Sharing one of the loveliest versions of the story about Prajapati’s Sacrifice…
“The following explains the origin of Mahavidyas. Jagadamba defies Siva.
Daksha, a secondary creator (Prajapati) born of sexual union between Brahma and Aditi, was one of the ten sons of Brahma. Brahma’s first and only mind-born sons were averse to sexual reproduction and therefore Brahma out of frustration fathered Daksha, who willingly carried out his father’s legacy of sexual reproduction. Daksha means right and is cognate with Latin Dexter. Daksha, Vasistha, and Marici held a great sacrifice for which they invited all gods, demigods, celestials, gurus, munis and sages including Siva, Brahma, and Vishnu. When Daksha walked into the assembly hall, all except Siva rose and applauded Daksha, who was so offended by the sensed slight that he fumed and fulminated against disrespectful behavior of Siva, who was married to Daksha’s daughter Sati, also known as Dakshayini. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are hierarchically superior to Daksha, but Daksha felt that he deserved respect from his son-in-law, Siva, who wears russet hair, matted locks, a moon on his head and a snake around his neck. Daksha did not have a good opinion even before the sacrifice, because Siva looked poor by external appearance. There is a reason for it. Siva does not own anything, not even a house (He lives in the frigid Kailas in Himalayas, no heat to keep Him warm); He does not even have a family name (Akula–He is not Sakti; He is self-born according to Saivites) He is a Yogin and Vairagin, One who has no desires, possessions. Who wants a son-in-law like that? One of his devotees, Sundarar, calls him Pitthan (பித்தன்), the mad One, out of deep love and devotion. Out of spite, Daksha called Siva names: spoiler; mental dwarf; a refuge of the refuse, destitute and poor; boorish demigod; monkey’s eyes; a kindred of Sudra unfit to learn Vedas; a crematorium-dweller; wearer of a garland of skulls and bones; sloven. Daksha regretted his decision for having given his daughter in marriage to Siva on the recommendation of his father, Brahma. Daksha washed his hands and mouth and proceeded to pile some more insults on Siva. Daksha performed sacrifice to increase the material prosperity of the world. What is wrong with that? Find out later. Siva was a ‘renouncer’ and wanted no part in it. Daksha left the assembly hall abruptly in a fury against the advice of Brahma and other gods. Daksha did not let Siva savor the oblations of the sacrifice. Nandisvara, Siva’s close associate was angry with Daksha for the egregious treatment of Siva. Nandisvara spoke to the assembly, saying that they who took part in the sacrifice were materialistic (Faustian devils), considered body superior to Soul, the repository of transcendental knowledge and therefore, would lose that sacred knowledge. He further said that since Daksha considered body superior to soul and celebrated sex life over spiritual life, he would soon acquire face of a goat. (Remember, the Rocky Mountain goats fight over females, who huddle together and watch the ramming heads with blithe bleating mirth.) They who have vidya-buddhi, avidyam, and karma-mayam (material knowledge, ignorance, and delusion of karma) would be castigated to a life of repeated births and rebirths. Nandisvara cursed all the deviant Dvija-kulayas (the twice-born Bahmanas) for their materialistic pursuits in performing the sacrifice, by saying Brahmanas of the genre – Vedas-for-sale, Vedas-for-livelihood—would be wandering beggars, glorifying wealth, creature comforts and satiation of senses. Bhrgu Muni came on the stage and dished out counter-curses: Siva followers were heretics. Siva left the assembly hall without uttering one word in protest. He is God. Why would He protest? Only the weak protest. Years passed without incident. Puffed with false airy pride, Daksha arranged another sacrifice; this time he did not invite Siva, which is against all canons of sacrifice—no sacrifice was and is complete without Siva. Daksha’s daughter, consort of Siva, heard the news over the celestial grapevine. She saw finely clothed celestials and their consorts whisk by in aerial cars on their way to Daksha’s sacrifice. Sati felt left out for she wanted to meet her mother, sisters and their consorts at the sacrifice, which was the place to be then. She pleaded with Siva for permission to attend the sacrifice. Siva tried to reason with her as follows: Daksha’s wickedness, lack of judgment, and failure to see the greatness of exalted Souls compromised and canceled his learning, austerity, wealth, beauty, youth, and pedigreed heritage. They (Siva and Sati) should not visit Daksha clouded by poor judgment, suspicious mind, and anger. He dissuaded and forbade her from attending the ceremony, for he foresaw death of Sati and Daksha, the latter inflicting indignity on Siva, the Supreme Being, the Lord of the Universe (Isvara = ஈஸ்வரன்).
Sati became very angry with Siva for refusing her permission to attend Daksha’s sacrifice. Sati came to a conclusion that Siva being her husband was drunk with vanity and transformed herself into a terrible aspect of Sakti, Jagadamba with the idea of smashing the vanity and pride of Her husband, Siva. Her eyes were red blazing with fire of anger. Jagadamba thinks in her mind: I obtained Siva as my consort standing on my intrinsic virtue and after a long Tapas (austerities). On the stage of the universe, Siva plays my husband and my father Daksha plays Prajapati. Both are arrogant, vain and proud. I shall abandon both of them, retire and revert to My own state,Kaivalya (the fifth state in which mind comes to a standstill and becomes extinct, when the Self abides alone with its nature; blissful state of splendid isolation; [wakefulness, dream sleep, deep sleep, Turiya are four states.] Turiya = 4th state, union of soul and Brahman, Nirvana, Loss of brain-mind consciousness, Oblivion to the outside word, ego operates in physical and not spiritual consciousness). I will make sure in my next birth as Parvati, Himavat’s daughter, that Mahesvara (Siva) in the name of Sambu begs to marry me. Thus thinking, Jagadamba, the daughter of Daksha and Consort of Siva-Mahesvara opened her eyes spewing fear and illusion which overpowered and deluded Siva. Her lips parted from the stillness of tranquility to the half-open derisive pouting anger; the eyes were aflame. (Closed [opposing] lips are symbolic of togetherness of Siva-Sakti, a conjoint seed; moving lips are symbolic of Mithuna (coition) as movement while chanting a mantra; parted lips are symbolic of dissociation between Siva and Sakti.) Mahesvara became deluded, and was scorched by the flame of anger emanating from her eyes. Suddenly she bared her fang-like teeth, opened her flaming mouth and uttered a booming loud laugh which struck Siva like a thunderbolt rendering him paralytic. He could barely open his third eye from paralysis of fright and sound of laughter echoing in his head and saw the fiercest form of Jagadamba. Could she be really his loving consort, he wondered? When he cast his eyes on her, her golden complexion lost its luster, and became pitch-dark like collyrium (Anjana). There she appeared clad in space; her hair was unruly; her tongue was lolling out of her cavernous mouth; her four hands were flailing all over. Her countenance was etched in fright; she was fuming with fury; she was enveloped by lust; she was drenching in sweat; she wore a garland of skulls; her speech and laughter were like talking thunder; she wore a crown and a crescent moon on her. On seeing the Tejas (razzle-dazzle) of her appearance, Mahadeva’s self-control was losing its hold on him, fright crept on him, and his feet wanted to take a flight. Daksha’s daughter noticing the signs of fright and the impending flight, thundered reverberating peels of laughter and bellowed, “Do not Fear.” Mahesvara’s fright heightened in full throttle and his feet took flight in all ten directions in heaven. (Ten directions are N; NE; E; SE; S; SW; W; NW; Above and Below.) Suddenly Jagadamba became mellow with compassion for her husband. She assumed the form of ten Mahavidyas blocking his exit in ten directions; each form of Jagadamba was different but not any less frightful. Mahesvara ran hither and thither, trying to run away from the terrible Jagadamba. Whichever direction he ran, Jagadamba was standing in front of him blocking his exit; nimble Jagadamba simply outran Mahesvara. Knowing that He cannot outrun (his consort) Jagadamba, He sat down on earth in failure, frustration and exhaustion, and momentarily shut his three eyes, opened them soon and found Syama standing in front of him with face like a lotus blossom, with large turgid breasts, wide eyes, unkempt hair, four hands, and an effulgent black body bathed in ten million suns. She was facing south as heavenly Daksina. Mahesvara questioned her as to who she was and where His consort was. Syama = black, another name for Siva’s consort.
Devi answered: "My Lord Mahadeva, I am Sati, your consort. Don't you know me? Why do you look so confused."
Siva replied: ” You look black and induce fear in me, unlike Sati (who is white). Who is this terrible being who stands in my way in all ten directions? You don’t look like Daksa’s daughter and my consort, Sati.”
Sati-Syama in the form of Jagadamba replies: “I am subtle beyond speech and comprehension. I am Sati, your consort. I don’t mean any harm to You. I was born a daughter of Daksa and performed penance to obtain You as my husband. (Actually, Sati was the adopted daughter of Daksa.) I have assumed this form to destroy Daksha’s Yajna. I was trying to block Your exit only out of love for You.”
Siva said: “Forgive me, O Paramesvari. I said many unkind words to you. The great illusion blocked my vision. Tell me now who these ten fearful forms are.”
Sati in the form of Jagadamba replied: “O Mahadeva consider yourself as the center; in front of you are Tara and Kali, the former above the latter; behind you are Bagala below Bhairavi; to your right is Chinnamasta; to your left is Bhuvanesvari; to the northeast is Shodasi; to the southeast is Dhumavati; to the south west is Kamala; to the northwest is Matangi.”
All these forms destroy the fear of Samsara (birth and rebirth). These ten forms are the best among the 90 million manifestations of mine. Sadakhas worshipping my ten forms get Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa and also powers of causing Marana, Ucchatana, Ksobana, Mohana, Dravana, Stambhana and Vidvesana. These Mahavidyas are to be kept secret. You reveal Agama Sastras from your mouth. Agama and Veda are the two arms by which I support this universe. Vaishnavas worship the ten Mahavidyas with their heart abiding in me. My intention is to destroy my father’s Yajna with your permission; you should let me go to the sacrifice.” (Sati was upset with her father Daksa, because he did not invite her husband Siva and her for the Yajna. Yajna is not complete without the presence of Siva. Yajna is sacrifice and an essential element is the sacrificial fire (the divine Agni) into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered in the divine Agni is believed to reach the Devas.–Wikipedia.).
[Artha (wealth), Dharma (Righteousness), Kama (desire), and Moksa (liberation)].
Marana (death), Ucchatana (ruining an adversary), Ksobana (causing agitation), Mohana (causing confusion), Dravana (Putting to or instigating fight) , Stambhana (Immobilization and paralysis),and Vidvesana (Stirring up hatred)
The above appears to be a good strategy in war. Nobody could have written a better manual of stratagems. Did Mahavidyas get credit for them?
Before her departure, she withdrew into her all ten forms out of which Ambika emerged. Another source tells that Tara merges with Kali and others simply vanish. Another source tells that Sati asks the Mahavidyas to attend to Siva in her absence, while she is away to Daksha’s sacrifice. Students of Saktas (worshippers of or Sakti or Mother Goddess) point to the power and restraint Mahavidyas pose on Siva, thus, showing her to be a superior power. Saktas believe in Mother Goddess. Western analytical minds portray a picture of Sati as the victim of spousal and parental abuse and neglect, in that Daksha did not invite his daughter Sati for the sacrificial ceremony and Siva did not grant permission to His spouse Sati to go to the sacrifice. This is man analyzing and judging god and goddess. This is superficial and proximate thinking on the part of some minds; the deeper meanings and the internecine feuds and disputes among gods to bring forth a moral lesson to man does not even register in their minds. Siva and Sakti are one and each needs the other to form one whole. Sakti is not sequacious; Siva without Sakti is sava (dead); Sakti (Power) without Siva has no Consciousness. Siva being the Yogi of yogis foresees death of Daksha and Sati, if Sati were to attend the sacrifice. There is no spousal neglect or abuse in prevention of death. Daksha was a lout among the celestials because he offered sacrifice for the rise of wealth over spirit, when the embodiment of spirit, Siva, was not invited and every sacrifice demands the presence of Siva and offering of holocaust (burnt offerings) to Siva. Daksha never liked his son-in-law, Siva, because he was poor, smeared himself with ash, and wore animal skin and matted russet hair.”