By Prabhat Kishore
The world famous one-month long Shravani Mela of Baidyanath Dham starts with the drizzle of Pavas (Rainy) season. The influx of saffron-dressed Kanwariyas, pouring water into an embellished Kanwar from Sultanganj’s north-vahini Ganga, walk barefoot on a 111 km long invincible path with the deafening sound of “Bol Bam” towards the Baba Baidyanath Mandir in Deoghar. The chant of “Bol-Bam Ka Nara Hai, Baba Ek Sahara Hai” all the way fills this rugged path with devotion to Shiva.
Baidyanath Dham is one of the great pilgrimage sites of Bharatvarsha. One of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Bhagwan Shiva, “Kamana Linga” is located here. This Thirthsthan is famous not only in India, but all over the world. That is why every year lakhs of devotees from other countries like Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Mauritius, Tibet, Bangladesh, Fiji, Pakistan etc come here to bow before Shiva. Shiva devotees fill water from the holy Ganges at Sultanganj and travel to Baidyanath Dham on foot with a Kanwar on their shoulders and offer water to Baba Bholenath. As per mythological legends this Holy spiritual land has its own special importance since the Vedic times.
According to Shiva Puran, Sati sacrificed her life by jumping into the Yagyakund after her father Daksha Prajapati had humiliated her husband Shiva. Enraged by the death of Sati, Bhagwan Shiva carried her body on his shoulder and started performing the Tandav Nritya. The yagya was destroyed and there was a catastrophe all around. Then on the advice of the Devtas, Bhagwan Vishnu sent his Sudarshan Chakra to cut off the body into parts so that Shiva’s anger could be controlled. The limbs of Sati started falling off, which fell at total 52 places. The place, where the Hritpind i.e. heart part of Sati’s body fell in Baidyanath Dham, was named “Hardyapeeth”. It is also known as “Chittabhoomi” because of the cremation of the heart of Sati at the said place by Bhagwan Shiva.
Another legend about Baidyanath Dham is related to Mahapandit and Shastra-Shiromani Lankesh Ravan. Lankapati was such an ardent devotee of Bhagwan Shiva that many times he cut his head instead of a flower and offered it at the feet of his deity. Shiva cured him as Vaidya (Doctor); hence came to be known as Baidyanath (Vaidyanath).
According to another mythology, once a thought came to Ravan’s mind that he has to travel from the remote region of Lanka to Kailash, situated at the extreme end of Uttaranchal of Bharat, to see his adoration again and again. So why not convince Bhagwan Shiva and ask him to stay in Lanka so that he can always get the benefit of his darshan. For this purpose, once Ravana did relentless penance in Kailash. While Shiva could not agree, Ravan said that his “Kamna Ling” would be a good substitute. Shiva accepted the offer on the condition that Ravan must not put down the Ling in the way, otherwise it would not proceed from there and that would be the site of the Ling. Ravan accepted Shiva’s condition. This decision of Shiva caused a stir among the other Devtas, as it was expected to strengthen the demonic power of the mighty Ravan even more. So they made a move. When Ravan was going to Lanka with the “Kamna Linga” through the sky route, he felt uncontrollable urination at this place called Deoghar. Coming down from the sky, he started having a piss by handing over the Shiva-Linga to Lord Vishnu dressed as Baidyanath shepherd. But this was the illusion of the Lord. Hours passed, but Ravan’s piss did not last.
The Shepherd Baidyanath, unable to bear the heavy burden of Shivling, installed it on the Chittabhoomi of Mahasati. After the piss, Ravan tried hard to lift the Shivling; but as per condition, he was not able to do so. Enraged, he pressed the Shivling with his thumb. Later on, Mahadev was named after shepherd Baidyanath and was worshiped by the local devotees. Ravan constructed a well near the Shivling and poured water of all the pilgrimages in it. He constructed a Kund (pool), which is today situated in the form of Shivaganga.
After the return of Ravan to Lanka, Vishwakarma built 21 other grand temples in this huge courtyard apart from Baidyanath Mandir with big stones. These temples are- Annapurna Mandir, Jagjanani Mandir, Parvati Mandir, Kaal Bhairav Mandir, Ganesh Mandir, Brahma Mandir, Sandhya Mandir, Mansa Mandir, Ganga Mandir, Hanuman Mandir, Surya Mandir, Saraswati Mandir, Ram Mandir, Bagala Mandir, Anand Bhairav Mandir , Narmadeshwar Mandir, Gaurishankar Mandir, Kali Mandir, Tara Mandir, Neelkanth Mandir and Laxminarayan Mandir.
The importance of Baidyanath Dham has also mentioned in our scriptures. Glorifying its importance in the Padma Puran, it is said –“Baidyanath Mahalingam, Bhavarog Hare Shivam”. According to Anand Ramayan, once Bhagwan Ramchandraji himself came to Baidyanath Dham after filling water from the Ganges and worshiped Shiva. Since then lakhs of devotees come here every day and get the desired results by worshiping the Kamana Linga. The importance of this month-long Shravani Mela, which takes place in the entire Shravan month, is not only on the national map, but it is also called the longest fair in the world. In any sense, the Shravani Mela of thirty continuous days is no less than the Kumbh Mela at Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain, Ganga Sagar Mela, Vaishno Devi Yatra, and other fairs of South India.
With the deafening slogans of “Bol Bam – Bol Bam” by groups of Shiv Bhakt Kanwariyas constantly moving like the waves of ocean, the spiritual atmosphere is bound everywhere. The devotees walking hundreds of miles get blisters on the feet and suffer pain. But as soon as the Ganges water is offered to Baba, all the pain vanishes and the devotees become self-confessed.
(Author is a technocrat & academician. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected] )