Before I begin the anecdote, I would like to quote Kalika Purana:
"Evam Kālī Mahāmāyā Yoganidrā Jagatprasu: |Pūrvam Dākşāyani bhūtvā paścād Girisutābhava ||
"Translation:Thus, that Kālī Mahāmāyā, who is Yogic slumber and Mother of all worlds; first incarnated as Dākşāyani (Satī) and later as Girisutā (Pārvatī).
The background of Sati's anecdote can be traced back to the creation.
At the beginning, when Brahma alone existed within the universe, no life existed. To populate his creation, Brahma meditated upon the lotus feet of the three-eyed Supreme Lord Shiva, the Ultimate Sovereign, the sire of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. As a result, seven mind-born sons of Brahma, the Saptarishis, manifested. Maricha, Vashishtha, Bhrigu, Atri, Pulastya, Angira and Pulaha were there names. Other than these seven sages, Narada, Daksha and Dharma were also born. Still not satisfied with his mental creation, Brahma created a woman and a boy, known as Sandhya and Kama.
Among all his first twelve children, the twins Sandhya and Kama were epitome of beauty. As Brahma and all his other sons gazed at Kama, they wondered how to adore him. Thus, they granted several boons to Kama:
"Oh Kama, you would be known by various names. You would be invincible. Even Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra would be under your control. You would incite sexual desire in all entities; for that, you would have a sugarcane bow with bees as bowstring, and flower arrows as weapons."
Saying thus, they bestowed everything promised to Kama. Maddened with pride, that haughty Kama wondered "why don't I test my prowess?"; thinking thus, he shot everyone present there with his lust arrows.
|Rudra and Brahma|
Narada, Dharma, Vashishtha, Atri, Maricha and Bhrigu by virtue of their austerities, curbed their senses. But others, imcluding Brahma and Sandhya, were maddened with lust. Brahma and his lusty sons gazed at Sandhya with utmost lust and desire; Sandhya too, stabbed continuously by pamgs of sexual desire, stole glances and smiled. As Brahma and his sons gazed Sandhya, they spilled their semen virile, looking upon Sandhya as their mistress.
Seeing such heinous act being commited, Dharma, Vashishtha, Narada, Atri, Maricha and Bhrigu mentally prayed to Maheshvara to stop this madness. Sensing this act of incest by Brahma, Shiva got furious and sprang forth from Brahma's forehead. As Shiva emmerged as His Avatar within the universe, he growled like a terrible beast. "Rudra! Rudra!" was what the sons of Brahma said as they beheld that furious Lord with flying locks, His sword raised to behead Brahma. The next thing they saw was that sword sending the fifth head of Brahma flying far away, leaving a trail of blood. Brahma, left with only four heads, remembered Vishnu for redemption.
Hari appeared, and prostrated before Rudra, saying thus "My Lord! Spare my son Brahma". That Mahakala Bhairava, who never ignores His devotee Vishnu's requests, spared Brahma's life; but grabbed him by throat and said, "give me names."
Brahma said "Bhava, Sthanu, Rudra, Nilalohita, Ugra, Asani, Kapardin, Shiva."
Chanting Lord's Holy names and mere sight of Him purifies one of his sins. Brahma was cleansed too; so were his sons.
Rudra and Vishnu vanished. Brahma now vent his frustration upon Kama, by cursing him thus:
"Oh wicked Kama of haughty nature! Because of you, Rudra insulted me. Therefore, I curse you, that a day will come, when the very same Rudra will reduce you to ashes."
Kama trembled in fear; prostrating before Brahma, he said:
"Father! It is not my fault. You granted the boon upon me that you, Vishnu and Rudra would be under my control. I have just tested whether the boon works or not."
Hearing Kama's plea, Brahma took pity upon him and said:
"The curse cannot be falsified. However, if married to a chaste damsel, she can revive you once Rudra incinerates you."
When Brahma and his sons spilled their semen virile, many offspring rose. One among them, who rose from Daksha's semen, was Rati, the young damsel who was given to Kama as wife. Others were Pitris, the forefathers.
In company of Rati, Kama forgot the curse, and got involved in conjugal fun and frolic.
Sandhya, ashamed and disgusted of her actions, took up severe penance at Vashishtha's advice, and appeased Rudra. The Lord asked "What boon do you desire child?"
Sandhya said "My Lord! Me, and my brothers, we were adults from the moment we were born, and had no morals. Perhaps that is the reason we committed such act. Hence, I pray to you my Lord, that no entity should be sexually mature at the time of birth." Lord said "So be it. From now onward, all entities would have three stages of life- childhood, youth and old age. Only after attaining youth, entities would be able to procreate."
Lord continued "Because of your selfless gesture, I wish to grant a second boon to you. Fire will purify you; you will reincarnate as daughter of sage Medhatithi. You will be a chaste woman, wife of the man you think of while casting off your current body."
|Arundhati and Vashishtha|
Saying, thus, Rudra vanished. Sandhya went to the monastery of Medhatithi, who was performing a Yajna with his deciples. Thinking of Vashishtha, Sandhya jumped into the fire and cast of her body. Sandhya's lifeless body shot up skywards, and was taken by Surya, who severed Sandhya's body into two halves and placed them in front and back of his chariot. Upper half became Usha (dawn) while lower half became Sandhya (dusk).
On the other hand, when the Yajna was over, Medhatihi found a baby girl. Reincarnation of Sandhya, she was named Arundhati, who married Vashishtha upon growing up and beget a son Shakti, the father of Parashara and grandfather of Vedavyasa.
Brahma couldn't forget his 'humiliation' at Rudra's hand, and he conspired thus "Only because of my attraction towards a woman, Rudra punished me so severely. I must delude him, and prove to him that He isn't beyond lust."
Thinking thus, Brahma went to Kama's abode, where he was received with due respect. Kama asked "Father, how can I serve you?" Brahma said "Delude Rudra. Break his ego. That's all I want."
Kama felt a wave of chill run down his spine. He said "Father! How can I approach Maharudra? What if the curse comes true?"
Brahma said "Do not fear Rudra's wrath. I shall create another being at this very moment, who would always accompany you and Rati."
Saying thus, Brahma created another handsome being with features as comely as Kama. Stealer of people's hearts, the being was named Vasanta (spring).
Brahma said "This Vasanta would help you in accomplishing your task."
Having Brahma's assurance, Kama, Rati and Vasanta went to Kailasa. Vasanta created untimely spring in the arid, icy abode of Rudra, including trees with flowers and pairs of birds & animals, seeking love of their partners. But Rudra was not affected. Rati and Kama now began their sensual, erotic acts. But Rudra, with His eyes closed, was like a snow covered mountain, that couldn't be budged. Failing terribly in their antics, Kama and his two partners in crime returned to Kama's abode.
Seeing Kama's failure, Brahma went to Vaikuntha. Received in Vishnu's abode, Brahma spoke to his father thus "Father! I wish to delude Rudra. How dare He humiliated me? I want to teach Him a lesson that He, who boasts of His asceticism, can be subject to lust."
|Brahma and Vishnu|
Upon hearing Brahma's words, Vishnu got angry and rebuked Brahma thus "Oh foolish Brahma! Have you forgotten who Rudra actually is? He is that great Lord Shiva, who created me. He eternally resides in His abode known as Shivaloka. Taking mercy upon us, He promised to take an incarnation to enter the universe. Rudra is incarnation of Shiva; and thus same as Him. It is impossible for you to delude Rudra. So forsake such ideas."
Brahma realised his mistake. He felt sorry for his actions, and wanted to mend his ways. He said "When Lord comes out of His meditative trance, I will seek forgiveness for my deeds."
Vishnu smiled and said "Although your plan had malicious intentions, but it is necessary for Rudra to get married to a woman, who can captivate His heart. See, by uniting with Savitri, you became capable of creating; likewise only after uniting with Lakshmi, I became capable of sustaining. In future, desolution would be required; for that, Rudra must take up a wife."
When Brahma heard Vishnu's words, he said "Father! I had sent Kama, Rati and Vasanta earlier. But they failed. It seems impossible to bring Rudra out of His asceticism without a woman. Where will I get a woman who can attract Rudra's attention?"
Vishnu said "You are right. There exists no woman who can attract Rudra's attention. Except one. Only that Kali, The Supreme Goddess, who is Adya Shakti Mahamaya, one who subjects me to a deep Yogic slumber after Pralaya. Brahma, you must propitiate that Kali, who is Shiva's consort, and request Her to captivate Rudra. Only that Mahamaya can achieve such impossible feats.
At the advice of Vishnu, Brahma went to the mountain peak Sumeru. Sitting upon an Asana, after sipping water in the name of Sadashiva, Brahma began mental worship of that Kali Mahamaya. He praised Kali with hymns and eulogies.
"You are the syllables Svaha, Svadha and Vashat, which are uttered for satisfaction of Devas & Pitris and to summon deities during Yajna; you are Omkara, eternal, and also the three letters (A-U-M) that constitute Omkara.
You are that eternal half syllable, without whose special utterence Omkara is incomplete; you are the revered Gayatri Mantra, and also the Mother of all deities.
You bear uncountable worlds in your womb, you are their creator; you sustain them and again you annihilate them as well.
You are the form of creation, you are the form of nourishment; you are the form of destruction, you are the world and the world is you.
You are the ten Mahavidyas (Kali, Tara, Tripurasundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala), you are the omnipresent Mahamaya, you are intellegence and contemplation; you are attachment, you, oh Shakti of Supreme Lord Shiva, are the Supreme Mother Goddess.
You are Mula Prakriti, the three Gunas pervading all entities; you are that Kalaratri, the great dusky one whom everyone is desirous of attaining; you are of formidable prowess.
You are Sri Yantra, You are Parameshvari, you are Hrim Bija, you are learning and also one, towards whom all scriptures point; you are bashfulness, nourishment, satisfaction, peace and harmony.
Oh formidable Durge! Armed with sword, trident, mace, discus, conch shell, bow, arrows, sheild and wine cup; you are pleasent, epitome of serenity and pinacle of of beauty.
You are transcendental to those who are transcendental, the Supreme Lady, you are Parameshvari."
As Brahma finished the hymn, he beheld the sky turn black with rainclouds, emitting lightening bolts and roaring like a beast of destruction. Howls of wolves and roars of lions, tigers could be heard. Hosts of Dakinis, Yoginis, Bhairavas and other denizens of cremation grounds danced and played on horns and war drums.
As the ominous darkness descended upon the peak of Sumeru, Brahma beheld a feminine figurine manifesting before him. She was pitch black complexion like corryllium, four armed and three eyed. Clad in red vestments and bejeweled, She sat on the back of a lion. Her crown bore digit of a crescent moon and Her hair was flowing. She held a sword & a blue lotus with both Her left hands, and both Her right hands had their palms open, offering boons and protection. Adorned by a garland of red hibiscus, Her face bore a serene smile, Her teeth resembling stars shining with night sky as background. Thus manifested before Brahma, that Kali, who is Mahamaya, the Mother of all worlds. Appeased by Brahma's penance, Kali came to grant boons to him. Brahma prostrated again and again to those lotus feet which is goal of all sages.
|Adya Shakti Mahamaya Kalika|
Desirous of granting boons, Devi said thus in a voice like rumbling of thunderclouds "Brahma, my child! I, the beloved of Mahakala, the Mother of Trinity, the slayer of Asuras Madhu and Kaitabha, have come to grant you your choicest boon. Tell me, what do you desire?"
Brahma said "Oh Mother Goddess! For accomplishment of our respective tasks, you have bestowed upon me Savitri and Lakshmi to Vishnu. At your behest, Shiva, your slave, has incarnated as Rudra. But you haven't incarnated yet. Rudra is still destitute of Shakti. Hence, bestow upon me this boon, oh formidable one, that you will incarnate and enchant Rudra. My son Daksha is meditating upon you with the same request. Be graceful, oh Parameshvari. Bestow upon him vision of your divine form, whose glory is sung by Shiva with His five mouths, which is import of all Vedas, Vedangas and Upsnishads."
Hearing Brahma's plea, that Kalika, who is gigantic like a mountain of corryllium, laughed loudly like thunder. She spoke thus "I am extremely appeased with your devotion. Hence, your desired boon would take effect."
Saying thus, Kali vanished. Situating himself on the northern shore of cosmic ocean, sage Daksha, the Prajapati, was meditating upon Adya Shakti Mahamaya. Appeased by Daksha's austerities and determined to confer boons upon Brahma, Kali appeared before Daksha, who prostrated before Adi Devi and cried like a child who has found his mother.
Taking Daksha upon Her lap, Kali asked in a voice sweeter than that if a cuckoo "What boon do you desire my son?"
Daksha said "Oh Supreme Mother! I am blessed to have your divine vision. What more can I ask for? You are my everything; mother, father, brother, sister, friend, fiend, daughter, son..... everything. Oh Primordial Goddess! I wish to see you everyday. Hence, please become my daughter. I beg you! Incarnate as my daughter."
Kali thought for a while and said, "Prajapati! Since you have appeased me, I am obliged to grant you your choicest boon. So I would definitely incarnate as your daughter. But on two conditions- first, when my this incarnation would grow up, She would be given to Rudra in marriage; second, She would be always adored by you. The day you insult Her, She would quit that body born of your portion. Go back to your Ashrama now; go back to your Wife Virini; She would beget my incarnation."
Saying thus, Kali vanished.
Delighted with his acheivement, Daksha returned home. There, he deposited his semen virile into his consort's womb, impregnating her. Nine months passed, and that Prasuti, the consort of Prajapati, glew with a divine aura. Within mother's womb, grew the Supreme Mother Goddess, like digit of new moon, gradually growing into full moon.
Finally, on eighth day of waxing fortnight (Ashtami) of the month of Ashvina, Virini gave birth to a girlchild of comely features. Great festivities were held at Daksha's Ashrama to celebrate the arrival of Devi. Devas, sages, Gandharvas and Vidyadharas came to have a glimpse of Mother Goddess, cradling in mother's arms.
During the naming ceremony, the child was named 'Uma', and by convention was also renowned as 'Sati' and 'Dakshayani'.
As years passed, Sati grew up. She was a source of joy to Her parents. When Sati came to marriageable age, She decided to observe Nanda Vrata. Starting from the month of Ashvina, Sati worshiped Shiva with various articles every night for a whole year.
On the other side, Brahma and Vishnu went to Kailasa and prostrated before Rudra.
Rudra asked "Dear Vishnu! Son Brahma! What brings you both to Kailasa today?"
Vishnu said "My Lord! At our request, you had formerly taken this incarnation. Although you are the Supreme Lord, yet you are devoid of Shakti. In future, many Asuras would rise to power. Some would be destined to be killed by me, some by you. Some by your consort, some by your sons. How is that possible if you do not marry? Hence, My Lord! We request you to take up a wife."
When Rudra heard this, He laughed and said "Very well. I would take up a wife, provided she can adjust with me. I want a wife who would be Grihini when I am home, managing the household with the resources I provide. I want a wife who would be Yogini when I perform Sadhana, assisting me as Shakti. I want a wife who would make this arid Kailasa her home, never complaining about it. I want a wife who would be faithful, loyal and obedient. If she ever disobeys me, I shall forsake her. If there exists a woman with aforementioned virtues, I am ready to marry."
Brahma and Vishnu delighted upon hearing Rudra's words. Brahma said " My Lord! The type of woman you desire, exists. Daughter of my son Daksha, Sati is incarnation of that Kalika, who is Adya Shakti Mahamaya. She has taken up this incarnation only to marry you. For your appeasement, She is worshiping you constantly. Hence, oh Lord! Bless Her and take up Sati as your wife."
Rudra said "Very well. I must grant you your desired wish."
That was the last night of Nanda Vrata. Sati had just finished Her ritual worship to Shiva, on the banks of river Sarasvati. In the aura of autumnal full moon, Sati gazed at Her reflection in shimmering waters of Sarasvati.
For a moment She thought She saw reflection of a man with three eyes, matted locks and snow white complexion, wearing a digit of crescent moon on His head, where should have been Her beautiful face of dusky complexion, radiant as a blue gem.
Sati smiled and thought "I wish this wasn't a hallucination." But then Sati heard someone call out Her name "Sati!"
She turned back and saw for the first time, the person She loved. Tall and sturdy, He stood where the clay Lingam should have been. Five faced, four armed, He held trident, Vajra, Damaru and antelope. Clad in tiger skin, His body was dusted with ashes. He wore snakes as ornaments and sacred thread. He wore necklace of Rudraksha beads. He was handsome and manly than thousand Kamas and Vishnu. Sati thus beheld Rudra, the incarnation of Shiva, who had come to grant Sati Her choicest boon.
|Shiva and Sati|
Rudra said "Sati, I am pleased with your austerities. Tell me, what boon do you desire?"
Sati knew what She wanted. She smiled and bashfully turned Her face away. Rudra smiled at Sati's bashfulness. He said "Sati, speak out your mind."
Sati blushed; She stole glances of Her paramour again and again.
On the other side, Kama and Rati were hiding behind grooves. Seeing Rudra totally enchanted by Sati's moon like face, Kama grabbed the opportunity and shot Rudra with his arrows. Rudra, the Supreme Lord, was now Sati's slave. He knelt before Her and said again and again "Sati, be my wife!"
Sati blushed even more. Smiling bashfully, She said "Kindly talk to my father in this regard." Rudra replied "Your wish is my command."
Giggling gleefully, Sati went away to Her mothers quarters, dancing in joy. Rudra too went away to Kailasa. Sati relayed everything to Her parents, who embraced Her out of joy.
On the other side, Rudra, who was sitting alone on the peak of Kailasa, heaved heavily out of profound sadness. He couldn't forget Sati even for a moment. Just then, Brahma and Vishnu arrived with their respective consorts. Seeing the two in company of their wives, Rudra thought "I wish Sati was here."
Upon seeing Brahma, Vishnu, Savitri and Lakshmi standing with their heads bowed and palms joined, Rudra addressed them thus "I, Rudra, am the Supreme Lord. I am incarnation of that Shiva, who is Mahakala. So it is against my prowess to ask Prajapati Daksha for his daughter's hand in marriage. Hence, go to Daksha's Ashrama and direct him to offer Sati to me."
To carry out Rudra's behest, Brahma and Vishnu along there respective consorts went to sage Daksha's abode. The Prajapati received them with due honour and offered them seats. He then said "My Lords! I am in a tricky situation that worries me. My daughter Sati is in love with Rudra and wants to marry Him. But I am afraid that the Lord might reject this proposal. I am a mere Prajapati, and Rudra is the Supreme Lord. What if He refuses to marry my Sati? She would be devastated."
Hearing Daksha's words, Vishnu said "Do not worry, oh Prajapati; for your daughter Sati is no ordinary woman. She is incarnation of that Kali, who is Mother of all worlds. She is eternal consort of Great Lord Shiva. For union with Shiva's incarnation, Kali has incarnated as your daughter."
Brahma said "My son! You need not to worry. Rudra Himself is eager to marry Sati, and has sent us with marriage prospectus. Since both sides are in an agreement, therefore you must make preparations for wedding."
Daksha took a sigh of relief and said "Father, I have a request. Please be the officiating priest observing the wedding ceremony." Brahma delightfully accepted the request.
Soon wedding preparations started taking place. A beautiful wedding altar was erected and quarters for guests were constructed. Sati was decked with wedding finery.
On the other side, Rudta too was donned a fearful look, with matted locks and a garland of skulls. From Kailasa started Rudra's wedding procession. Rudra rode on a bull, while His chief attendant Nandi held an umbrella over Rudra's head. Many Rudraganas danced; some carried Rudra's banners while others played on drums, horns, Damarus and other instruments. Devas joined the procession, riding their mounts; Apsaras danced and Gandharvas sang. Thus, the wedding procession of Rudra arrived at the doors of Daksha's Ashrama.
Daksha received every guest with due respect, and cordially received Rudra. The wedding rituals began under Brahma's supervision, and at an auspicious hour, Daksha gave Sati to Rudra. Rudra applied Sindura on the parting of Sati's hair and sealed the wedlock. Vishnu approached Rudra and said "My Lord! Now that you are married, you must always protect Sati's honour. Promise me that if anyone covets for Sati, you would kill that person for Sati's honour." Rudra, who was in a good mood, granted Vishnu this wish.
|Marriage of Shiva and Sati|
Then began the ritual of Saptapadi. While Rudra and Sati walked around the sacred fire, Brahma saw Sati's feet and got sexually excited. Desirous of seeing Sati's beautiful face, Brahma poured excessive Avadana into fire, causing smoke to emit that made everyone shut there eyes and cough. Taking advantage of this, Brahma lifted Sati's veil and gazed at Her. Unable to control himself, Brahma spilled his semen virile. Realising what he has done, Brahma covered the semen with a kerchief and pressed his penis with his feet, so that no one notices.
But all knowing Rudra knew what Brahma has done. Seeing Sati turning away in disgust, Rudra lifted His trident to kill Brahma. A great hue and cry rose at that spot. Daksha cried "Please don't kill! Please don't kill!" to pacify Rudra.
Vishnu rushed to the spot and said "Please spare Brahma! If he dies, there would be no one to create in the next creation cycle." Rudra said "Vishnu! You, my greatest devotee, are as dear to me as a son. I promised you that I must kill the person who covets Sati. Why do you then are unhappy when I am fulfilling your wish? Be assured; for I must create a new Brahma after killing this perverted one."
Vishnu said "Oh Lord! Do not kill yourself by killing Brahma." Rudra asked "How is that possible? I see this Brahma standing here, distinct from my own person."
Vishnu said "Oh Rudra! It is that Supreme Lord Shiva, who alone exists. He eternally resides in Shivaloka; He is Mahakala. He is beyond any of the three Gunas of Prakriti. But He has taken three-fold Avatars by resorting to that Trigunatmika Prakriti, who is Mahamaya. Shiva alone creates as Brahma, sustains as myself and annihilates as yourself. You are the complete Avatar of Shiva, bearing same form and attributes as Him. Hence, we three might appear different outwardly, but we have the one Lord Shiva as our souls. Hence oh Lord! It is my request, please do not kill this Brahma of haughty nature. Have mercy."
Upon hearing Vishnu's kind words, Rudra calmed down and forsook the idea of killing Brahma.
A guilty Brahma said "Forgive me oh Supreme Lord, for the heresy I committed. Kindly sit on this altar with Mother Sati, so that I may cleanse myself by worshiping you." Saying so, Brahma sat Rudra and Sati on an altar and duly worshiped them. As Brahma bowed down his head at the feet of the Divine Couple, he was transformed into a bull. Sati laughed at Brahma's condition. Rudra taunted Brahma thus "I would reside always on this altar along with Sati. He who would worship us here, would be cleansed of his sins of seven lives. Go away Brahma; go to earth. You would incarnate as a mortal and would be subjected to birth and death. Only then you would be cleansed of your sins."
Ashamed, Brahma went away.
After the wedding celebrations were over, Daksha bid farewell to Rudra and Sati. Seated atop a bull along with Rudra, that smilling Sati appeared like a raincloud that has come near a digit of full moon. The same procession led Rudra and Sati to mount Mandara, which was covered with sylvan forests, bearing trees that bore fragrant flowers and delicious fruits. That mountain was populated withanimals and birds, who coveted their respective lovers. Sati was mesmerised with Mandara's beauty; Rudra was more mesmerised with Sati's beauty.
|Shiva and Sati on Nandi|
Rudra commanded His Ganas thus "I wish to spend some time with my new bride. Go away from here; come only when summoned." The Ganas obeyed Rudra's command.
|Shiva and Sati|
Rudra, who knew nothing except meditation, now couldn't bear Sati's disappearence from His sight even for once. The Great Supreme Lord, was now Sati's slave. They experienced conjugal bliss at its fullest. Sometimes Rudra would stare at Sati's moon like face; sometimes He would kiss Her face; sometimes He would disappear and scare Sati by embracing Her from behind; sometimes He would paint Sati's feet with the red lac dye; sometimes He would remove Sati's jewellery and deck Her with new ones; sometimes He would gather flowers and decorate Sati's person with them; sometimes He would sing for Sati, playing His veena; sometimes He would come from behind and mischeviously cover Sati's eyes; sometimes He would fondle Sati's breasts, which were firm like pitchers; sometimes they would secretly retire to mount Nilachala in Kamarupa to satisfy their amour. Like this, they enjoyed every bit of conjugal life.
|Shiva and Sati|
After sporting for quite a long time in Mandara, Rudra and Sati returned to Kailasa.
When monsoons arrived, Sati asked "Oh Maheshvara! The rainy season is approaching. We will get wet. What should we do now?" Rudra said "We can do two things- first, we can live in caves. Second, we can go to Himalayas, the kingdom of Himavan, who is married to your niece Menavati. The rainclouds do not reach there, and you get plenty of sunlight even in the rainy season. That mighty Himalaya is origin of many great rivers, shrouded with snow and sylvan forests. Those forests are infested with Deva, Naga, Gandharva and Vidyadhara women. The lovely wife of Himavan is also there. I am sure you will delight in their company." Sati readily chose the second option. They went to Himalayas and stayed in Aushadhiprastha. Sati befriended the local women-folk and grew especially close to Mena.
On the other hand, sage Durvasa arrived at Daksha's Ashram. He was received with due respect and served. Appeased with Daksha and Virini's service, Durvasa asked "Tell me oh Prajapati, what boon do you desire?" Daksha pointed towards the garland that adorned Durvasa's head.
Durvasa had paid a visit to Shivaloka and eulogised Shiva with hymns. Pleased by this, Kali had given him the garland She was wearing on Her person. The same garland was now demanded by Daksha. Out of goodwill, Durvasa bestowed the divine garland upon Dalsha, who reverentially touched it with his head and wore it on his person.
However, the intoxicating fragramce of those everlasting flowers had effect on Daksha. He got aroused upon seeing his wife, Daksha made love to her, in presence of Kali"s garland.
Durvasa learnt of this, and stormed into Daksha's place to confront Daksha. He cursed Daksha thus: "Oh haughty Prajapati! You dared to defile the Holy Garland! Hence I curse you, that your ego would be shattered by Shiva Himself by beheading you."
But that was only the beginning of the tension between Rudra and Daksha.
After having completed his punishment and living as a mortal for an entire Satya Yuga, Brahma returned to Satyaloka in Treta Yuga and organised a grand Yajna. All were invited, including Rudra, Vishnu and Daksha.
As Daksha, the Prajapati entered the hall, all Devas and sages, including Brahma and Vishnu stood up in his honour. But the triumphant smile on Daksha's face waned away as he saw Rudra, his son-in-law remaining seated on His designated throne. Daksha thought "What nonsense is this? When Brahma, my father and Vishnu, my Lord are standing in my honour, how dare Rudra, my son-in-law remains seated?"
But that wasn't enough. Rudra raised His right hand with its palm open, and said "Shubhamastu, Prajapati Daksha."
|Daksha insulting Rudra|
And the dam burst. Pointing his finger menacingly at Rudra, Daksha screamed "You uncouth barbarian! How dare you insult me this way? What were you? I gave my daughter to you, I brought you to my civilisation. And what did you do, you brute? Despite being my son-in-law, you did not honour me. Thus, oh barbarian, no one shall honour you henceforth."
As curses leapt out of Daksha's mouth, Bhaga's eyes lit up in enjoyment; Bhrigu stroked his beard in glee and Pusa laughed, barring his teeth.
Rudra, the Lord of all worlds, looked like a snow capped mountain, seated serenely peacefully. Nandi couldn't tolerate his Lord being insulted and blared out "Wicked Daksha of low mind! Had you not been Mother Sati's father, I would have killed you at this very moment. Fie upon you, fie upon all those present here, who witnessed Sadashiva's insult silently, but didn't raise their voice against this injustice. Daksha, that head of yours that has dared to rise against My Lord in pride, shall fall someday.
Seeing situation going out of control due to curses and counter curses, Rudra finally got up and walked out silently. Seeing this, the Ganas left as well.
At Kailasa, Sati was waiting eagerly for Rudra's arrival. She had recently mastered occult arts of Tantra under Rudra's instructions. She knew what happened in Satyaloka. As soon as Rudra came, Sati approached Him. She spoke no words. but Her eyes posed the question She had within "Why?"
Rudra said "Nandi, fetch me a bamboo staff." Nandi did as instructed. Rudra erected the staff and prostrated before it in reverence. The moment He did so, the staff was reduced to ashes. Sati stared astonished. Rudra said "Sati, I was present there as Parabrahman, not as Daksha Prajapati's son-in-law. Had I bowed before him, he would have met the same fate as this staff."
Sati looked bewildered. To pacify Her, Rudra said "Come Sati, let us go to Dandakaranya."
The forest of Dandaka was resplendent. Sati lost Herself in the raw beauty of nature. Holding Rudra's hand, She walked through a jungle trail, barricaded by thick vegetation. But Her joyous moment was interrupted, when She heard a man crying in pain thus "Oh my Sita! Where have you gone? Oh trees. have you seen my Sita? Oh flowers, have you seen my Sita? Oh Godavari, have you seen my Sita? Has anyone seen my Sita??? Oh Mahadeva! What should I do? Alas, I have lost my beloved Sita!"
Curious, Sati peeped through the vegetation. She saw a man, of the same complexion as Hers, shedding tears at the abduction of his wife. He was being consoled by another man of fair complexion, but looked equally disturbed. Sati turned to Rudra and asked "Maheshvara! Who is this man? Why does he look so disturbed? What trouble did transpire, that compels him to weep?"
Rudra smiled, and turning towards the weeping man, He joined His palms and bowed His head in reverence.
Sati was shocked. She asked "What deception is this? How come you despite being the Supreme Lord bow before a miserable man? For a master bowing to a servant is unheard of."
Rudra said "Devi, there is no deception in this. That man is Rama, the son of Suryavanshi king Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Scion of Ikshavaku's race, that man is Vishnu's incarnation. The other person is Rama's brother Lakshmana, incarnation of Ananta. My wicked devotee Ravana has abducted Rama's wife Sita. Thus Rama is stricken by grief.
The reason I bowed before him is because I in the year of yore, had granted such boon to Vishnu."
Sati said "What you speak is always true. But Maheshvara! I am finding it difficult to accept that the incarnation of Vishnu can be vulnerable in any way. If you allow me, I would like to test Rama's Vishnutva."
Rudra said "You can test Rama. But do not forget to describe in details what happens afterwards."
Sati agreed. She walked through the bushes and stood before Rama and Lakshmana. Seeing Her, Lakshmana rejoiced and said "My brother! Your beloved Sita has returned. You must cheer up." What Lakshmana didn't know was that the lady whom he saw was Sita, was actually Sati in Sita's disguise.
|Sati tests Rama|
As Rama turned and saw Sati, his face fell. There was no sign of joy of reunion. Rather, his eyes brimmed with tears of ecstasy. Rama fell at Sati's feet, to Lakshmana's horror; and cried like a child lost in a fair, reuniting with his mother. Rama rose and with palms joined said "Salutations to you, oh Mother Goddess, for you are the all pervading Mahamaya of formidable exploits; you are root cause of the universe. It is you, Oh Mahadevi, who fascinates all Jivas, and when propitiated, becomes the cause of liberation."
Sati understood it very well that Rama had recognised Her. Transforming back to Her real form, Sati said "Blessed are you, oh Vishnu; blessed is your devotion. But tell me the truth, why did Rudra bow to you?"
|Vishnu receiving boons from Shiva|
Rama said "Oh Mother! In former times, I , Vishnu, had performed severe penance and propitiated Shiva, the Supreme Lord. Appeased with me, Lord appeared before me and bestowed upon me several boons thus 'Oh Vishnu! By my grace, everyone would worship you and your various incarnations as the greatest of all Devas. Even Rudra, my complete incarnation, would reciprocate your devotion towards me by meditating upon and worshiping you.' Thus, Lord Rudra has bowed to me due to the boon Lord Shiva bestowed me with."
Satisfied, Sati returned to Rudra. When He asked about the event, She told Him the complete truth. Upon hearing that, Rudra thought it in His mind "By testing Rama's Vishnutva, you disobeyed me. Also, you tested him in disguise of Lakshmi, who is like a mother to me. Thus, I shall forsake you as my wife." Thinking thus, Rudra mentally forsook Sati.
After that fateful day, Treta, Dvapara and Kali Yugas passed. It was Satya Yuga once again. Daksha, who has been devising various means of avenging his 'insult' by Rudra. Finally, he came up with the idea of of a Shivahina Yajna, in which all were invited. Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas, Rishis, Sanyasins, Vidyadharas etc, all, except Shiva and Sati were invited. The venue was Kankhala, on the banks of Ganges.
Among Rishis, Dadhicha came last and was duly received by Daksha. When the sage looked around, he saw all invited delegates seated on their assigned thrones. He was astonished when he saw no throne on which Shiva and Sati could have sat on. Dadhicha glanced at the share of oblations that were kept for each invitee.
Dadhicha asked "Oh Prajapati! I see no seat or share of oblation allotted for Maha Rudra and His beloved Queen. How come such blunder was committed by you?"
Hearing Dadhicha's words, Daksha laughed and said calmly "When Maha Vishnu is present with his Sudarshana discus, what is the need of worrying about that uncultured brute?"
A shiver of fear ran down Dadhicha's spine when he heard these malicious words of Daksha. He foresaw the future events and hence warned Daksha "Foolish Prajapati! The place where Rudra is not honoured is cursed. Hence I condemn this Yajna and am leaving this place right away. Beware! Today your foolishness and the greed of all the invitees present here would cost them dire consequences. There is still some time left; offer oblations to Rudra during Yajna. Or else no force can save you today."
Saying thus, Dadhicha left hurriedly with his followers. Daksha thought "Coward! That foolish Dadhicha is scared of Rudra, even when Narayana is present. His bad-luck."
Daksha announced "In the name of Maha Vishnu, let us begin the Yajna."
At the other side, Sati's happiness knew no bonds. Her niece Vijaya had come to visit Her. Young Vijaya herself was upset with Daksha's indifference towards Sati. Hence, she turned down the invitation and traveled to Kailasa, to ensure that Sati remains oblivious of the events unfolding at Kankhal. Sati and Vijaya were chatting under a Bilva tree, while Rudra had gone to the lake Mansarovar to perform Sandhya.
Sati and Vijaya's conversation came to a halt when Sati heard the whizzing of the rotor blades of a Vimana. From the lunar mark on the aircraft's flag, Sati could identify it as Chandra's aircraft. The moon god generally preferred his stag while traveling; only when he traveled with all his 27 wives, who were all Sati's sisters, only then he traveled in a Vimana.
Curious about Chandra's destination, Sati asked Vijaya "My child! Go and find out where Chandra and his wives are going." Vijaya knew where they were going; and she realised that she won't be able to hide anything from Sati anymore. Hesitatingly, Vijaya said "As you say, Matrishvasri."
Vijaya called one soldier from Chandra's convoy and asked where they were going; although it wasn't needed. The soldier replied, and Vijaya returned. Sati eagerly saw Vijaya coming, with her face wane. Sati now feared of something terrible. She didn't had to ask; She could read Vijaya's eyes. Her heart sank and eyes brimmed with tears.
Sati thought "Why? What was my fault? Why did father ignore me?" as tears rolled down Her smooth cheeks. In a fraction of a second, Sati's grief was replaced by blazing fury. Her eyes turned blood-shot in anger and She thought "How dare he? How dare Prajapati Daksha insult me and my love? How dare he deviate from the word he gave me before I incarnated as his daughter? So what if he broke his word? I will keep mine. On this day of Akshaya Tritiya, I shall eject my life force via Brahmarandhra through Yogic means and forsake this body born of Daksha's seed. Let the Yogic fire consume this body."
Thinking thus, Sati sat down in lotus posture, and after performing Achamana and Gayatri, raised Her life force and ejected it through Her crown. That life force of Sati emerged even as Vijay watched in horror, like a collection of million suns and transformed into Adya Kali, the primordial Goddess of black complexion. From Her emerged the ten Mahavidyas - Kali, Tara, Tripurasundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala; and pervading the ten directions, the Devis spoke together " This is the curse upon Daksha and other invitees; they are destined to face Rudra's wrath. Alas! For Sati, the beloved of Shiva, is dead." Like a bolt of lightening, Adya Kali and Ten Mahavidyas vanished.
|Sati (in centre) with Dasamahavidyas|
As Sati fell lifeless, Vijaya rushed to Her, and beating her breasts, began to weep loudly and raise hue & cry thus "Oh Aunt! Where have you gone? Oh Mother! What shall happen now? Alas! Sati the darling of Rudra is no more! Fie upon Daksha! Fie upon all the invitees who have gone there in greed of oblations!"
Upon hearing Vijaya's cries, Rudra and His Ganas rushed to that place where Sati gave away Her life. Upon seeing a supine Sati, Rudra asked Vijaya "Child, what has happened to my Sati? Why is She reclining under this tree? And why are you crying?" On being asked, Vijaya relayed to Rudra everything.
|Shiva grieving Sati's death|
A heartbroken Rudra fell on His knees and talking Sati's lifeless body to His lap, He cried thus, shedding tears of grief "Oh my Sati! The queen of my heart! Why did you take such a drastic step? My beloved! Where have you gone? Why did you commit suicide for that foolish Daksha? HOW DARE HE KILLED YOU?"
The last sentence sent a chill of fear down everyone's spine. Rudra rose to His feet, and plucking a lock of hair from His scalp, He struck down a mountain with it, rendering the mountain aflame. The lock broke into two halves.
From one half, a fierce Gana called Virabhadra rose.
From the other half appeared Bhadrakali.
Virabhadra asked "Oh Lord! What should be done by me? Whose has summoned his death? Tell me, I will annihilate him in a moment."
Rudra said "Go Virabhadra! Go to Kankhal and vanquish that wicked Daksha of evil conduct. Because of him and his Yajna, my Sati died. Go destroy that Yajna. If anyone comes in-between, be it a Deva, an Asura or anyone else, kill him as well. Kill anyone who offers asylum to Daksha."
|Shiva's Tandava with Sati's corpse on His shoulders|
Hearing his Lord's order, Virabhadra stormed towards Kankhala with Bhadrakali. From Virabhadra were born fierce entities called Raumyas while from Bhadrakali countless Yoginis and Dakinis were born.
On the other side, various omens were seen in Kankhala. The sky became overcast, wolves howled, crows shrieked, vultures hovered and the invitees vomited blood, iron nails and chunks of meat again and again.
While Rudra waited outside Kankhal's gates, Virabhadra, Bhadrakali, Nandi, Ganas, Raumyas and Dakinis stormed into the city and started killing people. They looted and plundered homes and shops, setting them ablaze. When Daksha learnt of this, he requested Indra and other Devas for help. Desirous to fight, Indra, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Surya, Chandra, Niritti, Yama, Ashvini twins etc came out and began to fight along with their own armies. Seeing. Shiva's army waning, Bhadrakali got furious and laughed loudly again and again, while sipping wine. Virabhadra said "You wicked Devas came here for oblations; now I will offer oblations of your flesh."
Saying thus, Virabhadra fell Devas with his arrows. On the other side, Bhadrakali beheaded many soldiers and drank their blood. Nandi and other Ganas fought with Bhrigu's soldiers.
Bhrigu came near Rudra with his soldiers and wanted to kill Him. But the soldiers were reduced to ashes by Rudra's fiery glance. When Bhrigu himself charged at Rudra, He caught hold of Bhrigu's neck and ripped apart Bhrigu's beard. Sending Bhrigu screaming in agony, Rudra was now attacked by Bhaga. Grabbing Bhaga by his hair, Rudra plucked out his eyes with His fingers. Pusha too attacked Rudra but He slapped him across his face so hard, that Pusha lost all his teeth.
When defeated by Rudra and His followers, Devas, the three sages and remaining soldiers who managed to flee sought Vishnu's refuge. Daksha to placed his hope on Vishnu.
Finally, Vishnu had to agree to fight, although initially reluctant to fight with Rudra. As Vishnu entered the battle-field, Virabhadra said "Oh Lord Vishnu! I cannot fight with you. Lord Rudra is my God, and you are same as Him." Vishnu said "Mighty Virabhadra! You should not hesitate to fight with me. In this battle, I am bound to support my devotee Daksha, and serving Lord Rudra an honour for you. Come, fight with me."
Saying so, Vishnu charged, seated on Garuda. He shot arrows at Virabhadra, but the later cut Vishnu's arrows with his own arrows. This continued for long; Vishnu cut Virabhadra's arrows and Virabhadra cut Vishnu's arrows. At a point, Vishnu hurled his club and broke Virabhadra's bow. At this, a roaring Virabhadra broke the club with his axe. On the other side, Bhadrakali, Nandi, and their army fought with Vishnu's army.
Determined to defeat Virabhadra, Vishnu hurled his sword at him. But Virabhadra broke it with his trident. At this, an enraged Vishnu hurled his discus; but Virabhadra opened his mouth wide and swallowed it. Seeing this, Vishnu uttered an occult Mantra and caused the discus to eject out of Virabhadra's mouth. At this, Rudra charged towards Vishnu. Seeing the angry Mahadeva charging at him, Vishnu fled from Kankhal and hid himself in Hrishikesha. Rudra chased Vishnu and started showering arrows at him. Vishnu too shot arrows at Rudra. At one point, Vishnu uttered a terrible battle-cry and snapped the string of Rudra's bow.
|Battle of Shiva and Vishnu|
Thereafter, Vishnu hurled an axe at Rudra, but it broke into pieces when it hit Rudra; because of this, Rudra is also known as Parashukhanda. Vishnu hurled his discus; but Rudra countered it with His Vajra. Vishnu charged at Rudra and grabbed Rudra by His neck, causing it turn blackish; because of this, Rudra is known as Shithikantha. Enraged, Rudra pushed Vishnu and impaled him with His trident. This rendered Vishnu unconscious and created a permanent whorl-like wound. Brahma came there and prayed to Rudra thus "My Lord! Do not kill Vishnu. He is you, and you are him." At this, Rudra spared Vishnu, who gained consciousness and upon rising to his feet, bowed before Rudra and said "My Lord! I was duty bound. Daksha for sure is a fool, and is destined to meet his doom today."
Vishnu's absence gave Virabhadra chance to storm into the Yajna venue. The Ganas started demolishing the Yajna hall, pulling down its pillars, throwing away the oblations, urinating into the offerings, beating the guests black and blue. Bhadrakali and her female soldiers attacked women present there.
|Virabhadra kills Daksha|
When Virabhadra came to know that Daksha was hiding under the Yajna platform, he pulled him out and stroke him with a sword. But Daksha didn't die. Realising that Daksha cannot be killed by weapons, Virabhadra kicked Daksha's chest and by holding his cheeks, Virabhadra ripped Daksha's head apart and offered it to Bhadrakali, who drank Daksha's blood and kicked the head like a ball, causing it to roll into the sacrificial fire. At the request of Brahma and Vishnu, Rudra came to the venue. Now that His wrath was pacified, seeing misery of all, Rudra's heart filled with compassion. He forgave and resurrected everyone, including Daksha, whose head was replaced with that of a goat. Now with his pride humbled, Daksha felt guilt for his actions. Rudra left with His Ganas, and retreated in a shell. His sorrow knew no bounds.
Rudra lost His mind and became mad in Sati's grief. He would try to 'wake up' Sati from Her 'slumber'. He would remove Sati's jewelry and deck Her with new one; He would bring flowers, string them into garlands and decorate Sati; He would play His Veena and sing; but nothing revived Sati. Upon failure, Rudra would weep loudly, holding the remains of His beloved to His heart. He then started to wander here and there with Sati's corpse on His shoulders.
|Shiva wandering with Sati's corpse. |
Vishnu following Rudrato dismember Sati's corpse
Rudra's grief was affecting the smooth functioning of the universe. Hence, something had to be done to separate Him from Sati's corpse. The charge was given to Vishnu, who part by part dismembered Sati's corpse with his arrows. Brahma and Shani too entered Sati's corpse and ripped it apart inside-out. Wherever on earth Sati's 51 dismembered limbs fell, that place became holy and came to be known as Shaktipitha.
Upon realising that Sati was gone, Rudra grew more miserable. He cursed Vishnu thus "Oh wicked Vishnu! Because of you I lost my Sati today. A day will come when you too will wander on earth like a mad man in search of your lost wife."
Rudra now started visiting various Shaktipithas, and spending centuries after centuries in meditating upon Sati and worshiping Her with Tantric rites.
|Shiva meditating upon Adya Kali|
At last, Rudra reached Pragjyotishpura (present day Guwahati), where Sati's Yoni fell. At that exalted Yonipitha, Sati was present as Kamakhya. Shiva made the mount Bhasmanchala (Umananda / Peacock island) amidst Brahmaputra His home, where He could meditate and see His beloved Sati, whose shrine was perched on the Nilachal mountain. His only hope was, that a day will come, when His Sati would return to Him. Till then, He would wait there.
I apologize sincerely to the lotus feet of Mahadeva and Mahamaya, if any offence was committed by me knowingly or unknowingly.
[This anecdote has been adapted from Shiva Purana (Rudra Samhita's Sati Khanda), Kalika Purana (Purvabhaga), Shatpatha Brahmana, Devi Bhagavatam (Seventh Canto), Mahabharata (Shanti Parva) and Yogini Tantra.]