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Daksha’s Sacrifice and the Death of Sati

As Shukadeva continued narrating the Bhagavatam to King Parikshit and the gathered sages, they listened with rapt attention. Shukadeva recounted the story of Daksha's sacrifice, revealing that Daksha, Brahma's son, had numerous daughters, including Sati, who was given in marriage to Mahadeva. This union meant that Daksha's son-in-law was none other than the God of gods, Lord Shiva, who was also the Lord of the devas.

Once, during a religious ceremony known as a yajna, Daksha visited the devas, who respectfully stood up to greet him, except for Mahadeva. Despite being Daksha's son-in-law, Mahadeva remained seated and disregarded Daksha's arrival.


Daksha became extremely angry at Mahadeva's perceived disrespect and hurled insults at him, using harsh words. He went on to curse Mahadeva, proclaiming that he would no longer be entitled to receive any offerings at religious sacrifices. Despite being subjected to such provocation, Mahadeva remained calm and composed, refusing to react. However, his follower Nandi could not tolerate this disrespect and cursed Daksha, predicting that he would lose his spiritual awareness and become engrossed in worldly desires like an animal, while also prophesying that his head would transform into that of a goat.


Daksha organized a grand sacrifice and invited many guests, including devas, rishis, and sages, but intentionally excluded Shiva and his wife, Sati. When Sati learned of the event, she pleaded with Shiva to let her attend, arguing that she didn't need the invitation to go to her own father's house. Although initially hesitant, Shiva eventually relented, and some of his attendants accompanied Sati to the sacrifice.


Upon Sati's arrival at her father's house, she received only a warm welcome from her mother, sisters, and a few close relatives; however, her father did not acknowledge her presence. Moreover, Sati noticed that nothing was offered to Shiva as his rightful share in the sacrifice.


Sati was infuriated and publicly reprimanded her father. She exclaimed, "Alas! You insult one whose name alone frees a person from all sins. You are the embodiment of all inauspiciousness, yet you dare to insult one who epitomizes fame and greatness." Sati then announced that she could no longer bear to inhabit a body that was born from Daksha, who despised the noble Shiva. She reminded everyone that Shiva had even drunk poison to save the three worlds and was known as Nilkantha. She expressed her shame in being related to Daksha and declared that she would cast off her body immediately.


Sati immediately entered into a state of yoga and, with the power of her focused mind, set her body on fire. The cries of grief filled the air as her attendants rose to avenge her by attacking Daksha. However, Bhrigu, the chief priest of the sacrifice, quickly made offerings in the sacrificial fire to summon troops to defeat Sati's attendants. The troops of the gods arrived and drove them away.


In the meantime, Narada went to inform Shiva of everything that had occurred. Enraged by the news, Shiva pulled a hair from his head and cast it onto the ground. From that hair, a fierce-looking warrior named Virabhadra emerged. Humbling himself before Shiva, Virabhadra asked, "What can I do for you?" Shiva replied, "Go and destroy Daksha, along with his sacrifice." Letting out a mighty roar, Virabhadra departed, accompanied by Shiva's followers.


Virabhadra swiftly arrived at the sacrificial ground with Shiva's companions and beheaded Daksha, offering his head in the fire. The terrified devas were also attacked, and they sought refuge with Brahma. Together they went to meet Shiva at Kailasha, where they sang a hymn to pacify him. Shiva, who is easily pleased, was calmed and promised that Daksha would live again but with a goat's head. He also assured that the devas who were injured would have their limbs restored. The devas then requested that Shiva revive Daksha and urged him to come to the sacrificial grounds.


After Virabhadra offered Daksha's head in the sacrificial fire, the devas were attacked and sought protection from Brahma. Brahma and the devas then went to Kailasha to meet Shiva, where they sang hymns to pacify him. Shiva agreed to restore Daksha's life with the head of a goat and to restore the limbs of the injured devas. Daksha regained consciousness and extolled Shiva with a hymn. The sacrifice resumed and Lord Vishnu appeared when the priests performed the meditation on him. Lord Vishnu said that he is both Brahma and Shiva, and those who know that they are one and pervade all beings will attain eternal peace. The sacrifice was successful, and Mahadeva received his share of the offerings. Sati was later reborn as Uma or Durga and married Shiva again.


Read the story of Bhakt Dhruva at https://www.divineleelas.com/post/the-story-of-dhruva

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