Many Houses Of Shiva

December 10, 2011 at 9:15 PMDec (Friends, Literature, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

It is a small shop in the heart of Manipal (Karnataka) called as Tiger Circle, popular as TC in short form. A small juice shop. There I stood with my friend having ordered for a Jaljeera. My friend and I kept discussing the new discussion at the local administrative level to evacuate small carts, especially the mobile ones, from the town, while waiting for the shopkeeper to prepare the Jaljeera.

As Jaljeera flowed down my parched throat I asked the shopkeeper, “Where are you from?” “North,” came the answer.

“Where in North?”


“Ah. It is a beautiful place.”

“Have you been there?”

“Once while going to Kolkata the train went through Jharkhand because a bridge in Orissa had collapsed.”

“Oh. When was this?”

“Hmmm… It was August 2008.”

“What did you see in Kolkata?” he asked to which I gave him a list of places that I visited. Listening to which he asked, “Did you see Howrah bridge?” I told him that I did and I also sat in the ferry and told him that my first experience of a metro was in Kolkata. There was shine in his eyes.

“But the best of all was the Ramakrishna Ashram there,” I told him. “Dakshineshwar too,” he said. “Yeah yeah,” I agreed with him and told him how beautiful the experience of crossing the Hoogly river to reach Dakshineshwar from Belur Mutt, on a boat, was.

Listening to me saying I liked the Dakshineshwar temple and the Belur Mutt over all the other places in Kolkata he seems to have concluded that I am a very religious person very devotional. I am sure my khadi kurta and a beard gave a totally different meaning to him.

“Next time you go up north do visit Deoghar.”

“Where is it? Near Kolkata?”

“No in Jharkhand.”

“Oh. Ok. What is there in Deoghar?”

“There is a temple there. Beautiful one. Famous one.”

“Temple of which God?”

“Shiva,” he replied and continued to say, “There is a story about the temple.” I nodded my head to tell him, non verbally, that I am listening to him and he went on to narrate the story of the temple at Deoghar. The story goes like this:

Ravana pleased lord Shiva with his devotion and convinced Shiva to be taken along with him to Lanka. But the condition to Ravana was that he (Shiva) should be taken to Lanka before the sun sets else he would institute himself in that very place he would be at the hour of sunset. Agreeing to the condition Ravana took Shiva on his shoulders and started speeding towards Lanka. While crossing Deogarh he wanted to urinate. While he couldn’t continue to keep walking with his urinary bladder filled he couldn’t even pass urine with Shiva on his shoulder. As he was calculating what could be done he saw a young boy was walking on the same path. Asking the boy to carry Shiva on his shoulders Ravan went to relieve himself. Beyond Ravan’s control urine kept flowing out and wouldn’t stop. Hours passed and the Ravan kept passing urine. The boy was tiered and he left the place placing Shiva on the ground. The sun set as Ravan kept relieving. Shiva established himself at that very place. Now a temple is set up in that very place hence it is called Deoghar to mean the house of God.

My friend and I looked at each other with great excitement. “This is so much like the Gokarna myth,” my friend said. “Exactly,” I exclaimed. The myth about Gokarna goes this way:

Ravan had won the heart of Shiva and thus won the Aatma-Linga of Shiva on the condition that it should not be placed on the ground and if did it would get rooted in that very place. Agreeing to the condition Ravan took the Aatma-Linga with him. He was on his way to Lanka and while crossing Gokarna it was the hour of sun set and he had to perform ‘sanhdyavandana’ (prayer ritual of the evening). To perform the prayer service he couldn’t place the Aatma-Linga on the ground. While he was wondering what to do, the Gods unhappy with a Rakshasa taking Shiva’s Aatma-Linga with him to the land of demons (Lanka) sent Shiva’s son the elephant faced lord Ganesha to Gokarna in the form of a small Brahmin boy. On seeing a small Brahmin boy Ravan requested the small boy to hold the Aatma-Linga till her performs his prayers service. The boy agreed to hold the Aatma-Linga for a while on the condition that if he was tiered he would call Ravan thrice and if Ravan failed to return before the third call was given he would place the Aatma-Linga on the ground. Ravan agreed to the condition and went on to perform his evening prayer service. After a while Ganesha in the form of a Brahmin boy called Ravan once. Ravan was deeply involved in his prayers. Ganesha called him the second time. Ravan did not return for he couldn’t leave the prayers service half way through. Ganesha called him the third time. Ravan was still not done with his prayer service. Ganesha placed the Aatma-Linga on the ground which got rooted in that very place which is Gokarna where a temple was built.

My friend insisted that I tell the shopkeeper about Gokarna myth. I felt like telling the shopkeeper about it too. I started, “There is a place named Gokarna close to this place and there is a similar story around Gokarna too…” Before I could complete the story the shopkeeper interrupted to say, “The temple of Deoghar is very big, very powerful and very famous also.” I realized that he felt offended by me starting the story of Gokarna saying, “A similar story” exists around Gokarna too. I decided not to go ahead with the myth of Gokarna and shifted the conversation to asking him how to reach Deoghar.

As we took leave from him, my friend and I started discussing how interesting the similarities of myths were. We were amused by the coincidence that we chanced upon this while the controversy around A.K. Ramanujan’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ had grown to a different level by the Delhi University dropping it from the syllabus following protests from the regressive right wing groups.

When I reached home that night I surfed the net to find out more about the place Deoghar. One of travelers cum bloggers has documented the myth around Deoghar but with a slight change in it, making way for us to believe that there are many versions of the same myth in the same palce. His version of the myth goes like this:

“Legend has it that Ravan 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 Ravan prayed to him and sought his mercy, after which Shiva gave him one of the twelve Jyotirlingams with the condition that if it was placed on the ground it would take root immediately.

Ravan carried the Jyotirlingam and began his trek back to his capital. Varuna the God of water entered his belly and caused him 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 Ravan returned Vishnu placed the Jyotirlingam on the ground and it became rooted on the spot.”

The temple at Deoghar is called as Vaidyanath Temple. While surfing for more information about Deoghar I found out that the Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh is also claimed as the place of Vaidyanath Jyotirlingam!!!


  1. Laxmi said,

    Y do the ‘Gods’ keep changin??? Some say it was Ganapathi who came.. some others say it was Vishnu.. N he others say it was Shiva??? But the Villian (Devil) is common ( RAVANA) The Battle of GODS????

  2. Ami Misra said,

    Lovely! Multiplicity is the beauty of oral culture.. By the way sir, you only first introduced introduced us to the term: ‘oral culture’ in class..

  3. Shri said,

    he he.. yeah lots of similar stories everywhere.. 🙂 But i wonder how it is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, if it has the same story.. the more i think abt it.. the more it gets confusing….. anyways am not too religious but curious of course.. he he.. 🙂 we go there atleast once in an year..

  4. malathi S said,

    Every person, each place has a story to tell naa!!Ito each his own!!
    interesting and a lovely write up!!

  5. Waking Wanderlust said,

    The drop of true understanding must first be diluted in an ocean of thought before its meaning can be absorbed. That is a religion’s purpose.

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