Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18

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Daksha savors the fury of Siva

See the artist's rendering of Virabhadra

Daksha was one of the ten sons of Brahma, a secondary creator (Prajapati) born of sexual union between Brahma and Aditi.  Brahma’s first and only mind-born sons were averse to sexual reproduction and therefore Brahma out of frustration fathered Daksha, who willingly carried out his father’s legacy of sexual reproduction. Thoughts and words have the power to beget children as it is shown in Egyptian mythology.

(Ptah the creator of beings is the God of Memphis in Egypt; His pregnant thoughts and words begat all beings of the earth. He is unlike the Atum, god of Heliopolis, the Lord of the Nile and Heliopolis. He is the First architect as Visvakarma is the architect of the Hindu Gods. He fashions the bodies of the Egyptian Royalty from out of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Rameses II was his creation out of the amalgam. He is one of the Holy Triad: Ptah, his wife Lioness-goddess Sekhmet, and his son Imhotep or Nefertem. The Hindu Holy Triad consists of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.)

Daksha, Vasistha, and Marici held a great sacrifice for which they invited all gods, demigods, celestials, gurus, munis and sages including Siva, Brahma, and Vishnu. When Daksha walked into the assembly hall, all except Siva rose and applauded Daksha, who was so offended by the sensed slight that he fumed and fulminated at disrespectful behavior of Siva, who was married to Daksha’s daughter Sati, also known as Dakshayini.  Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are hierarchically  superior to Daksha, but Daksha felt that he deserved respect from his son-in-law, Siva, who  wears russet hair, matted locks, a moon on his head and a snake around his neck. Daksha did not have a good opinion even before the sacrifice, because Siva looked poor by external appearance. There is a reason for it. Siva does not own anything, not even a house; He is a Yogin and Vairagin, One who has no desires, possessions.

One of his devotees, Sundarar, calls him Pitthan, a madman, out of deep love and devotion. Daksha called Siva names: spoiler; mental dwarf; a refuge of the refuse, destitute and poor; boorish demigod; monkey’s eyes; a Sudra unfit to learn Vedas; a crematorium-dweller; wearer of a garland of skulls and bones; sloven. Daksha regretted his decision to have given his daughter in marriage to Siva on the recommendation of his father, Brahma. Daksha washed his hands and mouth and proceeded to pile some more insults on Siva. Daksha performed  sacrifice to increase the material prosperity of the world. Siva was a renouncer and wanted no part in it.  Daksha left the assembly hall abruptly in a fury against the advice of Brahma and other gods. Daksha did not let Siva savor the oblations of the sacrifice. Nandisvara, Siva’s close associate was angry with Daksha for the egregious treatment of Siva. Nandisvara spoke to the assembly, saying that they who took part in the sacrifice were materialistic, considered body superior to Soul, the repository of transcendental knowledge and therefore, would lose that sacred knowledge. He further said that since Daksha considered body over soul and celebrated sex-life over spiritual life, he would soon acquire the face of a goat. (Remember, the Rocky Mountain goats ram their heads and fight over females.)  

They who have vidya-buddhi, avidyam, and karma-mayam (material knowledge, ignorance, and delusion of karma) would be castigated to a life of repeated births and rebirths. Nandisvara cursed all the deviant Dvija-kulayas (the twice-born Bahmanas) for their materialistic pursuits in performing the sacrifice, by saying the Brahmanas of the genre – Vedas-for-sale, Vedas-for-livelihood—would be wandering beggars, glorifying wealth, creature comforts and satiation of senses.  Bhrgu Muni came on the stage and dished out counter-curses: Siva followers were heretics. Siva never uttered one word in the assembly and left the assembly hall. Years passed without incident. Puffed with false pride, Daksha arranged another sacrifice; this time he did not invite Siva, which is against all the canons of sacrifice—no sacrifice was or is complete without Siva. Daksha’s daughter, consort of Siva, heard the news from Narada, visiting Kailas. She saw finely clothed celestials and their consorts whisk by aerial cars on their way to Daksha’s sacrifice. Sati felt left out for she wanted to meet her mother, sisters and their consorts at the sacrifice, which was the place to be then. She pleaded with Siva to attend the sacrifice. Siva tried to reason with her as follows: Daksha’s wickedness, lack of judgment, and failure to see the greatness of exalted Souls compromised and canceled his learning, austerity, wealth, beauty, youth, and pedigreed heritage. They (Siva and Sati) should not visit Daksha clouded by poor judgment, suspicious mind, and anger. He dissuaded her from attending the ceremony, for he foresaw death of Sati and Daksha, the latter inflicting indignity on Siva, the Supreme Being. Against the advice of Siva, Sati left Siva's Kailas on Nandi, the bull and went to Daksha’s sacrifice. Daksha and his followers, except her sisters and mother, did not come near Sati to receive, greet and hug her.  Not received and addressed by her father Daksha, she refused to take the exalted seat or accept presents offered by her mother and sisters. Because sacrificial offerings were not allotted to Rudra (Siva) which was compulsory according to the canons of sacrifice, Sati, Siva’s spouse flew into a rage and leveled criticism against the Brahmanas and Daksha (her father) as follows: Brahmanas and Daksa have more regard to wealth over Soul. They failed to recognize and praise the greatest Soul in the universe, Lord Siva. His two-syllable name SIVA, when uttered, erased the sins. Brahma wore the flowers that fell from the feet of Lord Siva. She told her father in the assembly hall that she was ashamed to own and wear the body born of Daksha (actually Sati was an adopted daughter of Daksa), who offended the most exalted Soul, Siva. She, then, went into deep meditation to remove the body inherited from her father and the last impurities from her soul, commanded the air and fire to come to her limbs and removed consciousness from her body; her body went into flames subsequently--spontaneous combustion from the heat of Tapas.  Unmindful of the self-immolation of Sati, Bhrgu Muni continued to pour oblations on the Sacrificial Fire, Daksinagni (Daksha’s fire), chanting Yajurveda which had the power of destroying the obstructers of the sacrifice; the opponents scattered in all directions from the force of the mantras.

Narada, the omniscient Muni, told Lord Siva about Daksha’s insult of Sati and Siva, self-immolation of his consort, Sati, and the routing of his attendants by Bhrgu Muni. Siva’s rage at this personal loss knew no bounds. He pulled one of his beautiful locks, jumped up on his feet, laughed like thunder and flung the lock on the ground; it was like fearsome fulguration of lighting and thunder. From that dashed lock, that looked like a fulguration, rose a gigantic being whose form scraped the skies with a thousand arms, with three eyes shining like a sun, dark complexion like a rain cloud, fierce teeth, a garland of skulls, matted locks resembling ropes of fire, and a host of weapons at the ready. That was Virabhadra, a part manifestation of Siva in his fierce form. He immediately sought and received his mission which is to annihilate Daksha and his sacrifice. After circumambulating Siva, Virabhadra left sounding like a thunder, hoisting his trident, and with Siva’s ganas at tow, he ran towards Daksha. He was so powerful that even Death could not defy him. Dust rose from the earth, the ankle bells of the ganas jingled, and the army was on the march. Daksha’s Brahmanas, their wives and other attendees saw a great cloud of dust obscuring the sky, and wondered what it was and where it was coming from. There was no swirling wind, there were no hanging clouds, it is not from stampede of cows, and it is not from the gang of thieves. What else could it be?  Is it the end of the world? Daksha’s wife had foreboding of danger because of her husband’s evil act and his (their) innocent daughter Sati’s death by self-immolation. Could it be Rudra-Siva in rage? She had vision of Rudra: matted hair, his long arms flailing with terrible weapons, his trident, his thunderous roar and laughter, his knitted eyebrows, his horrible teeth. The attendees showed signs of panic and imminent doom: their eyelids twitched, their faces contorted, they turned pale from fright, they wobbled, and they murmured. What is this world coming to? Suddenly out of nowhere, waddling dwarfs appeared and ran amok in their midst knocking them off their feet. They never saw an army of dwarfs in their life. Is this for real? This must be a bad dream, they thought. They came in all shades and colors, mostly red-brown and yellow. They had alligator faces and abdomens to match. They surrounded the whole sacrificial arena and raised a ruckus frightening the attendees. Some of them started knocking down the pillars supporting the eastern and western parts of the sacrificial hall. Some of them waddled off and destroyed the quarters housing the sacrificer, the priests, and their wives.  Assembly hall, kitchen, and utensils also suffered destruction. They passed urine on and doused the sacrificial fires and later destroyed the barricades around the sacrificial pit. The priests and the Devas were molested, and their wives were threatened. Bhrigu Muni, who spoke ill of Siva and his followers, was bound by Maniman; Virabhadra tied down Daksha. The priests and the Devas took off in different directions.  Bhrgu Muni was caught by Virabhadra unawares and before he knew what happened, his mustache and beard which he was so proud of, and stroked in bravado during the ceremony, were yanked out his face and were hanging dripping blood from the hands of Virabhadra. To add to humiliation, they were displayed in public.  Bhaga was next in line for Virabhadra’s fury. Bhaga turned his eye towards Daksha and winked, when he was slandering Lord Siva. An act of avenge by Virabhadra: He knocked Bhaga down and gouged out his eyes.  Pusa had his teeth knocked out by Virabhadra for smiling and showing his teeth to Daksha while the latter was slandering Siva.  Virabhadra had no match to offer any resistance; he was the manifestation of Siva and his fury; none can resist his onslaught. He proceeded to dress Daksha. Daksha was on the ground in a trice with the foot of Virabhadra planted on his chest. Virabhadra with one swing of the sword cut his head, which was still clinging to the body and neck; he waited for a moment, and thought how the animals were sacrificed; a second swing completed the job. Immediately, the head rolled off and was tossed into the sacrificial fire. Brahma foresaw this tragedy and did not attend the sacrifice.

The Devas and other attendees went to Siva in Kailas and propitiated him. Siva was praised by gods and had a plan for the slain and mutilated beings. Mortals cannot fathom the mysterious ways of God. A goat’s head was attached to the body of Daksha who woke up as if he was in slumber. 

satyr and Daksa have similar appearance

1. Class. Myth. one of a class of woodland deities, attendant on Bacchus, represented as part human, part horse, and sometimes part goat and noted for riotousness and lasciviousness.


It appears that Lord Siva dispensed condign punishment to Daksa. Bhaga, whose eyes were gouged out, was allowed to look at his share of the sacrificial offerings through the eyes of Mitra. Bhrgu Muni had the beard and mustache of a goat attached to his face! All damages were ameliorated one way or another. Daksha was free from his malice towards Siva.  




Virabhadra, Siva's manifestation,

for ruination of Daksha's sacrifice.

 Siva, the Yogi of Yogis and the Ultimate

Enjoyer of sacrifices, without whom no sacrifice

is complete, was not invited but insulted by Daksa.



Siva picked up and carried Sati's burnt physical remains on his shoulders, wandered and danced all over the universe. His dance shook the earth and roiled the seas, sending tsunamis. This made gods very nervous. Vishnu decided to cut up the body of Sati with his discus and lighten the burden and Shiva's anguish over the death of his beloved consort. He deployed his discus fifty one times to cut the body  into 51 parts (there are 51 alphabets in Sanskrit).  Wherever the body parts fell, it became holy. The places became Sakti Pithas (sacred temples dedicated to Mother worship.) When Siva's burden were cast off, he retired to Kailas for meditation. Sati was reborn as Uma Parvati and married Siva. Sati's toes fell at Kalighat, Calcutta, where Mother Kali has her temple, built by a woman devotee in 1847. Mother Kali of four arms, whose "living" image" made of black basalt, stands majestically and fiercely on prostrate Siva made of white marble. She is embellished with gold ornaments and pearl necklace. A garland of 51 human heads and a skirt made of human arms are part of her accouterment.  The lower left hand holds aloft a severed human head; the upper left hand holds a blood-smeared sword. The right upper hand offers blessings and boons and the right lower hand offers refuge and dispels fear. She has three eyes; the third eye is the eye of intrinsic wisdom, strikes terror to the wicked, and offers benign glances of love and affection to the  devotees. She is all rolled into One: creator, preserver, destroyer, Prakrti, Tattvas, sakti, and universal Mother, even to the gods.