Goddess Shakthi separated from Lord Shiva to help Lord Brahma in creating the universe. In order to re-unite with Shiva, Shakthi was born as Daksha’s (Lord Brahma’s son) daughter - Sati.
When Sati grew up, she fell in love with Shiva and wanted to marry him. However, Daksha was furious with Shiva as he had cut Brahma’s fifth head to curb his unholy behaviour in the past. Thus, he was against this marriage. Sati went against the wishes of her father and married Shiva. One day, Daksha arranged for a grand yajna and invited all the devas but intentionally left Shiva and Sati out of the invite list. Sati wanted to attend the yajna and went ahead even after Shiva tried to persuade her against it. Daksha insulted Shiva in the presence of Sati and all the devas at the yajna. Sati felt humiliated and immolated herself in the yajna fire. Shiva was devastated and became uncontrollable. He cut Daksha’s head. He then picked Sati’s remains and started his ‘Rudra Tandava’ dance (dance of destruction). The Gods were terrified and requested Lord Vishnu for help to stop Shiva. Vishnu tried to control Shiva but in vain and hence with his Sudarshan
Chakra he cut Sati’s remains into 51 parts which fell on different parts of Earth – scattered in present day India, Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. With Sati’s remains scattered, Shiva begins to calm down and replaces Daksha’s head with a goat’s head and gives him life. Each site where Sati’s body parts fell on Earth are now Shakthi Peethas and Shiva has placed a Bhairava (a manifestation of Lord Shiva) as an escort for each of them.
The only Shakthi Peetha which is not built on a part of Sati is the Vindhyavasini Shakthi Peetha. Lord Krishna was born as the son of Devaki and Vasudev in the jail of Mathura. At the same time Yogamaya devi (Ma Shakthi) was born as the daughter of King Nanda and Yashoda at Gokul. Since Devaki’s brother Kamsa killed all Devaki’s new-born babies to ensure that the prediction of his death by Devaki’s son does not come true, the Gods ensured that Vasudev was able to replace his son with Nanda’s daughter and brought the girl back to the jail. When Kamsa attempted to kill the new-born girl, Yogamaya devi slipped from his hands, took the form of Mahadevi Adishakthi.
Thereafter, she chose the Vindhya mountains as her abode on Earth – at the Vindhyavasini Shakthi Peetha.
Each of the Shakthi Peethas are not just temples but are live energy centers of Ma Shakthi on Earth. Taking just one example – the Jwalamukhi Shakthi Peetha is where Sati’s tongue fell on Earth and the Goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn a flawless blue through fissures in the rock. The Mughal Emperor Akbar once tried to extinguish the flames by covering them with an iron disk and even channelizing water to them. But the flames blasted all these efforts. Akbar then presented a golden parasol at the shrine but due to his earlier cynical behaviour, the parasol turned from gold into an unidentified metal. Akbar’s belief further strengthened with this incident. The flames still burn continuously!!!
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