shrawan. The pilgrims are called Dak Bam and they do not stop even once in their journey from Sultangunj, located at Bhagalpur district to Vaidyanath. Pilgrims to the temple later visit the Basukinath temple. During this period, lakhs of devotees throng the Baba Baidyanath temple. Most of them first visit Sultanganj in Bihar, which is 105 km from Babadham. In Sultanganj, the Ganges flows to the North. It is from this place that the devotees collect water in their kanwars and carry the holy Ganges water, with the kanwars on their shoulders. They walk 105 km up to Baba Baidyanath temple at Babadham reciting Bol Bam on the way. On reaching Babadham, the kanwarias first take a dip in the Shivaganga to purify themselves, and then enter the Baba Baidyanath temple, where the Ganges water is offered to the Jyotirlingam. This pilgrimage continues during the whole of Shravan for 30 days, during July-August. This is the longest religious fair in the world. Besides the great pilgrimage of Shrawan, almost the whole year remains under fair with Shivaratri in March, Basant Panchami in January, Bhadra Purnima in September. Millions of pilgrims visit this shrine every year.
The custom of carrying Kanwar started in the Treta Yuga - the silver age of Hindu mythology. Lord Rama had carried the holy ganges water from Sultanganj in a kanwar and offered to Lord Shiva at Babadham. The legend says that when the churning of oceans - Samudra Manthan - took place in the month of Shravan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the deamons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva. To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods, thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to make lessen the effect of poison. Since, this happened in the month of Shravan, since then the Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month.

The word Bam is a short name for Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The letters BA came from Brahma and Vishnu and M came from Mahesh. It is a long efficacious mantra (a hymn). When it is chanted during the way, it generates energy and enthusiasm amongst the kanwarias and gives them the psychological strength to carry on walking and succeed in covering the long distance from Sultanganj to Babadham. According to the Skand Purana, those who complete the holy journey by reciting Bam-Bam obtain the virtues of Ashwamedha Yajna. According to the Puranas, the daemon king Ravana had brought the Ganges water from Haridwar and offered to Lord Shiva.
On a normal day, the worshipping of Baidyanath Jyotirlingam begins at 4 AM. The temple doors open at this time. During 4:00am to 5:30 am, the Head priest worships with Shodashopachar. Locals also call it Sarkari Pooja. Then the devotees begin their worship of the Shivalinga. The most interesting tradition is that priests of the temple pour kuchcha Jal upon the lingam first, and later on the pilgrims pour water and offer flowers and Beal leaf, upon the lingam. The Puja rituals continue till 3.30 PM. After this the temple doors are closed. In the evening at 6 PM the doors are opened again for devotees/ pilgrims and the process of worshipping begins again. At this time Shringar Puja takes place. The temple closes at 9:00 pm on the normal day, but during Holy Shravan month, the timings are extended. The pandas who perform different poojans for devotees are very important persons. They have a union called Dharmarakshini Sabha. The devotee can also buy Peda as prasad from Babadham. Peda is a local speciality of Deoghar. Babadham has a regular and well maintained office to accept offerings and donations.
Babadham is located in north-eastern Jharkhand, four miles from Jasidih railway station on the main line of the Eastern Railway from Howrah to Delhi. There is a small railway branch line from Jasidih to Babadham. The railway station at Babadham is called Baidyanath Dham.


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