Shakti Peethas

After the completion of the oblation performed by Daksha, Lord Vishnu had severed the corpse of Sati (Parvati) with his ‘Chakra’. Various organs scattered over different places. Later on these places where the organs had fallen, became famous as ‘Shakti-Peetha’. The sanctity of these places has been described in the following way.

In the era of ‘Satya’, Daksha once performed an oblation named Vrihaspati, with a desire of taking revenge with lord Shiva. Daksha was angry because his daughter Sati had married Shiva against his wishes. Daksha invited all the deities except Lord Shiva and Sati. This did not deter Sati from reaching at her father’s house. She expressed her desire to Lord Shiva. He (Shiva) tried his best to dissuade her from going but Sati was unrelenting. Shiva then allowed her to go escorted by his ‘ganas’ (followers).

But Sati being an uninvited guest was not given any respect. Moreover Daksha insulted Shiva, by calumniating him. Sati became sad by her husband’s dishonour. She gave up her life by jumping into the altar of oblation-fire.

When Lord Shiva heard about her death he became furious. He went to the place where Daksha was performing his oblation, along with his ‘ganas’ (followers). The oblation site was destroyed and Daksha was killed by his ‘ganas’.

Lord Shiva then carried the dead-body of Sati and started wandering all over the place like a lunatic. Lord Vishnu severed the dead body with his chakra. Various organs fell at different place. These places became famous as ‘Shakti-Peeth, in due course of time.

In the listing given below,

  • Shakti or Devi refers to the Goddess woshipped (a manifestation
  • of Dakshayani / Parvati / Durga)
  • Bhairava refers to her consort, a manifestation of Shiva.
  • Organ or Ornament refers to the body part or piece of jewelry that fell to earth, at the location on which the respective temple is built.
  1. Hingulaya Hingula (Hinglaj) Shakti Peeth : Devi’s mind or brain fell here and the idols are Devi as Kotari (Durga) and Shiva as Bhimlochan (Terrible eyed or the third eye). The location is in a cave on the western part of Pakistan near Karachi.
  2. Shivaharkaray or Karavipur: Devi’s three eyes fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahishmardini (Durga the destroyer of Mahishashur) and Shiva as Krodhish (the one who can be angry). It is near Karachi in Pakistan, by rail the nearest station is Parkai.
  3. Jwalamukhi Jwalamukhi Shakti Peeth

 Devi’s tongue fell here and the idols are Devi as

Ambika (Mother) and Shiva as Unmatta (Furious). This is located near Jullundher in Punjab. One of the 51 Shaktipiths of India, the temple of Jwalamukhi is in Jwalamukhi town which is about 70 kilometers from Dharamsala. Jwalamukhi is a famous temple of Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of flaming mouth, believed to be the manifestation of the Goddess Sati. In this temple there is a copper pipe through which natural gas comes out and the priest of the temple lights this. This flame is worshiped as a manifestation of the goddess Jwalamukhi. The nine flames have been named after goddesses – Mahakali, Unpurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Bindhya Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi, continuously burning without any fuel, or assistance,may be seen erupting from a rock-side.

The deity is- offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk and arti is done. The puja has different ‘phases’ and goes on practically the whole day. Arti is done five times in the day, Havan is performed once daily and portions of “Durga Saptasati” are recited.

In princely times, temple affairs were guided and supervised by the princely state of Nadaun. In 1809, Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited the temple and after dyeing his hand in saffron, stamped an agreement in the temple premises with Raja Sansar Chand-the local ruler. Later after tasting success in the Afghan war, Maharaja Ranjit Singh gilded the roof of the Jwalamukhi temple as a thanksgiving. His son Kharak Singh, presented to the temple a pair of silver plated folding doors.

LEGEND

Ancient legends speak of a time when demons lorded over the Himalaya mountains and harassed the gods. Led by Lord Vishnu, the gods decided to destroy them. They focused their strengths and huge flames rose from the ground. From that fire, a young girl took birth. She is regarded as Adishakti-the first ‘shakti’.

Known as Sati or Parvati, she grew up in the house of Prajapati Daksha and later, became the consort of Lord Shiva. Once her father insulted Lord Shiva and unable to accept this, she killed herself. When Lord Shiva heard of his wife’s death his rage knew no bounds and holding Sati’s body he began stalking the three worlds. The other gods trembled before his wrath and appealed to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu let fly a volley of arrows which struck Sati’s body and severed it to pieces. At the places where the pieces fell, the fifty-one sacred ‘shaktipeeths’ came into being.

Sati’s tongue fell at Jwalaji (610 m) and the goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn flawless blue through fissures in the age-old rock. Even the Pandavas are believed to have visited this sacred place.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Nagini Mata (4.5 km): The site of a fair held in July/August, this is located on the hill above Jwalaji.

Shri Raghunathji Temple (5 km): Popularly known as ‘Tera’ mandir, it stands at a tilt after the earthquake of 1905. Rama, Laxman, and Sita are said to have stayed here and the first temple is supposed to have been built by the Pandavas.

Ashtabhuja Temple (1 km): This ancient temple has a stone image of the eight-armed goddess. Other smaller shrines adjoin this.

Nadaun (12 km): Closely connected with the glory of Kangra’s erstwhile rulers, there are numerous old temples and the remains of a couple of old palaces here.

Chaumukha (22 km via Nadaun): There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with a huge four-faced image.

Panj Teerthi and Mahakaleshwar (9km or 28 km via Nadaun): By the banks of the river Beas and closely associated with the exile of the Pandavas are these two sacred places. They are within a few hundred metres of each other.

Bankhandi (36 km): Here, at the Banglamata temple there is a stone image of the goddess. At the nearby Shiv temple is a ‘linga’ said to have been placed by the Pandavas.

Haripur (45 km): There are numerous attractive temple and an old fort.

Mangarh (37 km): On top a hill is this octagonal fort named after Raja Man Chand.

Chintpurni: Sati’s feet fell at Chintapurni (940 m) and the devout come here to leave their worries and pray for boons. The legend goes that the temple came into being after the goddess revealed herself to Mayidaas, an ardent devotee. The temple is built around the Devi’s ‘pind’. Her image depicts her without a head – for it is said that she cut it off to assuage the blood thirst of her companions. And hence the name, ‘Chinmastika Devi’ ‘The goddess without a head’

Chamunda Devi: Chronicled in the Durga Sapt-Shati, the story goes that on the orders of Shamb and Ni-Shamb, two demons tried to harass the goddess Ambika Enraged, Ambika knitted her brows and from their folds a horrifying from of Kali emerged. After a great battle, the goddess Kali slew the two demons, Chanda and Munda. Delighted by Kali’s achievement, Ambika declared that she would now be worshipped here as ‘Chamunda’ – combination of the demons’ names. Chamunda Devi is at a heigh of 100 m.

4.Sugandha Sugandha Shakti Peeth (Bangladesh) : sunanda (at present known as Soundha).

A large number of worshippers visit this place at Shiva-Chaturdashi (a religious occasion on the 14th moon during March) Devi’s nose fell here and idols are Devi as Sunanada (Pleasing) and Shiva as Traimbak (Rudra). In the state of Bengal near Barishal in Shivahri Karpur village Devi’s temple is located and Shiva’s temple is in a village called Ponabalia, nearest railway station is Jhalkati.

5.On Bhairabha mountain (near Avanti): Devi’s upper lips fell here and idols are Devi as Avanti (Modest) and Shiva as Lambakarna (Long eared one). It is located near Ujjain.

6.Attahas (laughter) : Devi’s lower lips fell here and the idols are Devi as Fullara (Blooming) and Shiva as Bhairabhvishesya (Lord of the universe). The place is in Bengal near Birbhum. Image of Devi and the Shiva temple is next to the Devi temple. It is a major pilgrimage and tourist attraction.

7.Prabhas: Devi’s stomach fell here and the idols are Devi as Chandrabhaga (Throne of the moon) and Shiva as Bakratunda (the one with the bent staff). This is near Mumbai where a launch goes to Bharoal which is near Prabhas.

8.Yanasthana: Devi’s chin fell here and the idols are Devi as Bhramari (female Bumble bee or attendant of Durga) and Shiva as Vikrakatakkha (one with the crooked eyes or look). Other names are Devi as Chibuka (the one with the chin) and Shiva as Sarvasiddhish (the one who can provide all desires).

9.Godavari (river): Devi’s left cheek fell here and the idols are Viswamatuka (mother of the world) and Shiva as Dandapani (the one who holds a staff).

10.Gandaki (river): Devi’s right cheek fell here and the idols are Devi as Gandakichandi (the one who overcomes obstacles or Gandi) and Shiva as Chakrapani (Holder of the discus). Famous pilgrimage.

11.Suchidesha: Devi’s upper teeth fell here and the idols are Devi as Narayani (the wife of Narayan) and Shiva as Sanghar. Panchasagar – Devi’s lower teeth fell here and the idols are Devi as Barahi and Shiva as Maharudra (the angry one).

12.Bhavanipur or Karota (river): Devi’s left seat or her clothing fell here and idols are Devi as Aparna (the one who ate nothing, not even leaves) and Shiva as Bhairabha (Destroyer of fear). The King of Nator and his grandson the Maharajah Ramakrishna used to meditate here. The seat, the yognakunda and five skulls are still here. In the month of Baisakha according to the Bengali calendar, there is a large fete or Mela here to celebrate Ramanavami or Deepanbita.

13.Shriparvata or Shri mountain: Devi’s right seat fell here and the idols are Devi as Shri Sunadari (beautiful) and Shiva as Sundaranand (the handsome one).

14.Karnat: Devi’s two ears fell here and the idols are Devi as Jai Durga (the victoriuos Durga) and Shiva as Avirooka.

15.Vrindavana: Devi’s hair fell here and idols are Devi as Uma (Devi) and Shiva as Bhootesh (or provider of all desires). Playgorund of Lord Krishna and the gopis. The vana or forest or garden is where the young Krishna grew up in the home of Yasoda the wife of a cow herd. Krishna was capable of amazing feats and saved the village from many perils such as the Naga Kaliya and the great rage of Indra by holding up a mountain above the village. But his time was mostly spent with the beautiful gopis or cow girls with whom he had many affairs. The principal of illicit love is the basis of this aspect of philosophy where a person harbours a secret love for god which he cannot reveal to others.

16.Kirit: Devi’s crown or headdress fell here and idols are Devi as Vimala (Pure) and Shiva as Sangbarta. Take the train to Ajimganj. The temples are on the shore of the ganges near Batnagar. (in Bangladesh?)

17.Shrihatta: Devi’s nape of the neck fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahalakchmi (the goddess of prosperity and wife of Mahavishnu) and Shiva as Sarvananda (the one who makes everyone happy). Devi’s temple is Near Shrihatta town and Shiva’s temple is near Jainpur. Shivaratri and Ashokashtami are celebrated with a Mela (carnival). Take train from Calcutta to Goalanda and steamer to Kechuaganj. Then either take a boat or walk about five miles (6 koshas).

18.Nalhati: Devi’s vocal pipe fell here and the idols are Devi as Kalika (Durga) and Shiva as Yogesh. By train from Howrah station.

19.Kashmir: Devi’s neck fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahamaya (the great Illusion) and Shiva as Trisandhyasvar. The famous pilgrimage is Amarnath. There is a Shiva linga of glacial ice which expands and contracts with the seasons.

20.Ratnabali: Devi’s right shoulder fell here and the idols are Devi as Kumari (Durga) and Shiva as Bhairabha (Remover of fear).

21.Mithila:Devi’s left shoulder fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahadevi (Devi) and Shiva as Mahodara (the big belied one). This is near Janakpur station.

22.Chattagram (also called Chattal): Devi’s right arm fell here and the idols are Devi as Bhavani (Devi) and Shiva as Chandrashekhar (the one who has the moon as the crown). It is said that Mahadeva has himself pronounced that he will visit Chandrashekhar mountain regularly during Kali yuga. This is near Sitakunda station. This is in Bangladesh.

23.Manav Kschetra (Field): Devi’s right hand or palm fell her and the idols are Devi as Dakhchayani (Durga) and Shiva as Amar (Immortal). Take train from Howrah station to Guskar station and then a few miles to Kogram. Mahadeva is considered Siddhidayaka or provider of all wishes.

24.Ujjaini: Devi’s elbows fell here and the idols are Devi as Mangalchandi(Durga) and Shiva as Kapilambar (one who wears the brown clothes). Shiva is siddhidayaka.

25.Manibandha: Devi’s middle of the palms fell here and the idols are Devi as Gayatri (Saraswati) and Shiva as Sarvananda (the one who makes everyone happy).

26.Prayag (three rivers meet here): Devi’s ten fingers fell here and the idols are Devi as Lalita (beautiful). Another name is Alopi and Shiva as Bhava. Near Tribeni ghat there is Banitirtha ghat (Quay for boats). Allahabad is the train station.

27.Bahula: Devi’s left arm fell here and the idols are Devi as Bahula (Abundant) and Shiva as Bhiruk (who is also Sarvasiddhadayaka). Arrive at Katoa rail station and then go to Ketugram which is a pilgrimage.

28.Jullendhar: Devi’s right breast fell here and the idols are Devi as Tripurmalini (Durga) and Shiva as Bhisan (Gruesome). Jwalamukhi is the nearby Tirtha and train goes from Delhi to Jullendhar.

29.Ramgiri (or Chitrakoot mountain): Devi’s left breast fell here (another opinion is that her Nala or Jaghanasti fell here) and the idols are Devi as Shibani (the wife of Shiva) and Shiva as Chanda. Near Bilaspur station and a walk of 2 miles.

30.Vaidyanath: Devi’s heart fell here and the idols are Devi as Jaidurga (Victorious Durga) and Shiva as Vaidyanath. It is in Bihar. Joshidi is the train station.

31.Utkal: Devi’s navel fell here and the idols are Devi as Vimala (the pure one) and Shiva as Jagannath (the ruler of the world). This is near the Jagannath temple of Puri in the state of Orissa.

32.Kanchidesh: Devi’s skeleton fell here and the idols are Devi as Devagarbha and Shiva as Ruru. Bolpur station to Kopar river banks. There is a well for worship.

33.Kalmadhava: Devi’s right hips fell here and the idols are Devi as Kali (another form of Durga) and Shiva as Asitananda. By praying to the Devi profusely pilgirms can obtain their desired objective.

34.Sone (near Sone river): Devi’s left hips fell here and the idols are Devi as Narmada and Shiva as Vadrasen.

35.Kamakhya (or Kamroop) Kamakhya Shakti Peeth – Guwahati

: Devi’s yoni fell here and the idols are Devi as Kamakhya (personification of love) and Shiva as Umananda. This is near Gauhati in the state of Assam on the banks of the Brahmaputra (the son of Brahma) river. The temple is on top of the Nilachal Hill. This is a famous pilgrimage for women seeking fertility or love. The temple is supposedly built by Kamdev, the god of love. The Umananda temple is nearby in an islet on the river. It has many pet monkeys.

36.Nepal: Devi’s two knees fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahashira and Shiva as Kapali.

37.Jayanti: Devi’s left thigh fell here and the idols are Devi as Jayanti and Shiva as Kramadiswar. In Bengal near Sri Hatta.

38.Magadha: Devi’s right thigh fell here and the idols are Devi as Sarvanandari and Shiva as Bomkesha. Inside Shrihatta at Jayantipargana near the base of the Kahshia mountain Devi’s legs are placed here. Srihatta to Kanairghat by boat and then walk 2 miles. In West Bengal.

39.Tripura: Devi’s right foot fell here and the idols are Devi as Tripurasundari and Shiva as Tripuresh. Devi is grantor of all wishes or Sarvavishta pradyani.

40.Khirgram: Devi’s right toe fell here and the idols are Devi as Yogadaya and Shiva as Khirakantha. Take Eastern Indian Railway to Bardwhan station. Take Bardhwan Katoa Rail to Nigam station. Nigam station to Khirgram (village) is 2 miles. A mela (fete) is held during Baisakha Sankranti.

41.Kalighat (Calcutta): Devi’s four small toes from her right foot fell here and the idols are Devi as Kali and Shiva as Nakulish or Nakuleswar. Famous pilgrimage located in Calcutta in the state of West Bengal. Kali is a dark complexioned form of Shakti who has taste for blood and death. She rules over the cremation sites and is worshipped by devotees on a dark and moon less night. She is a popular deity of Bengal. kali is the female version of Kala or end of time.

42.Kurukchetra: (or fields belonging to the Kuru family where the battle of the Mahbharata was fought between the Kurus and Pandus) Devi’s right ankle fell here and the idols are Devi as Savitri or Sthanu and Shiva as Aswanath.

43.Bakreswar: Devi’s mind or the centre of the brows fell here and the idols are Devi as Mahishamardini (the slayer of Mahishasur or Durga) and Shiva as Bakranath. Near Ahmedpur station. There are seven hot springs and also the Paphara (remover of sins) river. The Mahamuni Ashtabakra found enlightenment here. On Shivaratri (night) there is a grand Mela (fete) here.

44.Jessore: Devi’s centre of the hands fell here and the idols are Jashoreswari and Shiva as Chanda (Moon or the one who holds the moon).

45.Nandipur: Devi’s necklace fell here and the idols are Devi as Nandini and Shiva as Nandikishore.

46.Varanasi (Benaras): Devi’s earrings (Kundal) fell here and the idols are Devi as VishwaLakshmi (The provider of wealth to all) and Shiva as Kala (Time or the end of time). Famous pilgrimage in UP and one of the oldest cities in the world. The Puranas say that this city exists even after the Pralaya.

47.Kanashram or Kalikashram: Devi’s back fell here and the idols are Devi as Sharvani and Shiva as Nimisha.

48.Sri Lanka: Her feet bells (Nupur) fell here and the idols are Devi as Indrakschi and Shiva as Rakchaseswara. Indrakschi was created and worshipped by Indra in person.

49.Virat: Devi’s small toes of the feet fell here and idols are Devi as Ambika and Shiva as Amrita (nectar of immortality).

50.Bivasa: Devi’s left ankle fell here and the idols are Devi as Bhimarupa and Shiva as Sarvananda.

51.Trisnota: Devi’s left feet fell here and the idols are Devi as Vramari (Bumblebee) and Shiva as Iswar (God). On the banks of Tista river in Shalbari village in Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal.

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