King Prajapati Daksha, father of Sati aka Dakshayani, and father-in-law of Lord Shiva had once organized for a huge ‘yagya’ (divine sacrifice) in Kankhal, a well known pilgrimage centre. His prime motive to organize the function was, to avoid Shiva and Sati, and show them down. Daksha had a big ego. He hated Shiva for some reason, but had married his daughter to him, only on the insistence of Lord Brahma who also happened to be his father. Besides Shiva he had not even invited his daughter Sati for the event. And to demean Shiva further he had cordially invited Lord Vishnu and all the Devtas, in addition to the famous rishis, maharishis, musicians and even scholars.
Sati learnt about this yagya through a close friend of hers. When, she too, desired to visit her father on the occasion even if it was uninvited. She therefore, asked Lord Shiva if she could visit him on the occasion. But Lord Shiva was unhappy with the sequence of events when he said,
‘Sati! People who visit others without being invited face severe humiliations that are even greater than the pain of death. And it is true, that even arrows don’t hurt you, as much as words of your near and dear ones.’
Upon hearing this Sati got very angry. She said, ‘God what is your enmity with my father and why hasn’t he invited you?’ On this Shiva narrated the episode of the earlier yagya, but Sati was not prepared to listen to him. She said,
‘Shambhu without your visiting, the yagya cannot be completed. My stupid father has not invited you for the function. I want to know why, and for that I need to go there. So, please grant me permission. It is only after going there I’ll be able to ascertain how he completes the yagya.’ On hearing this, Shiva gave her the permission, to visit her father, reluctantly.
All along the yagya Sati was restless about the fact that her husband was not participating in it. King Daksha had kept an eye on her, and when he was not able to bear her restlessness. He reprimanded her in front of all the guests by saying, ‘be in the yagya only if you can be calm and quiet otherwise leave. Your husband is the king of bhoot and prêt. He applies chita ka bhasm and he is also a hasher. He discards veda, akulit and is inauspicious. Because of these reasons I have not invited him for my yagya. I am even shameful of having married you to him.’
On hearing her husband’s insult Sati got every angry. She said, ‘no one has the right to show his anger at my Lord and master Shiva.’ And it was only then she realized she should have listened to him. Unable to bear the tirade of her father that converted into spiking humiliations she finally entered the yagya and immolated herself.
Upon learning about the terrible incident, in his extreme wrath Shiva invoked Virbhadra and Bhadrakali by plucking a lock and thrashing it on the ground. Virbhadra and Bhoot ganas marched south and destroyed all the premises. Daksha was decapitated and the yagya shaala was destroyed in the rampage. The Bhootganas celebrated victory, by plucking the beard of ‘Presiding Master’ of the Yagya, sage Bhrigu, as a war souvenir. Daksha was later forgiven and given life by fixing a ram’s (Male Goat’s) head and the yagya was allowed to complete, in the presence of all divinities.
The story continues with the act of Vishnu pacifying Shiva, who was in deep grief in seeing the half burned corpse of his beloved wife. Vishnu embraced Shiva to pacify him. Shiva unable to part with Sati took her corpse and wandered. The body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi fell in the places Shiva travelled. The places where the body parts of Sati’s corpse fell came to be known as Shakti Peethas
Moral of the story: Had Sati, listened to Lord Shiva and not gone to her father, she wouldn’t have been insulted and as a consequence wouldn’t have immolated herself. And above all, the wide devastation could have been averted.
Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi
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