Surkanda Devi Temple-Shiva, Sati, Daksh and the place where the head of goddess Sati fell

Who among us doesn’t know about lord Shiva and his consort goddess Sati who is the manifestation of Adi Parashakti- the supreme source of energy, the supreme power who has given birth to universe and all the planetary positions and all the demigods along with the three prime gods of Hindu pantheon who form a holy trinity- Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. Goddess sati was the first form of goddess Adi Shakti who took human form to marry lord Shiva. Sati loved Shiva since childhood but his father Daksh Prajapati was a staunch devotee of lord Vishnu but at the same time he barred people from worshipping lord Shiva. Not only this but he abhorred lord Shiva to such an extent that he disliked people who had any inclination towards Shiva. So much was this hatred that he abandoned his daughter sati whom he had loved the most in his life just because she had married Shiva against his wishes.

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Daksh Prajapati is considered as one of the sons of Brahma who after creating ten manas putra (born of his mind), created sons Daksh, Dharma, Kamadev, and Agni from his right thumb, chest, heart, and eyebrows respectively. It is believed that Daksh with his wife Prasuti practiced penance for thousands of years to get adi Parashakti as their daughter and happy with their devotion, devi gave them boon that she will be born to them and sati was born as daughter who was devi herself.

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With passage of time, Daksh turned arrogant with power and sense of feeling that even demigods and saptarishis come to meet him at his will and many of them are his sons-in-law. But he could not stop Sati from loving and worshipping Shiva despite of the fact that she loved her father a lot and was in extreme agony as to what to do with her life as she couldn’t let her father down and at the same time could not stop herself from loving Shiva as they were inseparable since the beginning of time.

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However, there came a time when sati married Shiva and left Daksh’s palace to live with Shiva on Kailash Mountains. Major turning point, however, in the development of sects of Shaivism and Shaktism was Daksh Yagna in which he invited all the gods, demigods, rishis and nobles from heavens and all over the universe but intentionally avoided inviting Shiva and Sati. Sati out of filial affection wanted to attend the grand yagna but Shiva stopped her from doing so because he could see the catastrophe that lay in the womb of time. After much discussion, sati got infuriated. It is believed that it was the first time when ten Mahavidyas of Devi durga emerged from the body of sati. Mahavidyas-the ten fiercest forms of Devi durga-are said to be emerged only because she got angry being stopped by Shiva. Hence Shiva allowed her to go to yagna.

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When sati reached her father’s palace which she had left some time ago, she was extremely glad to see all her sisters, her mother her relatives and others. But what she realized there stunned her to the core. Her sisters, relatives and her own mother neglected her and did not show any affection to her. No one spoke to her there and among all the demigods, saints and sages, and in front of whole society she felt extremely humiliated. But she could take it all had it not been the question of the respect and dignity of her husband, lord Shiva because what Daksh Prajapati did next was unacceptable to her. Daksh started insulting lord Shiva by calling him immoral, dirty roaming ascetic who accompanies ghosts and goblins. Sati unable to bear it took the form of adi Parashakti and made Daksh realize his mistake. All the guests present there got extremely petrified and that form of her struck terror into their hearts.

 She reminded Daksh who she was. She also reminded him that she was his daughter because she was happy with his penance but in arrogance of power he had forgotten that her relation with Shiva was divine and they were eternal consorts. She however did not kill Daksh-because in human form, he was her father and she couldn’t kill her father-or anyone present there but she couldn’t face her husband again either because he insisted her not to attend the yagna but she didn’t listen to him. She felt extremely remorseful that she disobeyed her husband who was stopping her for her happiness and allowed also for her happiness. Such was her anger and aggravation mixed with guilt that she immolated herself with the fire of her own body’s yoga Shakti.
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Everyone got petrified. They had no idea what would happen now when the mother goddess immolated herself and what would be the reaction of lord Shiva who is known for the accomplishment of the task of destruction among the holy trinity.

Atmosphere of yagna turned into that of rampage when Shiva got to know it. He invoked Veerbhadra and Bhadrakali to destroy Daksh yagna. Veerbhadra beheaded Daksh and Bhadrakali destroyed Daksh yagna which is the reason that one of maa Durga’s 108 names is Dakhshyagnavinashini (one who destroyed the yagna of Daksh).

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When Shiva reached the locale and heard all the cries and witnessed the bloodshed, he resurrected all those who were slaughtered and blessed them as he is known to forgive all. He also forgave Daksh and replaced his head with that of a goat. But it didn’t help grief stricken Shiva and he couldn’t get peace in his heart and mind.

After that, Shiva carried the burnt body of sati and rendered Taandav dance which is the dance of destruction which brings demolition of the whole creation. Demigods got agitated and prayed to lord Vishnu for help. Thus lord Vishnu had cut Sati’s body into 52 body parts using his Sudarshan Chakra which fell on Earth to become holy spots to pray to the Goddess named Shakti Peeths.
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All these Shakti Peeths also have lord Shiva in his Bhairav form. And this is how Shakti Peeths came into existence.

Now there are places on this earth where parts of sati’s body fell and devotees throng from all around the world to these holy Shakti Peeths to seek blessings of maa shakti. I visited one such temple recently in Dhanaulti near Mussoorie. Maa Surkanda Devi’s temple is believed to be the place where the head of sati fell. Though there are other temples which are believed to be the location where sati’s head fell, Surkanda Devi temple is a very known and revered temple.

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As the head of sati fell here it was originally called as Sirkhanda which with the passage of time became Surkanda. Temple has a black idol of maa durga which is beautiful and makes the devotees extremely ecstatic and delighted. It was a great experience for me to behold that look of maa durga with motherly affection and tranquility. The temple premise has a temple of Bhairav and maa Kaali as well like other Shakti Peeths.

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Besides, it also has lord Shiva and lord hanuman temples.

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It is situated on top of a hill in Dhanaulti from where the picturesque hills and valleys can be seen along with the Himalayan peaks. It’s so serene to be at the top of the hill, to have a look on the beautiful foggy hills that one really loves to get lost in the peaceful ambience of the temple. Open area outside temple gives beautiful scenic view to the devotees. The tiring trek to the temple vanishes with such experience and that is a great feeling one gets on top of the hill in temple.

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So this is the story of Devi Surkanda where the head of maa sati fell, and Shiva, Shakti (Sati) and Daksh and how Shakteepeeths came into existence. This is the story of love and pain of separation. This is the story of ignorance of Daksh who later felt remorseful and became a devotee of lord Shiva and spent all his life worshipping lord Shiva; passed his life visiting temples dedicated to lord Shiva.

But this could not end the love of Shiva and Shakti which is beyond time and reach of mortals. Sati once again took birth as Parvati as daughter of Himavan-king of mountains and Devi Maina. This time she married Shiva and they got their love to cherish it forever.

And this was my journey to the Surkanda Devi temple which I had been wishing to visit since last few years being a devotee of maa Shakti. The peace of mind that one gets at the temple of maa Shakti is beyond words. I simply can’t describe the motherly affection I feel I get from maa durga. So all that I can say or describe is that if you really wish to feel that divine affection of maa Surkanda or innocent Maa Sati and that serene atmosphere, you must visit the hill station of Mussoorie-Dhanaulti and must visit this divinely great temple amidst the colossal hills and beautiful valleys.

Pictures courtesy- Except wallpapers, all the pictures were clicked by me and some are originally posted on my Facebook page Shekhar’s photography-www.facebook.com/Shekharsphotography001/

Vindhyachal-dwelling place of Maa Vindhyavasini

The sun was glinting gold in the afternoon when I landed a narrow alley where one of the most revered temples of the world dedicated to Maa Durga-temple of Maa Vindhyavasini-is located. Numerous small shops with coconuts, vermillion, chunari, and other sacraments which are offered in the temple traditionally caught my attention as soon as I set foot in the main alley leading to the temple. It was an experience different altogether.

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The moment I entered the vicinity of the main temple, I saw a long queue waiting to get inside the garbhagriha-sanctum sanctorum of the temple. After few minutes, crossing the threshold of the first chamber- on the left side was a wall black in color where I could see buzzing flies and realized that that was a chamber made for animal sacrifice. Crossing the second chamber, which was the sanctum sanctorum, I saw or I should better say, was bestowed with fortunate and blessed opportunity to behold the beautiful deity of Maa Vindhyavasini full of maternal affection and love.

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Idol of maa Vindhyavasini is of black stone and can be seen highly adorned with gold and silver jewellery as well as embellished garments. Though pilgrims are allowed to worship the deity for just few seconds, it seemed to me an experience of lifetime and after only few seconds I was out of the garbhagriha and was in the temple complex where many chambers with many deities can be seen.

After experiencing this blessed occurrence, I embarked on my way to visit other two temples located on the nearby hillocks to complete the Trikona Parikrama.

Temple of Maa Vindhyavasini is one of the Shakteepeeths dedicated to Maa Adishakti. Located in the Vindhyachal mountain range, it is one of the most revered as well as one of the most visited Shakteepeeths of Maa Durga. But there is not only one temple in this range and there are two other venerated temples on nearby hillocks in the vicinity-temples of Maa Ashtabhuja and Maa Kaali in Kaalikhoh (cave of Maa Kaali). Circumambulation of these three deferential temples is called Trikona Parikrama– worshipping of three sacred points situated in a triangular angle. It is also said that these three temples are in an angle similar to that of Shreeyantra. Also, it is the only Shakteepeeth on the banks of the Ganges.

 

So my next point was the hillock on which Kaalikhoh temple is situated. Few kilometers away from the temple of maa Vindhyavasini was a hillock on which I was told the Kaalikhoh temple was located. It was quite dreary place unlike the one had just visited. Ascending many steps, I entered a cave inside which an idol of Maa Kaali was installed and only one priest was there for the worship at the moment. After few minutes I left the cave after worshipping the deity of maa Kaali in her fierce yet affectionate motherly form.

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But then I saw some more steps leading to the extreme top of the hillock and I could not stop myself from exploring it and within a minute I was there. It gave me an extremely beautiful look of the Vindhya mountain range and the valleys from this point and also, a small Shivling with mysterious yet profound beauty and serenity.

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I was in the domain of the temple of Maa Ashtabhuja after some time and was again experiencing the jostling yet composed pilgrims. The cave below the ground was the sanctum sanctorum here where I had to bend double to reach the deity and came out in the same way.

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The deity here was also black in color and was beautiful to look at in an affectionate motherly form. There is another cave beneath the ground nearby the cave of Maa Ashtabhuja.

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I again had to bent double and almost crawled to the innermost bent where idol of Paataalvasini Maa Kaali was installed. From the bent there I crawled my way back to the plain ground and I realized that my circumambulation aka Trikona Parikrama was complete.

This journey was complete but the experience I had here was lifetime and it had to be cherished forever.

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From the great mountains and hills of Vindhyachal range to the milky water of the Ganges from the hilltop, from the appeasing sound of bells to the divine fragrance of flowers and incense, everything here was serene enough to mollify the tension and problems we come across in our day-to-day lives. I would ask anyone who has faith in god or love for nature to visit this place once in life as this one day jaunt is not only soothing and relaxing but it will also make all your sorrows wither away when you will visit this dwelling place of Maa Vindhyavasini.

Pictures courtesy- Except few pictures of deities(from Google), all pictures were clicked by me and some of them are originally posted on my Facebook page Shekhar’s photography-www.facebook.com/Shekharsphotography001/