By Swami Harshananda
Deoghar is a corrupted form of Devagṛha which means ‘ the house of God’, is a town situated in the Santhal Parganas of the Jharkhand State. It is famous for its temple of Vaidyanātha or Baidyanāth (Śiva), one of the twelve Jyotirliṅgas. Other names by which it was known are: Harītakīvana, Ketakīvana, Rāvaṇavana, Citābhumi, Hārdapīṭha. It is believed that the place might have been a forest of trees of inknuts (haritaki) or fragrant screw-pine flowers (ketakī). According to the local legends, when Rāvaṇa got the Śivaliṅga from Śiva to be taken to Laṅkā, the gods contrived to get it fixed to the ground on the way itself. This place has now become the present Vaidyanātha. This is also the place where the hṛdaya or the heart of Satī’s body (cut by Viṣṇu, by his discus) is said to have fallen, hence it is also named as Hārdapīṭha (seat of the heart of Sati), one of the 52 Śaktipiṭhas (places of Śakti or the Divine Mother).
Design of Vaidyanātha Temple
The temple of Vaidyanātha Śiva is a simple structure with a pyramidal tower of 26.5 meters (72 feet) in height. It faces east. The liṅga is cylindrical in form. It is 10 cms (4 inches) high. The diameter is 12.7 cms. (5 inches). The top of the liṅga is uneven. There are different porches, some containing pillars and hanging bells.
Neighborhood of Vaidyanātha Temple
Near the main entrance there is a well called Candrakupa (‘well of Candra or the Moon’). This well is said to contain the essence of all the holy rivers and lakes. A little away is the Śivagaṅgā. It is a large tank measuring 270 meters by 180 meters (900 feet by 600 feet) with an embankment. It is also called Mānasarovar.
The rituals followed in the temple are very simple. A person bathes the liṅga with water, smears with sandal paste and offers bilva leaves and flowers. There are pilgrims who bring water from the Gaṅgā near Badarīnāth or even the Mānasarovar (in Tibet) just to bathe this liṅga.
Significance of Worship
Persons suffering from serious ailments or who has unfulfilled desires observe certain simple vows as lying on the bare ground and drinking the holy water with which the liñga has been bathed. They observe it for three days. It is believed that the redemption comes with revelations during a dream.
Other Temples Surrounding Vaidyanātha Temple
There are eleven other shrines in the courtyard of the temple dedicated to deities which include:
If the present temple of Vaidyanātha was renovated or rebuilt in A. D. 1596 by one Pūraṇ Mal ,the others have come up during the period A. D. 1630 to 1813 built by several others.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore