The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Sati’s Arrival at Daksha’s Sacrifice which is chapter 2 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu tradition in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the second chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana

Chapter 2 - Satī’s Arrival at Dakṣa’s Sacrifice

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1. Once, a great sacrifice was commenced by him (Dakṣa). All were invited to be present there by the ascetic (Dakṣa) (who was) initiated for the sacrifice.

2-3. A number of sages including Vasiṣṭha and others came there. Agastya, Kaśyapa, Atri, Vāmadeva, Bhṛgu, Dadhīca, holy lord Vyāsa, Bharadvāja and Gautama, these and many other great sages assembled there.

4. Similarly all the groups of Suras (gods), the Guardians of the Quarters and others, Vidyādharas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and groups of celestial damsels (came there).

5. Brahmā, the grandfather of worlds, was invited from Satyaloka. Similarly Viṣṇu was invited from Vaikuṇṭha to the place of sacrifice.

6. Devendra of great lustre came along with Indrāṇī. Similarly the Moon-god came along with Rohiṇī and Varuṇa came in the company of his beloved.

7. Kubera came there riding in his aerial chariot Puṣpaka, Wind-god riding on his deer, Fire-god riding on his goat and Nirṛti riding on a ghost.

8. All these came to the sacrificial enclosure of the Brāhmaṇa. All of them were received and honoured by the evil-minded Dakṣa.

9. Great and divine abodes of great value and good splendour were skilfully constructed by the noble-souled Tvaṣṭṛ.

10-13. (The visitors) occupied all those abodes according to their pleasure.

When the great sacrifice commenced in the holy spot Kanakhala,[1] the ascetics beginning with Bhṛgu were appointed as Ṛtviks by him. Then Dakṣa underwent due initiation. The solemn, auspicious ceremony was duly performed. Benedictory rites were completed by the Brāhmaṇas for the sake of Dakṣa accompanied by his wife. Always surrounded by his friends, he shone remarkably, thanks to his greatness. In the meantime, Dadhīci spoke these words there:

Dadhīci said:


14. These leading Suras (gods), the great sages and the Guardians of the Quarters have come to your (sacrifice). Still the Yajña does not shine properly without (the presence of) the noble-souled Pināka-bearing Lord.

15. Great learned men say that everything becomes auspicious and splendid through him. That primordial Puruṣa (person), the bull-bannered, blue-throated lord with matted hair, is not seen here.

16. Presided over and authorized by him, O Dakṣa, even inauspicious things become auspicious. (Without) the Three-eyed Lord, very auspicious things become instantly bereft of their auspiciousness.

17-20. Hence he must be invited only by you immediately through Braḥmā, Viṣṇu the powerful lord and Śakra. All of them should go where lord Maheśvara is present. Bring him along with Dākṣāyaṇī. Hurry up. Everything shall become extremely sanctified through that Yogin Śaṃbhu by remembering whom and by uttering whose names, merits become well-accomplished. Hence, with all your efforts, the Bull-bannered Lord should be brought.

21-26. On hearing these words of his, the evil-minded (Dakṣa) said laughing (derisively): “Indeed the root cause of Devas is Viṣṇu in whom the eternal virtue (Dharma) is present. In him Vedas, Yajñas and the different kinds of holy rites are established and that Viṣṇu has come here.

Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, has come from Satyaloka along with the Vedas, Upaniṣads and various kinds of Āgamas (scriptural treatises).

Similarly the king of Suras (gods) himself has come along with the groups of Suras. So also you, the sinless sages, have come.

All those tranquil ones who are worthy (of being present) in a Yajña have come. All of you are conversant with the Vedas, Vedic expositions and reality. All of you are steadfast in your holy rites and observances.

Of what avail is Rudra to us in this matter? Of course, my daughter has been given to him by me, O Brāhmaṇa, (but that was) when I had been urged by Brahmā.

27. He is not of noble birth, O Brāhmaṇa. He is doomed and he is always a favourite of the doomed. He is the sole lord of goblins, ghosts and vampires. He is unfathomable.

28. He esteems himself very much. He is deluded and stubborn. He is tacitern, jealous and malicious. In this holy rite he is utterly unworthy. Hence indeed he was not invited by me now.

29. Hence, words like these should not be uttered by you again, O Brāhmaṇa. My great Yajña should be made successful by all of you collectively.”

30. On hearing these words of his, Dadhīci made the following statement:

Dadhīci said:

31. Great injustice has been done to all these excellent sages and Devas of sanctified soul by not having the noble soul with them.

32-33. A great ruin will soon befall all those who are present here.

After saying thus, Dadhīci alone walked out in protest from the sacrificial enclosure of Dakṣa and hurriedly went to his hermitage. When the sage went out, Dakṣa said this laughingly:

34-36. “There, a heroic supporter and friend of Śiva named Dadhīci, has gone out. All those slow-witted rogues whose minds are possessed by evil spirits, who are enamoured of heretic doctrines, who are excluded from the Vedas and whose behaviour and acts are vicious, should leave this holy rite.

You are all devoted to Vedic doctrines having Viṣṇu as your leader. O Brāhmaṇas, make my Yajña fruitful ere long.”

Then all of them along with the sages performed the worship of the lord.

37-40. In the meantime there on the mountain Gandhamādana[3] the great goddess Dākṣāyaṇī was engaged in various kinds of sports. She was surrounded by her female friends. Sometimes she played beneath in the Dhārāgṛha (chamber fitted with fountains and water-jets). Sometimes she moved about in an aerial chariot- Sometimes she stood in the middle of the aerial chariot and indulged in thousands of sports with balls etc.

While engaged in playing the games, the great goddess Satī saw the Moon-god going to the place of sacrifice along with Rohiṇī.

She said to her maid Vijayā, “Where is Candra going now? O Vijayā, go and enquire immediately.”

On being thus instructed by her, the gentle lady Vijayā asked him suitably.

41. Everything about Dakṣa’s sacrifice and other things were told by him. On hearing it the gentle lady Vijayā became agitated. Hurriedly (she went to Satī) and told her everything exactly as it was said by the Moon-god.

42-43. The goddess began to ponder over the reason thus: ‘Why does he not invite (us)? Dakṣa is my father. Why has my mother forgotten me now? I shall ask Śaṅkara now about the reason (thereof).’ After deciding thus, she asked the friends to stay there and approached Śaṅkara.

44-49. She saw the Three-eyed Lord in the centre of the assembly stationed there, in an extremely wonderful seat, and surrounded by all his Gaṇas (attendants) beginning with Caṇḍa and Muṇḍa, Bāṇa, Bhṛṅgin, Nandin of great power of penance, the son of Śilāda, Mahākāla, Mahācaṇḍa. Mahāmuṇḍa, Mahāśiras, Dhūmrākṣa, Dhūmraketu and Dhūmrapāda—these and many other Gaṇas, the followers of Rudra, (were present there). Some were hideous and terrifying. Others were mere headless trunks. Some had no eyes. Others were devoid of chests. There were hundreds like these. All of them had elephant-hides for their clothes. Clusters of matted hair were their ornaments. All were adorned with Rudrākṣa beads. They were devoid of attachment, They had conquered their sense-organs. They, were antagonistic to objects of sensual pleasure. Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds, was seen by her surrounded by all these.

50-52. Bewildered in her mind, she suddenly went to Śiva’s presence. The beloved wife was placed in his lap by Śiva who was pleased. She was addressed with loving words with due respect: “O lady of excellent waistline, what is the purpose of your arrival? Tell me quickly.”

On being spoken thus by him, the dark-eyed lady said:

Satī said:

53. O lord, O lord of the chiefs of Devas, how is it that going to the great sacrifice of my father is not approved of by you? Tell (me) everything.

54-55. This is the duty of friends, O Mahādeva, that they (regularly) associate with their friends, thereby increasing the pleasure and love of their friends. Hence make all efforts (to be present there). Oh, go there even if you have not been invited. Go to the sacrificial enclosure of my father today at my request, O Sadāśiva.

56-57. On hearing her words (Śiva) spoke these kind and sincere words:

“O gentle lady, you must not go to the sacrifice of Dakṣa. All those persons who honour Dakṣa, including Suras, Asuras and Kinnaras, have undoubtedly gone to the sacrifice of your father.

58-59. O lady of fine eyebrows, those who go to others’ mansions without being invited, meet with insult which is more (painful) than death. Even Indra who goes to the abode of others meets with contempt and disrespect. Hence, O splendid lady, you must not go to Dakṣa’s sacrifice.”

60. On being told thus by the noble-souled Śiva, Satī, the most excellent one among those who are conversant with modes of expression, spoke these words full of anger:

61. “It is true that you are (the real) Yajña in this world, O most excellent lord of Devas. (How is it) that you have not been invited by my father of evil conduct today? Hence I wish to know thoroughly the attitude of that evil-minded one.

62. Hence I shall go to the sacrificial enclosure of my father today itself. Grant me permission, O my lord, lord of the universe, lord of Devas.”

63-65a. On being told thus by that goddess, Lord Śiva himself, who has knowledge and vision of everything, the lord who is the sanctifier of all living beings, the lord of Devas, Maheśa, the bestower of all Siddhis said to her:

“Go quickly, O gentle lady of holy rites, at my instance, riding on this Nandin and accompanied by various kinds of Gaṇas.”

65b-68. At the bidding of Śiva, sixty thousand of the terrifying Gaṇas went (along with her). Surrounded by those Gaṇas, the goddess went to the abode of her father. Observing the entire army, Mahādeva became excessively surprised. Mahādeva, the unperturbed scorcher of enemies, sent very valuable ornaments to her through his attendants. He sent them immediately after her.

Pondering over the departure of the goddess to her father’s abode, Lord Maheśa exclaimed:

“On being insulted by her father, Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, will never come back to her city again.”

Notes on the self-immolation of Satī:

Chs. 2 and 3 describe the self-immolation of Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa and the consort of Śiva, in Dakṣa’s sacrifice, when she and her husband Śiva were insulted by him. But there is no Vedic evidence to show that Śiva married Dakṣa’s daughter (Rudra-Śiva, pp. 70-80). Mbh, Śānti, ch. 283 describes destruction of Dakṣa’s sacrifice by Śiva with Yogic power (Yogabalaṃ kṛtvā—283.32) in order to mollify his consort Umā, the daughter of the King of Mountains (Śaila-rāja-sutā—283.7 and 22) and not Satī, Dakṣa’s daughter. Umā did not know who Dakṣa was and Śiva had to inform her that a Prajāpati called Dakṣa was performing a Horse-sacrifice (Dakṣo nāma prajānāṃ patiḥ hayamedhena yajate).

This clearly shows that the story of the self-immolation by Satī, Dakṣa’s daughter, in Dakṣa’s sacrifice described here is a post-Mahābhārata development. In the next ch. (284) the appeasement of Umā’s anger is affirmed as the cause of the destruction of Dakṣa’s sacrifice:

devyā manyu-vyapohārthaṃ hato dakṣasya vai kratuḥ

—Mbh, Śānti 284.31

This story of Satī’s self-immolation in yogic fire created by herself (Satī... prajajvāla samādhijāgninā) is however supported in BhP IV. 4; BdP I.ii.13.60-61; VāP 130.52-55).

Footnotes and references:


Kanakhala—A village two miles to the east of Haridwar (U.P.), at the junction of Gaṅgā and Nīladhārā.


Dadhīci’s objection to non-invitation of Śiva and his quitting of the sacrifice (infra vv. 31-33) with the prediction (curse) about the non-completion of the sacrifice is found also in Mbh, Śānti 284.12-21.


Gandhamādana—The northern ridge of the great Hiṇḍukush arch with its northern extension Khwaja Mohammud range (AGP 58-59). The extent of Purāṇic India was much larger than the pre-partition map of India which was based on the political realities of the 19th century A.D. Soviet Indologists and archaeologists now testify to the existence of Vedic Aryans from the lower reaches of the Dnieper, the area to the north of the Black Sea through the Soviet republics of central Asia. Vide for example B.A. Rybakov’s Indo-Aryans in Northern Black Sea Area, O.N. Trubachev’s Linguistic Periphery of the Ancient Slaves.

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