The narrative of Shiva and Sati is unique in Hindu mythology. This is the sole myth in which a goddess, a manifestation of Pra Shakti, immolates herself and destroys her body. The plot is a tragic tale of love, longing, relationships, vengeance, and forgiveness. This story touches on practically every human emotion.
Shiv and Shakti are inseparable. Their combination keeps Purusha and Prakriti in balance. But, their union was not without difficulties. It took thousands of years and two incarnations of Goddess Shakti, Sati and Parvati, to form a permanent bond.
This is the narrative of Shiva and Sati.
Sati’s tale begins with her father, Daksha. Daksha was Lord Brahma’s Manasputra, or mind-created son. Although some texts claim that he was born from Brahma’s right toe. Daksha belonged to the Prajapati caste. He was one of the creative agents.
Daksha was also a Rajrishi, which signifies a Rishi as well as a King. He performed many Yagnas in order to appease the Devas and Trimurti. Daksha married Prasuti, Swayambhu Manu’s daughter. Daksha was a magnificent king and a respected figure in all three worlds. As a result, a small sensation of pride crept into his consciousness.
Daksha and Prasuti wanted her to be their daughter. Maa Shakti smiled and showered the boon upon them. Daksha and his wife Prasuti were soon blessed with a beautiful daughter, Sati.
Daksha had numerous daughters in addition to Sati. And each of the daughters had a crucial role in the evolution of various species on Earth. There are many tales as to how many daughters he had.
Anichakra Vids’ video named ‘The Daughters of Daksha Prajapati’ talks a lot about Daksha’s daughters.
Sati and her Love for Shiva
Sati was the centre of Daksha’s attention. His favourite was her. Sage Narada would frequently visit Daksha’s castle and tell young Sati stories about Lord Shiva. The girl began to adore Shiva, and her feelings for Shiva got stronger as she grew older.
When the time came to find Sati a suitable husband, proposals arrived from all over. But Sati turned them all down. Her heart craved only Shiva as her spouse. Daksha was not pleased with this concept. But he was too attached to his daughter. As a result, he eventually relented and granted her permission to marry Shiva.
There was, however, another issue. Shiva was unaware of Sati’s feelings for him. Sati, on Narada’s counsel, left her palace and went to the wilderness to begin a penance to appease Shiva.
Sati did the most difficult penance for Shiva. She abstained from food and remained anchored in one place, always worshipping Shiva.
Shiva and Sati’s Union
Sati’s penance paid off, as Shiva appeared in front of her. Sati expressed her yearning for Shiva’s company, and Shiva granted her request. Sati carried Shiva’s promise back to his father’s castle. Daksha was overjoyed to finally meet his daughter. However he was not thrilled at the prospect of Sati marrying Shiva.
Daksha loathed Shiva’s way of life. Shiva cringed him at his hermit lifestyle and the companionship of ghouls and other frightening creatures. But he was too attached to his daughter to resist the wedding.
Shiva kept his promise and came to ask for Sati’s hand. Daksha accepted the proposal and Shiva married Sati. Soon Sati left his father’s palace and left with Shiva to his abode.
Lord Brahma once organised a Yagna to which all the Gods, Rishis, and Monarchs of the three realms were invited. Daksha arrived at the yagna site with his entire family. When he arrived, everyone stood up to meet him. Except for Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The three were superior than anyone else in the universe.
But, Daksha took Shiva, his Son-in-law, not standing up to meet him as an insult. His rage knew no boundaries, and he cursed Shiva right there, vowing that he would never be allowed to participate in the yagna. He also cursed his disciples with being hated by society and living on cremation grounds.
Shiva’s Ganas became enraged and sought to punish Daksha, but Shiva intervened. Shiva informed them that Daksha’s curse had no effect on him. Brahma informed Daksha that no yagna could be performed in the absence of Shiva. Daksha, on the other hand, did not listen and stormed out of the room.
Daksha was enraged and determined to teach Shiva a lesson. He made the decision to hold a large Yagna. He extended invites to the Yagna to every God, Sage, King, and living being. Yet, he purposefully did not invite Shiva or Sati to his Yagna.
Everyone made their way to the yagna. It was a beautiful celebration, and Daksha made certain that each guest was treated with respect based on their standing. To express his disdain for Shiva, he constructed a Shiva statue in place of a doorkeeper at the gate.
Everyone was shocked at this scene, but no one spoke a word for either the fear of Daksha or keeping with the tradition of not speaking against a host. Daksha was happy that he got his revenge against Shiva.
Sati – A Daughter And A Wife
Sati was eager to attend the yagna after learning about it. Shiva, on the other hand, discouraged her, stressing that it was wrong to go anywhere uninvited. Sati made an effort to convince Shiva that her father might have forgotten to invite them because he assumed they were family.
But Shiva, who knew the truth, told her that Daksha had not forgotten them and had purposefully not invited them. He told Sati that her father hated the fact that she had married Shiva and that he had never liked him.
Sati, on the other hand, was not convinced. She requested Shiva’s permission to attend the yagna. Sati stated that she would speak to Daksha and convince him of Shiva’s magnificence. She thought she could influence his father’s mind.
Shiva tried everything to keep Sati from attending the yagna, but Sati was insistent. Shiva finally relented and invited Nandi and the other Ganas to join her. Sati smiled and promised Shiva she’d be right back. Shiva was crying as she walked away.
Sati was surprised to discover Shiva’s statue at the gate as she approached the yagna. She gathered herself and headed over to where her father was seated. Daksha noticed Sati but chose to ignore her. Sati sought to communicate to his father despite his father’s rage. But Daksha ignored her and offended him with his remark that no one should show up uninvited to a yagna.
Sati was now enraged. She enquired as to why Shiva had not been invited to the Yagna. Daksha retorted, arguing that Shiva did not deserve to be welcomed to such a large yagna. He then proceeded to criticise Shiva.
Sati informed him that no Yagna could be performed in the absence of Shiva. Daksha responded that the presence of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma was sufficient to finish the Yagna. Then he continued to criticise Shiva.
Sati was devastated. She recognised her foolishness in attending the yagna and remembered how Shiva attempted to stop her but she did not listen. She realised she couldn’t go back to Shiva after being insulted by her father. Her eyes welled up with tears.
She wiped her tears away and looked around. Her fury was visible in her eyes. No one in the room dared to stare into those eyes. Everyone lowered their heads.
Sati exclaimed loudly. Then, she chastised everyone there, including Lord Vishnu and Brahma, for remaining silent in the face of Shiva’s insult. Then she turned to her egotistical father, Daksha, and told him that by insulting Shiva, he had sowed the seeds of his own demise.
Sati reminded him that Shiva is the most powerful deity in all three worlds, and that offending him will result in his demise. Shiva, she claims, is above insults and pride. That is why he was unconcerned about not being invited or being humiliated. But she couldn’t take his husband’s insult.
Everyone was now terrified that things may quickly spiral out of control. Sati’s eyes were not red with wrath at her father. She glanced at him and said that now that she had been humiliated at her father’s house and had come here against Shiva’s wishes, she couldn’t possibly return to him.
She said that since she could not live without Shiva’s presence in her life, she had no choice but to give up her mortal body which was given to her by her father Daksha. And the next moment Sati jumped into the sacrificial fire.
The yagna hall was rocked by a shock wave. Everyone leaped out of their seats. Nandi and the other Ganas dashed towards the sacrifice fire, where Sati’s body was engulfed in flames. Nandi and the other Ganas, unable to control their rage, attacked every guest in the gathering.
They ruined the entire yagna site and began attacking everyone who was present. There was soon a battle there.
After the initial shock, the Gods recollected themselves and came together to face the Ganas. They defeated the Ganas. The Ganas ran back towards Kailash.
When Nandi and the other Ganas arrived at Kailash and told him about the dreadful occurrences, Shiva simply closed his eyes. The thought of losing Sati enveloped him in grief.
His grief quickly turned to wrath. When Shiva opened his eyes, they were filled with flames. In dread, the Ganas all moved away from him. Shiva arose and began his destructive dance, the Tandav.
Shiva’s dance shook the entire universe. Everyone trembled in terror, convinced that it was the end of the world. Then Shiva pulled a Jata, a strand of hair from his head, and tossed it on the ground.
From his Jata arose a fearsome and massive form. Veerbhadra, Shiva’s destructive form, was responsible. He was so terrifying that his scream shocked the entire globe. Shiva directed Veerbhadra to demolish everything at Daksha’s yagna. Veerbhadra lowered his head and headed for Daksha’s Yagna with an army of the most terrible Ganas.
Everyone at Daksha’s yagna site was still in shock. They soon began to have very terrible omens. When a pack of jackals arrived, they began howling. Daksha’s left eye began to flicker. Everyone soon noticed a dark black cloud approaching them. It was so dark that it eclipsed the Sun and enveloped the entire gathering.
Before anyone could comprehend what was going on, Veerbhadra and Rudra’s army pounced on them like a hungry pride of lions on a herd of deer. Veerbhadra brought with him immense destruction. Lord Vishnu assaulted him with the great Sudarshan Chakra, his discus. Then Veerbhadra took it firmly in his hand and tossed it away. Lord Vishnu realised it was impossible to overcome him and left.
The Ganas and Veerbhadra devastated everything in their path and slaughtered everyone who stood in their way. The spectacle was so horrifying that several of those there simply collapsed.
Soon after, Veerbhadra grabbed Daksha’s head in his big palm and ripped it from his body, before anyone could react. Then he put the head into the same fire that Sati had used to burn her body.
Veerbhadra threw Daksha’s lifeless body aside and gave a loud roar. Daksha’s wife Prasuti came running and started weeping loudly keeping her husband’s lifeless corpse in her lap.
Lord Brahma advised her that only Shiva can restore the life of Daksha. He asked her to worship Shiva and ask for forgiveness. He said that Shiva is Ashutosh, and will listen to her prayers. Listening to Brahma’s word, Prasuti folded her hands and started worshipping Shiva. She absorbed herself into Shiva’s thoughts and seek his forgiveness.
Shiva was pleased with her heartfelt apology and worship and appeared before her. He quickly forgave everyone. He restored the lives of everyone killed in the battle. Prasuti begged Shiva to forgive Daksha and restore him to life. Shiva accepted her request and asked Veerbhadra to bring Daksha’s head.
Veerbhadra told Shiva that Daksha’s head was destroyed in the fire. Then Shiva asked to bring the head of the sacrificial animal. Veerbhadra brought the head of the goat. Shiva placed the goat’s head on Daksha’s torso and brought him to life. As soon as he was alive, Daksha fell at Shiva’s feet and apologized for his sins. He asked for forgiveness. Shiva forgave him and permitted him to complete the yagna. With Lord Vishnu as the chief priest, the yagna was completed and Shiva was offered oblations.
Shiva’s Greif And Shakti Peeths
After the completion of the yagna, Shiva was still grief-stricken. He picked up the burnt body of Sati and left the place. He was in a daze and kept wandering through the universe with Sati’s body on his shoulder.
The entire world was engulfed in dark sorrow. All Gods requested Vishnu to do something so that Shiva overcomes this grief and order can be restored in the world.
Lord Vishnu sent his Sudarshan Chakra in invisible form, and it cut off the body of Sati into 51 parts. Wherever the body parts of Sati fell on earth Shakti Peeths were established.
A blog titled “51 Shakti Peeth – Shakti Peeth List with Body Parts” by Indian Astrology gives details about the names and locations of all the Shakti Peeths.
After Sati’s body was separated, Shiva regained his equanimity. He returned to Kailash and entered a deep Samadhi. The world got relief as it was now possible for Devi Shakti’s reincarnation and her union with Shiva.
And that is the story of Shiva and Sati.
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