INTEGRATION OF VAJRAYAN BUDDHISM IN THE BAIDYANATH CULT
AMAR NATH JHA
Associate professor in History, Swami Shraddhanand Collge, University of Delhi
Religion being the most dominant stream of cultural world, we have undertaken this study; The Baidyanath Cult, not only to understand the various dimensions—Historical, Anthropological, Sociological and cultural aspects of the Baidyanath cult, but also to assess the present form and nature of this cult in the context of its exposure to wider world. The central figure around which everything revolves in the religious world of the region of Santal Parganas is Baidyanath, one of the twelvth jyotirlingams of Shiva. Carved out of a single rock, its magnificence and power draw lakhs of people to Deoghar for worship. The temple is open to all, no matter to which caste, creed or religion the person belongs to. The region of Snatal Parganas is not an exception in the sense that several religious sects flourished and are being followed by people in this area as well. But what strikingly distinguishes the religious world of this region is the emergence of this unique Cult; the Bidyanath Cult, which incorporated various contents of all different religious practices of this region.
Keywords: Vajrayan, Nath-pantha, Siddhas, Sahajiya, Parkiya,
Religion and Culture is very important institutions developed by the human kind. It is a core part of our identities as human beings .This is a mirror in which one can see the reflection of some total of the achievements acquired by a given civilization through millennia. Culture is the thread that binds a group of people together with those whom they recognize as part of them. It is what makes a set of individuals a people and not simply a gathering of strangers. For all modern states India is the one which has most successfully preserved and even enhanced multiple languages and cultures, plural literatures and traditions, extraordinary cultural diversity and religious life style. Some rightly believe that the Indian culture is the manifestation of deeper heterogeneity, of the coexistence of multiple cultures and religious ways of life.
The Baidyanath Cult is based on the common foundation of three main religious traditions; Shaivism, Shakta-Tantra and Buddhism. The thrust of this paper is to underline the amalgamation and integration of some traits of the Vjrayan Buddhism in this Baidyanath Cult. We know that Deoghar has also a famous centre of Tantricism. Various scriptures have given different list of Shakti Pithas. The Baidyanath Shakti Pitha has been mentioned in almost all scriptures of this genre except Jnanarnava Tantra. The vast literature related to Shaiva and Shakti Cult mentions Vaidyanath or Chitabhoomi Vaidyanath. If we take into account the Buddhist Vajrarayan cult, it may be said that Deoghar was certainly a seat of this Buddhist tantra too. But it is very difficult to segregate the Buddhist Vajrayana, Shaivism and Shakta tantra from each other in this region, since these have been intermingled into the Baidyanath cult inseparably1. So in order to understand the integration of the elements of Vajrayan Buddhism in the process of the making of the Baidyanath Cult, we need to undertake a holistic study of all these religious sects. Therefore, here we would like to share some of our observations related to the study of the Baidyanath Cult, which demonstrates the synthesis of different streams of faiths prevalent among the people of Santal Parganas in its historical evolution. People following this Cult consciously or unconsciously practice several rituals and customs which have different roots and different connotations. In this sense, the Baidyanath Cult appears to be a cult of common masses and not of any distinct group. Thus, in this sense Baidyanath Cult becomes the true representative of Hinduism, which reflects the assimilative but multi faceted character of Indian culture.
Materials and Methods:
In order to understand and explain the content of Vajrayan Buddhism various books dealing with the topic have been consulted and acknowledged. Latest works of some distinguished historians working on eastern india in general and Santal Parganas in particular have been have been used extensively. Recourse has also been taken to make use of the published works of the author. Most of the materials have been collected by the field studies and theories of religious studies, cultural studies, ethnographical studies and archaeological studies have also been tasted to arrive to the conclusion.
Results and Discussions:
The process of cultural assimilation in the Baidyanath Cult can best be understood in terms of historical developments of this region. Unfortunately the antiquity of the history of Santal Parganas has not been acknowledged and this region has always been ignored by the historians. But in the light of new findings we are now able to trace the historicity of this region as well2. As we know Buddha is known to have spent his life almost exclusively in the middle Ganga valley. In the mid-ganga policy we have several relics-bearing stupas which have been constructed at places associated with incidence of the life of Buddha. However, it is believed that the distribution of such sites in Bihar had not extended in the east up to Rajmahal hills. In fact Patil in his survey “The antiquarian Remains of Bihar” observes that there are no Buddhist antiquities or structural remains in the Santhal Parganas at all3. It was believed that the earliest available evidence in the form of historical antiquities is a sculpted doorway moulding, probably part of a temple, found from Sakrigali, dated to the 8th century A. D4. This has been reiterated by D. K. Chakrabarti also5. But the recent writings on the historicity of this region disprove this notion6.
Nayanjot Lahiri has recently brought to our notice the existence of a stupa in Santal Parganas in the very early period. Lahiri opines that the information about a stupa at a village called Bhagiawari in Santal Parganas is significant in two ways: “First, it provides a new dimension to the historical past of the Santal Parganas and secondly We extent her arguments and would likeit allows us to archaeologically visualize that the Ganga vally strip to the east of Antichak as being within the ambit of the historical circuit of stupas and related Buddhist establishments” writes Nayanjot Lahiri7. She reports that this stupa stood in front of the bungalow occupied by E. B. de la Croix, an inspector of works in the Eastern Indian Railway during its construction.“Sambodhi or Samadhi as it was known in 1855 stood at the foot hills called Budda Thoon dari near a village known as Bhagiawari, close to Sankarigali in Santhal Parganas” tells Lahiri8. It seems that the mound was composed of “heaped up colored stones” writes De la Croix, son of the said inspector in a note in 19059. “Underneath at ground level a smooth platform was discovered made up of only three bricks, each brick measuring 21/2’x 11/2’ and under this the relics were found deposited in a stone chest of the following design. On the four sides there was a figure engraved representing a man dressed in flowing robes but there was no inscription of any kind”10 He further writes. Lahiri opines that, “This was evidently a saririka stupa and as in the case of other similar ones, considerable care had been taken to encase the bone relics in a series of caskets”11.
The then curator of the Provincial Museum at Lucknow, A. Fuhrer also noted in this regard, “From the fragrant smell still attached to the relic box I conclude that the dome and the reclic caskets before the deposition had been sprinkled with scented powder, apparently with mixture of aloe powder ‘Agaruchurna’ and sandal powder ‘Chandan Churna’ which the Buddhist Pali books frequently mention as thrown on Buddha by gods”12.
As far as its dating is concerned Lahiri is of the view that “The mound was known as Sanbodhi is interesting and evokes an early association; this being the ancient name of Bodh Gaya. We also know of several relic bearing stupas dating to the late centuries, but in this case, the representation of a figure, especially if it was that of the Buddha, cannot be earlier than the 1st century A. D. The large size of bricks would also fit in with the above mentioned date.”13 While agreeing to Lahiri’s observation related to the historicity of Santal Parganas, we would further like to extent her opinion and propose that if the existing remains of Santal Parganas are systematically studied by archaeologists and historians then the unique continuity from the Paleolithic period to the modern times in this region, may be identified. In this course we can also identify Santal Parganas as one of the core areas of Vajrayan Buddhism after the fall of Vikramshila Vihar. The study of the Baidyanath temple and the elements integrated in the making of the Baidyanath Cult may throw deep light to this whole issue.
There is an important evidence of the fact that in the Baidyanath Temple Complex we have at least two Buddhist deities worshiped by all. These deities are known as Kaal Bhairav and Tara. The iconographic study of Kaal Bhairav does not leave any doubt that he is none but a Buddhist deity. It is said that the statute was found in a nearby pond called Matha Bandh and it was brought from there and placed in the Baidyanath temple complex some hundred years back by the then chief-priest. But we must not confuse the historicity of this deity with the historicity of his temple. The temple is not very old and hence the worship of this deity in the present form may not exceed to one hundred years or so. However, this evidence bears great importance when we take into account the fact that this statute was found and brought from some nearby location. It indicates the prevalence of Vajrayan Buddhism in this area. It is also important to note that this deity is placed in the temple complex by none other than the one of the Chief-priests himself who was a great upholder of the Brahmanic order. But the question arises that how an upholder of the Brahmanic order allowed and also started worshiping Buddhist deities? It cannot be said an act of ignorance on the part of the Chief priests for two regions: The Chief priests were great scholars of Brahmanic scriptures. The last Chief Priest Bhawapritanand Ojha was also regarded as a holy incarnation of lord Shiva. His scholarship was acknowledged by scholars of the temple and the region alike and he was always addressed as ‘Sadupadhyaya Ji’ Maharaj. Secondly, as per the memory of the local populace Karpatri Ji Maharaj, another great scholar of Brahmanic order and Mimsak as well as Karmakandi of pan-India fame had visited this temple some fifty years back and had declared the deity of Kaal Bhairav a Buddhist deity, it is said. But it is a matter of surprise that no heed was paid to Karpatri Ji’s utterances and no change took place in the mode of worship of Kaal-Bhairav. Devotees and priests including the Chief priest continued to worship him as an important subordinate deity of Baidyanath. Hence, by doing so, Vajrayan Buddhism was appropriated in the Brahmanic order of Shivaism and Shakta Tantra which ultimately helped the emergence of the Baidyanath Cult in the present form.
Apart from Kaal Bhairav another most venerated Buddhist deity of this temple complex is Tara. One can find that almost all pandas of Deoghar are the devotees of Tara. She is invariably worshiped by pilgrims and priests alike. Tara is the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She holds the same place in Buddhism, as goddess Durga has in Brahmanism. Durga’s impact on the conception of Tara as savior is most frequently noted in this regard. Durga emerges as supreme savior and goddess in Devi Mahatmya, whose sixth century date precedes the casting of Tara in this role14. Durga’s benefactions encompass material assistance, miraculous rescue, and spiritual emancipation. She is addressed as Tara and Tarini and is known as one who ferries her devotes across the troubled waters of life, delivering them from all dangers15. Regarding the origin of Tara it appears to us that the Buddhist Tara originated in India and for the concept of deity the Buddhists were, to some extent, indebted to the Hindus. Although the historical framework of Tara’s evolution warrants further examination, her cult is clearly part of a broader stream of Indic goddess worship and must be assessed in that light, writes Miranda Shaw16. Franco Ricca and Erberto Lo Bue also voice the opinion, shared by a number of scholars, that “it was the deep-rooted Indian mythic theme of the great Mother Goddess which determined [Tara’s] success and put her cult on a firm foundation”17. But at the same time it would be wrong to suppose that the Hindus were not in any way influenced by the Buddists in the sphere of their goddess. In fact during the early medieval period one can easily identify this mutual influence and interaction. “Tara is the principal feminine deity of Buddhism of later years. With the spreading of Shaivaistic influence among Buddhists, numerous other goddesses of Hindu pantheon were admitted into the religious system of Mahayana and with the advent of a strong current of religious syncretism, they were proclaimed to be the different aspects of Tara, the Saviors”18. The goddess Tara was enrolled among the Northern Buddhist gods in 6th century A.D. By the 7th century A.D. according to Huen-Tsang there were many statutes of Tara in Northern India. Between the 8th and 12th centuries her popularity equaled that of any god in the Mahayan pantheon19.
The Tantric forms of Tara made their appearance when the Northern Buddhist schools became weakened by the influence of Tantra system. The ferocious forms of the goddess were represented in three colours: red, yellow and blue. These with the white and green colours of pacific forms, completed the five colours of the five Dhyani-Buddhas of whom they were believed to be the Shaktis. The Taras are generally seated, but if they accompany Avalokiteshwar, or any other important god, they are usually standing. Tara may be surrounded by her own different manifestations as well as by other gods. The non-Tantric forms of Tara wear all the Bodhisattva ornaments, and are smiling and graceful. Their hair is abundant and wavy. The Tantric Taras wear the ornaments and symbols of the Dharmapala, with hair disheveled and having third eye.20
The Cult of Tara in her various forms were strong in Eastern India. As Bengal is the homeland of the Shakti Cult, it is not surprising that so many female deities associated with Mahayana and Vjrayana are worshipped here because most part of the present day Dumka, Deoghar and Jamtara districts were carved out of Birbhum district of Bengal when Santal Parganas was created in 1885 after the Santal Rebellion. In fact as have been shown earlier, this part of Santal Parganas was also known as Rdha during the early medieval period which may be regarded as one of the core and nucleus region of the Tantric Cults. Therefore it is quite natural that figures of different forms of Tara, Prajnaparamita, Marichi, Parnashavari, Chunda, Hariti, etc. are well represented in the statutes worshipped in this area even today. The famous Yogini-Than of Pathargama of Godda district also may have some connections with the Buddhist Yogini cult worships in this area.
During Vajrayan Buddhism we find “Tantric Female Buddhas” in the fully developed Tantric paradigm. Tantric texts use the term “goddess” or Devi, with reference to these figures but also introduce new nomenclature, such as dakini and yogini. Furthermore, the Tantric goddesses are recognized and explicitly designated as Buddhas, for they embody supreme enlightenment, and the goal of practices dedicated to them is Buddhahood during the present lifetime of the practitioner. These practices fall within the highest Yoga, Anuttar Yoga Tantra category and entail the cultivation of transcendent bliss or Mahasukha, and realization of emptiness, Shunyata, two qualities whose perfection culminates in Buddhahood21.
The Tantric goddesses embody supreme Buddhahood. The distinctive personae of female Buddhas evoke different dimensions of enlightenment. Vajrayogini, Nairatmaya, Chinnamunda, Simhamukha are such goddesses. And if we carefully try to interpret the existence of the famous Tarapitha Temple of in Birbhum district of Bengal, Molkiksha Temple of Maluti, Chinnamasta Temple of Rajrappa, Singhvahini deity complex of Kundahit, all in the close vicinity of Santal Praganas, we arrive to the conclusion that the religious life of Santal Parganas has been deeply influenced by Buddhism. Therefore, we may perceive the existence of Tara, Anand Bhairav and Kaal Bhairav in the Baidyanath temple complex as a sign of the incorporation of Buddhist elements in the Biadyanath Cult.
To substantiate this issue further we need to understand the mode of religion in this region in historical context. We find that the region was a center of Vajrayan Buddhism since the early medieval period. It is evidenced by historical, archaeological, epigraphic and literary remains of this land. The Chinese account of Hiuen-Tsang refers to many Mahayanist Buddhist temples in Kajangal, Pundra-Vardhan, Samtata, Tamralipti and Karnasuvarna. The region of Anga, Banga and Sumha had been the centres of non-Brahmanical cults particularly of Buddhism22. When Hieun Tsang visited Champa he had found several Sangharamas (viharas) mostly in ruins with about two hundred Buddhist Monks. During of Pala regime this region was part of the Pala Empire. In the region of Santal Paragnas a good number of stone idols and other old relics belonging to the Pal-Sena period (circa 8th century-12th century A. D.) have been found23. The temples at Burhait, Basukinath, Deoghar, Katikund, Dumka, Maluti, Pathrol etc comprise a good number of stone idols of the Pala-Sena period24. During the reign of Narayan Pal this area again formed the core pat of Pala empire. Two inscriptions of Pala periods found in this area clearly establish the fact that the region of Santal Paragnas was a part of the Pala Empire. The Tapovan Inscription found from Tapovan hill rocks, lying six km south-east of Deoghar, speaks of ‘Shri Ramapal Devah’ and the second Inscription found from Harlajori, a place five km in the noth-east from Deoghar mentions ‘Sri Nayayapal Devah’ leaves no doubt to this25. Thus we find that during the Pala period Vajrayan Buddhism flourished in this region.
After the decline of Pala empire and consequent fall of the monastery of Vikramshila, which was the citadel of Vajrayana, there is every likelihood that persecuted by Muslim invaders from the period of Bkhatiyar Khalji, Buddhist monks might have taken shelter at adjacent hilly and forested areas inaccessible to the invaders. And we know that the region of Santal Parganas was one such area. So the general perception that after the monastery of Vikramshila was destroyed by the Muslims, Buddhism went on decline due to internal feud and all monks were either killed or went to Tibet and Nepal may not be correct26. This needs to be re examined in the light of the fresh discoveries of the Buddhist relics in this region27. The region of Santal Parganas had long been a center of Vajrayan Buddhism is also proved from the fact that “Acharya Abhayakaragupta, a great teacher and scholar of Tantra, became the abbot of Vajrasana, Nalanda and Vikramashila. He wrote a commentary in eight thousand verses on Prajnaparamita. Many of his books were translated into Tibetan by Buddhakirti. Abhayakaragupta hailed from Deoghar”.28 This area remained in this condition for a longer period and the Vajrayana Buddhism survived for several centuries after the fall of Vikramshila, in the jungles and hilly interiors of eastern India in general and in the Santal Parganas and its surroundings in particular. The remains of this region point to the survival of Vajrayan Buddhism in this area till the 14th and 15th centuries29 which ultimately integrated with the Biadyanath Cult. To support our hypothesis we have found apart from famous centres of Deoghar and Basukinath, various other important centers like Burhait, Kathikund, Chutonath near Dumka, Mluti, Patherol,the Basta Pahar in Meharama block and Yogini Sthan at Pathergama and other important clusters related to the Baidyanth Cult30. In this entire area we have the remnants of Vajrayan Buddhism.
We have discovered a new site with the help of Dr. Sharat Kumar Mandal, a researcher of history and a native of Nala Block of Jamtara district. This site, named Punchkathia, is near Jaamjuri of Fatehpur block in the district of Jamtara of this region. We visited this site and found that some broken Buddhist relics like lotus and pieces of female deities such as Yoginis and Tara. This is yet another site which needs to be excavated by archeologists and studied by historians to arrive to some valid conclusion. At present we can only make a conjecture that this also might have been an important Vajrayan Buddhist centre.
One of the most important sites, the village Maluti, is quite noteworthy having a rich tradition of Tantric practices, and full of temples. Maluti is situated in southern corner of Shikaripara block of Dumka district in Santal Parganas. It is about fifty six kilometers towards east from Dumka. Nearest Railway station of the village is Rampurhat on Eastern Railway Burdwan-Kiul loop line. Rampurhat is only 15 kilometers from Maluti. This is a village where Tantra sadhana of Baehma Chandra Chattopadhyaya alias Bama khepa blossomed to its full extent making his name a household name in eastern India. Originally there were 108 such temples in this village of which 76 are still surviving. The art, architecture and terracotta paintings on the temples are excellent but it is unknown to the outer world. This writer had visited this village some ten years back and was impressed by its rich historic tradition but it is to the credit of Dr. Surendra Jha, who identified this village as a Vajrayan Buddhist site and brought to light. Dr. Jha rightly observes that “It is unknown in the sense that no historical, ethnographical, or anthropological works worth the name, mentions it. The official records prepared by the British officials and ethnographers do not make any mention of Maluti.31 However, the village is very-very significant for the students of history, art, culture and religion.
According to Dr. N. K. Bhattasali, vanga and Samatatta were centers of Vajrayana and were responsible for the diffusion of Tantric Cultture in other parts of Bengal32. From the areas like Birbhum, Gaur, Sagardihi, Ghiyasabad, Murshidabad, Sonargaon, Paharpur, Rajshahi, Mahasthan, Malda, Nalanda, Bihar Sharif, Patna, Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Kurkihar, Patharghatta, Antichak, and various other small places images of Vajrayan deities have been discovered33. We wold like to extend this list by incorporating latest discovered sites from Santal Parganas. Dr. Surendra Jha again has done a pioneering work in this regard34. The Shiva Temple of Daninath at Kathikund contains Vjrayan relics. From 5 kilometers north of Shikaripada, on the banks of Brahmani River we find many Vajrayan relics. This palce is known as Panchavahini. One can see the remnants of Vajrayan relics here. A Manipadma Chakra having forty petals each is found here. Another Padma Chakra of eleven petals is also found here. A Padma-Yoni Chakra has been found with a Yantra engraved on stone. There is an inscription as well in Proto-Bangla script mentioning Tara.35 In the Daninath Shiva Temple at Kathikund also we have many Vajrayani relics including broken Padma Chakras. We also have several Vajrayani relics in a nearby village named Gandharva. Many broken Padma Chakras belonging to Pala-Sena period are seen here. Near the village Gandharva there is a hill village known as Deoghara. The villagers believe that god Vishwakarma had started constructing a temple for Baidyanath at this place. Unfortunately the construction of the temple could not be completed within the same night and the plane was abandoned. Later the temple site was shifted to present day Deoghar, where we have famous Baidyanath temple today. This story and the name of the place indicate some kind of linkage of this place, which was a seat of Vajrayan Buddhism, with that of Deoghar, the seat of the Baidyanath Cult. Near to this village is a small hill named Talpahari. On this hill there is a long cave and beneath the cave many broken images of different goddesses are found. This writer personally visited the entire area recently and witnessed the remnants of a rich Vajrayan tradition scattered at several villages.
Thus, we find that Santal Parganas is the area which gave shelter to Vajrayan Buddhism after the fall of Vikramshila University. In fact on the basis of testimony of Sandhyakar Nandi we find that the core area of Ramapal was this Santal Parganas because out of four main principalities of that period who remained loyal to the Pal king, three were in Santal Parganas; Upar Mandar, (Gogga-Deoghar) Kajangal (Sahebganj-Pakur) and Kujavati(Dumka).36 The Jamtara district was part of Radha, since most of its area is in the south of Ajay River. So it was quite natural that the religious content of the Pala Empire survived in this region and Tantricism became main religious order of this land which ultimately gave to the rise of the Baidyanath cult.
Thu the development and growth of Tantric sects in this region is an important phenomenon in the religious and cultural history of India. Some scholars believe that it also effected a radical change in Buddhism. Buddhism in the process of its growth, did not develop tantric principles within its own spheres or out of its own materials scholars opine.37 However we observe that the process of is mutual and Brahmanic practices adopted a lot from this Vajrayan Buddhism. The incorporation of various Buddhist deities and integration of various local practices in the Baidyanath Cult is the classic example of this mutual integrative process.
It is said that “Medieval Hinduism is Largely Tantric” in nature38. Vajrayan or Tantrayan, also known as Tantric Buddhism involves mudras (meditative gestures and postures), mantras (sacred syllables and phrases), and icons. A mandala (a symbolic diagram which represents the Universe) is used as an aid to meditation. The system of Tantrism, combined with the practices of sexo-yogic postures, is conventionally known as Vajrayan. This monotheistic conception of Vajrayana is most significant departure from earlier Buddhism. Thus “The evolution of Buddhism became complete and found full expression in Vajrayana.”39 The evolution of the idea of Vajrasttava as the supreme Lord ushered into being a new and expended pantheon of gods and goddesses in Vajrayan40.Thus in the early medieval period, Tantric period, we find the harmonious intermingling of Hindu and Buddhist ideas.41
Another cluster of sects which influenced the Baidyanath Cult were Natha Yogis, Buddhist Siddhas, and the Sahajayana. “These all shared a basic Tantric approach in which the male-female polarity, the importance of the body, the continuous use of sexual symbolism, and also the use of sensual rites, are essential.”42 Nath Pantha was a religious movement of India whose members strive for immortality by transforming the human body into an imperishable divine body; it combines esoteric traditions drawn from Buddhism, Shaivism, and Hthayoga, with occult knowledge. The Nath Cult is made up of yogis whose aim is to achieve Sahaja, defined as a state of neutrality transcending the duality of human existence. This is accomplished through the cultivation of Kaya-Sadhana, with great emphasis laid on the control of semen, breath, and thought. Guidance of an accomplished Guru is considered essential. The Nath Yogis and other esoteric orders pass on their traditions through paradoxes and enigmatic verse. The nine Nathas are in much respect similar to the 84 “Mahasiddhas” common to both Hinduism and Buddhism, and their names appear on both lists.43 Matsyendranatha was first human Guru of Natha Cult. This Cult was a popular Indian religious movement combining elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Hatha Yoga. Here in Deoghar we have an ancient ruin of Natha Yogis known as Nath-Badi. It is believed that these Nath Yogis had control over the Bidyanath Temple prior to the migration of Maithil Brahmins to this place. And we know that Maithil Brahmins started to migrate to this area around 10th-11th century A.D44. Thus we can assume that prior to the arrival of the Maithil Brahmanas in this region the Baidyanath Cult had started incorporating many elements of Vajrayan Buddhism via Nath Yogis and Mahasiddhas in 8th-9th centuries. We still have many remnants which speak of the influence of Siddhas on this region in general and on the Baidyanath Temple in particular.There is a big wall in the wester side of the Baidyanath temple complexon which a word Magardhwaj Yogi 700 is engraved. A similar inscription is said to be foung in a nearby place called Andharathadhi, some 15 kilometers east to Deoghar. It may be argued that once this sect of Magardhwaj 700 was popular in this area. Though this sect has not been studied in details still it can be inferred that it was somehow related to Nathpanth and Siddhas. If so, it proves the existence of Siddhas at this place. Local scholars are of the opinion that several Siddhacharyas had lived in and around this area. Vishwabandhu Gupta used to live here in 9th century. Savarpad, Dhampadand Jaganandipal had some connections with this place. Sarahpad is also said to be associated with this place45. But this local belief must be substantiated with concrete textual or archeological evidences. However based on above observations it can safely be inferred that contents of Buddhism started intermingling in the Shaivism and Shaktiism of this region in early medieval period which ultimately developed as the Baidyanath Cult.
After the arrival of Maithil Brahmanas this precesses of synthesis further accelerated. The migration of Mathil Brahmins in this region from Mithila had already started during 10th-11th centuries as has been told. We know that many Buddhist Maithil Panditas had migrated to Nepal and Tibet during this period after the fall of Vikramshil46. Therfore, we cannot ignore the possibility of migration of some Buddhist Maithil Panditas in this area as well. Thus the migration of Maithil Brahmins as well as Buddhist Maithil Panditas in this region might have started a new era for this land. The process of acculturation and integration left deep impact on both the Migrant Maithils and the local traditions of this area which ultimately gave rise to the distinct character of a religious sect of this area to be known as ‘The Baidyanath Cult’47 which has the elements of Vajrayan Buddhism also in its content.
We also find the impact of Vaishnav Sahajiya Cult on Baidyanath Cult. We know that the Buddhism undoubtedly influenced the philosophy of the medieval Vaishnavism. The theory of Pind-Brahmana was partly adapted from the Dehavad of the Sahajiya Buddhists. Krishnacharya and Lui-pa were exponents of the Sahaja vehicle. This Vaishnav – Sahajiya is an esoteric Hindu Cult influenced by Buddhism and centered in Bengal. Deoghar being part of the then Bengal remained one of its core areas. It sought religious experience through the world of senses, specifically human sexual love48. Sahaja as a system of worship was prevalent in Tantric traditions common to both Hinduism and Buddhism in Bengal as yearly as the 8th-9th centuries. The Vaishnav –Sahjiya Cult developed from 17th century onwards as a synthesis of these various traditions49. The Vaishnav – Sahajiya elevated Parkiya-Rati above Svakiya-rati as the more intense of the two. Parkiya – Rati, it was said, was felt without consideration for the convention of society or for personal gains and thus was more analogous to divine love. Radha is conceived as the ideal of the Parkiya woman, and the Vaishnava-Sahajiya never attempted to depict her as the wife of Krishna50. The Vaishnav-Sahajiya were looked upon with disfavor by other religious groups and operated in secrecy. In their literature they deliberately employed a highly enigmatic style. Because of the extreme privacy of the Cult, little is known about its prevalence or its practices today.
The divine romance of Krishna and Radha was celebrated by the poets Jaydev, 12th century, Chandidas and Vidyapati, mid-15th century, and Parallels between human love and divine love were further explored by Chaitanya, the 15th -16th century esoteric teacher, and his followers51. The chief priest and poet Bhavapritanand Ojha composed many devotional poems and songs in Bangla which are sung as Jhumar in this region and in neighboring Bengal. Like Jaydev and Vidyapati he was also venerated as a great Bhakta poet of this region. There are many mythologies surrounded to this priest which indicate that he might have been a secret follower of sahajiya Cult as well. Some perceive him as an incarnation of Shiva while others think him a great tantra sadhak. Some of the mysterious and secretive acts of Bhavapritananda bring him very close to Sahajiya sect too. Very important thing to note is that his jhumars are the description of sensuous love of Radha and Krishna are mostly in Bangla and in the local dialect and sung mostly by lower caste people. Keeping in view the immense appeal of Bhavpritanand in the overall religious life of the area it can well be surmised that he carried all the traits of the Baidyanath Cult and he became the embodiment of the Biadyanath cult.
Thus, to conclude we can say that the Baidyanath Cult has different streams in its fold. Baidyanath being one of 12th Jyotirlingams emanates all traits of Shaivism. Deoghar being, Chitabhumi, one of the Sidhhapithas has rich Shakta Tantra traditions. The remnents of Nath Panth and Siddha Yogis make this place a centre of Buddhism also. This was also a centre of Sahajiya sect and the impact of Buddhism on Sahajiya is well known. Thus the prevalence of Sahajiya sect at Deoghar and its surrounding also indicates the impact of Buddhism on this area. Last but not the least Santal Parganas as a major centre of Vajrayan Buddism after the downfall Vikramshila Vihar provided a background which developed the peculiar mode of worship in this region having elements of different and divergent religious sects. This distinct mode of religion can be identified as the Baidyanath Cult of Santal Parganas region. Thus, this michro-study indicates that in India we meet with all forms of religious thought and feeling which we find on earth, and that not only at different times but also even to-day. The spread of Baidyanath Cult to a vast area with all these characteristics leads us to the conclusion that The Baidyanath Cult too demonstrates the process of integration within the Indian society which is an ever going on process, both in its “Little” as well as “Great” traditions.
Foot Notes and References
1. Jha, Amarnath, The Baidyanath Cult – a Synthesis of Shaiva and Shakta Tantra, Anusandhanika / VOL. IX / NO. II / July2011 / pp. 1-8.
2. See Jha, Amarnath, Locating the Ancient History of Santal Parganas, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 70th session, Delhi, 2009-10, pp. 185-196.
3. Patil, D. R., The Antiquarian Remains of Bihar, Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Institute, Patna, 19630
4. Asher, 1980: 97, cf. Lahiri, Nayanjot, A Little Known Buddhist Relic Stupa in the Santhal Parganas, Puratatva, 27: 96-99, 1997, New Delhi
5. D. K. Chakrabarti et al.1995: 131, cf. Lahiri, Nayanjot, op.cit.
6. Jha, Amarnath, op.cit.
7. Lahiri, Nayanjot, A little known Busshist Relic Stupa in Sntathal Parganas, Puratattva, 27: 96-99, 1997, New Delhi
9. Cf. Lahiri, op.cit.
12. Cf. Lahiri, op.cit.
13. Lahiri, op.cit.
14. Shaw, Miranda, Buddhist Goddesses of India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2006, p.313
15. M. Ghosh, Buddhist Iconography, pp. 17-21
16. Shaw, Miranda, op.cit. p.313
17. Franco Ricca and Erberto Lo Bue,Great Stupa of Gyantse, p. 96. Cf. Shaw, Miranda, op.cit.
18. Kumar, Pushpendra, Tara: The Supreme Goddess, Bhartiya Vidya Prakashan, Delhi, 1992, Preface, X
21. P. Williams and Tribe, Buddhist thought, pp. 203-4, 210-16, cf. Shaw, Miranda, op.cit. Introduction, p.8
22. Cf. Bhattacharya, Benoy, The Homes of Tantric Buddhism, B. C. Law Memorial Lecture, vol.I, ed, D. R. Bhandarkar Orientall Research Institute, 1945-1946, pp.336-338
23. Jha Amarnath, Rligion and Making of a Region: A Study of The Baidyanath Cult, Anusandhanika / VOL. IX / NO. I / January 2011 / pp.1-11
26. Jha, Surendra, Synthesis of Buddhist, Shaiva and Shakta Tantra, Pratibha Prakashan, Delhi, 2009. Preface, xi
28. Radhakrishna Chaudhary, The University of Vikramashila, Patna, 1975, p.31, cf. R. Sankrityayana, Tbet me Bauddhadharma, p.42
29. Jha, Surendra, op.cit, p.24
30. Jha, Amarnath, Jha, The Baidyanath Cult – a Synthesis of Shaiva and Shakta Tantra, Anusandhanika, op.cit.
31. Jha, Surendra, op.cit.,p.1
32. Cf. cf. Bhattacharya, Benoy, op. cit.
34. Jha. Surendra, op.cit.,p.24
36. C. P. N. Sinha, Sectional Presidential Address (Ancient India), IHC: 55TH Session, 1994
37. Dasgupta, N. N. in History and Culture of the Indian People: The Struggle for Empire, Bhartioya Vidya Bhawan, Bombay, p.405
38. John, Woodroff, Principles of Tantra, Luzac & Co., 1914
39. Bhattacharya, Benoytosh, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Calcutta, 1968, p.11
40. Ibid, p.49-74
41. Zimmer, Heinrich, ed. By Joseph Campbell, The Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Princton University Press, USA, 1972
42. Jordenes J. T. F., Medieval Hindu Devotion, quoted from A. L. Basham edited Cultural History of India, O U P, 1975, P.267
43. Kapoor, A.N.,Gupta, V. P. and Gupta, Mohit, An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Ancient Indian History, Radha Publications, New Delhi, 2003, p.163
44. Jha, Amarnath, Migration Maithil Brahmanas to Sntal Parganas, Anusandhanika, VOL. VIII / NO. II / JULY 2010 / pp. 176- 179
45. Shree Shree Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga Vangmay, Deoghar ( Jharkhand), 2009, p.47
46. Jha, J. C., Migration and Achievements of Maithila Panditas, Janki Prakashan, New Delhi, 1991, p. 22
47. Jha, Amarnath, Migration Maithil Brahmanas to Sntal Parganas, Anusandhanika, op. cit.
48. Kapoor, A.N.,Gupta, V. P. and Gupta, Mohit, p. 253
49. Ibid, p.253-54
50. Ibid, p. 254
51. Ibid, p. 253-54