Baba Dhaam

Baidyanath Jyotirling temple, also known as Baba Dham and Baidyanath Dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abode of Lord Shiva. According to Hindu Mythology the demon king Ravana worshipped Lord Shiva and in an attempt to appease the Lord began offering one head after the other as sacrifice. Pleased with Ravana’s devotion and sacrifice Lord Shiva descended to earth, played doctor and cured the injured Ravana. Since here, in this place God descended as a ‘Baidya’ or Physician (doctor) the place got its name, Baidyanath Dham; the place where the lord played Baidya.

Apart for the story attached to the name, many other interesting beliefs are attached to this most unique temple. This temple is contesting with 3 other temples for the enviable spot of being one amongst the 12 Jyotirling temples in our country. Some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanath Jyotirlingam. Other schools of thought claim that Kiragram in Punjab and Dabhoi in Gujarat are the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temples.

The uniqueness just begins here and everything about this temple is different and unlike any other temple in the world.  The origin of Baidyanath Dham is full of antiquity.

According to Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta Yuga that the demon Ravana, King of Lanka, meditated upon Mahadeva seeking that the Lord should permanently reside in Lanka. Shiva got pleased and permitted Ravana to carry His Lingam (a symbolic from of stone tinctured with circle of light) to Lanka, warning Ravana to not to let go of the Lingam till he reached his destination.  If he does have to let go of it then the lingam would get fixed at that spot forever.

On his way back from Mount Kailash it was time for Ravana to perform his Sandhya Vandanam and he searched for someone to hold the Lingam for him till he completed his pooja. Lord Ganesha is said to have appeared in the disguise of a shepherd and offered to hold the Ligam, but only for a little while. As fate would have it, Ganesha called out Ravana’s name 3 times saying he was tired and would like to relinquish the Lingam soon. And by the time ravana returned from his pooja the Lingam was set on the banks of the river and the shepered was nowhere to be seen.

Another story goes that Gods conspired and begged Lord Vishnu do play some trick because if the Lingam reached Lanka then there was no stopping Ravana and his further destruction of the world.  So, Lord Varun entered Ravana’s tummy giving him an unstoppable urge to release self and at the nick of the moment Lord Vishnu appeared in the disguise of a Brahmin and offered to hold the Lingam till Ravana released himself. Ravana took too long to relieve himself and the Bramhin placed the Lingam and disappeared.  Ravana tried to push, nudge, lift the lingam with all his might to no avail; and out of sheer frustration and anger he kicked the lingam on top and pushed it further down into the earth.  Ravana immediately realised his folly and casino begged to be forgiven but what was done could not be undone and thus Baidyanath Dham came to being. The lingam has a small denture on top and is practically inside the earth; only the dented top is what is visible to the devotees. This jyotirling is also known as ‘Manokamana Ling’ because it was Ravana’s wish that was being fulfilled by the benevolent Baba, or Lord Shiva.

The origin of the temple and its present day structure also has colourful history attached to it.  The temple is famous since the 8th century AD, the last Gupta Emperor, Adityasena.  Later during Akbar’s reign Man Singh is believed to have visited this temple regularly; he is said to be the one who got the tank excavated, the Mansarovar tank of today.

This temple passed on through generations and in the 18th century due to a political turmoil the temple is said have fallen into the hands of Nawab of Birbhum  and then after the East India Company came in 1788, Mr .Keating, the then collector of Birbhum restored the temple architecture and handed it over full control to the high priest.

This sacred place is thronging with devotees throughout the year and has more than 7-8 million devotees; a world record, during the holy month of shravana. This particular month people offer water of the holy Ganges to the deity; the water is collected from Sultangunj. Sultangunj is about 106km from this temple and pilgrims cover this distance on foot carrying 2 sets of clothes and the holy water. An unbroken human chain in saffron- dyed clothes stretches all the way from Sultangunj to the temple. All the pilgrims address each other as ‘bum’ and some devotees pledge to cover this 106km distance overnight, non-stop. They are called Dak-bum’s. Many villagers set up camp on either side of the trail selling food, shelter and massage oils. The tired bare foot pilgrims relax, get a massage done and walk on with renewed energy.

Another unique thing about this temple is women can visit this place during the shravan month particularly, even if they are having their monthly cycle. Secondly, because it is Bhole Baba’s temple one can see almost every other pilgrim smoking ‘ganja’ and lost to the world around!

The queen of Nepal (seeking a child) is also said to have covered this journey once and it took her the whole month of sharavan to cover the 106km.

Babadham is located in N.E. Jharkhand, 4 miles from /Jasidih station on the Eastern Railway.  It stands near G.T. Road connecting Delhi with Kolkata. Regular passenger buses ply from Ranchi, Bokaro, Jamshedpur and other places.

Hotels are innumerable but since this is a very small place, it is better check properly before choosing.The website: www.babadham.org/shrawan.php has detailed information about everything pertaining to this holy place.