According to Hindu beliefs, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the current site of the temple to get the boons that he later used to wreak havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Pleased with this, Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. As he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidhya (
Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.
According to the stories narrated in the Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta yuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, felt that his capital would not be perfect and free from enemies unless Mahadeva (Shiva) stays there forever. He paid continuous meditation to Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva got pleased and permitted him to carry his Atmalinga with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this lingam to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposits the lingam anywhere on the earth, in the course of his journey, it would remain fixed at that place forever. Ravana was happy as he was taking his return journey to Lanka.
The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible, and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world.They never liked to see Lord Shiva as his protector. They devised a plan for outwitting Ravana. They requested Varuna (the god of water) to enter into the belly of Ravana, on his way back from Mount Kailash. So, on his way back, Ravana felt a severe urge to release water. He began looking for a man to whom he could temporarily entrust the lingam. Lord Ganapathi appeared before Ravana in the guise of a Brahmin. Unaware of the mystery, Ravana handed over the lingam to the Brahmin.
Unfortunately, Ravana could not ease himself soon. Meanwhile, the Brahmin placed the lingam at this place which was and which is now Baidyanathdham. Ravana tried hard to remove the lingam from the spot where it had been placed. He could not turn out the lingam even an inch. This made him frustrated. He used violence but he only succeeded in pushing the lingam by thumb and damaging it. Later on he felt guilty of his doings and begged for forgiveness. The Gods were happy that the Shiva linga had not reached Ravana's place. He returned to Lanka but visited daily to worship the lingam. This continued forever. The place where Ravana descended on the earth is identified with the present Harilajori about four miles north of Baidyanathdham. The place where the lingam was kept is now Deoghar and the lingam itself is known to all as Baidyanath Jyotirlingam. According to other traditions, the 'LINGAM' (Lord Shiva) lay neglected after the death of Ravana until it was noticed by a rude hunter, Baiju, who accepted it as his God and worshiped it daily; proclaiming to the world, as the Lord of Baiju (Baidyanath).
Millions of pilgrims visit this shrine every year. It is famous for the mela of Shraavana (a month of the Hindu calendar), between July and August. About 7 to 8 million devotees visit the place from various parts of India and offer holy water of Ganges to the deity collected from Sultanganj, which is almost 108 km from Deoghar and Baidyanath. The water is also brought by the K?nvarias, who carry the water in Kavadi, and walk all the distance, on bare foot. You will find large crowds walking all the way carrying water. An unbroken line of people in saffron-dyed clothes stretches over the full 108 km for the month. The pilgrims are called Dak Bam and they do not stop even once in their journey from Sultangunj, located at Bhagalpur district to Vaidyanath. Pilgrims to the temple later visit the Basukinath temple.