This is the saga of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti. It is a sophisticated narration of Shiva and Shakti’s separation and union, their journeys together, and how that affected and shaped the whole world. The saga narrates how Goddess Shakti’s human incarnation Sati, grand-daughter of Lord Brahma and daughter of Prajapati Daksha and Queen Prasuti is reunited with Shiva after Shakti was separated from him for the benefit of the universe.
Shiva is also called by the name of Natraja, Shambhu, and Mahakal.
The image of ardhnarishwara, half-male and half-female, represents Lord Shiva as the union of substance and energy, the life principle and Shakti.Sati, also known as Dakshayani is a Hindu goddess of marital longevity. The Goddess Shakti took human birth at the bidding of the god Brahma. Sati was born as a daughter of Daksha Prajapati and his wife Prasuti. Daksha was a son of Brahma and a great king. As the daughter of Daksha, she is also well-known as Dakshayani. An aspect of Devi, She is the first spouse of Shiva, the second being Parvati, the reincarnation of Sati herself.
Brahma’s designed her destiny in such a way that she would please Shiva with humble devotions and wed him. It was natural that Sati even as a child adored the tales and legends associated with Shiva and grew up an ardent devotee of Shiva. As she grew to womanhood, the idea of marrying anyone else, as intended by her father, became abomination to her.
Daksha exploded to her decision, but Sati did not care. She was prepared to sacrifice all her comforts for the sake of her beloved Lord. Shiva took her to the barren mountain where there were only beasts and reptiles to welcome her. Sati was happy to roam wildly in the wake of her unpredictable husband across the desolate Himalayan ranges and peaks, occupied by wild animals. Thus they lived there for many years and Shiva taught her many of the esoteric secrets of life known only to him.
But the destiny turned down, when once when she was wandering on the hillside she noticed many aerial vehicles passing above the mountain carrying the numerous gods. She called to them to find out where they were going. She came to know from them that her father Daksha was celebrating the grand Yajna to which everyone who is anyone has been invited. It was going to be the greatest show in the world.
Sati ran to Shiva and asked if they had received an invitation Shiva told him that since her father hates him, they were not invited and asked Sati not to go there, but Sati was adamant. She had made up her mind and nothing he said could stop her. Sadly Shiva watched her depart. He sent Nandi to carry her, to protect her if necessary. She set out with great enthusiasm. Shiva watched her go with great sorrow for he knew that he would never see her in this form again.
Sati could hardly recognize her home when she reached. Everything was decorated in a stunning manner. She descended from the bull and went inside alone. As soon as, Sati entered the sacrificial hall, none dared to look at her for fear of Daksha. Only her mother and sisters flocked to welcome her but she waved them aside.
Daksha alone was totally unaware of her entrance since he was immersed in his rituals. With measured steps she walked towards the center of the Yajnashala where her father was seated before the blazing fire, offering ghee and various other herbs into the pit, muttering incantations all the while. Everyone watched with bated breath while she approached.
With humiliation and sadness, Sati’s complexion which was normally dark became even darker. Her eyes were red with anger and blazed like hot coals, and as she glared at her father, sparks like embers flew out. Daksha turned and saw her and visibly paled beneath her blazing gaze. It was for the first time that Daksha had broken off his mutterings in the middle of a ritual. Daksha started throwing abusive words on Shiva and condemning him.
In the Sati looked at him with scorn, admonishing him of performing Yajna without inviting Lord Shiva and decided to immolate her body. So saying this, Sati turned towards the north and raised her Kundalini Shakti from the Muladhara Chakra from the bottom of her spine to the Sahasrara Chakra on the crown of her head. Her spirit disappeared through the orifice at the crown of her head, leaving the empty calcified shell of her body standing like a lucid statue. Everyone gazed in awe at what remained off.
Nandi flew back to Shiva and reported the whole disastrous turn of events which had led to their mistress’ death. Shiva jumped up from the rock on which he had been sitting and plucked off one of his hairs and dashed it on the rock. Out of this sprang the enormous figure known as Virabhadra. He had worn hundreds of arms all brandishing a multitude of weapons, decked with snakes, and flower garlands. Shiva commanded him to proceed to Daksha’s palace and destroy the entire sacrifice.
Far away in the yajnashala there was total silence and gloom. Daksha trembled in fear beside the fire. Into that silence, crept a noise which grew and grew like the approach of an awesome storm. Then out of the gloom there appeared Virabhadra’s mountainous figure with flailing arms and weapons, indiscriminately destroying every single thing coming on his way.
Those who could flee ran for their lives, and still others were brutally trampled upon. The once beautiful yajnashala had now become a battlefield soaked with blood and scattered with limbs everywhere. Vidharbha reached his hand and gripped Daksha by the neck and hauled him off to the sacrificial pit where the animal sacrifice was normally carried out. He cut off Daksha’s head and threw it contemptuously into the fire,
Having done this Virabhadhra returned to his Lord along with the other followers. In the meantime Brahma and Vishnu went to Kailasa and pleaded Shiva to withdraw his form as Rudra and allow Daksha to complete the sacrifice which was meant for the well-being of the world. Shiva approved but since Daksha’s body had no head, he told them to fix the head of a goat on his trunk and allow him to complete the sacrifice.
Though he had forgiven Daksha, Shiva was filled with much agony at the death of his beloved, Sati. He went to the yajnashala and picked up her lifeless corpse and thereafter he wandered over the whole world, holding her aloft. His followers followed him silently. He wandered on and on repeating the steps of the tandava, the dance that always preceded creation and destruction.
The whole of creation was filled with grief and the gods begged Vishnu to do something before the whole world drowned in Shiva’s sorrow. Vishnu followed Shiva, and then Sri Vishnu, released his sudarshana chakra, which sliced Sati’s body into little pieces; and because of the desolating movement of Siva, the pieces were scattered and fell in seven different places.
At last when the whole body was gone, Shiva realized that there was nothing more in his arms. He retired to his mountain fastness and went into deep Samadhi and refused to meet anyone.
It is believed that all the spots where parts of this body fell are shakti sthalas, and even today they are worshipped in various parts in this country. Those places where Sati’s limbs had fallen came to be known as Shakti Peethas, where the power of the divine mother was most devotedly felt.
Later on Sati was reincarnated as Goddess Parvati, daughter of mountain-king Himalaya and Queen Maina. The great saga then portrays her union with her chosen lord Mahadev and how they came together never to be separated again. One of the most captivating and intriguing tales of love, this story is credited as the first love story of the universe.