The temple of Baidyanath faces the east and is a plain tone structure with a pyramidal tower, which rises from a square base to a height of 72 feet from the ground. To the east of the northern verandah of the temple there is a. large vat into which flows the water and milk offered as ablution.
The lingam is of a cylindrical forming about 5 inches in diameter and projects about 4 inches from the centre of a large slab of basalt. It is not possible to ascertain how much of the lingam is buried. The top is broken and has uneven surface and the fracture is attributed lo the Story already mentioned.
There are different porches in the temple. One porch leads to the cell where the lingam is fixed. The second porch is in front with a row of pillars spanned by blocks of basalt and on the right side there is a sandstone image of a bull. There are bells fixed in the ceiling and pilgrims are supposed to pull the bell-ropes to announce their approach to the divinity.
The courtyard has eleven other temples. The following is the list of all the twelve temples and of their dedicators with the years, in which they were dedicated, is as certained by Dr. Rajendralal Mitra.
Sl. – Name of Dedicator – Year
- Baidyanath. Puran Mal 1596
- Lakshmi Narayan Vamadeva 1630-40
- Savitri (Tara) Kshemakarna 1692
- Parvati Ratnapani 1701-10
- Kali Jayanarayana 1712
- Ganesa Tikarama 1780
- Surya Rama Datta 1782-93
- Saraswati Rama Datta 1782-93
- Ramchandra Rama Datta 1782-93
- Vagala Devi Rama Datta 1782-93
- Annapurna Rama Datta 1782
- Ananda Bhairava commenced by 1810-23 Ananda Datta, completed by, Sarvananda.
The persons mentioned in the list were Sardar Pandas (high-priests) of Baidyanath temple, with the exception of Puran Mal who was the ancestor of the Maharaja family of Gidhour in Monghry district.
Dr. Rajendralal Mitra held the view that there must have been a temple it the same place at a very early date. It appears that the original temple was very old and Puran Mal really built the lobby and claimed the credit for the whole.
There is an inscription, which mentions that Puran Mal built the temple at the request of Raghunath and tradition has it that the inscription was forcibly put up by Puran Mal after he had the temple repaired. This claim is not conceded by the high-priest and does not find any local support.
There is mother inscription over the entrance of the temple of Baidyanath, which mentions that Aditya Sena with his queen, who had come from the Chola country near Madura in southern India, had built a temple of Vishnu and one Bala- bhadra had built an image of the boar incarnation of Vishnu.
There is an inscription on Mandar Hill, which mentions that Konadevi, was the actual name of Aditya Sena’s queen and she had a tank excavated there, which is still in existence.
The lines referring to the boar statue are engraved in characters of the 7th century A.D.,which is also the date of Aditya Sena, according to the hill inscriptions. The origin of this inscription in the Baidyanath temple is, however, not clear.
In front of the main entrance to the courtyard there is a well called Chandra Kupa which is said to have been brought into being by Ravana and contains the holy waters of all the sacred pools on earth.
There is a large tank nearby known as Shiva Ganga. Dr. Rajendralal Mitra thinks the embankment to the tank was put up by Maharaja Man Sing, Akbar’s General. The tank is also known as Manasarovara.
The rituals followed here consist of pouring water on the lingam, smearing it with sandal paste and offering flowers and a few grains of rice. Offerings of money, in silver or gold or by way of other movable and immovable properties, have been showered from time immemorial.
Pilgrims bring water for offering even from the source of the Ganga near Badrinath or from Manasarovara Lake in Tibet. Hundreds of pilgrims worship the lingam and lie down on the bare pavement of the verandah till next morning for fulfillment of some desire or for the cure of some diseases. In the morning the pilgrims will arise, perform the worship, drink amouthful of water from the vat and lie down and this will continue for three days and three nights. It is said that usually, if the pilgrim is to be redeemed, there will be a dream.
According to the tradition and legend, Deoghar has many other names such as Harda Pitha, Ravanavana, Ketakivana and Haritakivana. The sanctity of the place has been particularly referred to in the Puranas. Pilgrimage to Baidyanath was well recognized in the Muslim period. There is an interesting account of pilgrimage to Baidyanath in the Khulasatu-i-twarikh, written between 1695 and 1699 A.D., which has been referred to by Dr.Jadunath Sarkar in his work on Aurangazeb. The account runs thus:
“In the district of Monghyr on the skirts of the hill, there is a place named the Jharkhand of Baijnath (Baidyanath) sacred to Mahadeva. Here a miraculous manifestation puzzles those who look for the outside of things. That is to say, in this temple there is a pipal tree, of which nobody knows the origin. If any one of the attendants of the temple is in need of the money necessary for his expenses, he abstains from Nod and drink, sits under the tree, and offers prayers to Mahadeva for the fulfillment of his desire.
After two or three days the tree puts forth a leaf covered with lines in the Hindi character, written by an invisible pen, and containing an order on a certain inhabitant of any part of the world for the payment of a certain sum to the person who bad prayed for it. Although his residence may be 500 leagues from Baidyanath, the names of that man and his children, wife, father and grandfather,his quarter, country, home and other correct details about him are known from the writing on the leaf.
The high-priest, writing agreeably to it on a separate piece of paper gives it to that attendant of the temple. This is called the hundi (cheque) of Baijnath. The suppliant, having taken this cheque, goes to the place named on it according to the directions contained in it. The man upon whom the cheque has been drawn pays the money without attempting evasion or guile.
A brahman once brought a hundi of Baijnath to the very writer of this book, and he, knowing it to be a bringer of good fortune, paid the money and satisfied the brahman. More wonderful than this is a cave at this holy place. The high-priest enters into the cave once a year, on the day of the Siva-brata, and having brought some earth out of it, gives a little to each of the ministers of the temple. Through the power of the truly powerful, this earth becomes turned into gold, in proportion to the degree of merit of each man.”
The management of the shrine is elitrusted to a head priest. The post of the head priest (Sardar Panda) is held to be hereditary but he has to be over forty years of age. There had been some important litigation’s involving tile high-priest and the other Pandas regarding the control of the temple.
In civil suit No. 18, of 1897, the Additional Judge of Burdwan (the district was in Bengal at that time and under the jurisdiction of the Burdwan. court) had dismissed the existing head Panda as unfit and disqualified him from holding the post of Sardar Panda and trustee of the temple at Baidyanath.
The Additional Judge decreed that three persons be to be appointed to look after the temple and its properties and for the proper administration of the same and the scheme also set forth the duty of the Sardar Panda, who was to be a descen- dant, of Ram Dutt Jha. This scheme in a broad sense is still functioning and the administration of the temple is vested in a Council of Trustees, which includes the high-priest and other Pandas as well as laymen.
There are more than 300 families of Pandas who all belong to a branch of the Maithil Brahmans. They help the pilgrims in performing the -various ceremonies connected with the worship of God. One of the Pandas of Deoghar had taken a considerable part in the Non-co-operation movement and had become the Chief Minister of Bihar under the Congress regime from 1961 to 1963.
Some of the sons of the Panda families have also become lawyers, doctors, teachers etc. Deoghar has also a few other recent Hindu religious institutions, which may be briefly mentioned. A Yogic Sadhu of Maharashtrian origin, Sri Balanand Brahmachari, hailing from Ujjain, had established an ashram at Tapoban, a hillock at the outskirts of Deoghar.
Later, he transferred his activities to the Karnibad portion of Deoghar town itself. He passed away in June, 1937, leaving thousands of disciples. A number of religious, educational and charitable institutions are run by a Trust. There are two temples in the campus, which draw a crowd of pilgrims all round the year. The Rani Krishna Vidyapith at Deoghar, sponsored in 1922, has now become quite a big institution.
There is a Dev Sangh Math, established in Deoghar town by Shri Baba Narendra Brahmachari, which has also a number of disciples. The main deity in the temple at this Math is called Haimabati. There are also images of Sri Krishna, Sri Annapurna and Sri Maheshwara.