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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
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).


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.

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.



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.


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



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.


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

Radharamanji of Vrindavan-self manifested form of lord

I have visited Vrindavan many times but it was only my last visit which gave me time or I should better say opportunity to be blessed to visit the temple of shree radharamanji and I was elated to see him for the very first time. It was an experience more than just divine. Radharaman ji is one of the most loved form of lord krishna. “Radha-Ramana” means “one who gives pleasure to Radha”, and Radha Ramana is one of the few original deities still left in Vrindavan. It is one of the seven most important and oldest temples of vrindavan built by the six goswamis who were the disciples of sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The distinctive feature of radhamanji is that it is the self manifested form of lord who presented himself in his tribhanga mudra(tri-bent form or threefold form) to one of the goswamis-gopala bhatta goswami.



The story behind the temple and the appearance or sri radharaman ji is very interesting. Gopala bhatt goswami, after the disappearance of sri chaitanya mahaprabhu, started feeling lonely and sad. Some say he went to Nepal because he saw sri krishna in his dreams asking him to go to Nepal if he wanted his darshan whereas some stories suggest that it was a normal trip.



In Nepal, one morning when he was bathing in the river kali-gandakini, he dipped his kamandal-a pot, in the river to fill water and was surprised to see 12 shaligrams in his pot. He thought it to be a mere co-incidence and he dropped the shilas back into the river but was surprised to see them enter his kamandal again. He again emptied the kamandal in the river and started filling the water. When he saw his kamandal filled by the shilas once again, he was very shocked and realized that they are not normal stones and kept them in his bag and came back to vrinadavan.

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Considering them as a blessing of lord, he started worshipping the shaligrams. But gopal bhatta goswami had always wished to serve lord in the form in which he could decorate him with beautiful garments and ornaments. He wished to make the deity sit on a swing and wanted to see him in a form in which he could see lord’s features. He wished to see lord’s hands, legs, his lotus eyes and other extraordinarily beautiful features.


In addition to this, one day a wealthy man visited vrindavan and offered gopala bhatta goswami some fine ornaments and beautiful garments for the deity but gopala bhatta goswami could not use them with the shaligrams and said no to the man but he was adamant and refused to take the offerings back. At last, gopala bhatta goswami accepted and kept the offerings with the shaligrams and covered them. Lord krishna is known for his mercy and love for his devotees and he proved it once again.

Next day when gopala bhatta goswami uncovered the shilas, he was stunned to see the deity of sri radharaman ji among the shaligrams. His beauty was matchless, his features more beautiful than anything known to the world, small but magnificently magnetic in appearance radharamanji was now in the world. Now there were only eleven shaligrams and lord himself had manifested himself from one of the shaligrams. Gopala bhatta’s happiness knew no bounds now. He was in extreme ecstatic state. He started worshipping his lord in the form he had always wished for.


And this is how our radharamanji came himself to his devotee to bless him as well as us with his enchanting presence. This is the story of sri radharaman ji. There are other very interesting features of this highly revered temple of lord krishna in vrindavan. This Deity whom the Goswamis named, “Sri Radha-raman Deva” made his appearance on the full moon day of Vaisakha(april-may) in the year 1542.


This day is celebrated every year since then with great zest and euphoria. This day, the temple goswamis offer 500 litres of milk to lord and make him bath in the milk for lord’s pleasure and offer many other sweets and different things liked by lord. Another mysterious leela of lord is that the fires for cooking in the temple kitchen have been burning continuously for over 474 years, since the deity was installed. No foreign elements, such as matches, has thus been used for ignition purposes.

There is also one very interesting fact about this beautiful temple of sri radharaman ji and that is that the deity of sri radharaman ji never left vrindavan since his appearance like other deities due to fear of attacks from Aurangzeb. The reason behind is that when Aurangzeb’s soldiers came to vrindavan near radharaman ji’s temple, they thought it to be a residential building and not a temple and hence did not attack it.


Whatever the reason was, I think it was the will of sri radharaman ji as he did not want to leave the place where he appeared for his beloved devotee gopala bhatta goswami. Also the finely carved features of radharaman ji were the reason some people suggested that it has been carved and not self manifested. But later, some learned scholars said that it is impossible for humans to carve so delicately on the stone(that is shaligram) which the deity of radharaman ji is made up of. It is indeed the miracle or leela of lord known for his leela and love for devotees.

One can see in the temple or in the picture of sri radharamanji, that to the left of him (right in the picture here) is a place for Srimati Radhika or Radharani-divine consort of sri krishna. In this way the goswamis/pujaris worship sri Radha ji and sri Raman ji together. Gopala bhatta goswami’s other shaligram-shilas are also worshipped in the temple.


The appearance place of sri radharaman ji can be seen inside the temple’s vicinity.


The samadhi of gopala bhatta goswami is located next to radharaman ji’s appearance place in the temple.


This year radharaman ji will be completeing 474 years and it will be the time of great energy and enthusiasm.


All the forms of lord are beautiful and extremely lovable but radharaman ji’s cute and beautiful appearance cannot be matched. One cannot take eyes off him easily. He is extremely charming. I hope all the devotees who have yet not visited radharaman ji, will soon be blessed to see his divine form in vrindavan; and all those who have been blessed to see him like me-visit whenever you can. Jai shree radharamanji!

Hey friends, I have written my debut novel, “The Monsoon Marigolds”! read it and show me some love! 🙂 It will be very special for me!
By-Shekhar Srivastava

Taj Mahal…..Love, Art and Culture personified

It is an epitome of love, a sheer poetry of passion, an artistic brilliance representing the ardour of love and the agony of lovers departed by the death and then commingled by the same. It is THE TAJ MAHAL.



Died in the fort of Asirgarh, the beloved wife of the fifth Mughal emperor- Mumtaj mahal was buried here years later.

Being a very non-romantic person, Taj was not on my “to-be-visited” list but being a student of history and a lover of beautiful monuments specially those representing the extravagant lifestyle of the Mughals; I had to visit the Taj. The architecture of the Taj is not only beautiful but also very unique and advance as compared to other structures of its era. On the entry from huge gate just before the Taj mahal, Taj looks as if it is floating in the sky and I thought I was the only one to experience that but going through many books regarding history, I got to know that it was the style adopted by its makers to make it look like that- floating in the sky as if it is a building that belongs neither to the earth nor to the sky. Turning around to see the interior part of the gate, I was glad to behold the incised work on the inner side of the red gate of sand stone and realized that it is something which cannot be ignored while entering the complex.



The fountain with bubbles of water in a straight symmetry in the center with the pathways both the sides leading to the tomb is imperial in its own way. Beautiful flowers and lush resembling green velvet carpet with red and grey stones on the pathway makes the whole experience very rich.

But the magnificence of this most beautiful building of India is experienced when you reach the main complex outside the mausoleum of Mumtaj Mahal-people coming from the huge main gate known as darwaza-i-rauza of sandstone with white marble, dome of Taj touching the sky, minarets on four sides of the main building, mosque on one side of the tomb and the building made for the pilgrims to rest-who would come to visit the mausoleum-on the other side….everything looks stupendous and spectacular.













But this is not enough; every inch of this structure tells the story of eternal love and every corner shows the beauty which doesn’t only have the random doodling and designing but has a meaning. The Persian verses in calligraphy on the marble walls around the entry door with black marbles inlaid are taken from the holy book of Quran.




The design of marble jali lattice and reflective tiles in and around the sarcophagus is ethereal.



Plant motifs here caught my special attention. They are designed as if are unfurling or swinging with the blow of wind. Flowers carved in the marble makes it clear that Shah Jahan wanted to make Taj mahal a replica of paradise on earth.












The intricate work is praiseworthy. The details of pietra dura jali inlay and intricate pierce work is spellbinding.






Filial on the top of the main dome also believed to be the tamga(stamp or seal) of the Mughal Empire which looks majestically grand and imperial in look must have made Taj look like a paradise in the sixteenth century with Koh-I-Noor atop of it.



In short, from the filial at the top in the form of tamga to the stones on the floor, every nook and cranny of the Taj is remarkably beautiful. Taj is not just a paragon of love but it is the love personified itself in the form of this beautiful white tomb. It is an epitome of exceptionally astounding prowess of the architect and the workers involved in making it as well as of their aesthetic sense.


All that I can say after visiting the Taj Mahal is that the archetypal beauty of Taj does not only compel us to praise it because it has a tragic quintessential love saga being told to us since centuries but also the effort and efficiency of the workers who left no stone unturned to make this monument of love the way it is and did their utmost in all the ways possible to fulfill the megalomania of a Mughal emperor. It is not only a love story which has made Taj a monument of love but also the other way round; it is this structure which has made the love of an emperor eternal and immortal and THAT probably is the reason why Taj Mahal is and SHOULD be visited by one and all- to experience an ethereal love story, to feel that two lovers and not an emperor and an empress are resting in peace here, to know how vulnerable we all are in front of love and death, to see how love can probably look if manifested in a form, to see the grandeur of the Mughal architects and workers and of course… feel the love in the air here…so pack your bags and get ready…to live the experience yourself and to feel the love.

Pictures courtesy- All the pictures were clicked by me and some are originally posted on my Facebook page Shekhar’s