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Sacrifice of Daksha

(Ref: Shiva Purana - Rudra Samhita - Sati Khanda - 27 to 43)

Shiva Daksha YagnaDaksha organises a huge sacrifice: Once Daksha organized a huge sacrifice at Kankhala Tirtha. He invited all the gods and the sages. All the gods, Lokpalas, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas, Siddhas, Adityas, Nagas, Vasus and Ganadevatas arrived there. The yagnadevata himself was present in the sacrifice. Lord Brahma and Vishnu was also invited. The sages like Agastya, Kashyapa, Atri, Vamadeva, Bhrigu, Dadhici, Bhagavan Vyasa, Bharadwaja, Gautama, Paila, Parashara, Garga, Bhargava, Kakubha, Sita, Sumantu, Trika and Vaishampayana arrived there. Vishwakarma created buildings which were allotted to the gods. The Dikpalas acted as gate-keepers in the yagna. Eighty six thousand Ritviks made offerings in the fire. Sixty four thousand Udgatars acted as Adhvaryus and Hotrs.

Daksha did not invite Lord Shiva: However Daksha did not invite Lord Shiva thinking him to be a Kapali (adorning skulls). He also did not invite his daughter Devi Sati, since she was the wife of Shiva.

Daksha received Diksha for the sacrifice: Daksha received the Diksha for the sacrifice along with his wife. The sacrifice commenced.

Sage Dadhici finding Shiva uninvited curses and leaves the sacrifice: In the meantime sage Dadhici not finding Lord Shiva asks Daksha about it. He said that Shiva is the Purana Purusha who makes all events auspicious. Hence Lord Shiva should be summoned at once. Daksha said that Lord Vishnu who is present is the base of the gods and embodies the Eternal Dharma. In him is enshrined all the Vedas. The great grand sire Lord Brahma along with the Vedas, Upanishads and the Agamas are also present there. Also Indra and all the gods and also the sages are there. So what is the necessity of Rudra anymore? Shiva does not belong to a kula and is bereft of father and mother. He is the lord of Bhutas, Pretas and Pishachas. He is also haughty and filled with false pride. Therefore he is not invited. Dadhici said that without Lord Shiva the yagna is not a yagna. He cursed that the destruction of the yagna is inevitable. Then sage Dadhici and others devoted to Lord Shiva left the yagna. Daksha laughed and continued with the yagna.

Devi Sati comes to know about the sacrifice of Daksha: Devi Sati was then in Gandhamadana mountain surrounded by her friends and engaged in her sports. She saw Chandra and Rohini going to some place in hurry. She asked Vijaya where they are going. Vijaya enquired and came to know that they were going to attend the yagna of Daksha. Devi Sati, the Kalika, was highly surprised. She thought that Daksha and Virini are her father and mother. Why have they not invited their dear daughter? She went to Shiva to ask the reason.

Devi Sati discusses with Lord Shiva: Devi Sati then went to Lord Shiva who was attended by Nandi and other valorous attendants. Devi Sati asked the reason why Lord Shiva is not attending the yagna of Daksha. Lord Shiva said that Daksha was particularly inimical to him. Those who go to the house of others uninvited have to face humiliation which is worse than death. A person is hurt by words more than they are harmed by enemies. Persons possessing the six virtues are humiliated by people who do not possess those virtues. Hence they should not go to the yagna.

Devi Sati decides to go to the yagna of Daksha: Devi Sati became angry with his father when he heard this from Shiva. She said that with His permission, She would like to go there and find the thoughts of those evil-minded people there who have not invited Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva granted the permission and made appropriate arrangements.

Devi Sati starts for the yagna of Daksha: Devi Sati then started for the yagna of Daksha mounting the bull Nandi who was heavily decorated. She was given royal paraphernalia like umbrella, chamara, royal clothes and ornaments. She was accompanied by sixty thousand attendants of Lord Shiva. They filled the air with festive joy. The journey of the Mother of the Universe was extremely graceful and filled the three worlds with joy.

Devi Sati encounters Daksha and others in the yagna: On reaching the place of the yagna, Devi Sati kept Her attendants outside the gate and entered alone in the place of the yagna. Her mother Asikni and sisters welcomed Her but father Daksha ignored Her. Seeing Daksha, the other followers also did not show their respects. Devi Sati saw that even though Hari and other gods had the share of the yagna, no share was kept for Lord Shiva. Feeling humiliated She faced Daksha with the fire of Her anger. She asked why Lord Shiva was not invited who was the embodiment of yagna himself and without whom no yagna is successful. Did he take Lord Shiva as an ordinary mortal losing his senses? By the power of Lord Shiva Brahma, Vishnu and other gods have attained their status. She then faced Vishnu and asked why has he attended the yagna of Daksha where Lord Shiva was not invited? Lord Shiva saved him from the attack of Salva and others several times. When Brahma became arrogant, Shiva reduced his five heads to four. Did he forget that? He then faced Indra and said that he knew the power of Shiva who reduced his vajra to ashes. She then faced the sages and said that at Darukavana when the sages cursed Him, Lord Shiva burned the mobile and immobile beings of the world. Have they forgotten that? The gods and the sages were frightened by Her angry words and kept quiet. Daksha replied with anger that She has no business there and can go away. Shiva is inauspicious and akula (without lineage). He is discarded by the Vedas and is surrounded by ghosts and spirits. He is dressed indecently. Only due to the advice of Lord Brahma did he marry her to him. Hence Shiva is not invited. Listening to the words of Daksha, Sati became enraged. She breathed hard. She said that those who speak bad words about Shiva or listens to it, fall in hell. Therefore She will give up Her body in fire. She said they are going to repent for their bad words and feelings for Lord Shiva. Shiva is the auspicious One reciting Whose name the sins are washed away. The Lotus Feet of Shiva is served like bees by noble people. Shiva is the One Who bestows appropriate boons to the devotees. Shiva lives in the cremation ground with ghosts and spirits wearing a skull and smearing his body with ashes. But gods and sages adore His Lotus Feet. In the Vedas two types of paths have been prescribed: Pravitti and Nivritti. The path of Shiva is the path followed by the Avadhutas. Then She addressed the gods and sages and said that everyone have conducted improperly and will be punished by Lord Shiva.

Devi Sati casts of Her body: Then Devi Sati remembered Her husband, sipped water and sitting on the northern direction, entered the yogic state. Balancing the prana and apana vayu, She raised the udana vayu from navel and taking it through the heart and throat region, finally established it between the eyebrows. In that yogic state She burnt up Her body and reduced it to ashes. A terrible disturbance was created on earth which frightened the gods.

Shiva ganas attacks Daksha: The attendants of Lord Shiva (who were waiting at the entrance) became terror and grief-stricken. Many of them ended their lives with Devi Sati. Some cut off their limbs with their weapons. Some got up in rage and attacked Daksha.

Bhrigu repel Shiva ganas with mantras: To remove the obstacles of the yagna, sage Bhrigu chanted mantras and created powerful Ribhus from the fire-altar. The powerful Ribhus repelled the Shiva ganas and drove them away.

A divine voice predicts the destruction of the sacrifice of Daksha: A divine voice was then heard which addressed Daksha and said that due to his egoism and disrespect of Shiva and Sati, his sacrifice will be destroyed. Sati is the Mother of the universe. She sustains the universe and at the end of the kalpa destroys it. She is the bestower of the fruits of tapas (penance), dharma and dana (charity). She is the Shakti of Lord Shiva. Shiva is the supreme Lord whom the sages meditate on. He is the upholder of Adi Vidya (Primordial Knowledge) and auspiciousness of the auspicious. He is the bestower of enormous fruits. Shesha with thousand heads carry the dust of His feet. Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Indra attained their exalted positions due to Him. Since he showed disrespect to that Shiva and Sati, great misfortunes will befall on him. His yagna will be destroyed. Whoever comes to his rescue will also be destroyed.

Shiva ganas informs Lord Shiva about the incidents: The Shiva ganas who escaped from the power of the mantras went to Lord Shiva, took His refuge, and told him of the incidents that took place there.

Lord Shiva remembers Narada to know of the factual incidents: Lord Shiva then remembered Narada. Narada came there and told Him of the incidents that took place in the yagna.

Lord Shiva creates Virabhadra and Mahakali: Listening to the incidents of the yagna Lord Shiva became enraged. He plucked a lock of his hair and threw it over the mountain. The hair split into two parts and there was a deafening loud sound. From one part of the matted lock was born Virabhadra of mighty power who was the leader of the ganas. He looked like the fire of the Pralaya and had two thousand hands. He enveloped the whole world. From the angry breathing of Shiva, hundreds of fevers (jwaras) came out. From the other part of the matted lock was born Mahakali of terrible appearance. She was surrounded by crores of bhutas (goblins).

Lord Shiva commands Virabhadra to destroy the yagna: Virabhadra asked Lord Shiva to give him command. Should he reduce the Brahmanda to ashes? Or should he stop the breathing of the universe? He said that by the grace of Lord Shiva even a small person can cross the ocean of the lokas. Even a blade of grass can accomplish great works when sent by Lord Shiva. He said that his strength is due to the grace of Shiva only. The right part of his body is throbbing giving the indication that victory is certain. His mind is filled with enthusiasm and devoted to the Lotus Feet of Shiva. Therefore auspicious things are going to happen. Lord Shiva told Virabhadra about the yagna of Daksha and commanded him to reduce that yagna to ashes along with those present there.

Virabhadra marches towards the sacrifice of Daksha: Taking the command of Lord Shiva, Virabhadra started marching towards the sacrifice of Daksha. He was accompanied by crores of Shiva ganas. Virabhadra with thousand arms, each resembling the hood of a serpent, moved ahead in a chariot. His guards were thousands of lions, tigers, crocodiles, fishes and elephants. There was a shower of Kalpavriksha. Goddesses Kali, Katyayani, Ishani, Chamunda, Mundamardhini, Bhadrakali, Bhadra, Tvarita, Vaishnavi and others marched for the destruction of the yagna of Daksha. Also the Dakinis, Shakinis, Bhutas, Pramathas, Guhyakas, Kushmandas, Parpatas, Catakas, Brahmarakshasas, Bhairavas, Kshetrapalas, sixty four yoginis and many others marched with him. There were auspicious omens.

Inauspicious omens occur in the sacrifice of Daksha: As Virabhadra started marching towards the sacrifice of Daksha, inauspicious omens started occurring there. The left eye, arm and leg of Daksha started throbbing. Earthquakes shook the place of the yagna. Daksha witnessed a peculiar star in the sky at noon. The directions became dusty and the sun faded and was filled with horrible marks. Stars starting falling from the sky. Thousands of vultures starting flying over the head of Daksha. Jackals and owls started howling. Dust-storms started blowing. Daksha and others started vomiting blood with pieces of flesh. A divine voice reminded of the impending danger. The gods became frightened.

Daksha takes refuge of Lord Vishnu: Daksha became frightened and took refuge of Lord Vishnu. He prayed the Lord to protect him and the yagna. However Vishnu said that the egoism of Daksha, who was unable to understand the Shiva tattva, has brought this calamity on everyone. He told Daksha to shed his egoism. Shiva is the bestower of all fruits. Shiva is the all-powerful. Even he cannot protect Daksha. His Sudarshana Chakra will not work because it is given by Shiva. Everyone now has to face the misfortunes. In the meantime Virabhadra arrives there with his army of Shiva ganas.

Fight between the gods and Shiva ganas: Ignoring the words of Lord Vishnu, Indra and other gods started fighting with the Shiva ganas displaying their prowess. Bhrigu through his mantras (created Ribhus and) defeated the Shiva ganas and drove them away.

Fight between the gods and Virabhadra: Seeing the Shiva ganas getting defeated, Virabhadra came forward, fought with the gods and defeated them. Apart from Indra and Lokpalas, the gods fled to heaven.

The gods take refuge of Brihaspati: The gods then went to Brihaspati and asks him a way of victory. Brihaspati upheld the words of Lord Vishnu. He said that Shiva is the bestower of the fruits of all karmas. Shiva is only known through devotion and His grace. All efforts for the protection of the yagna will prove unsuccessful.

Conversation between Vishnu and Virabhadra: Virabhadra then came forward and faced Vishnu. He frowned at him and asked him why he took side of Daksha. Who is the protector of the three worlds? Has he the strength enough to transgress the vow of Lord Shiva? Now he will surely tear him with his trident. Lord Vishnu laughed and said that he is not against Shiva but a servant of Shiva. Because Daksha had taken refuge of him is he going to fight, since he is also subservient to his devotees like Shiva. So let Virabhadra fight and let whatever is destined to happen, happen. Virabhadra said that he was only testing the feelings of Lord Vishnu. As per the command of Shiva, as is Shiva, so is he.

Destruction of the yagna: Thereafter Lord Vishnu blew his conch Panchajanya getting ready to fight. The sound of the conch filled the gods with courage and they assembled again to fight. A terrific battle ensued between the gods and the Shiva ganas (and yoginis). The army of Virabhadra finally defeated the gods. Lord Vishnu and Brahma left the yagna and went back to their respective abodes. Manibhadra pulled out the beard of Bhrigu (who through his mantras fought against the Shiva ganas). Canda removed the teeth of Pushan because he laughed and showed his teeth when the curse was pronounced (for the destruction of yagna). Nandi removed the eyes of Bhaga who winked when the curse was pronounced. The Shiva ganas showered filth and polluted the sacrificial fire. Finally Virabhadra faced Daksha. He tried to severe the head of Daksha with his sword but could not do so due to some yogic power. Finding his weapons not working, he jumped on the chest of Daksha and severed his head with his hands. He threw the head over the sacrificial fire. Virabhadra appearing terrible like the fire of Samvarta then laughed aloud. When the yagna was completely destroyed the flowers of Nandanvana showered over him and drums were beaten in the heaven. Virabhadra went back to Kailasha. Lord Shiva was delighted and declared Virabhadra as the leader of the ganas.

Curse of sage Dadhica: Narada asked why Lord Vishnu took the side of Daksha and fought with the Shivaganas. Lord Brahma narrated the story of a curse of sage Dadhica, where the sage had once cursed the gods to get destroyed in the fire of anger of Lord Shiva.

Brahma, Vishnu and other gods goes to Shiva: After the destruction of the yagna of Daksha, the defeated gods went to Lord Brahma and told their tale of sufferings. Lord Brahma feeling pained at heart went to Lord Vishnu with the gods and took his refuge. Lord Vishnu suggested that all of them should go to Lord Shiva, ask his forgiveness and eulogize him. Thereafter Brahma, Vishnu and the gods went to the Himalayas. The place was beautiful with snow-clad mountains, mountain caves and several springs. It was decorated with several types of trees. Kinnaras, apsaras, yogis and siddhas used to visit that place. The tigers and other creatures shed their natural enmity and lived there. The auspicious river Ganga flowed there. There was mount Kailasha. There was a divine city called Alaka. Two rivers Nanda and Alakananda flowed around it. After passing through the city of Alaka, they came to a huge Banyan tree under which Lord Shiva was meditating sitting on the Kusha grass and wearing Rudraksha beads. Lord Vishnu and the gods offered their salutations. Lord Shiva welcomed them. They started eulogizing Lord Shiva and prayed him to heal the wounded gods and complete the sacrifice of Daksha. Sage Vasishtha will officiate the sacrifice and the share of Lord Rudra will be kept there.

Lord Shiva revives Daksha: Lord Shiva was delighted with the eulogy of the gods. He assured that the wounded gods will be restored. Then he went to Kankhala, the place of Daksha yagna and revived Daksha joining the head of a he-goat. Getting his life back Daksha eulogized Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva tells about his real nature to Daksha: Lord Shiva told that he has four types of devotees: Arta, Jigyasu, Artharti and Jnani. Among them Jnani, the person with divine knowledge is best and most dear to him. People of lesser wisdom try to attain him without knowledge (serving by other means). People who are simply attached to Karmas cannot attain him. Since Daksha wanted to free himself from samsara simply by means of Karma, He was angry and this resulted in the destruction of his yagna. Those who see the same divine being in all living beings finds peace. One should not differentiate between the Tridevas (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). Without devotion to Brahma, the devotion to Vishnu cannot be achieved. Without devotion to Vishnu, the devotion to Shiva cannot be achieved. Whoever denounces Shiva being a devotee of Vishnu or denounces Vishnu being a devotee of Shiva, there is a curse that they will never attain the knowledge of the Tattvas. Hearing this Daksha was filled with delight.

Daksha completes the yagna: With the permission of Lord Shiva, Daksha then completed the yagna. He kept the share of Lord Shiva and all other gods. He completed all the rites according to tradition. All the gods and sages were delighted and recited the glory of Lord Shiva. Then they returned to their respective abodes.

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And Nature will preserve Us,
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Last updated on Apr-2022

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