Located in Deoghar, in the Indian state of Jharkhand, the Baidyanath Jyotirlinga, also known as Baba Baidyanath Dham or simply Baidyanath Dham, is one among the 12 jyotirlingas spread all across the country. These jyotirlingas are known as the holy abodes of Lord Shiva, where it is believed he had appeared as a fiery column of light and showcased his infinite nature of existence in this universe. The location of the real Baidyanath Jyotirlinga is hugely disputed, with two other places, namely Vaijnath Temple located in Parli, Maharashtra, and Baijnath Temple located in Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh too claiming to be the host of the real Baidyanath Jyotirlinga.
Coming to the origins of the Baidyanath Jyotirlinga in Deoghar, as per the narrations in the Shiva Purana, the King of Lanka, demon Ravana in the Treta Yuga, had this strong feeling that unless and until Lord Shiva stayed in his kingdom, his empire wouldn’t be free of all the enemies. In this realization, he religiously prayed and did tough meditations for Lord Shiva, and after that when Lord Shiva was pleased by his dedication, he gave him the consent to take his Atmalinga from Mount Kailash to Lanka. Ravana was really happy with this offer, however, Lord Shiva gave him a warning that the atmalinga cannot be transferred to anyone else and in one journey itself needs to be installed at Lanka without being kept on the ground anywhere else. If he fails to do so, wherever the Atmalinga will be kept, it will automatically get installed there forever and cannot be moved.
When Ravana started his journey from Mount Kailash back to Lanka with the Atmalinga of Lord Shiva in his hands, other gods got really enraged with this development since they felt, with Lord Shiva in the kingdom, Ravana would become invincible and will torment the whole kingdom with his boundless powers and atrocious intentions. Because of this, they requested the water god Varuna to enter the belly of Ravana in order to outwit him during his journey. When it happened, Ravana felt extremely uncomfortable and wanted to release the water from his belly that was bothering him. On his way, he met Lord Ganesha disguised as a Brahmin and not knowing the game plan, he trusted him with the lingam and handed it over to him for a short while and went to release the water from his system. The Brahmin (Lord Ganesha) then placed the lingam in the place there itself, where it got installed automatically, and that place became known as Baidyanathdham, with the atmalingam placed there known as the Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and the whole area, Deoghar. Ravana was frustrated when he couldn’t move the lingam from there even an inch and at first, he became violent, however, later apologized to the lord and begged for forgiveness. He daily travelled to this spot from Lanka in order to worship the lingam.
Like other jyotirlingas, the main festival celebrated at the Baidyanath Jyotirlinga too is Mahashivaratri.
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