The mystical stories attached to the temples seem to enthrall all masses, from children to adults to souls in search of “the answer”. One such legend is the legend of the Shakti Peeths, the feminine divinity that even the mighty gods bow down to.
The Legends of Shakti Peeths:
After the unwilling marriage between Sati and Lord Shiva, Dakhsya had animosity towards Lord Shiva. So Daksha performed a yajna to take revenge on Lord Shiva where he invited all the deities to the yajna except Lord Shiva and Sat. Despite not being invited and against the wishes of Shiva, Sita went on to the yajna. Sati, being an uninvited guest, was not given any respect. Furthermore, Daksha insulted Shiva. Unable to bear her father’s insults toward her husband, Sati immolated herself.
Enraged at the loss of his beloved Sati, Shiva in Virabhadra avatar destroyed Daksha’s yajna, cut off Daksha’s head. Griefstruck Shiva picked up the remains of Sati’s body and performed the Tandava, the celestial dance of destruction, across all creation. The other Gods requested Vishnu to intervene to stop this destruction, towards which Vishnu used the Sudarshana Chakra, which cut through the Sati’s corpse. The various parts of the body fell at several spots all through the Indian subcontinent and formed sites which are known as Shakti Peethas today.
The Kamakshya Temple
The shrine of the goddess Kamakhya is situated about three miles from the present town of Gauhati, Assam.It is believed that Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati.
The temple is considered unique as it enshrines no image of the goddess. Within the temple, there is a cave, in a corner of which stands a block of stone on which the symbol of Yoni has been sculptured. The stone is kept moist from the oozing of a natural spring within the cave. The offerings of flowers and leaves are made to the Yoni.
The History Of the Kamakhya Temple
The original Kamakhya temple was destroyed during the Moslem invasion early in the sixteenth century, and the present temple was rebuilt in 1565 A.D. by King Naranarayana of Cooch Behar and fitted with all the paraphernalia of a medieval Hindu temple.
When Naraka, an adventurer from Mithila, founded a kingdom in ancient Assam (prior to the fifth century), he established himself as a custodian of this Yoni-goddess, and perhaps in conformity to her name he changed the name of the kingdom from Prag.Jyotishapura to Kamarupa.
Special features of the Kamakhya Temple
The features that are associated with the Worship of the goddess are the absence of an image, worship in a symbol, and freedom about the mode of worship to foreigners. The religion of the land has been frankly admitted to be of Kirata origin. Fish and flesh eating has been canonically enjoined, and celibacy and connected vows prohibited.
The Bleeding Goddess: Maa Kamakhya Devi
Kamakhya Devi is popularly known as the bleeding goddess. The mythical womb and vagina of Shakti are supposedly installed in the ‘Garvagriha’ or sanctum of the temple. In the month of June, the goddess bleeds or menstruates. At this time, the Brahmaputra river near Kamakhya turns red. The temple then remains closed for 3 days and holy water is distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya Devi.
There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour vermilion into the waters. But symbolically, menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth. So, the deity and temple of Kamakhya celebrate this ‘shakti’ or power within every woman.