Baidyanath Jyotirlinga is located in Deoghar in Jharkhand. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.
According to Hindu beliefs, Ravana worshipped Shiva at this temple and got the boons which he used to wreak havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Pleased with this, Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. As he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidya ("Doctor").
It is believed that, Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Ardra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. Interestingly, the same shrine of Baidyanath is considered as one of 51 Shakti Peethas, where The ‘heart’ of Sati fell. Since the heart of Sati fell here, the place is also called as Hardapeetha. Tantras mention this holy shrine as a popular Tantrik seat for Sadhakas.
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 Shiva stayed there forever. He meditated on Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva was pleased and allowed him to carry his Atmalinga with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this linga to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposited the linga 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 linga. Lord Ganapathi appeared before Ravana in the guise of a Brahmin. Unaware of the mystery, Ravana handed over the linga to the Brahmin. Unfortunately, Ravana could not ease himself soon. Meanwhile, the Brahmin placed the linga at this place which was and which is now Baidyanathdham. Ravana tried hard to remove the linga from the spot where it had been placed. He could not move the linga even an inch. This made him frustrated. He used violence but he only succeeded in damaging it. Later on he felt guilty 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 linga. 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 linga was kept is now Deoghar and the linga itself is known to all as Baidyanath Jyotirlinga.
The temple faces the east and is 72 feet tall and it is lotus shaped. 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 and the entrance . The main temple is beyond historical dates. It has been visited since the age of Rama, the King of Ayodhya. The top contains three ascending shaped gold vessels that are compactly set. Besides these pitcher shaped vessels, there is a ‘Panchashoola ‘ (Five knives in Trident shape), which is rare. In the inner top there is an eight petalled lotus jewel (Chandrakant Mani).
The main ‘Linga’ (Lord Shiva) is also very rare. The linga is of a cylindrical form about 5 inches in diameter and projects about 4 inches from the center of a large slab of basalt.
There are bells fixed in the ceiling and pilgrims are supposed to pull the bell-ropes to announce their approach to the divinity. 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.
Unlike Somnath or Rameshwaram or Srisailam, here the devotees can offer Abhishek themselves on Jyotirlinga.
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.
It is famous for the mela of Shravana , between July and August. About 7 to 8 million devotees visit the place from various parts of India and offer holy water of Ganges .You will find large crowds walking all the way carrying water. An unbroken line of people in saffron-dyed clothes stretches over the full 108 km for the month. The pilgrims are called Dak Bam and they do not stop even once in their journey from Sultangunj, located at Bhagalpur district to Baidyanath.
The temple of Baidyanath Jyotirlinga has patronage of several sects, castes and communities in the past and even today. 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 dense forest here. Data Saheb was a Muslim Fakir. He was a Bhakta of Baidyanath. Every day he used to come in the campus of Deoghar temple and offer flowers to priests and Priests would offer them to the linga. There is still a Mazar of Data Saheb. Once in a year Urs is offered on the Mazar . A page from Deoghar Jail’s history. In British India a jailor was posted at Deoghar. As ill luck would have it he was facing misfortune. His son was missing in a sea together with his ship. He was upset and 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 Jyotirlinga. Miracles took place. Suddenly news came that his son was alive and his ship was 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.
A Special Note.
Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga is believed to exist in four places–
1.Deogarh in Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand.
2.Parli Village in Nanded in Maharashtra.
3.Kiragram in Punjab
4. Dabhol in Gujarat.
Parli Vaijnath is located about 120 kms from Nanded. The Temple is situated on a hill. At the entrance one can see a huge pillar–less hall which is made of sagwan wood.
This Temple is more famous than Kashi among the pilgrims as Lord Shankara is residing with Parvati.
Rani Ahalyabai Holkar renovated this temple.
The Sabhamandap and the Garbagriha are on the same level.
Famous tale of Satyavan and Savitri is believed to have happened here.