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Shakti Peethas

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Overview

The Shakti Peethas (Sanskrit: शक्ति पीठ, Bengali: শক্তিপীঠ, Śakti Pīṭha, seat of Shakti[1]) are places of worship consecrated to the goddess Shakti or Sati, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. They are sprinkled throughout the Indian subcontinent.[2]

This goddess Shakti, the Goddess of power is the complete incarnation of Adi Shakti, has three chief manifestations, as Durga, Goddess of strength and valour, as Mahakali, goddess of destruction of evil and as Goddess Gowri, the goddess of benevolence.

Legend

Shiva carrying the corpse of Dakshayani - Shakti Peethas
Shiva carrying the corpse of Dakshayani

Lord Brahma performed a yajna (Vedic ritual of fire sacrifice) to please Shakti and Shiva. Goddess Shakti emerged, separating from Shiva and helped Brahma in the creation of the universe. Brahma decided to give Shakti back to Shiva. Therefore his son Daksha performed several yagnas to obtain Shakti as his daughter in the form of Sati. It was then decided that Sati was brought into this world with the motive of getting married to Shiva.

However, due to Lord Shiva's curse to Brahma that his fifth head was cut off due to his lie in front of Shiva, Daksha started hating Lord Shiva and decided not to let Lord Shiva and Sati get married. However, Sati got attracted to Shiva and finally one day Shiva and Sati got married. This marriage only increased Daksha's hatred towards Lord Shiva.

Daksha performed a yagna with a desire to take revenge on Lord Shiva. Daksha invited all the deities to the yajna except Lord Shiva and Sati. The fact that she was not invited did not deter Sati from attending the yagna. She expressed her desire to attend the yagna to Shiva, who tried his best to dissuade her from going. Shiva eventually relented and Sati went to the yagna. Sati, being an uninvited guest, was not given any respect at the yagna. Furthermore, Daksha insulted Shiva. Sati was unable to bear her father's insults toward her husband, so she immolated herself.

Enraged at the insult and the injury, Shiva in Virabhadra avatar destroyed Daksha's yagna, cut off Daksha's head, and later replaced it with that of a male goat as he restored him to life. Still immersed in grief, 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.[3]

At all the Shakti Peethas, the Goddess Shakti is accompanied by her consort, Lord Bhairava (a manifestation of Lord Shiva). Shakti is an aspect of the Supreme Being Adi parashakti, the mother of the trimurti, the holy trinity in Hindu mythology.

Shakti's Self Immolation

Main article: '''Daksha Yaga'''

The mythology of Daksha yagna and Shakti's self immolation had immense significance in shaping the ancient Sanskrit literature and even had impact on the culture of India. It led to the development of the concept of Shakti Peethas and there by strengthening Shaktism. Enormous mythological stories in puranas took the Daksha yagna as the reason for its origin. It is an important incident in Shaivism resulting in the emergence of Shree Parvati in the place of Shakti Devi and making Shiva a grihastashrami (house holder) leading to the origin of Ganapathy and Subrahmanya.[4][5][6]

Shakti Peethas are shrines or divine places of the Mother Goddess. These are places that are believes to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered throughout Aryavartha in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava, and mostly Shakti and Kalabharava in different Shakti Peeth have different names.

Four Adi Shakti Pithas

Some of the great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana and the AstaShakti recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers), like Bimala (Pada Khanda) (inside the Jagannath temple of Puri, Odisha), Tara Tarini (Sthana Khanda, Purnagiri, Breasts) (Near Berhampur, Odisha), Kamakhya Temple (Yoni khanda) (Near Guwahati, Assam) and Dakhina Kalika (Mukha khanda) (Kolkata, West Bengal) originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga. The Astashakti and Kalika Purana says (in Sanskrit):

"Bimala Pada khandancha, Sthana khandancha Tarini (Tara Tarini), Kamakshya Yoni khandancha, Mukha khandancha Kalika (Dakshina Kalika) Anga pratyanga sanghena Vishnu Chakra Kshyta nacha"

Further explaining the importance of these four Pithas, the "Brihat Samhita" also gives the location of these Pithas as (In Sanskrit) "Rushikulya* Tatae Devi, Tarakashya Mahagiri, Tashya Srunga Stitha Tara Vasishta Rajitapara" (Rushikulya is a holy river flowing on the foot hill of the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine).

List of 4 Adi Shakti Pithas

In the listings below:

  • "Shakti" refers to the Goddess worshipped at each location, all being manifestations of Dakshayani (Sati), Parvati or Durga;
  • "Body Part or Ornament" refers to the body part or piece of jewellery that fell to earth, at the location on which the respective temple is built.
Sr. No. Place Body Part or Ornament
1 Puri, Odisha (inside Jagannath Temple complex) Pada Bimala
2 Berhampur, Odisha Sthana (Breasts) Tara Tarini
3 Guwahati, Assam Yoni khanda Kamakshya
4 Kolkata, West Bengal (Kalighat Kali Temple) Mukha khanda Dakshina Kalika

Apart from these four there are 52 other famous Peethas recognised by religious texts. According to the Pithanirnaya Tantra the 52 peethas are scattered all over India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Pakistan. The Shivacharita besides listing 52 maha-peethas, speaks about 26 more upa-peethas. The Bengali almanac, Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika too describes the 52 peethas including the present modified addresses. A few of the several accepted listings are given below.[7] One of the few in South India, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh became the site for a 2nd-century temple.[8]

The List of 51 Shakti Pithas

In the listings[9] below:

  • "Shakti" refers to the Goddess worshipped at each location, all being manifestations of Dakshayani, Sati; later known as Parvati or Durga;
  • "Bhairava" refers to the corresponding consort, each a manifestation of Shiva;
  • "Body Part or Ornament" refers to the body part or piece of jewellery that fell to earth, at the location on which the respective temple is built.
Devi Kanya Kumari, Kanya Kumari , Tamil Nadu - Shakti Peethas
Devi Kanya Kumari, Kanya Kumari , Tamil Nadu
Sr. No Place State in India/Country Body Part or Ornament Shakti Bhairava
1 Amarnath, from Srinagar through Pahalgam 94 km by Bus, Chandanwari 16 km by walk Jammu and Kashmir Throat Mahamaya Trisandhyeshwar
2 Attahas village of Dakshindihi in the district of Bardhaman, near the Katwa railway station West Bengal Lips Phullara Vishvesh
3 Bahula, on the banks of Ajay river at Ketugram, 8 km from Katwa, Burdwan West Bengal Left arm Goddess Bahula Bhiruk
4 Bakreshwar, on the banks of Paaphara river, 24 km distance from Siuri Town, district Birbhum, 7 km from Dubrajpur Rly. Station West Bengal Portion between the eyebrows Mahishmardini Vakranath
5 Bhairavparvat, at Bhairav hills on the banks of Shipra river in the city of Ujjaini Madhya Pradesh Elbow Avanti Lambkarna
6 Bhabanipur, at Karatoyatat, 28 km distance from the town of Sherpur, Sherpur Upazila, Rajshahi Division Bangladesh Left anklet (ornament) Arpana Vaman
7 Chhinnamastika Shaktipeeth at Chintpurni, in Una District of Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Feet Chhinnamastika Rudra Mahadev
8 Gandaki, Pokhara about 125 km on the banks of Gandaki river where Muktinath temple is situated Nepal Temple Gandaki Chandi Chakrapani
9 Goddess Bhadrakaali on banks of Godavari in Nasik city Maharashtra Chin (2 parts) Bhramari Vikritaksh
10 Hinglaj (Or Hingula), southern Baluchistan a few hours North-east of Gawadar and about 125 km towards North-west from Karachi Pakistan Bramharandhra (Part of the head) Kottari Bhimlochan
11 Jayanti at Nartiang village in the Jaintia Hills district. This Shakti Peetha is locally known as the Nartiang Durga Temple. Meghalaya Left thigh Jayanti Kramadishwar
12 Jessoreswari, situated at Ishwaripur, Shyamnagar Upazila, Khulna Division. The temple complex was built by Maharaja Pratapaditya, whose capital was Ishwaripur. Bangladesh Palms of hands and soles of the feet Jashoreshwari Chanda
13 Jwalaji, Kangra from Pathankot alight at Jwalamukhi Road Station from there 20 km Himachal Pradesh Tongue Siddhida (Ambika) Unmatta Bhairav
14 Kalipeeth, (Kalighat, Kolkata) West Bengal Right Toes Kalika Nakuleshwar
15 Kalmadhav on the banks of Shon river in a cave over hills near to Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh Left buttock Kali Asitang
16 Kamgiri, Kamakhya, in the Neelachal hills near Guwahati Assam Genitals Kamakhya Umanand
17 Kankalitala, on the banks of Kopai River 10 km north-east of Bolpur station in Birbhum district, Devi locally known as Kankaleshwari West Bengal Bone Devgarbha Ruru
18 Kanyashram of Balaambika - The Bhagavathy temple in Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of mainland India, Tamil Nadu (also thought to be situated in Yunnan province, China) Tamil Nadu Back Sarvani Nimish
19 Karnat, Brajeshwari Devi, Kangra Himachal Pradesh Both ears Jayadurga Abhiru
20 Kireet at Kireetkona village, 3 km from Lalbag Court Road station under district Murshidabad West Bengal Crown Vimla Sanwart
21 Locally known as Anandamayee Temple. Ratnavali, on the banks of Ratnakar river at Khanakul-Krishnanagar, district Hooghly West Bengal Right Shoulder Kumari Shiva
22 Locally known as Bhramari Devi. In Jalpaiguri near a small village Boda on the bank of river Teesta or Tri-shrota (combination of three flows) mentioned in Puranas West Bengal Left leg Bhraamari Ambar
23 Manas, under Tibet at the foot of Mount Kailash in Lake Mansarovar, a piece of Stone Tibet Right hand Dakshayani Amar
24 Manibandh, at Gayatri hills near Pushkar 11 km north-west of Ajmer Rajasthan Two Bracelets Gayatri Sarvanand
25 Mithila, near Janakpur railway station on the border of India and Nepal Nepal Left shoulder Uma Mahodar
26 Nainativu (Manipallavam), Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Located 36 km from the ancient capital of the Jaffna kingdom, Nallur. The murti of the Goddess is believed to have been consecrated and worshipped by Lord Indra. The protagonist, Lord Rama and antagonist, Ravana of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana have offered obeisances to the Goddess. Nāga and Garuda of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata; resolved their longstanding feuds after worshipping this Goddess. Sri Lanka Silambu (Anklets) Indrakshi (Nagapooshani / Bhuvaneswari) Rakshaseshwar (Nayanair)
27 Nepal, near Pashupatinath Temple at Guhyeshwari Temple Nepal Both Knees Mahashira Kapali
28 On Chandranath hill near Sitakunda station of Chittagong Division. The famous Chandranath Temple on the top of the hill is the Bhairav temple of this Shakti Peetha, not the Shakti Peeth itself. Bangladesh Right arm Bhawani Chandrashekhar
29 Panchsagar Near Lohaghat (in Champawat District of Uttarakhand) nearly 100 km from nearest railway station Tanakpur. Uttarakhand Lower teeth Varahi Maharudra
30 Prabhas, 4 km from Veraval station near Somnath temple in Junagadh district Gujarat Stomach Chandrabhaga Vakratund
31 Prayag near Sangam at Allahabad Uttar Pradesh Finger Lalita Bhava
32 Present day Kurukshetra town or Thanesar ancient Sthaneshwar Haryana Ankle bone Savitri/BhadraKali Sthanu
33 Ramgiri, at Chitrakuta on the Jhansi Manikpur railway line Uttar Pradesh Right breast Shivani Chanda
34 Sainthia, locally Known as Nandikeshwari temple. Only 1.5 km from the railway station under a banyan tree within a boundary wall, Birbhum district West Bengal Necklace Nandini Nandikeshwar
35 Sarvashail or Godavaritir, at Kotilingeswar temple on the banks of Godavari river near Rajamundry Andhra Pradesh Cheeks Rakini or Vishweshwari Vatsnabh or Dandpani
36 Naina devi, Nainital Uttarakhand Eyes Mahishmardini Krodhish
37 Shondesh, at the source point of Narmada River in Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh Right buttock Narmada Bhadrasen
38 Shri Parvat, near Ladak, Jammu and Kashmir. Another belief: at Srisailam in Shriparvat hills under Kurnool district Andhra Pradesh Right anklet (ornament) Shrisundari Sundaranand
39 Shri Shail, at Joinpur village, Dakshin Surma, near Gotatikar, 3 km north-east of Sylhet town Bangladesh Neck Mahalaxmi Sambaranand
40 Shuchi, in a Shiva temple at Suchindrum 11 km on Kanyakumari Trivandrum road Tamil Nadu Upper teeth Narayani Sanhar
41 Sugandha, situated in Shikarpur, Gournadi, about 20 km from Barisal town, on the banks of Sonda river. Bangladesh Nose Sugandha Trayambak
42 Udaipur, Tripura, at the top of the hills known as Tripura Sundari temple near Radhakishorepur village, a little distance away from Udaipur town Tripura Right leg Tripura Sundari Tripuresh
43 Ujaani, 16 km from Guskara station under Burdwan district West Bengal Right wrist Mangal Chandika Kapilambar
44 Varanasi at Manikarnika Ghat on banks of the Ganges at Kashi Uttar Pradesh Earring Vishalakshi & Manikarni Kalbhairav
45 Vibhash, at Tamluk under district Purba Medinipur West Bengal Left ankle Kapalini (Bhimarupa) Sarvanand
46 Virat, near Bharatpur Rajasthan Left toes Ambika Amriteshwar
47 Vrindavan, near new bus stand on Bhuteshwar road within Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple, Katyayanipeeth. Vrindavan Uttar Pradesh Ringlets of hair Uma Bhutesh
48 Jalandhar, from Jalandhar Cantonment Station to Devi Talab. Punjab Left Breast Tripurmalini Bhutesh
49 Baidyanath Dham Jharkhand Heart Jaya Durga Baidyanath
50 Birajong in Paro Paro, Bhutan Bamonbonsham Paropit
51 Great Toe Jugaadya -Ksheer Khandak

Historical notes

First relating to Brahmanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, it mentions 64 Shakthi Peetha of Goddess Parvati in the Bharat or Greater India including present day India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Another text which gives a listing of these shrines, is the Shakthi Peetha Stotram, written by Adi Shankara, the 9th-century Hindu philosopher.[10]

According to the manuscript Mahapithapurana (c. 1690 – 1720 CE), there are 52 such places. Among them, 23 are located in the Bengal region, 14 of these are located in what is now West Bengal, India, 1 in Baster (Chhattisgarh), while 7 are in what is now Bangladesh.

Rishi Markandeya composed the 'Devi Saptashati' or the seven hundred hymns extolling the virtues of the Divine Goddess at the shaktipeetha in Nashik. The idol is also leaning a little to the left to listen to the sages composition. The Saptashati or the "Durga Stuti" forms an integral part in the vedic form of Shakti worship.

The third eye of Mata Sati fell below a tree in a mortuary in the Ishan corner of Vakreshwar. This is on the bank of the north flowing Dwarka river in the east of Baidyanath. Here Mata Sati is called Chandi Bhagwai Ugra Tara and Bhairav is called Chandrachur. This Shaktipeeth is called Tarapith in Birbhum district West bengal , India

Preserving the mortal relics of famous and respected individuals was a common practice in ancient India - seen in the Buddhist stupas which preserve the relics of Gautama Buddha. It is believed by some[citation needed] that these 64 peethas preserve the remains of some ancient female sage from whom the legend of Kali could have emerged and then merged with the Purusha - Prakriti (Shiva Shakti) model of Hindu thought.

18 Maha Shakti Pithas

The modern cities or towns that correspond to these 64 locations can be a matter of dispute, but there are a few that are totally unambiguous, these are mentioned in the Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram by Adi Shankara.[11] This list contains 18 such locations which are often referred to as Maha Shakthi Peeths.[12]

Sr. No. Place Appellation Part of the body fallen Shakti
1 Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) Lanka Peetham Groin Shankari devi
2 Kanchi (Tamil Nadu) Kanchi Kamakodi Peetham Back part Kamakshi Devi
3 Pandua (West Bengal) Pradyumna Peetham Stomach Srigala Devi
4 Mysore (Karnataka) Krounja Peetham Hair Chamundeshwari devi
5 Alampur (Andhra Pradesh) Yogini Peetham Upper teeth Jogulamba devi (Yogamba devi)
6 Shrishailam, (Andhra Pradesh) Shrishaila Peetham Neck part Bhramaramba devi
7 Kolhapur (Maharastra) Shri Peetham Eyes Mahalakshmi devi
8 Mahur (Nanded District, Maharastra) Ekaveera Peetham Left hand Ekaveerika Devi
9 Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) Ujjaini Peetham Tongue Mahakali devi
10 Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh) Pushkarini Peetham Back part Puruhutika devi
11 Jajpur (Odisha) Oddyana Peetham Hip bone Biraja Devi
12 Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh) Draksharama Peetham Navel Manikyamba devi
13 Guwahati (Assam) Kamarupa Peetham Vulva Kamarupa devi
14 Prayaga (Uttar Pradesh) Prayaga Peetham Fingers Madhaveswari devi
15 Kangra, Jwalamukhi (Himachal Pradesh) Jwalamukhi Peetham Head Part Vaishnavi devi
16 Gaya (Bihar) Gaya Peetham Breast part Sarvamangala devi
17 Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Varanasi Peetham Toes Vishalakshi devi
18 Sharada Peeth (Kashmir) * Sharada Peetham Right hand Saraswathi devi

[*]Sharada Peeth:This temple is currently non-existent*.[13] Only ruins are found in these places. Its ruins are near the Line of Control (LOC)[14] between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled portions of the former princely state of Kashmir and Jammu. Instead, Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri in Karnataka even though not a Shakti Peetha is this aspect of the goddess, Requests have been made by the Hindu community in Pakistan to the Pakistani government to renovate the temple, the issue was raised by former Indian Home minister L. K. Advani to the Pakistan authorities[15] as a confidence building measure, by increasing the people to people interaction cross border.[14]

Among these, the Shakti Peethas at Kamakhya, Gaya and Ujjain are regarded as most sacred as they symbolise three most important aspects of mother Goddess viz. Creation (Kamarupa Devi), Nourishment (Sarvamangala Devi/Mangalagauri) and Annihilation (Mahakali Devi).

When observed carefully one can see that they lie in a perfect straight line from Kamakhya to Ujjain via Gaya symbolizing that every creation in this universe will annihilate one day without fail.

Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram

Lankayam Shankari devi, Kamakshi Kanchika pure Pradyumne Shrinkhala devi, Chamunda Krouncha pattane

Alampure jogulamba, Sri Shaile Bhramarambika Kolha Pure Maha Lakshmi, Mahurye Ekaveerika

Ujjainyam Maha kali. Preethikayam Puruhutika Odhyane Girija devi, Manikya Daksha vatike

Hari Kshetre kama rupi, Prayage Madhaveshwari Jwalayam Vishnavi Devi, Gaya Mangalya gourika

Varanasyam Vishalakshi, Kashmire tu Saraswati Ashtadasha shakti Peethani, Yoginamapi durlabham

Sayamkale pathennityam Sarva Shatru vinashanam Sarva roga haram divyam, Sarva sampatkaram shubham

Translation of the stotra

Goddess Shankari in Sri Lanka, Kamakshi in Kanchipuram Goddess Shrinkhala in Pradymna and Chamunda in Mysore

Goddess Jogulamba in Alampur, Goddess Brhamarambika in Sri Shailam Goddess Maha lakshmi in Kolhapur and Goddess Eka Veera in Mahur

Goddess Maha Kali in Ujjain, Purhuthika in Peethika Goddess Girija in Odhyana and Manikya in the house of Daksha

Goddess kama rupi in the temple of Vishnu, Madhaveshwari in Allahabad Goddess giving flame in Jwala Mukhi and Mangala Gowri in Gaya

Goddess Vishalakshi in Varanasi, Saraswati in Kashmir These are the 18 houses of Shakti, which are rare even to the Devas

When Chanted every evening, all the enemies would get destroyed all the diseases would vanish, and prosperity would be showered.

Notes

  1. ^ Fuller, Christopher John (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5. 
  2. ^ Article, from Banglapedia.
  3. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/tantra/maha/maha00.htm
  4. ^ (Translator), F. Max Muller (June 1, 2004). The Upanishads, Vol I. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1419186418. 
  5. ^ (Translator), F. Max Muller (July 26, 2004). The Upanishads Part II: The Sacred Books of the East Part Fifteen. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1417930160. 
  6. ^ "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". http://kottiyoordevaswom.com/. Kottiyoor Devaswam. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  7. ^ 52 Pithas of Parvati - From Hindunet
  8. ^ Shakti Pitha sites in India
  9. ^ http://zeenews.india.com/navratra2012/Shaktipeeth.html
  10. ^ Shakthi Peetha Stotram Vedanta Spiritual Library
  11. ^ Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram From Hindupedia
  12. ^ html ASTADASA MAHA SAKTHI-PEETHAS From srisailam.co.in
  13. ^ Pollock, Sheldon (2006). Language of the Gods in the World of Men. University of California Press. 
  14. ^ a b Hindu, The (3 October 2007). "Pandits denied entry into temple in PoK". The Hindu, Newspaper. 
  15. ^ "Pak should renovate Sharada Temple in PoK: Advani". zeenews.india. May 2, 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 

Heart Ambaji Gujarat Devi Patan Locate at Tulsipur Disctt. Balrampur Uttar Pradesh not in Patana Bhihar

References

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