Vaidyaath temple at Deogarh The ancient pilgrimage town of Deogarh
in the Santal Parganas area of Bihar is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Yogeshwari of Ambejogai was married
to Lord Vaidyanatha of Parali. But by the time the marriage party reached, the auspicious time of the wedding had passed.
As a result the people of the marriage party turned into stone statues. Yogeshwari was waiting away from Parali. This is one
story that is frequently heard there.
When the Gods and Demons made their combined effort in Amrit Manthan
(Churning for Nectar), fourteen gems emerged. There were Dhanwantari and Amrit Ratnas in it. When the Demons rushed to grab
Amrit, Lord Vishnu hid the Amrit and Dhanwantari in the Shiva Linga of Lord Shankara. Just as the Demons tried to touch the
Linga, flames started emanating from the Linga. The scared Demons ran aay. But when devotees of Lord Shankara touched the
Linga, there was a free flow of Amrit from the same. Even today, devotees touch the Shiva Linga as a part of taking Darshan.
Here, there is no discrimination between caste, creed or color. Anyone can come and visit this place. As the Lingamurthy is
supposed to have Amrit and Dhanvantari, it is also known as Amriteshwar and Dhanvantari.
This shrine represents one of the 12 Jyotirlingamsof
Shiva held in reverence throughout the country. Vaidyanath is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar.
The twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva are Somnath in Gujarat, Bhimeshwar,
Grushneshwar, Nageshwar and Triyambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath in Deogarh (or in Parali in Andhra Pradesh), Sree Sailam
in Andhra Pradesh, Rameswaram in Tamilnadu, Benares in Uttar Pradesh, Ujjain and Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh and Kedarnath
in the Himalayas.
Deogarh is also known as Vaidyanath, Haritaki
Vana, Ketaki Vana, Ravana Vana, Chitabhoomi and Hardapeetha. Some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali
in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlingam. Other schools of thought claim that Kiragram in Punjab
and Dabhoi in Gujarat are the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temples. The Vaideeswaran Koyil temple in Tamilnadu (which is not a
Jyotirlingam temple) enshrines Vaidyanathar.
Legend has it that Ravana
meditated upon Shiva, and requested him to come over to Sri Lanka, in order that his capital may become invincible. It is
said that he attempted to lift Mount Kailash and take it with him to his capital; however Shiva crushed him
with his finger, and Ravana prayed to him and sought his mercy, after which Shiva gave him one of the twelve Jyotirlingamswith
the condition that if it was placed on the ground it would take root immediately.
Ravana carried the Jyotirlingam and began his trek back to
his capital. Varuna the God of water, entered his belly, and caused him to feel the need to relieve himself.
Vishnu then came down in the form of a lad and volunteered to hold the Jyotirlingam as he relieved himself. Before Ravana
returned, Vishnu placed the Jyotirlingam on the ground, and it became rooted to the spot. A disappointed Ravana offered severe
penances to Shiva here, and cut off nine of his heads. Shiva revived him and joined the heads to the body, as if by the work
of a Vaidya or a physician, hence this Jyotirlingam goes by the name Vaidyanath. The same legend holds at
Gokarnam in Karnataka.
Another legend has it that this temple was re-discovered by
a cowherd Baiju, and hence the name Baijnath.
Vaidyanath is also considered to be one of the 52 Shakti
Pitha shrines of Sati. It is believed that the heart of Sati fell here, when her half burnt body being carried by
Shiva at the end of Daksha's yagna was chopped to pieces by Vishnu's discus.
The temple is situated in a spacious courtyard bounded by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty two other temples.
The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east. The top of the Shiva Lingam is slightly broken, keeping with the legend that
it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. Near the temple is the Sivaganga lake. The Chandrakoopa well, near the main
entrance is said to have been built and consecrated with water from several thirthams by Ravana.